Finding Joy in Movement

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Giving Thanks

ThankfulThis month, my wife has started keeping a little notebook of gratitudes that the whole family has been contributing to each day. We usually do it at breakfast and go around and talk about the things we are grateful for. Some days, it’s the big stuff (love, family, friends, etc) and sometimes it’s the little things (my son’s gratitude yesterday was that there was soy sauce on his rice). This has been a wonderful practice in many ways. One of the things that has surprised me a bit is that I’ve been noticing how that for me at least, it’s noticing the small stuff that actually has the most impact on my day. When I get into the mindset of being thankful for the little things, all of a sudden, my day becomes filled with gratitude. The big things do of course matter, but so does the small stuff and there tends to be more of that. The little moments that life is made up of and that can contribute to our overall sense of well-being when we just take the time to pay attention.
In this month of giving thanks, I’m thankful for my family, for my friends, for my career and all that it allows me to do, for the continued curiosity that drives me and keeps me looking forward to the future and engaged in the present, for the fact that I enjoy relative peace when so many do not, for the cup of cappuccino in front of me, for a body that is healthy, for getting to sleep in this morning, for the preschool that my kid enjoys so much, for new hobbies, and for all the people that make my day so enriching and stimulating. Grateful for each and every moment.

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Parenting as Yoga

My wife and I recently had our first kid, a baby boy named Octavian. While I am brand new to being a parent, one thing that struck me immediately was how similar in some ways being a parent is to meditation. Both require you to stay with the moment, to simply be present with what is happening, and both require a certain balance of effort and surrender.

While I’ve had a meditation practice for a while now, I will admit that at times, it’s been hard for me to see concrete examples of how I’ve grown through that practice. I might be able to stay with my breath a little longer now than when I started, but I wasn’t sure that my life had changed much as a direct result of the practice. It ‘s sometimes easy to think of yoga as something that you do only in a controlled environment – either at the studio or in a meditation corner at home, while the rest of life continues on pretty much as normal.

As a new parent however, I’ve had to call upon my mindfulness practice repeatedly in order to be fully present for my child. A meditation practice has given me a valuable tool in beginning this new journey, and conversely, bringing mindfulness to my every day life allows me to practice yoga wherever I am.

Being a parent has reminded me of why we practice – so that when life calls on us to be present, to deal with a crying child without crying ourselves, to experience the rush of rush hour traffic without losing our sense of calm, or to be there for a friend in need, we are able to call upon our experiences and remind ourselves that ‘I know how to do this. I know how to stay with this moment and be centered even when other thoughts might be trying to draw me away from that center”

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Being Present

I’ve been a little behind on posting to this blog for the last month or so, but I have a good excuse! My wife and I just welcomed our first child – a little baby boy named Octavian Orion Fetz Stallings. I’m taking some time off until the new year to enjoy these first few weeks to their fullest. This is to say, I probably won’t be posting much here and I might be hard to get in touch with for a little while, though then again, I might not. It’s hard to say really. Have a great holiday season and I look forward to seeing some of you again in the new year!

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Hot Springs

I have been overdoing it a bit lately with exercise. My work schedule hasn’t really allowed me to take any days off for quite a while until this last weekend. My wife and I were up in Canada, and while there, spent a day at some hot springs soaking in the mineral waters and generally relaxing. After my trip to Breitenbush this spring, I’ve become a firm believer in the benefits of hydrothermalmineral healing (that’s actually what it’s called). Soaking in hot springs relaxes muscles, calms the nervous system, increases blood flow and oxygenation to tissues of the body, and can at least temporarily relieve pain associated with injuries and various conditions. For more serious conditions, such as rheumatism in its various forms, and respiratory conditions, it seems to be that the common recommendation is for treatment lasting at least 15-20 days, but for less serious issues, even a day soaking can be beneficial. By allowing your muscles to relax fully and increasing oxygenation of tissues, the body is able to speed up recovery time. Professional athletes use hot soaks all the time to recover from workouts. I noticed that while I was at Breitenbush this spring, the same amount of asana practice which would have normally left me feeling sore, was no problem alongside daily soaks in the hot springs. So if you have access to a hot soak of any kind, you might consider treating yourself to some relaxation. Recovery is an important part of any exercise program.

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Summer is officially here. The weather is beautiful outside, the butterflies are out, and the trees are in their full greenery. Most of the time, unless you run, you probably work out inside. I’ve been trying to take my activities outside this summer and enjoy the sun while we have it. Meeting up with friend on the weekend at the park for acro, and there have been a bunch of yoga in the park events around Seattle this summer (which I swear I will be able to make it to one of these times). There is also an endless array of outdoor activities to take advantage of. Just a little gentle encouragement to get outside. Even if you aren’t “working out” being outside tends to mean being more active. It’s good for the body and good for the mood too. Vitamin D, which we don’t get much of in Seattle, feels really good when it’s available.