December.  Here we are at the end month of 2011.  Somehow I've let the past couple months fly past me.

I've been giving a topic a lot of thought, and the timing seems right to bring these thoughts to the surface. 
When an artist is entrenched in the effort of creating, whether it's a painting or a poem, it's easy to get lost in the thunderous act of creation.  However at some point each must take a step back, analyze the work, and determine if it's 'done.' 

This experiment called doga got started innocuously enough.  While working at the soon-to-be-open All One Yoga studio with Amy Likins, she and I were talking about all the new things this new space could offer.  I asked her "are you going to have dog yoga too?"  Amy's response to me was "Would you like to teach it?"  Ta-da!  That was August 2008, and I was pregnant with Connor.  Since then I tried weekly doga at All One Yoga, shelter doga at PAWS, doga workshops with Pets Behave, doga at Dog Daze, doga fundraisers, and more.

Last month, just after Thanksgiving, I held another fundraiser doga class.  I chose to move from the "pit" behind Cafe Organic (which opened spring 2011) to the Fort Walton Beach Landing.  I was hoping the change of venue would translate to better turnout.  I was wrong.

While I cherish the opportunity to spread the doga practice with each individual person, it's become disheartening to have such small participation time and time again.  I have to step back and ask "is this done?"  More to the point, "Have I failed?"

I've decided to no longer schedule group events, unless I'm contacted for a special event and have a confirmed group.  I guess I will see how 2012 goes...
On Thursday, September 29, I started having contractions late in the evening.  I was excited- with both Cade and Connor, my water broke without me being in labor.  Therefore with both of them, I had to endure an induced labor, complete with pitocin (artificial oxytocin), IV fluids, constant monitoring of fetal heart rate, contractions, and blood pressure, an epidural, and a catheter.  I was looking forward to trying out this "natural" labor thing!  I'd seen Dr. Susan Kracht twice that week for acupuncture to help onset labor, and I was seeing results.
Or so I thought.
By about 10am Friday morning, the contractions had stopped.  I walked, I saw Dr. Susan again.  But that afternoon at my scheduled ob/gyn appointment, nothing had changed.  My (slightly) elevated blood pressure worried the doctor, but since my readings outside of the office weren't as high as theirs, he said "see you next week."
I asked Oxana, our new yoga teacher (yes, Oxana is as stunning as her name makes you think she is) to teach my Saturday yoga class... just in case.
Still no baby.
Sunday night, I woke up feeling bad.  Nauseous, uncomfortable, with a weird pain in my upper back and under my ribs.  I spent most of the night awake, and called the ob/gyn office in the morning.  Dan and I walked three miles after dropping off the kids, hoping to get labor restarted.  At the doctor's office, my blood pressure readings were high.  He asked me to go to the hospital "to get some labs done."  I agreed, knowing simultaneously that I both needed to have the baby for my body's sake - and knowing the "natural" birth I desperately hoped for was going to evade me again.
At the hospital, my blood pressure did nothing but climb.  The decision had to be made.  I was 3 centimeters dilated.  I was induced again, but this time with the addition of IV magnesium sulfate.  Despite the magnesium, and several other medications, my blood pressure remained high.  It eventually came out of the stratosphere after the epidural.
Around 9:45, I started having sharp pain from the contractions.  I was only 4 cm.  The nurse called the anesthesiologist back in to adjust the epidural.  When he arrived a short time later, I was 8cm.  Wow.
At 10:08 pm on Monday night, October 3, little Chiana Rain was born, 5 pounds ans 10 ounces. 
Our boys have a baby sister.

Wow.  It's really cool how the universe keeps sending the same message in different envelopes when you need to learn something...

About two weeks ago, my loveing hubby Dan hurt his back, again.  It was over Labor Day weekend, and I was "helping" him carry his old, nasty recliner to the curb.  He slipped out of his flip flops, and misaligned his SI joint.  Couldn't move.  So I did my best to pick up the slack while he recuperated, and Dan saw Dr. Susan Kracht several times.
As luck would have it, just a few days later I over-rolled while cracking MY back in the dead of night, and thanks to all those hormones I mis-aligned MY SI joint.  I got in to see Dr. Susan for an adjustment on Friday. 
Ironically, I'd had a number of ideas and themes for yoga class bouncing in my head.  However, that evening as I prepared for class the next morning, I came to the realization that I needed to plan a class assuming I wouldn't be able to "teach" my class - assuming I couldn't move.  I had to accept my current situation and limitation.  As luck would have it, that Saturday morning I could not move at all without sharp pain.  I had to, yet again, accept my situation and asked the wonderful Amy Likins if she could teach for me.
And in other news, I've been growing exceedingly anxious about Peanut's impending arrival.  My anxiety has been reflected in my(slightly) elevated blood pressure.  I've got a list of things to do stuck on the refrigerator door.  Just looking at the list gets my adrenaline flowing... I've used the analogy that I 'm trying to defuse a bomb, but I have no idea how much time is left before BOOM!!  It doesn't help that my "real" job has gotten quite a bit busier and more hectic (read: more work).  All the while, my energy reserves are getting more depleted each day.
I decided the lesson still fit - and as I reviewed my class plan on Friday for yesterday's yoga practice, I had the mental image of me trying to hold back a wall of sand with my hands.  Holding back the sands of time.  I can't do it.  I've begun to accept, and to become content with that acceptance, time and Peanut will move along regardless of my readiness.  All I can do is what I can do.
To top things off, today I met with fellow members of the Animal Justice Rally Group.  As we discussed our group's future plans, especially the upcoming Dog Daze event on October 15, I yet again had to accept my smaller role this year.  And I think I'm almost okay with that.
So for those who have been wondering (because you haven't been in class, shame!!) here's my current state.  I am 16 days away from "due."  Laugh, wonder in awe, or just look away and recoil in horror.  I accept your reaction!
Baddu Konasana
Adho Muhka Svanasana
Ardha Chandrasana
Tadasana in the sunshine!
I've been feeling very, very guilty lately.  There's been several people asking me, or Amy, "When is the next doga class?"  However, because we hold our doga practice outdoors, and because it's summer, and because it's hot, and because I'm very full of Peanut right now... I've decided to put the doga practice on hold until later.  Maybe November - after Peanut arrives and after it cools down.
Also, there's been SO much growth and expansion in general at All One Yoga.  Cafe Organic has really taken off.  The Yoga Mama workshops were well attended, and there's been a lot of women asking about prenatal yoga.  New classes are starting up.  I sooo want to become a bigger part of this new opportunity, but right now I'm just plain bigger.  Amy says not to worry, there will be plenty of opportunity for new ventures in the coming months.  I just can't help but feeling I'm missing out and letting people down.

SO instead I'm doing what I can. 

I just picked up another foster dog a few days ago - ironically on National Dog Day (who knew?).  Her name is Cady, and my best guess is she's a pointer / hound / boston terrier mix.  Cady is about 8 months old.  Found as a stray, she was a "failed foster" through Walton County Animal Shelter.  But only 3 months after she went into foster care, the foster/ adopter had to move in with family and couldn't take her.  The adopter didn't want to send her back to the shelter, so she reached out to several rescue groups via Facebook.  I am now fostering Cady, and she is available for adoption with SAINTS animal rescue, founded by my buddy Jos

I want to get some updated, good pics of Cady.  Unfortunately, my camera was stolen out of my car a few weekends ago... I'm hoping to squeeze enough blood out of turnips to afford a new camera.  After all, I'll need to get pics of Peanut soon too!

I'm reviving the Full Bellies & Full Hearts special too!  Just bring canned cat / kitten / dog / puppy food to All One Yoga for my Saturday morning class, and drop in for just $5.  Every Saturday in September.
Feel good & feel good.  Win-win.
I've been thinking in geometry.

I've been feeling rather round these days.  I'm circling back, starting over, in the baby department.

It struck me recently during a yoga practice.  In my day job, my thinking and planning is very linear.  Square boxes, straight lines.  But in yoga, even as we are creating openness our energy moves in circles and spirals.  Very, very few things in the natural world are straight.

School starts next week.  Even though it's "starting over," Cade, and so many other young minds, is starting fresh in a new grade.  Learning new things.  More like a spiral staircase than a flat circle. 

Such will be our lives with Peanut too.  And our recently re-homed foster Cookie Dough.  Starting over, yet starting fresh.  Hopefully as these weeks wind down to welcoming our newest addition, and as we re-acquire all those things we thought we didn't need anymore, I can stay fresh too.
My yoga class was inspired by some out of the ordinary sources today.  In a nutshell, we explored how our faults, our imperfections, our idiosynchracies and insanities are often the keys to our truest strengths.  Would Van Gough have painted the same if he were "normal?"

On that thread, the so-called designer dog, or hybrid, trends bother me.  Once upon a time these were called "mutts" or "mixed breeds."  Now we have labradoodles, chiweenies, and more.  What was once deemed faulty is now high fashion.

Our current foster dog is a designer dog - a shinese.  She is a pekingese- shih tzu mix, or at least that's our best guess.  Cade named her Cookie Dough.  She is availeble through SAINTS rescue.!/pages/SAINTS-Animal-Rescue/167247326674529?sk=info

Good News!!  Cookie Dough has been adopted by my good friend Brenda and her family!  Happy tails
Whew!  Between traveling, having guests, being sick - it's been good to get back to normal... whatever THAT means.

I finally have been able to get back into yoga class, as a student, with Amy Likins.  I don't know how she does it.  She teaches nonstop, and never has time to be a student.  I know she has a dedicated home practice (as we all should), but home practice means YOU are still the instructor.  It's priceless to let someone else take the lead, not knowing where you might end up.

So in class last night, Amy concluded the practice with bija mantra.  The bijas are seed sounds, each associated with the primal energy of a particular chakra.  Root chakra is lam, sacral chakra is vam, solar plexus chakra is ram, heart chakra is yam, throat chakra is ham, third eye chakra is om.  The crown chakra is described as the sound at the end of om, or a silent om.

As we sounded these bijas, an interesting thing happened.  First, let me say that all my babies seemed to like yoga.  They normally became very still during practice.  However, Peanut was very active in class last night, shifting and moving.  Peanut settled in during the restorative end poses, however.

So as we are sounding the bijas, I noticed Peanut's behavior changing.  It wasn't random.  Peanut was alternatively very still and very active as we moved from one bija, from one chakra, to the next.  Particularly active were heart and sacral.  Particularly calm were solar plexus and root.  This is interesting because the energy vibrations of the chakras alternate between ida nadi (the feminine, lunar, receptive, yin energy) and pingala nadi (the male, solar, expressive, yang quality).  Since we don't know if Peanut is a boy or a girl... wonder what THAT means???
A few days before my normally scheduled Saturday yoga, I start to feel around for inspiration.  Sometimes it's bright and shiny, easy to find.  Sometimes it's part of an ongoing chain.  Sometimes it's a thought or phrase that gets stuck like a skipping record in my head.  Such was the case last week.

I had a snippet of a song stuck in my head:  "I've got the hippy hippy shake!"  I kept trying to let it go, but it persisted.  So I embraced it!  We spent Saturday with lots of hip openers.  Our second chakra, svadisthana, is a creative, go-with-the-flow energy.  I went with the song in my head. 

The hips can hold a lot of residue and baggage.  Hip openers are detoxifying, both physically and mentally.  Often we are overwhelmed by the negative effects of detoxification.  For those of us with tight, stubborn hips, it's easy to get frustrated, and begin acting with force and criticism.  On Saturday I challenged my class, and myself, to let go with joy - to dance.

I was stressed about Cade's birthday.  Instead of focusing on what I couldn't do - I joyfully embraced a fun-filled weekend with him and the whole family.  He thought it was "awesome."

In the words of the poet Hafiz:
Every child has known God.  Not the God of names, not the God of don'ts, not the God who ever does anything weird.  But the God who knows only four words and keeps repeating them, saying "Come, dance with me.  Come dance."

It's really no mystery that "dog" is "god" in the mirror.  Wag your tail!
Part of being pregnant - let's be honest, part of being human- is feeling out of sorts.  Off kilter.  Off center, caught up in chaos.  Sometimes that storm is hormonal, sometimes it's emotional, sometimes it stems from a physical condition.  Other times we get caught up in external chaos - work, family, friends.  It's easy to feel swept away by the churning winds.

I've been feeling very off-balance these past days.  As I told Dan "twelve shades of wrong." 

So my yoga practice today was based upon finding the eye of the storm, that place of peace and centeredness that we can come back to again and again and regain our focus. 
We can use the yoga asanas as one tool.  Lots of balance postures and hip openers were on the agenda this morning.  Balance poses, though requiring physical effort, can be very calming to the mind.  We are forced to quell the spinning frenzy of the monkey mind, otherwise we fall over  -literally!  Balance poses are always a great tool to use when we're feeling out of control and out of focus.
Another tool is the breath.  We used the nadi shodana pranayama today.  Nadi shodana, or alternate nostril breathing, brings harmony to the two sides of our energy - the ida and the pingala.  Especially when our hormones are running amock in overdrive our energy gets out of whack.  Nadi shodana is a breath practice that brings us back to center, and evens out the highs and lows.
Meditation is another path to the calm center.  Yoga asana can be meditative, as can pranayama.  Mantras and mudras can be used to deepen our meditation.
Essential oils can open and harmonize our emotions.  Several good essential oils for balancing are lavender, neroli, mandarin, bergamot, and juniper berry.  Use of essential oils on our dogs when we detect they are feeling off center is something simple we can do for them.  I often use lavender and lemon grass for anxiety, stress, and panic with dogs.  Citrus scents, like mandarin and grapefruit are uplifting and cheerful, helpful with depression.  PLEASE don't forget - no essential oils for our feline friends!  It can be toxic to them.  For pregnancy and infants, many essential oils are off-limits (such as peppermint, myrrh, cedarwood) so if you're unsure if an oil is safe- ask!

Speaking of oils, this coming Wednesday June 29 is the next scheduled Yoga Mama prenatal focus yoga workshop at All One Yoga.  We'll touch on essential oils during the class, but a more complete discussion is in the workshop handout packet.

The eye of the storm, the calm center of the chaos, is our true nature.  The more tools we have at our disposal, and the more frequently we come to that calm center, the easier it becomes to find out way back again.