Branching Out

I love yoga. It is a big part of my life. It provides so many benefits–mental, physical, emotional. I feel lucky and grateful to have the opportunity to make one of my greatest passions my career.

But, I’ll be honest, sometimes at the end of the day, I’m sick of yoga. In the past, feeling yoga’d out meant that I often went days (or sometimes longer!) without exercise. I mean sure, I still walked Lola for 15-20 minutes or got in a few poses while teaching, but I would just go long periods of time without really moving my body, simply because I didn’t feel like doing the one thing I thought I had committed to.

When I found yoga, I felt like I finally found a form of exercise I could commit to, that worked for me. Despite the fact that I’ve done a few distance events, I never really liked running. I could get myself on the elliptical, but it wasn’t that much fun. But, yoga. Yoga had it all. I could sweat, I could stretch, I could strength train, and I could alter my perspective on life. I could let go for an hour or more and just tune inward.

Once I became a teacher, this started to change. I would be mid-pose and think to myself, “wow, what a great sequence, how can I build this into my class later?” Once I became a studio owner, it changed again. I would me mid-pose and think to myself, ” oh my gosh, look at that dustball in the corner. I need to clean the floor immediately after class, ” or, “I have to do this pose ‘perfectly’ because everyone in the class expects me to.” Of course, I really knew that nobody expected my poses to be perfect. But, by making my passion my career, it had inevitably changed my experience.

Recently, I found myself accepting that yoga may no longer be the epitome of exercise for me. I opened myself up to branching out. And, I found running. As mentioned above, I had never enjoyed running before. I always felt like I wasn’t good at it, that it was boring and that it hurt (I got shinsplints pretty easily). This time, with my yoga practice deeply ingrained in my brain and my body, I took a different approach. Much like I did with my yoga practice, I allowed myself to start as a beginner. I ran slow. And, I enjoyed it. I didn’t expect to run an hour, or even a half hour, the first day. Much like I wouldn’t expect a beginner student to be able to immediately do a headstand. Instead, I allowed myself to walk as much as I needed to. And, as my love and desire for yoga grew the more I practiced, the same happened with running. More often than not now, when I wake up in the morning I feel like running.

I realized that my “commitment” to yoga was actually preventing me from practicing. I wasn’t allowing myself to be where I was, but was instead, resisting my present due to focusing on where I felt I should be.  My yoga practice isn’t gone, either physically or mentally. In fact, by allowing myself to branch out, I feel more strongly rooted in the principles of my practice than ever.

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You Are Me, And I Am You

“You are me, and I am you. Isn’t obvious that we “inter-care”? You cultivate the flower in yourself, so that I will be beautiful. I transform the garbage in myself, so that you will not have to suffer. I support you, you support me. I am in this world to offer you peace and joy. You are in this world to bring joy and peace.”

– Thich nhat Hanh

A good friend read this quote at the end of a wonderful yoga class last week. I found these words very powerful. It can be so easy to get caught up in our own roller coaster. When good things happen to us, life is good. When bad things happen, life is hard. But, if we can look at the world in this way, as connected beings, working together to better all of our lives, it becomes easier to step off the ride and walk along with peace, joy, and gratitude in our hearts.

It Turns Out, You Don’t Have To Try So Hard!

Yesterday, a dear friend and wonderful Reiki practitioner, Marisa, led me through my first Reiki session. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was excited. As we began our session, I immediately began to think about all of the things I needed to do when we were finished. I had e-mails to write. I had classes to organize. I was hungry. My thoughts were everywhere. Typically, during a session where the goal is to relax, I begin to feel guilty about my mind wandering and my lack of presence. This happens during yoga. This happens during meditation. This apparently happens during Reiki.

As I was having judgmental thoughts about my thoughts, however, I began to notice that things were happening in my body. My face grew very warm. The muscles around my eyes began to relax. My body began to feel almost abuzz. Right in the middle of consciously thinking about being “bad” at Reiki, I realized I was doing it! It didn’t matter whether I was “good” or “bad” at it. I was doing it. And, that’s all that mattered.

It can be difficult to allow ourselves to be human, to acknowledge that the practice of self-care, of slowing down, of just being is actually HARD. But, there’s no such thing as doing it perfectly. There’s only doing it. As long as we keep showing up, it happens. So, next time you’re on your mat and you find yourself having judgmental thoughts about your thoughts or feel that you’re simply “not good” at the practice, remind yourself that you’re here. That’s the practice. It’s happening. You’re human. And, you don’t need to try so hard to be anywhere else, but where you are.

Back to School, Back to Blog

I used to love back to school time. New year, new class, new possibilities. And, let’s not forget the most important thing: new school supplies! As I got older, especially after transitioning out of classwork, I found it less and less exciting. It was something other people participated in, something I understood about, but just didn’t do anymore. I seemed to be in that funny, murky area between childhood and parenthood, in which times like “back to school” seemed irrelevant somehow. But, for the first time in a long while, I feel like I’m part of it. I may not be heading back to school (in fact, ironically, I’m probably the furthest from school I’ve been in my whole life!) but this September, it really feels like a new year. Allay just celebrated its one year anniversary, my life is full of new classes, thanks to our fabulous fall schedule, and I haven’t felt this open to the possibilities in a very long time. This year, I am excited. This year, I am participating.

It’s been a while since I’ve written. It’s not because I haven’t cared, I just didn’t know how to authentically write about what I was going through. But, it’s a new year, and I’m ready to try. While, on one hand, this has been such a special year, filled with so many joys, it has also been the hardest of my life, filled with loss, disappointment, and sadness. As may be obvious from my previous posts on this blog, I strive to find the lessons and the room for growth in each experience. And, boy has this year provided me lessons and opportunities for growth!

As many may know, we have been struggling with infertility. I have spent the greater part of the last two years, especially this past year, undergoing test after test, procedure after procedure in hopes of getting pregnant. I’ve changed my diet, done acupuncture, yoga for fertility, fertility-focused massage, clomid, IUI’s and IVF. We’ve had two pregnancies and two miscarriages. The first occurred just before the holidays this past winter. Literally days before we were scheduled to begin our first IVF cycle, we found out we had conceived on our own. “It was meant to be,” we said. Just when we thought we’d have to undergo the worst, the best gift arrived. Sadly, the pregnancy was not meant to be. And, more than that, the doctors were worried it was in fact ectopic, the treatment for which put our babymaking dreams on hold for months. The second occurred just weeks ago. Our IVF cycle resulted in a positive pregnancy test. My betas rose steadily and our first ultrasound appeared textbook. We found out the baby was due on March 28, 2013, my 30th birthday. “It was meant to be,” we said. We went through the worst and it was worth it because we have the greatest gift. Sadly, at eight weeks we found out the pregnancy was no longer viable.

It has been a hard year. But, it has been an important one. Our experiences this year have taught me things I may not have learned any other way. They forced me to face and accept what I can and cannot control. They brought out some of my weaknesses, but moreso, they allowed me to really see and appreciate my strengths. They helped me build an incredibly understanding and supportive community, founded on total openness and acceptance. And, most of all, they taught me how to be mindfully present, taking life one day at a time.

And so, here I am. New Year. New Classes. New Perspective. New Possibilities. I guess you could say that I am still caught in that funny, murky area between childhood and parenthood. Except, those are no longer my parameters. Mine are undefined. I’m finally figuring them out as I go along. I may not be heading back to school. I may not be preparing a child to head back to school. But, this year, perhaps more than ever, I am part of it. I am excited. I am participating. I have no idea what lies ahead for us (or for this blog!). But, I do know that, with the lessons I’ve learned this year, I am open to the possibilities.