Sunday, April 28, 2013

Do What You Think You Cannot #365Yoga

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 
~Eleanor Roosevelt

The first time I saw AcroYoga was at the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park, Colorado, in 2008. (I first blogged about it here.) I remember watching the performance in the video below and being blown away by the grace and power.

I also remember being pretty sure I would never be able to practice AcroYoga.

Fast forward almost five years and I now can make a good, long list of things I thought I couldn't do that I've gone ahead and done anyway. The interesting thing about doing what you think you cannot is that once you do a few of those things, all the other ones seem much more possible.

(Hello, third Chakra.)

So, after watching AcroYoga videos with my yoga teacher trainees over lunch one day, I responded to their interest by saying, "I'll try to set up an AcroYoga workshop here." Never mind that I didn't actually know anyone who teaches AcroYoga or if anyone would want to come to our little town. That's what Facebook is for, right?

I connected with Catherine and Scott of Team WillCo. They made the trip. They are awesome AcroYoga teachers. And we had a great afternoon.

Remember how I thought I wouldn't be able to practice AcroYoga? I've got another thing to add to my list of things I've gone ahead and done anyway. I'll follow up with pictures and/or video later, but let's just say that at the end of the workshop the word that popped into my head was "wow."

My body is amazing. After many years of practicing yoga it still takes me to new places. Yoga gives me opportunities to be a confident beginner - to open to something new and sometimes scary knowing that whatever happens I can breathe through it. Fifteen years ago I breathed through my first Vinyasa class. Today it was inverting with my shoulders resting on someone's knees.

This is why I begin every class I teach with pranayama. If someone is on their yoga mat and focusing on their breath, I've done my job. Yes, I'll guide my class through asanas, but those are just opportunities to practice breathing. Oh, and to discover what their bodies can do, which is probably more than they think they can.

If you've been telling yourself that you cannot practice yoga, ask yourself this: "Can I breathe in? Can I breathe out?" (If you're reading this, you can.) Then come see me, or a yoga teacher who serves your community, and do what you think you cannot.

Thank you Scott and Cathy for coming north!
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mud Season Hiking

My son and I started hiking two weeks ago. I used to post our hikes on this blog, but we are the new "hiking with kids" bloggers on the Schroon Lake Region site and we're putting our trip reports there from now on. You can follow our trip reports on our blog page.

During our hikes we have encountered snow, herons, frogs and, of course, mud. It's great to be outside, though. And it's great to see spring returning to the Adirondacks.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Desperation Gardening

Today, finally, I was able to get outside, turn over one of my vegetable beds and plant peas. Just yesterday it was 24 degrees when I woke up. I've been pursuing the prAna catalog looking wistfully at their new swimsuit line, but, honestly, I was flipping through the pages wishing they'd make flannel yoga pants.

About two months ago, desperate to see something growing, I got creative. I had been on Pinterest, my favorite idea generator, and saw an indoor garden created with jars set at an angle in a wooden shelf. Anyplace I could hang a shelf in my kitchen wouldn't get enough light, so I went straight to the window. My husband drilled through some dryer vent clamps and screwed them into the window frame.

Saved pasta sauce jars were filled with potting soil and seeds. The jars were clamped into place and turned toward the window. A few weeks later I had salad greens, parsley and basil. I'm enjoying the bounty of my little indoor garden.

But, to tell the truth, I was only slightly less desperate. I am very glad for a warm day and bright sunshine. Welcome spring!
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Love, Hope and Warm Loneliness #BostonMarathon

I hold my face in my two hands.  
No, I am not crying.
I hold my face in my two hands  
to keep the loneliness warm -  
two hands protecting,  
two hands nourishing,  
two hands preventing
my soul from leaving me  
in anger.

Thich Nhat Hanh

On Saturday I went to a kirtan festival which, despite an underlying sadness after the loss of Shyamdas in January, was incredibly uplifting. My heart was open with joy and love. I was on a blissed-out Bhakti high. I was going to write all about it.

Nope. Four months ago my planned post was preempted by senseless tragedy. And here I am again.

The Boston Marathon began this morning just as I started teaching a yoga class. It ended abruptly minutes after I finished my last class for the day. Since my own marathon training begins in a few weeks, I was eager for race updates and, therefore, I got news of the bombings almost instantly.

I wasn't there. What I knew of people who were there came from 140-character snippets. But this felt personal. I was angry, I was sad, and I couldn't believe this had happened during the sanctity of the Boston Marathon.

Amateur runners and triathletes make up a diverse but incredibly benevolent clan. Immediately my twitter and Facebook feeds were overrun with people who felt just like I did. While the citizens of Boston took care of the runners and each other, the rest of the running community banded together in cyberspace.

As news reached me I saw, despite underlying sadness, an amazing outpouring of love. I watched footage of acts of bravery and kindness. I heard reports of people opening their homes to runners who could no longer get to their hotels, offering food, bathrooms and even lodging. I read that some runners who had finished the race went to the nearest hospital to donate blood. And those I follow retweeted and shared important information as well as countless "I'm ok" messages. I am again uplifted.

My heart is open with love and the joy of being part of humanity. In the banding together after tragedy I see the hints of the awakening we were promised at the end of 2012. There is suffering and horror but there is also compassion and hope.

I am still sad, but not angry. And I am no longer afraid. And until the day we realize we are all one, I'll keep the loneliness warm.
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Defining Wellness

Headlamps are useful before dawn.
This morning I woke my nine year old at 5:00 a.m. for a sunrise hike to a pond near our home. We didn't actually get to see the sun rise due to an overabundance of clouds, it was cold and the pond was still frozen, but we enjoyed our first hike of 2013 anyway. It was as much an acknowledgement of my own return to wellness as it was a celebration of the start of mud season in the Adirondacks.

My husband is not a morning person. When I announced our planned hike, he noted that my idea of wellness is someone else's idea of insanity. This had me thinking that it is impossible to define wellness in a broad sense. We each have to define wellness in our own terms, and we only can by knowing our own bodies, minds and spirits.

This is very evident whenever I get together with the Bona Fide Butterflies, who include myself and my two friends and partners Annie Gregson and Beti Spangel. Together we facilitate empowering retreats and workshops for women. We strive to help women design and live authentic, inspired lives based on their individual values.

Individual values - that's the key. Society likes to tell us what to value. Media gets paid to tell us what to value. But it's our individual values, the ones that come from the heart, that make us unique, that keep everyone from being the same and living the same life according to the same plan. It's our individual values that make human existence diverse, colorful and fun. 

The BFBs
Annie and Beti are incredible women living joyful lives of their own design. Neither one of them is likely to start training for a marathon. Neither one wants to teach yoga, although they enjoy their own yoga practices. Annie, a life coach, also makes incredible art. She has lots of time in her life for long walks in the woods with her dog, and she throws fun, seemingly spontaneous parties. Beti has horses and chickens on her homestead, and she makes yummy cheese. She can drive a tractor. She's also an awesome writer.

Our differences are what we have in common. All three of us have taken the time to figure out what's important to us and we've created lives that honor those things. Unique, diverse, authentic lives. Our own definitions of wellness. 

The other thing we have in common is a road in Schroon Lake, where we're neighbors in the "I'll drive a few miles up the road to your house" sense of the word. I think fate had something to do with that.

Take a look at the Bona Fide Butterflies website and see the workshops and retreats we offer. We're also on Facebook

I'm heading to a yoga class to stretch out sore hiking and running muscles, and to honor my own idea of wellness.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Two miles at a time

This morning I got up early and jogged on the treadmill for almost forty minutes. My cat kept me company and we both stared longingly out of the basement windows, wishing it wasn't too dark and too cold to be outside. (We both may have also given some thought to the bears and coyotes we might encounter in the dark.)

I slowly covered two-and-a-half miles according to the display, which was about a half mile longer than yesterday's jog, but not quite the four mile run my spring training plan called for. I am grateful for two-and-a-half miles, however.

It's more than I was able to do two weeks ago, and much more than I could do a month ago.

The time on the treadmill has been an experiment in coming back. I've never torn a ligament or had plantar fasciistis. I've never had an injury that kept me from running if I chose to, but my inner ear problem might as well have been. As much as I dislike the treadmill and wish I could get out on the road, it has given me an opportunity to find out how high I can get my heart rate before my head starts to drain and the equilibrium changes. I'm glad to have the hand holds when the room spins.

I must begin my marathon plan next month to be ready for the Adirondack Distance Festival and my first attempt at a full marathon. I am grateful for this time to work my way back. I am grateful for Dr. Schwerman at the Schroon Lake Health Center for figuring out what was wrong and helping me fix it in time to start training.

I am also grateful that, despite a relatively inactive winter, I am not sore after my runs and not far from my "race weight" thanks to Isagenix. I'm grateful for my family and friends who saw me through and picked up my slack. I'm grateful for my yoga students, who gave me a reason to get out of bed when I felt like I could have slept forever. And I am grateful that my own yoga mat was waiting for me when I was ready to unroll it again.

Onward to marathon training...two miles at a time.
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sometimes They Listen

Photo by Noah Hamilton
Photo by Noah Hamilton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last evening, after some small miracle occurred and a movie I chose made it to the top of our Netflix queue, we watched Soul Surfer. This movie is about Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who lost an arm to a shark then went on to compete as a professional surfer.

After Bethany did poorly at her first attempt at competing after losing her limb, she was surprised to get a bunch of fan mail. When she asked why, her wise movie-mother said "because you tried."

And my son, snuggled next to me on the couch, said, "and DNF is better than DNS."

My husband and my daughter both replied, "huh?" but I understood perfectly, because months ago, on Thanksgiving, when my son and I were running our own 5K turkey trot, I had said those very words to him. They're words I read often on the forums of the site that got me through my first triathlon. The phrase is one of those endurance athlete cliches.

Did not finish is better than did not start.

Sometimes things happen. We get injured, we lose a bike tire, we hit the wall. We might not finish. That's why every time I race, there's one line I strive to make it to - the starting line. After that everything's gravy. What matters is that I tried.

Racing, like yoga, teaches me lessons that apply very nicely to life. I try to share those lessons with my children. Most of the time I'm pretty sure they ignore me. But then there are moments, like the one last night, when they let me know that sometimes they listen.
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