Flow Down. Slow Down.

Griffin & Mommy
It’s a rainy Monday morning. Still early by most accounts- but at 7:45am it is late for me to still be in bed.

This is only the 2nd time in 65 days I haven’t felt well enough to pull myself out of bed. I have a raging headache, stomachache, joint pain and I’m m pretty nauseous. None of these symptoms are nearly as frustrating to deal with as my inability to get up and simply be present for my 3 year old, who is at this very moment, trying to work his other daddy over.

It is both comforting and challenging to listen to them hash out the details of eating breakfast and getting ready for school. I wish I could be at the table. It is bittersweet.

But…this is what cancer looks like some days. Some days the flow is really slow.

So far there has been little predictability to how I feel on any give day. In the beginning it seemed as though chemo cycle days 3 and 4 were the most pregnant with side-effects. (I have chemo once a week. The “cycle” starts the day of treatment, so I have 6 day cycles) But recently I’ve been feeling pretty good until days 4 and 5.

Yesterday (day 4) I felt great; I got up early, taught a packed yoga class and played for hours with my son, before hitting a wall around 3pm. Then, at a BBQ at our friends house nausea hit me like a ton of bricks. If today gets worse before it gets better, it’s going to be quite a challenge.
So I’m clearing the deck of appointments and responsibilities and flowing down.
Some times that’s all we can do.

Juicing. Juicing. Juicing.

Tuesday. January 3rd, 2011
Nantucket, MA.

Wow… okay, so I had NO IDEA how fast I was going to rip through what I thought was a plentiful bounty of fruits and veggies in my refrigerator. Um, holy cow I’ve consumed a lot of plant matter in the past few days! This challenge (not going to the grocery store until the week’s end) is getting to get a little more difficult that I had anticipated.

BUSTED: I already had to manipulate the challenge a little this morning, when I realized that I was left without coffee beans for the week, and that Griffin was running dangerously low on soy milk. So I went. BUT, I didn’t buy any “food for myself”. Only soy for G man, and coffee – which isn’t a food necessarily. Right? Right.

Anyway, I’ve juiced 6 of my last 9 meals, and there’s very little left. What am I going to do? Take up donations? Eat less, practice more meditation? Ha, I’m going to be seeing auras before it’s all said and done.

Om,
~Bliss

The Artful Sankalpa

Saturday, December 31th 2011
Nantucket, MA.
 

Thursday night I had the opportunity to practice at the studio, not something I get to do often late in the week, so it was a real treat. Especially because It seems like ever since I completed the 60 Day Yoga Challenge back on the 10th of December, my asana practice has kind of fallen off the mat, and it’s amazing to me how having external motivators in place, like a challenge, can totally change the way we, or I as it were, approach self-discipline. Anyway, I was super psyched when I arrived at the Yoga Room to see that Susan had written the word Sankalpa on the dry-erase board, which is the Sanskrit word for will, purpose or determination, how perfect.

Sankalpas are intentions, similar to resolutions, and yet quite different. Sankalpas are often positive things we wish to cultivate – like peace, compassion, love, or truthfulness. Resolutions, on the other hand, are often about decreasing something, giving an indulgence up like alcohol, fatty foods, sugar, or TV… sometimes a list of New Years resolutions can feel like punishment, or self-denial.

So in this way,  a sankalpa is actually the opposite of a resolution. It’s about increasing not decreasing. And the process of creating more space for our intentions to grow, instead of the often difficult task of giving something up.  Sankulpas foster positive self-image, whereas resolutions can run the risk of making you feel like you’ve been perpetually coming up short.

Here we are on the cusp of yet another new beginning. And whether you believe this is the dawn of just another new day – which in itself is still a miracle, or if you celebrate New Year’s Eve as the end of one year, and beginning of a new chapter in your life, it is without a doubt a time when many people take a moment to reflect on the past and look towards the future with fresh eyes. The end of the December presents us with a  chance to re-evaluate where we are in our lives, our relationships, our careers and of course, our practice. So if writing down a list of resolutions is not your cup of tea, perhaps thinking about the sankalapas you wish to cultivate in the year to come will get you closer to a place of greater equanimity.`

Anyway, however deep your intentions are, or long your list or resolutions may be, I wish you many powerful and compassionate sankalaps in the year 2012. May your New Years Eve celebrations allow you a moment to be grateful for all that you have, and all the beautiful things to come.

I celebrated earlier this evening, as Griffin, Burr and I watched a Fantasia-esuqe sunset over Cisco beach on the Western side of Nantucket. The moment flooded my heart with love and gratitude as I watched my two most special people smile at the simplicity of the setting sun. Griffin excitedly  pointed to the great ball of fire in the sky exclaiming “hot” over and over again, while a big bright rainbow spanned the horizon behind us. It was the perfect ending to a transformative year.

Many thanks to all my friends, family, students, teachers and mentors for all there continued support. To my son, for giving me a reason so much bigger than myself to continue down the path of Self-realiztion. And to my partner, for nurturing me along the way.

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Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu.

~Bliss

ps. I’m teaching tomorrow on New Years Day. Come join the sangha at The Yoga Room at 9 a.m.

Double Trouble: Holiday Vinyasa Flow with Caitlin & Grey Marcoux

Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Nantucket, MA.
60 Day Yoga Challenge, Day 58

So here’s my  Confession of the Week: It almost all fell apart last night, the whole damn thing. Yup, just 3 days away from completing my 60 day yoga challenge, I simply could not be motivated to practice. I tried, all day long, to pull myself together, but an array of parental circumstances prevented me from getting into my yoga clothes. I’ve been horribly achy in all my major and minor joints for a couple of weeks now, and part of my day involved getting tested for Lyme Disease. The rest of the day disappeared into what can best be explained as the Wormhole of Domesticity, and then BOOM, it was 7:30 p.m.

With the desperateness of a wounded soldier crawling across an abandoned battle field, I tried, to no avail, to drag myself onto my mat. Some how, in an extremely uncharacteristic change of heart I watched myself return with stronger commitment to my couchasana. No one was looking, so I watched “Friends with Benefits” On Demand. Pathetic I know, but it felts soooo good!

The boyfriend returned home at 7:45. Busted. “Did you do your practice?” he asked. “No” I replied lamely, as I tried to pull my attention away from Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. “Do it” he said. Argh…

Dutifully I rose, and like a soldier, once again under command, I forced myself off the couch and turned on YogaGlo. Thank God for Kathryn Budig and her 20 minute Night Cap Practice. ‘Cause ordered to or not, that was about all I was good for. Day 57 practice: check.

(I can’t elieve how close I came to throwing in the towel on my own quest. Partnership has some major benefits)

_________

In other news, my youngest sister, Grey, will be visiting Nantucket soon. She is about to join the ranks of newly certified yoga teachers, completing her 200-YTT certification at the Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in San Francisco, CA. I’m super excited to practice with her once again at home, and I’ve also invited her to assist me in teaching several Holiday Vinyasa Flows. The info is listed in the flyer above, and I hope some of you will be able to join us December 22nd through the 26th. With Grey on the brink of graduating December 18th, all three sisters in my family will soon be yoga teachers: a fact that makes for a wonderful living example of how many different paths can be taken to ultimately arrive at the same beautiful place.

Tomorrow I’m off to visit with two of my other yogini sisters, Caroline Pope Peavy and Juliet Loranger. Caroline is a yoga teacher at Eyes of the World in Providence, RI and Shri Yoga in Pawtucket, and Juliet in a yoga teacher as well as the studio owner of Yoga on Union, in New Bedford. The three of us solidified our friendship last June, when we all spent 3 days with Kathryn Budig during her “Flight of the Yogi” workshop at Kripalu. The ladies are co-teaching their first ever workshop, “Root Down to Rise Up”, this Saturday the 10th, at Shri, so of course I have to go… and It’s going to be an awesome way to celebrate the end of my challenge -amongst colleagues and friends and Up-Side-Down. Oh yeah baby – bring it Day 60!

If you’re in the Rhode Island hood this weekend, be sure to come to Shri in Pawtucket, and support these two hot yogis of flight.

Love & Light,
~Bliss

New Year’s Eve Yoga on Nantucket

Nantucket, MA.
60 Day Yoga Challenge: Day 55

my life- car seats and yoga mats

Dear Tribe,

To all the yogis who came out to practice yesterday morning- thank you. Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me in the best way I know how- on the mat. Yesterday was truly special, and I am repeatedly struck with the brilliance of our little island community. Walking into the studio yesterday morning to teach, I was bathed in “happy birthday”s and the warmth of a hundred tiny colored lights lining the perimeter of the room. I practiced on my big birthday present: my first ever professional quality yoga mat by Manduka, and instead of Happy Birthday around a cake, my students sang it to me after savasana. Perfect.

birthday woodpile natarajasana

After class at The Yoga Room, Burr and I had breakfast smoothies at The Green, and then picked up my kids. We had an impromptu dance party in the living room, and spent an hour playing outside, feeding the starlings and morning doves, while Griffin climbed on the wood pile. Once the kids back at their father’s house we visited with my parents, stopped by Ambrosia for Claudia’s delicious chocolate, and went to see Theatre Workshop’s production of Oliver! with my mom.

What a great job everyone did. Hats off to TWN’s John Shea and Gabrielle Gould, director Laura Gallagher Byrne and the cast and crew of Oliver!.  Having grown up on the stage at Bennett Hall, I have to admit I was a little choked up taking in the quality production and fantasizing about my Griffin (my son) being up there in no time. If you haven’t seen it yet, get thee to the theatre! The show is closing at the end of next weekend.

We capped off my birthday with dinner, just the two of us, at America Seasons… and I have to say that even for vegetarians in a meat-heavy establishment, we had a lovely experience. We had a salad of mixed greens, fennel and figs, Butternut squash soup, a beet and ricotta salad, and a roasted vegetable risotto. And I even got a trick candle in my dessert… so three wishes instead of just one! 35 is going to be the best year yet.

_________

So I’m thinking of leading a NYE practice this year…. but only if there’s interest. Please, if you’re up for it, take the poll below, or send me some feed back to caitlinmarcoux@gmail.com. I figured I’m going to be here, so I might as well be on my mat.

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Join me for Slow Flow tonight, or Dynamic Flow tomorrow and have a beautiful, beautiful day.

~Bliss

Strolling into Christmas

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
Nantucket, MA.
60 Day Yoga Challenge Day 50
October’s Practice Record via YogaGlo

It’s hard for me to believe but true: as of today, I am ten days away from finishing my 60 Day Yoga Challenge. 50 days of yoga in a row have done a number of things to not only for my body, but also for my soul. Without a doubt, I’m stronger and more flexible. I’m holding handstands with more easy and for longer and longer periods of time, and I can melt into hanumanasana (full split) without so much as warming up. But more importantly, or perhaps more interestingly, I am happier. This is not to say that I’m sweet and cheery all the time, or easy to live with, or even nice 24/7 – but I’d like to think I’m a little softer.

If there is evidence to be had, I can look to my son. The playtime we share is full of even more goofy smiles, the hugs and kisses he gives me are even more plentiful, and silly laughter fills our living room most afternoons and evenings. The calm that feels more accessible to me now, has been regularly reflected back to me via my son. It’s pretty amazing.

You mean there really could be something to all this talk about the benefits of yoga? 

Yes. Yes, it’s true. I can now honestly attest to all the things I have been touting for years- my regular yoga practice makes me a better person, a better mother, a better lover, a better partner, and a better friend. Need more proof? I guess we could ask Burr…but you know, he’s a private kind of guy, so he may not want to publicly weigh in.

This week’s practices on the road included one 30-minute self-practice outside the B6 gate in Logan Airport, 3 classes as The Bindu in Lake Norman, North Carolina, one class at Yoga One, in Charlotte,  one YogaGlo class with Elena Brower I did in the middle of my boyfriend’s sister’s house in Davidson, and one self-practice I did in their upstairs “Bonus Room” to a video I made of my own Sunday Sadhana class at TYR last February (um, it was hard. I give my students a lot of credit).

B6 Loganasana

The Bindu is a very pretty studio, who’s owner Kelley Gardner is a certified Anusara Yoga Instructor. Kelley offers a heart-guided and alignment driven practice, which feels to me, very typical of an Anusara practice. Yoga One on the other hand is a Baron Baptiste affiliated, Hot yoga studio. To put it nicely, let’s just say that the teacher who led the practice was about as far away as one could get from the seasoned and attentive Ms. Gardner at The Bindu as possible.

November’s YogaGlo Practice Tracker

Oh, and just quickly…

On the personal and familial front, I would like to say a big thank you to the Heiser and Keible families for all their hospitality over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Though it was difficult at times for me to focus on what was in front of my face, rather than the pangs of Griffin-sickness, I really enjoyed my time with my partner’s family, and felt truly welcomed into all their various homes and hearts.

And while it’s safe to assume I won’t be rushing out to play Mini-Golf again any time soon, it’s true what Burr said: if I had not played, I wouldn’t have been able to come in last. 😉 Nor would I have gotten the chance to add the Mini-Golf Natarajasana photograph below to my  “Where in the Natarajasana” Facebook album. Now wouldn’t that have been a missed opportunity!

 

Golfasana

As we prepare for the unique experience that is the Christmas Stroll on Nantucket, I would like to encourage as many of you to keep up with your regular yoga practice as possible. We had record turn out of students in class the week leading up to Thanksgiving… let’s keep building the amazing connectedness that is our local sangha. Christmas time presents us with many challenges but just as many opportunities for growth, connection and gratitude. Act from the heart. Stay true to your Self. And remember to breathe.

Oh, and BTW, my 35th Birthday is this Sunday the 4th of December. All I want, besides a sexy new black Manduka Yoga Mat 😉 is to practice yoga with my tribe. Please join me in celebrating during my regularly scheduled Sunday Sadhana class at the Yoga Room. The flow will be mixed level, open to all looking to smile, hoping to play. Please don’t be mad if I play a few loud rock tunes.

Finally, I’d like to close by saying how extremely grateful I am for this:

The nearly matching, but certainly unique enough, luggage and complementary Timbuktu messenger bags… to say nothing of the yummieness carting them around the airport. Dear man with the bags, I love you.

In other not as self-absorbed news, here are my up-coming subs

Eager to get your vinyasa on? I’m subbing a lot over the next month, so if you’re on Nantucket for any part of December, please stop by the Yoga Room, and check out the ever-changing holiday class schedule. As far as I know, I am currently subbing the following classes:

Thursday morning December 1st for Bettina @ 8:15 – 9:35 a.m.

Thursday evening December 1st for Susan @ 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Thursday evening December 22nd for Susan @ 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Saturday morning Christmas Eve for Clay @ 8:15 – 9:35 a.m.

Monday morning December 26th for Clay @ 8:15 – 9:35 a.m.

Tuesday morning December 27th for Susan @ 9:00-10:25 a.m.

*Gift Certificates for classes are available at The Yoga Room, and I have some pretty gift certificates available for massage. Check out the winter massage specials I’m offering at Nantucket Massage Therapy here.

Love, Light & Vegetarian Blessings,

~Bliss

Happy Thanksgiving

May you all have a beautiful, happy day full of Gratitude.

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Om. om. om.

Love,
~Bliss and Griffin (& Elmo)

Thank You

November 19. 2011
Nantucket, MA.
Challenge Day 39
Saturday Night Gratitude

To the 23 of you who tonight, fit into a studio designed to take 21: Thank you. Thank you for sharing your practice with me, and coming out to celebrate Thanksgiving with me in the best way I know how.

Thank you for indulging me in my attempt to illustrate the yamas. And thank you for sharing your homework with me.

I kept my word. I did not peek. As soon as we got home tonight, we stoked up the fire, and threw all the notes in…

Here’s the footage. Just in case you question my satya. 😉

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All my Love,

~Bliss

handstand vs. parenting, or maybe both

 
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
60 Day Yoga Challenge: Day 30
Nantucket, MA.
 

So this is it Tribe; the half-way marker in my first ever attempt at doing anything for 60 days in a row. And I’ve done it. Not to toot my own horn- I’m going to anyway – but this feels like something worth mentioning. If you haven’t been following my very public attempt at yogic commitment, or haven’t read any of my previous posts about the 60 Day Challenge, all you need to know is this: I have been, up until recently, a complete and utter commitment-phoebe.

To put it plainly I have at times suffered from wanderlust, career dissatisfaction, long-term relationship fears, and geographic restlessness. Before finding massage therapy and teaching yoga, I was a dancer, exterior house painter, fishmonger, stylist’s assistant, studio manager, photo researcher, magazine photo editor, hostess, retail goddess and personal assistant. I have never been involved in a relationship that has lasted longer than the one I shared with my college sweetheart – and that was only lasted 3 years. But more to the point; I have never done anything consistently for 30 days, let alone 60. I’m not even sure I could honestly say I’ve flossed my teeth every day for 60 days in a row- though I consistently make the effort to do so. So this, my friends, is a big, big deal.

The cool thing is, though the point was to develop a more “disciplined” or “devoted” practice, I have actually accomplished a reverence for all the other little things that take up my time in between my asanas and meditations. Because the 20 minutes a day I’ve been consistently setting aside for the challenge has been so central, every other moment around the 20 has become that much more important. Time itself has become more valuable: time with my son, time with my partner, time with my teachers and students, and even all the insignificant moments of my daily life- now more significant. Instead of rushing through things to get them done, I now pause, and enjoy them all so much more – washing my face and brushing my teeth feels like a more like a ritual of self-care. The down moments stolen on the couch with Burr feel more potent and meaningful in fostering good bonding and a healthy relationship. Filling up the VW has morphed into an opportunity to smile at the guy with the pump in his hand, perhaps making his day (and mine) a little brighter Maybe most importantly -this challenge has helped me embrace Motherhood like I’ve never embraced it before. The time I spend with my son, Griffin (who is quickly approaching 2), has now become utterly priceless.

The practice of cultivating self-awareness that has been the point of all this daily meditation and/or asana, has facilitated a much deeper awareness of my practice as a parent – an amazing side effect I hadn’t anticipated at all. It was only a few months ago I felt like my life was a series of responsibilities linked in a forever repeating loop of daily tasks: wake up, heat the bottle, put the kettle on, change the baby, make the breakfast, pack the backpack and lunch, drop off the baby at daycare, go to work, pick up the baby, facilitate a nap, bathe the baby, make dinner, put the baby down, attempt to sleep until at least 5:30 or 6, repeat. And all that noise all the older mothers and grandmothers I know who kept repeating that mantra of “enjoy this time while you have it, he’ll never be a baby again.. ” yeah well, blah blah blah – didn’t they know how hard I was working just to get through my day ? How could I possibly have the patience to enjoy it. “They grow up so fast”  they’d say to me… Good, I’d think.

Ah, Om….

But seriously, of course I love my son. I love him more than anything in the entire world. And now I feel so grateful to yoga – again– for giving me the tools I need to honor my special little boy, and to be the best mother I can possibly be.

So to those of you who might feel like spending 20 minutes (or more, or less) on yourselves is selfish, or wasteful – to you I say this: cultivating a practice, whatever it may be; yoga, walking the dog, sitting in meditation, exercise, taking a bath, whatever, for the sake of cultivating self-love and self-acceptance is probably the most rewarding commitment you can make. Your whole family will reap the benefits of your practice.

In closing tonight, I’d like to extend some Thank Yous:

To my ex-husband Paul, for loving our son, especially when physically I am elsewhere.

To the powerful yogini-goddesses I studied and connected with this week: Elena, Shiva and Schyler (what a way to top off a month of practice).

To my teacher and mentor, Shannah, for her on-going support and love.

A big big thank-you to my partner, Burr, whos work in NYC made our trip this week a reality. For his on-going encouragement of my yogic journey, my teaching and not so pretty ventures deep into myself. And above all else for his patience. I am far, far, far from the perfect partner (see commitment-phoebia above), and prone to giving up… So far, he has not given up on me.

And to my son Griffin – who has made me a much better person, living in a much richer world. I love you Griffin, more than I could possibly tell you.

Jai, jai, jai yogis!

~Bliss

sit and spin

The 60 Day Yoga Challenge: Day 18

Okay, I have to admit it. For the first time in 17 Days, yesterday, I didn’t practice “asana” nor did I meditate. I know. How could I have come 16 days into this challenge, only to give up… Well, it was a rough day. There was (and still is) a sick baby, a tweaked shoulder and a new neck injury. Asana just wasn’t in the cards. And sitting in meditation is nearly impossible when Griffin refuses to go to sleep.

Does this mean I’ve failed my own 60 Day Challenge? Maybe, BUT, if I think back to the teachings that I hold so dear to my heart, the ones passed down to me from Ganga & Tracey, there just might be a loop hole or two.

In his book, Yoga Beyond Belief, Ganga writes “Your entire life is your meditation. All other specific forms of meditation technique are secondary. By integrating qualities of attention, awareness, caring and insight into all arenas of living, we reach the deeper core and more essential meaning of mediation.” If a walk on the beach can be a meditation, or a family dinner, or a trip to a foreign country,then certainly psychotherapy can be a form of meditation. When look closer at the structure of therapy; individual therapy or couples therapy, like the session I went to yesterday, it’s really easy to see that it’s part of the practice.

Just like in traditional seated meditation, In therapy, you sit.  And just like in seated meditation, you try not to spin out. Instead, you tune in. You watch your breath. You listen. You practice attentiveness and awareness. You attempt to cultivate compassion and acceptance. In a way, in couple’s therapy, you have to practice even harder – because it’s not just you and your monkey mind; it’s you, your monkey mind, your partner, is monkey mind, and a third person who attempts to keep everyone focused and on point. So for me, couple’s therapy is way harder that sitting on a cushion by myself, which, by the way, is hard for me anyway. It requires so much more attention to right speech, acceptance of the self and one another, and even deeper compassion for everyone involved.

My teacher Ganga goes on to say that meditation can be defined as “anything that gives us self-knowledge, understanding, wisdom, artistry in living, awareness of the miracle of existence, and love.”

Through the practice of reflection and honesty we are in fact creating the real artistry in living Ganga was speaking to. By peeling back the layers of the onion now, and not waiting until we’re cranky old farts and set in our ways, Burr and I are living closer to the truth sooner rather than later. And if the point of meditation is to foster  the awareness of the miracle of existence and love, than Hell yeah! we are certainly on the right path. Indeed, Life is a miracle, and how much I love my partner – whether it’s just for now or forever, is a direct and beautiful expression of that miracle.

So yeah, yesterday there was no asana, but man was there some therapy. I’m going to go ahead and say it counts as a meditation. You tell me.

Shanti,

~Bliss