Luck will cost you

…but you’ll find faith on the sale rack at Target

My recent shopping trip took me on an unexpected turn toward the existential.


It’s not every day one sees luck and faith available for purchase — and with faith on clearance.


The iphone in my pocket begged to take a picture. I would have loved sending it to Instagram (or Facebook or Twitter). And the right hashtag (#Targetfunny or #faithluckonsale) to underscore the experience.


But there were errands to run, and I thought maybe I’d circle back to the idea later on.


And just like any yoga nerd, I felt it lingering in the back of my mind.


Why couldn’t I just be contented with having a good laugh about it with my husband?


Because I have to create meaning out of the mundane, and often where this is none. That’s just how I roll.


Still, who wouldn’t be captivated?

I found the holy grail of a happy life – in the aisles of the East Memphis Target!

Clearly some sales executive higher-up deemed luck to be a little more valuable than faith. The powers-that-be slashed a few prices — and voila — the value of faith declined by 50%.

I knew the Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras had something to say about this and wondered if he’d also thrown in any ideas about luck.

So I looked it up.

I found some talk of faith. And very little on luck.

The word “faith” can be a loaded word for many. It can be seen as something religious or spiritual or even out-dated. It brings up early childhood experiences in incense-filled cathedrals and Jesus’ “faith of a mustard seed” speech.

Substituting the word “trust” has been a good alternative for me. 

Trust can be something like a seed that develops little by little. BKS Iyengar says that trust comes with experience. He describes faith as “felt trust” and says that it is instinctive. And then develops with effort and reflecting on one’s own experience.

There have been times when I’ve found it hard to have trust or faith — even in my yoga practice.

But I still do it. (Yes, and sometimes even just think about doing it).

I see results. I understand faith through my experience. Over time, I am able to believe that yoga can be of help. And that makes faith worth something to me.

As for luck, I’ve seen a lot of it. I’ve been at the right place at just the right time too often to doubt my good luck.

Luck can provide valuable resources. But I’ve found that, unlike faith or trust, there are very few actions I can take to create more luck.

Except maybe shop at Target, and be willing to pay full price.

Getting ready to get ready

Celebrating indecision

yes-no.lowres.istockphotoWe had a brand-new student show up to the morning yoga class a few weeks ago. I asked him if he had any questions before we started.

He said, “I’m a beginner. I’ve seen the sign for a few months now, and finally decided to come.”

He said he and a colleague he works with talked it over and decided to give it a try. He came (and has been coming for a few weeks now). But she hasn’t come…yet.

It makes me wonder what makes some people ready, and others take longer to decide and to take action.

It takes courage to show up for something new. Courage, readiness — and a few other magic ingredients.

No one ever talks about the stages of making a decision to start something new. With so much pressure to “just do it, ” no one extols the virtues of indecision.

But I’m here to tell you are some! (Yep…I’m from that alien anti-just-do-it world of yes-no and stay-go.)

You’re undecided now, and what are you going to do? (yep, that’s how the song goes!)  Or, maybe you’re different…but I spend way more time getting ready to be ready than actually being ready.

I got real tired of the bad rap I was always giving myself for not being ready to go-for-it, bite-the-bullet, and make-stuff-happen.

But my frown turned upside down the day I finally decided to embrace my decidedly indecisive nature.  I felt a lot better, and that was enough for me.

Then I learned there is science to back me up on this.

I have found that trying something new is like that for me. If I change anything, I usually think about it for a long while before I actually do anything.

Change is never really an event. It’s more a process that unfolds over time.

And the indecision period where you are just contemplating doing something is often overlooked. But I think it’s the most important part. You’re undecided now, and what are you going to do?

I thought it was just me, but it turns out…

It turns out, some very smart people have done some research on this very topic, and given it a fancy scientific name: The Transtheoretical Model or TTM (Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross)

Here are the stages of change:
Not ready (precontemplation – undecided)
Getting ready (contemplation – a little less undecided)
Ready (preparation – decided but not doing it yet)
Doing it! (action)

I think these stages are more for study and discussion purposes. I never ask myself if I am pre-contemplating or just contemplating something. I just know I’m either battling back and forth between yes and no.

I’m undecided. Or I’m decidedly going to do something.

Some of may be more complicated than this TTM theory allows for.  Like me.

I find myself often not-ready-but-hoping-to-soon-be-getting-ready-to-be-ready. Quite an interesting place to be. This is when I am not rebelling against the idea of taking action, but I am still examining the pros and cons. Yes-no. Stay-go.

(Click here for my favorite song on the subject: Undecided by Ella Fitzgerald. Now there’s a woman who knows that a little scat-singing and a jazz beat goes a long way toward celebrating even the indecision that hurts.)

“Hmmm…maybe I will create a special spot to put my keys when I walk in the front door so I don’t lose them,” I think.

The not-ready-rebellious me says,
No way. That would involve too much work. I would have to find the right spot. I would have to go shopping for a special hook or container or whatever to contain my keys. It would take too much time. It would cost too much money. It would have to match my decor…blah-de-blah.”

My not-ready but getting-ready self says,
“Well, I am tired of losing my keys in my house. It makes me late in the mornings. When I can’t find them I feel anxious. When I finally find them, I jump in my car and drive crazy to get where I’m going. It sure would feel better to start the day knowing where my keys are. Maybe I can find an inexpensive container for my keys.”

The early stages of contemplation are subtle, and maybe not even visible to anyone but me. I haven’t actually done anything about my key-losing problem – yet.

It brings me great comfort to think of my not-readiness as an important part of the change process.

Even if you are resistent, rebellious, umotivated or ambivalent, you could be closer to taking action than you realize.

From my experience, you can’t rush it. It happens when you are ready. (Or getting ready to think about being ready.)

Of course, you can surround yourself with positive support and reminders. You can create logs, schedules, or accountability partners. Things like these help some people. But usually not me.

I do better if I let myself off the hook, and give myself time to just think about what I might do once I’m ready.

Perhaps you’re like me…Just thinking about starting yoga (or flossing daily or eating your vegetables or having more fun…) is an important part of the process.



Yoga poses to restore tired legs

Several EYC yogis & yoginis will hit the Memphis streets tomorrow to benefit of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
UrdhvaPrasPada.arms at sides
Here’s a little yoga sequence to help you recover when you’ve challenged your limits in the running/walking department.

These poses help your whole system recover — and help your legs after you’ve exerted your energy.

Poses where you relax while you elevate legs your legs can have a profound effect on your whole system.

The top picture shows Rochelle practicing Upward Spread Foot pose (Urdhva Prasarita Padasana), and it is appropriate for nearly everyone.
  It can also be done with arms down at sides.

For experienced students, practice the inverted pose Viparita Karani.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 10.17.45 AMFinally, Virasana (Hero Pose @ left), can be done every day — but particularly after exertion.

Virasana helps improve circulation to your lower legs and can restore flexibility and proper alignment to joints your feet, ankles and knees.

This is the pose that Mr. Iyengar had the Indian Army do after their long training marches.

Click on the pic for instructions on this pose.

Mala Yoga Blog has spelled out a whole sequence for runners.  You can benefit from (and learn special ways to practice) Virasana even if you have tightness in knees, ankles and feet.

state of emergence

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 11.19.02 AMYes, you read that right. It’s an “e.”

NOT a “y.”

No fires to put out, no dramas to solve, no racing heart or panic.

I’ve spent enough time feeling like life was an emergency. I’m ready for some sweet transformation heading my way.

So I brought myself to this conference: Emerging Women Live in NYC. And here I am — starting the 3rd day.

We’ve heard from great speakers like Arianna Huffington, Brene Brown, Karen May (from Google), Tami Simon (founder/CEO of Sounds True Publishing), and more.

One thought that haunted me right up until yesterday is, “Who am I to be here?”

I’ve had this one before. It comes in many disguises.

It’s the voice in my head asking me, “Who do you think you are?” in the most judgmental tone.
Some old mental thought loop warns, ” Watch out! Don’t get too big for your britches now.”

I don’t just hear these echoes from long-held fears, I also feel them in my body.

It feels like ICK.
It feels like sweaty palms.
A knot in the base of my throat.
A sour stomach.

Lots of thought threads going on at this conference. One of my favorites: the hallmark of being a woman is that we feel things.

The feminine expresses itself through the body.  We enter a room and we pick up on all kinds of signals.

Without even trying to, we scan our surroundings for the vibe in the room.  We pick up on who’s there, how they are feeling and what they might need from us.

One problem with this type of tuning into the body is that it’s all about externals. (How are they feeling?).

It can really do a number on us.

It’s so easy for us to hook up our bodies to what’s going on around us (even if we are shy, we pick up the signals).

But, we have to connect with ourselves from the inside.

Body-centered practices can help us tune-in. We must practice quieting the outside influences so we can tune inward.

We have to make a practice out of shutting out external so that we can listen inward.

This practice time can help us understand who we are, what we are intuiting, how we feel, what is the next step for us.

Concepts like trust, safety, courage. They can’t just be concepts in our brain.

We have to experience them in our bodies.

Chantal Pieratt, founder of Emerging Women Live, says “Until trust gets into your body and you feel it there, it does not exist.”

That’s a bold statement.

I believe it is true.



Why I’m here: Emerging Women Live 2014

allison.emergingI looked around at the 400-or-so women in the room. Some thoughtful person had arranged all the chairs in the Sheraton ballroom into circles of 8.

I claimed my chair and smiled at the 7 other women occupying the seats in my circle of 8.

The first to speak was Amy, a 20-something Australian who now lives in London.

Amy wants to change the world. She works a corporate job, but moonlights as an Interfaith minister. She is starting the process of ordination.

She pointed across the circle at her mom (pictured left with me). After Amy attended last year’s EWLive conference, she made plans to attend this year for another dose of inspiration…and vowed to bring her mom, Allison, all the way from Australia to share the experience.

Then I took my turn to share with our female octet.

Our mission was to answer the following 3 questions:

1 – Where are you passionate and playing BIG in your life?
2 -When do you hold yourself back & what support do you need?
3 – What is emerging for you as a woman & a leader?

The facilitators encouraged us to be real & speak honestly.

So, I took a breath & dove in…

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 7.59.55 AM1 – I feel most passionate when I am teaching a class, speaking to a group, or sharing in a heart-depth conversation with another person.

2 – I hold myself back when I feel afraid.  The silver lining? My peeps! They provide all the best kinds of support.  They cheer me on, give me a push when I’m about to birth a new idea, & allow me to push the “pause” button when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the grandness of my own vision.

3 – I am emerging as a woman & a leader. After years of doing my own personal growth work, I am committed to supporting others in their own exploration.

The details? Well, they are still arranging themselves.

And I am showing up to see how it all comes out!