Fully human

“Being satisfied with what we already have is a magical golden key to being alive in a full, unrestricted, and inspired way.” – Pema Chodron, Awakening Loving Kindness

real


I sit here battered and beaten. Muscles sore, hot, dehydrated. It feels as though someone has beaten me well with a rolled up yoga mat, dipped me in salt water, and left me to dry on the sidewalk.

There may be a small voice in my left knee. There’s a slightly louder one in my low back. And my mind, my mind is one that’s taking the brunt of it.

The past few months has seen a serious recommitment to physical movement. There came a point where I didn’t recognize my body anymore. Didn’t know what it could do, or what it wanted to do. We hadn’t been speaking really.

We went from feeling like strangers to having four or fives dates a week. Things got hot and heavy fast. Barre every week, to barre teacher training. One beginner ballet class, to a crash course twice a week.

I can’t tell if I’m renewing my commitment to health or if this is my mind’s way of punishing me for aging, or neglecting to take nude photos when my body was perfect. And publishing them on the Internet so I could stare at them and wonder who the hell that was.

Rebellion is present. Rebellion against stagnation, restriction, incapacity. And then rebellion again against movement and work. It comes in the form of self doubt, the sinking comfort of the couch, and glasses of red wine. I’m striving for something and then fighting against it.

I read this early this morning, on Satisfaction from Pema Chodron: “It’s very helpful to realize that being here, doing simple everyday things… Is actually all we need to be fully awake, fully alive, fully human. It’s also helpful to realize that this body that we have … And this mind that we have at this very moment, are exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, and fully alive.”

So all this work may not get me to some end. My body is my body. It’s getting stronger but it’s not going backwards through time. My mind is my mind. It whirls and sometimes it stops. My heart is full and it breaks. Fully human, fully awake, and fully alive.

Perfectly Imperfect

20 minutes is better than nothing

This morning I lay in bed musing about the day, knowing that the longer I stayed under the covers, the less likely I was to roll out the mat. So I got up and looked at my yoga space – filled with mail that needed to be opened, a dog leash begging to be used, and a suitcase that lay stuffed and ready for unpacking.

It was tempting. First I’ll clean off the counter, put away all this stuff so I can set my drishti on a clear, uncluttered space. I could just take care of the mail rather than let it sit. If I’m moving the suitcase, I may as well unpack and throw a load of laundry in before I start. Then the dog is up and looking my way, ready for a walk.

That’s how it goes some mornings. The mat stays rolled up in the corner while a bunch of other things on the list get done. I want to make things as close to ideal as I can in order to practice. I want to clear the space, so I can clear my mind. I want a home studio that looks like the ones in the magazine. But at what cost? It’s not helping me to skip my practice until it can look perfect.

This morning I set up my mat amidst the chaos. The room was a mess. My body ached and my waistline spoke of too much Christmas pie. My nose was stuffed up and I couldn’t pranayam my way out of a paper bag, but I did it. I got down in chaturanga with elbows as close to 90-degrees as I can get them. My trikonasana was crooked, but existent. And it was good.

The Day After

bar

Confession: I went out for drinks last night. Yes! I did. And I did a really good job of it too. Cocktails. Sugary ones. At a fancy cocktail bar where my drink housed a single rectangular cube of ice, a stainless steel straw and a chewy, sugared ginger cube stuck on the side of my very tall glass. It was delicious. All three of them.

I’ve been cleansing out the breads and sugars from my diet, working to get my insides all in balance. And that was a big ol’ sugar bomb. Even the parts that weren’t sugar are probably turning to sugar as I type. Boom.

So what happens now?

Well, let me tell you something. I thought I would wake up with guilt stacked on tummy ache stacked on some long-term horror as yet to be unnamed. The tummy part was true, but screw the guilt. I’m back on track.

I’m drinking water and taking extra probiotics. this amazing salad (I skip the cheese and breadcrumbs). Thank you very much Dr. Weil. And I’m taking a ‘do not panic‘ approach. And aside from a headache, it feels pretty good.

More drinky drink tips from Your Healthiest You can be found here.

Image from the photo stream of Kowarski, here.

Collecting Wisdom

pintest

I do this thing. When I’m feeling unsatisfied, or insecure, I start collecting. I Pin beautiful images, and try to figure out how to make my life mirror them. I read memoirs and try to imagine my life as theirs. I look outside of myself for the missing piece. As if there is some room I can sit in that will make it all clear, or a tiny slice of wisdom outside of myself that is going to make the difference.

I know that’s not true. And still, I collect. I used to beat myself up about this but recently I took a look at one of my collections – a list of inspiring women – and I learned something.

What all these women seem to have in common is that they aren’t copying someone else. They’ve forged their own paths, ones that might look very different from what they thought – or what anyone else thought for that matter.

This is awesome and frustrating. Because there is part of me that is still looking for an instruction book on life: “The 5 Steps to Being Happy,” “Here’s How to Be Radiantly Yourself.” But the longer I go at this, the more I realize, there isn’t a model to follow. I can look at these women and be inspired by their stories, but in the end, they are not my stories. I can’t do what they did. I have to come up with this life on my own.

That said, here are some women I admire for their vision, commitment and pluck, honesty, and individuality

Erin Loechner of Design For Mankind

Andrea Scher of Superhero Life

Katie O’Connell of Dragon Fly Yoga Barn (Not a website, a real-life place)

Shauna Ahern of Gluten Free Girl

Restoration Barn-ware

yogabarn

I am ready to restore.

I’m heading up to New Hampshire, where I hear it’s really and truly autumn, to Dragonfly Yoga Barn. I haven’t been there before but I have to tell you, this place looks amazing. It’s a Yoga Barn, you guys. Yoga. Barn.

Twice a year I assist my teacher in a program called Refilling Your Well. It’s a nurturing retreat that helps teach the science of stress and stress-reduction. Learning what truly nurtures them, students are encouraged to ‘put the oxygen mask’ on themselves first, so that they are healthy and strong when they take care of others.

It’s wisdom I know in my head, and more and more, feel in my body. Which is why I’m so excited to assist yet another restorative retreat coming up this weekend. I’m helping out a long-time friend of mine from back in the Kripalu days as she leads a Gentle Yoga and Yoga Nidra program. I know there will be lots of setup (bolsters, blankets, backjacks) but I also think there will be time for hot tubs, and hikes, and being still. Remember being still? Ever? I barely do. And I’m so looking forward to it.

It’s a Yang, Yang, Yang, Yang World

chandra namaskar

This morning I felt plagued with challenges. I have to caveat this and say I feel guilty about saying that. Everything is fine. Life is good. Better than good. But it was just one of those days, before 8 am.

So I rolled out the mat and got to moving and breathing. There was no cardio today. No sweating or grunting. It was a lunar flow kind of morning.

I’ve written about Chandra Namaskar before. There’s just something about this practice that helps me slow down and reconnect. I’m not saying I tune in and get all the answers. Because I certainly don’t. But even half way through my practice I started to feel more calm, more grateful. I felt less like a whirling dervish, panting and grasping for answers. And I felt a little bit more like myself.

There are many variations of Chandra Namaskar, but here is one from Yoga Journal that might be helpful.

Image from Ethical Ideal in a post about yoga for back pain. Bonus!

day off

When I was a little girl, I hated missing school. I was a pretty high strung kid and I was afraid I’d never catch up on what I’d missed. Even when I was feeling sick, I didn’t want to skip. My mom would bring me with her on errands and it was the strangest feeling to be out and about during the day. I felt like everyone could tell I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be.

These days, I really have none of that anxiety. Okay, maybe a little. But I can handle it. And I love being out and about when I’m normally at the office. I look at people and wonder what they do, where their day is taking them.

I took a day off this week to… well, to just take a day off. I went to the gym, I spent time down by the water, I took the dog out for miles and miles.

And even though it was gorgeous outside, I even watched some tv and took a nap on the couch. I really needed it. And maybe I should? But I don’t feel guilty at all.