Thursday, May 27, 2010

21-29.05.10 Never-ending Week, Circling UP

Fri: 20 mins; Sat: 1 hr w Martine, 1.5 hr teaching, personal day off; Sun: 25 mins; Mon: 25 mins, 1 hr teaching; Tues: 20 mins; Wed: 45 mins; Thurs: personal day off; Fri: 1 hr guided class; Sat: 25 mins

I've had so much trouble being in my body the past week. I've been depressed and lonely, mostly because Billy is going to the US for 10 days and he's had to be super-productive and worker-bee like for the past couple of weeks. I'm very sad that he is having to work so hard, but also that I haven't gotten to see much of him in this time before he has to leave. I've found that I have struggled to find time to complete anything, including my yoga practice. Everything has seemed hard this past week, hence the pause in blogging as well.

My life this past week has felt like Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)... but continually moving toward the centre of the pose. But yesterday I came around the bend. And today is not pouring rain, and I'm on the upswing. I found myself finding my reserves of energy yesterday and today--stopping to talk to people, offering kind words and encouragement to colleagues, and smiling at the world.

Last night I went to new type of yoga class--qi yoga. Only I didn't know that's what I was doing when I went to the class; I went to an instructor's class that I'll be covering for a couple of months to see how she led her class. I liked that it was flowing. But mostly I didn't like it at all. The class seemed much more Pilates-esque than yoga, and I didn't have the same feeling of connection with my body when I finished the class. I felt out-of-sync after the class, which I attribute to the breathing patterns we used. Instead of inhaling into updog and exhaling into downdog, we did the opposite. And cat/cow used the opposite breathing pattern that I'm familiar with also. After breathing in that way throughout the class, I was left feeling wrung-out as I left the room... but not in a good way.

Because of the experience I had last night, I spent my practice today in very long holds, really connecting to my breath and body. I also spent time doing alternate nose breathing to help balance myself back out. As I balanced myself today in my yoga practice, I'm seeking to balance the rest of my life over the next week. The past week of difficulty ends as I'm circling my way up today. Ending and beginning, circling, balancing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

17-20.05.10 Resting and Shining

Monday: off; Tuesday: 1 hr guided class; Wed: off; Thurs: 30 mins

Monday I was tired. TIRED. So I decided to take the day off. Which was unusual. I didn't know why I felt so tired, but I knew I needed a break. Tuesday I felt uninspired and tired, and I knew I wouldn't be able to practice on my own, so I pushed myself into a lunchtime yoga class. I didn't really enjoy the class, but I remained present and stayed with it. When I tried to go to the gym Tuesday night, I only managed 20 mins of cardio before I felt extremely dizzy and had to stop. I was confused about what was going on, but I knew my body needed a break. So I went home. I started thinking that maybe I was premenstrual. And the next day I discovered I was right.

So, as Martine suggested, I decided to take Wednesday off as a first-day-of-my-menstrual-cycle holiday. I felt indulgent. Especially since I had taken Monday off as a pre-menstrual holiday (though I hadn't known that was the reason at the time). But it was like I was secretly giving myself a present; like no one else even knew about the present... but I still loved it.

I considered taking today off as well, but I felt energetic and wanted to do some more practice at dropping back. I did one against the wall and then two in the middle of the room. I felt so amazing after doing those dropbacks. I was giggly and ecstatic. The energy I saved over the past few days, and the energy I created in my practice this morning shone through my day today. I had a 1.5 hour presentation to give this afternoon and a cycling class to teach after it. In both situations, I had several people express their appreciation of me. I felt humbled and amazed by their comments. I really heard what they said, and I felt the reflection of their comments shine back out of myself.

The productivity and accomplishment I felt at everything in my day today was overwhelming. The positivity was a stark contrast to some of my days recently, and I felt like I was reaping the rewards of my yogic sowing. Maybe the resting contributed to the subsequent shining?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

13-16.05.10 Courage

Thursday: 1hr w/Martine; Fri: 45 mins personal, 45 mins guided class w/ Byron Yoga @ festival; Sat: off; Sun: 1 hr w/Martine, 30 mins personal

I've shown some courage through my yoga over the past few days, and I'm psyched about it!! Friday I went to a body mind spirit festival in Sydney. I hated the festival and thought it was terrible, but I went to see Byron Yoga and to take a class with them. Unfortunately, John Oglivie wasn't able to attend the conference, but I signed up to take the Friday evening class with the teacher who was there. I was nervous to participate in the class because I didn't know what type of class it would be, or how it would go. I went to the festival to try something new, though, so I did. The class ended up being very beginner since half of the class had never done yoga. I had no problem with the class, but most of the other students did. I really felt for the instructor because she had to say cues ten times in ten different ways... and the participants still weren't hearing what she was saying. I could see her struggling with how to get the participants to understand the class. After the class, I talked with her for a while about the struggles she had and discussed some strategies. I really enjoyed getting to know the instructor, and I think that we might get together to take some continuing education yoga courses in the future. So being brave on Friday resulted in a new friend!

Being brave today resulted in turning my mood upside down. I was really upset today after a fight with some loved ones over the weekend that still hasn't been resolved. I spent time with Martine this morning and then did my own personal practice later this afternoon. I found that I was so eager to escape my life today that I was totally inside of my yoga. I felt like I could do anything... and I did! I did dropbacks for the first time, and did three in a row. Then I worked on some handstands and on taking my legs straight up into headstand. I think I would've spent a few hours doing these things if I hadn't had to teach a Pilates class. As I walked into the Pilates class, though, I felt like a rock star. I felt like I was walking on air and suddenly there was no heaviness anywhere in my body.

The courage through my yoga has been rewarding. And now the next step is to take the courage back to my loved ones and talk some things out. I've seen what that courage can do, and I know it's worth it.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

12.05.10 Planning

asana: 15 mins; practicing yoga: all day

I'm reporting on my practice of staying present today. I planned to quiet my mind to ease my anxiety today. Each time I noticed myself moving ahead and planning, I said to myself, "Oh, planning mind!" What I found most amusing was that I told myself that at least 15 times before I even got to work.

On the walk and train home from work, I found myself saying it over and over again as well. As I laughed at myself and quieted my mind, I found myself thinking, "But what am I supposed to think about if I'm not planning?" Sure, it's easy to stay present when I'm focusing on breathing through an asana. But what if there isn't anything to really stay present with? That's much harder.

I did enjoy the halting of the planning. And I think that my day was probably less stressed than it would have been if I had been constantly planning. Tomorrow I'll try again. And I'll try to stay present even when there's "nothing" to stay present with.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

06-11.05.10 Stressed... behind on "life"

Thurs: 1hr yoga with Martine; Fri: 1hr yoga with Ruth; Sat: personal day off, 1.5 hr teach and 1 hr teach; Sun: 1 hr teach, 30 min meditate; Mon: 40 min skype yoga with sister, 1hr teach; Tues: 30 mins

My life could, at times, be a case study on stressful living. The past week I've been overextended, overworked, and have been teaching and participating in so many classes that today was the first "me" time I've really had in my yoga practice in a week. I love going to classes: learning new things and being guided toward further advances in my asana practice. However, when I'm part of a class, I don't have as much freedom to listen to what my body wants and needs.

After feeling stressed for the past week, I skipped a meeting and stayed home to do work today. I got more done than I have in several days. I felt good about what I had done and I also felt glad that I didn't need to teach any classes today. As I pondered how I would express myself yogically today, I found that I really just wanted to have fun and play. I wanted to try a few asanas I hadn't done in a while and explore where I was with some of my inversions.

I fully enjoyed all the yoga I've experienced over the past week--the classes I've taught, the classes I was in with Martine and Ruth, and especially the yoga I did with my sister via skype. But this time with me really released some of the stress over the past week.

I read an article in Yoga Journal later this evening about living life without worry and learning to ease anxiety. Practicing yoga and meditation are obviously part of this equation, as well as learning to dismiss external thoughts that enter my head while practicing those things. But what about doing that during the rest of my life? The article recommendation that I really liked was to recognize and dismiss those anxiety-producing thoughts as they enter my head with a mantra such as "oh, planning mind!" I don't know that I'll be able to do this in practice, but I *plan* to try.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

04-05.05.10 Trying new things

Tues: 25 mins yoga; Wed: 20 mins guided meditation

I've tried a few new things recently. Yesterday I tried a one-handed dropback (meaning I took one hand down a leg while diving the other hand over my head toward the floor). I did it on both sides and made it to the floor without falling. I couldn't believe that it worked, that I actually made it to the floor successfully!

Today, I was feeling physically tired. I decided to try the guided meditations that came with the most recent issue of Yoga Journal. I found that I was able to fully relax and enjoy the meditations. I didn't think that I would be able to; I was skeptical of how much I would be able to trust the CD and relax.

After both sessions where I tried new things, the main feeling I was left with was one of bravery. I felt like I had just made a life-changing decision or attacked a project I had been afraid to try.

As I reflect on these little mini acts of bravery, I realize that I can do things that I'm afraid of, that I am not sure I can do, and that I may not want to do. Realizing that I have courage, even though it's sometimes hidden or invisible, makes me feel more confident. Ready for tomorrow.

Monday, May 3, 2010

30.04-03.05.10 Yoga with Sara Kooperman!!

(Wed & Thurs off, travel); Fri: 60 mins guided, 30 mins personal; Sat: 75 mins guided; Sun: 75 mins guided; Mon: 30 mins peronal, 60 mins teaching

Friday through Sunday I attended FILEX (fitness conference) in Sydney. During a yoga session on Friday, Sara Kooperman (rockstar fitness instructor) used me as a model in the front row. She then asked me if I would demo with her at her sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Ummm, yes!

I felt so lucky to work with Sara while enjoying her teaching and company. She was so complimentary toward my yogaing, too: I'm sure a little too much ego was added to my practice. I felt prideful, excited, and empowered after talking and then teaching with Sara.

But I think that we all need a little dose of ego now and then. Wednesday and Thursday of last week were difficult for me--I had traveled all day Wednesday and taken a redeye home Wed night/Thursday morning. I was so tired Thursday that I had no energy for anything. That meant I had taken two days off from yoga--something I haven't done since I began a daily practice. When I went to the fitness conference on Friday, I wasn't feeling as strong as I normally feel. But hearing nice things from someone I really respect (Sara), and then being asked to co-teach, made me realize my strengths.

I think the universe was looking out for me and saw my faltering steps on Friday. And the universe sent me what I needed. Now (again) it's my turn; I'm aiming to pass things on to those who need it. I found one opportunity this morning: a barista was mocked and scorned by a coffee customer who thought that she "always made the coffee too strong." As I watched this woman roll her eyes and complain to the manager, I felt like hugging the girl behind the coffee machine. I couldn't reach over to her, but, as she handed me my coffee, I made sure to tell her, "Don't listen to that woman; I think you make great coffee." I saw the tension she had been holding on her forehead for the past three minutes dissolve. I saw her smile gratefully at me. And I felt like maybe her day was just a little better.

I don't think my karma debt is repaid yet; I doubt that karma debt is ever finished being paid, for that matter. And even if there was a finite amount of good karma that I could put out into the world, I wouldn't want to know when I reached it. The world is a better place when we all give as much of ourselves as we are genuinely able to share.