Category: Yoga

I Can Do A Happy Dance Especially In My Yoga Pants

I will come up with any reason in the world to wear yoga pants. Why? Not just because I love doing yoga – it’s great for the body and the mind – but because I love the pants. They’re soft, stretchy and even stylish, they feel good against my skin, and bonus – no undies needed. Nobody really wants panty lines. (No judging please.)

I have eight pairs (yikes!) all black and boot cut, comfy cotton/spandex blends, and I wear them with everything from boots with heels to clogs to flip flops. They’re fashion-forward, you can dress them up or down – in fact they’re making yoga dress pants now and even yoga jeans. Throw on anything from a tunic to a tee, a seasonal sweater if need-be, and you’ve got a winner outfit year-round.

Which got me thinking.

If yoga pants make me so happy every time I put them on, is what we wear – or what we feel good wearing – driving our overall happiness factor? Because so many people (myself included) walk around finding all kinds of reasons to be unhappy. All kinds of reasons. But seemingly…without reason.

Have you noticed that?

People get so comfortable in their unhappiness that they actually think they’re happy, but don’t know why they’re not. Yea read that again.

Then examine your own loop. We’re happy one minute for whatever reason – we love what we’re wearing or eating or watching – then the next minute something trips us up – the electric bill arrives, the internet blips out, the cat puked, or somebody in our orbit projects their own unhappiness into our airspace. Boom, happiness balloon deflated.

I only recently noticed this – or maybe I just ignored it – because it’s really easy to slip along the path of negativity. We always find reasons to be miserable in the moment some discomfort comes along. Then if we don’t catch ourselves and remember that overall life is actually really good (and yes, this may take some remembering as we ebb and flow through our day,) we might forget to be happy.

It happens, a lot. And ironically happiness the one thing everybody most wants in the world. I guess we forgot that too. I just heard the coolest thing in an online life-changing class taught by a guy who is seasoned in joy. He said we are wired to win – our default settings are perfect health, super abundance and yes, bliss. As in, we already have the winning lottery ticket, we just don’t really know it.

But I do, every time I put on my yoga pants.

 

 

 

Can Healing Be Reduced To A Saying On A Shirt?

thats-not-sweatUnlike my children, or even my husband, I own two t-shirts. Two with words on them I mean. Yoga Now Wine Later and Act As If.  T-shirts are no big deal to me, but their messages sure as heck are. They reveal a lot about us, what we believe, how we live, what makes us tick.

yoganowMost people wear their t-shirts, but I use mine as inspirational art – in my dresser drawer. Sure that may be strange, but their words matter to me. Yoga Now Wine Later  describes my daily routine. It’s tangible – I yoga in the morning, I drink wine in the evening. Act as if  is different. It’s conceptual, more like a way of life.

actasifPerfectly folded so I can see the words when I open in my drawer, normally I don’t pay much attention to my clothes until I’m about to put them on. Kind of like our surroundings, we get used to our environment and don’t consciously notice it – especially what’s in our drawers.

But the pumpkin-orange Act As If  caught my eye this morning. And I’m glad it did, because I have been fairly jittery these last few weeks…ok these last few years. I don’t mean to be anxious, in fact by now I should be pretty zen.

suck-it-up-buttlercup-teeNot just because life is finally good, but because I have spent years working hard in what I call “wisdom school,” learning how to navigate my life. I’ve worked with counselors, clinicians, gurus and healers trying to feel better on every level physically and emotionally, heal from trauma, neutralize drama, decrease stress, assimilate existence and live peacefully, from a deeper soul level.

dying-men-darkBut my body and mind remember everything I’ve gone through, even if I don’t. Some of my history is blocked out, some is whole-heartedly embraced. I’ve evolved quite a bit – and p.s. there’s no set scale for how we stack up in our quest. My mind still moves a mile a minute, and my body has a mind of its own. I go from joyful calm to physical symptoms that freak me out.

yoga-crazyWhat brings on the nervous-system buzz? Aside from frequent changes that came with their own levels of intensity, after all these years I hoped wisdom-school work would totally integrate into my life. It has to a point, oftentimes I feel it and am thankful my schooling has paid off. But when my body starts acting up, it sets me down a path. I’m sure it’s just PTSD and “let-down” now that we’re finally settling in.

I was tempted to reach for a valium when I saw my little orange shirt. When we can’t figure out what to do, we have to just act as if, believe it, and get out of our own way.

After all, life is a bowl of cherries, stress is just a myth. (Play along!)

A wise woman once said, “Ride the waves of life, knowing that no matter what comes your way, you’ll be ok. Then deep joy just keeps showing up for Happily Ever After.”

Where do I get that shirt.

attraction-t you-create-your-own-calm

*images courtesy of teespring.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standing Up for Relevance ~ We All Matter

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Today is my step-daughter’s 10th birthday. Not that it’s relevant to anyone reading this post. But it’s relevant to us, despite the fact that we have not seen her over a year. Her mother is a parental alienator, and no amount of legal assistance or court intervention has been successful in changing that. But that’s not what this post is about either. It’s about relevance.

I spent most of my life not believing I was relevant. No need to delve into the historical or psychological reasons for that. I simply didn’t think that I mattered – in the classroom, in the house, in piano lessons, really anywhere. I know now that isn’t true. But it carried to my adult life in spite of my intellect telling me I indeed matter, and those in my life not having a clue that this is how I felt.

Back-of-the-room wallflower in most group situations, an introvert and a listener, or perhaps a mind-wanderer wondering if I fit in with the others in the room, I got brave one day, in my 40s no less, and put my yoga mat in the front of the room at a yoga conference. I wanted to be near the teacher, he was one of my favorite gurus, who I felt at the time was God-like. Of course he wasn’t, but he was relevant to me.

During one of the question-answer periods in the all-day session I actually raised my hand and asked a question. I don’t even remember what it was, but the act itself for me was huge. He chatted with me directly in a room of a hundred people, even said that I offered great insight. Other people approached me afterward and thanked me. I was relevant.

We all have aspects of ourselves that rule our psyches, even if we don’t show it to the world. I am married to an amazing man who in spite of his successes in life, feels quite the same about his own relevance. No matter what we do – or don’t do – when we are participating in daily life, we are relevant. But how do we learn to believe it?

Of course, like with all emotional evolvement, it’s an inside job. But feeling valued, needed, accepted, loved, worthy, even accomplished from our external world is significant for humans. And when we don’t have it, or worse, when our relevance is removed from those who matter in our lives, it’s hard.

As much as I believe that my step-daughter’s isolation from her father and step-family is due to her mother’s emotional incapacities, I don’t believe that her mother is irrelevant in her life and should be removed from it, the way she has removed us. I don’t believe that anyone is irrelevant in the world.

Happy Birthday sweet girl. You matter. And so do we.

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A Ladybug’s Meaning of Life

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I did my yoga yesterday next to a dead ladybug. I didn’t have my glasses on and it looked like a pink fuzzy next to my mat, so I picked it up and realized it wasn’t a fuzzy, but a deceased and fading little bug. I put it back next to my mat right where it was, in some sort of honorable respect for its existence in that moment.

Pink Lady Bug_thumb[39]A few minutes later, I realized there was another pink ladybug only a couple of feet away, wedged into the baseboard like a hard spec. The cats must have played too rough with these special creatures, who are purported to bring good luck.

A tiny member of the beetle family, this speckle-covered flying bug is interesting in its depiction. Thought to bring good luck, happiness and fulfill wishes, its folklore tells of its special linkage to spiritual enlightenment, renewal and protection. The latter trait was quite important to me as I tried to yoga with a broken toe. Not much keeps me off my mat, even when I broke it in downward dog.

I kept my eye on that sweet little creature on the day of hearts and love. I was already feeling quite lucky, married to my soulmate husband after a long and arduous path. I wondered what the message was, these lady luck signs in the house on the coldest of winter days. I didn’t know they lived in winter, come to find out they hibernate inside. I felt bad that my cats had killed them, did this mean my luck would go bad?

I always remain hopeful, no matter how hard some days get. But I’m here to proclaim it’s not just our outlook that makes or breaks our day. Sometimes it’s our circumstances in spite of ourselves that determine our fortune and fate. Look at these fragile symbols on my floor, I’m sure their intentions were nothing but pure. Their poor little world was unsafe and by no fault of their own. Circumstances matter as we move through our lives, even when we have wings to fly. blue flower ladybug

Sir Husband and I always recognize the fragility of life and love. We take nothing for granted and honor our union literally each and every day. We’ve gained an undeniably stirring love together, and lost so much along the way. So we pay attention to the little things – like the number of spots on a ladybug’s back, its colors, its feel, the uniqueness – and we find deep meaning in that.

Interesting that a tiny bug could bring so much thought to life in the wake of its sad death. As I carefully flowed from pose-to-pose next to its very still, pretty pink shell, I realized it had done its job. The reminders of happiness, of dreams, and wishes come true…of renewal, of wisdom, and love are all part of my inner garden, and not just on Valentine’s Day.

In Switzerland the word for ladybug translates to God’s little fairy, now the most special bug to me.

ladybug heart

 

A Broken Toe Can Snap Your Balance

When the one thing that helps my body each day like a soothing medicinal elixir – yoga – propelled what I thought was a sprained toe into a snap-crackle-broken one, I was bummed. So bummed that I pretended it didn’t happen, until a couple of poses later when I couldn’t get off the floor without squealing.

I had tripped on our heavy iron boot tray just an hour before, and I didn’t realize how hard it hit. An athlete I am not. A seasoned and solid yogi and pilates connoisseur, I am. So I know that feet matter, they are the foundation of everything. What I would do now without my daily dose of whole-body zen? I’m not a yoga addict, I’m just attached to healthy habits and feeling better.

Healing is not a foreign concept to me – the body, the mind, the spirit – I have honed enough how-to-heal skills to know I need to take the break seriously. Literally. It’s a message of sorts, all of our woes and maladies offer us a chance to stop and reflect where we are putting our time and our energy. And our body often decides for us.

After the ice pack and ibuprofen took some of the sting out, I gave the issue some thought. We spend a lot of time running around on our feet, they pretty much carry the load. Our feet help keep us grounded, they’re our solid footing, offering stability and connection to the earth, wherever we may go. Our toes – vital parts of our feet – keep us balanced. They actually help center our feet on the floor, centering us in our daily life. When they give out, we notice.

It’s possible that we take our feet for granted. We are often running, all the time, on the go, maybe not even paying attention to whether we are on track or off-kilter. I clearly wasn’t paying attention when I broke my toe not once, but twice. I was so focused on my pace that I lost my sense of balance. My pressing desire to move forward threw me off center, literally.

It took a few minutes to come to my senses although the excruciating pain persisted. I didn’t want to waste time going to the doctor or have any x-rays done, but I did because that little voice in the back of my head nagged at me… what if…what if…what if. When I realized how much we rely on our feet in the day-to-day, I decided they’re a big deal.

Maybe that was the message, to notice the little big things that really make a difference. I’m now rethinking my feet and renewing my commitment to recognizing the value and importance of grounding and balance each day. That perpetual gratitude list now includes my feet.

But my yoga…what would I do? In my newfound paying attention I thought of something else. My broken toe and weakened foot can rest, but what about the rest of my body?

Hello arms and hands. Welcome to my list. It’s all up to you right now, thank you for your help.

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Breaking New Ground

Got 30 seconds? Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Feel your feet on the floor, right here, right now. Feel grounded?

The words “get more grounded” have been grounded into my head so many times over the last fifteen years through yoga, you would think I could do it with my eyes closed. I can, but only when I’m standing on my yoga mat. Even then, I may drift in and out of the here and now, as my mind goes wherever it feels like going, my sense of centered, calm groundedness going with it.

We all have a primal need to feel grounded, like we are standing and living on solid ground. We trust it, we know it will hold us up, we believe in its stability, its safety, we don’t even want to think about it. But feeling grounded isn’t always easy. Events and our environment in the present can remove that feeling of security. The world around us right now is a pretty clear example, feeling safe and stable takes some effort.

I came to question my groundedness recently as I realized other than the anchored love of Sir Husband, my own life seems to fluctuate in grand evolution between players and circumstances. Looking back, it always has. And I’d like to stay grounded in spite of it.

I don’t think I’m alone. Who doesn’t want to feel solid in the here and now no matter what else is going on? Turns out learning to feel grounded is formed early and nurtured, sort of becoming our personal foundation. Just like peace and happiness, our sense of stability comes from within.

Of course life ebbs and flows, so an extended tilt in one direction or the other can influence our inner landscape. Feeling grounded in the present is easily lost in the past or the future.This begs the question, how do we “get more grounded” when the foundation constantly shifts? And since feeling grounded is a feeling, what would that really mean?

A few words come to mind…safe and supported, confident and empowered, trusting in life as it presents itself. Not as simple as it seems, we’re back to that old ebb and flow. I’m not sure I ever really learned the feeling of being grounded, starting from my earliest roots. Trust and safety were more about fear and survival, so my foundation is a little bit chipped.

But that doesn’t make it impossible to stand on more solid ground right here and right now. In fact, there’s no need for a yoga mat. I’ll close eyes, feel my feet on the floor, take a deep breath and re-build…I’ve got 30 seconds and then some.

The Sweet Smell of A Memory

You know how a sound, or a smell, or a taste will take you back and into a memory within a millisecond? That old General Foods International Coffee commercial was spot on. But it isn’t coffee for me. It’s my yoga mat.

I’ve been doing yoga for 18 years now with the same mat. It has just a hint of a sweet, sticky, rubbery-clean smell that has lingered all this time. It’s feels and smells like home.

The scented memories are welcome, I suffer from a hazy amnesia after years of stress ranging from cancer scares and surgeries to police protection from a stalker, abuse in my former marriage, the list is long. But none of that matters when I roll out my mat. The aroma takes me back to happy times, and one memory that stands out from over a decade ago.

I was attending the weekend-long northeast Yoga Journal Live conference with a friend, and somehow we ended up in the elevator with Rodney Yee. He’s a prominent ballet dancer-turned yogi and known around the world, and at the time was a celebrity to me.

My friend and I could not stop looking at his long, perfectly smooth, jet black hair that was pulled back in a pony tail extending more than halfway down his back. He noticed, and with a smile said, “Wow girls, you have a lot of suitcases for a short weekend, what on earth did you bring?”

Gasp!

A perfect icebreaker in a crowded elevator, we chatted all the way to the 16th floor. He was one of the nicest, down-to-earth people I met that weekend. Not only was his celebrity status erased, I got to know him enough from taking his classes that a couple of years later I participated in one of his yoga specials for PBS. I easily go back to some wonderful times in my mind when I roll out my mat.

I love yoga. I have not taught it, but have studied it and shared it, and am still studying. The difference is that I not only do yoga, I apply it to my entire life. It was the first thing that ever felt good after years of joint-pounding aerobics. It was like a drug then, and still is. I have never felt so relaxed, so tuned in, so aware, and so worked-out at the same time.

Yoga is sensory, and changes you in subtle ways that stick with you beyond a keener sense of smell. I enjoy a more relaxed face, softer eyes, a taller stance and better posture. A longer spine, looser hips, a leaner torso, and a sturdier stance. I feel my feet grounded and solid, toes sort of kissing the floor. Did you even know your toes do that? Who really feels their feet on the floor? Yogis do.

You could call it a healthy addiction, I have practiced almost daily since I started, no matter what else is going on. It’s part of the definable foundation in my life. So when I stand on my mat, solid and grounded, soft and aware, and I get that little scent, I smile. For me, yoga is the essence of life.

Stop Resisting, say Oprah and Chopra

I’m learning to meditate! Can we have a peaceful and silent wooooooo.

Every day for a week I have followed the Oprah-Deepak Chopra lessons of Manifesting Grace through Gratitude 21-day Meditation Experience with zen-like enthusiasm. And I realized, I have no idea what living in gratitude really feels like. Oh sure I have had moments of the sensation, many of which were snuffed out by the oncoming traffic of my daily life. But guess what. I am grateful for that realization in and of itself. Because this gratitude thing may be the key to happiness. I’m not sure, but I am in fact feeling teeny, subtle shifts in the right direction.

It turns out that we can be grateful for things here and there – friends, a good meal, someone’s help when we need it, the last pair of shoes in our size at DSW. But it’s when we see our entire lives as something to be grateful for that we win. And that means even being grateful for the ugly. Not so easy.

Meditation Day 7 had particular meaning for me. It was about resistance. I have been learning about resistance to obstacles in life for quite some time from a wise woman, who continued to gently remind me that resistance to our crap only makes it grow. This law of the Universe is a tough one, because it forces us to confront – if we choose to – what is keeping us stuck on the merry go round of misery.

Let me share a few nuggets from Oprah and Chopra about removing resistance that are worth remembering.

When we struggle, or face obstacles, it is a message from our true self to pay attention and take a fresh look at the situation. When we do that we will find that we are really facing inner resistance, and carry stuck, pessimistic beliefs blocking us. We look at the dark side of life and tell ourselves there isn’t much to feel grateful for. We may feel entitled to reward, and entitlement is simply selfishness in disguise. But when we practice gratitude, our whole perspective changes and we see life as the gift. This shift from pessimism to optimism allows us to see and understand that the ups and downs of our daily existence pale in comparison to the infinite generosity of nature, and all of life. It’s about letting go of conditioned thinking and expanding ourselves, surrendering, and accepting ourselves as the smaller part of a greater whole, and allowing the open channel to bathe us in grace. 

It’s easy to meditate on that with soft, soothing meditation music and an assigned mantra from Deepak to keep us on track for those few minutes, quieting the mind and settling into stillness. No resistance there. But let’s face it. When we get on with the rest of our day, we will likely face more obstacles and more resistance…hence the term “practice.” But just learning about gratitude and grace, and then practicing – as often as we forget we remember – to pause, open our heart and trust life, and ourselves, that all will be well.

(silent)  wooooooooooo

Your Divine Feminine is in there Somewhere

I decided to do a yoga session called Finding Your Divine Feminine. It’s Monday, today is as good a day as any to find that. I didn’t really realize it was lost.

Here’s the thing. A few weeks ago Sir Husband and I went to an intimate talk given by my favorite women’s health pioneer, Dr. Christiane Northrup. I was so excited to see her, it was on my bucket list. She only lives down the road, but she’s still a celebrity. Her circuit these days is about her latest book, Goddesses Never Age, a truly insightful book about how women can live their lives differently at any age to experience a healthy and happy life, and be the best they can be. But this gathering was about living agelessly, and it was filled with gender-neutral information until she mentioned the Divine Feminine.

There were only a few men in the room, most of them related to her in some way, family and her personal trainer-type healers. But Sir Husband listened intently, his support of my endeavor to feel better on every level is unending. So when Dr. Northrup, in her dynamic, inspiring way told all the women in the room they needed to find their G-spots, well, it was interesting. Sir Husband, of course, was in total agreement with her.

Her point was, that women’s Divine Feminine is related to our source of power located in the second chakra, housing our G-spot. Chakras are energy centers in our bodies, that help interpret and define how we live our lives physically, emotionally, and spiritually. There are seven, aligned with our spinal column, beginning at the pelvis – our roots, and ending at the crown of our heads – connecting us to Divine intelligence and grace. These invisible energy centers are our vital life force keeping us healthy, vibrant, and alive.

Well Sir Husband was fascinated. I am already a student of this Indian school of yoga and meditation, but not of finding my G-spot. So when I tried a yoga session about finding my Divine Feminine, I was a little nervous.

It began in a comfortable seated position with a lovely breathing meditation for women, focusing on the heart center and the feeling of self-love. Women do not typically reserve much love for themselves, but instead give it away to those around them. So the next few minutes were spent doing soothing stretches to release tension, open up the long muscles of the body, heart-opening stretches from shoulder to pelvis, and even self-massage. I was a little hesitant. But guided self-massage along arms and legs, shoulders and belly, was perfectly acceptable. Turns out, an hour of Divine Feminine yoga was just what the doctor ordered.

No….no G-spots were involved. But an opportunity to truly focus on myself, be kind to my body, and think about the importance of remembering who I really am – roles and identities put aside for just a few minutes – was divine. I am realizing how easy it is to forget who I am at the core. My essence. My values. My personal desires, my passions, and my purpose. We are worthy of recognizing and pursuing what fuels our hearts and drives meaning in our lives. It is easy to get lost in the identities we think we have, the roles we take on, and the responsibility of those around us. But it’s surprisingly easy, if we think about it, to remember who we are at our core.

Dr. Northrup said her family’s motto is, “Healthy, happy, dead.” Living happily and healthfully until we die, apparently is our birthright. But it’s so easy to disconnect from that. Until you find your Divine essence. And your G-spot.

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