Tag Archives: Silvia Mordini

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone: Trying New Studios

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Before I joined Haute Yoga Queen Anne, I tested out about a dozen studios in the Seattle area using new student deals. This allowed me to learn a bit more about the instructors’ teaching style and the community before officially joining. I think this is an important step because, unlike working out at the gym, you are part of a collective experience in yoga class. If you’re not on the same page with the message the instructor is delivering, you’ll just be distracted the entire class and counting the minutes until class is over.

All this is to say that I love trying out new studios because I always find something that I like about others’ approaches to teaching yoga. While visiting my family this weekend in Beaverton, Oregon, I did a quick search for studios in the area and wasn’t surprised to learn that there were but a handful around. Most of the studios are within Portland, and even Portland’s yoga community is still “growing up” compared to the likes of Seattle, San Francisco and New York.

Of the slim pickings in the area, I chose to go to Hot Yoga For Life, a studio tucked away in a shopping center right off of T.V. Highway. On the outside, the space looked like it could barely house a practice room, but as soon as you walk in you see that the studio is the size of about four practice rooms combined. It is all very modern and clean, with tons of space to store your things and a nice little vanity area to get ready after a morning workout. What I really loved is that the studio offers all new students a $10 deal for three weeks of unlimited yoga!

I was surprised to see that I was one of four students to arrive 15 minutes before class. I’ve gotten into the habit of arriving 15-20 minutes early to secure my spot in the room. With just about 5 minutes to spare, the room began to fill up with a total class size of about 20. Then again, it was 8:30 on a Saturday morning.

This practice was primarily focused on the physical workout itself. We went through several dancing warrior series and kept flowing for the 75 minutes, as opposed to going through a peak pose. This was great – sometimes you just need a solid workout to energize your body. One thing I was missing, though, was the therapeutic release I get through yoga. There was no Silvia or JL to guide my self-study and challenge me. It was all up to me.

And I hated it. I was way too distracted by my own mind. I kept looking at the clock and thinking, “When is this over?” I was annoyed that my towel kept moving during the flow. Then I couldn’t hold my warrior poses because my feet started slipping on my towel. My mat was right under a heater, and I’ve never felt a mat so hot in my life. I was annoyed that my feet felt like they were scorching as I balanced on one leg.

I know, this all sounds miserable, but I hope you’re not making judgments about Hot Yoga For Life because the real message here is that I made it seem miserable. It was my own inability to see the glass as half full and instead make a fuss over nothing.

And that’s the power of yoga – to help you realize how you react when the going gets tough. That day, I was not in a good mood, and not even yoga was going to help me. So instead of making the most of it, I decided I just wasn’t going to like it and would power through for the sake of powering through.

What has yoga helped you discover about yourself? Have you had similar experiences when testing out new studios?

Saturdays With Silvia: Celebrating the Power of Your Feet

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Today’s class with Silvia was all about the power of your feet. I’ve never thought to give much attention to these guys before; I’ve always thought the hands to be more superior, allowing me touch, embrace, write, type, feed myself — you name it! Or my legs, which hold up my entire body and allow me to move from point A to point B. But, that of course is not possible without your feet.

Feet become even more impressive when you look at the numbers. Did you know we take an average of 7,500 steps per day? I’ve always considered myself pretty sedentary during the day given my desk job, but when I think about walking from the bus to work, around the office, back home and around the house, it sure adds up quickly! Even more impressive is that our feet house 25 percent of our body’s bones!

I’ve always hated my feet to be honest. I take after my dad – tall and lanky. And with that physique comes big hands and big feet (size 9-9.5 to be specific). Growing up, I felt self conscious going shopping with friends when they’d take a look at the aisles for size 6, 7 or 8, and I’d be at the other end seeing what’s left in the cute stuff for me. For a while, I preferred cramming my feet into smaller shoes just so I could get the cute ones, and later realized that’s the fast track to completely deforming your feet. Mine are already pronated to begin with!

In today’s class, I was forced to really look at my feet — to stretch them, to feel them, to spread my toes out and balance on them. As much as I disliked my feet before, I couldn’t help but be thankful I had any feet at all!

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, it’s a great time to think about our body’s health and give thanks for what we’re able to accomplish with extremities so seemingly simple as our feet. What are you thankful for?

My feet 🙂

Saturdays with Silvia: “Greenlight” your Life

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I’m so happy Silvia is back from retreat! I’m a fan of all instructors at Haute Yoga Queen Anne, but I have to admit I was missing my inspired Saturday mornings with Silvia. Today’s theme was all about changing your outlook to fit what you want to accomplish. Basically, negative thoughts can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is something I’ve always believed, but when Silvia was discussing this tendency in class, I couldn’t help but feel like a hypocrite.

I mean literally all week I have been so down on myself! In fact, this has been going on for months. I’m sure Andrew is sick of me moping around the house after a long day at work saying, “Ugh, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do this,” or “I should have known I was supposed to do it this way…how could I be so stupid?” Instead of looking at my accomplishments, I nit pick at my deficiencies. Someone recently told me, “It doesn’t do you any good to go around comparing yourself with other people because you will always compare your weakest attributes with someone’s strengths, and that’s simply not fair.”

So, when Silvia bluntly said, “If you think you’re never going to lose weight…guess what? You aren’t! If you think you’re never going to be rich…well, you’re right!,” it really hit home with me. This might be a far fetched example, but she told us to think about driving down Mercer street and recall our thoughts about hitting the green lights. If we’re moving through traffic and thinking, “There’s just no way I’m going to make it through this light!,” we really aren’t giving ourselves a chance. The moral of the story? “Greelnight your life.” Think that you will get green lights all the way through right before you hit the freeway on the way to your destination.

There is definitely a connection between positive thinking and one’s accomplishments. It’s time to start cultivating positive thoughts for those green lights!

Saturdays With Leah: It’s Simple, Not Easy

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My Saturday morning yoga alarm was unwelcome today. I just lay there thinking that maybe I’ll take today off. It’s cold outside of this bed, and it’s dreary outside of this apartment. But, in true type A fashion, I sprung out of bed and threw on my yoga gear. In a few minutes, I’m guzzling a cup of coffee and heading out the door.

That’s when my boyfriend Andrew reminded me that my car needed anti-freeze…and that it was parked four blocks away (a long trek in the cold rain). Sigh. So, with 10 minutes until class, we sped over to my car, popped the hood, replenished the anti-freeze, and I was on my way.

Just getting to yoga is a simple task, but not always an easy one. This was the theme of today’s class with  Haute Yoga Queen Anne’s owner and instructor Leah Zaccaria, who substituted for Silvia Mordini. I like that phrase: “simple, but not easy.” Sometimes we use these words interchangeably when they really have such distinct, nuanced meanings.

Take, for example, the idea of meditation — simple, but not easy. Shay Colson shared an article with me this week in Harvard Business Review discussing the benefits of mediation in our busy lives. Aptly titled “If You’re Too Busy to Meditate, Read This,”  author Peter Bregman highlights the benefits of meditation that can improve our relationships, increase our dependability and raise our performance. Who can’t find time for something that can offer all of this? Well, it’s a challenging task to begin with. Peter illustrates this war with our inner voice stating,

“Within a breath or two of emptying my mind, thoughts came flooding in — nature abhors a vacuum. I felt an itch on my face and wanted to scratch it. A great title for my next book popped into my head and I wanted to write it down before I forgot it. I thought of at least four phone calls I wanted to make and one difficult conversation I was going to have later that day. I became anxious, knowing I only had a few hours of writing time. What was I doing just sitting here? I wanted to open my eyes and look at how much time was left on my countdown timer. I heard my kids fighting in the other room and wanted to intervene.”

Who wakes up and looks at their phone first thing in the morning? Me! My heart starts pounding and my mind begins to race as I watch my inbox populate. I begin to make mental notes about my first courses of action as soon as I get into the office, but as I do so, I find myself opening my computer to see if there’s anything I should just respond to now.

Communications technology has undoubtedly transformed the way we do business, bringing greater efficiency and collaboration. But, that changes the individual as well, bringing with it an omnipresent sense of availability and accountability. How am I supposed to meditate after that? Again, meditation is simple idea, but not an easy task.

Now, the task is to bring ease into the simplicity of it all. There is a way to make meditation easeful, and it starts with just letting go. I’m setting aside 20 minutes for meditation today.

Saturdays with Silvia: Clearing out the Clutter

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This morning’s class with Silvia was refreshing and challenging. The theme of the class focused on physical and mental clutter in our lives and how this space waster distracts us from those things we should be concentrating on.

Silvia started the class with a simple question: “Who was the first person in your life who taught you how to concentrate?” I sat (stood?) there in down dog with a big, fat blank in my head. I don’t ever remember any relative sitting me down and just teaching me how to be there in the moment. I was too busy chasing my brother around the house and tormenting him — you know, big sister stuff.

As we started to flow, Silvia brought up a book endorsed by Oprah (so you know it has to be good), “Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?”  Humorous title aside, the book’s premise is that our life’s clutter sometimes — indirectly or directly — influences us to make poor decisions. This can manifest itself in over-eating, in how we treat ourselves and others, etc.

Finally, Silvia let us know that none of us were taught to concentrate. Ever. (Phew, because I was getting really worried about my upbringing for a second there…). In order to quiet the mind, we have to learn how to clean out the clutter in our lives. Yoga is a perfect example of one method for de-cluttering the mind. Every pose is supposed to require such physical strain that you have no choice but to concentrate on staying still, letting the other thoughts float away with the tide.

As I drove home, I was thinking about clutter in my life. I am already a very tidy person, but I have this ritual of getting into the nitty gritty of organizing and cleaning when something is really bothering me. When my grandpa passed away, I reorganized every kitchen cupboard and drawer in the house, purged clothes I haven’t worn for years and did a deep clean on the entire place. For less extreme times, such as when I’m preparing to write an important paper or start a big project for work, I have to “prep” the room before starting. If the room around me is not de-cluttered, I can’t seem to find space in my mind to work.

Does anyone else experience this same kind of urge to de-clutter when things are getting to be overwhelming?

Saturdays with Silvia: Embracing Change with Tonight’s Full Moon

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Since joining Haute Yoga Queen Anne two years ago, I’ve made a routine of joining Silvia Mordini (nearly) every Saturday morning. You show up for your workout, and you leave with an hour of therapy, a strong core and burning quads.

Today’s theme was all about embracing change. With the full moon approaching tonight, Silvia reminded us that our bodies are 75-80 percent water, and if the moon can change the tide, it stands to reason it can change us. I started to think about the changes I want to create in my life. As Silvia said, change is never easy, and it’s almost guaranteed to be messy — but it’s essential on our path to happiness.

The greatest change I’m tackling head on is graduate school (University of Washington’s MCDM program), and boy is this a messy change. There is no guaranteed outcome (other than of course cognitive benefit), and yet, I continue to work full time, scale back on my social life and devote weekends to homework. My family thinks I’m crazy (“haven’t you had enough school yet?”). Nope.

Even this very week I was feeling overwhelmed about my loans from undergrad and this scary feeling that I’m slowly losing balance in my life, which made me wonder — is this a gamble I should be taking (that I can afford to take)? These thoughts are just a manifestation of a resistance to change. It’s time to go with the flow, if you will.

Is there a change taking place in your life that you may be fighting?

Photo via Deviantart.com