Tag Archives: Yin Yoga

Tonight I Found Myself: Mama, Yogi, Occasional Writer.

I have heard of people finding God on their yoga mats, instead I found myself. As I moved my creaky, postpartum body through yin yoga poses, I realized I am not the same person who started this blog. I’m not even the same person I was three months ago. We are constantly undergoing transformations and don’t often pause to think about it. Tonight, instead of writer, teacher, occasional traveler, I am mama, yogi, occasional writer.

It was difficult to get my tired butt to my first yoga class since I got pregnant. Colic usually hits us hard between 7:30 and 10:30 PM and the class I most wanted to attend was smack dab in the middle. Thankfully, my husband pushed me out the door, almost literally. Armed with both his parents and some pumped milk he would not take my worried excuses as reasons not to go. Had it not been for the improvement to her colic with my change in diet (I miss you dairy, wheat, and eggs!!), I would have fought harder. But fortunately, the last few nights have been a little quieter around here, so I felt tentative, but alright to leave.

I am so glad I did.

First, I discovered my body needs to move, everything down to my wrists and toes still hurt. I could feel the fear I was holding from the end of pregnancy and the beginning of parenthood melt on the mat. It is incredible how our emotions manifest themselves physically and so often we hardly notice.

Second, tears escaped. I cried as I realized how much fear I was holding onto, fear to move the parts of my body that hurt worst in labor, fear to leave her tonight, fear to make the right decisions regarding her health. Fear, fear, fear. Then the instructor began talking about what needs we have that aren’t been met, and I realized mine was the need to be brave. She then explained how once these needs are identified, she spends the day recognizing when those needs are being met as an exercise in gratitude for what we already have. As I poured through my recent life choices, I realized I am just as often brave as I am afraid, if not more so. I felt empowered.

Third, as these emotions unfolded, it struck me my fear of leaving my baby girl was unfounded. I had the most beautiful visualization of this invisible cord still connecting us, weaving its way out of the studio and all the way back to our house, where Eloise was safely cradled in a floating bag of water. Powerful symbolism in light of my water breaking three weeks early… More tears, of course. To know I am always connected and protecting her, even when we are not together or things do not go exactly as planned, happy tears.

Fourth, me. I forgot how much I love yoga, how it opens my mind and plants me back in my physical and mental self. I realized I am a new me. The writer, the teacher, the occasional traveler have made way for an improved version. So, I think it is time to rebrand myself, to figure out my place in this world as the mama, yogi, and occasional writer (among a million other things). This means new focus in my writing, I’m excited.

I leave you with a couple questions I enjoyed contemplating tonight. You do not have to answer to anyone but yourself:

First, what needs do you have that aren’t being met? If you stop and pay attention, how are those needs already being met without you realizing it? Or, what do you need to change to have those needs met?

Second, who are you tonight? Not three-months-ago you, or three-months-from-now you– who are you in this very moment? Can you sum yourself up in a few words or is that too stifling, too confining?

Happy thinking.

And, in case you were wondering, Eloise slept peacefully until about 10 minutes before I got home. Alex even time stamped photos to prove it because he figured I wouldn’t believe it! Here’s hoping all this dietary self-restraint is paying off.

Amazing how one little person changes everything!

Amazing how one fiesty little person changes everything!

 

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What I learned on the 26th day of my yoga challenge…

I set out this month eager to become the most physically active I have ever been in my life. While I have gone through stints of running a few times a week or doing yoga daily for a couple weeks straight, I have never been someone who exercises every day. Then, my work started this challenge where we had to log our exercise for 2013 and I found myself exercising almost daily, including the two mile walk we take with our dogs.

Suddenly, I felt ready to tackle daily exercise and yoga seemed like the best option. I imagined myself ready to embrace summer vacation with an exercise routine in the books, no longer waiting for summer to get fit but already fit when summer started. Not only that, but I imagined the relaxing high of post-yoga meditation bliss as the trials of teaching faded from my brain each evening. While these expectations were definitely met, I also discovered something I never expected.

Daily yoga is too much for me, even when I listen to my body with seemingly gentle days of slow movement and meditation mixed in. By days 24 and 25, my body had gradually become a mess. I had a low-level migraine, my neck ached, the top of my right thigh muscle felt like it was going to abandon me. Disappointed, I shared the wall I hit with an instructor whose class I love and her advice helped to shift my perspective. She reminded me that yoga is not a competition or about ego. It’s alright to listen to your body instead of listening to your goals. She also made me realize that sometimes even meditation is an exertion of energy that may be too much.

So, last night, I took the night off. Unlike the Friday before where I shunned social interaction to practice yoga and keep with my routine, I came home, did nothing, then went to dinner with friends. Oh. How. Glorious. Today I woke up ready to go to one of my favorite yin classes. My body no longer feels like it’s falling apart. I’m excited to practice again. The 26th day of yoga taught me that yoga isn’t about every day, it’s about listening to your body and accepting the days where practice means doing something else.

I'm grateful for the reminder that the purpose of life is to live, not to keep up with our arbitrary must-do list in our brain. Everyday Guru put the same idea nicely in his post today too.

I’m grateful for the reminder that the purpose of life is to live, not to keep up with our arbitrary must-do lists. Everyday Gurus put the same idea nicely in his post today too.

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May Challenge: Yoga Every Day.

Some Saturdays I go to a magic yoga class. It is yin yoga in a warm room. The first time I went was right after the national tragedy in December. The instructor had us sit in a circle and concentrate on the flame of a candle. By the ending Savasana, I felt like I was floating through the universe, connected to all the bright stars in a sea of darkness.

If you have never experienced anything like this, I know it probably sounds out there. However, over the course of the last year, I have had a lot of out-there experiences. I now believe in the power of our bodies and minds. My visits to an incredible woman who does body work have cemented this belief. Magic is real, or if nothing else, we are powerful beyond comprehension.

Today as I lay in the dark, warm room, I was overwhelmed by gratitude for the woman who teaches the class. Each time I attend, she offers a little piece of herself, words of wisdom set to music I love. Half her playlist is on my computer. I don’t know her and she knows even less of me, but her words always seem to fit whatever my week has brought me.

This week, she talked about the healing power of yoga and how a regular practice makes this power available to us when we really need it. She talked about her own journey with MS and how yoga has been there for her– she is young and my heart goes out to her. A wonderful woman I used to work with, who also faithfully reads my blog, has battled MS for years. It is some serious stuff, but so is yoga.

As I held poses this afternoon, I let her words sink in. Lately, I have done yoga only once a week. I am good at doing yoga regularly when I have breaks from school, but I lose my momentum when life gets stressful, which is exactly when I need it most. Today my body felt weak as I moved through the poses. I hate feeling weak.

The resounding message that kept moving through my thoughts– I need to do yoga every day.

So, for the month of May, I have a goal. At least 30 minutes of yoga daily. I will go to studios, practice at home, stream classes, use books, practice in silence and with music. I will mix it up and be consistent because I realize I have no choice. I want to feel strong and healthy. Yoga is my secret. Will you join me?

If you do yoga, I really encourage you to try a daily practice with me in May. I did not think it would make a huge difference until I actually made it a whole month in December.

We may not have the beach behind us, but at least a bit of team encouragement might help!

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Week 22: Anticipating the Small Moments

This week marked the passing of the 100th day of school. The kindergarten and first grade teachers dressed up as 100 year-old ladies and the students squealed with delight. One student asked the other fifth grade teacher why we don’t dress up too. She responded, “Because we would have to be mean old ladies, not nice ones.”

That kind of sums up what teaching fifth grade feels like sometimes. I have to be stoic else I succumb to laughter over forced farts, sexual innuendo or goodness knows what else. Fifth grade is a constant adventure. Occasionally, I crack. However, it’s in my best interest to remain stern. I get why.

This week I survived some pretty traumatic fifth grade break-ups, (for them, not me), awkward puberty conversations, and the reintroduction of chocolate milk to their school diets, (a point I’m lobbying to change). My crowning achievement was not teaching my students to master adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing fractions, but rather to hold tree pose. It’s the little things.

Now, I’m home, I’m tired, and I’m ready for a well-deserved weekend. Monday I have my last mini-observation and I’m determined not to spend the next 48 hours over-thinking it. Someone else made an anticipation list for the weekend, and I have to say, this might be my favorite idea of the week. Anticipation slows down time… It also puts value on moments, big or small.

So, here’s my weekend anticipation list:

Yin yoga, (candles, 95 degrees, slow movement, meditation, bliss), no alarm clock, my nephew’s fifth birthday party, SuperBowl Sunday featuring SF (first time I’ve ever slightly cared), family dinner, tradition, query letters, my fluffy dog and Fair Oaks bridge with one of my long-time besties, hot tea, snuggling on the sofa with my honey, quiet. Maybe even a little peace.

I feel more relaxed already.

It's so easy to look forward to the big moments, I'm attempting to learn to anticipate the small ones too...

It’s so easy to look forward to the big moments, it’s refreshing to stop and anticipate the small ones instead…

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Yin Yoga, Light & Meditation

Lying on my mat in a warm, dark room filled with meditating Yogis, I saw a galaxy of stars. Darkness punctuated by brave, brave light. Even in the most overwhelming darkness, billions upon billions of lights shine in the sky, reminding us of our own light here on earth. It is our job to shine through the darkness.

Tonight I am grateful for Yin Yoga, my own light, as well as yours, and meditation. In the New Year, I am determined to become a full-on Yogi. Wish me luck, I’m excited.

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