I’m sure many of you have heard about 30 day yoga challenges – the ones where students take 30 yoga classes in 30 days. I’m sure some of you reading this have completed 30 day yoga challenges. (Go, you!) Well, guess what, yours truly is embarking on one this April. Getting onto my yoga mat daily is nothing new, but I have never taken a yoga class every day for 30 days in a row. So why do this? Well, to be honest, I haven’t been getting to classes regularly, and when that starts to happen my home practice slides and my teaching becomes lackluster. I’ve been working a lot lately and dealing with some injuries. In other words, I’ve been great about making excuses and proclaiming I don’t have time, i.e., I have been choosing not to make time for my yoga practice. The 30 day challenge eliminates the ability to make excuses. Show up to class every day, period.
I’ll share some of the key factors I considered when deciding to take this challenge in case you are interested in joining me this April, or challenging yourself at some point in the future. Some contracts and long-term subbing jobs I had will be ending in April, freeing up time in my schedule. I chose a studio where I already take classes regularly and feel comfortable. I’ll let you in on a secret, I hate trying out new studios, it makes me super anxious and I get intimidated easily (yes, even when it comes to yoga). This studio has four locations throughout the city I live in, all of which are conveniently located near my home or near the homes of the private clients I teach. It is important that I do not add lengthy commute times to my schedule each day. I already spend a lot of time commuting to the classes and students I teach each day. All of the locations have classes throughout the day. Waking up at the crack of dawn to squeeze in an early class before I start my day or taking a late night class at the end of my day are not enticing options for me. It is key for me to have classes offered at times that easily fit into my schedule. This studio is already hosting a 30 day challenge for the month of April. Participants were asked to sign up in advance, and those that complete the 30 days are eligible to win some pretty great prizes in a raffle at the end of the month. It is helpful for me to commit to something in writing, not just in my own mind. I also like the idea of knowing that other students in classes are partaking in this challenge as well, even if I do not directly know anyone else who signed up. For me studio accessibility, class times, commitment, and community are key pieces in ensuring I can actually complete this challenge, while maintaining my sanity.
I’ll check in with you each week to let you know how things are going. If you have any words of wisdom from 30 day yoga challenges you have completed, please share.
It’s March already. Am I the only one who feels like this year is flying by at lightning speed? With a new month comes a new book. A yoga teacher I’ve been taking class with over the last month shared passages from this book as part of her dharma talks and I felt compelled to pick up a copy. I invite you to join me in reading, Shadows on the Path by Abdi Assadi.
It’s February. I am grateful for a new month, and a fresh start. Things have been feeling unstable and uncertain in the world lately. The yoga classes and sessions I teach have been full of people looking to cultivate a little more calm, peace, and grounding in their lives. I find myself returning to my mat each day so I can practice staying fully present and compassionate even in situations that are upsetting and unsettling. My reading time has mostly consisted of fiction, in an attempt to escape. I do, however, find myself flipping through one of my trusty favorites a lot lately, so I am choosing it as the book for February. I invite you to join me in reading, or re-reading, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön. (As you can see, my copy is well loved – there are even little teeth marks in the upper righthand corner from my cat.)
This year, I am recommitting to my own practice. Each month I will be reading or rereading a book to aid me in this journey. So, on the first Friday of every month, I will share my monthly book. Sort of a no pressure virtual book club. If you want to leave comments, please feel free to do so. Hopefully these books will help us discover something new about ourselves. This month I am reading, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer – it feels appropriate for the start of a new year. Happy reading!
This morning I stepped onto my yoga mat and took a class for the first time in almost a full month. It felt like coming home. I was stiffer than I thought I would be, but my muscles slowly released and by the end of classes it felt oh so good to stretch. I definitely lost strength, which my ego didn’t like, but I was able to discover new ways of engaging and moving, as opposed to just falling back into old muscle memory. It also felt good to be returning to my practice on my own terms. I have been visiting family over the last two weeks for the holidays. Several times I have thought, “I should go take a class or at least do a decent home practice.” My body wanted stillness, though. I was drained after a hectic work schedule over the last few months and healing from an injury that prevented me from engaging in my physical practice the two weeks prior to the holidays. I allowed myself to let go of the should and listened to the wants and the needs. Sometimes we need rest…and that’s okay.
I share this, because as we enter the new year so many people will step onto a yoga mat for the first time or return to their mats after a long hiatus. Starting something new can be daunting and our egos can become very fragile when we find we are not instantly good at what we are doing. If you are returning to your practice after a break, do your best to approach everything with an open mind – you have the gift of a fresh start. You may not be as flexible or strong as you once were, but if you tap into your breath and allow yourself to experience your practice exactly as it is (not as it was or how you think it should be), new things will be revealed. Be patient. Be kind. Be consistent.
I wish you all well as we embark on a new year. And I encourage you to make taking care of yourself a priority this year.
I am delighted to announce the next retreat I am leading!
I invite you to join me on the Central Coast of California for a long weekend of yoga, wine, food, and great company. Many of you know me as a yoga teacher, but I also completed a 21-week sommelier certification course with the Sommelier Society of America and am an avid vegan baker and cook. I couldn’t be more excited to combine and share three things I am passionate about.
When: March 23-26, 2017
Where: Paso Robles, CA
Price: $895 (Can be made in 2 installments)
- 3 nights at the beautiful Dancing Deer Farm
- All Meals
- Daily Yoga
- Transportation for an Afternoon of Private Wine Tasting
- Private Vineyard and Winery Tour
- Cooking Class
- Wine Pairing Class
To register, and for more information, please visit: http://djunapassman.com/retreats.php
Several months ago I started to become aware of my tendency to start talking before the person I am listening to has fully completed his or her train of thought. It took me a while to honestly admit to myself that I cut people off and talk over them – not all the time, but enough to warrant some reflection. And wrapped up in this was the reality that every time I started talking before the person speaking was finished I was failing to fully hear the other person. As someone who has always prided herself on being a good listener, I was embarrassed by this realization. Noticing and admitting our less than stellar habits is never fun.
Over the last month I have been using FaceTime to teach students in New York while I am in California. With FaceTime only one person can speak at a time or both voices get canceled out and there is just silence, which has magnified my less than favorable habit. With one student in particular, I was constantly catching myself beginning to talk while she was still speaking. I wound up missing a lot of what she was attempting to share. And so, because I had to, I forced myself to practice pausing and waiting for her to finish speaking before offering responses. I realized that more often than not, a response wasn’t needed. I didn’t need to add my two cents or comment on what she had said. I simply needed to listen. And she simply needed to be heard.
How often do we start listening to someone then begin formulating what our response will be before the person has fully finished speaking? How often do we actually interrupt people so that we can be heard before truly hearing what others have to say first? I invite you to catch yourself in these moments (surely I am not alone in the struggle to fully listen to others all the time). Listening without planning out what to say in response or beginning to offer that response before the other person has finished speaking has proven to be quite a challenge for me. During every FaceTime session with students I am able to practice genuinely listening – in this case technology has truly been a blessing.
I am almost a month into my three month long sabbatical. While I miss my students in NYC dearly, this time away was necessary. I’ve had the opportunity to teach and take classes where I am staying in California, and I have been working on recording audio classes. I invite you to check out some of these classes, especially useful if you are traveling this summer, or just looking to practice anytime, anyplace. There will be more classes available in the next few days. And, if you have any class requests, please leave a comment.
Recently, I have become acutely aware of the fact that I have gained weight over the last several months. (You know it’s bad when even your stretchy yoga clothes start feeling a little tight.) A lot of things have contributed to this weight gain, among them, age and not being as active as I used to be. Because I am in no way fat, and am healthy and strong at my present weight I have been having a huge internal battle with myself.
Part of me is completely freaked out by the weight gain. I do not like what I see when I look in the mirror. The spreading out, the jiggling…how did I let that happen?!? A little voice in my head is screaming: Why haven’t you changed your diet? Why haven’t you been going to the gym and working out every day? This is unacceptable!
The rational part of me knows that I haven’t gained that much weight. I’m only 5’4 and have a small frame so even 5 lbs can make a difference. I am no longer interested in restricting what I eat or cutting things out of my diet. I juice, make smoothies, eat salads, and cook most things from scratch at home. I am also going to have the baguette with olive oil or ice cream when I feel like it. I am not interested in going to the gym for hours every day or taking really intense fitness classes. My body has endured a lot of wear and tear from being a dancer, most of my joints hurt all the time. I’m choosing the gentle yoga or Gyrotonic class over anything with the word bootcamp in it.
And yet, in this image-based society and working in a profession where I have lots of students looking at my body in form-fitting clothing every day, it is hard not to feel self-conscious, and even a little embarrassed by my body as it is right now. I find beauty and strength in each and every one of my students, no matter what size or shape their physical bodies are. I work privately with women who are so ashamed of their bodies and worried about what other people might think that they will not go to classes or the gym – it breaks my heart.
I feel stronger than I ever have. I have muscles and strength where I never thought I would. Sure, I have limitations based on chronic injuries, but I am content with what I can do. Am I going to switch up my weekly exercise routine to tone up and slim down a little? Yes. Am I going to eat a few more salads and a few less burritos? Possibly. Am I going to freak out over the fact that I now wear a size small install of an extra-small? No. After decades of not appreciating my body and loving it as it was, I am going to choose to accept my body as it is…as hard as that may be at times. After all, look what I can do!
When I first started teaching yoga I never allowed myself to even dream of leading a yoga retreat. Sure, I saw flyers and postcards at studios, and enjoyed the pictures and stories my students and teachers shared of retreats in beautiful faraway places. Lots of shifting, peeling away of layers, and growing has happened for me over the last six months. And, I started to entertain the thought of leading a retreat somewhere surrounded by nature with nearby beaches.
I am excited to announce that I will be hosting my first yoga retreat! Join me August 20-26th at the beautiful Samasati Retreat and Rainforest Sanctuary in Limon, Costa Rica. It will be a week of yoga, meditation, intention setting, beach and rainforest adventures, and quiet reflection surrounded by nature.
The retreat is through Trip Tribe, and the package includes:
- Daily morning yoga (all levels welcomed), intention setting journaling and discussion (optional), evening restorative yoga and meditation, all with yours truly
- 2 meals per day – breakfast and dinner (all dietary requests will be honored)
- Lodging in Caribbean style casitas built with precious native woods nestled within lovely tropical gardens and the lush forest or semi-private bungalows with large outdoor verandas and hammocks overlooking the rainforest.
- Daily shuttle buses to the beach
- A variety of adventures and services are also available to you:
- Samasati Biological Reserve Tour with Scott Mckenzie – $25
- Vegetarian Caribbean Cooking Class – $45
- Thai Yoga Massage – $130
- Heaven and Earth – Craniosacral & Reflexology – $120
- Rainforest Massage – $95
- Chocolate – Coffee Body Treatment – $130
- Rainforest Renewal – $120
- Sunburn Therapy – $110
- Tortuguero One Day – $99
- Gandoca- Manzanillo Rainforest Hike – $70
- Bird Watching Tour – $65
- Surf Lesson – $70
- Indian Reserve, Chocolate Process and Waterfall – $50
- White Water Rafting at the Pacuare River – $99
- Punta Uva Sea Kayak and Rainforest Hike – $70
- Horseback Riding at the Beach – $75
- The Jungle Adventure – Zipline, Waterfalls, Swings – $95
- Kekoldi Indian Reserve – $49
- Hiking in Cahuita National Park – $45
Reserve your spot here:
I would love for you to join me on this incredible adventure.