Saturday, August 6, 2016

When it doubt, do it again...FIVE TIMES

The apartment is quiet this morning. Lil b went to work, hubs went to say see-ya-laters to friends before we make the final move to Tampa, and I'm here with my dog.
A good excuse to take practice and although I left my mat in Tampa, that sweet-hub-o-mine text and told me to use his mat. He must've heard the excuses starting to simmer.

So practice I did.
All is coming.
I decided to get as far as I could without forcing a posture. It's been a couple of years since I've had a committed practice so I've eased back into time on my mat by moving through the standing postures of the primary series. Today I told myself I'd keep going until I got stuck.
How appropriate.
My old friend Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana.
For the record, I still do not like to feel stuck.

But today, rather than being aggravated, I kept my promise.
I took my practice as far as I could without out forcing a posture 
I practiced ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana 5 times, did my closing postures and took a beautiful savasana.

I recently taught a 4 day Sign Language interpreting intensive titled Rendering the English. It was a led class in the practice required to effectively interpret from ASL to English. I shared the concept of Mysore with my students and how there have been times in my yoga practice where I have effortlessly completed postures further along the series than ardha baddha Padma paschimottanasana, but there are also times where I will have to go back to something I thought I already knew, and practice it again -- and again -- and again -- and again -- and again. Much like interpreting.
Their willingness to go back to basics with me over those 4 days gave me inspiration on my mat this morning. Willingness to love myself right where I am and curiosity to learn what I can while I'm here.

Guruji is right, all is coming.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Take practice anyway

All twist poses seem to be easier when the body is slim. All twist poses are more challenging with relative short arms. Who cares. Take practice anyway.

I haven't looked at this blog in over 6 months but I've thought about it often. The quote that lines my title banner has been meandering through my brain as of late and at odd hours of the day I hear my spirit say, "take practice anyway!"

If possible, I am now shorter, or at least curvier than I ever have been outside of being pregnant and this excess curviness makes everything more challenging.

Who cares. Take practice anyway.

I've spent the past 6 months eating out of colored containers and pushing through burpees and hip drops -- all of which have given me several proud-of-myself-moments. But I stopped, and when I stop the progress stops.

Who cares. Take practice anyway.

I moved from 30 minute workouts to a pilates/yoga based program and something in my soul stirred.
That stirring unearthed photos and memories from 2012 and 2013 -- a time when I practiced regularly. I was still short, I was still curvy -- I didn't care, I took practice anyway and I was the happiest and strongest I can ever remember physically, mentally and emotionally.

Several weeks ago I rolled out my mat and took practice
  • Opening chant
  • Surya Namaskara
  • Closing chant
  • Savasana
It was short, but it was practice and it was good.

This week I made it to my mat 3 times.
Surya Namaskara through Parshvottanasana the chants sooth my restless mind and my sweet dog joins me for Savasana.
It feels good to be back on my mat.

So much is happening in our lives right now. Our youngest children head off to college in less than a month, I've accepted a new job with more responsibilities in a new city, my husband is willing to uproot himself for the adventure awaiting we get to pack, we get to purge, we get to move. We get to send our children off with a hug and a promise of an answered phone or late night text session. We get to explore new neighborhoods and decorate a new space....and I get to practice. Practice everything I've been preparing for as I take the step from mom of children to mom of adults -- from assistant to director -- from co-parent to dating wife :)

All is coming.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

When terror strikes

Last year for our anniversary my husband presented me with two, poignant, heartfelt gifts in hopes I would reconnect with some lost pieces of me: the first, a chakra pendant of a woman in lotus position and the second, a leather bound journal with an embossed sugar skull on the cover. I loved both of them instantly and fell deeper in love, with him and with them, when he said, "when you practice and write regularly, you're a happier person." It's taken me a few months to act on each of those behaviors, but now that I have -- he couldn't be more correct.

The relationship with my yoga mat is much like that of an old, true friend. We've gone our own directions busy with other things, but when we get back together, it's like we never separated. I've rolled out my mat each day since the tail end of December and while my practice may not be what it once was in terms of asana completion, it is still healing, restorative, and confidence building. I can almost "hear" my body whispering "thank you" as I move between postures with a deep ujjayi breath and everything settles into a familiar rhythm. Even the preparation of my yoga space was meditative. I practice on our porch which is filled with visions of growth and relationship. My husband has a thriving herb and tomato garden in pots along the edge of the balcony and my yoga altar is a reminder of where we have been as a couple and where we will go so the day I took time to delicately wash each statue and Milagros, to wipe down all the surfaces and sweep the floor also felt like I was clearing the cobwebs from my soul inviting spirit into a warm, comfortable dwelling place.

An earlier time when there was no fear
The space has been cleared, the intentions are clear and the judgment has been set aside...until my practice brings me to Urdhva Dhanurasana, back bending. I remember first growing into this posture. My teacher at the time, Shanna, firmly encouraged me and wouldn't let me cheat myself out of its benefits. Later in my practice, she used me as an example of someone "with a strong back bend" to demonstrate the posture to one of her teaching students and I remember those words dearly. I've even tried to call them to mind these past few weeks -- "she's very good in this posture, she has a strong back bend..." but nothing negates the true fear I feel when attempting this posture now.

Fear, no, it feels more like terror. It's not a fear that I will fail, or that I will hurt myself or not be able to complete the pose, it's a real welling of terror from below my heart that quickens my breath and nearly pushes the emotions out of my eyes. My husband coached me through the posture once last week and I moved through the series, but the fear was still there. The next day, when he wasn't there -- I just couldn't push up.

I'm allowing myself to sit with this fear, rather than run away from it or bury it in a negative coping strategy as the Babs of my past would have, until my mind and body are ready to move through the posture.

Urdhva Dhanurasana is a heart opener - among other benefits - and requires a bit of vulnerability and is also meant to counteract anxiety. "Back bends thrust your full life force up through the spine and burn through blockages along the way. When one of these blockages gets triggered it really does not matter whether you are doing a deep back bend  or a beginner back bend because the emotional state that gets triggered is really of paramount importance." ( So for now, I will continue to focus on consistency of things that make me a happier person and remember all is coming. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Maybe it's just a recurring theme in my own consciousness, or maybe there really is a prevalence of the what I call the "pendulum of feminine" lately, but I've decided I don't want to swing anymore.

It seems to me the world has carved out neat little compartments for where a woman of my age and experience should be and I don't like any of them and have deliberately chosen to discount them all.

I'm not a perfect Pinterest mom with projects at the ready and crock pot recipes planned but I am proud when some creative juices flow and have snapped a pic or two of a meal that impressed me. My kitchen counters are clean for now because we were out of town all weekend, and there are some hefty dust bunnies under the love seat and what irks me about this isn't the dust, it's that I've allowed the dust to keep me from forging friendships and inviting in laughter.

I'm not a badass because there are still times fear stops me in my tracks and that doesn't make me weak or submissive, it makes me human. There's beauty in the ebb and flow of emotion, relation and communication of a woman and you can't appreciate being, or being in the presence of this beauty if it's in-your-face to prove-a-point.

I am not a poster child of perfect calorie consumption nor do I sweat the daily recommended requirement consistently. After years of different food plans and exercise ideas my thighs may still curve wider than my hips and my skin may be dimpled but  when I look in a mirror I feel love.

I'm 2nd runner up to the world's worst thank you card writer and I don't have a Norman Rockwell family but I'm not defined by the things I don't do, if I were, this post would never be finished.

In today's Instagram society we put our best face (or meal, or workout, or ______) forward then chase our own face ...never stopping to think it's not a race.

What would happen if I  just stop to be human. If I just usher in the unremarkable.
And SHARE the unremarkable...because it's those moments that are truly remarkable.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

...all is coming

When I (re)started my Ashtanga journey in February 2012, every day I set my mat in front of a little sign that read "Practice, Practice Practice. All is Coming." As a beginner to Mysore, I believed the "all" was the ability to complete the Asanas in the Primary Series and beyond...all = all asanas.

In the beginning, my struggle with Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana taught me the benefits of being stuck... but I moved on in the series.

For a year now, I've been working on Marichyasana C...yes, for a year.
I haven't moved on in the series.

Nothing is coming.
Ah no... ALL is coming.
I've redefined all.
Today, "all" appeared on my mat, right under my toes, in my fingers, across my was all there.
All is coming, like the ability to move through asanas I previously thought were impossible.
All is coming, when did the pain in my wrists go away?
All is coming, hey, I can move from Chaturanga Dandasana to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana with my legs off the ground...repeatedly!
All is coming, mmmm, that's a deep, full bend in Padangushtasana
All is coming, not only do I know where my lats are and what they do...but  I can feel them move as I am intentional about how to use them in a posture.
All is coming, HOLY CRAP I lifted my body up off the ground in Uth Pluthi!
All is eventually the Primary series will come, or it won't.
All is all...what all have you missed in your search for All?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Breakdown, Go Ahead...Give it to me

Alternate title: Reminders of Recovery.

It's hard to believe it has been 4 years since I confidently stepped onto the road to recovery. Confidently? Well, I was scared - paralyzed with fear most days - but yes, confident because I knew I was ready to see my journey through to it's completion no matter how uncomfortable it was.

In 2009 I was clinically diagnosed with an eating disorder, 307.50 according to the DSM-IV, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). Who knew the actual diagnosis would feed (no pun intended) the belongingess issues that encouraged the disorder to begin with; I mean I didn't even belong in a labeled diagnosis.

For years, decades, I didn't allow myself to feel; feelings were scary and overwhelming and best left buried. Even "good" feelings were too much for me, sometimes even moreso than "bad" feelings. It took some searching but I finally found a fantastic therapist. Together we named my disorder, both clinically and personally, and after a year and a half of individual and group therapy I felt confident referring to myself as recovered.

The two biggest happenings that grew out of my therapy were my ability to evict Joan from my life, and my willingness to allow my feelings to flow without fear.

In my practice, I'm still working on Marichyasana C. I'm not at all bothered (anymore) to be working on the same posture for months, it's given me the opportunity to give love and attention to the 62 asanas/vinyasas that lead up to it. Once I let go of the need to "conquer the posture," things started opening up for me nicely.

This week I'm back in the Shala after taking a month away due to my conference schedule; it was so nice to be back in a familiar place with faces that lit up when we made eye contact. My first day back was a bit more hurried than I would've liked so I took practice through Marichyasana A, closed with finishing postures then scooted off to work. Two days later I was back with plenty of time to spare and took the time to move through all 5 repetitions of Marichy C. I took the first two on my own and Krista said she'd be around to assist for number 3.

Twisting my body around the first time, I focused on keeping length in my spine and released all worry over clasping my fingers together, I breathed deeply into the stretch and it felt gooood; the second side was just as refreshing.

Vinyasa. Second set, first side... as I unwind I feel it, I don't quite know what "it" is exactly but it's there, it's a feeling and for a moment a flash across my eyes warned it could be scary.

Vinyasa, Second set, DEEP inhale, second side...I know it's going to be there, I don't know what it is, but I know (for whatever reason) I'm safe; I unwind and there it is again, a bit of an internal oozing. I've had a similar experience in this posture before and it left me aggravated for the rest of the day, like I'd unlocked something that was pissed off.

Vinyasa, Third set... I see Krista standing next to me from the corner of my eye and motion to her to get a little closer, as she leaned in I somehow mustered up just enough breath to say, "I'm not sure what it is, but somethingfeeling is creeping out each time I unwind" and I pointed to the area around my 2nd Chakra. (Funny, the mission statement for this Chakra is "I Feel.")

We moved through the 3rd set and I completed 4 and 5 on my own. I had to stop and let stuff leak out of my eyes for a while in between, but I wasn't afraid to finish.

A choir of angels is singing in my head at this moment because this truly was a breakthrough moment. I knew, in advance, that I was unlocking a feeling. I even had a premonition that it might be scary, but I kept going. The old me most definitely would NOT have kept going, heck the old me would never have become a Shala member to begin with.

I worked my way through closing series, breathed in my closing mantra and prepared for savasana.  I laid down to close my eyes and the yogi practicing next to me tapped me on the arm and said "You're not alone." We've never met before, he and I, but those 3 words reaffirmed I am safe, and I belong.

I didn't resort to old soothing behaviors, I didn't even think of them. I forged through a feeling even as I knew it was happening and would most definitely make me cry, in PUBLIC.

I spent the rest of my day documenting other ways I know I've healed those old wounds and developed healthy coping strategies.

A breakdown can be a's all in what you call it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Practice on Moon Day?

Traditionally, ashtanga practitioners should not practice on moon days.

Today is a moon day, and I just finished my practice.
I wrestled with whether or not to get on my mat for most of the day.

My body has been asking for practice.
These past few weeks have had their share of events and my attention was most definitely needed elsewhere so I climbed onto my mat and snuck away to the shala whenever I could, but that wasn't as often as my body is used to. As I parked my car and walked into my empty house this afternoon my inner-self was literally crying for the calming effect of my breath and the fluidity of the asanas.

My dogs, all THREE of them, found a corner of the room from which to quietly watch and didn't make a sound the entire time I was on the mat. As I rested in Savasana each of them, one at a time, stooped in close to nuzzle my hands and face and took rest with me.

A nice peace settled in as I rolled up my mat.
There are at least 37 (hundred) things I could've done with the time I spent taking practice today, some are things I reserve specifically for a moon day, but none would have been as restorative or as encouraging as allowing myself to take my practice.

The core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is an eight-limbed path that forms the structural framework for yoga practice. Upon practicing all eight limbs of the path it becomes self-evident that no one element is elevated over another in a hierarchical order. Each is part of a holistic focus which eventually brings completeness to the individual as they find their connectivity to the divine. Because we are all uniquely individual a person can emphasize one branch and then move on to another as they round out their understanding. (source)
Like Asana and Pranayama, the Yamas and Niyamas are limbs of this framework. These can be looked at as universal morality and personal observances. While my decision to take practice on a moon day could be seen as a breaking of a "rule" or tradition, my experience resonates more with the idea of Tapas - the 3rd Niyama or rule prescribed for personal observance.

Tapas – Disciplined use of our energy 
Tapas refers to the activity of keeping the body fit or to confront and handle the inner urges without outer show. Literally it means to heat the body and, by so doing, to cleanse it. Behind the notion of tapas lies the idea we can direct our energy to enthusiastically engage life and achieve our ultimate goal of creating union with the Divine. Tapas helps us burn up all the desires that stand in our way of this goal.
My body, feeling disconnected from it's soulful self, directed a disciplined use of energy to remind me that in the midst of all my responsibilities and roles, staying true and connected to myself is an important responsibility and the most important role as well.