Yoga love, my yoga love

Yes, I’m singing “Baby love” by The Supremes while typing this, and YES, I know. Another post about my love for yoga? Yep. Because last night in yoga, well, it was amazing. A-maz-ing.

No one else in class could hear me silently cheering for myself as I did not one, not two, but three things I had never been able to do before. I wanted to stop the class and say “Look what I can do!!”. And I was in Savasana, I was already taking mental notes for this blog post. And thinking about how things in my life have changed so much in the past 2 and a half years since I began this journey that I never ever ever thought I would.

This practice has taken me from overweight to fit, from insecure to confident, from anxiety to (mostly) calm. Oh I still worry about stuff I can’t control, and have moments of complete freak out, but I also don’t stay in that space for long. I’ve learned to control what I can and let go of what I can’t.

I know a lot of non-yoga people get sooooooo sick of hearing yoga people talk about how great it is. But has anyone stopped to realize they’re singing yogas praises for a good reason?? It’s a body, mind and soul transformation. Not a lot of things can claim all three. I have a few runner friends who feel that way about running. I tried running. I know I can run, which is something I never thought I’d say either. But I had too many injuries and not a deep-in-my-soul love for it. So I get runner love. I hope they can appreciate my yoga love.

And in an effort to remain honest about my practice, yes I almost did fall over last night in a pose I’ve done a hundred thousand times. And I also know why. Because in that moment, that second, my mind drifted and I wasn’t focused. Of course I laughed with Julie because, well, hello? I almost fell over! But after I regained my balance and was realizing what I did wrong, it occurred to me that so many things in our lives are just like that pose and potential fall.

How many times have you lost focus in what you are doing? Things are going well, maybe you start to feel like you can coast a little instead of furiously pedaling, and then you start to swerve. Your resolve starts to waiver and you quickly get jolted back to what can happen if you lose that concentration. Hopefully you can correct your thinking and start again toward your goal. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a hard fall to see that you’ve totally lost your previous determination and it takes a scraped knee or elbow to see how far you fell.

This could be with anything: exercise, diet, anger, dating, addiction, career, kids, spouse, anything. Anything you are trying to change about yourself to make you a better you. Change isn’t easy. There is resistance, sometimes from others who don’t want to see you change, but most of the time, the resistance is right between your own ears. We think things of ourselves that we would never say outloud or to another person. We allow our bad thinking to take over and self sabotage our progress. “I’ll never lose that much weight” or “I’ll never get that promotion” or “I’ll never find someone who will treat me better. I deserve what I’m getting” or “I can have just one (or two or five) and no one will know.” We SAY these things to ourselves!! ACK!

What yoga has taught me is that what happens outside of my mat has nothing to do with me and if I focus on myself and what I can do, nothing can stop me. I can look inside and praise my little victories, even if no one else does. It’s MY victory after all. I can look at how far I’ve come and not be bogged down by how much further I have to go. I can control my mind, my actions, my day by how I respond to my own thinking. Basically, I can get out of my own way.

And by getting out of my own way, I’ve empowered myself. Even if I have a swerve. Or I lose concentration for a second. The more I practice, the stronger I am. The more you have people around you, supporting you, understanding what you’re doing and going through, the easier it is to acknowledge the slip and get right back up. And LEARN from it. Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

yoga love

Yoga – The Life Changer

I have written about my no-longer-new love of yoga before. But every once in awhile, I have a class where certain things fall into place. I just love when that happens and how something I did to change my outside has transformed my inside.

I can’t tell you the date of my very first class. It isn’t engraved on some healing stone sitting on my bedside table. I’m positive I could ask my Yogi to look it up for me and I could have some sort of anniversary date. I could get it tattooed on my inner wrist to remind myself of the day I took back my life. All I can tell you is that the strides I have made are pretty remarkable when I think back to that first class.

I’ve shared some of this before; I couldn’t even touch my toes, the warm-up was as much “exercise” as I had done in years and I was preeeeeetty sure I was going to pass out within the first 20 minutes. I was sweating from head to toe, and I thought, there is simply NO WAY I was going to be able to do this for an hour.

Guess what? I did it for an hour. It wasn’t pretty, graceful or even in the ball park of proper form. But I stuck it out. And the best part of all? I. Came. Back.

So here we are, now, today, and I have been blessed in so many other ways than just going to a class. I have made friends. I could call them 24/7 if I needed something and I know they would be there for me. I have deepened my friendship with the one who got me there in the first place. She will forever and ever hold a place in my heart and I credit her for giving me the push I needed. I’m pretty sure we would all get kicked out of any other yoga class, as we lay there in savasana and laugh and talk.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post and the thought that occured to me during savasana during our last class. (yes, everything that preceded this paragraph was just the warm up. Sit back, grab your coffee and keep reading.)

As we go through our sun salutations (which by the way, are not so killer anymore and I WOW do I look forward to starting them. Yo has been changing them up some and it’s AWESOME!) she will instruct us to “step forward in to a forward fold”. As we keep going through them, she will say “step or hop to the front in to a forward fold”. I always step. Always. Through all of our sun salutations, always step. So I decided, what the hell. Let’s try to hop. So when we progressed from stepping to step or hop, I hopped. I didn’t come crashing down and the Earth didn’t stop revolving. I simply hopped forward. Hands on the ground, both legs off the ground. Hop. And then I did it again. And again. Through the entire class, each time Yo said to step or hop, I hopped.

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal. So what? You hopped forward 2-3 feet. Really? This is worthy of a blog post? Yes. Yes it is. Because 80 pounds ago, there was NO WAY these feet would be leaving the ground at the same time. Are you kidding? My arms would’ve crumbled from the sheer weight. But that’s not even the point. My point is that no matter what, you can continue to grow and learn as you push yourself and try to do something you didn’t think you could do. Step OUT of your comfort zone. Step OUT of your own mind that is holding you back.

The second incident is what else happened. We tried a new pose and guess what happened? I fell. On. My. Ass. Fell down.

We started in chair, lowered even further and raised up on to our tip toes. Ok, as if that isn’t challenging enough, we then twisted so left elbow was across right knee. Um yea. Anyone who knows me knows my knees suck. They pop, crack and generally have caused me annoyance for most of my life. I remember being at mass at St. Paul and I would kneel down and my knees would pop so loudly that they echoed through the church.

So there were, on our tip toes, crouched down AND twisted and next thing I know, I’m on the ground. Which goes back to my previous point…..step out of your comfort zone. Try something you don’t think you could do. Because one of two things will happen: You will do it and overcome or you will fall on your ass. Which just means you try again. You gather your courage, take a deep breath in and kick your ego to the door. And you try it. Maybe you have to try 50 times. It might take trying 51 to get it.

So keep trying. Step. Have the courage to try. And keep trying. Because you’re worth it, your life is worth it.

Namaste.

Om-Tattoo-On-Wrist

Hello Blog!

Oh how I’ve missed you! I haven’t written a new blog post in, well, for-ev-er! Life has a way of throwing curve balls just when you think the track couldn’t get any curvier. That’s when you strap in, hold on and find out what you’re really made of.

You also find out who is there and who isn’t when the dust has cleared somewhat. And that’s always surprising isn’t it?

I’m back from vacation. It was wonderful to be away for two weeks and enjoy the sunshine, palm trees and beachy air. We found places in Florida we love and it has confirmed our decision to move. The Florida life is what this girl needs. I think I can handle one more winter here, knowing it will be my last.

Our favorite 2 places were Punta Gorda and Venice. Punta Gorda is a completely different lifestyle as every house has a canal in the back with a boatdock. The canals lead to straight to the Gulf of Mexico. I mean, how amazing is that? Venice has two of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and the town itself is small and has little shops lining the streets. It reminds me of Uptown Westerville and has a small town feel to it. I could picture being in either location and loving it.

The downside, I ate WAY too much on my two week hiatus and was shocked at the scale when I got back on the first morning. Nothing jump starts motivation than a backward step. I’ve been watching the calories and back to my work out routine (which in all honesty, did not suffer while I was gone. I did yoga, went on bike rides, long walks, but oh dear Lord did the diet go on the back back back burner!) and I’m happy to say I’m only 3 lbs away from where I was before vacation. I know I’ll get there and won’t make that mistake again!

I have my class reunion this weekend too and plugged into my calorie calculator how to lose 20 lbs by this Friday. It kept saying “error” so I yelled at it and put it away. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life!

Oh, and speaking of getting back into the groove of things, I went to my yoga class Saturday and for the first time ever, I “flipped my dog”. After all this time in yoga, I’ve been terrified to even try it. But I did on Saturday, figuring, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I fall? Ok. I fall. Who ever learns something from not falling and failing? But I didn’t fall! I’m sure it wasn’t the prettiest thing and I’m fairly certain I wasn’t doing it completely right, but I flipped and did it. That hand was reaching for the sky baby!

Some day I’ll blog about my hiatus and reach out to others about it, but for now, I’m back! The good, the bad and the ugly surround us all every day. It’s our reaction, and our perception and our ability to move forward in situations that brings us to our knees that defines who we are. And most of the time, when we’re on our knees, we’re there for a good reason. Stay there. Pray about it. Meditate about it. And you’ll be amazed at how you can once again get up and move on with new perspective.

Namaste.

Venice beach

Relapse or Slip?

These terms could fit a myriad of issues. And for good reason. They are interchangable with what we all struggle with. All of us. Don’t think you have a problem? Ha! I bet if asked, people could come up with at least “Fault”. I use fault in quotations because obviously not all struggles are exactly equal in scope and size, but at the same time, let’s not diminish any type of internal wrestling with right and wrong.

As some of my most loyal blog followers know, I had to have surgery on my back, again, for a melanoma that thankfully my doctor caught early. Surgery is a general term. She calls it surgery. I’m sure billed like a surgery. But it’s not in a hospital, its outpatient in her office surgical room. (Plus, as a side note, since it’s the beginning of the year and no deductible has been met yet, I’m sure this bill is going knock me off my feet. Sigh…..) So as a result of this “procedure”, I’ve had to miss a few yoga classes and a few barre classes. Throw in the Super Bowl and lots of not-so-good-for-me snacks, and well, you can probably see where this is going. I stepped on the scale this morning and was horrified and saddened to see I’ve gained 1 and 1/2 pounds since last week.

I’ve held my 70 lb weight loss to the pound since I hit that goal. Even though it was frustrating to not continue to lose more when nothing had changed. Maybe my body needed some time to recalibrate. I don’t know. But I went into a quick inventory of what I’ve been doing, what I’ve slacked off doing and how and when I need to refocus my efforts.

Do you know someone who struggles with an issue of trying to change and they have the tools, they know what to do, and yet……even after much success something switches in their mind and they give up all the progress they made? I think we all know someone (at least one) who has gone through this. The alcoholic who is sober for days, weeks, months, and in a moment, has the bottle? No thought about about what is being thrown away. What about the drug user who is out of rehab, made changes and suddenly an opportunity is there and they take it without a second thought. Until it’s too late.

So I’ve been thinking about this relapse or slip terminology. I’ve talked to some very knowledgable people in my Al Anon group as well as some in AA. The difference seems to be what happens after the fall. Do you continue on a shame-spiral and think “Screw it. I messed up. I have to start all over. I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I don’t even want to try anymore. This is who I am, if you don’t like it, YOU leave.”

OR

Can you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and realize how much you’ve learned since your last Day 1? Can you start Day 1 with renewed determination and focus? Can you call someone who is helping you along your journey and honestly ask for help?

This is the difference between a slip and relapse. It’s not that you have to start over (because you do) it’s that you start over with serious gusto. You add more tools to your toolkit so that it doesn’t happen again.

I’m choosing to look at myself as the latter. I’m going to go barre Thursday and do what I can. I’m going to drink more water, because I know I’ve been seriously slacking in that department. I’m going to confess to my trainer that I had more than a few bites of ooey gooey yummy homemade soft pretzels Sundays, and yes, one or more may have fell into some cheese dip and then stumbled into my mouth. Mmmmmmmmm.

But I can tell you what I won’t do. I won’t allow it to derail me. I think about people who have lost significant weight by going on a fad diet or one of those pre-packaged meal deals like Jenny Craig or Nurtisystem. Those people all lose weight. I did when I was on Jenny Craig decades ago. But it doesn’t really teach you to keep it off. It teaches you how to use the microwave. Long lasting change isn’t easy, or fast, or without trials. But it’s soooooo worth it.

So even if your “slip” is falling away from your New Years Resolution, or you’ve fallen off the diet/alcohol/drug/sex/gambling/whatever wagon that you’ve been trying to stay on, fear not! Today is a new day. And today is a great day to call Day One.

Namaste

dont give up

Toast

So yea, today is my birthday. Yea! I’m just older and any day now I’m going to start getting AARP crap in the mail and notifications about my Social Security monthly payout if I was to die right now. Thanks a lot SSA for letting me know that.

But this is not a blog post about that. It’s about toast. And my wonderful, oh-so-wise Yogi and her meditation thought from yoga Monday night. Yep. Toast. Pretty deep, right?

Let me start by explaining that it was probably one of the worst Savasana poses in a long time. Except that one time I broke out in tears and cried through the whole thing. No this was a close second. But at least this time there were no tears. It was mostly laughter.

First, there was talking from other people who were there to train. Unless we issue a gag order during Savasana, I think I need to learn to block it out better. Julie is doing a great job. Tammy and I and the other girls, not so much. Second, it was cold because, well, after sweating for an hour and then lying still tends to get a little chilly. So between Tammy and I, we were fumbling around trying to get our sweaters around us without disturbing others. It didn’t work so well. (Note to self: Be prepared for the cold ahead of time!) Then, I sneezed. Not a huge problem, except then I started laughing. Then Tammy started laughing cuz I was laughing.

So much for lying still and only listening to our breath, right?

But then Yolanda started her meditation focus for us. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And that too strikes me as funny, simply because it was about toast. Specifically, burnt toast.

She asked what we did when we had a piece of burnt toast. Do we throw it away and start over? Do we try to scrape off the burnt part with a knife? Do we try to cover it up with something else to mask the burnt part? Do we eat it anyway and get through it and promise ourselves we’re going to be more careful next time? Do we convince ourselves we LIKE burnt toast and this is what I wanted in the first place?

And then, while you’re pondering what you do with burnt toast, replace toast with your life. Hmmmmmm. Can you make a fresh start? Can you get rid of that part of you that is holding you back and move forward? Or do you cover what is wrong with other things? Food? Alcohol? Drugs? Gambling? Shopping? Can you get to the root cause of what happened and fix it?

Of course, fixing burnt toast is as easy as changing the setting on the side of the toaster. But fixing what is holding you down is as easy as taking the steps needed to move forward. To stay motivated. To stay focused. Put down the weight that is causing the problems and lighten up. Just like the toast.

And pretty soon, instead of dealing with burnt toast slathered with peanut butter (ya know, the crunchy kind and it’s on so thick you can’t taste the toast anyway?) you can have it lightly toasted with a schtickle of coconut oil. And realize how good it is without all that other stuff.

Namaste.

burnt toast

New Year, New Yoga, New Mindset

Today was the first yoga class of the new year. I had decided as one of my New Years goals was to push myself a little harder, try to do the smallest thing a bit better and truly appreciate what my body was doing and is capable of doing during class. It’s still so difficult for me to see how much progress I have made. I know that sounds silly. It’s not me fishing for compliments either. It’s just me being honest about the way my mind works sometimes. I think we all have a tendency sometimes to be overly critical of ourselves and focus on the flaws instead of the progress. So I’m making a conscience effort this year to do this as the part of the year of me! 🙂

By the way, every time I think of that phrase, I think of Seinfeld and the “Summer of George”. It cracks me.

So with today’s yoga practice with my new mat, new yoga pants and my renewed determination, I set out to push a little farther. Hold my pose a little deeper, stretch myself juuuuuuuuust a bit more. And I’m thrilled to say I did just that. Through the entire practice, I was able to push myself and bring my leg all the way through without touching the ground. Vast improvement in my book! And even though my arms still tremble during side plank, I rocked that baby on both sides the whole entire time, even when we flipped over, top leg behind and arm reaching for the sky. I refused to fall or come out of the pose before instructed. Again, major progress in my book. Beautiful wonderful progress.

Yoga is such a personal journey. It’s graceful, delicate, but strong, determined and focused. I think each of us exhibits those features every day. Some days we show one side more than others. Some days we have to. But it’s always there. Finding something that shows all of those characteristics in for splendid hour is a Godsend.

So while the year is still new, resolutions or goals are still fresh in our minds, try to find that something that is yours. Something that can bring focus and clarity and challenge and renewal to your mind, body and spirit. Because no matter what it is you achieve, it’s yours. No one can take that away from you.

Namaste.

white yoga

Inner Strength

It’s that time of year when thoughts go to Christmas decorations coming down, resolutions for the new year come to mind, what your “word of the year” or theme will be be. Reflection. Changes. Decluttering. Reorganizing. (And you know how I love to declutter!)

But this year, as I was contemplating all of this, I had a slightly different take on it. Yes, I still want most of the crap in my basement gone. I’ll be working on that slowly this winter. Yes, I want to lose more weight, gain more muscle, and get Linda Hamilton arms. Yes, I want to find my inner zen more easily in times in difficulty or stress. Find my breath.

I want to also let go. I want to let go of things that weigh me down, both physically and mentally. I want to start each day with a positive intention and carry it through my day, no matter what is thrown at me. I’m not trying to be unrealistic. Everyone has a bad day. Or two. Or 10. But I want to find a way, if I can, to not get bogged down with stress, or misfortune, or just general unhappiness. I want to look at it in a different way.

What can I do to change it? Make it better? Because that is all that is my power. I can’t change someone else or their situation. I can fix me. I can fix my outlook. I can change my reaction. I can change what comes out of my mouth (which has got me in trouble more than a little!) and I can certainly change my perception.

So what weighs us down? A bad relationship that you know is not serving you and your interests anymore? Are you staying for the wrong reasons with a friend, a spouse, a lover? Are you spending more time bitching about this person instead of finding ways to improve it? Can you admit your part in it to help you find closure? That’s a tough one! It’s so much easier to place all the blame on the other person, but does that really help you feel better when you close your eyes at night?

Finding out what you need, what you really truly need, and then making that happen is what you can control. And what a wonderful feeling. Sometimes, the only thing you can control is your own breath. The world feels like it’s falling apart all around you and the only thing you can do for those first few moments is breathe. My yogi tells us to listen to our breath. Listen to it. Control it. Slow it. Regain your footing. When you feel you’re on solid ground, then start over. But you’ll have a harder time regaining your own footing when you’re relying on someone else for that. Trying to hold on to the broken friendship, the crumbled marriage, the relationship you thought was going somewhere turned out in the light of morning to not be what you hoped it would be. What then? Do you blame the friend, the spouse, for their failure in making you happy?

The guilt that comes with letting go of those relationships can be overwhelming too. We try and try and try to make it work. We don’t want to give up on years of that friendship. Or think we should stay in a marriage for the kids. Don’t we lose ourselves in that process? I’ve spoken before about the great loss I went through losing a friend of decades and how I didn’t know how to cope, how to deal and move forward. It seriously was harder than my divorce. More tears were shed, more sleepless nights, more self doubt and constant questioning shouting in my head. I couldn’t make her take me back. I couldn’t make her want me in her life. I couldn’t make her see how completely devastated I was. But through all that, I learned how to find myself that I had lost.

This year, this year is about finding my inner strength. Mind, body and spirit. I’m going to push myself to do things I never would have thought to try. I’m going to do things I always wanted to do but was afraid to. (Maybe time for my tattoo on my shoulder??) I’m going to allow myself to be a bit selfish. To think of what I want, what I need, and making it happen. I’m going find my inner zen. It’s going to be a challenge, and it’s going to stretch me out of my comfort zone as a people pleaser and a habitual “fixer”. And I’m thankful for 2014 teaching me that I can’t fix anyone but me. And what a waste of time it has been to try.

Namaste.

Balance