Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I got back to teaching at the end of June. I think I took a total of 12 weeks off, which is certainly the longest I've ever gone without teaching. It was amazing to get back up on that podium. My adrenaline was flying high. It was a pretty big class of about 25-30 people, who were all very unfamiliar to me. The dialogue mostly came out... I definitely needed a tune up though! I had some fun and funny stories to tell about coming back to practicing, as well as some personal experiences that I went through while not practicing, which I tried my best to eloquently bring back around to the fact that yoga just makes you a better you.
At the beginning of July, we had our first family vacation down the Cape. My mom and step-dad rent a place down there every year, and we end up joining them for a few days. We almost stayed the whole week this year. It is always a fabulous time, and this time was certainly no different --- but at the same time SO DIFFERENT!! We stayed in a lot more than usual, because taking a 3 month old to nice restaurants can be rather stressful, and you tend to get funny looks from people at bars. So this time, we laid low. Consumed our alcohol in the privacy of the house (and did lots of pumping and dumping). My son got to sleep on the beach and get tons of love and attention from my family. It was such a good time that my husband and I decided that next year, we will be crashing my mom's vacation for the whole week!
The next big thing: we finally sold our house! We had to scramble and get out pretty quickly, like 3 weeks from the offer being accepted to the final closing date. Oh - and we don't actually have a replacement house quite yet, so we moved everything into storage and are bunking up with my mom and step dad again. (Good thing we all get along so well!!)
Now... moving is one of the most stressful things you can do in life, right? Adding a 4 month old baby into the mix makes it even more difficult. AND having your sister's wedding 3 days before the closing makes it HELL! I knew it was going to be hellish, so as soon as things were finalized, I started packing up the house.
For the first few days of packing, the trend went a little bit like this:
1) Go into a room.
2) Begin packing a box in said room.
3) Pace around said room.
4) Leave said room and go into another room, look around and get incredibly overwhelmed.
5) Go back into room to put more shit in the box.
6) Pace some more.
7) Leave said room and sit down on couch and decide I'll really start packing tomorrow.
The prospect of packing up a house full of 7 years of my life into boxes made my head spin. The problem was that I was trying to "pack up my house". But packing up a house into small boxes is overwhelmingly impossible. You have to stop what you are doing and back up. One room at a time. And when you get to that room, one closet at a time. And when you get into that closet, you pack one shelf at a time. Of course, it all comes back to yoga. When you first begin practicing, you see all these beautiful people around you doing amazing postures, seemingly effortlessly. You can so easily get overwhelmed with the fact that "I will NEVER be able to do THAT." Either that, or you try to push your body in a place it is not ready to go and you end up hurting yourself. But after a little while, you back up. You take things one step at a time. And soon, in standing head to knee, the closet is packed up and you are kicking out. Then the room is completely cleaned out and both knees are locked. You finally get the final items out of the garage and the floor swept up, and your forehead touches your knee. And slowly, gently, the moving truck drives away and you come out exactly the opposite way you went in.
We just have to sometimes take a step back in order to move forward.
Another funny thing is that when I finally got a friend to help me, that is when I was able to get things moving. Think about how much easier it is to pack up someone else's shit! You have no attachment to their stuff. You just know that what they have - needs to go into a box. As teachers, we have no real attachment to students' injuries. We just know that if they listen and only do what they can, honestly, trying the right way, their bodies will improve. We know how neatly that equation fits into the box. But we have not lived in their bodies for all of their lives. Their house has closets full of junk that they can't let go of. Years of old bank statements and bills and clutter that if they just let go of it, there would be so much more clean space to move into. Rather than "become your injury", if you can let it go, detach yourself from it and know that it all somehow needs to get into the box... the shelves get emptied, the closets cleaned, and the house emptied so you can start rebuilding again.
I look forward to writing again. I got a lovely note from a reader that has inspired me to try to get back to it a little more. I can't make any promises, but I can try, and truly hope that I do!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
In the meantime, I've discovered something in Standing Bow Pulling Pose. After 6 years of practicing and a year and a half (huh??) of teaching under my belt, I've heard something new in the dialogue. Thanks to one of my mentors, Linda, I have recognized that I was missing a key point of dialogue in my class. "Concentrate one point on your left knee in the mirror." I think I was saying something after "Bring your arm up..." like "Bring your knees together to start. Lock your standing knee." That was it. So I had what I was saying wrong. Easily fixable. (Well, after a couple of weeks, I finally had it fixed.) This may be the first time I have actually heard it though. That is totally a lie. I've heard it. I just chose to focus on my face, I guess... or maybe the tip of my fingers in the mirror, depending on the day.
Guess what? One day a few weeks ago, I decided, ok, ok... I'll concentrate one point on my knee. I have not looked away yet! The power of that point of focus helps me hold the posture so much longer, stronger and powerfully than I EVER would have expected. As in, I can consistently hold Standing Bow Pulling Pose for 90 - 100% of the duration now. What?? Such a simple thing!
And now, I'm teaching it the right way, and getting other students to understand that point of focus, and their postures are improving, too. Of course, like me though, many choose not to hear it or not to listen or not to try it. And that's ok. We all have our own time. We all find what we need when we need it. But hot-diggity! Try it!!
(Side note: I am pregnant. My hips are more open. I am more flexible. And the big baby belly just loves this posture. It is easier for me than it has ever been. I attribute this to my new point of focus AND being pregnant. I'm curious to see what happens with this posture post-pregnancy. But for now, I'm just reveling in it!)
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Some noteworthy days/landmarks in the 2010 chapter of my life:
January - Tim and I made the decision that I would shoot for leaving my job in June to become a full-time Bikram yoga teacher. The idea had been floating out there and lingering with me for a while, but after the new year, we talked about it more seriously and decided that financially, emotionally, and personally, it was the next step that I had to take in my life.
February 19 - 26 - Vacation to Cabo with 10 friends. This was our "Let's have one last hoorah vacation before we settle down and start a family" vacation. And indeed it was! We spent 7 sun-filled days with wonderful friends, relaxing, partying, dancing, eating, shopping, exploring, bonding, and laughing our asses off.
April 9 - Gave my 2 month notice to Blue Hive. It was incredibly emotional for me. I was leaving something I helped to build from the ground up. I knew it was the right thing, but at the same time, it was incredibly scary and unknown. This day began with a heavy heart, but ended with an enormous weight lifted off my and a lightness and anticipation about what was to come.
May 29 - 31 - Belanger Cup weekend - This is always a weekend of family fun, but this year just felt so much more special. I get to spend 3 days with my dad and my cousins and the whole family. This year, we hosted the Saturday night dinner, which not the typical Italian feast. Instead we decided to make a feast filled with my future brother-in-law's Iran/Syrian culture. My sister and my 2 cousins spent about 4 hours laughing over chopping parsley and juicing lemons for the most delicious taboule you could imagine. Although I may have complained (jokingly) the whole time, it was a wonderful afternoon that I will always look back on with a happy heart.
June 1 - Began my career as a full time Bikram Yoga Instructor! This week was just out of this world. Since I graduated college in 2000, my life consisted of a 9-5 job, and suddenly I was teaching yoga for a job, with all of these strange hours and extra time to spare. I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I would get home some days at noon and squeal with happiness at all of the things I could now find the time to do. I watched my progress as a teacher grow exponentially in that one week... and knew that there was so much more to come as I continued upon this path.
August 14 - Pink Line = Pregnant! For the sake of having this recorded outside of my memory, I will recap how it all went down. It actually started the night before.
We went out to dinner with my in-laws to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. It was one of those really rare occasions where it was just the adults: me and Tim, Tim's mom and dad, and sister and brother-in-law. We had a long, delicious dinner, some fabulous cocktails... the conversation was full and lively. No one wanted the night to end quite yet, so we went on to have a nightcap at another bar down the street. We shared a heart-felt toast with Tim's dad, proclaiming his love and pride for his children and the lives that we have all made for ourselves. Once again, it was just one of those really special nights that I will always hold on to.
The next morning, we had plans to go to the beach with our 2 best friends, Rich and Meg, and from there, head to another friends' house for the night. Ever since I had been off the pill, I had been on a really sporadic cycle, where I would get my period every 7 weeks or so. I realized it was close to about 7 weeks since my last period, so I decided, while Tim was in the shower, to drag my hungover ass over to the bathroom to pee on a stick. Bleary-eyed and foggy-brained, I rub my eyes and see this ever-so faint pink line make it way into my sight. I go back to the directions, which clearly state "line may be very light, but result is positive" (or something to that degree). My heart starts hammering even harder than it already was (as a result of too much wine the night before). I take some deep breaths, take the test to our bedroom, and wait for Tim to get out of the shower to tell him.
Me: "T!! Come here!!!"
Me: "COME. HERE."
Me: "Uhhh.. I think I'm pregnant..." (begin to tear up)
Tim: "What??? Are you serious? Let me see that..." (Big hugs happening at this time.) "You mean this really light pink line???"
Tim: "How do you feel?"
Me: "I'm hung OVER!!!"
It was a brilliant moment, so perfectly capturing the essence of me and Tim and the way so many momentous occasions in our lives go down.
August, September, and October - So many great days during these months, as we began to share our wonderful news with our parents, families and friends. I loved all the happy reactions and hugs and excitement. I loved the day that I was finally done with my first trimester and shared the news with my Monday morning yoga class. (And the choked up feeling I had when I began trying to start off class after that!)
The last few months of the year I can only summarize with one word: COMPLETE. I feel as if every day is a blessing. I feel super-human. I feel my world starting to change. I feel a strength and bond with my husband that is untouchable. I have such a sense of excitement for my parents becoming grandparents. I have a new understanding of my Self, my body, my ability to bring life into this world. I feel empowered by my intentions for a 100% natural birth. Although I cannot necessarily pinpoint any particular days in this last half of the year, I am overwhelmed with all the little things that have made it a wonderful year. Between the new, unexpected friendships I have formed and the old friendships that remain just as solid and important as they always have been, my increased confidence as a teacher and new awareness of my body as a student, and the anticipation of seeing my husband become a dad, I am overcome with joy and simply complete.
Farewell 2010. Thank you...
Sunday, December 5, 2010
“It's always best to start at the beginning – and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road.”
- Dorothy and Glinda the good witch, Wizard of Oz
There are about, oh, I don’t know… hundreds of things I love about Bikram Yoga. I love…
… that I get 90 minutes for me and only me.
… the wonderful community of people that I have formed beautiful, lasting relationships with.
… the way I feel like I can conquer the world after pushing through a tough class.
… that the first time I felt my baby move was during class.
… teaching and inspiring.
… watching students improve their bodies.
… the patience and love for myself that I now have.
But the one thing I would like to talk about today is my love for the fact that ANYBODY can do Bikram yoga. It doesn’t matter how young you are, how old you are, how skinny or fat, or muscular or scrawny, how tall or short, how inflexible or limber, everyone can do this yoga. All you have do is walk in the door.
I love walking into a class room and seeing the variety of students in the room. Some students have broken bodies that are just touching the surface of the healing. Others are there for a good workout, and have not yet found the meditation, the mental clarity, the new-found love for self that follows. I see young college girls that are so bendy, but have no strength, and I see middle-aged former athletes who cannot even kneel comfortably. But these students all have something in common: they walked in the door. And sometimes, that is the biggest challenge.
This yoga is so hard, not just for those with broken bodies. It is hard for everyone. If it’s not hard for you, well then you simply aren’t working hard enough. Even on the days that it seems easy – we still struggle. We struggle for our balance, struggle for our breath, struggle being still, struggle with locking the freaking knee. There is almost always something. Right now, my struggle is learning how to not struggle. It’s learning that this practice is no longer just about me anymore. So when I am getting overwhelmed with the heat and become overly exerted, I am learning that it’s ok for me to stop and sit, or even leave the room if I need to. For this body is no longer my own. I’m sharing it with this precious little life growing inside me that I already madly in love with. And the pretty posture I want to see in the mirror is so miniscule compared to that.
How do we overcome, or even realize these struggles? We have to start at the beginning. Step by step, word by word, breath by breath… If we are not completely present, in the very moment, struggling to just try the right way, while taking care of ourselves, then we have nothing. If we are busy wondering when on earth we will ever be able to get our forehead on the knee, when we can’t even grab the foot, what is the point? If we have sustained an injury, and we are busy worrying about how beautiful Standing Bow Pose looked a week ago, are we really trying to help ourselves NOW? We all have to start every day, every practice, every posture from the beginning. Whatever that beginning is on any given day is always the most perfect place to start.
“There is no such thing as the past.
It exists only in the memory.
There is no such thing as the future.
It exists only in our imagination.
If our watches were truly accurate,
the only thing they would ever say is NOW.”
- Excerpt from a letter from Damien Echols of the West Memphis 3 to Eddie Vedder
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Back to my point… this book I am reading is full of a lot of great information. When I’m feeling a little lightheaded, I turn to the book to see why it’s happening and if it is normal. When my heart starts racing a little more than usual because I’ve eaten too much, I turn to the book and find out what is going on inside my body and why. It’s a really great resource for a newly pregnant woman who has never done this before. However, there is one item I have just gotten to that talks about working out and exercise while pregnant that really made my jaw drop. Here is the except:
“Stay cool. Any exercise or environment that raises a pregnant woman’s temperature more than 1.5 degrees should be avoided. So stay out of saunas, steam rooms, or hot tubs, and don’t exercise outdoors in very hot or humid weather or indoors in a stuffy, overheated room (no Bikram yoga).” p 218
I do actually understand that we don’t want our internal temperature to rise too much, if at all. I get this. But who is to say that our temperatures are actually getting higher just because we are sweating in the hot room? Has the author of this book ever even taken a Bikram yoga class? You should see the “exercises” they are suggesting to women! I don’t know that I would call them exercise. They are laughable. I suppose, if the reader is someone who has never done a thing in her life, then perhaps these exercises would account for something. I mean, at least it would get you up and moving. But I can’t see what moving my neck from side to side four times, then sitting Indian style and reaching up toward the ceiling, then doing a shoulder stretch, where you grab your elbow and pull it to the other side of your body would actually do for me. Are these exercises really going to prepare my physical strength and mental stamina for child birth?
I have been practicing Bikram yoga for 6 years, so yes, I am someone who knows my body and my limits very well. I am certainly not saying that a woman who has never done Bikram yoga before should decide to take it up for the first time in the middle of her pregnancy, but you know what? You could! The pregnancy series is actually quite brilliant. Now that I am doing it, I have an even greater appreciation for the modifications and breaks that are built in. The breaks that we take are where we create a lot of compression to our baby-bellies. So it’s Standing Head to Knee, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee and Rabbit pose. Think about what happens at this point in class… our heart rates SKYROCKET. Standing H2K, this is HUGE cardiovascular work out happening. So we take it off (because of compression to the belly, but I’m making a point here). THEN after Triangle – yowsah! Our hearts are pummeling through our chests right now. So you get a break for Standing Separate H2K. Same thing for Camel Pose… it always feels funny and gets my heart racing, so we get a break after that for Rabbit. There I times I really wish I could keep going, because I’m already starting to miss some of my old friends, like Cobra and Rabbit, but these modifications to the 26 and 2 are so well timed, I have to wonder if it was thought out intentionally back when Bikram created this series. (I sort of doubt it, and feel like it was just one of those wonderful coincidences.)
So I for one, will continue to practice my Bikram yoga as often as possible. When I am in that hot room now, I have a whole new sense of myself. I walk out of that room feeling so good for me, and so good for the little being growing inside me. I know it is making me physically strong and mentally powerful. I am more aware of everything that is happening with my body and with what I am feeling, because I have someone else to take care of now, besides just myself. My ego is no longer in that room with me. I’ve got a new sidekick cheering me on… I can feel it.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
A solid 3 months has passed and I have completely neglected my blog. And it is not like I haven’t had things to say! I would have experiences in class, either teaching or practicing, and think, “Yes – I have to write about this!” But the thought would come and go, I’d sit down at my laptop to think about writing, and… nothing. I can blame it on the wonderful summer we had. I mean, who wants to be inside sitting at a computer during the most gorgeous summer I can remember, when I could be outside gardening, at the farm stand, or spending time with friends and family at the beach? Or I could blame it on all the STUFF I have been doing with all of my spare time since I quit my “real job” and started teaching full time. I had a huge list that I completed every item on over the summer… and I do feel so accomplished. But you know what, I am not going to blame not blogging on anything. It’s ok. I just didn’t want to I guess. It wasn’t on the top of my priority list. And that is just fine with me.
So what have I been doing with myself for the last 3 months? Well, I have, first and foremost, been growing exponentially as a teacher. Once I went from teaching 2 classes a week to teaching 10 – 12 classes a week, things just started really clicking. I always felt like I was in a good place prior to this, but I just KNEW that I had so much more in me. And once teaching became my main focus, ZHOOOM! I plowed ahead, full steam! I keep collecting more and more tools for my toolbox. And now I actually have ease using this collection of tools. It just goes to show that teaching is just like practicing. The more consistently you do it, the faster you will grow.
Beyond teaching, I have begun doing all the little things that were neglected for so long. I have a clean home, rooms have been de-cluttered, healthy, good meals have been prepared, yard work has been done, a garden tended to, and more time has been spent with friends and family. And on top of that, I am beginning to do some freelance graphic design. What is funny is that I didn’t realize I missed it until I started doing it again. As much as I am now a yoga teacher, I still am a designer and a creative person at heart. I am absolutely loving the balance of it all. I am able to do design work at home, on my own time, with complete focus on what I am doing. (Coming from where I previously came from, the “focus” part of it is something totally new!)
I have been reflecting on the past couple of years, and am in awe at how everything has worked out. That one decision to send in that check to teacher training put a totally unexpected, unlikely, surprising, yet perfect spin on my life. Everything, and I mean everything in my life has changed. From the inside out, bones to skin, fingertips to soul… There is so much more to tell. But right now, on this perfect Sunday morning, the day after our 6 year anniversary, the most important thing for me is to go hang out with my husband, and listen to some Jack Johnson over our morning coffee.