Distractions by Jess McGimsey

Jess and WyattHave you heard the banging and drilling next door? That’s the sound of progress! The contractor and his team are working very quickly, and if you take a peek next time your in, the space is already starting to transform. Demo and framing are done, and they’re now working on opening up the ceiling and getting ready for electrical. As exciting as this is for all of us, the sounds can be a bit distracting while you are trying to sweat away the day in your downward facing dog. When there’s a bang of the hammer, does it take you away from your breath and take you away from the present moment and into your head? This got me thinking, are these external distractions really what’s keeping you or me from being present? Or is it internal distractions?

On my mat I’ve noticed those days where I’m in my head, and for whatever reason can’t focus. I find every excuse to not be present. I pick lint off my mat, I drop down and adjust my pants, oh and now I need to redo my ponytail. I listen to the traffic going by, I check out that cute top on the girl in front of me… I wonder where she got that? I’m physically here, but I’m not presently here.

Then on the other hand there’s those days where I really could be the only one in class and I wouldn’t notice the difference. I walk out not having any idea of what poses or sequence we just did. I was fully present breathing with each pose of the moment. So, what’s the difference? Me.

I have the power to be present even if my mind doesn’t want to be, and so do you. I’m not saying the construction noise isn’t distracting, because it completely is. But what I am saying is, when the hammering stops, can we find peace in the present moment without focusing on another distraction? And not just on the yoga mat? How often do we distract ourselves from our true self, or from things that are really important? I’m totally guilty of this one. My distraction, I’ve realized is I have a tendency to check my phone constantly. Why? Is it because I’m waiting on an important email or call?… Nope. Whenever I get a little uneasy, bored, or for no reason at all, I check my phone. It’s like a tick. It’s easier to bury myself in my phone, then to be in a real situation. So, what’s the first step to letting go of unnecessary distractions? Realize them. For me, am I truly needing to check for an email, or am I finding an excuse to not be in the moment? Do I really need to redo my ponytail? Or am I just wanting to skip Vasistasana (side plank) because it pushes me?

Once we realize what is distracting us, we have the choice to either give attention to it or let it go. When we let go of things that don’t need our attention, that leaves us free to be completely present.

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can to do is be in the present…gratefully. “- Maya Angelou

Pose of the Week: Ustrasana

Ustrasana “Camel Pose”

Benefits: Maximum compression of spine, which stimulates nervous system. Improves flexibility of neck, spine, and shoulders. Stretches abdomals and throat. Opens heart chakra.

Follow @playcarlsbad on Instagram and hashtag #playcarlsbad doing the pose of the week and we’ll give ya an asana shout out.

We’re Expanding! So it begins… by Jess McGimsey

JessWe are about to start a process that will change so much for PLAY, it’s future and our students this week!  Our building permits are finally ready, and construction is about to begin.  While it feels like something new is beginning, this is actually something that has been in the works for about 9 months now.  As you can probably imagine, the construction process is never easy, and this one has been no different.  But, this one has gone from one of the most stressful events of my life to the catalyst to transform me and allow me to deepen my understanding of yoga more than I ever thought.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I’m Jess.  My husband, Ian and I opened Peace Love and Yoga in March 2010 with hope, love and passion.  When we first opened I was teaching 17 classes a week, and I loved every minute of it.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that was not sustainable, and so our family started to grow.  We are now at a staff of over 20, and since the birth of our son Wyatt, I am now only teaching 3 classes a week.  This is why some of you may not know me, or have taken my class.  Please know that even if I don’t see you physically, I See you, and I am grateful that you practice with the PLAY family.

Back to construction.  Over the past couple years many of you have experienced the dreaded bathroom line in the evening classes, we notice too.  In fact, I stressed about the bathroom situation long before we were capable of doing something about it.  When the LandLord came to us with an amazing offer to expand this year, I could not say no.  Then what I had conveniently forgotten about our first build out all came rushing back.  Leasing, design, plans, permits, contractors, budgets, regulations… and no one’s even touched a hammer yet! Nothing ever goes as planned, everything is more expensive and takes more time.  So, what did I decide to do amidst all the construction planning, running a business, raising a toddler, and building a teacher training? I signed up for a 6 month 500 hour Teacher Training in Laguna Nigel!  Why?  I’m not really sure.  Looking back, something in me must have known I was about to break and knew I needed a change. It was the best thing I ever did.  Sure I’m exhausted, I’m behind on my to-do lists and my house is a mess most days. But, you know what, I’m ok with that. I’m not over stressed, I’m not falling apart, and I’m completely content with where I am.  I’m so happy to be teaching what I love.  I’m so happy to come home to my dirty, silly boys laughing and playing.  And I’m so happy to finally be connecting with my true Self.

That’s the yoga.  Letting go of those things you cannot change, because why spend so much energy trying to control something that you cannot. Immersing myself in yoga again, has reminded me what I loved about yoga years ago and this time around I am actually living more of my yoga off of my mat. Sutra 1.12 talks about both practice and non-reaction being required to still the mind. Suffering comes, but how we react is our choice. For me, showing up to my mat is easier than not reacting.  But, I’m doing the work of both.  When things get pushed another week back or yet something else goes wrong, I pause, breathe and realize before I react.  And, you know what? It works.

Yogi Spotlight- Matthew Purnell

Chef MatthewWe are super excited to introduce you to one of our favorite yogis, Matthew Purnell. A dedicated yogi, chef extraordinaire and an amazing father to 3 beautiful young girls. We sat down with Matthew to learn a little more about him and his yoga journey.

What was your first introduction to yoga?

During a pivotal time in my life, I chose to follow my passion to remain an athlete, and focus primarily on my health and vitality by moving from my high-paced and pressure-filled Chef position at a busy La Jolla restaurant, to a small health driven café located directly inside a multi-million dollar sporting club. I was destined to regain my strength, stamina, and my take control of my health after indulging in the ‘nightlife’ as a Chef.

I was introduced to new foods, different ways of thinking, and many innovative ways of exercising. I was still drawn to the traditional ways… lifting weights, running, and boxing training, but was asked weekly by the club’s yoga instructor to join her for one of her classes, but was hesitant mostly because of the discomfort of the unknown. What was it like? How would I do? What would I look? After a year of working at the sports club, I chose to attend my first yoga class, with the encouragement of a close friend. Walking into class, I was skeptical that I could get a decent work out, from just stretching and breathing, but nonetheless optimistic that this may open up other doors in the world of fitness. During the hour class, my mind wandered, body struggled, and I laughed at some of the poses I subjected myself to. I found it more relaxing then anything, but really didn’t explore everything that yoga had to offer. The next day at the gym I wailed on my ‘pecs’ and did curls until I couldn’t lift my arms, it would be many years before I stepped onto the mat again.

At what point did you decide you wanted to teach?

As a student in grade school, I had aspirations of becoming a science teacher. I had amazing teachers that influenced my choice, by showing me that knowledge can be given to others in an unconventional and fun-filled learning environment, rather than a drab textbook motivated curriculum. Now as a husband, father to three beautiful girls, a dedicated organic vegan chef, and now, a determined yogi, teaching others is part of my daily life. I currently teach classes, in which I educate people about organic, plant-based, raw food cuisine, and preparation techniques to better the health and lives of every individual. I live this life honestly, and love sharing my new found knowledge with a conviction that it will improve the quality of life in me and those in my environment. In the last year, I have become devout to the practice of yoga, and all of its benefits, physical, mental, and spiritual. I have become more balanced in my career and life at home, and now I want to share this appreciation also. Just like my love for health, food and family, yoga has changed my life.

What/who has made largest impact on your practice?

A mentor, teacher, motivator and my partner in life and love, my amazing wife, and yogi superhero, Courtney “Fuji” Harville. She was the close friend who took me to my first class, and opened up my mind to the possibilities of what yoga could do for my performance in other sports, and help focus my scattered mind in daily life situations. She is a key component to my foundation and is supporting in my yoga practice as well. A true gem I have discovered in my journey, I am truly grateful.

Favorite pose? Why?

Warrior 3, It is if I am flying with freedom from the ground, but feel well rooted, strong and statuesque even.

Most challenging pose? Why?

Standing Splits, trying open up muscles that seem to want to stay shut, and while balancing and the attempt of the split is very difficult for me. I am implementing a practice at home with a leg up the wall to help with my balance and flexibility.

Favorite Quotes?

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” 
― Bruce Lee
“Love the life you live, and live the life you love.” -Bob Marley
“Let food be thy medicine…” -Hippocrates

What do you like most about  PLAY?Chef Matthew and Fuji

The heat, the sweat, and each personality of every individual of the PLAY Family, I enjoy the physical and mental fitness involved and it. The family like atmosphere and the individuality and inspiration of students and teachers alike.

What inspires you? What keeps you going?

I am inspired by all that surrounds me, in public and private, at home and at work, my community driven spirit to have all people living in harmony and understanding, in acceptance of one another. I am inspired to educate others about the connection between food, health and happiness, and bring tasty earthly delights for all to enjoy!

A little more about why we love Matthew…

Chef Matthew Purnell became drawn to preparing food since childhood, enveloped in a multi-generational family that centers itself in the kitchen and around the table. His eagerness to learn had him under the wings of many top San Diego chefs. He sprouted by cooking in local cafes, and grew to become an Executive Chef at a busy La Jolla Italian restaurant. His zest for life has brought him to eating fresh foods, and gravitating to a vegan lifestyle focusing primarily on Raw foods. Combining experience in traditional kitchens with health stimulating vegetables has brought him to a take on food that is conscious, creative, and captivating helping him co-found Living on the Veg! Living on the Veg… brings life to food by choosing only truly organic & fresh produce and preparing recipes in a conscious, health promoting way while improving the planet and nourishing your body through every cell. Our mission is to promote healing within the body, reducing unhealthy weight, increasing muscle, and making sure all senses are satisfied with vibrant, delicious cuisine. Specializing in vegan and raw foods that optimize function and vitality and reducing the impact on the body, mind, spirit, and our planet. Our goal is to teach people to replace devitalizing, aging, fattening, sickening foods with foods that beautify, strengthen, and create energy while tasting absolutely delicious! We are proud to support local farms and artisans, focusing on seasonal items, and using only the freshest ingredients. We encompass our passion and present it to our community.

Pose of the Week: Virasana

Virasana “Hero Pose”

Benefits: Stretches quads, hip flexors, knees, and ankles. Strengthens the arches. Improves digestions and relieves gas. Therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma.

Follow @playcarlsbad on Instagram and hashtag #playcarlsbad doing the pose of the week and we’ll give ya an asana shout out.

*Photo is Supta Virasana, the reclining variation of Virasana*

Pose of the Week: Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana “Cobra Pose”

Benefits: Strengthens spine. Stretches chest, shoulders, and abdomen. Relieves stress and fatigue. Opens heart chakra.

Follow @playcarlsbad on Instagram and hashtag #playcarlsbad doing the pose of the week and we’ll give ya an asana shout out.