In The Midst of Change-Again

I’ve been traveling the last few weeks and loving every second of it. I’ve seen old friends, clients and students. I’ve taught in familiar places and some new places. I’ve searched out my old haunts and just taken some time to be quiet and breathe.

The last six months has been a privilege in that I’ve had a lot of time to breathe and be quiet. To think about breathing and being quiet, even. It’s been six months of reflection and introspection. My friends call it my sabbatical from life. I’ve parented minimally, lived with friends, read, watched way too much Netflix and indulged in my yoga and meditation practices. But it started with pain. It was the privilege of healing in peace after my life flew apart. It has been six months of change, growth, respite and now in the Spring it has been a time of love, happiness and blossoming.

Yesterday in the air over the Midwest I read Pema Chodron’s Living Beautifully and when she described ego clinging I was struck by how she was describing me. Now, I’ve worked on ego a lot and if you ask me I would say I’m a kind and open person. I go with the flow easily and I don’t hang on to any idea too tightly. Except when I do.

My biggest struggle is the idea of One Day. I’m not materialistic enough to believe that One Day I’ll have the perfect car/house/timeshare and life will be perfect and I’m not vain enough to believe when I hit the magic numbers on the scale One Day, life will be perfect. I do, however, hold on to the idea that One Day I will have it all together.

I’ve had this notion forever. I can’t remember not thinking it. When I was a kid, it was when I’m a teenager everything will be perfect. As a teenager I thought if I could just make it out of my parents home and on to college everything would be great. In my 20s I thought life would come together in my 30s and I would know the magic answers and when they didn’t come I just happened to see an Oprah show where famously successful women recounted how things jelled for them in their forties. So I waited. And here I am almost halfway through and I’m still not sure what together is.

So slowly I’m learning to accept that there is no One Day. There’s just now. Logically I’ve known this for years, but to feel it deeply and surely is work. Over the last few years I’ve also learned that what looks like chaos from in here probably looks together to someone out there. So I can at least enjoy the facade, but from in here there’s always going to be uncertainty. There’s always going to be doubt and second guessing and trouble with self-love and forgiveness. Because that’s who Melissa is.

This quiet time the last few months has taught me a little bit about embracing the uncertainty and slowly learning to appreciate it. Maybe even have a little gratitude for it. Cause wouldn’t life be boring if I knew for certain what the next five years looked like? Or even worse the next 20 or 40 years?  I’d just lie down right now and give up.

The toughest part for me is to be still in the moment. Outside of my meditation practice just being still mentally, physically, emotionally is tough.  So often I’m planning, planning, planning. I take a walk so I’ll feel alert later and maybe my new dress will fit better later. I’m thinking about my mental state, my health, my life in the future. I’m doing things now for later. These last six months I’ve accepted what is here right now just for the sake of this moment. It’s made me appreciate my life and also realize how delicate and precious what I have in this moment is. Six months ago I thought I knew where I stood and where I was going. It was gone in a second.

And that’s ok. Really, the universe knew so much better than I did. The universe gave me this gift of complete upheaval and the parts that I’ve put back together are wondrous in comparison. And somewhere in the dusty corners of my mind I know that’s the point. It’s the stuff of miracles. It’s not about planning and making sure and feeling in control. It’s about the magic, the surprises, the happenstance that make our lives wondrous.

Steve Jobs says that things lead you to a place, but you can’t possibly connect the dots of the events of your life until you look back. The thing that I keep seeing is a field of dots and 100s or possibly 1000s  of different connections creating different paths.

This Melissa has been here some 40 years and none of it has been static and very little of has been known in advance. I’m always, always developing, learning, changing. I sometimes hate to do it publicly and I fear that changing often makes me appear flighty. Today I can embrace that it just makes me human.

So with my new found respect for not knowing and accepting change and uncertainty I’m again changing the blog. I’m posting here very little these days because I’ve been working on the new blog. It’s my attempt at making my work, teachings, writing, ramblings more cohesive It will be about more than just yoga off the mat. This blog will stay live, but I won’t be posting from here. Please please come on over. We’re going to practice poses, cook some yummies, drink some tea, meditate, breathe and have fun doing it! Comment, share and enjoy. See you there.

 

Smile At Fear-Living From The Heart

Sunday night I’m checking  in with a friend and we’re talking about what we’re focusing on next. lotus3She suggests the new Thich Nhat Hanh book, Fear and my mind starts racing and I can feel my breath getting shorter. I deal with fear all the time. ALL the time, but I’m not sure that I’m ready to read comforting words about it, be told to accept it and embrace it. Cause fear has worked for me for a long time and I’m not sure that I can give it up.

Fear is my go to emotion. It’s comfortable in it’s scariness. I can feel it welling up and while it may not be pleasant with the panting and the sweating and the dizziness, it is a known. I know how fear works in my life. I know what to do about it. I know, for the most part, how to control it.

What if?

What if I learned to smile at my fear, as Buddhist nun Pema Chodron teaches. That might be living with my whole heart. In fact, it’s exactly what Pema teaches. She teaches that to be in the fearlessness is to live from the heart.

So before we get started on the fear I’m taking time to retreat. I’m taking time to renew, rejuvenate, re-energize. It might seem a lot like the hibernating so many of us have been this long long winter, but it’s different. Hibernation is resting. It’s lying loretreatspaw and being quiet. Retreating is intentionally investing my time and energy in activities that make me feel more whole
, energized and renewed. It’s the sloughing off of the old and revealing the shiny and new. Retreat is when we try new things, open our minds and find connections.
We can do this because we’ve snuggled down into ourselves over the long long long winter. We’ve spent the last few months reacquainting ourselves with ourselves. We know ourselves inside and out again and we can make that leap into the blooming Spring.

Whether you’d like to do a yoga retreat, a spa retreat, a writing retreat or a spiritual retreat look to A Yogi Kitchen over the next few weeks for retreat options. Share how you’re retreating this Spring, if it ever gets here.

What if and the slit in the box

A few weeks ago I asked what if. What if? I was asking what it would look like to live  with my whole heart. What if I could let go of my fear and truly embrace an open heart?

A friend called me on it. Whenever I’ve been scared over the last few weeks she asks me What If? She’s a little more subtle than that, but she keeps bringing it up and she shares how that thinking has changed things for her. Be careful what you put out there, right? Cause now I have some accountability.

With these conversations the question has expanded. The question is now, not only living with a healed heart, but what would that actually look like?

And also….What if everything turns out the way I want? What if I get the life/job/love I truly desire. What if I heal my heart and live well and happy? What if I get these things and I’m still scared?

I don’t have answers and I don’t think I’m supposed to. But the question is giving me hives. It’s so exciting/scary/exhilarating that it takes my breath away.

I’ve spent a lot of my life with this interesting story running through my head that I didn’t even realize was there. That’s great for other people, not for me. I grew up in a family that was so different than everyone else’s that it was ingrained from a young age. Some things really were different like being mixed in a mostly white neighborhood/school/side of town. And some just seemed that way because of the secrets behind abuse and violence.

Living with a whole heart was part of that story.  That’s great for Christa who seems like she has a really great life, but that’s not who I’m supposed to be.  Jim seems like he’s really happy/compatible/well-matched in his love life, but that’s not in the cards for me.

And it wasn’t self-pity, not actively. I just honestly thought that other people could have true love/good lives/great jobs, but I had too much drama/trauma/brokenness. Now, at 44 that thinking is shifting.

I recently read an article by the wise Pema Chodron and she touched on the concept of being awake and likened it to being in a box with a slit. We can only see the world out of the slit.

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That’s the extent of our perspective. As we become more awake  the slit becomes bigger and our perception of reality gets wider, cause we can see more. That’s how it feels with my heart opening. As I let go of the story and let my heart open a little bit more, the slit gets wider and what I perceive to be possible for my frightened open heart becomes bigger.

Get this. She calls this lighter, easier, more open space enlightenment. Who knew?

Expectations, The Roadblock to an Open Heart

buddhaheartAs a teacher, a mom and just being human I see it all the time. I see it in my students, my friends, my kids and most often in myself. Expectations. Expectations kill the moment, harden us and set us up for failure. But we continue to have them and hold them close to our struggling hearts.

Expectations are about waiting for the other shoe to drop, about attaching feelings to outcomes, about desire. Expectation is about the opposite of being present in the moment. It is about suffering from past regrets or anxiety about future endeavors. Expectations are about wanting life to be a certain way, instead of accepting things as they are.

I see this most clearly with my students and their practices. People come into yoga wanting certain results and sometimes they get them. Sometimes a student needs to work out the creaky/cranky/sore places and as she glides through a series the body heats up, the muscles release and alignment is restored. Sometimes a student may need to quiet her busy mind. This student is always most interesting to me. This is the student who is oftentimes twitchy and restless in the quietest part of class. Sometimes this student does get quiet and clears her mind.

But here’s the danger in getting on the mat with expectations, or getting anywhere for that matter. First, by arriving with desires these women focus on their wishes instead of opening themselves to those moments of surprise, that unasked for gift that yoga so often gives us. Instead of being with what is, they are with what they want and as much as we all like getting what we want, it’s not always what we need or even all that is good for us.

More importantly and possibly more damaging, by expecting an outcome these women set themselves up for disappointment. Because there will be times when you get on the mat and you will not get the desired affects, for lots of reasons. Sometimes your creaky/cranky/sore places have a purpose. Your body is talking to you about a larger issue and trying to work out the kinks can actually make your pain worse. Perhaps working on the core issue is really the only way to heal the creaky/cranky/sore place. We don’t need to know how or why, we just need to stay present with the practice and let the yoga do its work.

Thinking that yoga is going to calm you, even if it’s done so 1000 times before can be really disheartening, because when you’re ready for it the practice may surprise you by making you really unhappy and uncomfortable. The practice is here to serve you. Sometimes it serves us in really unexpected ways.

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 Let’s say Lisa is not dealing with her grief issues. She has a busy mind, frequent headaches and a tight upper back. She comes to class twice a week and stretches at home at least once a week. At some point the practice is going to open her heart, no matter how she tries to resist. And sometimes that heart opening, especially when there is grief work to do, can be incredibly uncomfortable. If Lisa isn’t present with what is, and sometimes even if we are, she’s going to resist that uncomfortable feeling. If it’s bad enough she’ll start to resist yoga and eventually stop practicing. Three years and $5,000 later she’ll be back in that same place at her therapist’s office so full of uncomfortable grief she can barely breathe.

Let me be clear, I’ve done my fair share of therapy and I’m not suggesting it’s not good/necessary/helpful. In this case, though, Lisa was there. She was in that healing place of growth. Cause every time we’re uncomfortable, every single time, you can be absolutely- no-doubt-about-it-sure that there is growth happening. Every single time.

She was there and she resisted and it cost her three years of carrying around the heaviness of grief and put a dent in her savings. 

If I can accept what is on the mat and just let the practice be, I can heal body, mind and spirit. But I’m me and when I see that opportunity for growth, I’m the five year old with the sticky band-aid, I rip it off. Except when I don’t. Cause I’m human and I resist pain, and I like life to be light and easy and joyful. Except when I don’t.

Because I’m human I think I like light and easy, but I’m still addicted to the drama. I still like to make it difficult. Deep down I can’t believe that it’s easy to be happy. I think I need to have suffering and angst to really find happiness.

Because I’m human, I like life to be easy and fun without the work. And then time after time I find myself on the mat with terrible back pain/headache/hip pain. And time after time I’m reminded to just let the practice do the work. I’m just here to do my job. My job is yoga. When I decide that I need to practice certain poses cause that’s what my body really needs, then I’m no longer in the present and no longer practicing with an open heart.

Surely we all have days when we have ideas about how the day should go and there’s nothing wrong with that, but practicing life with an open heart brings us

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delight and joy, surprise and possibility. An open heart is how we fall in love, how we get new jobs, how we follow our passions and how we heal ourselves. Regardless of how tightly we hold on to our ideas, habits, routines and relationships we’ve all had an open heart at one time or another and it’s brought us good things more than once.

For poses to help open the heart and more about staying open, go to A Yogi Kitchen where we’ll be exploring the idea for a little bit longer.

The Greatest Yoga Lesson

I came to yoga out of curiosity. I was one of those five-day-a-week step class women in the mid 90s. My gym offered a few yoga classes as a tester-to see if the community would take to yoga.

Now, this is weird. Even though I’d never taken a yoga class, I’d thought for years that being a yoga teacher would be an amazing job. Little did I know that winter day in 94 that it would only be 5 years till I taught my first class.

The first time I pressed up into downward dog felt like coming home. I was instantly at comfortable in the practice and it’s whe

re I’ve stayed for almost 20 years. To this day being on the mat is where I’m most Melissa.

I loved the way I felt while I practiced yoga. I loved the buzz of energy combined with the grounded, centered feeling that I got after class. I loved how the effects lasted and lasted. I got to a place where yoga deeply changed me. If I thought about skipping a class my husband would push me out  the door with a kiss because he liked the person I was when I practiced consistently. I did too.

Over the years the lessons deepened and expanded. The practice was about so much more than physical or even mental. I learned to be open to myself. The practice helped me quiet the self-critical loop that ran through my head. I slept better, had less worrisome thoughts, but most importantly I learned a tiny bit of acceptance. I learned to accept who Melissa really is, not who I thought she should be. I learned to accept my limitations. I learned to stay on my own mat and accept my own pace as 

acceptancebeing exactly how fast I was supposed to be progressing. I learned that it’s not all about progressing and that staying in exactly the same place is okay, even good sometimes.

My real lessons began when I became a teacher. I saw my students struggles and their humanity was beautiful to me.  I aspired to be like them; vulnerable, fearless, willing to learn and to try new things. When they relaxed into restorative poses I marveled at their beauty. I felt connected. I felt connected because I accepted them completely and wholeheartedly. And it began to open my heart just a tiny bit more to me.

Over the years I’ve watched my students with awe and love.  I notice that they consistently learn acceptance faster than any other lesson in yoga. They are okay with not being strong enough to do an arm balance the first time, they learn to celebrate a stranger’s victory, they revel in their own successes. Because it’s about being on your own mat. It’s about not comparing yourself, or even caring what’s happening in any other part of the studio. “Yoga is a gift you give yourself.” my teacher used to say as we lay in savasana heavy and empty like a corpse.

I learned that acceptance isn’t about not caring. It’s not about giving up. It’s about letting go of results. It’s about detaching from the endgame.

My practice taught me to let go. It taught me to honor my own experiences. And it taught me not to have expectations about my experience or about my healing or about anything.

And I learned to trust. If I can just be open and willing to be vulnerable the work on the mat always gets me somewhere. If I keep working on headstand, I will eventually get there. If I keep practicing my headstand it will get more solid and I will get the full benefits. If I allow myself to relax into my headstand I will learn that letting go always makes the pose more enjoyable and I will one day get to a place where I can’t imagine not being able to do a headstand.

The key is acceptance. Acceptance makes the work doable. It makes the trust reasonable. It makes the practice enjoyable no matter what happens that day.

The funniest thing about acceptance is that you never graduate. The beauty of acceptance is that it keeps growing and shifting and allowing you to be more and better. It opens you in ways that you never imagine. It’s not easy work. It’s hard to let go of our expectations and our plans and our ideas about the future.

The pay off is huge. Learning to accept puts you right here in the now. It allows you to deal with life on life terms. It allows you to live with your whole heart. Today, that’s the journey.

I’ve been writing a lot about opening the heart and focusing on living with your whole heart. A Yogi Kitchen  has more about heart opening poses and meditations and more about acceptance.

Slowly, ever slowly yoga is teaching my heart to be more whole. One day I’ll learn to use all of it.

With My Whole Heart

I’ve had a bit of a block lately. My life has been in transition and I’ve been struggling to decide how to put the pieces together. And here’s the kicker, I have very few restraints. Perhaps, that’s why I’m feeling so guilty. I’m almost paralyzed by guilt.

For years I had all the excuses in the world to not have the life I truly wanted. I was in a crappy marriage and then in a crappy relationship. I lived in a tiny, rural town in the middle of nowhere. I had a small child-at two different periods of my life.  I had excuse after excuse and now? All those excuses are gone. Every single one of them.

I live in a new, exciting metropolitan area. My crappy relationships are behind me and I’m even spending time with someone new and wonderful. My children are older and for a short time living across the country with their father. I am older, wiser and more experienced. I even have a small reputation for being good at what I do.

I’m paralyzed and I’m not sure it’s all guilt.

This morning someone tweeted, “Have the courage to be happy.”- Steve Maraboli. And it kinda stuck in my head through making the coffee, feeding the cats and emptying the dishwasher.

I remembered what I learned last year about courage from Brene Brown. Courage is different than being brave. Courage comes from the Latin for heart. The original meaning is to live with your whole heart.

Sometimes the lessons come so long after we are initially introduced to them, don’t they?

Have the courage to be happy.

Live with your whole heart and be happy. Well, now that makes sense, doesn’t it?

I’ve been so scared so often in my life. I’ve been so lost and afraid. The biggest thing my fear has done? It’s helped me build a protective wall around my heart. Like the henna heart there’s stuff around my heart that takes awhile to wade through. Then when you get there, there’s a door. Don’t get Heartme wrong,  I open it occasionally and I even let a few select people in. And at the same time I feel my heart open to complete strangers, on the street, on television, that I read about. I would say that I’m an open-hearted person and that I have love and compassion for everyone.  Yet, I guess to be honest I would say that most of the time my heart is open when I can stand back. I guess I would say, there this wall and I stand at the door guarding the entrance.

What if Brene Brown is right? What if the answer is to use my whole heart? What would that look like? What would that feel like?

As with so many times when I learn a life lesson, I find that I’ve already been teaching it. I teach heart openers and believe in the health benefits, mental and physical, of having an open heart. I tell clients to look into the places where the heart is resisting. I believe in living more in the heart and less in the brain. I practice heart openers.  And yet again I find myself laughing at my own limitations.

I guess being able to laugh at myself is good.

So here’s what I’ve been doing that so many of us do. I open little parts of my heart, for limited amounts of time. I’ve been thinking that maybe, just maybe I can widen my door and put in a gate. Cause gates are see through. You can even reach through a gate, both from the inside and the outside.

Maybe just maybe I can leave the gate open for longer periods of time and for more people.

So, I tried that this weekend. (Sometimes posts take me several days to write.) I opened and I was happy. I was really happy.

And then I freaked out. I got panicky. My heart started racing. My breath got short.  I picked up the phone. I called three different friends and left long messages. I talked myself through it. I told them I just needed to talk, even on vm, and it was what I needed cause I got over it and I even went back and opened my heart again.

I teach in class that poses aren’t going to feel comfortable right away. I tell my students to be in the pose, to stop thinking about how it’s supposed to look and focus on how it feels. Breathe in the pose. Breathe out from the pose. Find the softer place, the place where comfort might have some space.

That’s what I’m doing. Cause that second time, when I went back and opened my heart again, it was better. It still takes my breath away. I’m walking through it.  I’m breathing and softening and looking for the place where it feels comfortable to live with my whole heart.

Courage isn’t a destination. It’s a space. I am being courageous. I may not be a pro, yet, but I am choosing to live with my whole heart.

If I don’t pass out from the fear I’ll write more about it soon.

Practice

200406861-001People are often confused by the fact that we practice yoga, not do yoga. I prefer the word practice, because the idea is  that there is no end and no beginning. Practice evolves and changes. Your yoga poses deepen with practice and the understanding from doing the poses over and over becomes richer and more complex throughout your life.

Practice implies that there is no perfection in yoga. What is the perfect pose or the perfect execution of a pose one day may feel terrible the next. And your perfect pose is completely different than my perfect pose. The practice grows and develops as we learn intuitively what our body needs. After a long trip, Viparita Karani, might feel great, but to your seat mate on the plane Sarvangasana might be better. (Legs up the wall and shoulder stand). In just this small physical way yoga starts to come off the mat as our awareness, intuition and self-care increases.

Yoga, Sri Aurobindo tell us, is all life. And this idea of practice and life has been sitting well with me lately. Some of the people who have the most difficulty with yoga are perfectionists. The idea that the body and mind are different every time you’re on the mat and therefore new each time you practice is nerve wrecking. The idea that there is no real way to get it right escapes so many. But for those that are willing to stick with it this lesson of embracing the imperfect and consistently focusing on beginner’s mind, yoga slowly starts to seep into other areas of life.

And this is the thought my brain comes back to over and over. When I was in my 20s I thought that when I got to my 30s I would get it. That things would fall together and my life would be set. I was already a yogi, so I wasn’t looking for outward success, but more a comfort, a knowing. And it didn’t really come. In fact, there was a lot of upheaval and tough times in my 30s.

So I thought it would come in my 40s. In some ways it did. In some ways I got to a more comfortable place, a place of knowing. But the knowing came from all my yoga lessons. Things didn’t come together because of a certain age. There’s a wisdom from the mat.

My mentor says that everyone signed up for Life 101 and somehow I got in Life 301. Because I tend to get more of those things that are out of our control than most, like my mom’s breast cancer and getting plowed from behind at a red light and….well, we could talk about this for awhile. But I think these tough these that we all experience are just more of the practice. When I was 22 big upheaval would flatten me and it would take me a long time to get back up. Today, big things happen and I take a deep breath (and maybe a nap) and continue on.

The comfort that I have now, that I didn’t have in my 20s or 30s, is practice. Cause I’ve been here before and yoga has taught me that there is imperfection and it’s beautiful. Sometimes a practice is hard and I struggle and sometimes I can flow seamlessly through an hour on the mat. But either way, on the mat or off, I’ve been here before and I will move past this place and on to the next.

Lately, it feels like I’m in complete beginner’s mind as I practice my cooking skills to cook professionally again. Learning flavors and skills, being inspired by colors and aromas is exciting and fun and feels like those first days of college or those weeks when we brought the first baby home. Putting my life back together and building a new life in a new place with some new people is  challenging and exhilarating and makes me want to jump out of bed every morning.

I am again in a place where beginner’s mind is easy, because so much is new and I’m in a place of upheaval. This time, though, I’m enjoying the practice. I guess I used to say I was enjoying the path, but paths often go somewhere. They take me from point A to point B and this practice will end and I’ll get up in the morning and get back on the mat and I’ll turn around it do it again and again. 

The biggest gift of focusing on the word practice is that it removes all expectations- of performance,  perfectionism, or  outcome. It lets me be free and just enjoy, even when life throws unexpected difficulties my way.

Getting on the mat day after day can change your life. You don’t have to practice for an hour, you don’t have to sweat. You can meditate one day, stretch another, practice balance poses on another. Just get on the mat.

Let yoga seep into your life.

Self-care-or cutting myself some slack

I’ve been taking it easy lately. I’ve been defiant about it, too. I’ve been eating food I don’t normally let my kids eat.

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Comfort food. Frozen food. Food which normally makes me cringe and for which I judge other people when I see it in their shopping carts. And I’ve been loving it. I’ve been loving my over-processed, heavy with sodium and preservatives diet. 

Well, mentally I love it, but I have to be honest physically I’m not at my best.

Also, I’ve been sleeping in, which normally makes me anxious. In my normal life 10am rolls around and I feel like I’m behind. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been up since five and have been working straight for five hours. I usually feel anxious. These days, I’m still war ravaged from my 20 year battle with insomnia,  but instead of feeling virtuous by only getting three hours of sleep,  I now take a Benedryl and roll over. Some days I’m in bed till 10am. 

I’m not sure what’s happening. I have a hunch though. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. And I just had my 44th birthday.  

 

I teach people about self-care. I scold my clients and students for pushing themselves too hard. I push myself too hard. Unfortunately, I think my shift to taking it down a notch is a mixture of mid-life realization that I’m not actually immortal and pure mid-life exhaustion. Most of us wait till we’re in a health crisis or think we’re retiring to slow down and take care of ourselves.

Somehow my shift has happened slowly and naturally. A long time ago I was someone who chastised myself for every unhealthy bite I took. I weighed

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myself constantly and my internal commentary was harsh and critical.

I used to cringe if I didn’t seem to get ten hours smashed into eight. I sewed my daughter’s Halloween costumes, while making all-natural, from scratch meals and supervising Halloween crafts, ditto for every other holiday including St. Patrick’s Day and Sweetest Day.  I was a warrior.

I made homemade pizza sauce and froze it, I grew vegetables and pureed my kids’ non preservative, all-natural baby food.

Self-care only meant swiping the razor over my legs once in awhile and occasionally taking off the chipping, fading toe nail polish I’d put on while my daughter napped six weeks earlier. Self-care was a concept in my professional life only.

I have made progress and getting older has helped a bit. I’m a bit more mellow than I used to be. I have some health issues that make demands of my diet so usually I’m fairly conscious of that. But the last few weeks have been almost hedonistic.

Now, I’m not going to argue that eating frozen burritos is self-care, far from it. But for me, it’s the concept of letting myself be human  that’s revolutionary. Cutting myself some slack is novel. It’s a new form of self-care. It’s very different than taking six cardio classes a week, like I used to in my 20s.  I’m allowed to have lazy days, I’m allowed to indulge, be silly just for the sake of being silly. 

Self-care is a big buzz word these days. We’re killing ourselves and I’m no exception. The cost of stress, insomnia, constant motion and over-thinking are high. But the highest cost of my hectic lifestyle and incessant self-berating is what I’m teaching my children.

So, while I’m proud of myself for letting go of my negative self-talk and overly demanding ways, it’s time to get back to who I really am. I’m a diabetic, gluten-sensative yogini who believes in whole, unprocessed, all-natural, made from scratch meals, slowing down and taking care of myself body, mind and spirit.

Today I pledge to walk cause it’s a nice day, not just because I put sugar in my morning coffee. I promise myself to just sit in the silence because it’s pleasant, not just because I need to model behavior for my clients.  I allow myself long, lazy yoga practices where I sink into poses and relax onto bolsters because they feel good, not just so I can prep for my next client or class. But most of all I vow to myself to just let myself be me.

3 ways to ease anxiety with yoga

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This post is from the archives.

I was in Boston the day of the bombing. I stayed an extra week to work with people healing from stress, anxiety, trauma and PTSD. While I was there I really didn’t write. Well, I wrote, but I didn’t post. I wasn’t ready. I needed to digest what was happening, what happened. Between the bombings, the unease during the week, the lockdown and the eventual capture of white hat it was a lot to digest. This was one of the first things I wrote after. Enjoy.

My first yoga experience was a coming home. Yoga had called me for years. Even teaching yoga seemed like the dream job. Somehow I knew that it was a practice that would change my life.And it has. I would not be the woman I am without yoga. I’ve been a yogini for almost 20 years. Some of my most profound lessons weren’t on the mat, but in my everyday life. Yoga has opened me, calmed me, made me more compassionate and loving, made me more tolerant and most importantly, yoga has healed me. And that’s why I started teaching.

Early in my yoga life I was a mess. And I’ve been an occasional mess since, but those early days I didn’t have anywhere to turn. I didn’t know what to do or who to talk to. I was depressed, anxious, lonely, despite being married to my best friend and suffering from undiagnosed PTSD.

Later I would be a mess, but I would have yoga. And if I could just remember to get on the mat or sit in silence I would start the healing practice and everything would be okay. Continue reading

The Exhortation of the Dawn

Look to this day, for it is life, the life of life.meditation3
In its brief course lie all the verities
and realities of you existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty;
For yesterday is but a dream,
and tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.

-Kalidasa