Posts tagged: yoga
March 16, 2012

Not Next But Now

Last Friday afternoon I was poised as if on a diving board: I wanted to plunge headlong into the weekend and land in a feather bed. The antidote to a bearish week was a bit of a pleasurefest. I had dinner with friends, rustic lamb ragu and rough red wine. I stayed in bed for a criminally long time on Saturday reading Bel Canto and drinking coffee. I turned on the stove that night and stood at the cutting board peeling potatoes and shredding kale. I made a steak. I was listening to Anything Goes, and life felt very quietly good.

And also itchy. When life is placid and nice, do you ever feel like you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop? That now, when it’s quiet, is not when it’s time to enjoy; it’s time to scramble to prepare for whatever’s coming next?

Sunday morning, in the brightness of daylight savings, I just barely made it to yoga. My teacher sat at the front of the room and talked about getting back to basics. (She tends to be sort of telepathic in her timing.) We took strong standing poses, and then refined them. We looked at our feet, sealing all four corners into the floor, working that pinkie toe like it was a circus strong man instead of a wee little thing. We created a rock-solid foundation from the ground up.

In the first days of January, I proudly touted my basics. But by mid-March I seem to have lost interest in them precisely because they’re fundamentals. Something in me thought there should be something more, apparently, than the expressions of love, community, and creativity already in my life.  A manicure? Tap dance lessons? A vacation? A baby? A new pair of jeans? Next, next, next.

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December 9, 2011

How Do You Deal With Stress?

You know when you’re cruising along, feeling holiday, slicing through life like that proverbial knife through the butter, and then wham-o: Stress City? I knew the other shoe had to drop: the sun had been shining for days and days, I was in an unflappable mood, and the tone at home was cheerful and almost annoyingly upbeat. And then this week came along.

On Wednesday I dropped into a nearby coffee shop for fifteen minutes before work just to sit by myself. I scribbled down the things that were weighing on me––some bills that needed paying, a meeting I needed to prepare for––and then still felt that jittery cast of negativity and anxiety. I believe it goes by the common name of stress.

So then I tried to write down a few quick ideas of what would help ease that. The solutions weren’t anything new (exercise, eat healthy food, read an uplifting blog), but I felt a little better for making the list. (And nothing, by the by, seemed quite as helpful as the old-fashioned I drank in a bubble bath that night while reading Barbara Pym.)

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April 21, 2011

Playing, Not Perfecting

When my sister first sent me the details of our yoga retreat, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. Hanuman, the monkey god, was the weekend’s theme, and while he might be a fine guy, I couldn’t get Hanumanasana, his namesake pose, out of my head. I was nearly enough to make me not want to go: it’s a pose I find uncomfortable, scary, and not to put too fine a point on it, just yuck.

But, as I learned over the weekend, Hanuman is so much more than the splits. Can I tell you a bit about him? You might learn to love him as much as I did.

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April 12, 2011

What Is Growing Within You This Spring?

This weekend, I went on my first yoga retreat. There were so many themes brought up over two days in the mountains that I couldn’t wait to bring back here, and I plan on teasing these out over several posts. (It’s just too juicy to smash into one!) But it makes the most sense to start at the beginning.

Before my sister and I drove up the crazy steep incline to a small guest house nestled at the top of a mountain, we received an email from the weekend’s teachers. They asked us to pause in our lives to ask ourselves: What is unfolding within you this spring? How can you nourish and cultivate those tender, tiny sprouts?

Isn’t it funny how it so often takes someone else to ask us to reflect for us to actually do it? We go from moment to moment in our lives, seamlessly moving from one thought, one action, one task to the next. At its best, life can move along smoothly like this, and at its worst, we can feel like automatons, going through the motions of our days without any heart or mindfulness.

I think this is why so many of us turn to our favorite wise souls for their blogs and books. These outside influences serve as a reminder to check in with our hearts and see what needs tending there: what do I want in my life? How can I support that desire today, tomorrow, this week, this year?

It would be lovely to have a practice of checking in with ourselves. For many of us, this is what yoga and journaling are often about. But even our regular soul-filled practices can become routine, and then we might need to fully step out of our lives to bring new attention to our intentions. I went to the top of a mountain in Massachusetts with wood stoves, wide windows, and a view that made my heart sing. There, two teachers broke my heart wide open, and I could see each little seedling growing within me, tiny green shoots of what I most value, who I love, and how I can live to best support all of that.

Retreating from the hum and buzz of our lives every now and then feels essential, but you don’t have to go to the top of a mountain to make it happen. You might walk up to the park and sit on a bench in the sun for a full hour with your eyes closed, just feeling the sweet warmth. Or close the door to the bedroom, light a candle, and give yourself the space and time to sit with what’s growing within you. And luckily, we have these friends on the internet to prod us with questions, give us the spark of creativity and desire to flourish that makes us want to answer over and over again: what is unfolding within me this spring?