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Why Practice Matters

imagesPractice Matters.  Why it matters is the theme for April at Catspaw.

In yoga we refer to coming to our yoga mat as a practice.  When I come to my cushion (Catspaw Cushions of course;) I refer to it as a practice.  Just what exactly is the definition of practice?

Practice – noun

1. the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use 2. repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency

Practice – verb 

1. perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency  2carry out or perform training, rehearsal, repetition, routine, preparation.  

Whichever definition you use, practice is about showing up, even if you don’t want to.  I am not suggesting mindlessly going through life, but I am suggesting that you participate in your life.
It seems like a simple formula or recipe.

You want to make that ardha-chandrasanadelicious chocolate chip cookie, or come to a balanced and open Half-moon – Ardha Chandrasana?  You can’t do either one if you don’t consistently do it.  We have to be like Fred the donut maker, from the old but well-loved commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts:  It’s time to make the Donuts.

Pause to practice.

 

 

Continue Habits

With the theme at Catspaw for January, Start Where You Are, the question is:  How do we continue habits that we start?

There are countless ideas about how to continue, schedule or keep habits that we start.  Most of us know we would benefit from adding or continuing practicing yoga, walking, or eating more vegetables.  And there are countless books that inspire or keep us on track, from self-help books to business books like 7 Habits of Highly Effective people by Stephen Covey, first published in 1989.

We are what we repeatedly do.  Success is not a action but a Habit.  Aristotle, 384BC-322BC 

angled-cover_largeFor a more modern way of approaching habits, there is a marketing guru with some buddhist inspiration, Seth Godin.  I recently started reading and listening to Godin’s book Tribes, which has to do with being leaders.  I also follow his daily blog.  Many of his other books
have to do with showing up, being mentally flexible and being indispensable. See, for example, Godin’s book  Linchpin.  Godin’s newest book is What to do When it’s your turn (and it’s always your turn).

The point is to figure out how we can be successful with your habits.  We can always read Godin or Pema Chodren  for inspiration, but as a yoga teacher suggest that we show up on our yoga mats for simple forward folds.  That’s a good beginning for a set of habits that will support our life and goals.

 photo credit  – http://thepowerofpositivehabits.com

Preparation

The theme for January, Start Where You Are, our guest writer – Lucie Brossard, writes about Preparation.

luciebrossardLife doesn’t just unfold out of the blue, and neither does any creative undertaking. If we want to produce beautiful results, whether it is in life or art, we must be vigilant in our willingness to lay the ground, to spend time and effort getting ourselves good and ready.

Graham Wallas, the nineteenth-century-born social psychologist, named “Preparation” the first of creativity’s four stages.(The Art of Thought 1926) In Wallas’s view, preparation is part research, part planning, and part entering the right frame of mind. Preparation does not mean waiting for all conditions to be perfectly conceived in order to reach a prescribed outcome; it simply means taking the necessary steps in any situation to ready ourselves for something perfectly marvelous to occur.

Being a mother, art therapist, and creator of food, art, and gardens, I have lots of experience with the creative process. I can make a delicious meal in a pinch from a few ingredients in the fridge, or transform a pile of decades-old unfinished art work into a polished product. I have planned parties for tens of people, and transformed a front yard of dead grass into a dryland garden. Some of my projects are big, others small and mundane. But as Wallas knew, when I devote more time to planning, versus jumping in haphazardly, things are more aesthetically pleasing, and certainly more satisfying.

Preparation comes in many forms, ranging from visioning to brainstorming, gathering information to organizing thoughts. Contemplation and meditation are passive (or receptive) forms of preparation that help us to bring a different quality of attention to our day-to-day activities. These types of preparation happen at the level of thought, and sometimes even in the midst of other things. In other instances, we prepare at the level of action. When getting ready to embark on something new, I might read several books on a topic, gather inspiring images into a folder, record the sound of my own voice when rehearsing for a job interview, or write my intentions and goals on paper.

Ultimately, there is a lot for which we cannot brace ourselves in life. Even so, being vigilant in our preparations will allow us to meet our days without hesitation or inhibition so that we can seize opportunities and produce beautiful—if not perfect–results!

Guest writer  and artist Lucie Brossard she can be emailed at  lucie_brossard@yahoo.com

Winter Solstice and the First Chakra

First Chakra mixed media by D WrightAs we near the Winter Solstice, Christmas – this year there will be a full moon, New Year and other year-end season festivities.  It really feels that we need to be still and quiet. It is time to be reflective and looking forward toward the new year.

As we come to pause to be  quiet and try to become grounded we will focus on our 1st chakra.

Chakras are known in the practices of yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda as centers of energy within the body. The word chakra in Sanskrit translates to “wheel”, and these centers of energy are frequently depicted as whirling balls of energy starting at the base of the spine and moving up through the crown of the head. Each chakra is associated with a different aspect of energy and emotion. Through yoga poses and meditation, you can balance your chakras and tap into their energy.

The 1st chakra is also known as the root, base or muladhara chakra. It is the foundation of all the chakras, and is located at the base of the spine. It is associated with security and feelings of groundedness. If you are feeling nervous, anxiousness, or fear, incorporating poses associated with this chakra into your yoga practice may help to balance this center of energy.first chakra

Yoga poses for the root chakra emphasize connection with the earth as a means to restore feelings of security. Spend a few moments at the beginning of your practice standing in mountain pose. With your feet hips distance apart, spread and root your toes. Envision roots extending down from your feet into the earth.

Warrior 1 is another great root chakra pose. From mountain pose, step one foot back 3/4 distance towards the back of the mat. Sink into the front knee as it bends towards 90 degrees. Turn the back foot flat and press down through all four corners of the foot. As you reinforce your connection to the earth with your feet, raise your arms overhead, and allow your body to be a conduit for the energy you draw up from the earth.

When you finish your practice, close with a meditation on the mantra associated with the first chakra, the sound of “Lam”. Sit comfortably, close the eyes and begin to focus on the breath. Inhale through the nose, and as you exhale, repeat the sound “Lam” either silently or out loud. Continue this meditation for at least five minutes.

#practicepausing

Muladhara mixed media by Diane Wright 

#Shopsmall, Shop Local, Made in USA

#Shopsmall, Shop Local, Made in USA. Does buying from small businesses really matter?

I have a small business and I would like to have support from my local community as well as an online community, so I think it does.

When we decide to do any kind of business – buy something, hire someone, etc. – we always compare the value of the transactions  against the dollars we’re giving up.  But there is another way to add value to transactions that doesn’t cost us a penny.  We create and strengthen our community when we support our local small businesses.  The small businesses could be on Etsy(artisans that have small stores), the local mechanic or  a local restaurant.

There are great success stories of  why we  buy, “made in the USA” such as WeatherTech and MakersRow (enable brands to find manufacturers to create products here in the United States).

#ShopSmall was started in 2010 by American Express  the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to shop small. Having those unique experiences and or items is a lot of fun.

Along the same line, Chase created Mission Main St. Grants to help small business with a financial grant to help them succeed. Which suggest that believe that supporting small businesses are important.

#Shopsmall, Shop Local, Made in USA helps the economy, and helps build community. Here are a list of a few places that we like, in our area (Wheat Ridge, Colorado, a suburb of Denver):  PoseyGirl (flowershop), Avenue ConsignmentBoutique, (women’s clothing) Applewood Vietmanese Restaurant – Pho Grill and the list could go on.

We are all eager to save a buck, but the goodwill be create when we #Shopsmall, Shop Local, Made in USA is priceless. There are many opportunities to support a mom and pop shop you just have to be welling look outside the box;)

At Catspaw Cushions and Catspaw Yoga, we will be participating in #shopsmall, after our yoga class, Saturday, November 28,  9.30-1pm, connect with us!

 

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