HeavyWeight Yoga in Austin, in Houston, and on the video screen

I’m so excited this morning, because HeavyWeight Yoga is stretching out to embrace new students. This morning the TV news shows in Houston (Great Day Houston) as well as in Austin (Good Day Austin) featured segments to show off HeavyWeight Yoga and my newest DVD. On KHOU in Houston, we even introduced two local HeavyWeight Yoga teachers.

In Houston people saw me practicing with fitness reporter Courtney Perna at the classic Heights Branch library as part of her Channel 4 broadcasts Think Outside The Gym. On that show I was joined by two Houston-area HeavyWeight Yoga instructors, Lea Ann Deel (heavyweightyogahouston.com) as well as Rowan Twosisters, who’s integrated my HeavyWeight Yoga with her Hottie Hoop Camp.

But if you’re not able to make that 3-Sunday series that Lea Ann offers in the Houston area, you can also sign up for my next HeavyYoga Women’s Retreat, May 22-24. If you can’t make my retreat event (so very special, and close to Houston — plus you get $100 off registering early) you can practice with me using my newest DVD.

Being in a class or a retreat space is a wonderful way to begin. Whenever you want to practice, I’m there for you, on any of my three DVDs. Lea’s Houston classes start this Sunday, Feb. 22, at Niamoves. Register with her at the studio’s website.

In Austin, the local Fox TV affiliate Channel 7 just ran three reports on HeavyWeight Yoga here on President’s Day. It was great to wake up to yoga on my screen. But that’s something everybody can do with my DVDs, too.

I want to connect to you any way that I can, either on the screen, in a retreat, or with a HeavyWeight Yoga teacher in the room with you. My Austin classes meet on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursday and Saturdays. After my Wednesday evening classes here in Austin, I’m out on a trip to see my niece Megan get married over this coming weekend — but I’ll be back next week starting Wednesday (Feb. 25) for a full slate of my local classes. I hope I’ll see you on the mat with me!

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Leaning In To A Fresh Image

I had great fun this afternoon at my photo shoot for this year’s publicity run. Working on my wide-leg forward bend was a real eye-opener. I got myself right down into the pose, and with just about no warmup. I don’t recommend this. I’m a yoga teacher and have my tough days too. Be sure to warm yourself up before practicing any pose. Well, not my favorite, tadasanda (Mountain Pose). You can practice that one waiting in line anywhere.

Taking photos might seem like a real ego kind of afternoon. It was for me, but it’s not what you’d think. You reveal yourself while you’re in front of any camera, sharing who you are with everybody in the world who’s watching that TV show, that video, or even reading a health and fitness website. My image is out there, but my mission has always been to Change the Image of Yoga. (In fact, that’s the title of my second DVD).

No matter your size or situation, you can change the image of yoga each time you practice. It doesn’t matter if you’re practicing with me in my Austin classes, with one of my teachers around America, or just in the comfort of your home watching a DVD. What’s most important is that the image of yourself keeps changing. You want to see that picture of yourself in a loving pose, listening to that voice that talks to you 24×7, hearing that voice talking to you as if you are your own best friend.

Yoga can help you see that image. Wide-leg forward bend is an advanced pose. Finding the awareness, acceptance, affection for yourself is a foundational pose. People will see you in a flash of new light, like the flash of the camera or the hot lights of the TV studio. Turn it on for yourself.

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A Great Newsfix on Houston’s TV

I was thrilled to be interviewed for the Houston TV station KIAH this week, the CW39 channel. Not only did I get to show the city’s viewers the latest from the Heavyweight Yoga 3 DVD, two Houston-area teachers that I’ve trained got their moments in front of the camera as well. Rowan and Leah expressed themselves with passion and spark. They’re great representatives of the Heavyweight Yoga teachings.

The CW39 has a very unique news hour. Newsfix is full of one- and two-minute stories, and it’s got a great sense of humor. It’s news that pitched for the younger viewer. It’s got an app where you can see its stories, and Courtney and the crew there at the station were gracious with their time.

Heavyweight Yoga got its due thanks to their work. Being on Newsfix was an example of how yoga’s gotten into the mainstream conversation by now. People want to get the word out. It feels like interest is higher than ever. When I look back over the 42 years that I’ve practiced and taught yoga, it’s gone from something for hippies and cult activity, to a genuine lifestyle choice.

Yoga is everywhere. It’s available to anyone who wants to try it, use it, and love themselves. I told Courtney while I was on camera that making changes in your life is only possible from within. When you love yourself, that’s the best way.

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Here comes the latest DVD!

I’m so excited! We’ve stocked up the latest DVD today, HeavyWeight Yoga 3: Five x 25. We’ve put it up for sale at all of our outlets — the new shop at Sears.com; as always, Amazon; and of course our own online HeartFelt Yoga.com outlet. (Shipping at HeavyWeight Yoga.com is FREE.) I have so many people to thank for making my dream come true. But most of all, I want to thank my students. Whether you practice with me using the DVD in your home, or you have been to a retreat or inside my Austin studios, you’re the ones who teach me, so I can spread your courage and spark.

Of course, the great thing about doing three DVDs is you learn more about what people need with each one. People love the first two (sorry if I brag there.) Now my latest helps people who don’t have a lot of time to practice, but want the benefits that yoga brings for them. You’ll love this list: Increased mobility and flexibility. Decreased stress and lower blood pressure. Body detoxification and improved elimination. Muscle tone and joint lubrication. The list of yoga benefits goes on and on. As science improves it has come to validate what people for thousands of years have known instinctively:  Doing yoga makes you feel better.

In just 25 minutes, with just one click, those benefits can be yours, regardless of your size or circumstance. It’s a body positive approach to yoga so you can start your yoga practice with the body you have today. The DVD has inspiration woven throughout the poses as you:

• Develop core without leaving the floor
• Build Upper Body Strength
• Expand Your Flexibility
• Practice Bed Top yoga for all times of the day
• Enjoy a Stress Buster for complete relaxation

Join me on the newest leg of our journey to health together. And please, let me know in your comments here, and in your reviews on Amazon and Sears, how it’s helping you — and how I can serve you better in the years to come.

I honor the light within you.

Hugs,

Abby

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Obstacles

Obstacles give us an opportunity to grow.

Often the poses we dislike the most are the very ones we need the most. It’s easy to motivate yourself to do something you’re good at, harder to enjoy that which can be a challenge.

But, it’s only by doing the difficult things — both on and off the mat — that we get  better at them.

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Magic Number

As most of you already know, I love basketball and am passionate about my San Antonio Spurs. I love having us all stretch Tim Duncan Tall. Just as on and off the yoga mat, there’s lots of life to be learned on and off the basketball court.

A spectacular slamdunk and an ordinary tip-in both score the same 2 points. Sportsmanship counts, reflected not only in final scores, but also in humility during and after the game. A Hall of Fame player often never wears a Finals ring.

One of the 4 Spurs Championship Rings

As playoff time nears there’s a lot of talk about a team’s Magic Number. This is a combination of wins and losses that determines a team’s ranking in the playoffs. You can advance by winning, but you can also advance by someone else winning over your close competition.

It all sounds more mathematical than it really is, but it got me to thinking — what if in life we all had a Magic Number? So many good deeds, so many acts of kindness and we’d go to the championship round. Do something not so good — and we all do — no worries, our friends will help us out and push us ahead.

I like thinking our Life Magic Number is infinite in scope. That in our lifetime we all will have enough opportunity to do good to make us champions, even if there’s no ring at the end of the season.

GO SPURS GO!

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39 Years of Yoga

39 years ago today I became a mother for the first time. It also marks the beginning of my yoga practice. In 1972 I had never even heard of yoga, but there it was, offered as a part of the YMCA’s Mother’s Day Out program in Charleston, WVA.


Home from the hospital. Happy Birthday Nathan!

I instantly fell in love with yoga. Young, trim even after having a baby, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do on the mat. Stand on my head — did it while listening to Johnny Carson’s monologue. Plow pose — could bring my shins to the floor and cover my ears with my knees.

Now older, heavier and much wiser, I know so much more about what being on the mat is all about. It’s never about the poses — it’s all about where they lead you. Success can be measured not by how triumphant you look on the mat, but just by showing up and doing your best for that day.

I wish I could tell you for these 39 years I’ve been on the mat everyday, but there’s always been gaps and misses. Perhaps more mat time is the gift I’ll give myself for the next 39 years. Hope you’ll give yourself more mat time too — if only sitting quietly and doing some deep breathing.

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Expectations

In this season of gifts — given and received — a lot of expectations swirl around the exchange. That perfect gift you bought turns out not to be so perfectly received. You don’t see the look of surprise and excitement just as you envisioned. The box you knew had to contain what you always wanted turns out to be not so much. Wrong size, wrong color, wrong in so many ways it can’t be explained.

But, really, what makes a gift “wrong” has more to do with our expectations on both sides of the giving process rather than the gift itself. Many Christmases ago I asked Ron for a simple gold bangle — not really a bracelet even, just a thread of gold for my wrist would have been perfect. The box under the tree was the right size and shape — I just knew my new husband had bought me the perfect piece of jewelry for our first Christmas together.

Imagine my surprise when I opened that box to discover a wide silver cuff, more befitting Wonder Woman’s wrist than my own! The holiday quickly turned into a therapy session in my head. Was I not clear? Was he not listening? Was he sending me a message I needed to decode? Or, was it was just a girl/guy thing like the folks on Mars and Venus talking?

Our expectations get in our way all the time, not just around the holidays. An email message we think is going to be a confirmation turns out to be a cancellation. We look down on the scale expecting to see a loss, but instead see no change or even worse a gain.

What it comes down to is our reaction to not having our expectations met that’s really important. It’s how we handle the disappointment of missed expectations that will turn out to be the real gift.

(PS If you have ever noticed the gold bracelet I always wear, it is a gift from Ron. We found it together in Missoula, MT of all places. I picked it out and waited in the coffee shop while he went back and bought it. Given at a time of uncertainty, it’s become a symbol for us that everything will be okay.)

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Expect the Unexpected

Before we left Austin for our Second Honeymoon trip to California we made plans. Not only where we were staying, but also where we were eating.

  • Breakfast at MaMa’s — a café that was on everyone’s top 5 list.
  • Fancy dinner at the Grand View Hyatt — boasting to be the last sky-view restaurant in San Francisco.
  • The Sunday Grand Brunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel — our reservation timed to be at the cross over from breakfast to lunch so we could sample everything they had to offer.

So imagine our surprise after driving across Yosemite to Mono Lake to be treated to a 5-star meal at the Tioga Gas Mart. Fish tacos with fresh mango salsa and Buffalo meatloaf with seasoned steamed julienne vegetables all served on real plates with real silverware to be eaten outside on a weathered, well used picnic table. Gas pumps out front, the inside surrounded by refrigerator cases filled with the usual soft drinks and beer. The register decorated with last minute auto items hanging in their bubble packs. There was no hint of the delicious food we were about to savor.

In life there’s only so much we can plan. Out of that, there’s only so much that goes the way we hoped it would. After all Robert Burn’s poem written To a Mouse in 1785 is now a proverb:

The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go oft awry.

So it seems for generations we have been planning for things to not work out.  So what would happen if we also planned for the unexpected to be good? Things we don’t see coming that add to our day in a positive way.

The trick to this, I think, is letting those pleasant things be small. Receiving a smile from a stranger. Noticing how good our body feels after a little stretch. Hearing the birds in our front yard serenade us while sipping our morning coffee. Once expecting the best becomes a habit it’ll be easy to have little good things pool into a pond of joy you can soak in.

Be open to receive all that comes your way, let yourself exhale all that negative junk you might be carrying as you prepare for the worst to happen. Instead open yourself to receive the inhale breath and all the joy that it can bring.

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Everyone Can Dance

I fell in love with this video immediately, although I must admit, I have no idea what’s being sung about!

The important thing for me is that the left foot never moves — why you may ask, is this important?

Thanks to Ginger's Brother!

Well, if you can’t stand and dance with this Cat, the anchored left foot is the key to knowing that dancing is still possible for you. Even if you’re in the office or bed bound.

Push yourself away from your desk — move out so you’re sitting on the front half of your chair, being sure your weight is still well supported. Plant that left foot and move everything else, the arms the head, lift that right foot.  Switching your feet from right to left as needed — just be sure one foot is always on the floor for stability. Can’t lift a foot yet? Then lift your heels or just move the arms, body and head. Try to get the arms higher than the heart as much as possible.

Find the beat, find the fun in moving. Add some of your own moves too, but don’t forget to breathe. If you’re bed-bound, just pulse your legs and feet bringing the arms up as high as you can, moving the head with an attitude.

See how long you can dance. Each time, try to dance just a little longer until you can do the song all the way through. Don’t like this song? Do the movements to one of your own favorites.

This is especially fun if like me your chair is a ball and adds extra bounce to the tune.

After you’re finished your dancing, place both feet on the floor, rest your arms in your lap and close your eyes. Take a few integration breaths and notice your body. Your heart beat, the moisture on your skin, your muscles’ reaction to moving in so many different new ways — the smile that’s now found its way onto your face.

I hope you’ll be dancing with the Cat today and many other days!

As always, let me know how this works for you or if you have any questions / suggestions. It’s good to share, because none of us are in this alone.

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