Just Enough and Not Too Much

I am generally not into slogans, although there is a Buddhist one I have heard that I think of a lot – just enough and not too much. It is kind of a Goldilocks approach to life 🙂
Practicing yoga helps me experiment with this balance on a physical, experiential level, balancing how much weight forward, how much back, where do I lift from, where do I contract, when I shift one aspect of the posture how does that affect the rest, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some of it is mental, I remember the ways I have played with the posture before and cues other teachers and students have suggested to me, yet it is not only a mental thinking it out. It includes body memory and develops an awareness beyond just the thinking of the mind, beyond just the discursive thought or continuous defining of the mind, it becomes a direct felt experience of the balance that integrates and grows with me.
I am also finding this true with my experience of the continuous learning curve of skiing and snowboarding, dynamic practices of the subtleties of the shifts of weight and posture responding to the shape of the skis or board, the texture of the snow and the contours of the mountain. The practice of yoga does help support the sport in that it can be cross training to warm up and bring awareness into the body and center the mind before going on the mountain and decompressing to unwind tension, reduce soreness and recovery time and prepare the body for the next day. Yet there is also potential for utilizing yoga to refine sensitivity to the effects of stance and the subtle shift of weight in any posture and especially in ones that directly inform the body of movements used in skiing and riding, teaching our bodies how to efficiently perform these movements and giving ourself practice both on and off the hill. Perhaps beginning with mental inquiry and developing into experiential wisdom.
When I ski and ride it is very much a physical yoga practice in that I start with a variety of cues in myself that gradually build – just enough and not too much, a little bit of this and a little bit of that – until it all flows together and I am not thinking out the skiing, all my awarenesses are coming together and the skiing is happening right through me. It is kind of a sahaja approach to life, the sahaja the purely spontaneous being who has trained their body and mind to instead of compulsively react to phenomena, appropriately respond to the specifics of each situation. In the case of your sport or your art this plays out as learning and practicing the form first so then the creativity can unfold and grow through that structure. If you never learned some of the building blocks, through a teacher and/or your own mindful practice, in snowsports you’d likely just fall down the hill. Yet with practice and experiential awareness of your posture, how to read the terrain and the conditions and how subtle shifts of weight drive the edges of your equipment, the falling down the hill can become a graceful and efficient dance of balance. Just enough and not too much.
This is what I am currently into 🙂 If you’d like to play with me with it come to The Mountain Club on Loon at Loon Mountain Resort on Sunday March 13, 2016 for Yoga and Snowsports as Movement Meditation 3/13/16 or be in touch and we can do a private with snowsports or just physical yoga – and develop a practice to support whatever sport or art you are currently into.
Love

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catalyst

For me, snowboarding is physical yoga practice, asana ~ moving meditation, becoming comfortable and articulate in my body and in relation with the physical world. As I ride I gradually tune in to the subtleties of my movement, awakening presence in my entire body. I don’t have to try so much anymore, it just starts to happen. The movement becomes efficient, somewhat effortless. Grounded in my body, I become aware not only of my body, but with my body ~ my movement responding to the contours of the mountain, the crisp scent of the air and the temperature on my skin, the sounds of my board against the texture of the snow and the wind all around me. Everything becomes more vibrant. There’s nowhere to go and nothing else to do but to be right here, completely open to the moment. It refreshes me, brings me back to center.
I used to get pretty sad at the end of the season, as I thought I depended on this activity to do all this for me. Without it I would feel flat, empty, dull…or so I feared. Through time I realize that these activities that have the potential to revitalize us and bring us spontaneously into the moment remind us that this is possible. We don’t have to become attached to the catalyst, there are many ways to do it. Breathe in, feel yourself in your entire body. Hear the sounds. Right now.
I will miss you, my beloved mountain, my mermaid~tail serpentine snow dance. Another season has come and is passing and I have again learned so much from you.
Until the next time we meet dear friend, the love I tap into when I’m with you lives inside of me.
(yeah, yeah I know kinda sappy. And I mean it  🙂 )

loony 017

Vernal Equinox Yoga and Snowshoe Meditation Retreat in the White Mountains

Spring in the White Mountains

Spring in the White Mountains

The word yoga has the same root as yoke, meaning the yoking together of polar opposites as two sides of the same thing. Holding both extremes and the continuum between, balanced at the center.

The vernal, or spring, equinox, balanced precisely between the Winter and Summer Solstices, is typically the turning point weather wise as we begin to experience the effects of the shifting, as daylight becomes equal to nighttime and the still and silent winter woods are being balanced by the warmth and awakening of spring melt.

Come experience the extremes simultaneously on this pinnacle day, balanced right at the center. The winter woodlands opening up with a celebration of the sounds and signs of spring.

http://deniseporterkemp.com/events–snowshoe.html

Lunge Vinyasa Sequence

This closed hip/warrior one sequence helps strengthen and warm up the legs and joints to prepare for sports and physical activity, especially snowsports like skiing and snowboarding. Enjoy!
For more information, visit me at The Mountain Club on Loon for classes or retreats, or contact me for in person or online on Skype or FaceTime group or individual private instruction, including consultation to develop and maintain your own home practice, with optional customized photographic, written, video and audio reference.

http://www.deniseporterkemp.com

Yoga Awareness Meditation Retreat in The White Mountains

Yoga Awareness Meditation Retreat in The White Mountains

~ flow yoga as experiential metaphor to bring meditative awareness into the rest of our lives ~

In this one day retreat we will experiment with yoga postures and breath as awareness meditation, cultivating an increased ability to sustain presence and center ourselves at will. Developing this skill consciously together in practice will help us recall this quality of awareness when we most want to, or need to, be present in the rest of our lives.
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Starting with a short hike and meditation along the Pemigewasset River, we will then retreat to the sanctuary of The Mountain Club on Loon to integrate our meditative awareness into an indoor yoga asana practice. After lunch we will ride the gondola to the summit of Loon to practice in the forests of the White Mountains.
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This class is accessible to students of all levels. Simple postures will be offered for newer students to hold and develop awareness, while more experienced practitioners will be guided into more complex postures to refine their skill and attention once the simpler postures become easy. We will experiment to find our own unique expression of the potential of each pose.
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Bring clothing for yoga and a mat, layers appropriate for the weather outside, a towel and swimwear, and footwear suitable for light hiking. In case of inclement weather, we will utilize The Mountain Club as much as necessary and go outside as weather allows. Lunch is available at area restaurants, including The Mountain Club, or you are welcome to pack your own.
Please arrive well fed, enough to sustain you until lunch time.
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Make it a weekend retreat with spa services and discount room rates through The Mountain Club,
or with private instruction or a Thai yoga session with Denise.
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Denise practices in nature as much as possible, accessing a playfulness and deep awareness that she brings to her classes. In addition to teaching at the Mountain Club on Loon, she is the seasonal yoga instructor for the Loon Mountain Snowsports School and The Saint Anselm Cross Country Running Team. She leads yoga and meditation at The Plymouth House, a residential retreat center for drug and alcohol recovery, which has helped develop her teachings into a practical life skill that helps free us from dependence and confusion, awakening our potential through awareness and centering. She also brings yoga to festivals and events throughout New England and along the east coast. Her style derives from many traditions of movement and meditation and adapts to fit the specifics of her clientele. Denise is also available for personal and group private yoga classes and Thai yoga sessions.

Saturday August 10, 2013
9am – 5pm
The Mountain Club on Loon
Lincoln, New Hampshire
$80 – includes lift ticket

For more information or to register call 603 568 5977
or visit http://awarenessretreat813.brownpapertickets.com

deniseporterkemp.com

Balance

yoga virgin gorda

The moment when we stop trying and it just happens…
प्रयत्नशैथिल्यानन्तसमापत्तिभ्याम्
yoga sutra 2.47: prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam
When the pairs of opposites come into balance, active effort ceases and presence spontaneously arises…the effort is in training ourselves to find the balance, and once it starts to support itself, getting out of the way…

Love

asymmetrical adaptation

Something that I have noticed experientially through my own yoga practice and in working with others is that our bodies are not symmetrical, and we benefit from working with each side of the body uniquely as well as a part of the whole organism.  I often do slightly distinct sequences on each side in my own practice and when working with others individually, adding in extra poses to help prepare one side for a pose that is difficult on that side, or holding some postures longer on a tighter side and others longer on a weaker side.  Finding approximate balance within the realities of an asymmetrical body by working with each side from where it is coming from.

While teaching group yoga classes though, I have been taught and have found it is functional to do the same sequences on both sides, and hold each side the same amount of time.  As teachers, we are offering a general potential template to fit a wide variety of students, and while we can offer suggestions on placement and alignment, and variations we have seen be useful for others, and assists that accentuate the possibilities of the posture, it is ultimately up to each student to experiment with the template and find what fits the uniqueness of their bodies.  In class I often suggest exploring in each posture to discover what is useful from the internal experience of your own body, rather than trying to fit your body into a preconceived idea of what the posture is meant to look like from the outside.

This is one place where individual instruction and personal practice can really be useful, both on its own and as a compliment to group practice.  Without the pressure of keeping up with the class, you can take the time to listen and respond to the cues of your body, exploring what is useful in that moment.  Being willing to notice what isn’t useful too, even if that is in conflict from what you think you want… This point is an essential ingredient to keep from ignoring what you don’t want to see, and only taking in what you like.

All of this can be done in a class setting too, yet an individualized practice allows the sequencing and timing to cater specifically to your own eccentricities.  And practicing on your own can help facilitate discernment through the yogic principle of svadhyaya, or self study, of when we are listening and responding to subtle cues versus pushing our own will, by noticing the intention behind the action, and its result.

All of which helps train our minds and our intuition to notice and adapt in other areas of our lives as well.   Then in the moment, in yoga class or anywhere, you can take in what is being offered generally to the whole and mindfully experiment with how it uniquely applies to you – and in terms of asana, or yoga postures, to each side of your body…

The way to balance, adaptation, depends on where you are coming from…