Yoga Makes You Well
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|Posted on August 28, 2014 at 9:40 PM||comments (27)|
I have been noticing the ways in my life I have become more reliable since starting yoga. I notice emotionally I am more available and vulnerable. I notice I am better able to keep a steady pace with the rhythm of my life, instead of rushing around all the time as I did for years. And I notice that I find it easier to be creative.
I spend a little bit of time every day writing or taking pictures or making something. Mostly for me it is writing. Sometimes it is just cooking and nothing else. Or designing a yoga class around a particular need in someone's body or around a theme in yogic philosophy.
I think as I become more balanced, I am not so overwhelmed by all the things happening around me and outside me. I find I can listen to and notice the things happening inside me. I write about them.
One noted author I read said that the best way to become a writer is to read everything and to write a little every day. I believe in the every day habits. The things we do every day or almost every day become our lives. They are the things we build ourselves from. Brush teeth, eat breakfast, talk with a friend. That is a pretty good start on a pretty good life. Now add some artistic expression into it.
Many artists are very passionate about their work, showing up to work on it whenever inspiration strikes for days on end with no sleep and no routine. And that makes sense. But the days lost, weeks lost, years and then decades lost as an artist waits for inspiration to strike cannot be redone. Those are years of artistic fields lying fallow.
I think yoga is an excellent therapy for life because its wisdom is so simple and so practical. With yoga, the idea is to do some yoga every day. For a lifetime. What happens when we do a little artistic expression every day?
"That practice is indeed firmly grounded when it is pursued incessantly, with reverence, for a long time." Yoga Sutras I:14
|Posted on July 30, 2014 at 12:37 AM||comments (45)|
I have been told I am a very practical person. It is true. I usually ask myself if something could work and how. This is one reason I love yoga. It is so practical. Just a study of how the body moves and how to make it move more easily. That has practical applications for everything from sports to breathing.
Since I am so practical, I like making things solid. I have been in the habit of making New Year's Resolutions each year for a few years and putting them up on the wall to see them and read them and keep them in my mind. This helps because when I see them, then I think of them when I get opportunities. If my resolution is to learn a computer program and then I see a training for that program offered on a big discount, well, then I buy that training.
Last year I decided to do a little more formal study of trees to learn about them and be more ecologically literate. I also wanted to meet people who volunteer. Trees Atlanta is a community program here in the city that plants lots of trees all over the place to try to keep the air quality breathable and the erosion at a minimum. They offered a program to study trees for a couple of months on Saturdays and then do some volunteer hours and become a "Certified Tree Keeper" and get my Tree Keeper's hat.
I took the classes. Then I asked how to volunteer "in a leadership role", as they specified. They did not have a clear way to do that. Which meant that the leadership service hours were never going to be gotten and that I would not be able to complete my training (I hear Yoda telling Luke, "You must complete your training!"). I felt bereft. I had no idea how to become a certified tree keeper.
Which meant that I would not get my hat. I don't ever wear hats. It is funny how much I wanted that hat. I had no idea how to get it. No clear path. If I even could figure out how to volunteer in a leadership role (some vague leadership role), I work most times they plant with volunteers.
I found myself at a loss.
So it was time to make New Year's Resolutions and I decided that I would make getting my Tree Keeper's hat one of the resolutions on my list.
I typed up two pages of these resolutions. Very practical things. Cook for myself at least once a week. Attend yoga class at least twice a week. Get my Tree Keeper's hat.
After four months, I still had no idea how to get my Tree Keeper's hat. I would read that resolution and think, "but how?"
But then, in the fifth month of the year, I got an email. Trees Atlanta had a project they needed lots of data collectors to do. It would be more training hours and it would be lots of field work. And it would bring me my Tree Keeper's hat.
I got my hat today. I am a certified tree keeper. Check.
|Posted on July 27, 2014 at 11:15 PM||comments (27)|
This weekend I went for a weekend of study of yoga for pregnancy. This was one of the required courses that I must take toward my advanced certification in yoga teaching.
We had 28 women in the class and all wore pillows and specially designed pregnant bellies and practiced yoga together, learning modifications and precautions for pregnant women doing yoga.
Our teacher had just had a baby 6 months ago and was still very much processing that experience. She shared how she had problems with feeling badly during pregnancy, with the birth itself, with healing, emotionally from imbalanced hormones, and with pain during breastfeeding.
One woman in the class had had two children many years before and was very pro-birth. She offered another perspective, but then she went so far as to say she was afraid that the teacher sharing the negatives of her experience would scare some women off from ever having their own kids.
It sat with me wrong that this woman who had just been through a rough time was shamed and silenced in a room full of women as she shared her traumatic experience.
Birth is so revered. Everyone reinforces this "but you are very happy about your baby" to every new mama who is really in a very precarious state. Nobody has room for the mama to be anything but thrilled about being a mom. Forget that she is exhausted, perhaps bewildered about how to care for a baby, maybe without support emotionally or financially. She is just thrilled about having this baby. No one wants to hear anything different.
I think it is time that women stop being silenced and shamed for being human. Some women have a great situation and have an easy time giving birth and breastfeeding and all that. And some don't. I want to hear them all tell their stories. Once we tell our stories, they can begin to transform into more empowered stories. But if we feel like we are never supposed to speak about how our experiences really felt, then we stay stuck in the fear or the pain or the shock or whatever. There is a saying in bodywork: "if you can feel it, then you can heal it".
One of the things I really want to see come about on this planet is that women have a safe space to just be. Women are threatened and used and objectified and made to feel afraid and inferior from day one. It is a vulnerable thing to be, to be a woman. But there is great strength in femininity. An endurance kind of strength.
It takes a great deal of power to build and create. It does not take a great deal of power to tear down and destroy. Women are the embodiment of building, creative power.
|Posted on July 23, 2014 at 10:55 PM||comments (25)|
One thing I love about yoga and meditation is how wonderful their traditions are around learning to be intentional in life. I have learned so much in these past four and a half years since I started making yoga and meditation big parts of my life.
I think it is good to have a mission statement. It makes the journey easier to navigate. It is so easy to lose our way on earth. We all make missteps. We all take wrong turns. But when there is a mission statement, it is easy to refer to it and ask, "Is this furthering my mission?"
My mission as a yogi is to become balanced. I believe in finding the middle path. I am a person who can enjoy extremes. I like adventure and excitement. But a life of thrill seeking leads to over worked adrenal glands and an agitated mind. Adrenals make cortisol which makes belly fat (not to mention disease). And of course, thrill seeking leads to big highs and big lows that are both dangerous.
The middle path, on the other hand, is not very exciting. It is often humdrum. Plodding. Unlikely to get anyone too excited. "Living the dream", as I like to say, is all about going to work, doing yoga, studying yoga, volunteering, getting to know my family and friends, learning about trees, saving for retirement, taking good care of my teeth, improving my relationships and building my compassion.
This is something I am discovering for myself at a late date in my life: intentional living is sexy. What I once thought was "cool" and what I really think is cool now are such different things. Slow and steady wins the race.
|Posted on July 19, 2014 at 10:04 PM||comments (17)|
The second weekend of study for the advanced yoga teacher certification I am pursuing is coming up. I am excited about it, as I was about the first weekend. I found that I was really disappointed after the weekend last time. But as I have digested the experience and I have done the assigned homework, I have benefited a great deal from having attended.
I wonder about prolonged study. When I went through university at UGA and got my degree in English Literature, I remember thinking it was a formal system to study something over a long period of time and get a piece of paper that says that I did. I learned many things along the way; but what was I supposed to learn? Did it relate to what I wound up learning?
I find myself wondering these same things as I pursue this study of yoga. Am I getting the point? Am I growing as a yoga teacher?
In some ways, I think formal education is a way to take money from people and give them some letters behind their names. In other ways, I see the value of it. I think it is what we make of it. If I really show up and learn about yoga, I will grow as a yoga teacher. But if I just pay the money and go to class, I will just be certified. I guess it is my effort that makes the difference.
|Posted on July 10, 2014 at 9:59 PM||comments (19)|
One of my favorite things about teaching yoga is getting to know such a great community of other yoga teachers. Today's guest post is from a wonderful, magical yoga teacher and Reiki (energy work) healer. Thiery is wise and kind and teaches a gentle yoga class that has some transformative powers! She also teaches Reiki and she would be a great person to learn it from. Aside from all that, she is funny. Read on. You'll see.
(Contact Thiery Goodman at <[email protected]> for her Reiki or yoga classes or sessions.)
In anticipation of the arrival of my son George & his rescue dog Betty, I wonder what new tricks Betty might surprise me with during her 14 day visit. George will travel to a North GA wedding & then on to Thailand. So far Betty has chewed up 2 dog beds of Leah's, a rocking chair cushion- both sides, & a throw rug. She scratched a gouge out of my expensive chef's mat. She peed on my yoga mat several times and pooped on a student's yoga mat (Yikes !). She's peed, pooped & puked several times on the only carpet I have. But those are not her most challenging traits which include being able to transform into Houdini or alternatively Taz in an instant.
I have to walk her with 3 leashes- one on her collar, one around her muzzle and one connected to her harness. Needless to say, I can't walk Betty & Leah by myself.
For reasons known only to her, Betty will turn into a Tasmanian devil (usually there's a motorcycle or another dog involved, but not necessarily) and free herself of all encumbrances and act as though she will tear you up. She is equally adept at finding her way out of the backyard fence.
Do you think she comes when I call ? No, she does not. And since I have no hope of catching her by myself it will involve at least 3 of my hapless neighbors to do so. She deservedly earned a reputation after being here only a week. Over the years Betty nonetheless has endeared all (well mostly) who meet her. And to give her & George credit, she has calmed & is better behaved overall.
What Betty has that all of us could benefit from, is a happy face and disposition.
She exudes joy & looks at you with eyes that say she knows something wonderful is about to happen. So much so that you feel compelled to make it so. Even when I have to put her in Pratyahara (yogic term of removal of the senses) which for her means a room with curtains drawn & a fan on so she can't see or hear so that I can conduct a class (she's still learning her yoga manners)- afterwards she exits with no hard feelings and ready for the next great thing.
If I feel so compelled to fill her expectations- what of the Energies that watch after us ?
Will They feel compelled to make it so in our behalf ?
Just in case, I think tomorrow I will rise, look up with a smile & say " I wonder what wonderful thing is going to happen today ! "
|Posted on June 1, 2014 at 10:59 PM||comments (23)|
This day had some nice parts to it. I talked before about my chart with the Y for yoga and the M for meditation. I have been working diligently to get those letters most days. I spend fifteen minutes sometime in the day in meditation and I attend a yoga class most days of the week. One unintended benefit of this more rigorous yoga practice is that I got an invitation from a cool yogi friend out to brunch today.
One of the reasons I try to put myself into healthy situations and do healthy things is that I meet others who are doing the same thing. Then those are the people who become my friends. I set myself up for healthy relationships by doing healthy things.
I went to brunch with my friend and it was delicious and I felt inspired and connected to someone who I think is a really good person. Big positive. And were it not for the chart on the door of my closet, I would have probably slept in this Sunday morning.
|Posted on January 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM||comments (17)|
It has been a long time since my last post to this blog. Sorry. Life gets wild from time to time. It is 2014 and time for a new post
I wrote my resolutions last year on a piece of card stock and labeled them "2013" and drew a heart on the list and put them up on the wall. I looked at that list every day when I woke up and when I went to bed. It helped a lot. I spent the year sober and I felt things much more intensely than before, so having that list looking at me every day helped me remember where I was going.
This year I made a new list. It is populated by some very concrete things. Cook more. Learn to cook better, Start the process of becoming certified to teach yoga at the next level (500 hours). Take several vacations. Automate some of my income. Get my teeth fixed up nice. Kiss some people.
I am going to draw this list out by hand and put it up on the wall just like before. But this one will be illustrated.
Here is to 2014. Seems like a practical year.