Monday, February 25, 2013

Do One Thing a Day That Scares You

"Do one thing a day that scares you" - Eleanor Roosevelt

The other day in class, we practiced some pretty challenging poses:  bakasana (crow pose, an arm balance), bird of paradise (a standing balancing pose) & headstand.  Challenging poses that can also be scarey.

As a teacher, I'm mindful of when & how I teach these challenging poses.  I teach not just the "culmination" of the pose, if you will.  But also many variations that can be practiced along the path to the culmination.  (for example, for crow pose, it may be enough to have your hands & feet on the ground, but have more weight in your hands - so you begin to feel what it could be like to balance on just your hands). I like to make each pose accessible to students of all levels.  I like everyone to feel successful.

As I taught, I talked about what these challenging poses can trigger in different people.  Some people hear the name, see the pose & immediately decide they can't do it.  Some people think they're not strong enough, not flexible enough.  Some people get scared.

The poses I taught were challenging, yes.  But truth is, the whole practice is challenging.  Each pose has it's own challenge.  Some people love crow, some hate it.  I was never afraid to try headstand - I didn't give it a second thought the first time it was taught in a class that I was in.  But for many years, wheel/backbend frightened me.  I was scared I was going to get hurt (how? I don't actually know).  It was more just a feeling of fear that came over me when I attempted the pose. 

Trying challenging poses & noticing what comes up & how you deal with it - that to me is the point of the challenge.  Do you get agitated off because you can't "do it"?  Do you feel defeated, unsuccessful?  Do you criticize yourself or the teacher who's teaching?  Do you avoid the challenge entirely?  Can you practice working through it?  Your response most likely carries over into your everyday life & how you deal with challenges there.

Years ago, I went on vacation with a friend & 2 other couples - I didn't know the other couples. One day, we rented mopeds to go touring.  Everyone but me had driven one before.  There were 6 of us, but we rented 3 mopeds & everyone took turns driving.  I was asked if I wanted to a turn to try, but I declined.  I was scared.  I think not so much of crashing or getting hurt.  But of looking silly in front of people I didn't really know.  I look back & see a missed opportunity.  It was a growing edge.  Not a huge one, but still.  A chance to try something new & different & not care about how I looked or what others thought.

Kind of like my wheel pose & the fear that went with it for years.

I missed the opportunity to drive the moped - I know I'll have another opportunity & when it comes along, I'll take it.  Now on my mat, after years of practice, I take wheel pose with gusto.  I have fun.  I love how it feels to open my heart & stretch my body & play my edge. 

Every challenging, scarey pose is a chance to practice.  Every challenge, every fear is a chance to practice.  That's yoga that you can take off your mat.

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Vinyasa

Downward facing dog.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.

"Mommy!  Mommy!  I need water!"

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Chair pose.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

"Mommy!  Mommy!  I don't like this show!"

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Triangle pose.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

"Mommy!  Mommy!  I need to blow my nose!"

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Half pigeon

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

"Honey - could you please get off of me so I can get up?"

This is my yoga.  This is my flow.  I've said it before - I practice at home alot.  Where I am in the life of my practice, 2 hours every day plus seated meditation would be wonderful.  Where I am in my life, 20 minutes of moving meditation is a gift.

My breathing, my practice has to come off the mat with me.  Otherwise, well...why bother?

All of it is yoga.  It's my flow, it's my life.  It's my yoga.  And I'm grateful for all of it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's too crowded!!


When I was teaching yoga in the Boston area, there were times when it was really busy at the yoga studio.  And when I say busy, I mean 30-40 people jammed into a small lobby & standing on the sidewalk waiting to sign in for a class that starts in 15 minutes.

I always loved the energy of this.  So many yogis!  New people, people returning to the practice, people committed to the practice & themselves.  For me, it was exciting to be a part of all that.  I loved teaching in classes that were so full I had to carefully navigate my way through the room so as not to step on someone.  I loved practicing in classes so full that sometimes I was in the hall!  I still love this.  A crowded yoga studio!  What could be better than to be a part of so many people coming together for something as great as yoga.

But of course, not everyone shared my sentiments.  I could see the agitation in the faces & bodies of some of the people waiting in line to get in to class.  Would they get in to class?  Would it sell out?  Where would they put their shoes & coats - the hangers were all taken.  Where would they put their mat?  What if "their spot" was taken.  There was a line for the bathroom!  There were too many people!  I watched (and listened) to these people & their concerns.

In this situation & others,  I like to remind everyone that yoga is not something that happens only behind the closed door of an uncrowded, calm & peaceful yoga studio.  Yoga isn't something you practice just when things are going your way.  Yoga is something that is meant to be practiced in the lobby, in the line for the bathroom, in the parking lot, in home, at work....everywhere.
And, of course, I also like to remind everyone of how cool it is when lots of people show up for yoga.  More people practicing yoga - on & off the mat.  That always means a better world for all of us.

You can now find my blog at the Register Citizen: http: