Lighten Up!

It feels like everything is lightening up; colors, jackets, the evening hours. Yet, I still feel some lingering heaviness from the winter. Too many Sunday night lasagnas followed by a stretch of Hallmark holidays, and yes, my basket was filled with delicious Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs this month, delicious! So while one hand is picking fresh asparagus from the market, the other one is still stuck in the cookie jar.

I have noticed my eating habits spinning wildly out of control before and responded immediately by repeating, “I should cleanse. I should cleanse. I should really cleanse.” Friends had done it, so why couldn’t I? The biggest indulgers of burgers, fries, and beer were the same ones who wholeheartedly drank water with maple syrup and lemon juice. But I was afraid. What would I do on my walk home if I wasn’t scarfing down a box of chocolate chip cookies or cheddar cheese crackers after a long day? How would I survive?

With a some research, and a dash of procrastination, I evaluated the menu, then the schedule, and finally the cost of the top cleanses out there. I decided and committed! To do your own research, check out everydayhealth.  Soon, I’ll share the physical, mental, and emotional results of this very intense emotional effort to redefine my relationship to food. Sorry Brent and Sam, we might be taking a break. It’s not you, it’s me. I need to see some other food groups and decide if vegetables and I have a better future together. You weren’t just a fling, or a one night walk through the park. You were special, and my love handles will remember you, but hopefully, not for long.

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The Root Canal of Yoga

Each time I enter a hip opening pose, I am shocked to find myself stiff and inflexible. I’ve always thought of myself as loose-hipped, but maybe it was loose-lipped.

It is very possible my psoas and Iliotibial (it) band are partners in a life long battle to keep my legs straight and narrow, despite constantly being told my ankles are “collapsing”, whatever that means. As I type, sitting down, I can feel the tightness in my outer knee causing a sensation, which really means tremendous pain, surging from my waist down. This is a result of an intense Yin Yoga class that embarked on such postures as pigeon, ankle to knee, and frog. Or as I like to call them, the “root canal of yoga.”

Unquestionably the only thing to do today is stay in down dog for the better part of an hour, run on the treadmill, sit in a sauna or get massage. I would like to skip the eight hours waiting for me of sitting in a chair, at a computer, and get all of the above accomplished. Instead, I might just have to do my conference call with my legs up the wall. If I close my door, who will ever know? I might also start taking my meetings on the floor in ankle to knee, just to begin the long journey ahead of  hip opening. At least during a root canal, there’s novocaine.

Me Again

Perhaps I haven’t written because, honestly, there hasn’t been any ‘balance in the city’. I’ve been traveling for work, exercising only when I change my clothes, and teaching (not yoga) how to transfer text from microsoft project, into excel, then to word, and finally into ppt. Yes, dear ones, that is, or dare I say, was my existence.

In the past week, I have been realigning my priorities, trying new things, and being honest with myself about my faults. New things: an interestingly painful Yin Yoga class, a week long juice cleanse (Day 2!), my re-found understanding of headstand. A fault: I have commitment issues. for things that don’t come easy to me.

Needless to say, I’m excited about this direction if for nothing else it bring my fingers back to the keyboard to type these thoughts and send them out there into the universe.

Talk soon!

Back on the Horse

It’s hard to believe that more than a month has passed since last I wrote, but a second trip to LA followed by a two week cold left me disconnected from my body and the yogic world. Teaching for the first time in weeks felt hypocritical, as I had been an absent student. There was a sense of guilt, that I would be betraying my students, and so I took the first one I could find.

It was rough riding. I was seriously surprised how hard it was to stay in down dog. My wrists were aligned properly but watched in awe as the knuckles grew whiter and whiter. My shoulders tired quickly and my hips seemed stuck in place. Postures that were so simple and easy now required a tremendous amount of effort. I had also strangely forgotten my right and left. Teachers, myself included, often assume that students know these things but there is so much detail is these classes, inner ankle, outer ankle, head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes. I left class feeling physically and emotionally exhausted.

My guilt had turned into humility shared with a sense of wonder. It seems somewhere along we the way we are told to be on some path, a path that should be followed and any imperfections along the way: potholes, roadblocks, detours – are failures.

As a yoga teacher, I often put pressure on myself to also be a student and take class as often as possible, afraid that I would not continue my development as a student or teacher. But these last few weeks, haven’t been lost as I was still on the path, just a different one. In every one of the three classes I taught today, we focused on paying attention to where we are now. If we don’t know where we start from, how will we know where we are going, or ever be able to look back and know where we’ve been?

Forced Hiatus

Spring temperatures seem delayed but the work of the season is full steam ahead. I was forced to take a yoga hiatus when traveling to LA last week for work and silly enough to think I could take a class or two while working 14 hour days.

Unfortunately, I have only been to one class in what seems like forever, and have a discouraging pair of sore hamstrings to show for it. I’m desperate to enter into a yoga solace and take a class every day. Why does yoga seem to be the first thing to go when life gets busy?

I am reaching out for guidance to cultivate my home practice. It feels, though, without the presence of a teacher or access to the props, the risk of disappointment is too great to try. Perhaps the approach is to start small. A few minutes of meditation and a couple sun salutations. The challenge is just doing it, not a fancy pose or sequence. Of course, the challenge is also making sure my lovely cat doesn’t interrupt savasana or that I actually wake up, again, without the presence of a bell.

Sunrise, Sunrise

Time crept an hour forward last weekend, and life barely seemed to have missed a beat. Monday morning arrived, and the L subway train still ran with delays. There is, however, a general feeling there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Temperatures are expected to climb to the sixties on Thursday, and I am looking forward to tossing gloves on the kitchen table.

In the city, these longer and warmer days often lend themselves to more happy hours and later dinners. Perhaps there is also an opportunity to add a morning yoga class to the new schedule. Most studios offer a class before 10 am, and there are notable advantages to practicing in the morning. Classes are less crowded, and teachers have the chance to provide more detailed attention. Our selves have rejuvenated during the night, so challenging poses, like inversions, may be easier at 8am than they would after a long day of work. Starting the day with some physical activity will jump start the daily calorie burn and likely result in a healthy choices throughout the day. Perhaps a skinny margarita is on deck for happy hour, because after all,  beach season isn’t really that far away. Check out your studio’s schedule and try one morning class weekly, for one month. You may also find that surya namaskars take on a new meaning when practicing with the sun.

You Got to Work Hard

 

As a type A New Yorker, I am often challenged with balancing work and play. Even in my yoga practice, I catch myself pushing too hard in simple poses. Some of us are driven by accomplishment and without a real goal in yoga, we tend to set benchmarks (i.e. how long can we stay up in headstand or how far can we twist). If there is any such goal in yoga, it’s to find union between mind and body. But how can we find internal harmony if we are always looking externally for the finish line?

Try to focus on the play, not the work. Starting practice with kapalabatti can clear the body of stale breath and lingering thoughts. Ending with meditation can help transition from the mat into the real world. Let’s all remember that practicing yoga is an amazing effort. That many never try to touch their toes or stand on their hands. Be brave. Be fearless. Like the children we once were who ran down hills and jumped on beds, never risking more than a skinned knee. As we grow older, our knees have become only pride. At least in yoga, we have a mat to soften our fall.



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