Saturday, December 31, 2011


In yesterdays class with Adam he talked about the new year ad about meditation. He suggested in meditation that we think of what we want and we deconstruct it. One thing he said that really grabbed me was, think about what will make you happy. Not happy when every thing is going good and you are in a good marriage, job, house. But what will make you happy if your in a bad job, an bad house, your kid is annoying. What will make you happy then. Use that as your intention. Cultivate that in your mediation practice.

So I have been sitting with this a few hours. I have added some situations that would seem like the end of the world to me. Like my marriage breaks, my dog dies, I get fat, I loss a family member, I loss my apartment, I end up homeless... What would make me happy then. It took a little time to get there, mainly re opening myself from the constricting thinking of that will never happen to me, or if it does I could never be happy. But once those layers came off the answer was clear. Having a better relationship with my higher power (Grace, God, Shiva...). Having a good relationship with my God is one of the only things I see that could help me still see the light and be happy if all the shit hit the fan. This is what I want to cultivate. Its the first principle of Anusara Yoga, OPEN TO GRACE.

LIGHT- Elena Brower Speakeasy at Wanderlust VA in 2011

This is one of the most amazing talks I have watched. I love Elena Brower. She teaches truth. She talks about things I experience but am to afriad to say.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Leaving behind in 2011 and heading towards in 2012 + mantras

The end of one year and the start of the next calender year is a good time to contemplate on the past looking at what you want to let go of and leave behind in 2011 ("from") as well as what you want to cultivate and head towards in 2012 ("to").

My to and from's:
from selfish to selfless service
from impatience to patience
from my will to god's will (opening to GRACE)
from lies to true
from fear to vulnerability
from flightiness to steadiness
from drinking to sobriety
from self hate to self LOVE
from yoga to ANUSARA-INSPIRED yoga teacher

One of my favorite people and teachers Elena Brower's to and from's:
from being a slave to my memory - to REMEMBRANCE of my Divinity
from Commentary to Effortless Vortex
from Everything 'Yoga' to Making Space for New Understanding
from Temperamental Tripper to Brilliant Calm
from Defenses to Softness
(Want more of Elena? Check out art of attention and her mindful smack video blog)

While you are thinking moving from and to here are two mantras to use that Adam Ballenger taught this morning in his class.

To let go of. This mantra can be used with something specific in mind or in general:
Om Pat Swaha Swaha Swaha

To cultivate. This mantra is used with something specific in mind:
Namah Shivaya Namah Shivaya Namah Shivaya Namo Namaha

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Virabhadrasna 1 & 2 & 3

These past three weeks I have been teaching virabhadrasana poses. Read the Virabhadra story on this blog post.

The first week we worked warrior one.  I told the story of virabhadra in the beginning. Vira one comes from the action of the warrior Virabhadra (incarnated out of Shiva's hair) busting up from the earth and into the party that Darksha (Shiva's father in law and ruler of the cosmos) party. This represents arriving with an intention and have an intention. My main intention is to be loving and tolerant to myself and others, and to be happy. This pose is challenging for me. I remember when I was first started practicing yoga I was instructed to go into and out of first warrior pose with in a breath or two.  When I started teaching I also instructed in this way. Later on I started to study the alignment of the pose. Like the old saying goes "ignorance is bliss". Now days I rarely teach this pose in class and have to push myself to include it in my personal practice. So warrior one week we really worked. Lots of lunge variations getting the hips squared. Towards the end we did some calf smashing work (rolling up a blanket and sticking it behind the knees). This I find helps tremendously to get the heal to the ground.

The second week we worked on second warrior pose. I again summarized the Virabhadra story focusing on the action that we name our warrior two pose after, which is when Virabhadra scans the crowd looking for Darksha.  This represents that we have to look through our life and see where we are acting in ways that don't reinforce the intention. The example I gave for myself is road rage. My intention is to be loving and tolerant of others, and looking at my life (just like Virabhadra looks around the party) I see that when I drive and get all worked up and frustrated because someone is driving slow. That is not reflecting my intention. We did lots of work on finding expanding spiral (inner spiral) on the back leg, keeping that expansion and then doing contracting spiral (out spiral) on the front leg. That's the hard part for me, maintaining an action while performing the next. I also had the students partner up for warrior 2 with one person doing the posture while the other one is by the back leg with one hand on the shin pressing in and the other hand on the inner thigh pressing out (this is the alignment principle shins in thighs out). The students seemed to enjoy partnering which makes me smile.

This week we are working on warrior 3. Again I summarized the story focusing on the third action the warrior makes which is beheading Darksha. Wow how extreme! Beheading is an intense way of looking at this, I prefer to think of it as letting go of. We set out intention (warrior one), we look through our life (warrior two), and we let go of what no longer is serving us (warrior three). This is such an appropriate time to be doing this as New Year is right around the corner and the cold dark weather is such an invitation to turn within. We can reflect on what we want to let go of, as well as what we want to cultivate for 2012. I took a class from Adam Ballenger last week and he was talking about how important it is that we let go of things to make room for the many gifts that life is always giving us. We did lots of muscular energy drawing in from the periphery to the core for stability and inner spiral work on the back leg to keep the hips square, and drawing the waistline in. It was fun I think the students really enjoyed it.

It was really fun teaching like this, having a plan for three weeks. I teach multiple classes a week and I didn't teach the same class twice. But I did use the same apex pose and same antidote of the Virabhadra myth. For more advanced classes I made them work harder and pointed out more refinements and for more beginner or stiffer bodies classes we moved a little slower focusing more on the general shape of the pose.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My birthday

It was my birthday on Thursday the 22nd. I turned 24 years old. This was one of my most connected birthday, I started the day with a long meditation. I got together and practiced yoga asana with some close friends. It was lovely. We did 24 urdhva drop backs, did pigeon droppings (camel drop backs), and urdhvas to ustanasana back and forth... my quads are still soar. I wanted to work into sirsasana tick tocks and manadalasana but it wasn't the right time. I finished making presents (organic bath scrub infused with essential oils). I got to spend time with my younger sister who is visiting from Colorado. Later a new friend of mine threw me a small birthday bash, with yummy food, and great people. One of my favorite highlights from the party was being serenaded by Julian Moons outstanding voice and guitar skills (check her out).

My mom and I were discussing my age yesterday and how I used to be quite shy and embarrassed about my years or lake there of. I have been teaching yoga since I was 18, I felt like my students would treat me differently when they found out this "secret". I remember if students found out it was my birthday and asked me how old I was I would say "I prefer not to say". This is the first year that I shared more about my birthday and didn't feel fear of being viewed differently because I am young. Isn't it funny how things like age (or weight, wealth, ethnicity, music preference, style...) can make us feel separate from others and unworthy. It can feel so real, but if I take a step back I can smile and realize my ______ doesn't make me less worthy.

My friend JD talked last week about yoga being an invitation to know our self more fully. I have boticed in my own practice that in getting to know myself more fully and I am more accepting of myself and more open to sharing about my life both the ups and the downs. He also read a portion of Marianne Williamsons poem saying "it is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us". I love this quote it sends a shiver down my body and tears to my eyes. Here is more from Williamsons book A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Conventional and the Alternative Unite

Guest Blogger Allison Brooks shared this article with me to post on my blog. She is a recent college graduate and a holistic health nut! She aim's to enlightne people about the benegits of natural and integrative therapies. Enjoy.
How doctors are prescribing mind-body therapies

When a person begins to think about forms of medicine, many subjects come to mind. There are conventional, allopathic, alternative, complementary, and integrative therapies and the list can go on. All these divisions have different attitudes of the other, and normally are in two separate areas where they are never talked about with the other. But now the tides are changing, and a recent study shows that one in every 30 Americans was using a mind-body therapy (MBT) because their health-care provider suggested it. This is a big step for integrative therapies, but the only hindrance is that doctors prescribed MBT too late and the full effects cannot be felt.

A group of researchers from the Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School recently studied the amount of people that practice mind-body therapies voluntarily and prescribed. They were intrigued by their findings, and relate the rise in MBT acceptance to the transparency of data findings in clinical trials that support the use of mind-body therapies.

To collect data, researchers surveyed 23,000 U.S. households and found that nearly 6.3 million Americans (about 3 percent of the population) practiced MBT, like yoga, meditation, and touch therapies, because their doctors suggested it. Though this seems like a win for the complementary and alternative medicine side, there is one glitch; the people that were prescribed MBT were actually sicker and used a conventional treatment facility more than a person that voluntarily practiced.

This made researchers and everyone reading scratches their heads. How could an MBT that shows all these positive outcomes, leave somebody still sick? The conclusion made by the researchers was that the clinicians prescribed the MBT too late, sort-of like a last resort options when the conventional therapies failed. This will lead into another thesis, “will the adoption of an MBT early in treatment reduce the treatment time and promote healing”? Some claim that earlier use would help with treatment, and would lead to better outcomes for patients and rely less on the health care system.

Though the effects of mind-body therapies are nothing new for the readers of this blog, it is good to have science promoting their use. The use of complementary and alternative therapies in integrative medical facilities has been widely used, but now maybe a direct plan from the start of treatment will be adopted. Now an easier, less painful, and faster treatment can be implemented for chronic conditions and deathly cancers, like pancreatic cancer or mesothelioma. So far, many people swear by the effects of min0body therapies and other complementary and alternatives medicines.
Allison Brooks

Thank you Allison for sharing your love and knowledge with us. <3 Kimberly

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Present

Here is my holiday present to you! (Possibly a present you can give to others) I hope if helps you find different ways to connect back to you heart on your path. 

Here is a list of main heartfelt qualities/ intentions that we want to cultivate in our self and our students. (I got this list from The Anusara Yoga teacher Training Manual)
Kindness Playfulness Joy Non-clinging
Spaciousness Gratitude Yield Devotion
Discrimination Willpower Compassion Steadfastness
Courage Patience Contentment Sensitivity
Endurance Resilience Gentleness Concentration
Mindfulness Surrender Humility Softness
Acceptance Enthusiasm Forbearance Love
Use these intentions to connect more fully with your heart. They are heart-based feelings that can provide guidance.
Enjoy and many smiles to you,
Kimberly Achelis Hoggan-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copy these words into a word document and insert a table around them (so you get nice squares, couldnt ge the format to work in blogger) print these out on thick colorful pieces of paper, cut out the words and put them in a cute little sack along with the instruction card. This is my gift to you since I can give you one in person. They also make great mindful presents to hand out to others during the holidays.
I keep mine in a little box on my alter and draw a card almost daily.
Many blessing, lots of love and smiles
Ho Ho Ho

meditate and breath

During the holidays I find my mind wondering all over the place. To help myself stay balanced and calm during this often hectic season I have been practicing pranayama minimum 10 mins a day. Normally a combo of Nadi Shodhana and Kapalbhati (great heating breath during the cold winter months). Here is a pranayama blog post I wrote a few weeks ago for more breathing techniques. I also meditate 20 minutes 2 times a day. It is always my intention to do this, but I often find myself making excuses "I have so much to do, like cleaning the hair out of the drain... better not meditate". During this busy time of the year I have even more excuses not to meditate. But in my experience the more I have to do and the less time I have to meditate is a sure sign that I must mediate or I will turn into a mess. Its not just me that gets upset when I miss my meditation but my family, students, dog, and community all suffer when I don't take time to sit.

So let this be a reminder to meditate and breath!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One year

On December 06 2010 I came to my husband in tears. I told him that I had an eating disorder and I wanted help. I was sure he would hate me, leave me, yell at me. Instead he held me in his arms and said "he loved me and that things would be okay". Its been a year since that day and things have changed so much. I have been working with a treatment team regularly and they cant believe what a speedy recovery I have had. I often point out a specific meditation I had with my meditation teacher. I felt like I was in a dark cave being shacked. I was scared but I felt this huge surrender. I few tears ran down my checks and he said "God is healing you". I didn't know what to think but I stayed in the meditation. That day effected my recovery so much! Letting a power greater then myself into my life has been huge. As well as being honest to others and letting people help me.

I have mentioned my eating disorder a few times on this blog and I hint at it quite a lot just don't write out the words "eating disorder" instead I write "challenges, difficulties, things that don't serve us". I think every person has something and I think by talking to the bigger picture instead of specific symptoms it is more universal for everyone. It also scares the crap out of me being so honest and vulnerable so I hope to write about it more as a challenge to myself.

That's my update. My life changed so dramatically one year ago and it continues to grow everyday as I remind myself what is truly important to me instead of what is on the superficial layer.

Thanks for reading

Finished Anusara Teacher Training-- My final project-- tears

I just finished Anusara Teacher Training with Adam Ballenger. Wow happy it is done. These past few weeks I felt very stressed and overwhelmed. I talked to a friend about how I put so much pressure on myself, she reminded me that teaching is a refining practice. That no one expects me to teach the perfect Anusara class, so I should give myself a break. Our final project for TT was to plan a 90 minute class, with a apex pose, a principle of emphasis (P.O.E), and a heart quality. It was a different experience for me. Normally I come up with the class planing the day of or day before I teach. Inspired by my own practice, something I have learned, an experience I had.. So it was different to be planning a class for two months.

At the beginning of the teacher training we talked about our strengths as a teacher. Adam encouraged us to teach from our strength another quality. For example some of my strengths are that I am fun, fiery, and playful. It is easier for me to teach these kinds of classes. Adam said it would be really powerful if I can learn to teach a more serious, or grounded kind of class from my strengths. Not that I would let go of my strengths I don't know if I could let go of my playful attitude if I tried. But Adams point was it would make me a more powerful teachers. I thought hard about this as I planned my final project.

I decided on kindness for my heat quality. Working from the personal to the universal, in the beginning of class I said that it takes effort for me to be kind to myself. that it is much easier for me to be self criticizing, judgemental and rude to myself. However in my experience when I put effort into being my friend rather then being my enemy my life feels lie it goes more smoothly, I am a happier person, and I interact with others in a more meaningful way. I game an example of looking in a mirror, saying "do you look at your reflection like an enemy or a best friend. I would never say some of the things I say to myself that I would say to my friend."

My principle of emphasis was shins in thighs out. The effort to be kind to yourself is shins in. The outer shin muscle tends to be a lot weaker then the inner shin muscles so we used our awareness and effort to engage what I was calling "our kindness muscle" which are really the peroneus longus and peroneus brevis muscles. (These muscles pull the foot outward when we spread our fourth and fitht toes.) The first poses I taught was all about getting the students to experience this action, of shins in.  After that was established I started to teach them how with the resistance of shins in they can broaden their thighs out. Just like we only get the expansion and self softening when we put effort in being to being kind to our self. When I am my worst enemy I experience a contraction and a hardening of myself, when I am kind to myself I experience a softening and an expansion.

In one of the many pages of notes I created thinking up this class I had written in big letters. HOME RUN! Where am I going to nail the link of kindness to S.I.T.O? Most of the class my link was emotional but I also wanted to make a literal link of the theme to the heart quality. Adam loves the literal links. My home run was: I pointed out that doing S.I.T.O is a very therapeutic and kind thing you can do for your knees, hips, and low back. (My critique in the end was to link it more, explaining why it is therapeutic. When you draw the shins in and widen the thighs you are aligning the knees in such a great way and you are training your body to be able to hold that alignment. This therapeutic alignment also creates space in the hips and low back that rarely gets the chance to move and often becomes fussed (non movement possible) with age).

The apex pose was parvrita ardha chandrasana chapasana. We moved through some Surya Namaskars while squeezing a block between the shins. Did some lunges. We moved to the wall to get our quads really open, Did splits up the wall and splits on the floor with the foot pushing into the baseboard. We got the hips, legs, shoulders way open.

I had planned planned planned (my main mistake thinking I could be perfect). As the final teacher training approached the more nervous I became. When it was my turn to teach I felt myself freeze up. I have been teaching yoga for five years and have built up some confidence as my role of the yoga teacher. But teaching to a group of teachers and teaching to my main teacher, Adam, was hard for me. As I taught I could feel part of myself go into auto pilot. One of my main auto pilot modes it teaching commentaries instead of actions:
  •  arms circle out around and up vs. reach your arms out around and up
  • hands frame the foot vs. place your hands so they frame your foot
  • feet move back as you lower down chataranga vs. step your feet back, bend your elbows and lower down
After I taught the class and got feedback. I did good at: giving the students ways to measure if they were doing the action, clever sequence, fun attitude... Main things to refine were: linking the theme to the principle of emphasis, giving action commands instead of commentaries... Listening to the feedback was great. I love hearing what I am doing good and what I need to work on. While Adam was talking instead of saying "you talked about how it takes effort for you to be kind to you self" he was saying "you talked about how sometimes you are not kind to yourself". Its the same thing but hearing someone else say it that way was hard. It was a vulnerable topic for me to teach, and although I taught it to myself many times, and practiced with my husband. After I got the reviews I felt this wave of emotion hit me.

After the training I went home and sobbed my eyes out. I think this was a combination of things: how vulnerable my topic was, how much effort I put into it, and how I compare myself to others. After one of the other teacher trainees taught their class Adam got excited saying "wow you are so great. I could easily inspire you, Like inspiring you wouldn't be a problem. That was great" so I got it in my head that I really wanted Adam to say that to me. I also think the tears were just a result of a long journey coming to an end, I started the immersions with Adam 2 years ago and I have grown so much as a result of these training. It was a great experience. Adam is such an outstanding teaching I have learned so much from him and am excited to continue to learn from him.

I have all the requirements now to be inspired I just need a  Certified Teacher to sign off on my class. I was getting my confidence up to ask Adam. Now I think I will wait.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blog Report

My friend and almost Certified Anusara Teacher Leslie Salmon shared a link with me "Blog report". I was so happy to get a list of outstanding yoga blogs that I might not have been in the know about to add to my reading list. I was so excited to see that this blog made it on there. Some days I wonder if anyone reads it, oh the life of a blogger. Big smile on my face!

Joy for the holidays

The holiday season is certainly upon us. The holidays carry a joyful bhava (bhava is a Sanskrit word meaning "emotional flavor" or "feeling"). However sometimes I feel myself getting disappointed when I experience  more stress then I do joy. I have to remind myself that I am already a busy person and when holidays come I try to do so much. If I wake up without much thought and go about my day it is only natural that my emotional flavor will be of stress. Joy is something I have to make my intention and I have to remind myself of that intention everyday. When I keep this in my awareness then even busy moments like holiday shopping or family dinner juggling I can delight in the flavor of joy. How great it is to be around family! How great it is to make offering to the ones I love! Even finding some joy in being stressed (its all part of the pulsation).

Below is one of my favorite quotes from The Yoga of Discipline by Swami Chidvilasananda widely known as Gurumayi an enlightened spiritual master and John Friends Guru:

"The sunrise of supreme bliss shimmers
in every particle of the universe,
so why not drink a fresh cup of JOY every day
and become inspired with new perception?
Remember, love and respect
must be renewed with each dawn."

I have been reminding myself of this quote and have read it in some classes lately. The part that is standing out to me recently is "why not drink a fresh cup of joy every day". This idea that we need to renew these bhava's daily.

Last week in class I focused on twists. Twisting out stress so we can renew our joy each day. I focused on the difference between a twist and a turn. A twist has two counter actions going on, like opening up a pickle jar. If you use one hand and turn the top one direction the whole bottle will move that direction and you wont open the jar. You need to use both hands twisting one hand one direction and the other hand the opposite direction, then wa-la! You can delight in eating your pickles. Same goes when we twist the body, from the belly button up you twist in on direction, and from the belly button down you twist in the opposing direction. I thought twists would be appropriate after thanksgiving festivities. 

Intention and Testimonials

Testimonials & My Intention

My Intention It is my intention as a yoga teacher to help you bring more health and vibrancy to your body, ease and alertness to your mind...