mulling things over

Stretchy stuff

I commented on this in passing the other day, and now I’ve been thinking a lot about how much we don’t stretch in everyday life.  Once my teacher Margaret said “It’s yoga.  Exaggerate!” That’s exactly right.  We never do that.  I might reach for something on the top shelf, only for a moment, and never thinking about the stretch, only thinking about not dropping that gravy pitcher that I’m inching down.  

I do find that when I’m practicing daily, or close to daily, that I do more stretching in life.  Today I was at Audio-Reader for two hours, reading live with another person.  We alternated reading every 15 minutes.  I really wanted to stand up and do, say, Parsvottanasana (intense side stretch), while I wasn’t reading.  I didn’t do it because I thought it would be weird for the other guy.  Next time I’ll just warn my partner in advance.  I do various yoga poses when I’m recording at Audio-Reader alone, just trying not to breathe too hard.

Parsvottanasana
Parsvottanasana
mulling things over, self-talk

Get busy!

I have spent all day doodling around.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I don’t have time to do yoga between 6 am walking and 9 am water therapy class.  I would have time if I didn’t want to eat breakfast, that is.   And I would have time if I were willing to get up at 5 am, which I’m not.  As a result, I practice later in the day, and it’s awfully hard to make myself do it.  

On Wednesdays, it’s OK because I have class that day.

On Fridays, it’s OK because friends come over to practice in the afternoon.

That leaves Monday as the day that I have to conjure up an image of my better self encouraging my lazy self to go downstairs to the mat.  The image that springs to mind is one of me pushing and kicking myself in the rear.  I guess it would be better to replace that image with one of my better self gently taking lazy self’s hand and leading lazy self down the stairs.  I’ll work on that.

general blather, mulling things over

What is yoga for?

  • Knowing your body
  • Stretching your body farther.  In class the other day we observed that in normal life you never step 4 1/2 feet apart.  Once in a while you have to reach up high, but not often.
  • Knowing your breath.
  • Connecting your breath with the world’s breath.
  • Going inward.

I’m strangely reluctant to talk about the spiritual aspects of yoga.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because I fear it will sound like a bunch of woo-woo, or maybe it’s because it might scare people away from yoga.  I’m going to have to mull this over.  

In other news, I was planning on spending an hour or so downstairs on the mat before supper, but there’s a person in a black t-shirt down there listening to metal (loud) and lifting weights.  Time to close the doors to my office and do a bit in here.

mulling things over

Practicing with friends

Priscilla and Dana just left after practicing with me for about an hour and half.  It’s so interesting to practice with friends – qualitatively different from solitary practice and from class.  When I practice alone, I usually work out more or less what sequence I want to do, and edit it as I go along. In class the teacher directs the sequence completely with little to no input from students, which is excellent for going beyond the familiar.  We also don’t talk much in class.  Practicing with friends means there’s much more chat and much more fluidity. 

Today we had a loose idea of what we were going to do, but we added some extra things that I hadn’t thought of.  Kim had showed us a couple of Alexander technique stretches earlier in the week, and Priscilla suggested those, and then in a discussion of stretching our feet I remembered that very painful but good thing of interweaving fingers and toes and then stretching the foot back and forth, so we did that.

We talked about a variety of things, some yoga, some not, and we checked in with each other on how we were doing the poses.  That was quite helpful.

Peaceful, friendly, calm.  I loved it.  It’s nice to have all three ways to practice.

general blather, mulling things over, YoMo

YoMo days 7, 8, and 9

Ooh, I’ve just got to keep up!  On Wednesday I didn’t practice in the morning, but I went to Ageless.  The class was excellent.  A brand new student was in the class, and as a result Kim helped her quite a bit, leaving us in very long holds.  I try hard not to come out of the pose before the teacher says, but that bent front leg in Parsvakonasana (extended side angle) and in Virabhadrasana II (warrior II) was just going to crumble so I had to pop back up.  That’s one thing class is very good for – working you hard.  I never seem to work as hard at home as I do in class, and I don’t know why.

I did my focus poses – Upavistha Konasana (seated wide angle) and Supta Virasana (reclining hero) – as TV poses.  Better than not doing them at all.

Yesterday was another zoomy day with waaaaaay too much computer time, so I did Savasana for ten minutes before dinner.  (Just a question:  My office door is closed.  Doesn’t that mean another family member should not open it?)

Today my sister Priscilla and my friend (and massage therapist) Dana are coming over to do a restorative practice with me. This is something I’m trying to do every Friday afternoon. We did it last week, with two additional people. Very nice.

Utthita Parsvakonasana
Utthita Parsvakonasana
Virabhadrasana II
Virabhadrasana II
Upavista Konasana
Upavista Konasana
Supta Virasana
Supta Virasana
general blather, mulling things over, self-talk

Chitter chatter

This morning I had a lovely peaceful practice.  I started as the sun was rising.  We had an ice storm followed by snow yesterday, so the field outside my window was sparklingly beautiful, as though the grass and surrounding trees had been sprayed with tiny jewels.

One problem with writing about home practice is that while I’m practicing I’m thinking about possible posts.  That’s good,  in that I can find a fair amount to say, and bad, in that I’m not as mindful as I should be while I’m practicing.

The worst:  During Savasana, I was thinking about writing for YoMo about calming the mind chatter.  Even worse, I thought I might mention that the idea for YoMo came to me in Savasana.

Laughing kindly at myself about it helps.  So does remembering my breath.

general blather, mulling things over

Writing practice

I’m going to be doing quite a bit of writing in January.  I want to keep this blog up, even when it’s very boring because I’m doing more or less the same thing over and over.  I’ll probably write in the Yoga Center blog, and check in on the Yoga Center forums, and my plan is to write a couple of posts each week during YoMo.  (Note the weasel words ‘plan’ and ‘a couple’.)

It’s a bit daunting.  I did write a novel in November,  so I can probably manage the January writing.

Any suggestions for what to write about?

mulling things over, self-talk

Under the weather

Today’s weather was gloomy, cold and wet.  I have been feeling the same way for several days.  “Less than crisp” would be a good way to put it.  Last spring when I was sick, I continued to practice, only very very restoratively.  Maybe only breathing and some very gently movement.

My reminder to myself is therefore: Unless I ‘m unconscious, I can practice yoga.

mulling things over, self-talk

Practicing to practice

I was irked with myself today, because I didn’t practice (apart from the non-practice practice of uttanasana on the kitchen counter).  I told my sister I thought I should be practicing daily to get ready for YoMo.  She laughed at me.  “It’s YoMo that’s supposed to jump start your daily practice.  You don’t need to practice for it.”

She’s right.  I suppose if I didn’t do yoga several times a week it would be a good idea to get in the habit before YoMo, but maybe not even that.  Sometimes I’m too hard on myself.

Another of my sisters encountered this great thing in a book by Sylvia Boorstin:

“I continue to suffer, tumbling around in stories of discontent, until I catch myself, and stop, and allow myself to know, and deeply feel, that I am frightened or confused or disappointed or angry or tired or ashamed or sad–that “I’m in pain!” Then my own good heart, out of compassion, takes care of me. It all happens when I am able to say to myself (I honestly do use these words), “Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what is happening. Then we’ll figure out what to do.”
>From Happiness is an inside job: Practicing for a joyful life, by Sylvia Boorstein, p. 9-10.

She goes on to say that in these rescue phrases she is giving herself three instructions:
Relax.
Take a breath.
Pay attention to what is happening.

It’s important that she calls herself “sweetheart” in this instruction: “‘Sweetheart’ reminds me that it isn’t my fault that my mind is embittered, that something has upset it, that I’m in pain. Even if I see that the source of my suffering is my own mind’s refusing to accommodate to its challenge, I can still feel compassionate about that. No one purposely suffers.” (p. 12)

It helps to remember this.

general blather, mulling things over

Better today

I can’t say I was paying more attention today, but I wasn’t as hard on myself.  And even better, I practiced first thing in the morning.  And even better than that, I have class this afternoon.  I often give myself a pass on days when I go to class. There’s no reason I can’t do at least a gentle practice in the morning (or evening).

I was clearing away the breakfast things when the thought popped into my head, “This is a good day.”  My guess is that the morning practice was partly responsible.