Dec 022014
 

The Happy Jar – Fostering Mindfulness And Gratitude With Children
By Ally Ford

The Happy Jar, Gratitude and MIndfulnes With Children

The Happy Jar, Gratitude and MIndfulnes With Children

Each night when my family sits down together for dinner we end with a lovely mindfulness tradition, “The Happy Jar.” My children named it, I like to think, for the way it makes them feel. We each write a little note about something for which were grateful and at that moment, regardless of what’s happening with any of us, whether there are tears over the healthy dinner mommy cooked that nobody wants to eat, or endless begging for dessert, all worries fall away, the table quiets, and hearts open.

It’s always a fun team project. My six-year-old daughter gathers pens and paper for all and hands them out. Together, in silence, we reflect upon something that made us feel happy and for which we’re grateful, write it down, date it, and fold up our notes. Then, and this is the really fun part, we try to guess what everyone wrote down. Though, as much as we want to tell each other, we do our best to keep it a secret (well, sometimes we just can’t hold it in, which of course is totally awesome). My eight-year-old son then collects the notes and deposits them into the happy jar, which is a vase on the buffet next to the dinner table.

It’s funny, I actually had the vase for years before I was married or had children and just used it for decorative purposes. But it just so happens to have the Chinese symbol for happiness on it, which makes me feel like it must have known it was destined for a more important use. At the end of the year on or around New Year’s Eve, based on party plans and family gatherings, the four of us sit down and one by one draw the notes out of the jar to read at random. It’s a special way to end one year and enter the next with the frame of mind of gratitude, positivity, and love.

Many experts recommend keeping a gratitude journal or adopting a gratitude practice because it’s been scientifically shown to lift spirits and help manage stress and anxiety. Writing it down is certainly poignant, but it can be just as effective to pause and simply think of something for which you’re grateful and notice the sensations it brings to your heart and your entire being. Pause and try it now!

I find that when I think of one thing for which I’m grateful, it plants a seed which then flowers into the recognition of numerous wonderful things I have in my life. It can be a powerful practice which can transform a day of challenge, pain or hardship into one of calm surrender. So I invite you to try The Happy Jar with your family and make it a fun family event. Let the children choose the jar, paper, writing utensils and the special place you’ll store all of these materials. Have them name it anything they’d like, make it their own, and make it perfect for your family. May it bring as many smiles and as much laughter and love to your family as it has to mine.

Let the gratitude flow, and may your Happy Jar runneth over.photo (15)

Nov 132014
 

Just have to share – during a dermatology procedure that I had this afternoon I had to sit still in a room with a special light very close to my face, eyes covered for 20 minutes. The first thing I did was pretend this was meditation “practice.” I used the counting breaths technique that you taught us and turned what could have been a very “not-so-fun, very uncomfortable” process into a learning experience. I was so thankful to be able to use that tool!!!

Hugs and gratitude to you, my teachers!!! ~Nancy, Teacher Training Student

Nov 022014
 

ROCKET Yoga, Meditation, and Clean Cuisine Intensive in GREECE! June 14-28, 2015 View from hotel in Greece
Join Ally Ford, RYT for a divine ROCKET yoga, meditation, and clean eating retreat in GREECE! Stay 1 or 2 weeks, June 14-28, 2015. CEUs available for existing yoga teachers. All levels of practitioners, partners and families welcome. What is Rocket Yoga? See FAQs below.

Come with us for an amazing yoga, meditation, and wellness immersion on the beautiful island of Amorgos, Greece. Amorgos is one of the most picturesque and relaxing islands of Cyclades. We’ll practice two daily ROCKET yoga sessions (afternoon session less intense/workshop focused with opportunities to break down poses for alignment), Yoga (7)daily meditation, fresh, organic, local cuisine, and enjoy exploring the island’s spectacular cliff-side hiking trails and wonderful beaches surrounded by huge mountains.

According to ancient mythology, the King Minos of Crete ruled a second kingdom on Amorgos, where remains of the ancient Minoan civilization have been found. This island is where French film maker, Luc Besson, shot scenes of his film, The Big Blue! The main town of Amorgos, Chora is a pure marvel with authentic Cycladic architecture, white houses, old windmills and an impressive castle. With labyrinth-like streets and a superb central square, Chora carries its visitors into a lost era with a magical atmosphere.

7Join us on this incredible adventure of a lifetime, and return home feeling refreshed, renewed, recharged, and with a reaffirmed commitment to your practice and a fresh outlook on life. Stay and practice with us for 1 OR 2 weeks in Greece on the beautiful island of Amorgos in the Southern Cyclades.

Your Trip Includes:

Amorgos, Greece  Bay*7 or 14 nights accommodation (beginning either June 14th or the 21st- recommend two weeks for plenty of time to experience Amorgos)
*Two daily yoga sessions
*Daily meditation
*Breakfast with organic ingredients from local garden                                                                                           *Daily dinner, including vegetarian and vegan options
* 3 Lunches per week (included with activities)
*Transfers on Amorgos (port-hotel-port)Amorgos, Greece
*One 35-minute Aromatherapy massage
*Free use of Spa facilities (sauna, hammam/Turkish Bath, jacuzzi, indoor and outdoor sea water swimming pool, fitness center)
*Unlimited Internet use
*Greek night with live music and dancing
*15% discount on all spa treatments
*An Island tour, including visits to the Monastery of Panagia Chozoviotissa, the Chapel of Agia Anna, the capital Chora, and the Monastery of St. George Monastery of Panagia HozoviotissaValsamitis. Includes lunch.
*A boat tour around the island, including lunch
*A lunch with cooking class and wine demonstration, including a guided tour of organic gardens

Arrive by Sunday, June 14th or Sunday, June 21st. Depart the following Sunday.

Reserve Your Space Today. No worries, no hesitation, no regrets. This is going to be amazing.

Pricing:                                                         Shared        Single
June 14-21  (1st week only)            $1,375          $1,650Greece Yoga Practice Space
June 21-28  (2nd week only)         $1,575           $2,125
June 14-28   (Two Weeks)               $2,750          $3,575
*Pricing does not include travel to Amorgos, gratuities, or alcoholic beverages.

$500 deposit required to register. Payment balance due by March 1st, 2015. No refunds after March 1st.

aegiali Port Town

muloi-amorgos-photo-by-visitgreece

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pay here via credit card or call or email Ally to send a check to Ally Ford Yoga: ally@allyford.com (727)599-8867


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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What is Rocket Yoga?
Ally learned the Rocket sequences and method from her teacher, original Rocket creator and founder Larry Schultz at his original yoga studio, It’s Yoga, San Francisco. Ally completed her first 200-hour teacher training with Larry in 2000 and has been teaching the Rocket series in the Tampa Bay area since 2004.  The Rocket routines are a series of postures based on a modification of the traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa system, incorporating postures from both the 1st, 2nd and 3rd series of Ashtanga. As such, we will also practice the traditional primary series of Ashtanga during the week.

If you love Ashtanga like Ally does, you’ll love the Rocket as well. And, if you’ve been attending Ally’s Tuesday Noon Class at White Orchid Yoga, you’ve been practcing the Rocket. It’s a challenging vinyasa flow which Larry said was the “perfect marriage of tempo and sequence while promoting the spirit of change and freedom in the practice,” and Ally will give plenty of options for variations to fit practitioners of all levels. Come experience this vibrant routine to renew energy and vitality, sweat and have fun.

2. How do I get to Amorgos?
Fly either through Athens or Santorini, then catch the high-speed ferry to Amorgos.Your trip to or from Amorgos provides a great opportunity to stop through the more developed/touristy but beautiful island of Santorini for a day/night if you wish. More information will be provided once you have booked your seat.

3. What will be my daily schedule on the retreat?
This is YOUR trip and participating in all or just a subset of guided yoga and meditation practices is your choice. We’ll offer morning meditation each day prior to asana so practice so this a lovely opportunity to take time away from our busy lives and create the healthy habit of daily meditation, the benefits of which are overwhelmingly positive. Morning yoga practice will consist of a vigorous flow taught appropriately for all levels and the afternoon will be either restorative/Yin practice or workshop focused on certain postures and alignment, based on the energy of the group.  On a few afternoons during the trip we’ll embark on group-guided excursions, which provide a sweet opportunity to bond with fellow retreat members and create life-long friendships. More information will be provided once you have booked your seat.

Oct 162014
 

Yoga practice gives us tools to navigate the many experiences of life with less struggle. The idea of non-attachment, or aparigraha from Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga is especially important to embody.

One of the five yamas, rules for ethical, social conduct, aparigraha teaches us to let go of things that no longer serve us. Things that are broken or are no longer working have little value to us and block the flow of good, positive energy. Like rotting food, we have to “throw away” spoiled things and clean out our lives. Rather than trying to put pick up the pieces and put them back together, which can sometimes be more painful, we have to sweep away the broken parts of our life and let them go.

​Letting go, or cleaning out, does not necessarily always have a negative connotation. The ability to surrender can actually be a sign of great strength. So often we want to hold on to or control things that are out of our control. It can be quite freeing to recognize this and make the choice to release our attachment to that which is beyond our control. For that matter, there’s no need to hold on to that which is in our control. A wise teacher once said, “If you can control it, why worry? If you can’t control it, why worry?”

Friendships are an especially important part of our lives where this idea can be practiced. The relationships we create with other people can both enrich and spoil our personal well-being, and it is sometimes here where we have the most difficulty letting go. In my personal experience, I have found that I often feel it is wrong to not work to maintain a friendship. I rationalize that, because I’ve known a person for so long or that because we have mutual friends and will often see each other, I have to make an effort to be a friend. What I have come to realize recently though, is that trying to be friends with people who don’t reciprocate the same effort or with people who might actually have negative feelings toward me, does not support my inner peace. It leads to empty friendships. As such, I’ve realized it’s okay to have those people in my life who I see in passing and we both say “let’s grab lunch!” and never really do.

As junior year continues to fly by and it seems that everyone is consumed by hectic and increasingly more demanding schedules, I’ve learned to put these ideas into practice more and more. Putting more energy into myself, the friendships that are truly important to me, and letting the other stuff play a more minor role in my life feels so much more rewarding. It also feels ten times less stressful. It’s not that I’m not open to new friendships or don’t care for other people. Rather, I’ve learned to let go of feeling – a need to see everyone all the time. I guess you could say in practicing non-attachment in relationships, I have found a little bit more of myself.

Practicing non-attachment has helped me value the times I do see friends and to also know that people will always come and go in my life. Each experience is valuable, and just because some last longer than others doesn’t make any experience less valuable. We have to keep moving with time, with the ever flowing river of life, and take in and let go of experiences as they come and go. This fosters our ability to fully appreciate what’s happening here and now, with no expectation of anything in the future, and slowly over time realize the nature of existence. That is, that everything is flowing and changing, and the more we try to force the river to flow in a certain direction, the more the waters push back against us, sometimes making it feel like we’re struggling to just stay afloat. Letting go is ultimately an opportunity for relief and awakening, as we release the struggle and instead go with the flow.

Oct 122014
 

“Ally is such an inspiring woman.  She leads by example and encourages each student to move at their own pace. Though I already knew how to meditate and breathe when I started Ally’s teacher training program, her level of discipline and dedication to her own practice of self awareness was instrumental in my progression to new heights of awareness. I now have the discipline to uphold a daily practice of meditation and Breathwork as well as a regular practice on the mat.  Thank you Ally for making this amazing transformation possible in my life. I am forever grateful.” ~Mickie Grist, Holistic Therapist, Greenville, South Carolina mickiegrist.com