My father died in April after a short but intense battle with bladder cancer. Although we weren’t extremely close, his death saddened me and I was relieved that he wasn’t suffering anymore. During his fight for his life, I physically couldn’t be by his side every moment. I went to visit him as much as I could and did get to see him the day that he died. Because of our distance and my full life, I did the next best thing that I could to offer my love and support during his time of need. I prayed, right? Well kind of, I offered all of my yoga classes either teaching them or practicing them to my father.
At 3 Bridges, the teacher will invite you to set an intention for your practice. What exactly does it mean to set an intention? It’s what you want it to be but it’s also an opportunity to send your energy, your breath, your sweat and tears to something or someone.
It’s the power of positive thinking. If you intend yourself to have a great yoga practice, to stay with your breath, to keep your mind focused, and to do the very best that you can, I’ll bet you’ll get there. Sometimes an intention can be to go deeper into a posture or embrace a pose that is difficult for you. Setting an intention for you isn’t selfish. It’s giving yourself a focus, a goal and a little confidence to say, yes, I can do this!!! Intentions don’t always have to be for things that you want or need to be changed or helped, they can also be a celebration or honor. Many times I set my intentions for gratitude for my own life or my beautiful family and friends.
I’m not super religious but I’ve done my fair share of praying in my lifetime. Setting an intention is my version of prayer. I dedicate my yoga practice to a cause, a person, a conflict in my life that could use some help. An intention can send out to the universe love, hope, energy, thanks, and healing. I do my best in my practice for this intention in the hope that all of my hard work, sweat, and sometimes tears will make its way across the universe to help someone else.
So for 4 months I dedicated all of my practices to my father and yet he still died, was I not working hard enough? Was my Warrior 2 not strong enough? Was my breath shallow? Intentions are just that, you intend and dedicate your love, energy, and hope to another. You can’t fight nature or the course of the world, but I sure felt better having a purpose and a focus to channel all of my hard work. I feel that the difference between praying and setting intentions is that instead of just asking and pleading for something that you need, you are the one navigating a path for your positive thinking and energy.
This blog was inspired by my father and by a super positive thinker and fellow yogi, Cherie Bartlett. Cherie has been practicing at 3 Bridges since the start and she is one of the kindest, sweetest and most genuine people that I know. She is so humble about her practice, there is no ego to be found and she always has a kind word. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her better, and found we have a few things in common. Cherie lost her Mom to cancer at an early age and she was super supportive of me during my father’s death. She is so supportive of 3 Bridges and I thank her for her dedication, love and great yoga practice. We also both love Billy Idol!!!!! My intention is to have Cherie’s radiant energy in the studios for a long time to come!! She’s a beautiful person.
1. What brought you to yoga and how long have you been practicing?
In all honesty it was for weight loss. I had started my journey of losing weight part of which was a workout plan that included running. I was sore all the time and my doctor recommended yoga. I was skeptical because I imagined yoga to be a lot of twisty-bendy people and a lot of chanting, I really knew nothing about it but I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised to learn I was all wrong about yoga and I quickly began to love it. The thing that took me by surprise is that I went into yoga to meet my physical needs but it was the spiritual benefits that surfaced as something I needed even more. I’ve been practicing now for a little over 2 years.
2. What pose has given you the most benefits? Which one is the most difficult?
The two poses I find most beneficial are downward dog and pigeon pose. I like the flexibility of using downward dog as an active pose or sometimes a resting pose. Being a runner I use pigeon pose all the time to open my heart (standing pigeon) and to stretch those areas I use the most because I run a lot (sleeping pigeon). The most difficult poses for me are backbend poses like camel and wheel, although with practice I’m certainly getting better at them.
3. What has been the most challenging aspect of your practice?
One of my biggest challenges is being completely on the mat, completely present. Like most people, the demands of a job, owning a business, being a Mother and wife etc. cause my brain to go non-stop. I have to work hard at being completely present. One of the things that helps me and one of the best things about yoga, particularly Vinyasa flow, is that in order to listen to your teachers’ cues, you have to clear your mind of everything else. You can’t think of work, family, what’s coming next in your day, because you need to follow your cues. For me, that is incredibly freeing and I rely and trust my teachers to take me through the process. I also have been focusing on my Ujjayi breathing to focus on getting into and coming out of poses.
4. What would you tell someone who hasn’t made it to the mat for a yoga class yet?
Don’t let any preconceived notions prevent you from trying yoga. Come with an open mind and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how beneficial it can be. Practicing yoga helps you understand and listen to your body and mind, it doesn’t happen overnight, rather it’s an ongoing process of getting to know your body and mind, to know and recognize when you have further to go or maybe it’s a day where you acknowledge you are perfectly happy where you are.
5.Feel free to tell us about yourself, work, hobbies, dislikes,etc…
I’m married to my best friend Bill and I have a 24 year old daughter who is absolutely the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I’m super proud of her! I am really active, I love yoga, running, swimming, hiking etc. but I also love my machines! I put 2500 miles each winter on my snowmobile and my summer pride and joy is my 98′ Jeep Wrangler! I’m a crazy cat lady, 4 is my latest count and if I had room, I’d have a few more! I’ve been at my company for 25 years so my colleagues are more like family to me. I feel truly blessed!