Monday, September 17, 2012

Hi Ya!

Let's face it, we live in a pretty strict society. This isn't a political post about USA and freedom and such, I'm talking in more of a peer pressure sense. We (and I include myself 100% in this "we") care so much what other people think that we often push down our own needs and wants in order to "fit in".

Last week I took Alex to karate class. It is just a beginner's class, and the instructor began by saying "any of you moms you want to join in, please feel free." I really wanted to. I love learning new things and moving around screaming "hi ya!" seemed much more enjoyable than sitting on a hard plastic chair for an hour. But none of the other moms got up, so I stayed put. The entire class, I was thinking about this - wishing I had stood up and joined the kids in the line. But not wanting to be that "weird" lady who was punching and kicking with the 6 year olds. I wasn't ready to be labelled - especially being new in town and trying to grow a local business.

When did I begin to care so much what others thought over what I wanted? If I look at kids at various ages, it is clear to see the progression of societal influence. Babies don't care - they scream, throw, poop and dance when ever and where ever they want to. As the kids grow up we as parents try to help them fit in with society by letting them know when something is appropriate and when it isn't, which is essentially laying down the idea to conform to the majority. They take this idea to school where their peers are the majority and many begin to take it to extremes - either needing to be identical to everyone else or identical to no one else. And somewhere along the line we begin to balance out our version of "fitting in" and stop thinking about it - it just becomes our way of life.

What if we challenged it? How would our lives be different if we stepped back and recognized all of the things we do and don't do because of others? What would we do differently if we really listened to ourselves - what we wanted and didn't want? I am not talking about robbing banks here. Moreso the subtle things in our lives - like eating dessert when no one else wants any, or wearing a shirt your teenage daughter rolls her eyes at. Or learning how to do karate with a bunch of 6 year olds. Hmmm....

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Birthday

Today is it, the day I set in motion almost 2 years ago. Back when I was signing up for yoga teacher training, I always knew I wanted my own studio. Becoming a yoga teacher was never about just teaching in an established studio for me, it was about bringing yoga to a community that had been lacking. About making that initial introduction of yoga to the chronically stressed out. 

Starting something new is scary. There is equal opportunity for acceptance and rejection. 50/50. Kinda makes me want to come up with some excuse to not go through with it. But not this time. Yoga's biggest lesson to me has been to trust. Trust that I have what it takes to make something happen. Trust that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Trust that there truly is no good/bad or acceptance/rejection - there just is what there is. If no one shows up to class today, it is what it is. If 20 people show up to class today, it is what it is. That internal labeling is what is scary, not the actual situation. Living up to expectations our Egos have fabricated for us. As long as I remember that, I know I will be fine. But sometimes knowing something with your brain isn't the same as knowing it with your heart.

The yoga community I come from is strong. Guidance for the newbies is shared between the teacher and the other yogis in the room. We work as a team to create a safe space where people can explore without feeling judged. Yet here I am, about to take on that role all alone. Yoga is just such an important part of my life, it has truly changed me. Introducing that to someone else can be intimidating, especially if there are no other yogis in the room to back me up that no one cares if you "look silly". How do I get people to let go all by myself? What if I don't get through to people and turn them off of yoga forever? What if I don't do this magnificent way of life justice? It's funny that my biggest fear is failing something that doesn't believe in failing. 

Success, failure, both, neither, whatever. Happy Birthday to Bent Yoga Studio. 


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Circle of Life? NOT.

Over and over I have heard life moves in cycles. That in everything there is high and low, commitment and leniency, push and pull. What I am realizing, though, is that the underlying lessons are constant, and just the way in which they are brought into our lives varies in cycles.

My physical yoga practice has waned lately. I went from a 6-day-a-weeker to a once-to-twice-a-weeker in the past month or so. It hasn't been a priority like it was earlier (and like I am sure it will be again). It isn't that I tired of it, just that other things have been taking center stage in my life so yoga has been placed on the back burner.

Or has it? The lesson of yoga is patience, acceptance, detachment. And maybe the reason I haven't felt the familiar urge to get to a class is because these lessons have appeared in my life in other forms as of late. 

I am in the process of buying a house. Due to many items out of my control, it has been touch and go for 6 weeks now. One day I think I am closing and the next I am digging up a birth certificate (or P&L statement, or copies of deposited checks, or DNA sample, etc). Over and over this has happened. After a break down 2 days ago, I have finally gotten to the point that it is either detach from the emotion involved or get physically sick. I can no longer afford to be invested in the outcome. It is what it is, and my health is more important.

Besides detachment, the other yoga lesson this has tested me on is faith. Faith that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I am a control freak and need to know things, like, where I will be living a week from now. I have Alex's daycare/school to take care of, my own work deadlines to plan moving around, getting a renter into my current house, etc. Living day to day is very difficult to a planner such as myself, but I am slowly learning I have to have Faith that things are unfolding how they will. That when my attention is not focused on tomorrow I can give more today. I need to release my grip on the future (easier said than done, but better at it now than a few weeks ago!).

Today I am having an exam covering everything I have been studying for the past month and a half. I showed up for a 7a flight (much needed vacation!) only to have it cancelled. I now have 10 more hours to chill in a cheap faux leather seat with locked arm rests that prevent stretching out. Looking around when the cancellation announcement was made, I realized how far I have come in my yoga lessons, even without physical practice. 

So instead of feeling guilty (like I did) for letting something "slack", recognize that if you still have more to learn on the lesson, it will find you. Might be in a different form, but it is still there. You just have to be willing to do a little homework.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Can't Forget To.......Look! A Pretty Bird!

If you're anything like me, then you have so much going on that sometimes "unimportant" thoughts have to take a back seat to something more immediate and pressing. The perfect example is my laundry. I am a horrible laundry person. I put the clothes in the washer and then I remember about them at the most inopportune times - such as sitting at a restaurant far from home, in the middle of a yoga class, or during a work meeting. The thought comes into my mind ("don't forget to switch the clothes to the dryer!") and then it goes out just as softly as it came. And there is no predicting when it will reappear (usually NOT when I am at home and able to actually accomplish the task).

I have found a system in the past year or so that has a lot of promise. So far, it has been better than setting timers and text alerts on my phone (which I still do, but don't need to rely as heavily on them now). I thought I would share it with you, just in case you have a similar issue.

So how do I remind myself of these little thoughts? I project them onto something I will see in the future directly before the task has to be accomplished. I know, it sounds strange, but hear me out.

This morning I needed to stop at CVS on the way home from yoga. The thought came into my head as I was laying on my mat before class began. I had been meaning to get to CVS for 3 days now but kept forgetting, so it was really important I remembered. Therefore, I turned to my technique. I pictured my drive home from yoga. At 12 Mile Rd there is a huge church I pass, so I mentally stamped the thought "go to CVS" onto it in my mind. I then continued on my drive and on the corner where I would usually go straight to go home but where I needed to turn to go to CVS, I again concentrated on that intersection while mantra-ing "turn and go to CVS". I did this over and over for about a minute or two. Then cleared my head and began to meditate, eventually moving into an amazing morning hot vinyasa class. By then, any thought of CVS had long since left my mind.

I get out of class and into my car and begin to drive home, the CVS thought still hidden. I drive a few miles and I see the church - boom! Into my head comes the thought "go to CVS". I just smile in wonder at how well it worked and start to go on a mental tangent on how cool that just was, letting the CVS thought slip out of my head again.

A mile later, I am at the intersection. My blinker goes on automatically. I think it is strange and then I remember "turn and go to CVS". My subconscious was a little quicker than my thinking brain, but it still worked regardless. I pulled into CVS - mission accomplished.

I use this pretty often lately and it works great. For instance, if I need to bring a few things I am likely to forget with me somewhere I will picture the door handle in my house and attach the thought "there should be 3 things in your hand" or something. Should be short and quick so it easily can be remembered. With the laundry, it will often be when I see my kitchen sink, since that is right next to the stairs to the basement. The reason I believe it works better than an external reminder, is that you are only going to trigger the thought when you are imminently close to where you need to be to do the task, so there isn't much time to forget again. For example, if I set a reminder on my phone to make Alex's lunch and I happen to be outside or in the middle of something when it goes off, I just shut it off and continue what I was doing - ultimately forgetting again. But if I picture making Alex's lunch when I see the fridge, I will already be right there in the kitchen and can quickly do it.

Now it isn't foolproof - I have often found myself driving towards a store just to forget in route and drive right past. But it is pretty amazing how well it works overall. If you need help remembering the little tasks, give it a try. Why not? Worst case, it doesn't work for you. Best case, it does :)