Welcome to our online birthday party called celebrate12!
I just couldn’t grasp how this could be an effective “workout” and honestly, I thought it was rather pointless to sit on a mat and breathe. How boring! I did a few random yoga classes with friends from a groupon and a “free first class” here and there, but never liked it enough to go back.
A trusted friend recommended Evergreen Yoga Center during a time when it was critical for me to learn awareness of my mind and body. Some people are naturally intuitive about what they need emotionally and physically, while others need guidance on how to grow into an intuitive being. So, with a gentle nudge I compromised in trying yoga one more time. I suppose the hope was to either grow my awareness or to simply listen to the wise people around me and see what happens. In February 2014, I opened up my mat at Evergreen Yoga.
At first glance of the studio, I wondered why there were no mirrors and why do we use blankets? Are we going to take a nap? I really don’t have time for that! I was particularly interested in what could come of the ropes…..what kind of yoga is this?
There have been many twists and turns throughout my yoga journey, but I do distinctly remember a strange discomfort in Savasansa. During my first year, I often had had Leah place different weighted sandbags and bolsters over me when I was in Savasana which helped with my discomfort of being still. I felt more grounded, and was able to relax.
Leah showed me this picture of Mr. Iyengar which led me to more questions than answers.
I was grateful for being more grounded than ever before although still feeling pretty uncomfortable in my own body. This type of relaxation and grounding enabled me to slow me down and increase my awareness of the effects of my practice. This was the point in which I knew that yoga was an important part of my self-care.
Over time, I have come to understand that our “props” (what we use to support our poses at the yoga studio or the supports I choose to have in life) are there to help me meet myself where I am — without judgment. My props give me the confidence to get quiet enough to know when to move forward or when to simply just be.
Having no mirrors in the studio (which by the way, am a big fan of) helped minimize my distraction. I became less focused on the external, and learned to trust my inner being.
–Yoga is the ability to direct and focus mental activity.–
Yoga consists of keeping the mind quiet and wakeful so that one is totally present to what one is doing. Thoughts no longer rush forth of themselves in all directions, but are fully controlled and directed.
I’m thankful for my upcoming 5th year of yoga practice and all the ups and downs that have come with my learning. I continue to learn more about each pose that we practice. I discover new ways to use props and understand what things in life throw me off balance. I have a lot of energy in my yoga practice, but I now know that stillness tastes equally as satisfying.
I am currently on faculty at The University of Memphis and co-owner of Memphis Nutrition Group where I practice as a Certified Eating Disorder Dietitian. I have the privilege of helping people heal their relationship with food just as yoga has healed my relationship with bringing awareness to both my mind and body.
I regularly attend the Barefoot Bootcamp and the Saturday Level 2 class so I hope to see you around the studio. You might find me bringing friends to class, as I love to share yoga with others who are curious or craving for stillness just like I was.
So if you find yourself reading this blog post, or more importantly, attending classes, consider yourself in good hands at Evergreen Yoga Center.
Several EYC yogis & yoginis will hit the Memphis streets tomorrow to benefit of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Here’s a little yoga sequence to help you recover when you’ve challenged your limits in the running/walking department.
These poses help your whole system recover — and help your legs after you’ve exerted your energy.
Poses where you relax while you elevate legs your legs can have a profound effect on your whole system.
The top picture shows Rochelle practicing Upward Spread Foot pose (Urdhva Prasarita Padasana), and it is appropriate for nearly everyone. It can also be done with arms down at sides.
For experienced students, practice the inverted pose Viparita Karani.
Virasana helps improve circulation to your lower legs and can restore flexibility and proper alignment to joints your feet, ankles and knees.
This is the pose that Mr. Iyengar had the Indian Army do after their long training marches.
Click on the pic for instructions on this pose.
Mala Yoga Blog has spelled out a whole sequence for runners. You can benefit from (and learn special ways to practice) Virasana even if you have tightness in knees, ankles and feet.
And even if you can’t walk, you can do yoga.
I love this time of year because of all the holiday parties. My husband and I make the rounds to see friends and family, and an extended network of neighbors and acquaintances we’ve developed in our many years of living in Memphis.
There are some people that I see only at this time of year. It’s great to catch up and hear what people have been up to, and swap stories about the previous year.
Sometimes people want to talk about yoga.
There are several refrains that I commonly hear when I am out and about.
None of these things have anything to do with your ability to do yoga.
If you want to practice yoga, you will find a way.
You will try teacher after teacher until you find the one who is the right fit for you.
When people talk to me about yoga when we are just hanging out, I take that to mean that they are interested in it. Even when what they are saying is why they can’t do it.
If you have heard yourself (or a friend) saying any of the above, let’s talk.
Sometimes you have to overcome your “can’ts,” “nots,” and “never haves,” before you can find your “will, your “want to,” and your “must do.”
I’d love to help you find your way.
In my world, the only alternative to aging is death.
With that in mind, getting older seems like a pretty good alternative.
So I am putting this out there as my official announcement.
I AM PRO-AGING!
This declaration does not come easy for me.
I’ve spent plenty of time, thought, energy and other resources trying to keep myself looking good as I move well into my 40’s.
Last week I got a phone call from a longtime out-of-town friend who is nearing 40.
He called to talk about his frustration with what he called “the whole work-out mentality.”
When I asked him what he was looking for in a physical or exercise discipline, he said an “anti-vanity” and “anti-self-loathing” practice.
He said he’s tired of all the emphasis on looks as if it were a competition. And tired of working out to make his body conform to some arbitrary definition of perfection.
I feel the same.
Like everyone else, I can find cringe-worthy flaws when I catch a surprise view of myself at a weird angle in the mirror.
So I’ve invented a few silly tricks to deal with the harsh reality of the fluorescent-lit retail fitting rooms mirrors. (Hint: use the mirror to look at yourself in the clothes, NOT to look at yourself from the back in your underwear!)
That’s a trick that works for me.
And I avoid certain situations that trigger self-loathing in me – like looking into magnifying mirrors or spending time with friends/family who comment on my latest pimple or skin tag.
I catch myself often. I hear an inner voice saying “I’m too this” or “I’m not enough that.” Then I stop and ask myself what is this self-judgement going to accomplish?
You could compare yourself to others’ standards of what’s acceptable at your age and what isn’t. But why don’t you join me in changing your inner conversation? Ask yourself you really want. What are you looking for?
Here are a few ways I answer this question:
I’m looking for the experience of feeling good in my body.
I’m looking to have the energy to do the things I love to do.
When I am with my friends and family I want to be myself.
I want to enjoy my activities as much as possible.
I want to pursue my life with passion and joy.
The above 5 things help me decide how I will spend my time.
If 60 minutes in a spinning class does not make me feel good in my body…if I have ‘friends’ who expect me to be prettier or thinner…if reading all the ‘right’ books bores me to tears…then FUHGEDDABOUDIT!
Life is too short.
I’ve considered my own death pretty seriously two times in my early life. In times of serious depression I’ve wondered if the world might be better off without me.
The end of my life would have been the ultimate anti-ager. I would have been dead at a young age — etched in everyone’s memory with nary a wrinkle or ounce of cellulite.
Why not end it all while you’re still looking young?
I’ll tell you why.
Because life after 20 and 30 and even 40 can be pretty damn good!
The crow’s feet and the (potential) jowls are a small price to pay for all the amazing experiences from each decade of my life.
This is why I am PRO-AGING!
Oh, would that it were!
Oh, would that it were!
My mind is prolific and with an inexhaustible vocabulary. When I lie down to sleep at night, motionless, thoughts flow from one to the next and the next and the next…ad infinitum. A seamless dance of idea upon thought, venturing into the future, and visiting the past. I finally fall asleep for dreams, pictures, and stories. Busy mind.
My body, however, gets stuck in inertia. It leans toward lethargy and likes its movements draggy and slow.
How to slow down the mental chatter and bring some lightness to my arms and legs? How to activate the body so that it moves as freely as flowing thought?
I start on my yoga mat. I have made an appointment with myself for daily practice. Oh, the mind is willing but the flesh is oh so weak. Coffee calls. So does the crossword puzzle. And the cat who meows for a stroke or a pat. I could skip yoga today; I’ve got work to do.
No, this is the time set aside for asana (physical) practice. I stay on the mat. I do, however, allow myself the luxury of lying down.
I often start my practice lying down because if I plan to do super-active standing poses right away, I procrastinate and rebel. My mind has strategies to coax my body into doing something.
I start on my back, feeling the ground under me. I bring knee to chest and hold the leg. I exhale my breath and wait for inhalation to come.
My mind wanders again to the 10,000 things I could be doing instead. Watering the plants. Returning phone calls. I switch legs and breathe in and breathe out.
I straighten my leg and feel the sting of the initial stretch. I let my leg down a bit so the stretch morphs into something like an interesting sensation. I have known the pain of overexertion and that never works for me.
Okay, i can be here a few more minutes. Switch legs.
My mind and my body catch up to each other for just a brief moment when I wonder how I might lengthen my hamstring muscles and relax my hip at the same time. A deep breath comes. This feels good. I keep going.
One leg stretch leads to one good breath. One lying down posture leads to a sitting up posture.
The minutes click by. I stand on my legs. I feel their earthy strength. I am growing taller with each breath.
I am strong, I am relaxed, I am practicing yoga.
My mind flits from this minute on the sticky mat to wondering what I will eat for breakfast and then back again to this moment, this posture, this breath. Then rewinds to last week’s visit with my parents and how we laughed together. Then back to the spreading of my toes and the ease of my exhalation.
This is what it’s like; this yoga practice.
My body struggles to keep up with the mental machinations, and eventually I know it will not be able to. Here, in my 30′s I am still developing its strength and enjoying creating new challenges — standing on my hands or running faster around the lake at the park. At some point the challenge will be to take one step at a time, to climb the stairs or to stay up past 9pm. I know that soon enough my 70′s and 80′s will progress toward a slowing-down.
Matching the nimbleness of the body to the agility of the mind is the challenge for me now, and surely will be the challenge then.
In the meantime, I show up to my mat. I lie down. I breathe in. I move my leg. I breathe out. I bring my body and my mind in sync for one moment. And enjoy just that much
This is what it’s like; this life.