Learning How To Find Stillness

Dancer PoseThis pose has always given me a sense of euphoria , and of flying.  This, unlike so many poses, I loved from the start of my yoga journey.  This pose makes me feel confident, capable, and ambitious.  It gives me the feeling that hard work will have amazing results.

Reverse Prayer Pose   When I first started my yoga journey my hands could not make complete contact in this pose, from palm to fingertip.

Classical Bound Headstand  Never in my life did I ever think I would be in a headstand, or any other inversion.  I reached classical bound headstand seven months into my yoga journey, blowing my own mind.  I take this pose just to enjoy the childhood glee it brings, or when I’m feeling anxious, or I’m looking to feel grounded.  This pose brings me calmness and returns me to a sense of myself.

Headstand Play  Lately I’ve started to play around some in the pose, and it’s been fun and frightening (in a good way!) all at once.

Bow Pose  This pose has always been, and still is, a challenge for me.  Both physically and mentally this pose brings up resistance for me.  I currently need to take a few calming breaths before kicking up into it, searching for the will, searching for the strength.  Me and this pose still have a lot of work to do together.

Side Plank  The first six months or so of my yoga journey found me hating this pose.  It was hard for my body at first and seemed very unavailable to me.  I wobbled a lot and constantly came out of it before grudgingly sliding back into it again.  That is no longer the case, and I’ve come to enjoy this pose and the sense of strength and control it gives me.

Upward Bow  Just like dancer pose, I’ve always enjoyed this pose.  I feel that this pose is a “yoga nemesis” for a lot of yoga-doers, but it’s never been for me.  I feel a sense of rush, joy, and excitement every time I push up into it.  It makes me feel happy, playful, free, and it gives me a lot of space in my imagination, as well as between my shoulder blades.

Sugar Cane  I’ve got a lot of work to do in this pose.  My hips are entirely in the wrong place, but this is a pose that I enjoy.  It makes me feel light, friendly, and playful.

Bird of Paradise  I got lazy with my shoulders when this was taken, but when I started my yoga journey I did not have a full bind.  My fingertips on each hand merely grazed each other, but over time they got closer and closer…until my hands clasped! A few months later I began being able to ground my back leg and swing up into this pose.  It still needs a lot of work, but even just being here is improvement, and this pose gives me a sense of joy and grace whenever I find it.

Standing Leg Raise

I did ballet for 13 years, yet I was never able to grab my foot and straighten my legs.  17 months of yoga has given me flexibility and strength I was convinced my body didn’t have in it.

Gorilla PoseWhen I first started my yoga journey my fingertips only just touched the ground on a forward fold. Now they can flatten all the way to the Earth, and I can even stand on my hands.  Forward folds are one of my very favorite asana practices in yoga.   They give me a sense of unloading, like a weight is dropping.  Off of my body, off of my mind, off of everything in my entire being.  When I take a forward fold, anxiety immediately quiets.  Depression starts to lift, the planet starts to feel more aligned.

Falling Out  Yoga is practice.  There are so many times I fall out of poses, and it’s okay.  In fact, it’s amazing every time.  We’ve got to fall and stumble until we get it right.  In our yoga practice, just like in life.

Bikram Yoga, Brunch, and A Bunch of Amazing Gifts

Yesterday my friend Elliot and I took a bikram yoga class and it kicked both our butts.  This was only my 5th or 6th bikram yoga class in 17 months that I’ve been doing yoga, but I have to say that I’m not a huge fan.  The 105 degrees is just so hot, and I just feel so drained and empty for the rest of the day.  Elliot and I were feeling quite drained when we left class so we stopped at a really cute place to grab brunch.

We talked about his love life, and his recent trip to Mexico, and all my adventures and journeys of wedding planning.  We caught up, and laughed, and had a grand time.  When we got back to his place he gave me an incredible gift.

He gave me a barely used massage table, all the accessories for it, a huge tub of lotion, two small lotion bottles, and a holster….completely free of charge! I tried to offer him money a few times, but he just wouldn’t take it.  All of these things he gave me are such an enormous gift.

He gave me tools to go out into the world with and make money with.  He’s given me opportunity and a way to do something I’ve wanted to do since I got my massage license.  (Three and a half years ago, so this is long overdue!)

Elliot, who reads this blog, thank you so much! You’ve made my weekend, and I’m so grateful and thankful for both your presence in my life and your generous heart.

Sophrosyne

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I’ve just recently come across this word, this way of life, this Greek Goddess.  It perfectly sums up why I roll out of bed at 7:00 AM twice a week and bow and greet the sun.  It’s the reason yoga allows me to become a better person, it’s that honest inward looking at oneself in order to reach peace and live contently and joyfully day to day.  I think achieving this is why so many people meditate, and go to therapy, and write blog entries to sort out what’s in their head.  It’s the drive and the inspiration, to acknowledge, admit, work through, and let go of things in order to truly know inner peace and true happiness.

Thankfulness

Thanksgiving 2014.  What I’m thankful for.

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I’m thankful for the abundance of family and friends in my life.  I’m thankful that I grew up comfortably, and that my parents never discouraged me thinking for myself.  I’m thankful that my parents paid for thirteen years of dance classes, and my first car, and that my Mom loaned me the money to go to massage school.  I’m thankful that my family accepts me as the loud, quirky lesbian that I am.IMG_3559
I’m thankful for my body and my health.  I’m grateful that I can take several yoga classes a week, massage full-time, and still feel energetic.  I’m grateful that I have two legs to walk on, I’m thankful for the air in my lungs.  I’m grateful for all the directions in which my spine can bend, I’m thankful that I love my body.Thanksgiving
I’m thankful that I’ve found love.  I’m thankful that Alana and I found each other on the vastness of the internet.  I’m thankful that we’re still happy as we go into our fourth year together, and I’m thankful that we’re paying for our own wedding, because that means that we’re comfortable and that we have everything we need.

IMG_3550I’m thankful for wine.  I’m thankful for Netflix.  I’m thankful that I’ve always known running water, electricity, and heat.

I’m thankful my Mom signed me up for driving school before I ever asked about it.  I’m thankful my Dad took all that time teaching me how to drive an automatic car, and then how to drive a stick shift six years later.  I’m grateful that my brothers played with me so much as I was growing up.

I’m thankful that kind souls exist, that belly laughs feel the way that they do, and I’m grateful that I’ve known so much love and laughter in my life.

I’m grateful for who I’m becoming.  I’m thankful for the internet.

I’m grateful that the world of blogging is a thing, and that I have some place to dump all of these thoughts and emotions.

Namaste, everyone.  I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving as well.

I’ve Finally Decided To Stop a Habit That Is No Longer Serving Me

I haven’t written in a while, but things have mostly been going extremely well.  Everything except one thing in my life has been close to perfect since October turned into November, and the weather has gotten colder.

This one thing has kind of been a “thing” for a while.  But I’ve been ignoring it, and coming up with excuses as to why I don’t need to change it.  It’s a habit, and something that I’ve done daily for some time now.  And, something that has no longer been serving me for a while, even though it use to bring me happiness in my past and serve me greatly.

So I decided yesterday that I was going to slow down/cut out this habit completely, so that I could feel good about everything in my life, and not just almost everything.

This morning was a little rough for me.  My body was sweating.  My mind was growing more and more anxious.  I didn’t feel good, and it was hard, and challenging, and I needed to throw myself into something.

So I got onto YouTube and watched yoga tutorial videos of how to get into crow pose, and then I went to my living room and proceeded to practice crow pose.  And then I started practicing tripod headstands, and then went onto practice my handstands and forearm balances.

For the first time ever today I took a tripod headstand.  I took several of them, and held them for long lengths of time.  I didn’t even know that I could do this pose.  Before today, I’ve only done classical bound headstand.

For the first time ever today I also held a few crow poses! I’ve never really been in that pose, not like I was today!

And it just all blew my mind! What I was capable of, and what my body was capable of, when I stopped a habit that was no longer serving me and threw myself into something that serves me greatly (my yoga practice.)

After close to an hour of practicing these inversions my body was no longer sweating and shaking.  My head felt clearer.  My heart was pumping, and I felt great.  Ecstatic.  Proud.  More confident

So I decided to continue this trend and head to a yoga class that I’ve been putting off going to for over a month because I’ve been too busy lazing around at home and feeding my habit.

I invited a yogi friend to go with me, and I’m so glad that I did.  I told him in the car about my addiction, about my weening, and about how it’s no longer serving me.  Sometimes just talking with someone, and getting the words out, and getting it all out into the universe helps.  It definitely helped tonight, and taking that yoga class tonight cleared my head even further.

Now I can say that I’m finally working with crow pose.  Now I can say that I can do two types of headstands instead of one. Now I’ve just spent a day doing great things with my body and my mind, instead of curled up on my couch in the fetal position crying, sweating, and shaking.

Wow.   What a beautiful day this turned out to be.

Thank you for reading if you read to the end, but I needed to get that all out.  I need to get this habit, this dependency, out of my system, but I’ve got a strong headstart on it by making some good choices today.

What Happens When I Go A Week Or Longer Without Taking a Yoga Class

I haven’t taken a yoga class in ten days.  I’m going to take one tomorrow morning before work,  and it can’t come soon enough.

My yoga journey started thirteen months ago, and within those thirteen months I’ve definitely noticed patterns.  One of the biggest patters I’ve noticed is how terrible I start to feel on the rare occasions when I go a week or longer without taking a yoga class.

So I’m going to use this blog and write out a list of just how unbalanced and icky I start to feel when I’ve gone a week without breathing through my thighs, bending, and twisting.

  When I go a week or longer without taking a yoga class:

  1.  I start to lose the huge sense of gratefulness and thankfulness that yoga teaches and gives to me.  I’m not saying that I become completely ungrateful, but the level of gratitude and overall thankfulness that I have for my life, my friends, my car, etc, starts to diminish.  Because of this, the mundanity of life starts to become more apparent.  The reality of things like constantly paying bills and working for forty to fifty years starts to cave in more.
  2.   I start to feel more sluggish, more sleepy, and my digestion slows down.    Yoga wakes me up, it wakes my mind up.  I feel the most rested, energetic, and high-spirited on the weeks that I take two or more yoga classes.  Yoga improves my sleep, and the constant twisting and rinsing of the digestive muscles allows for optimal digestion.  My practice gives me a sense of euphoria and accomplishment, giving me the feeling of a “natural high”, and chasing away both fatigue and sleepiness from my mind and body.
  3. I start to become less honest with myself.  My yoga practice gives me myself.  I can’t hide from myself in certain yoga poses.  My practice inspires me to be honest with myself, and to recognize the negative feelings, thoughts, and emotions tucked away into the crevices of my mind.  When I go a week or longer without taking a yoga class I’ve noticed that I’m less likely to admit to myself when I’m feeling negative, undesirable emotions such as fear, jealousy, frustration, and bitterness.   I lie to myself, I make excuses to and for myself.  I feel less genuine, less authentic, and this shows up everywhere, such as in my work, in my thoughts, and in my reactions to things and people.
  4. I don’t feel as calm, cool, and collected.  I become frustrated more easily.  I’m more likely to get into tiffs or arguments.  I second guess myself more, and I start to become more aware of others judgements of me.  I sometimes feel less connected to the people around me.  I become more impatient with ordinary things, such as traffic and long lines.  I stay upset about things longer, and I’m not able to “let go” and move on from a frustrating situation or annoyance as quickly.
  5. I don’t feel as plugged into the Earth, as present, and as grounded.  I start lose the ache of ab muscle or the feeling of tight hamstrings and quads being stretched out through asana.  I’m less aware of the breath in my lungs, and the aches and cues that my body gives me to signal when it’s in want or need of something.  I type on my phone more and listen to the conversation around me less.  I lose the amazing anatomically corrected-ness feeling that yoga gives me, of my tailbone being tucked and my shoulders sitting perfectly on top of my hips.  I’m more likely to withdraw and to not reach out to people.  I start to think about myself and my problems more, and less of (the problems of) the world around me.

All of this being said, when my alarm goes off at 7:00 tomorrow morning I’m making a straight beeline for the shower.  I’m ready to unroll my mat.  I’m ready to spread my toes and plug my hands into the Earth.

I shudder to think about where my life would be if I hadn’t found yoga thirteen months ago.  I know that both my life and I would be in a very different place right now.

Namaste.