Wednesday, March 31, 2010

24-31.03.10 Sisterly

24th: 45 mins with sister; 25th: off; 26th: 35 mins with sister; 27th: 90 mins class with sister and Martine; 28th: 30 mins; 29th: 30 mins with sister on beach; 30th: 30 mins with sister and 20 mins alone, cardio day off; 31st: 20 mins

Ahhhhhhh! I feel very overwhelmed. I have so much to write about from the last week of yoga. Since Shayna and I were packing every day full of sisterly bonding, I didn't have a chance to blog about what was going on; I really missed the blogging aspect of my practice because it allows me that extra period of reflection. Over the past week several amazing yogic events occurred: I helped Shayna do her first yoga headstand and handstand, I broke my walk up & down the wall wheel, I practiced yoga in beautiful places and with beautiful people (SEE PHOTOS OF SISTER AND I!!), and I was able to turn to my practice when I felt anxious and upset about Shayna leaving.

Shayna and I practiced yoga yesterday morning before I had to take her to the airport. We spent half an hour practicing and ended in savasana. I talked us through a meditation where I had us visualizing our spirits hovering above our bodies, reaching out through time and space, across oceans and mountains. After we completed our practice, we came to a seated position where I immediately began crying. We then talked about practicing yoga together over skype, or by practicing at the same time in different hemispheres. Knowing that these things were possible gave me the strength I needed to take her to the airport.

However, the rest of the day was pretty difficult. I had trouble concentrating on work; I didn't have the energy to go to the gym (shock!!); and I felt lifeless and lackadaisical all evening. As I was nearing my bedtime, I got up and started a short but energetic yoga practice. I needed to sweep out some of the emotions that had been building throughout the day, and exhaust myself into sleep.

Today I found myself feeling Shayna's absence everywhere. I felt stressed being back at work and panicked about getting to everything I wanted to do today. After going to the gym tonight, I attacked my practice in the same way I did last night--with zeal and vigor. I spent time clearing the cobwebs out of my head.

Now I find myself enjoying the time of reflection of the past week and reliving my sister experiences. Missing her still, but enjoying the memories and feeling her presence in my home and my soul.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

21-23.03.10 Ignoring and its Consequences

21.03.10 Yoga Time: 30 minutes with sister in park
22.03.10 Yoga Time: 30 minutes
23.03.10 Yoga Time: 25 minutes + 15 minutes adjusting on sister

Walking through the Blue Mountains is exhausting; especially when I haven't walked for 6 weeks. I realized over the past two days that my calves have been very underused over the past 6 weeks. Even though I've tried to remain active, my calves just aren't used to walking. After arriving home from the Blue Mtns today, I used my yoga to focus on stretching my legs and relaxing my ankle and foot. Shayna was also sore, so after I practiced, I assisted her in some leg-stretching asanas before dinner.

My practice has been going well over the past few days, and the visit with sister is amazing. However, I have had a lot of trouble dealing with the calf soreness yesterday and today. I've noticed that my mood has been profoundly affected by this minor frustration. After spending time meditating on it after my asana practice, I came to the following: 1. I expected to be able to walk without hesitation after 6 weeks on crutches, and 2. I expected that if anything would be sore, it would be my foot. I can recognize that these may not have been realistic expectations. However, the discrepancy between these expectations and my sore calves is harsh. I suppose it is a reminder that I need to take things slowly and experience my body as it is; to stop ignoring things that I'm feeling and tune in.

My goal for tomorrow is to listen.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

18-20.03.10 Welcoming Sister

18.03.10 60 minutes with Martine
19.03.10 25 minutes
20.03.10 25 minutes with Sister

I've been preparing for my sister to arrive since I found out she was coming a few weeks ago, but I have been really prepping the past two days. I have been so excited, but I have also been very anxious. I wanted Shayna's trip to go well, I wanted her to feel rested when she arrived, I wanted to make sure that she felt comfortable and had fun while here, and I wanted my foot to be healed so that we could hike and explore Sydney. Even though I wanted nothing more than to see her, I was anxious about so many things.

On Thursday and Friday I was doing little things around the house to prep for her arrival while trying to accomplish a lot of work so that I could relax over my week off next week. My yoga practice over the past two days was distracted but powerful. I didn't feel really connected to it, but I was aiming a lot of energy into it. I felt strong throughout my practice, but a little off balance at times.

This morning we picked Shayna up. Everything went smoothly, and we ended up having a beautiful day. Shayna practiced yoga with me this evening before dinner, and we spent some time exploring a few yoga asanas together. I felt more relaxed than I had in a while, and I began to ease into the practice and enjoy seeing my sister there next to me. Like the practice I shared with Natalie a few days ago, I enjoyed the role of teacher-participant. It is one of guidance-- but in a more casual and personal way; it is sharing a part of myself with someone who is important to me. Sharing my personal practice with people that I'm really close to feels very intimate to me, and I look forward to practicing with Sister several times over the next week.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

16-17.03.10 Reflecting on Yogic Life

16.03.10, Tuesday: 90 mins Guided Class
17.03.10, Wednesday: 75 min personal practice with a friend

Last night I practiced at my favorite studio (bodymindlife--Rozelle). I especially liked it because there were 2-3 people assisting in the class. I haven't taken a class that had an assistant in it since I've begun assisting in Martine's classes. It was nice to experience the assisting from the other side of the class. I didn't focus much on the assistants, since I was practicing, but I did tune into them a few times to notice how they touched participants during the sun salutes. Since I always feel uncomfortable touching people during those, I watched to see what they did. (They walked around and gently touched heads or caressed spines.) Something else that I realized throughout the class was how little I noticed them (even though I was trying to pay some attention to what they were doing). This actually reassured me that I am probably not as intrusive as I sometimes feel while walking around a class.

Today I wanted to share my yoga practice, and so I talked aloud through my personal practice with a friend, Natalie. I didn't focus on her practice, because I wasn't really teaching her; I was practicing with her. It was really enjoyable to just share my time on the mat with a close friend. I noticed that the time flew by. We had 75 minutes until we needed to move on with our evenings, but it seemed to me that we only spent a few minutes on the mat. When I checked the time part way through our practice, I was shocked at how much time had passed. I think that the time seemed to go especially quickly because of the positive energy I felt radiating between Nat and I.

Last night I spent time reflecting on my yoga practice and how I've been feeling lately. The conclusion that I came to was that I am not feeling yogically balanced in how I am living my life. Nothing specific sparked this feeling; rather, I observed the critical lens through which I typically view the world. I often analyze people, including myself, and judge them (& myself) harshly. I don't often do anything with this judgement but hold it in my head. Last night I recognized that my act of judging is un-yogic. It hit a little hard; I felt like I had slammed into a wall. Having to continually hold all of these judgements is a heavy practice.

Tonight, reflecting back on that realization, I also see the harshness with which I judged myself for judging. And so I go back to the need to treat myself (and others) with kindness. Coming out of my practice with Natalie tonight, I felt light and uplifted. Through the practice with her, I was able to release some judging I had done throughout the day. I also paid special attention to not judge the practice: when I felt unstable in my attempts at headstand during our practice, I told myself to release the instant critical thoughts that arose. And, for the most part, I did.

Like all aspects of yoga, practice makes perfect.

Monday, March 15, 2010

15.03.10 My Edge: bared

Yoga Time: 20 mins
I read something from Yoga Journal today that I really connected with:

"The real measure of practice is whether, little by little, we can find our edge, that place where we're closed down in fear, and allow ourselves to experience it. This takes courage, but courage isn't about becoming fearless. Courage is the willingness to experience our fears. And as we experience our fears, courage grows. Noticing our edge and trying to meet it also allows us to develop compassion, not just for ourselves but for the whole human drama" (

I know that I have places inside that I ignore, push away, and refuse to deal with. Traditionally, my go-to coping mechanism has been avoidance. However, over the past couple of months, I have noticed that I'm not avoiding so many things. I'm actively tackling problems and talking through issues to find solutions. Or finding a place that I can be comfortable with something.

I can directly relate this courage in my life to my progression of headstands and in my attempts at handstands in my practice. And I think the only reason that I've reaped the benefits of practice in my daily life is because of the time for contemplation that I've been taking in the blog. I usually look forward to my practice, but sometimes I feel annoyed at having to write about it. But after sitting down and beginning to write, I often find that I have something important to say or to relate from my practice.

I realize that this meditation on my yoga is a necessary part of cultivating a daily practice that means something in my life. What good is finding an edge, or facing a fear, if there is no identification or reflection?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

13-14.03.10 Jealous much?

13.03.10 Teaching time: 1.5 hr; Personal Practice: day off
14.03.10 Assisting time: 1 hr; Meditation: 30 mins; Personal Practice: 20 mins

I taught a class I felt really proud of yesterday. Which is probably something that a yoga teacher shouldn't feel. But I felt like the class went really well, and I felt like I was in tune with participants and challenged and pushed as appropriate. Maybe instead of "proud" I should say that we shared a rewarding practice.

Then I assisted Martine today. After watching a few of the people in her class as I was assisting, though, I felt that old feeling of jealousy creeping up. I noticed it as I felt it arising. I tried to determine whether I was really jealous, or whether I was just admiring the students. I decided it was admiration. But then, later that afternoon, I felt the urge to practice a few of the things that I saw others doing so well today; I felt the need to improve on some of my poses.

After working toward dropbacks, handstands, and headstand options, I laid in savasana. Reflecting on my practice, I felt angry at myself for practicing things because of jealousy. I felt like I shouldn't have let the jealousy get to me the way that it did.

Reflecting on my practice now, though, I can also recognize that other people probably feel some amount of jealousy when watching me teach or in classes I participate in. I know everyone has different strengths in their practices, that everyone's practice is constantly evolving, and that it doesn't make sense to compare my practice to anyone else's. So I've decided to be unjealous. From here on out. And to let my practice evolve in its own right.

Friday, March 12, 2010

12.03.10 Back

Yoga Time: 30 mins

After my yoga practice today, I spent a few minutes meditating. I practiced the meditation I taught last Sunday: the one where the senses are cut off from the outside work by focusing on 12 points up and down the body. I was amazed at the amount of concentration it took, and about how I lost sight/thought of everything else in the process. I ran up and down the points pretty quickly, and I felt exhausted afterward. After going up and down quickly about 4 times, I spent a few minutes just blissed out in savasana. My mind was completely still, and my body felt at ease.

Since yesterday was such a stressful day, I spent most of today recovering. I worked, but from home. I worked out hard--quieting and softening the intense thoughts in my head. I got my hair cut, and almost fell asleep while sitting in the chair. I think that the intense emotions of yesterday really hit me hard. After running through the meditation, it was like I was just... done. Then, when I got up from savasana, my whole body felt like jelly, and I felt like I was finally tuned back into my body. It took a lot of craziness, but here I am. I'm here; I'm back.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

10-11.03.10 Breaking the Cycle?

10.03.10 Wednesday, Yoga Time: 20 mins
11.03.10 Thursday, Yoga Time: 90 mins (class with Persia)

Yesterday (Wednesday) I continued the 20 minute physical thing I had done the past couple of days. After the practice I didn't feel super refreshed, and I was mad at myself for continuing the cycle I wanted to break out of. I couldn't bring myself to blog about the practice, and that made me feel even more out of touch with myself.

Today I wanted to totally break out of it, so I went to a class in Rozelle that I could drive to. Persia started the class by talking about her mother's recent beginning yoga practice and her success and weight loss after years of being obese. She was tearful and encouraged us all to find a little of our dreams in the class today. I thought about the power I wanted to harness and use i the class. Persia taught a pretty strong class, and I felt confident and strong throughout it. I tried a new variation of bow pose, and that was exciting. When she saw me on crutches after the class, she commented on the grace of my practice, and I felt accomplished and yogi. I felt like I had broken the cycle of the past few days.

However, after class several bad things happened, including my car's brakes quitting. I made it home, but spent most of the afternoon crying. I couldn't seem to shed enough tears. I was feeling really frustrated about several things, but especially about not being able to get around (again).

I had to leave the house later in the day and had to allow twice as much time to get around on crutches, and then had to use a cab from the train station. When I got home, I caught my reflection in the mirror and saw how sad it looked. I remembered my challenge to myself from a few blogs ago: to turn something really upsetting upside down.

So here I am, tryig to figure out how I can turn my day around. I spent some time meditating about karma in the universe. Since I was feeling like I've had so many negative things occur in my life lately, I thought about how I could try to continue to put out positive vibes while waiting for my life's energy to correct itself. I know that negative things cannot continue without end. So I'm sending warm fuzzies out. And hoping some come back.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

08-09.03.10 Fast & Easy

08.03.10, Yoga Time: 20 mins
09.03.10, Yoga Time: 20 mins

Haven't been spending tons of time on yoga the past couple of days, and I haven't been too adventurous in the yoga I have practiced. My legs have been sore and I've been stretching them a lot in my yoga practices. I've been really focused on the physical benefits of asana, rather than the complete experience.

After focusing so much on stretching out my legs, I thought today about the stress my legs felt. I thought about the strain they were feeling. I realized that there was strain on more than just my legs. I've been under stress at work and I've been sick, so my whole body has been under that strain. Thinking about the strains surrounding my mind and body, and thinking about the fast & easy yoga I've been practicing, I realized I've been ignoring the "me" in me the past two days. I haven't really tuned in very much, and I've let the physical side of things drive me.

Even though it's been hard for me to stay present in the past, I had been feeling good about it recently. So realizing I haven't been very present over the past two days seems more upsetting. But realizing it is also the first step. And the best thing for curing it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

05-07.03.10 Turning in and Tuning in

05.03.10 Friday
Yoga Time: 20 mins
Today I worked out at home, since I was feeling congested and didn't think I could go swimming. I did a heartrate-escalating ball (big, therapeutic ball plus med ball) workout, extended to 90 minutes to feel like I got enough activity. I did this because I could sit on the large ball and do bouncing with pauses at the top of each bounce, which put minimum weight on my left foot. Anyway, after all that bouncing, my knees were feeling a little tired. So I moved right into my yoga practice, hoping to stretch out my knees and all of the other areas that are feeling a little "off" ... which tends to be a lot of places with all the crutching I've been doing. Trying to get my body back to a place of neutrality after doing so many things that it isn't used to takes a lot more work than I'm accustomed to. I had to really concentrate on choosing each asana and what it would do for my out-of-whack body. While this felt a little frustrating, it was also good to know that I could find poses that I needed, and that they helped. When I completed my practice today, even though it was short, I felt accomplished. My body felt back in line and less sore, and the fact that I got my body there, made my ego feel happy.

06.03.10 Saturday
DAY OFF (everything!)
I couldn't sleep Friday night because of how sick I felt. So Saturday was a day of rest. I slept on and off throughout the day, and didn't try to do any activity. I planned to do a meditation later in the day, but I couldn't even breathe through my nose, so I just spent some time reflecting on my yoga journey thus far.

The conclusion I came to was that I have cultivated a priority of listening to my body. That is something that I've been actively NOT doing for a quite a while. I'm used to super over-indulging in sweets occasionally, but then going for a 20-25 km run the next day to help even my body out. I'm used to running through knee and foot pain, limping along as far as I can. I'm used to pushing hard in yoga and never taking time to reflect or meditate.

While I'm not claiming to be totally in tune with my body yet, I am not doing the active ignoring anymore. When I want to eat a bag of candy, I think about why I want to eat it. Am I hungry? Is there something I need to talk about? When I feel pain somewhere in my body, I reflect back on activities that could have caused it. I stop doing what is causing the pain and try to think about how I can even my body out.

I think a lot of this listening has been a result of two things: 1) having the daily yoga practice and 2) journaling about it. Since I never had a daily practice without the journaling attached to it, I'm unsure if one or the other would have given me the same amount of healing. But having a daily practice, and taking daily time to reflect back on it, has given me two chances per day to actively tune in. Tuning in so often is good practice--it has started to become routine.

07.03.10 Sunday
Yoga Time: Teaching: 1 hr asana, 30 min meditation
Personal Practice: 20 mins
Today I taught Martine's St. Leonard's class. I challenged myself today to teach the hour class without any sun salutations. I love sun salutations--how they warm up the body, all the variations you can throw in, the ritual of it--but I wanted to try something different. I regularly do sun salutations at the beginning of classes. Sometimes I do several variations and spend about half an hour working through them all. Today, I did some other things that warmed up the body... and I LOVED THEM! I did deep yoga squats up into side stretches and then a side-facing warrior I and twisting sequence. Both of these worked well for flowing, breathing, and getting the body warm. Since the class was full, it was also amazing to see everyone moving in sync. I was so happy to watch the class and see everyone working and breathing together. I stopped for a moment just to watch; I was so amazed at the beauty. Several people came up after class and told me how much they had enjoyed the class. I was so happy to see the energy I had felt reflected in my students' words and faces.

Like the first time I taught guided meditation a few weeks ago, I was anxious about the meditation component of the class. So, again, I turned to YJ and incorporated some of their monthly ideas about meditating. We practiced the technique of vayu pratyahara (wind withdrawal) or prana pratyahara (life force withdrawal) that cuts off the senses and their exploration of the world. By turning inward and focusing on vital points of the body (traditionally 18, but I took YJ's advice and started with 12), we were able to tune out the world and tune into our inner awareness. We went up and down the ladder of the vital points 3 times. I really enjoyed leading this practice, but plan to try it on my own so that I can get the full experience.

Later, when I had a few moments to myself in the middle of teaching a couple of classes today, I stole a room at my local gym for 2o minutes of personal practice. I say "steal" bc I felt like I had to hide myself away. I had 30 minutes before my Pilates class started, but my class was arriving and kept finding me and asking me things. It was hard to concentrate on myself and my practice. I made it through the practice pretty well, though, and felt ready to go for the Pilates class. Not quite as tuned into myself as I would have liked, but there's always next time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

04.03.10 Setting the tone

Yoga Time: 40 mins

I did an early morning home practice today before leaving for a day of meetings at the uni. I spent time setting an intention, warming up my body, exploring what it wanted to explore (backbends), and doing a few inversions and twists. I tried to stay present and focus on my intention to set a calm tone for the day. I tried to remember not to push past what I'm capable of doing right now. But it was really hard today to stay present. I felt frustrated thinking about all the crutching I'd have to do to get around throughout my day. And that feeling kept distracting me. I had to constantly re-focus myself.

Reflecting back on that constant re-focusing, I think it is more of an accomplisment than a failure, though. Even though it felt really hard and like I was continually failing this morning, the dedication and stick-with-it-ness that I demonstrated was strong. Only after my long day of crutching, am I able to recognize my accomplishment from this morning; one that was replicated in my day through my making it through all of the difficult travel I had to do.

Even though I felt like I failed at setting a calm tone for my day, I did set a tone for my day: one of perseverence. I really needed that to get through the challenges of my day today, so perhaps my yoga practice took me where I needed to go, rather than where I wanted to go.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

03.03.10 Advanced Yoginess

Yoga Time: 90 mins (class I took from Murray)

Today I heard something from Murray that I think I already discovered on my own, but hearing it really helped me realize it. As we were starting the class, he commented that an advanced yogi/yogini wasn't one who could twist into pretzels or do the fanciest balances and inversions; rather, it was the person who was present throughout their practice, the person who knew when to pull back and when to push harder, the person who can focus on their breath throughout their practice and moves with purpose both in and out of the yoga room.

I don't know that I had verbalized that thought to myself before, but I had been thinking along those lines as I've been exploring my personal practice and as I've been watching students as I assist in classes. I still get jealous of students who can do things that I can't do, but over the past several weeks, it hasn't been the same type of jealousy; it has been more of an admiration-jealousy. And, at the same time, I've noticed students that have amazing flexibility or strength, but that aren't present in their practice: they move quickly and fall in and out of poses unsafely. When I see that, I think "what a shame," and I try to give them some words of advice to move them forward in their yoga journey.

But as I heard Murray say those words tonight, I smiled, and I thought, "yes, of course." And his words also served as a reminder to me to not push past what my foot could do. I was more present in this practice than perhaps any before. I backed off and took a knee when a crescent lunge felt like too much for my foot. I didn't lift my right leg when in down dog in order to save my left foot from holding more of my weight. And I consciously felt my body and mind throughout the practice. Advanced (or at least more advanced) if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

02.03.10 Finding some softness

Yoga time: 20 mins

Today I felt sorry for myself. I felt unable to do things since both my foot and the car are broken. I tried to shake myself out of it several times, without success. So when I started my yoga practice today, I tried to start from a place of gratitude. I tried to focus on all the things I had that I was thankful for. This was very hard for me to do today. When I struggled with this exercise, I began to get frustrated. But then, instead of being angry that I couldn't be grateful, I tried to find some softness for myself. I said "I will be kind to myself."

As I moved through my practice, I had to repeat that phrase several times. I moved into poses where I could "hug" myself and I repeated the phrase. I didn't do anything challenging or strenuous. I repeated my mantra and focused on my breathing.

As I laid in savasana at the end of my practice, I found myself wondering whether I could keep the kindness up for the rest of the evening. I was already anxious about what would happen once I stopped repeating the phrase.

And so for the rest of the evening, I decided to be present. When I feel myself drifting toward unease or sad/sorry feelings, I have repeated my mantra and stayed in the moment. Thinking toward the many weeks of crutching to come is not what I need to focus on now. So tonight, I'm thankful that I can find some softness inside and say "I will be kind to myself."

Monday, March 1, 2010

28.02.10-01.03.10 Call of the yoga

Sunday: day off
Monday: 20 mins

I took yesterday off. I spent the day completing work, teaching some fitness classes, and then having dinner with a friend. I didn't take much time for myself, nor did I reflect on my actions or thoughts throughout the day. Monday's plan was to do yoga when I came home from work. But, after teaching a 6am cycling early this morning, I couldn't resist the call of the yoga. I think that having the day off on Sunday made me miss it a little more. So this morning, I just couldn't wait until later to do yoga. I didn't have much time, but I felt giddy with excitement.

I stole a corner of the boxing room at the gym and had my own personal practice. It was short and sweet, but it did the trick. It gave me my me-time for the morning. I then went to the train and it was 15 minutes late, in fact all trains going that direction were delayed. But I sat there waiting, drinking coffee, thinking, oh, well, what can I do about it? And when the girl next to me asked what could be going on, I just smiled and said, oh, I'm sure it will be here soon.

I'm not saying the whole day was easy. But the morning was. And that was nice.