Monday, June 21, 2010

Me Tarzan. Me Get it Done.

Look out Jane, the ape-man has got a huge third Chakra...

The summer solstice is the perfect time to look at the third Chakra's fiery energy. The Sanskrit name for this Chakra is Manipura, which means "lustrous gem". Just like a well-cut diamond seems to sparkle with its own light, Manipura's energy generates our internal flame.

Moving up the spine, you can find your third Chakra in your solar plexus, just above your navel. It glows bright yellow with the energy of self-esteem, self-worth, proactivity and power. Our third Chakra gives us the right to act and to be an individual. This is the energy center where all our ideas and our dreams get transformed into something real. It is our will power that gives us the strength to act on our ideas.

Think of some powerful people you know. No one doubts these people will do what they say they are going to do. They stand tall, shoulders back, chest lifted and belly forward, and they project confidence.

People with strong third Chakras make good warriors. Every society has its warriors. The soldiers are obvious, but there are also warriors in law enforcement, fire departments, child protective services and environmental protection. Sports, both amateur and professional, are full of warriors. Anyone with the desire to be the best person they can be and the confidence to achieve it has the third Chakra's warrior power.

Even the apes had a warrior in Tarzan. Hey guys, that confidence is really sexy, too. Especially to women named Jane.

Not everyone has that internal glow. When the third Chakra is blocked, our self-esteem gets blocked as well. Some people have lots of great ideas, but they never get past thinking about them. Some don't think they deserve success. Others are just afraid to take action.

Many of us could use more energy flowing through Manipura. We can light the fire in our bellies on the yoga mat with heat-building Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) and Kashtha Takshanasana (woodchopper). We can strengthen our core muscles and our will with poses like Navasana (upward boat). We can fuel the fire with pranayama (breathing exercises) like Kapalabhati.

We can also look for confidence-building activities off the mat. Activities that involve some risk-taking - rock climbing, white-water rafting, going to a foreign country by yourself - draw energy into the third Chakra. The martial arts, which teach us to develop and control our core power, are very third-Chakra oriented. Just getting up the nerve to talk to someone you find frightening can light Manipura's flame.

Swinging by vines from tree to tree might fire up some third Chakra energy too.

When I was working on Manipura, what really made me think of Tarzan was his big yell. Your ape friends won't hear you on the other side of the jungle unless your cry comes from your belly. The energy behind that yell comes from - you guessed it - the third Chakra.

Is there a fire in your belly?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mindfully Stressed

Ursus arctos middendorffi /kodiak bear/ KodiakbärImage via Wikipedia

It was going to be a busy couple of weeks anyway. The start of the summer season means yoga classes are filling up as vacationers return. The Lake Placid classes are just starting to get off the ground and a new class in North Creek started this week. My first triathlon of the season is next Saturday. After that comes the busy July Fourth weekend, then yoga workshops and kids classes kick in, all which need a few hours of preparation. My kids are finishing with school and we are juggling finals, end-of-the-year parties and other last-minute activities.

There was lots to do, but I was approaching the coming summer with a sense of calm purpose. I knew what I had to get done and I was working on it, a little at a time. My personal yoga practice had been reignited and my body felt great - open and strong. My nutrition issues have been worked out so I can go out for a run after a long day of teaching yoga without feeling like I'm going to drop of hunger or exhaustion. I just needed to stay focused for the next couple of weeks, then I could cruise through summer's organized chaos without a single spike in my blood pressure.

But that would be too easy.

My in-laws, who haven't visited since we moved here, decided it was time for them to come. They will be arriving on Wednesday and staying through - you guessed it - race weekend. While it will be very nice to see them, their visit means I will have to add cooking and entertaining to my list of things to do. Oh, I should probably clean the house before they get here as well. Having them here for race day also means that I will probably have two cameras on me, since my husband inherited the photography bug from his father. All the picture-taking is fine as long as they don't expect me to smile much. (My new race tactic is to frown at my competitors until they feel bad and let me pass them. I'll let you know how it works.)

I've really been looking forward to race day because after the triathlon I feel I am entitled to post-race recovery. For me, recovery involves a healthy beer buzz, a big inner tube and a sunny spot on the lake. The small indulgence of not doing anything for a few hours is one of the reasons I keep running for the finish line. Post-race recovery, however, hinges on my dear husband delivering me to the lake, opening beer bottles for me and minding the children while I float undisturbed. Now his parents will be here, competing for his attention and probably telling him I should get my own beers. My dream of post-race utopia melted away like a chocolate bar on the asphalt.

And it's never just one thing, is it?

After suffering from chest pains for a few days, my mother went to the hospital on Thursday. We got a scare when the emergency room doctor said the EKG indicated she may have had a heart attack. Thankfully two days of tests did not find any additional evidence of a heart attack and she left the hospital last night undiagnosed but feeling better. Meanwhile I spent two days worrying and juggling my schedule to take care of my parents' dogs while my dad went back and forth to the hospital. It wasn't hard, but I lost some time and when I had time I had trouble focusing until we knew she was going to be alright, and we all know time is something you can never get back.

Last night, shortly after my parents arrived home from the hospital, my brother called to tell us that my sister-in-law's father had died unexpectedly. My sister-in-law's family lives in Utah, so we don't know them well, but I love my sister-in-law dearly and I know she was not prepared to lose her father so young (he was in his 50s) and so suddenly. I can't help but to share the grief with her, as well as with my brother and my nieces and nephew.

After hanging up the phone, I felt like my mind had red-lined. Thoughts were spinning out of control and I was going into emergency shut-down. Yes, the calm, cool yogini was feeling some stress.

Stress is our bodies' response to situations that are threatening or somehow upset our balance. It is the result of our fight-or-flight response to danger. When we are in a dangerous situation - real or imagined - our hearts beat faster, our breath gets shallow and our senses sharpen, preparing us to defend ourselves or run away. Unfortunately, most modern-day tense situations require neither response and, since we never expend the built-up energy by fighting or running, the stress just gets piled on.

Not everyone responds the same way to built-up stress. Some people become agitated or angry. Other people, like me, shut down. I tend to space out, engage in a boring, mind-numbing activity like watching reruns on television or just try to sleep.

Many people suffering from chronic stress overload don't even know that they have a problem. They get so used to being stressed-out that they think it is normal. Unfortunately, it often takes a physical crisis brought on by the chronic stress to make them see what's going on and, maybe, make a change.

Yoga is the ultimate de-stressor. Yoga triggers the body's natural relaxation response, the antidote to stress. Practiced regularly, yoga retrains the body so calm feels normal. Then, the next time we are faced with a tense situation, we recognize the stress for what it is. We are mindfully stressed.

This morning, I woke up early but spent a couple of hours just laying on my bed, watching fragments of thoughts try, and fail, to form themselves into something coherent. There was a time, before all the yoga, when this kind of thing would trigger a bout of depression as I became convinced that I was useless and broken. Awareness and acceptance are great blessings. This morning, while watching my mind space out, I told myself that I was simply feeling stress and I stayed there so my body could rest after the effort of creating that wasted stress response. There was, after all, nothing I could do to stop my in-laws from coming (without creating an even more stressful family conflict), diagnose my mother's chest pain or take away my sister-in-law's grief. There was no fight-or-flight answer.

It was later than usual, but I did finally get out of bed and onto my yoga mat. As I went through my sun salutations, I discovered the physical side effects of the stress. My shoulders were tight. My low back was sore. It took a great deal of effort to breath slowly and deeply. I lost track of my place in the flow a couple of times as my focus wandered back to the half-formed thoughts.

The nice thing about being mindful of stress is you get to be watching when the stress dissipates. I was in Trikonasana (triangle pose) when the stress let go. My breath deepened. My shoulders and low back relaxed. My mind got quieter. I finished my practice and headed out to teach my Saturday morning yoga classes feeling relieved and refreshed.

We can't eliminate all stress. Even a hermit may find his heart beating fast when a bear decides his cave looks cozy. But we can do yoga. And we can be mindfully stressed.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hips Don't Lie

Shakira knows her second Chakra...

Moving up the spine from last post's first Chakra, we find Swadhisthana, the second Chakra, floating in the hips. The Sanskrit word Swadhisthana means sweetness and, oh, how sweet it is. The second Chakra is our emotional center and processes all the fun stuff: pleasure, desire, need, sexuality, sensation. And, like Shakira's hips, it's all about movement.

Thanks to the energy flowing through Swadhisthana, we have the inherent right to feel and have pleasure. The second Chakra is respresented by the color orange, the next color up on the rainbow spectrum after the first Chakra's red, and water's formless fluidity. Once we feel grounded and safe (first Chakra stuff), we can start to explore all the pleasures of life.

Connecting to your second Chakra is an exercise in balance. Imagine a wide bowl filled to the brim with water and that you need to move the bowl from one table to another. If, as you're carrying it, the bowl tips even a tiny bit, one way or another, some of that water is going to spill out. It would be almost impossible to move the bowl without any water escaping. If you're careless, you'll dump it all and have a flood to clean up. Conversely, if you never move the bowl, the water is just going to sit there and stagnate in the bowl. So, ideally, you move the bowl carefully, wipe some water off the floor, and add some fresh water to the bowl once it's on the new table. Then you start thinking about other tables that bowl could be moved to.

Our second Chakra energy works like that bowl full of water. If we don't allow ourselves to feel emotion, if we deny our sexual needs or other earthly pleasures, our energy gets trapped and stagnates. This stagnation may show up in the body as low back pain, lack of flexibility or deadened senses, all things that keep us from moving freely. Of course, we don't want to just let all the energy spill out. We can have too much of a good thing and find ourselves addicted to pleasurable experiences (sexual, drug induced, etc.). We can also get too invested in our emotions and start seeking situations that keep us on an emotional roller coaster, like some kind of crisis junkie.

If we allow ourselves to be like that moving bowl, letting our desires and emotions spill over small amounts at a time, we might have to suffer through some minor after-effects but we can easily regroup and go on to the next thing. The key is to enjoy life in moderation, having fun without drawing too much energy away from our first Chakra, sacrificing safety and security. We can let the currents of desire carry us for awhile, as long as we wash up on solid ground in the end.

Yoga can help keep Swadhisthana's energy flowing but not overflowing. Asanas like Baddha Konasana (cobbler) and Adha Mukha Eda Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon) help to relieve tightness in the hips, improving flexiblity and your ability to move. If you're holding in emotions, not allowing them to flow, you can help release them by journaling, writing poetry or even talking to a trusted friend. Therapy and 12-step programs offer help with addictions of all kinds if the fun gets out of hand.

Look for healthy pleasures to keep your second Chakra vibrant, enjoying the movement of your body, and maybe donning an orange skirt and shaking your hips on the dance floor every now and then.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

A down to earth look at the first Chakra...

A few weeks ago I promised my blog readers that, after the Chakra workshop, I would write some posts about the Chakras. I've been stalling a bit, trying to come up with something from pop culture that would help explain what's going on in the first Chakra. Finally, this morning, as I exhaled and relaxed into a downward-facing dog, I saw Dorothy's ruby slippers. Yes, The Wizard of Oz can help me explain the first Chakra, and you don't need to be listening to Dark Side of the Moon to see it.

The Chakra system can seem too deep and esoteric to easily understand, but really it's just a philosophical model used to explain the way our energetic bodies interact with our physical bodies. The Chakras themselves are the centers that filter energy through your system. Each Chakra corresponds to a location in your body - the seven major Chakras line up along the spine - and each relates to certain physical functions and emotional issues.

The first Chakra, called Muldahara in Sanskrit, is the energy center at the base of the spine, although its influence extends down the legs to the feet. Muldahara means root and this Chakra is all about roots. Just like a tree's roots hold it to the earth, making it stable, and draw nourishment from the soil, our roots anchor us in the physical world. The first Chakra processes our energetic nourishment and stability - home, family, safety, security - and is responsible for our right to be here.

The first Chakra is probably the easiest to work with on and off our yoga mats. It's all about being grounded. When we have a sense of connection to the places where we live, when our basic needs of food and shelter have been fulfilled, when we are comfortable in our bodies and when we can move forward without fear, we are grounded. We practice grounding on our yoga mats in poses like Tadasana (Mountain), feeling our feet underneath us and visualizing our energetic roots growing down into the earth. Off the mat, we can connect to the earth and to our bodies with activities like hiking, dancing, running, gardening or getting a massage.

So where, you ask, does Dorothy and her ruby slippers fit in? Each of the Chakras has a color and Muldahara's color is red. On the rainbow spectrum, red is the bottom with the lowest frequency and longest wavelength. Red also brings to mind the molten core of the earth. Put something red on somebody's feet and you've got a very nice first Chakra symbol.

Let's think about Dorothy's adventure in Oz. During her travels, does she feel secure? Is she safe? Does she feel like she belongs where she is? Nope. She wants to go home and everything she goes through is about getting her there.

When Dorothy's house is uprooted and she is forced to abandon it, she is given the ruby slippers. She wears those red shoes the rest of the movie, even managing to run from flying monkeys in those uncomfortable-looking heels. After all that, what does Glinda tell her? "You've always had the power to go back to Kansas."

We all have the power to find our roots, to be grounded. It's built into that energetic system that exists in everyone, even if we don't know it's there. As adults, just as we provide for our own physical survival, we can take responsibility for our emotional security by honoring our right to exist. We can do the things that help us to feel grounded and take care of our bodies so we feel good being in them.

Or we can do it Dorothy's way. We can stand in Tadasana, close our eyes, click our ruby heels together three times and say "there's no place like home."

And we can do some downward-facing Totos.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Sneak Peek: Yoga Demystified

The first time you try yoga, it will most likely feel very awkward. Just standing with bare feet on a sticky mat feels weird. Getting your body into the same shape as the instructor's will seem impossible. You might feel uncoordinated, unbalanced, ungraceful and totally inflexible. The next day, you might be sore in places you didn't know you had muscles. And, if you can't set all those feelings aside, you might never try yoga again.

Yoga is not an instant cure-all. A yoga practice can make your body stronger, more flexible and healthier, but it won't happen over night. One time is never enough. The only way yoga can work is if you keep practicing.

The trick is to get through that first class without letting your critical ego get in the way. Your body is going to think yoga is great and it wants to do more. The muscles, although they might be sore, will have really enjoyed the stretching. It's your mind that will shut down your desire for more yoga. Your mind likes to carry on about anything it can, so it will chatter away, telling you that you didn't look good in the poses, that you aren't flexible enough to do these kinds of things, that you need to lose 25 pounds before you try again.

The problem with the mind is that it always wants to be the center of attention. It looks for things to think about so it never has to be quiet. Yoga takes your attention away from the mind and directs it to the body. The mind fights back by dragging you outside yourself. It worries about what other people think and tries to convince you it knows what's going on in other people's heads. Once it does, you feel self-conscious and inadequate, because you can never live up to the expectations you have imagined other people have for you.

The truth is nobody else in your yoga class, besides the teacher whose job it is to make sure you are doing the poses safely, cares what you look like on your mat. Other beginners are suffering the same insecurities you are, and more experienced practitioners are usually thrilled when someone new tries this yoga thing that they love. Once the class is underway, all those with experience are focusing on their own bodies and probably won't even look at you. Many go through their practice with their eyes closed. They are not watching you to see if you mess up.

While laughter is certainly not off-limits in yoga class, and is, in fact, a welcome release when the class is getting too intense, nobody will laugh at you for being a beginner. Yoga students sometimes laugh at themselves when they struggle to balance in tree pose or mess up their rights and lefts and end up facing the wrong way. Laughter is a wonderful, heart-opening practice when it comes from love and camaraderie. Yoga students may laugh together, but they don't laugh at each other, despite what your ego may tell you.

Practicing yoga is also an exercise in humility. Unlike sports, you are not going to get much recognition for doing yoga, no matter how well you do it. You can practice yoga for 20 years and you will never get a trophy, or even a ribbon. You are unlikely to have your journey to yoga greatness documented by a gaggle of photographers. On your mat, it's just you Nobody wins. No sports page coverage.

Putting all the ego stuff aside is what makes yoga different than just stretching and, in the end, is what brings people back to the mat. When you learn to ignore all the stuff the mind is going on about, it shuts up. You get to have a few moments of quiet and you discover what yoga really is.


Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence.

That's what it comes down to. The whole time you're on your mat, struggling awkwardly into poses, fighting off critical thoughts - while toning and strengthening your body so you look better in your yoga pants, of course - all you're trying to do is have a moment of silence.

Once you discover the silence, you'll keep coming back to your mat. The next time you practice, you can be pretty sure you'll be right back to struggling with your ego, trying to find the silence again. But the poses will probably feel a little less awkward. You will probably be a bit more balanced. You will probably act more coordinated. You will probably move with grace. And you may discover that you are more flexible than you thought.

All because you didn't let the first class be the last class.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Running in Blindly

When my kids were little, the first day of anything went swimmingly. It was always the second day that gave us trouble. It was easy to hype something new - going to a new class at preschool, dance lessons, art day camp - and get them excited to go.

On the second day they knew what they were in for. The second day was when they had to be dragged, crying and clinging, back to the thing that was so exciting before the previous day.

Those second days have always been a problem. I, myself, fall for the first day hype even if I'm the one doing the hyping. The 21.5.800 challenge looked great, and I looked forward to the first day. I'd been really good about my yoga, so that was just a matter of continuing. I was excited about the writing. I thought the challenge would be motivating.

The first day I wrote 800 words in 15 minutes, just typing away. Then came the second day, and I knew what I was in for. I just had to sit down and type for 15 minutes and something would come to me. Except it didn't. I stared at the computer screen for a long while. Then I gave up and started watching the 5th season of Weeds on Netflix. An hour and a couple of episodes later, I tried again. Still nothing. I ended up writing a bunch of ranting gibberish about not having anything to write about and how my life was going to fall apart around me as a result, with Weeds playing in the background.

So what's the deal with second days?

I think there are two things that come into play, but they both stem from expectations - those attachments to outcomes that we always try to set aside when we're on our yoga mats. Leading up to the first day, all that hype is building our expectations. We make a picture in our minds of what we think something is going to be like. Quite often, the actual experience doesn't match the picture. Unless the experience was so much better than we imagined, we're likely to feel a bit let down.

The first day's experience leads, of course, to expectations for the second day. If the first day didn't meet our expectations, then we might not even want to try again the second day. If the first day was great, then we'll expect the same again. We forget that the second day can't be the same as the first. We are not the same people we were 24 hours ago. We have another day's worth of experiences, emotions and thoughts woven into the fabric of who we are. Yet we approach the second day expecting more of the same.

The only way to avoid the second day trap is to adopt what yogis refer to as the "beginner's mind." Imagine approaching every task as if you'd never done it before and all you have to do is try it and see how it turns out. Think about how freeing it would be if you could explore something without any expectations, running in blindly and just allowing the experience to unfold. Then the next day you could do that same thing again completely fresh and maybe have completely different results.

What a great way to be on your yoga mat - practicing without worrying about the results leaves you free to focus on the process. Breathing your way into an asana, feeling your body take on the position, becomes more important than the way the final pose looks. Your ego is on vacation and you are really being present, which is what yoga is about, isn't it?

To be honest, when I committed myself to write 800 words a day, I had visions of myself writing a book in 21 days. I was going to sit down and write, and everything I put on paper was going to be so brilliant that I would just have to print it out and send it to a publisher. The first day I sat down and wrote and got to 800 words, then read it and realized that the ideas were there, but it sounded like crap.

Day two had new expectations. My confidence was in the toilet, yet I was telling myself I would be able to write for 15 minutes and produce something better. None of the thoughts that came into my head during that second writing session were good enough to meet those expectations. There should be no surprise I was so easily distracted. It was either distraction or a bunch of beating myself up. Or both.

Pity party over, I am going to try to approach today's writing like I am running in blindly, free from any attachment to the outcome. I'll feel my way into it, breathing and being present to my thoughts and ideas without judging them. I can always go back and edit later.

Besides, I finished all the online episodes of Weeds.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Day of Firsts

Yoga postures ShavasanaImage via Wikipedia

It all began on a Tuesday; this Tuesday, in fact.

Today was the first day of 21.5.800. So far, so good. I stayed up until midnight last night working on Monday's to-do list, which I was determined not to let spill into today. As a result, I had to drag myself onto my yoga mat, but I got there. After three rounds each of Surya Namaskar A and B, I worked my way through the standing poses at the beginning of the primary series, which is as far as I am going until my annoyingly tight hamstrings decide to let go a bit. I realize I could add more asanas while continuing to work on the trouble-makers, but what I'm doing feels like enough for now.

Even after I made it to bed last night I didn't sleep well, so I spent most of the day fighting the tired feeling. I really would have liked to join my classes in Savasana, but who'd wake us up? Despite the fatigue, I did the grocery shopping and squeezed in a run after my Lake Placid class.

The "run" was actually a walk-run-walk. It was the first workout in my new half-marathon training plan which, counting backwards 16 weeks from the September race, started today. When else would it start? (Remember what I said in my previous post about synchronicity?)

It was fun walking and running in Lake Placid. I got to tap into that Ironman-training energy. That's probably how I made it back to Schroon Lake without falling asleep at the wheel. (Just don't ask me how I got my yoga pants on over my running shorts while driving 55 miles per hour down Route 73. Hey, I was running late.)

Back to 21.5.800. While my son was doing his homework, I sat down at the kitchen table with my laptop and wrote about hiking. I did 814 words. 814 disjointed, random words. If this writing thing is going to result in anything coherent, I think I need a plan. Or an outline.

That would be a first.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, June 7, 2010

I should be committed

I'm getting my yoga mojo back. I had another good practice this morning, despite some pain in my hip joints that always comes when I eat lots of wheat before a hard workout. (I don't know why this is, but it is.) I taught 4 yoga classes today, spent some time on the phone adding another location to my teaching schedule and did a bunch of laundry, and I still have energy to sit here and write. Which is a good thing, considering what I just jumped into.

My life is full of synchronicity. I'll mention someone I haven't heard from in awhile and they'll call me the next day. I'll come across something I forgot I had and find myself needing just that thing shortly thereafter. And I'll blog about making a new commitment to my yoga practice and needing to get some writing done and, the next thing I know, I come across a yoga and writing challenge that starts - get this - tomorrow.

Bindu Wiles, a writer who I never heard of before today (but whose blog I will now be reading regularly), put together the 21.5.800 challenge. All the participants have to do is, for 21 days, practice yoga 5 days a week and write 800 words a day. That's right, all I'd have to do is keep up my yoga practice.....and squeeze 800 words into my day.

I looked at that and thought, "There's no way I can write that much every day."

So, of course, I immediately signed up.

(If anyone is questioning my sanity, you can stop. There is no question. I jumped off the sane train years ago.)

Yoga gave me the kick in the butt I needed for triathlon training. Can it give that same kick to my writing?

I'll find out tomorrow when I figure out how to squeeze in 800 words between another 4 yoga classes, a run, grocery shopping, and tackling the pile of paperwork on my desk that's so high it's threatening to fall over and bury my laptop. Then we'll see if I'm really ready to be committed.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Get on Your Mat! No Excuses!

Balasana pose in Hatha yoga, commonly known as...Image via Wikipedia

When I was in yoga teacher training, I did a research project on Sadhana. Sadhana is discipline. It is systemized spiritual practice with the intended goal of attaining some higher realization. A yoga practice, if done in a regular, disciplined way, can be Sadhana.

At the time I wrote my teacher training essay, I was struggling with my personal practice. Balancing family, work and teacher training homework was challenging and, thinking there was no time to practice, I left my mat rolled up day after day.

There are three aspects of Sadhana: choice, commitment and aspiration. We choose what we want our practice to be. It can be as simple as spending one minute a day in child's pose (Balasana), and still our minds will come up with reasons not to. Commitment is how we overcome our minds' excuses. Commitment is just sticking to the schedule.

Of course, doing the same thing on a regular schedule doesn't make it a spiritual practice, otherwise we'd all reach enlightenment by brushing our teeth every day. Aspiration is the thing that changes routine into Sadhana. Aspiration is the conscious intention behind our practice.

Why, you ask, am I revisiting my Sadhana essay now?

If you've been reading this blog, you know that I've been struggling with triathlon training of late. I couldn't get into the rhythm of my training plan. I had lots of excuses. At the end of May, with only a month until my first triathlon of the season, I panicked - and did nothing. I told myself it's only a sprint, so I could muddle through at the back of the pack (again). I was in serious need of a kick in the butt.

Not surprisingly, my personal yoga practice wasn't getting any attention either. I had lots of excuses for that, too. But yoga, being what it is, always calls me back to my mat when I need it the most. Inspired by a session teaching power yoga to a good friend, I picked up the Ashtanga book I've had for years but had never really used. There was one dog-eared page - the page with the beginners' practice schedule. Perhaps I knew my future self would need it one day. The next morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 5:45 a.m. for 15 minutes on my mat. The day after that I was back on my mat again. After four days I had to get up at 5:30 because I was adding more poses and needed the extra time. I've gone 14 days without missing a day.

(Which is 7 days longer than I kept it up while I was working on my Sadhana essay.)

It only took a day or two for the yoga practice to affect the rest of my day. With just 15 minutes on my mat my energy level went up. I was getting much more accomplished during the day, was more alert and present when I was teaching and, lo and behold, I suddenly wanted to train. Not only did I want to train, but I made time for it. Even through the crazy holiday weekend when it seemed like my calendar was booked solid, I did all my scheduled workouts.

After waking up at 5:00 a.m. this morning feeling refreshed and ready to get moving, I had a good session on my mat then went out in the pouring rain and ran 9 miles. And I felt great afterward.

Sadhana. Yoga's kick-in-the-butt. No excuses.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...