Relocation Frustration aka Moving Yoga

moving truck backs

I had this plan that I would smoothly transition from my old place to my new place.

Ha. Cue raucous laugh track.

My move was more than just a new place to sleep. It was symbolic of a new life. Though I’ve been teaching yoga and working on a business plan to be a yoga entrepreneur, the new home would make it official.

At least it would feel that way. I began this blog to document my new start, and this relocation seemed like just that.

In my head everything was timed like clockwork.  The movers would come- I’d cheerfully direct them! They’d laugh. I’d laugh- we’d do a few yoga moves in my empty living room. After namastes all around they would declare that this was the most tranquil move they ever did.

Ah- but life had other plans. It was a mess.

A bloody diasaster. And not in a cute British accent way. I’m talking real f@cking horror show. At least it felt like that in the moment. I could hear people screaming out like the aliens had arrived. Flames were shooting up from manholes, the masses were running for cover declaring that this was indeed the end of the world.

Well, that’s what it felt like.

The whole delay was a few hours. It felt much longer, mostly because of me and the gravity I gave the situation.

We all do that I guess, make things more important than they are. A minor impasse is distorted to mountain-sized road block.

This happens with poses. A point of resistance becomes a place where push happens. A more effective response is to breathe. This allows for release. I can feel it now even as I type- I feel a space where it seems like I can’t get deeper and after a few deep breathes my entire body falls into place.

On my mat I know this is how it works.

Off my mat, I need reminders.

I didn’t deal as effectively as I would have liked.

As I watched my things file out of the old space, I was happy.

After every storm the sun comes out. Nothing is forever. This too shall pass etc… etc..

More importantly though, I realize now that nothing is that critical. Because in comparison with the age of the universe, we are only here for a second.

And I, just like the stress that seemed so finite and so lasting is temporary.

My next part of the chapter awaits.

 

Namaste y’all.

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Adventures in Yoga – Trust Me and Surrender

yogastudio

I talk a lot about  the idea of letting go.

And the truth is I really mean what I say, but saying it over and over again can sound at best repetitive and at worst, disingenuous.

It got me to thinking- what do I really mean when I say let go? Do I mean that or am I trying to say something else?

Hmmm….

Let go…

At first, I think I meant letting go of control.

Last week, I found my deepest expression of ustrasana.

Oddly enough it was on a day that I didn’t feel particularly inspired to practice. In fact, I had to really slap myself around to get motivated.

I had spent a few days out of town and was beat. Every step toward the studio made me feel more put out than the previous one. I was rolling my eyes at myself (useless really…who loses when that happens? Silly rabbit) as I swiped my card to get on the train.

With headphones on and Esthero blaring the two sides of myself battled.

Can’t move on
But I can’t go home
And I’m not so strong
But I make my way
To the place I know
Inside my heart
Where I used to go
To get brave and
I don’t wanna be lost anymore

Hurumph. I’m tired. (Just shut up and go to class. You’ll be so happy when you get there)

Who needs class? Not me. (Yes you do, when you don’t want to go is when you most need your mat) 

Alas, the smarter side of me won. I got to class.

When I sat on my mat in the darkness I realized I had no fight in me. Maybe it was being tired from travel. Maybe it was lack of sleep. But I was able to turn myself over to my practice.

It was in a word, magnificent.

And while I found my new expression of ustrasana, I was more elated about my discovery.

It’s not about control. It’s about trust. 

I surrendered my body and breath to the pose. I didn’t let go with a ‘what if’ I can’t do it. With my chest lifted and hips moving slightly forward I bent backwards. There was no worry about whether I could. There wasn’t baggage about the last time I tried. Maybe it was because my brain was fried I wasn’t screwing around in my head.

There is a difference between letting go and complete surrender. Well there is for me.

The act of letting go doesn’t implies trust but doesn’t require it.

I can let go and stay in my skeptical shoes, but when I surrender it means that I’m turning myself over.

And that’s where trust comes in.

I’ll just say it- this is a big deal for me. The whys of this story aren’t as interesting as the now.

Yoga builds trust. It builds trust between your body and breath. Each complimenting each other working in unison to create harmony.

Yoga builds trust between me and the world. With a better breath my heart expands and with that I let more and more in.

This is yoga, and I surrender.

Namaste y’all.

oneika stripes

Why So Serious? Maintaining Joy in Your Practice

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A few days ago a teacher encouraged me to come to class two days per week with nothing but a mindset of letting go.

I’m thinking too much.
I’ll wait for the shock and awe to sink in.

*crickets*

This is what good teachers do.

They see you.

They watch.

They give good advice.

My over correction issue seems to be getting the best of me.

I may be a little hooked when it comes to letting go.

My backbends are where it’s most obvious.

The good ole heart chakra. I wonder if I have lingering trust issues that are keeping me from falling back. Not relationship kind of stuff, but the trust that comes from making big life changes. Falling into my yoga completely means the letting go of my old life. Am I trying to straddle two worlds? This would explain why my hamstrings have been freaking killing me.

I kid. But for real- there’s some truth here. I have to leap. I have to trust.

I’m resourceful.

I work really hard.

If anyone can make this work- I’d say that I’m probably a good candidate.

Am I keeping all of this fear in my backbend?

Seems crazy- but since I’m writing about it, uh- there’s a good chance that it is so…

Back to the studio…

A deal was struck. Two days weekly I come to class just for fun.

You might infer that I’m waaay too intense on other days, so let me clarify.

There will always be a side of me that is like Alice through the looking glass. My curiosity is infused with tapas. So my fire to learn can burn a bit too brightly.

Striking this balance is just what I need.

This morning I showed up at the 10am. I’ve never been to the Saturday morning class.

Just what the doctor ordered.

I just chilled. I smiled a lot.

It was dare I say, fun.

Disclaimer- I thought about taking the next class thinking maybe I needed a little more.

But I didn’t. Huzzah! Progress.

I was walking to the subway when I saw the teacher who gave me the advice. We said hi like passing ships and I shouted, ‘Hey! I had fun in class today! ‘

She replied, ‘Best news I heard all day!!! I’m so glad.’

Exhale.

Have a great weekend everyone.

This is yoga.

Namaste y’all.

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What I Learned from 108 Days of Yoga

magiczone

Here is a list of the things I had done for more than 108 days in a row:

1. Smoke
2. Quit smoking
3. Breathe
4. Eat
5. Sleep

It’s not a very impressive list.

I didn’t intend to do 108 days of yoga. It was something that I had planned for later in the year. But we never get to plan our greatest lessons.

After doing 45 days of hot and vinyasa I decided to keep going. So overwhelming was the thought, I wasn’t ready to get into the details. It was more personal than I anticipated.

Now that I’m done and have taken some time to reflect, I may have learned a little somethin’.

1. Flexibility

I’m a reformed partially reformed control freak. When things go as I plan, I’m okay. When I expect things to go awry, I’m also okay. But when things go okay and I expect awry, I’ve been known to fuck bring unnecessary chaos where it wasn’t needed. When things go awry and I expect okay I can also get a bit stubborn. While my body is flexy, not all of me is always so willing to stretch.

Work in progress…

I got sick during my 108 days. Panic set in- all I could think of was missing a practice. Fortunately, I’m not all crazy, so there was a side of me that said chill out.

What is yoga anyway? It’s a uniting of body and breath. Maybe your yoga is to do a few restorative poses that foster healing instead of going balls to the wall in 105° heat. This thought didn’t come until after I had practiced two days with no voice in the heat, but like I said I’m a work on progress.

Change happens- it’s the one thing I can count on. 108 days taught me that I can always breathe through it.

Learning to breathe cultivated my flexibility more than any asana.

2. Commitment/Trust

I may or may not be known to twitch just a smidge when it comes to commitment. We all have out shit. This is mine.

But when you show up every single day for 108 days, you learn to trust the process. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen at the end.

Maybe nothing.

Maybe everything.

Regardless, I wanted to see it through. On the days that I really didn’t want to go, I learned the most. There were also days that when I hit my mat and felt like a rock star, only to be humbled, a crumbled sweaty mess.

But fall down seven times, stand up 8.

3. Peace

Say hey, doing 108 days of yoga is a row is hard. But, I did it. The act of practicing daily became meditative, down to the way that I prepared my yoga bag the night before. There was a sense of calm that I took with me once I left my mat.
I think I’m most grateful for this.

I realize that while coming to my mat each day is pretty much given- what will happen in that moment is unknown. That is a little scary. And a lot of fun. But no matter what, I can be with whatever happens.

This is yoga for 108 days and beyond.

Namaste y’all.

Evolution Revolution aka Birthday Yoga

Evolving

I’m a May baby.

It’s hard not to get reflective around your birthday. On Friday I was walking to class listening to Badu’s Window Seat. This doesn’t make the day unique, I listen to this song a ton, but the weather was finally May warm. Everyone seemed to be rockin’ a lil bit of swag in their steps. It’s awesome when people around you unknowingly are cast in your real life music video.

I love everything about Erykah Badu. She seems to live her life eloquently out loud.

A smile crept on my face…Can I get a window seat, nobody next to me…

I resisted the urge to strip as I walked down Newark Avenue. I was feeling pretty  absolutely great.

I’ve read about women truly becoming who they are when they turn 40, but I was in my 30’s so of course I thought it was utter bullshit.

What we don’t plan for when we are young is our constant evolution as people. I’ve changed so much over the years, each year coming closer to what I believe is my most authentic self.

As birthday 42  up, I realize that I couldn’t be more complete. It’s quite a revelation because for so many years I was always searching.

Searching for the perfect job, partner, weight, look, hair etc…

But as I walked in that warm sunshine, I was exactly where I wanted to be literally and metaphorically.

Ooh-ra.

At first glance it might seem like it’s because of my yoga practice.

To say I’ve met some incredible people because of my yoga journey is an understatement. Yoga people are my people, it’s all good in the hood ( as the kids used to say).

But that’s not the source of my peace.

You might think it’s my physical practice. I’m strong again. I love it. There is a joy my body feels because I practice a few hours each day.

But that’s not the source of the peace either.

As my 108 days of yoga comes to a close I realize that yoga brought me close to me. No matter if you are single or married with 10 kids loving others begins with loving yourself.

My love for self goes beyond the regular self-love that I discovered in my 30’s.

It’s the kind of love that comes with unapologetic acceptance of every inch of your body and soul. I love the good in me. I love the stuff that makes me icky.

And living yoga helps me move closer to a place where it’s all okay.

This is yoga and it’s always evolving, just like me.

Namaste y’all.

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Be Where You Are, When You Are

Budha in Garden

“You’re running and you’re running and you’re running away. You’re running and running but you can’t run away from yourself.”

– Bob Marley

I checked out during my hot class. It happens, I’m human.

The slip took place in between poses. The ‘in between’ is a big part of my yoga.

Am I moving mindfully as I transition? Or do I wander somewhere? In the instance mentioned above, go somewhere I did. I wasn’t where I went that mattered. The issue was leaving.

It’s almost too easy to run away. When the going gets tough, ducking out seems like the best option.

In a real or perceived crisis making my exit and kissing it all goodbye seems better than what I used to do- which is fight. Meeting obstacle with obstacle.

Also not a good plan.

There’s middle ground. It’s not all or nothing.
But what would happen if instead of checking out, I checked in? Instead of meeting the heat with a brute force attitude. What if I just hung with it for a sec?

It was only an instant but I came back to the heat. It wasn’t as bad as I had initially thought.

As if she was in my head the teacher started talking about a cabbie who’s sage advice was to be where you are when you are.

I wanted to get up and leave class- not because it was hot, but because that was the answer to the question I didn’t know I was asking.

Un. Freaking. Believable.

Have you had those kinds of moment on your mat?

I checked back in.

Leaving is never the answer.

Deal with being uncomfortable.

Things are never as bad as they seem if you stay.

In fact, things can only get better.

This is yoga and it’s always there for you. So stay.

Namaste y’all.

It’s Not the Size of the Pose but the Motion of Your Flow

mudra white outfit

I love Friday night yoga. The vibe is mellow. The playlist always has a moody, sleepy, sexy feel. I may have made up the sexy part, I’m projecting.

Whatever.

It’s also a hot class. Vinyasa in a heated room on a Friday night. So yeah- it is sort of sexy. Scratch my previous apology.

Last night the focus was about alignment and looking inward to find a deeper expression of a pose.

Juicy stuff.

My stance was wide in my warrior and I felt like I could float up and root down as I tried not to make my head bop too much to Alana Davis and Queen Badu. But damn, music can provide that little shift that changes my head space. It gets me all up inside a pose. Tickling it from the outside in while my breath zigs and zags magically and collides with my heart.

Sometimes class is that good.

Sometimes it’s just cool to fcuking groove on your mat.

Yaknowwhatimsayin’

What a way to end the week.

Because Daba was teaching, I knew I’d be in for some aha moment- it was just a matter of when.

It came after a focused standing series. We transitioned to the floor and did a hand workout.

Hand relevés and finger splits.

By mindfully stretching the fingers and shifting weight to the fingers I was able to take adho mukha svanasana to another place. By rooting my hands into the mat, my hips felt like they could reach up to the ceiling while my booty headed to the back windows…

I know, right?! There’s such a thing.

Will I ever stopped being amazed by discoveries in yoga? I hope not.

Subtle but powerful movements make the difference both on and off the mat.

This is yoga, providing tiny movements and big changes.

Namaste y’all.

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Adventures in Yoga Teaching- Back on Track

yogatraintracks

Friday was beautiful round these parts.

I was strolling home from my community class taking in the sights when I bumped into Daba Briggs, one of my yoga inspirations.

Daba is the kind of teacher the imagination conjures when you hear the words ‘yoga teacher’. She’s knowledgable, humble, talented, giving and powerful.

My mind always get to mull over a nugget of wisdom when I talk to her. On this sunny Friday, we chatted about how my new teaching journey was progressing.

I’m not ready to pursue the next yoga education (formerly) yet. But I’ve been craving- something. So I’ve been reading a lot. I blurted out my concerns, am I moving in the right direction? I feel like I want to fill in some gaps…Am I doing the right things? 

Keep taking classes, teaching classes and exploring self-study she advised. As I meet teachers and go to studios, I’ll know when the right mentor and  teacher training will present themselves.

Daba also mentioned a few studios that offer great classes for teachers. She reminded me that I can always take her classes when I can.

I’d gotten so caught up in my hot yoga practice and trying new disciplines that I’d strayed a bit from the basics. A good practice starts with a good foundation.

Her class provided one of those building blocks. Daba’s focus is structural yoga, where alignment is queen. Her use of props and cues allow a yogi to grow in a pose even if you have been doing yoga for years.

Her prop workshop rocked my warrior world.

My Virabhadrasana I and II have never been the same. Seriously. Standing with my back foot pushing against a wall, I could feel my heel truly ‘root down.’ People have said that before, ‘root down the heel.’ In that moment, I got it.

Huz-zah.

How could I let myself slip out of those great classes? No bueno.

I committed to go to her Saturday morning class. I felt a little exhale and smile rise from inside.

Okay. Feeling more centered.

It’s important to keep reaching out when you start teaching. Shit, it’s important to keep reaching out all of the time.

I’ve never been great at this. Once again yoga is gently nudging me so I can stay on track.

Are these mini revelations yoga?

Methinks so.

Of course her Saturday class was just what I needed. The tweaks and adjustments were an ass kicker. I mean that. My ass was killing me. But more importantly, I had an aha moment as a teacher. There were great adjustments and cues that I could be using in my own classes.

Another smile and exhale.

I enjoy the notion that for every piece of knowledge I glean, the ocean of what I don’t know about yoga (and well everything) gets bigger. So big that I can’t see the horizon.

Exciting stuff.

This is yoga, and it stretches on forever. Maybe.

Namaste y’all.

Pranayama Yo – Things Can Only Get Better

baldhead

I have this thought that keeps turning right round like a record. It’s a grand idea, maybe even crazy but I can’t help it, when I’m inspired- look out.

To paraphrase the genius Howard Jones while I do feel scared, I won’t stop and falter. Things can only get better.

To be fair, I get lots of ideas- no delusions of grandeur or anything…Though one time someone asked me if I thought I was the Queen of Sheba. It was said in anger- actually it was said like ‘Who do you think you are? The Queen of Sheba?’

I was being pretty bitchy too so… That doesn’t count, does it?

Sorry. Ideas. Inspiration. Whatnot.

It’s no secret that I think that yoga can save the world. As I really reflect on these early months of teaching, I’ve come to understand that our breath is how we not only live, but prosper.

As yogis we talk about breathing so often breezing over its power can get caught in so many other things.

I took a class last week with a friend  who is a fellow teacher and her husband.

Of course we talked a lot about yoga.

I love that the studio where I teach offers community classes.

I love that Yoga to the People has an outstanding hot class for 8 smackers.

We talked about how folks who really could use yoga to change and save their lives don’t usually have easy access to a studio. Even more often yoga as a concept isn’t on the radar.

This has to change.

And while I do imagine all the people living life in peace, I know that it’s down the road a bit.

If you have talked to me for more than five minutes you have already heard this story, but I will ask you to tune in one more time because it’s worth hearing daily. This September I was listening to the This American Life podcast. There are few things that I enjoy more than TAL. I was walking Dakota and stopped when I heard the story about the kids living in Chicago’s South Side. The affects of consistent violence in a community can affect kids cortisol levels up to a year later. Do the math. If these kids are under a constant barrage of violence these cortisol levels never drop.

So what the hell to do in the meantime?

I want to teach the world to breathe.

I may not be able to find a way fix the violence. But I can teach people how to breathe.
I can show someone how to choose a better breath, one that will help be the calm in the center of the storm.
Inhale more peace. Exhale what’s not serving you….
This is what it’s all about. Teaching people to fish and all that. As yogis we know yoga happens off the mat.
So no more turning it round. Time to figure out a plan. Time to get people on board. Time to walk the walk, or breathe the breath as it were.
And I won’t stop and falter.

This is yoga, changing lives one breath at a time. Things can only get better.

Namaste y’all.

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