Just… being… present!

As vacation time comes to an end, I’ve noticed how I begin to think of the future—as in, “This time next week I’ll be teaching a class.” On the heels of that thought is “How do I want to spend these last few days?” This scenario puts me in the middle of a mental ping-pong match, rather than in a place of openness to feeling the warm, moist breeze, seeing the bright, sunny sky, and hearing the roar of ocean waves landing on shore.

Come practice with me at my home studio in Weaverville or at Wellspring Wellness Center in Asheville! See the new schedule, beginning March 2, on the right -> of this page!

On either end of a trip, I find my mind bouncing between a to-do list to get ready and a list of what to do when I get there. What I’ve learned to practice (sometimes more skillfully than at other times!) is to catch hold of my bouncing mind, recognize what I need to do, and then do it in that moment. Pack my bathing suit. Done! Arrange for transportation. Check! Schedule classes. Got it! To take care of those tangible tasks is to be present. Then I can turn my full attention to being aware and present in the next moment. Thankfully, I continue to learn to stay grounded by focusing on the body on the yoga mat.

Find my feet. Keep my mind on the mat. Bring that wandering mind back to the tangible time on the mat and in life.

Part of what I’ve ping-ponged about while I’ve been in Mexico is how to revamp my teaching schedule now that I’m no longer teaching at Iyengar Yoga Asheville. In addition, you’ll see below that I’ve dropped two of the classes I previously had on the schedule and that I’ll be teaching at Wellspring Wellness Center in East Asheville. I’m thinking about adding some half-day meditation and asana retreats. I’m letting those ideas percolate without making plans. As my friend, Gene, taught me—a plan just gives you something to deviate from. 

As I near the end of my delightful and relaxing vacation, I know I’m happy to return to the home and friends I love in Asheville. I know I will again enjoy teaching all of you, walking with Jack, and eating huge piles of fresh vegetables. In that future moment, I will be practice being present to being home. Now, I’m still here. We’ll see what the future brings. I’m going to let that ping-pong ball bounce off the table and see what happens. 

STARTING MARCH 2: Please note the new class schedule for the Weaverville Studio and the Wellspring Wellness Center on the right!

A New Chapter in My Yoga Teaching Journey

Here at the end of January 2020, I ready myself to go to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, for the month of February. This year my husband and I will be there for 29 days. I watch my mind make list after list to get ready to go. Who will teach my classes while I’m away? Who will take care of Jack, the best dog in the world? Have I put enough money in the bank? In preparation for packing, I toss swimsuits, books, and sunscreen into the closet corner in preparation of languorous time on the beach. 

The classes at my home studio in Weaverville are cancelled for February. I encourage you to take classes at IYA, or at Yoga East, or at a yoga studio of your choice. I’ll look forward to hearing about your yoga adventures when I get home.

Beach Warrior!

During the month of February, my former class times at IYA will continue with teachers from that studio, except for Slow Yoga classes, two of which will be taught by Julie LaFleur, a guest Iyengar teacher from Tennessee. You will love her!

When I return to North Carolina at the end of the month, I will not return to teaching at Iyengar Yoga Asheville. I fully support what Randy and Greta are undertaking with a studio that offers only Iyengar yoga, but I have decided to expand my offerings, and will be teaching at Yoga East, where Rachel Fagan and Lindsay Majer teach their classes. I’m not quite sure what my class schedule will be. I’ll figure that out while resting my mind and body with long beach walks and yoga on the hotel roof. By the end of February, I will let you know what my schedule is at Yoga East and at my home studio.

So, how does that sound? Are you having reactions to the information? I know that I have had some feelings come up about these changes. I’m excited. I’m sad. I’m enthusiastic. Mainly, I’m open to the new possibilities that exist for all of us during this period of… well, of uncertainty about the future. The future is always unknown. Sometimes that uncertainty is easier to acknowledge.

I deeply appreciate your patience with the various changes that have shaped the where, what, and when of my classes these past couple of years. I appreciate your dedication to your practice. 

While I’m in Mexico, I’ll be posting on Facebook. Class information will also be posted here as I decide on future class options.

During the month of February, here’s who will be teaching my former classes at Iyengar Yoga Asheville:

Monday 2-3pm Slow Yoga
Feb. 3 – Jayne
Feb. 10 – Jayne
Feb. 17 & 24 – Julie LaFleur

Tuesday 4-5:30pm 
Feb. 4, 11, 17 & 25 – Greta

Wednesday 12-1:30pm – Level 1&2
Feb. 5 – Gabe
Feb. 12 – Jayne
Feb. 19 & 26 – Gabe

Lights & Nights of the Season

The end-of-year holiday season is upon us, whether we like it or not. I grew up in a Baptist family that celebrated Christmas. My Jewish friend, Jane, and her family observed Hanukkah. I enjoyed the lighting of the menorah when I visited her family. She came to my house to help decorate our Christmas tree. I was enamored with the bright, colorful lights on trees, bushes, rooftops, and cars. I was scared of Santa. 

Those were the traditions I knew existed. Now, I’m aware of Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, St. Lucia Day, St. Nicolas Day, as well as New Year’s Day, and others. Everyone seems to want to celebrate any spark of light during these dark days of winter.

As I reflect on my family’s traditions, my first thought is that they haven’t changed much. We still go to the Moravian Lovefeast at Messiah Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, where we hold up candles at the end of the service as the church lights are dimmed. We still ride around my hometown and look at lights while singing off-key to the familiar Christmas music playing on the radio. We still read “A Visit from St. Nicolas” by Clement Clarke Moore before going to our respective beds, although our ages range from 30 to 66 years. 

My nephew Davis.

Yet, everything has changed. Our family size has changed due to marriages, divorces, deaths, and births. The big news is that we now we have a five-month-old baby boy in our midst. My grandnephew, Davis, was born on my birthday, July 23, to my niece, Kathryn, and her husband, Jake. I love that he is as enamored with lights as I am. Although Davis probably won’t remember his first Christmas, he is a part of the Dollar family tradition, whether he likes it or not. 

Although we still gather together, the meeting location changes yearly. The Christmas Eve supper has evolved from soup and crackers to nachos and now to a sous vide meal that we have yet to taste or understand.

Looking back over what I’ve written, I realize how much the lights of the season affect me. The outdoor lights remind me of our inner light and the love it represents to me. Even on days when I feel cranky, I remember that the light is there in each of us. Sometimes it’s covered up by stress or anger. That will dissipate. The love and light shine continue to shine. I can see it when I stop and look.

Love remains constant. Love, not affection or attraction. Pure love. When all the change is said and done, what remains is the love and light of the season of life. One phrase that I’ve heard is this: We are light wrapped up in love experiencing itself through life. 

May you have a bright, healthy, and joyful holiday season.

No Classes December 24 & 25!

The class schedule will continue as normal for the rest of the month except for December 24 (Tuesday) & 25 (Wednesday) when we will not have class.

Best wishes for the holiday season!

Grateful for Thanksgiving Day

Jack in the Weaverville Studio

Thank you for being in my life. Really, each of you who reads these words holds an important place in my life. For real real, as we say in my family. For real real

Most recently, I’m thankful for those of you who have come to classes at my new home studio in Weaverville. Thank you for finding the new place. Thank you for showing up for yourself, the practice, and for me. I’m grateful for Iyengar Yoga Asheville, for the other Iyengar teachers, and for those of you who attend classes there. 

I know it can take time to adjust to change; it has taken me a few weeks to get used to teaching in my new yoga studio in Weaverville, and I look forward to sharing it with you. And I know YOU know that we experience such deep benefits when we practice yoga. Your body and mind will thank you for showing up on the mat!  

Overall, I feel like I’m a thankful person. I thank my husband for fixing delicious meals. I thank each kind person who opens a door for me. I thank my friend who comes to the house to tend to our dog, Jack, when I’m unavailable.

I have another friend who gets cranky when someone opens a door for her. She knows that she is strong and capable. She doesn’t need the help. As much as I love this woman, I feel like she’s missing out on the feeling of gratitude. 

Numerous research papers expound on the benefits of feeling grateful. A few of the benefits I found listed in an article online at PositivePsychology.com are more satisfaction with life, less fatigue, greater resiliency, and lower levels of cellular inflammation. I find that I actually feel better when I’m grateful. When I’m stressed, my body and mind feel hard. When I’m grateful I feel lighter. Test this out for yourself if you’re doubtful. 

Gratitude is a practice, like yoga. It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt: when I look for people, places, and things to be grateful for, I find them! I don’t deny that I get cranky sometimes (like when I’m packing and moving). Without dwelling on that, I take a moment to feel that emotion, and then move on, rather than focus on the crankiness and the external events that triggered it.    

With all that being said, I’m thankful to have a national day of thanksgiving here in the US. I know that some people feel left out, lonely, or sad about missing loved ones. I don’t deny that. Can we reach out to each other and hold each other up? Open a door? Smile? For those of you who volunteer at a soup kitchen or a food bank over the holidays, thank you. Of course, every day of the year is an opportunity to be kind and generous. We never know how one kind word to a stranger or friend can lift that person’s spirit—and our own! 

With tremendous gratitude for your place in my life and on the planet, I hold you in my thankful heart.

I wish you a joyous and peaceful Thanksgiving!

The Challenges and Joys of Silent Retreat

From October 4-13, I will be participating in a nine-day workshop called “Concentration, Jhana, and Breath,” taught by Shaila Catherine, at Heartwood Refuge and Retreat Center in Hendersonville, NC. This silent retreat is structured with alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, dhamma teachings, and teacher consultations. It will utilize the breath as the primary meditation object and will encourage the development of meditative skills that lead to deep concentration (samadhi) and insight (vipassana). For my work meditation portion of the retreat, I will be teaching a yoga class, and, yes, I’ll be able to talk in order to give instruction to the students. I am looking forward to (and will definitely be challenged by) these nine days ahead, during which I will have ample opportunity to observe the antics of my “monkey mind” and to experience the stillness and expanded awareness that arise during sustained mediation.