Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Packing your house

Life with a 4-1/2 month old is pretty amazing.  Yes... I did say 4-1/2 months!!  Anyone know where the past 3 months flew off to?  Somehow Labor Day weekend is right around the corner and I've only been to the beach 2 times.  Quite the travesty.  So much has gone on in the last 3 months of my life!

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

Starting from scratch again

I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy on April 7th.  Silas Michael Cellere wanted to enter into this world butt first, which resulted in a c-section for me.  There is quite a bit of recovery time after a c-section.  When the doctors and nurses told me that I can’t do yoga for 6 weeks, I thought it wouldn’t be so bad.  I could spend time with my little guy and really delve into this whole mommy-hood thing. 

Well, about 4 weeks into my recovery, I was really missing yoga.  Not just physically.  Actually, not at all physically… I realized more and more that that 90 minutes in the hot room gives me so much more than just a nice yoga butt.  I mean, I knew this.  I talk about it all the time in class – how this yoga just makes you a better you, how it cleans out the clutter of the mind, how it opens you up energetically, spiritually, and emotionally.  But to really be forced to take a 6 week hiatus and experience it was pretty profound. 

My last class before giving birth was Tuesday morning.  I went into labor on Wednesday night, and had the baby early Thursday morning.  7 weeks later, I got the a-ok from my doctor to get back to my yoga.  So of course, 7 weeks and 1 day later, I walked back into the hot room to practice! 

It was kind of surreal driving to the studio.  I had this nervous, giddy feeling throughout my body.  I knew the class was going to be hard, and I was really looking forward to getting back into my body and seeing how it would all roll out.  After 9 months of not doing the Cobra series, I expected it to be somewhat hellish.  I mean, for me, seriously, the Cobra series always has been the hardest part of class, so I was ready to suffer.  Well, all of this foresight was absolutely NOTHING in comparison to what that first class back was like. 

And “Poof!” 

Just like that, I am a beginner again.

So you might be thinking that 7 weeks isn’t really that much of a break, and that it really shouldn’t have been anything as dramatic as I make it out to be.  Well, let me explain something.  There is this beautiful little hormone that your body produces when a woman is pregnant called relaxin.  (All women actually do have this already, it just increases a ton when you are pregnant.  It increases slightly in our bodies when we menstruate as well.)  This hormone’s function during pregnancy is to relax the joints in the pelvis so the baby has room to pass through the birth canal.  Guess what?  It relaxes the rest of your joints and ligaments as well. 

Students would ask me all the time what it was like practicing while I was pregnant.  And I would always exclaim, “It’s so much easier now!!”  I was flexible beyond anything my non-pregnant body ever experienced.  So let’s just say that those 9 months that I was practicing… it wasn’t really my body.

Back to my class…

I got a little bit emotional and teary-eyed looking at myself in the mirror as we all interlocked our fingers nicely underneath our chins.  I was so overwhelmed with happiness to be back in that space, but as a totally new person.  As a mother.  That feeling quickly disapated as my shoulders and neck started screaming, “What do you think you are doing?!”  Neck might hurt “a little bit”, my ass! 

My arms felt like lead in half moon.  And the beautiful half moon shape I used to make while pregnant looked like a shaky, straight banana.  And where I once saw the back of my mat during the backbend, I don’t think I saw where the ceiling met the wall behind me that day.  And the shaking… oh the shaking.

Before I was pregnant, I was a Japanese Ham Sandwich, with only inches from touching my head to my feet.  However, now I can’t even straighten my legs.  Oh the tremendous stretching feeling, PAIN SENSATION!!  I came up after the first set, and the instructor, Linda says to me, “How was that, Danielle?”  And I say, “Oh shit!”  The whole class chuckled, and we moved on. 

I can continue to go into detail of each posture, like how my legs were bouncing up and down in the second part of Awkward Pose, or how Triangle Pose got the better of me and I had to come out after about 5 or 10 seconds, or how I looked like a ramp in Camel Pose, or how I literally had about 90% of my weight in my hands in Cobra.  (FYI – nowhere in the dialogue does it say “arms are supposed to hurt” in Cobra!)  And did I mention the shaking??  I could talk about all these things, which I am sure would be quite amusing.  But instead, let me just say that the whole class was like an out of body experience.  It was me looking in on me as a brand new student.  Only instead of being brand new, I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.  I just can’t quite get my body to cooperate. 

It was interesting.  In a way, I almost think it was harder than my very first class.  In the first class, we have no idea what we are doing.  We have no idea what “trying the right way” even means.  It takes a while to figure that out.  You come out of your first class a little bit sore in a few places, but you really haven’t even touched the surface yet.  This class, I tried like hell the right way, and my body shook and stretched and became jello.  I watched myself, knowing that it wasn’t going to take me too long to get back to where I was, yet truly amazed at my body’s regression, the stiffness, the pain sensations. 

So I am starting from scratch again.  I took my fifth class this morning.  And while I still feel a little bit “out of body”, I’m intrigued by the possibilities.  I know where my body can go.  I am curious to see how long it will take me to get back to where it used to go.  Today I thought, “Hmmm, I bet in another week, I’ll get my head back to my knee.”  I’m resetting some goals in my practice, such as holding Triangle longer the 2nd set.  (In my defense, my incision area from the cesarean does feel very pulled in this posture, so I’m very cautious.)  But how cool is it to be back to setting goals for the basics?? 

I am truly looking forward to watch my practice rebloom.  I am a new woman in there, so it seems very appropriate that I have to start from a new place.  I look at myself in the mirror and see a mother.  I see a very strong woman who had the ability to carry a child in my body with grace and happiness.  But even more so, I look at this strong body of mine and am so proud of what it is made to do.  My beautiful baby boy, who I love more than I could have ever imagined… he started his life with me.  And all along, I had my yoga practice to guide us through.  So although my muscles are stiff and my spine is creaky, I walk again into the hot room with my head held high, my eyes wide open, awaiting my very own rebirth.

 Tuesday, April 5th.

Thursday, April 7th!  Welcome Silas!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Point of focus

I've got a phenomenal post brewing... but my writing is sort of lacking right now.  So I will continue to let it cook in hopes of my idea becoming reality soon.

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

Each year tops the last

As I sit here on the Sunday after New Years Day, watching the Patriots pummel the Dolphins with this little life kicking inside of me, I can't help but reflect on the past year.  You may have noticed a trend in many of my posts.  The feeling of happiness, perhaps?  Or maybe that I feel like the luckiest girl in the world at times?  No doubt about it, as I wrap up the year 2010, it all will hold true.

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!!!"
Tim: "What?"
Me:  "COME.  HERE."
Tim:  What?"
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???"
Me:  "Yes!!"
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...