Reclaiming What Is Yours: Embracing New Beginnings

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Thalia, Me, Hazel

Welcome, Friends!

I recently led yoga and meditation for a women’s renewal retreat at an exquisite bed and breakfast called Minerva’s By The Sea. This island jewel is located in Barnegat Light, Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Emma Lapsansky, who runs the space, created an incredible sense of home for us all, joining us for delicious meals that she cooked with love, guiding us through conversation to help us all get to know one another, sharing her beautiful stories with us, organizing a mix of massage therapy, manicures, psychic readings and art projects, as well as making the house itself delightfully comfortable with whimsical, colorful decor, extremely lovely and relaxing rooms with names (my room was Anemone), puzzles, bikes, books and everything you could possibly need to feel completely at ease and at home.

During the retreat I met ten unique, beautiful, powerful women, each of whom shined her light to help create a special sisterhood. I was honored and blessed to get to know them, learn from them, and to hold space for them to connect more with themselves through a mix of meditation, restorative yoga and chair yoga. I was inspired and touched to encounter a mother, daughter and grandmother trio, a mother and daughter duo, three friends who had roomed together in college many years ago, and two friends who had decided to take a trip together.

In the latter duo was Thalia: an energetic, hilarious, amazing, inspiring, beautiful woman who has been on this planet for almost 91 years. When we met, she expressed her hesitation about participating in the yoga sessions, explaining that she sometimes gets dizzy and was concerned that the classes might not be accessible to her. Thalia shared that when she tried yoga in her twenties, the instructor told her that yoga wasn’t for her, that she shouldn’t do it because of an issue with her equilibrium. In that moment Thalia became convinced that she should never practice yoga asana (poses) again, and never did for over 60 years. I explained that yoga is about connecting with yourself; that the physical postures are just one tool to aid in the holistic union of mind, body, soul and Universe; that a physical yoga practice could be as simple as breathing with intention; and that every exercise could be modified to meet the capabilities and needs of the practitioner. She agreed to give it a shot.

Thalia blew me away in chair yoga! Her enthusiasm, playfulness, commitment to trying everything and finding her edge, her openness and the delightful feedback she gave throughout the session, enlivened the entire room. After the session, she expressed frustration for not having revisited yoga sooner; however, she was hooked and was determined to make yoga a regular practice for the rest of her life.  Here is a video  of her sharing her story.  😊

I learned so much from Thalia. Perhaps the biggest take away was the importance of embracing and celebrating our new beginnings, and that it is truly NEVER too late to make a positive change in our lives. How often have you told yourself that it’s too late to change [fill in the blank]? How many times have you felt ashamed, frustrated, angry or disappointed in yourself for the steps you have taken along your path that have led up to now? Perhaps in moments when you have decided to make a shift you have simultaneously felt upset that it took this long to get here. I’ve certainly experienced all of the above countless times. What if, instead, we choose to CELEBRATE the fact that we have arrived at a point in our awareness where we are finally ready to bravely change course? There are limitless ways that this can play out in our lives.

One area that I am applying this philosophy is in my decision to start studying Japanese again and to connect more with my roots. My father is from Okinawa, Japan. His father was from Lubang, Philippines, and his mother, my Grandma, is from Kohama, Japan. After encountering racism as a preschooler, I refused to speak Japanese with my Dad anymore. I wanted to fit in. I stopped learning what was inherently mine and missed out on opportunities to connect with my own heritage as well as to be able to have deep, fluent conversations with my Japanese relatives (particularly Grandma), as most of them are not fluent in English. I later realized how important it was to reclaim my language. In college I studied Japanese but gradually stopped practicing once I stopped taking the course, and have since forgotten much of what I studied. For years I felt guilty calling Grandma at all, out of shame for my limited language skills. I felt that I had fallen off track and that perhaps I would just give up talking to her until I had started studying again.

I have had Japanese on my list for years, thinking, “I’ll pick it back up when I have time.” But I realized that unless I decide to commit to it and carve out the study space in my schedule, I will never have time. Though I beat myself up over the years for rejecting my language and for not making it a priority to continue my studies, I realized that I could stop judging myself and embrace this new beginning. I realized that what mattered was that I reach out to Grandma, even if the conversations were very basic for a while. The heart can communicate beyond verbal language barriers. And I realized that it’s not too late to pick the language back up! It doesn’t matter what came before.

I am going to buy a language program this week and start studying Japanese regularly again, with the goal of being able to speak with Grandma on a deeper level by the time I visit her this December in Guam, where she now lives.

Thalia had the right to have a yoga practice. I had the right to learn and speak my language with pride. Both of us are reclaiming what is ours, NOW.

What are you ready to reclaim? What new beginnings are you ready to embrace? Is it a career, a relationship, a hobby, a habit, a new schedule that serves you more, a new way of expressing yourself, or something else?  Today is truly the first day of the rest of your life!  In yoga we practice embracing each new beginning (each new breath, each new pose, each new day of practicing, each new thought) and then letting go to make space for yet another beginning. Such is the beauty of Life.

May you experience gratitude toward Life, the Divine and yourself for each milestone of awareness and positive change along your path.

“Don’t let the past stifle your progress. Let it empower you.”

-Suguru Nakamichi Tangi (my Dad)

Namaste, じゃあまたね (jaa mata ne)

Anne

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Grandma Takiko Tangi and me in Guam, 2008

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Art project at Minerva’s By The Sea Bed and Breakfast

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With Emma, Innkeeper and Primary Owner of Minerva’s

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Come out and play!

Hey Friends!

Picture yourself as a young child.  What do you look like?  What brings you delight?  What brings you fear?  What do you crave more than anything?

Now imagine this child residing in a cave inside your heart.  It longs to express itself, to be loved, to be accepted, to connect, to be seen.  The child draws a picture to give to someone you care about.  It is so excited to share this artwork.  But you, as an adult, don’t think the picture is good enough, so you say, “It’d be better to throw this picture away.  Once you’ve cultivated your drawing skills more, then we can show others your picture.”  Immediately the little child gets shoved deeper into the cave.   It feels hurt, inadequate, ashamed, small, and repressed.

As people, each time we label ourselves as inadequate, unworthy, or we tell ourselves that we should be achieving more than we already have, we harm the tiny child within us.  When we shrug off our challenges and say, “Well, that’s nothing compared to what other people have experienced,” we are shoving the little child deeper into the cave, telling it that its experiences are not valid, that it doesn’t really matter.

But when we speak lovingly to the child within us, with words of appreciation and affirmation, celebrating our successes every step of the way, we encourage the child to come out and play, to speak, dance, sing, shout, and create with abandon.  We teach ourselves that we are worthy, we allow healing to occur, and from this place, only good can come.

I invite you to take a walk with your inner child, give it space to shine, listen to what it is telling you, and treat yourself with compassion throughout your day.  Just as we would want our own children to feel safe, encouraged, affirmed and supported, our own inner children need just that.

Come connect with your inner child at a playful yoga class this weekend/next week at Emerge Boutique Wellness Studio (with Urban Yoga Foundation) and at Area Yoga Brooklyn.

IG:@annetangi@biteablelife @urbanyogafoundation_ @areayogabrooklyn

Wonder, splendor, imagination, healing, connection and freedom await you!

Saturday May 6 – Area Yoga Brooklyn (103 1st Place)
9:20 – Open
10:50 – Basics
12:20 – Open

Tuesday May 9 – Emerge Boutique Wellness Studio (with Urban Yoga Foundation) – 380 MacDonough
7:30 pm – Basic Hatha

#wellness #innerchild #yoga #brookkynyoga #playfulness #healing #freedom #wonder #creativity #imagination #emergewellness #urbanyogafoundation #areayogabrooklyn #tangiyoga

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Nocturnal Illumination

dark night in motion

Happy Summer, Friends!

I hope you are finding chances to enjoy the season, regardless of the heat (if you’re in my neck of the woods) or other challenges that arise.  I hope that you are finding time to embrace what this season has to offer you.  On that note…

Picture a dark night. You are driving a car down a road with no street lights toward a destination that is full of light, joy and promise.  You can only see two hundred feet ahead of you with the help of your headlights.  While you cannot see far, you are still able to behold colorful flowers and plants along the side of the road as you pass them.  You stop the car in order to take in the view of some particularly vibrant flowers. Once you exit the car, you realize that the darkness actually allows you to see the stars much more vividly than if you were in the midst of the city lights. After witnessing the beauty of the foliage around you and the night sky, you get back behind the wheel, refreshed, and you continue toward your destination.

As we move through challenges each day on the road to our goals and dreams, sometimes we feel anxious about the fact that we can’t see all the way to the end of the dark road.  We may fear that if we slow down we will lose momentum and will miss the chance to fulfill our mission, or arrive at our destination.  Maybe it’s a job you are after, or reaching a certain milestone in your education, or maybe you are waiting for an answer to a question that is really important to you.  At times, in pursuit of our dreams, we forget how important it is to let ourselves celebrate the here and now.  We can develop the illusion that we don’t have permission to relax, or to experience pleasure, or to celebrate, until we have arrived at our destination.

But what if it takes years before you land that job, or before you receive the answer you seek? Does that mean you’re not going to enjoy life for the next several years? Life is NOW. We need to be present, to embrace THIS moment. Joy is here. Peace is now.

Of course, we need to take steps each day that lead toward whatever it is we seek. Maybe you really need that solid job and having it will truly help to reduce your anxiety and will enable you to focus more of your energy on other areas of life that might currently feel neglected.  But as we take those steps, let’s celebrate all along the way!  Let’s give ourselves permission to take chlid’s pose, to do something we really want, to go out with that friend, to take that mini-vacation, to read that book. Let’s celebrate life every day, in the midst of our daily challenges.  Let’s tap into peace, joy and light in the midst of the chaos, hard times and darkness.

During your asana practice, every moment is an opportunity to celebrate life.  Notice the ability of the breath to help you find peace right here, right now.  The breath offers a foundation: When we breathe fully, we can experience greater joy in every pose.  Holding the poses can be challenging. Choose joy!  I am happy that I am invigorating and strengthening my body!  I am happy that I am able to practice this posture. I am happy that this pose offers me the chance to grow.  At other moments, we need to modify the pose.  I am happy that I have a space where I am reminded and encouraged to listen to my body and my breath. I am happy that I am connecting with myself today. I am happy that I am practicing being a good listener.

Throughout the rest of your summer, I invite you to celebrate life each day and to take the time to appreciate what each experience offers you.

Here are some tunes to help keep the party going:

“Celebrate Good Times” — Kool and the Gang
“504” — Soul Rebels

I hope to see you soon!  Come join me for a class at Area Yoga, or if you are interested in having yoga at your work space, or private lessons, let’s talk!

Off to look at the moon,

Anne

Monster in the Closet

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Take a moment to notice your breath, without judging what you observe.

One night, as a little girl gets ready to go to sleep, she hears a sound coming from her closet, and concludes: There’s a monster in my closet!  She won’t open the closet door, because the fear of what she might find is too intense.  If there’s a monster in the closet, it must be big, scary, and overpowering.  The risk of not being able to handle what’s on the other side does not feel worth taking.  So, the child has to scurry to her bed, pull the covers over her head, and she can’t relax because she has to be ready to run if the monster comes out. The sounds continue to keep her awake.  Finally, the little girl concludes that the only way she’ll be able to sleep is if the monster leaves her closet.  She bravely approaches the door, opens it, and shrieks as a moth flies out.  After watching the moth that was searching for a way to get outside, the little girl opens the window, and the moth flutters out.  The child closes her closet door, takes a proud sigh of relief, snuggles under the covers, and falls fast asleep.

Sometimes we attach a certain meaning to something about ourselves, some factor in our lives, some idea, some possibility.  Sometimes we are too afraid to look at what’s there to even consider what it is.  Maybe, after giving ourselves the space to consider it, however, we’ll begin to see ways that we can deal with what is there.

Today I invite you to increase your awareness, without judging what you see or attaching meaning to it, so that you can truly see.

A yoga practice provides a space to observe without judging.  We draw our focus to the breath, which helps the mind to slow down and helps to take attention away from the stories that we tell ourselves, or the monsters that grow inside our closets.  In addition, as we practice mindfulness with the breath, we also practice mindfulness with our bodies and movements.  We learn to breathe through the sensations that arise and to be present.  Sometimes this means adjusting the pose so that we can find our true best or “edge”, rather than push beyond it to our expected edge.  We practice this constant communication between the body and breath without judging ourselves for not being able to achieve a certain expression of the pose that we might desire.  Through this practice, we train ourselves to remove some of the stigmas that we attach to our experiences in life so that we can embrace them, learn from them, and move forward.

Notice your breath again.  During your physical yoga practice, or asana practice, observe what’s going on within you in each pose.  Observe when you reach your edge, if you need to modify the pose, if your breathing changes and the thoughts that come.   Maybe certain thoughts need to come to the surface, so that they can then pass on by, or so that we can deal with them in another way.

What monsters in your closet are you ready to face this week, this month?  We Got This!!!

Check out my calendar for my up-to-date teaching schedule.  Hope to see you on the mat!

Peace and Sweet Dreams,

Anne

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Castle in the Fog

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Hey Friends,

I hope you’re having an awesome week.  Over the past few days, my fellow Louisianians having been encountering some tornadoes, lighting storms and intense rain.  Here in NYC we’ve had some wind, a chill and sun. Perhaps where you are, you’ve been encountering some fog.

Imagine that you have a dream of reaching a mystical castle. You can see the castle ahead of you, at the end of a foggy path. You begin walking, briskly, through the fog, believing that you can reach the castle shortly. Soon, you realize that there is more than fog separating you from the dream. Through the fog, you see that you are actually in the midst of a community. Beyond the community, you see a river, then more fog, leading to the castle. You must find a way to cross the river. The members of the community teach you that there are special stepping stones that will float, and carry you over the river. They also offer you food, explaining that this trek will take some time. They lead you to the magical stepping stones. You stand atop one, and float over the river, toward the fog. Once the stone lands, you see that the castle is still a distance away.  Again you see through the fog. You have arrived in another community.

You begin to think, “Will I ever reach the castle? Why didn’t I see through this fog when I first had the dream?” But as you move forward, as you soak up what you need from each experience, the next stepping stone is ready for you. And you continue, until there is no more fog between you and the castle. As you behold this mystical place, you realize that you actually saw through each foggy spot at just the right time.

In your physical yoga practice, or the asana practice, each pose can be a stepping stone for something more complex. It is important to prepare the body for what’s coming, and when the body is ready, the more complex versions of the poses will happen, maybe that day, maybe a few weeks later, maybe months later. All that matters is that you tune in to your community, your body, your breath, and take the steps that are available to you at each moment.  Maybe you think, “Yesterday I could do this pose easily. But it’s not happening today.” That’s okay. Since yesterday, you have moved on through the fog, into a different environment. Honor that. Right now, work with the tools in your midst and be patient with yourself.  Trust that the pose will evolve as you evolve.

Inhale, see the castle.  Exhale, press through the fog.

In your daily life, what does your castle look like?  What communities have you been encountering?  What stepping stones are there for you to discover?

Throughout your journey, take time to delight in how far you have come. May you press on through the fog, toward your dreams, one stepping stone at a time.

Let’s press through the Fog this week at the yoga studio!  Here’s where you can find me. And come check out the new Area Yoga studio on 5th Ave. in Park Slope!!! We have lots of fun classes and teachers!:

Friday May 1
6:00 p.m. Open Level – Area Yoga (5th Ave.)

Sunday May 3
9:45 a.m. Open Level – Area Yoga (Montague)
12:30 p.m. Warm Restorative – Area Yoga (Court)

Monday May 4
9:20 a.m. Open Level – Area Yoga (Court)
12:30 p.m. Express – Area Yoga (5th Ave.)

The Light in Me sees and honors the Light in You,

Anne  P.S. Check out “Everything is Everything” by Lauryn Hill to get you dancin’ and encouraged as you move through the fog toward your Castle.  Hang in there, and keep your gaze at the horizon!!