Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Love's not Time's fool

A couple of weeks ago, when I was at the lowest low of my vitamin D deprivation and my husband was bemoaning the cold rain, my lack of productivity and his lack of clean socks, I asked him why he bothered to stay. His answer was "because I love you." As if that was enough.

And, yet, it must be, because he's still here, hanging in with me through my life-purpose wanderlust (not to be confused with the upcoming festival, although doubtless related) and my domestic bulimia (trash the house for a couple of weeks, then spend the next two freaking out anytime something is out of place). His unwavering devotion as I reinvent myself daily and his support for my yoga practice, endurance training and racing and outdoor adventures, which he often photographs but in which he rarely participates, are evidence that love is not easily shaken.

William Shakespeare said it well in his Sonnet 116, which was read at our wedding by our best man, while wearing a hat with bells on it. Perhaps when a marriage starts thus, only love and insanity can follow.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although its height be taken,
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Today marks another year in our journey of shared insanity. Love alters not with each year of marriage, but bears it out even through a dreary Adirondack spring, a plethora of mosquitoes and piles of dirty laundry.

My anniversary gift to my husband is to drag him to Vermont, where he will get to sleep in a tent and entertain our seven year old while I join the yoga frenzy at the Wanderlust Festival. Hey, I got him a music ticket for Saturday, so he can join me for Michael Franti's performance (if we can keep our son up that late), so that counts. Doesn't it?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Off the Mat, Into the Wild

The summer solstice is days away, so our Green Yoga Sangha group trekked into the woods for alittle rock-top yoga.  For me, there is nothing better than standing in mountain pose on a big, flat expanse of stone, looking out over the tree-tops or, as I did today, over a lily pad covered pond.  I like to be barefoot in the dirt. Once, in Warrior II, a dragonfly landed on my hand.  Besides, if you saw my last post you know I need all the sunlight I can get.

If you'd like to practice yoga outside, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Go anywhere.  Yes, an asana practice on top of a mountain is amazing, but you can have an equally amazing practice in a town park, on the beach, even in your own backyard.  Just get outside.
  • Leave your mat at home.  Mats are a must-have for yoga studios and on your slippery home floor, but when you head outside take a break from your mat and discover what earth feels like.  Unless you're planning to down dog in a parking lot.
  • Scout out your spot.  Before you put your bare feet down, make sure the place you've chosen for your practice isn't covered with sharp rocks or, worse, broken glass.  Unfortunately many beautiful places get ruined by those who don't know enough to...
  • Leave no trace.  You wouldn't walk out of a yoga studio leaving all the props you used scattered on the floor, would you?  Show the outdoors the same respect and carry out any trash you make.  Better yet, do what we do and carry an empty bag to pick up what others thoughtlessly left behind.
  • Find a natural insect repellent that works and use it.  I've got nothing against bugs in general, but it's hard to hold a pose with mosquitoes biting every inch of exposed skin.  Mosquitoes and ticks can carry diseases that will bring your asana practice to a halt if you contract them, so protect yourself when you're outdoors.  I also like to show them dead bug pose, just to give them a warning. 
Once you've found a place to practice, here's some poses to try:

  • Tadasana (Mountain). The most natural outdoor pose there is. Close your eyes, feel the earth under your feet, the breeze brushing your skin and the warmth of the sun. Then just breathe.
  • Moon Side Bend.  Reach overhead, interlace your fingers and bend to one side, then the other.  Imagine yourself swaying side-to-side like a tree in the wind.
  • Uttanasana (Forward fold).  Bend your knees really deep and put your hands flat on the ground.  If you're lucky a bug will crawl over your hand.  Embrace the sensation.
  • Standing up, clasp your hands behind your back, roll your shoulders together, and look up.  Open your heart to the sky.
  • Utkatasana (Chair).  Just because you should.
  • Crescent lunge.  High runner's lunge with your arms overhead, hips sinking toward the earth.  Find two rocks the right distance apart and this gets really fun.
  • Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II).  You never know when a dragonfly might need a place to land.  Beside, the view past your fingers is great.
  • Reversed, or Proud, Warrior.  For another look at the sky.
  • Vrksasana (Tree).  Enough said.
  • Airplane (Virabhadrasana III variation).  Fly in the breeze.
  • Balasana (Child).  Yup, put your forehead in the dirt.  Get really close to nature.
  • Sirsasana (Headstand).  My favorite pose anywhere is especially gratifying when my head's in the grass and my feet feel the sun.  If headstand isn't available to you, take another inversion or rabbit pose to get the top of your head on the ground.
  • Savasana. Let the earth support you, absorbing all of your tension and doubts.  Feel yourself being cradled by the ground beneath you, relax and breathe deeply.

Friday, June 10, 2011

One little letter

March was a long, difficult, busy month getting the new True North Yoga studio ready to open. Then April and May flew by. Class sizes are growing, slowly, and the summer workshop schedule is just about complete. In just over two weeks I'll be heading to Wanderlust for a weekend away with my husband, my son, and yoga. Everything has been falling into place except for one small detail – me.

All these plans were contingent on me being able to get out of bed in the morning. Over the past months that's gotten harder and harder to accomplish. Unexplained body aches, difficulty sleeping despite nearly constant fatigue, a bizarre viral rash on my toes, and nasal allergies followed by a serious sinus infection and cough have brought me to the doctor more times in the last three weeks than the number of times I saw him during all of last year.

I'd stopped training and expected to walk the Adirondack Half-Marathon, the only race I got around to registering for. I'd tried to get back to running, but each time I started I end up hurting all over by the end of the first week. If the muscle pain was where I'd expect it to be, I'd chalk it up to muscle recovery and keep going, but the pain was more general and moved around during the day.

I couldn't figure what was going on with my body. The sinus infection created so much pressure in my head that even yoga had become frustrating. It's getting better with an antibiotic, but not going away fast enough for me.

Tuesday morning I had blood drawn to, as the doctor says, “rule out some things.” I was sure I'd thought of all of them - Lyme, Epstein Barr, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, even cancer.  My imagination went crazy, but I missed the easy answer.

The doctor's office called on Wednesday. Everything was normal, except – my vitamin D is too low. The doctor recommended taking a supplement.

15 minutes of online reading confirmed it. Vitamin D deficiency can result in muscle aches, fatigue, low immunity and depression. Sound familiar?

Vitamin D is made in the body with sun exposure. A long winter followed by a dark, rainy spring could certainly account for the low level of vitamin D in my body. It was such an obvious thing, and I never thought of it. If I had, I would be getting ready for a half-Ironman instead of sitting around crying because everything hurts. Frustrating, but there's still that half-marathon on the schedule in the fall, so I'm going to take my vitamin D (and magnesium, because magnesium aids in vitamin D absorption) and get outside (whenever we've got some sun) for my runs.  And do lots more Sun Salutations.
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