at 8:10pm last evening, amidst the icy shards of February rain, and the dampness of days and days of west coast weather i hopped in my car and shivered my way to my yoga mat. the studio was blissfully warm as a horde of sweaty, satiated bodies emerged from their hot practice.
i lay down, closed my eyes and waited for the stillness and the silence…and waited…and waited. although watchless i was confident we were on the other side of 8:30, and still teacherless. moments later i felt the rush of feet beside me…the footsteps emanated a mild anxiety. my mind awoke and i gauged a fluster in the air.
my yoga teacher addressed us and apologized for her lateness.she had been at the airport for an emotional goodbye. she stilled herself and began. her voice faltered and we felt her unsteadiness. it seems no matter how practiced, how spiritual or how prepared–sometimes we stumble. that small crack in her voice and a sigh connected us all, no matter how different we are, how diverse our jobs, lifestyle or age we are all vulnerable and have moments where we need to lean on others.
as a yogi she drew from within, she asked a student to join her and lead the practice. it was a strong, compelling and decisive moment. her wavering was not a flaw it was sadness amplified. she showed compassion for herself and for the 30 or so unsettled bodies floundering on the mat.
the student became the teacher. his deep baritone brought focus, direction and balance to the room. a surety swept through the room as subtle and a slight as the first fluttering of a breeze. our breath united, bodies relaxed and anxiety slunk out the door.
i applaud my teacher, she had the wisdom to hand over the reigns and slight egoism at the knees. there was more than one instance in the ‘corporate’ world where i would have appreciated higher-ups handing over the reigns to their team. on more than one occasion i have sat through a meeting listening to superlatives and summations knowing i would have to reconvene with the second in command.
60 minutes on the mat brought about physical restoration but a more powerful lesson about letting go and holding strong.
i was crossing my fingers hoping that after 20 days of yoga i would have miraculously found a zen like existence. i thought i would be ethereal and meditative, contemplative and unflappable. i also thought i would be a little more bendy, but sadly i think i am a little more creaky.
over the past 20 days i have learned a few things:
1> hydrate before hot yoga but not immediately before….cobra pose places a definite pressure on the bladder
2> avoid the bohemian yogic man, he is a natural yogi…’au natural’ to be decidedly fair, with a penchant for his own blend of aromatherapy. ensure maximum distance from his mat while being mindful of possible downwind effects
3> friday evening classes can get a bit touchy feel, well very touchy feely, and yes i found i was out of my comfort zone, and decidedly uncomfortable. i haven’t quite ventured back.
4> don’t cheap out on yoga tights, some of my fellow yogis need to buy a new pair. black stretched lycra can be surprisingly shear.
5> kalabati breathing – blow your nose first and avoid 7pm classes…garlic….
6> 7:30 am classes rock
7> this pose will take me years to get to… not sure why, but my hand can never find my foot
and yet…..i can do this…..
amidst these little nuggets i have found a plane of positive and meaningful change. i find making more time for myself is rewarding, i sleep better, eat better and drink more water. i feel pretty justified wearing yoga pants everyday (that is a lazy perk). even though i still raise my voice at my child and i’ll admit to some unreasonableness with my husband–more often than not i’ve found myself taking a deep breath and approaching things a little differently. the whisperings of my teachers have nestled their way in…
‘quiet your mind, set an intention, be mindful’…deep in my bones those murmurs are bouncing around, they are willing me to be, to think and to do, to enjoy and to breath.
only 10 days to go, we’ll see what unfolds, but for now, i have found my way back to the mat. i’m going to hang out here a little longer and a little more often. i will have to hold myself to it, or else you might.
photo courtesy of truestar.com & yahoo fitness
whether you embrace, tolerate or disdain Valentines—break out of the (retail) box and shine a little love on today.
what do we have to lose? love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion and affection, it is the “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another” (Wikipedia). Our good friend ‘like’ allows us to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in (something). to like is to enjoy<likes the warm undulating kindness that today may spur> (Merriam-Webster)
i can’t find anything wrong with opening my heart to a little love or like. can you?
how many times have you connected with a moment and just stayed?
being a grown up (or a semblance of one) isn’t super conducive to just being. there’s fridges to fill, dinners to make, deadlines and schedules to meet…
but sometimes we just need to go with the flow. we need to skip out on obligation and embrace a moment of abandon. even if we don’t have the right shoes on, or the rain is falling. we need to remember its ok to get muddy, a little wet or dirty–that’s what towels are for.
kids have this down. they jump in puddles, roll down grass hills, fall down, get up and keep going. mud in their shoes is squishy and fun. dirt, well it’s just dirt. they know how to savour a moment. they make moments juicy and real. they go for it. everyday. every time. every moment.
grown ups, adults…whatever we want to call ourselves, well we often hesitate before we jump. we’ve got things to do, places to be, and people to see. we are rushing from moment to moment and often we forget to just stay…we are not as quick to muddy up our 3 inch heels, soak our suit or let the rain wreak havoc on our hair…but maybe we should.
the other day i stayed in a moment. dinner was late and the vacuuming didn’t get done, but my son and i got kinda of silly outside. we jumped in puddles, jousted with sticks and fell off a log. he kind of laughed and i kind of caught my breath–surreptitiously checking for broken bones. when we finally slid into the car, he grabbed my face, hugged me and told me “i was awesome.”
there’s not a clean floor or a dinner fairy that can compete with those 3 words.
we’ve all had them, the moments where we’ve chucked our responsibilities if only for a moment, and in that moment, in that space of time something great has happened. in the wrong place at the right time can have its rewards when you connect it.
here’s to staying in the moment.
i like lists. a list stops my brain from spinning, and pins down things that are bouncing around. lists clear space in my head…and let more thoughts wonder in. lists give me direction, and a sense of accomplishment. there’s nothing better than crossing off a ‘to do’
i’ve dabbled with digital, but my favourite is pen and paper.
today i took a break from writing (no novelist here–an educator if i may) and started to write on my every-present note pad. i had a few good ideas rattling around. they were a little lofty, and a little bit of a stretch, so before they ran away and i pulled out my pen and immortalized them. yes, i know myself quite well, my mind can be a bit too crafty. if i’ve got a miss mash of stuff floating around, a dollop of good intentions is not going to get it done as a healthy dose of procrastination will give those intentions a run for their money. before they could slide away i committed them to paper.
a list staring back and me is hard to ignore. my list was succinct, and slightly cryptic. such a little list, a 3×3 square really, but it packed a punch.
i am going to…
- get my yoga back on…more time on the mat and less in my head.
- go gluten free…perhaps more precisely gluten light (it allows small indulgences)
- compose a 40 before 40 list….
- kick my own ass and run, walk or perhaps crawl a 1/2 marathon. the race – Aug 11 SeaWheeze
- be kind(er) to myself
- teach myself to breath better
- drink more water (not on the original list) but my new H20 bottle is cheering me on
i won’t promise that it won’t bend a bit, as i believe flexibility and adaptation are our friends, but pen to paper is pretty powerful.
this list carries a bit of weight, it is a list that kind of looks like and feels like resolutions. those ‘to dos’ are going to take some work. first things first, yoga…well i am day 7 in my 30 day challenge…which per, #3 might become a 40 day challenge and #7 is well under way. my hand is twitchy…i can almost feel the weight of my pen… .nothing to cross off yet…soon…but not yet.
so, how do you get things done?
unexpectedly i was gifted with 5 hours. 5 full hours on a beautiful sun shiny day. so warm and sunny it felt like the first day of spring. yes that was an omen of things to come.
as a Big White weekend widow, i had 4 days with my son. every moment from dawn (6am) until dusk….nope 8pm if i was lucky 7:45. great EXCEPT for the 30 day yoga challenge i’m doing…yes, yoga everyday for 30 days. so where do i stash my son when i am sweating it out in the yoga studio? at grandma’s of course…yep, grandmas would be handy but 2 are in mexico and one is in hawaii (those damn snowbirds!!!!)
plan B? uncle D. i pull together toys of interest, and steadily reaffirm to J that he is going to hang with cool Uncle D while mamma is at yoga. at 7am the idea is A-OK, by 8am he is wavering…crossing my fingers i hope for a seamless drop off. smooth? not so much, it kinda went down like this. out of the car YAY, small meltdown after being licked by a dog, tears, more tears… clinging. my heart rate is accelerated and i haven’t even made it to the studio. more clinging…a beeline to the toy cupboard and i am largely forgotten.
fortunately yoga requires minimal prep…this is the case where acceptable attire is yoga pants and a ponytail. so i hit the yoga studio. 75 mins of magic ensue and then i text uncle D to arrange pick up …and then i slow my roll……slow down so much i stop.
“hey, we are going to take him for lunch and then to the beach…ok” YOU BET.
with zero hesitation i foisted off my son and then….and then… well i stood in the parking lot unsure of what to do next. don’t get me wrong i have things to do, lots of things to do, but gifted unexpectedly with a glorious afternoon i needed to take stock.
mani? pedi? run? snowshoe? lunch? a kayak? the possibilities stretched before me. what to do?
first, i indulged in a sit down coffee, i luxuriated over a ceramic mug and a comfy leather chair whilst chatting with a girlfriend (whose children are self-sufficient…i.e teens). 1 hr.
second, i got outside. i went for a run with Jasper and then meandered down to the beach where she went swimming. i sat. i soaked up the sun. 1 hr.
3 hrs to go? and what did i do? i cleaned my house of course… sad, pathetic, and silly. but i blame it on 2 things.
1> the sun is not your friend when you own a dog. i swear i saw 1001 dust bunnies swanning through my home. much like real bunnies they had struck out on their own, multiplied and left no corner or cubby alone!
2> my 100things100days girlfriend. she undertook and amazing project successfully and inspired me a long the way to keep it up. i heard a niggling in the back of my mind shouting. you have some time to restore…
order. i believe everything has a place and everything in its place. i am still working on some of those places, and more importantly i remain steadfastly true to a handy junk drawer…(i am not a domestic i swear by this) but i know for me life is just easier when things are in their place.
plus, i would way rather be present with my son or my husband than be distracted by mess. so i took in the best of both worlds as i see it. i opened my doors and windows. breathed in the fresh air, let the sun shine in and power cleaned. i stashed toys, hit my sons dresser (eliminating too small clothes), prepped dinner and banished the bunnies. 2.5 hours.
in my last 30 minutes i hung out in the shower, until i had old man hands. then i sat still and drank a cup of tea. my soul was happy, my home was happy.
Jasper barked, my reverie was over. J had arrived home. we played and i didn’t have to stop to prep dinner or unload the dryer and best of all i didn’t have to delint him after he rolled around on the floor.
that sun got to me! it dressed up as a sunny spring day, and caught me off guard. i admit it, i had 5 extra hours and i cleaned.
can you relate? or am i my own crazy.
i like to think i am open to new experiences…well experiences in my realm. there are things i know i would not do today–bungee jumping, skydiving and yes, swimming with the sharks. i have adventures but they are not the extremes, and sometimes they don’t have to be.
stepping out of my comfort zone is a bit more everyday, a bit pedestrian but still a step out there. this month i am embarking on a 30 day yoga challenge. i will have to be creative to get yoga in every day and will have to try new classes. challenge on!
up until last night, i felt i had evolved my yoga practice and become somewhat enlightened. but it is apparent i have a ways to go. well miles to go to be exact…..miles and miles.
friday night i ventured into a dark candle lit room, quiet and still and very, very full. i sat and let go. or at least i valiantly tried. the class started, and it was 5 mins of expectation and 70 minutes of….well….well it was a lot.
we kicked our feet like 2 year olds, flapped our arms like birds, and staggered left and right somewhere between an 80’s aerobic class and a very bad chorus line. seated we pushed ourselves off of our bums with our fists and laughed–we sounded like a pack of hyenas. we danced and chanted with partners back to back, sweaty and sticky and sang ‘i am beautiful, i am bountiful, i am bliss.’ we proclaimed affirmations – joy, self-love, inner peace, humility, kindness, friendship and more. try as i might, i struggled to find comfort and confidence in this practice. i tried to judge less and let go but still i held back. mercifully after 70 minutes we came to shavasana. i lay down and finally found peace with my mat. it was somewhere i knew.
my inner giggles subsided and agitation screamed silently out loud. i recognized i was out of my comfort zone, and was decidedly uncomfortable. clearly i’ve got some stretching to do.
will i venture into the class again? maybe, maybe not. there was something about being uncomfortable. it was fresh, it was mindful and it was prickly. it struck something in the back of my consciousness. it brought about a realization that i am not as free or open as i thought.
i’m probably not ready to get my kicking and chanting back on, but i had an experience with being someplace i am not used to being, AND that awareness was pretty cool.
so tell me, have you stepped outside of your comfort zone lately?