IMG_4379
Using Yoga

Everything is changing. But everything is always changing. In several different places in my life, there is movement and change. I know my instinct in the past would be to get quiet and hibernate. But this time I feel the need to move with it.

As the focus of my days shifts to my career, it started to shift away from my practice. But it’s getting to be pretty clear that I can’t replace yoga with work. They just occupy two completely different facets of life. I still need yoga. Maybe even more now.

My almost two-decades-long practice (oh, no. not really) is still serving me. It’s reminding me to breathe, it’s nudging me to get back on the mat. It’s telling me that even though “yoga” might not be my focus, that this is the time to truly integrate yoga into my life. This is where all the lessons come into play.

I need to USE yoga to stay sane, to keep moving, and to breathe.

Shining in Ardha Chandrasana

ardha chandrasana

I have been drawn to Ardha Chandrasana lately. For some reason, I can feel the dynamic tension between grounding and expanding so profoundly in this posture. The foot stable, roots deep through the mat, through the floor, into the earth below me. And my heart searching, yearning, turning upwards. It’s felt pretty amazing.

Am I drawn to it to relieve anxiety, to work my ankles, stretch my groin? Or is it that something inside me knows that ‘chandra’ can mean glittering, shining, brilliant light, and I’m approaching the idea of shining with everything I do?

Or maybe it’s just because I found a cool new way to come into the pose. I learned a long time ago to just do what my body wants when it comes to my time on the mat. I don’t ask too many questions.

Here’s my new entry into Ardha Chandrasana: (Here’s a more traditional entry.)

1. Start in down dog
2. Identify the point on your mat half way between your hands and your feet
3. Step the right food forward to that point
4. Adjust your right hand to be forward and to the right of your standing foot (like a kickstand or second leg)
5. Slowly, using your core, lift the back leg AS YOU rotate the body towards the side wall
6. Keep the left hand at your waist, or extend it upward to the sky, following it with your gaze

This is a pretty subtle variation to coming from triangle pose, but for me, I feel a big shift. It’s much easier for me to shift my gaze from my standing foot, to the sidewall, to my upward-reaching hand and shine.

Image from Fine Featherheads.

Yoga is…

[at Kripalu]

Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself. – Bhagavad Gida

Hustling up and down the stairs at least four times a day this long weekend, and damned if this one didn’t smack me between the eyes every time. That is some serious business right there, and for me, there’s no running away from it. It grinds me down, but I like it.

On Benders and Balance

While the benders I’ve experienced in recent years are mild compared to the “Winning!” variety – mostly binging on rice cakes and watching too much TV on the internet – I do think it’s natural for the pendulum to swing in extremes. And sometimes we forget how poorly that extra drink (or serving of cheese or gluten or Real Housewives or heroin) serves us until we wake up the next day with head stuffed with spikey cotton.

Well + Good NYC asks the question: If we don’t know what it feels like to be down, can we truly appreciate the accomplishment of up?

Four experts weigh in, and the prevailing wisdom seems to be: Benders are Bad! Love Yourself and Pay Attention!

What do you think? Are benders a part of balance?

Read the whole article.

This is Not Yoga

I joined a gym for the first time since December 2009. It’s in the basement of a Holiday Inn half a block from my apartment. It’s small. There is no light. It’s not sexy. So far I’ve only seen about three other men there, all with biceps the size of my thigh.

And there, I run. I go fast, I breathe hard, and sweat. There is nothing gentle, spacious or accommodating about it.

This is not yoga. But it is what I need right now.

Condo Yoga, Relaunch

I am incredibly pleased, proud, excited and nervous to announce the official relaunch of Condo Yoga, my wee company aiming to bring yoga to the people – wherever they are.

This venture is a work of love, and I’m so hopeful for its future and the possibilities it brings. If you’re so inclined, please take a visit. The new site is up and running here, and I’ll be adding news, updates and offers on the Facebook page as well.

Eep!

I got it, I got it, I don’t got it.

[photo by
MasTaPiannisat AshtangaNews]

I’ve been a little stuck. But you probably knew that. It happens. Cyclically. I get inspired, leap, hit my stride, get in a groove, then get in a rut, get bored. Then stuck.

But something happened the other night. I got home from work and whipped out the yoga mat. I did a 45 minute practice where I tried new things and shocked myself with my accomplishments. (Yes, I know yoga is not a contest but, c’mon! It feels good to do things you didn’t know you could do.)

This time it was Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. Well, sort of extended, but definitely hand-to-big-toe. Not perfect, by any means, but still! I’d never done that before and I was so surprised I actually started laughing mid-pose and fell out of it.

Inspired, I got up the next day and went to my first in-studio class in about six months. My brain was not at all accustomed to being on the mat for so long, but my body welcomed it. I feel the groove coming on. I can hear the beat.

And then yesterday, bam, I missed class. This morning? The dog was whining to go out mid-Namaskar B (I’ve learned not to ignore her). So tonight I’ll go to class – and, cue sad trombone – I have a last-minute call for a project I’m volunteering on.

I feel like I’m ready to leap, ready to hit my stride. Weeeee! I am so close to getting my groove on I can hardly sit still in this office chair all day. I just don’t want to lose the momentum, you know? The wheels are turning. The plane is picking up speed and I’m ready to take off and soooaar. And I want to catch this updraft before I crash and want to do nothing but nap.

Hiding Behind the Mat

I feel like it’s important to share this no-dairy journey, but I’ll spare you the play-by-play action. It’s only day deux and I’m not facing any particularly interesting challenges or feeling any special magic vegan fairy dust. I am happy to be on this path knowing I will feel better in the long run, and I’m really looking forward to feeling clearer.

In the meantime, life goes on. I’m currently looking for new health insurance (again!). I’m working with my daily practice and am considering taking this show on the road – adding some classes into the mix and considering taking up the teaching mantle once again.

It’s intimidating to think about going back out there. I’m afraid of rejection, of putting myself “out there” and it seems so much safer to practice at home and pontificate online.

I wonder, too, if I’m waiting to be “better” before I go out there. Waiting to have it all figured out – I have a perfect daily practice, I eat like a superhero! – to build myself up before I step out on the ledge. Even though I know damn well there is no perfect and that I just need to get out there.

Oh, man. Sometimes I hate those kinds of realizations. Because once you get there, there’s really no excuse to stay where you are without moving forward. Anyone want to come with me?