Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Category: Yoga

Just Breathe

I find all of the om-mimicking “just breathe” quotes plastered on the web incredibly annoying. Telling one’s self to “just breathe” when one doesn’t have a practice or space between the frustrations and the thinking of this phrase feels like such a slap in the face. Like, it’s another thing my mind uses to boss me around…

If you would just breathe through it, honey, this wouldn’t be so bad… aka if you were just stronger, more organized, in better shape, had more money, thought ahead more, etc we wouldn’t be in this situation.

Sheesh.

Telling myself to “just breathe” used to make me feel much much worse. And now when I see friends put it in status updates, I just want to hug them and say, “No. Don’t just breathe. Feel it. Feel every crappy thing you’re feeling. And take a break. And cry. And go for a walk. And give yourself some space. Call a friend. Take a nap. Do something for yourself that is nurturing, not abusive”.

Bit dramatic, I know, but this is about allowing ourselves what we need. And ending the knuckle-down options. This has a lot to do with my yoga practice, so stay with me.

Two weeks ago, I gave myself a small challenge – yoga for 5 days in a row.

I made it 4 days, and they weren’t easy, but they weren’t hard. My favorite part of classes is when the teacher says things like “Honor where you’re at” and “It’s not supposed to be easy, but stay with your breathing”. In this space, I feel like they’re giving me permission to do what I need, to choose the beginner or more challenging modification. To lay in child’s pose for the entire class if I so choose.

Because I don’t give myself this type of permission in my usual day. Even the act of doing yoga feels like a luxury.

We all have an inner dialogue, some people’s friendlier than others. Mine can be like living with an insane person. Insane. There is an incessant mix of self-deprecation, Nazi-like commands and random music playing all.the.time.

Yoga brings me back to myself. It’s like someone takes the volume of the voice in my head and turns it way down. And I’m given space to honor me.

I practiced at home 6 times over the past two weeks. And I attended one amazing class with a friend. And I’m looking forward to practicing again today.

Let me tell you, all of that deep breathing really helps.

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Do you have a yoga practice? Do you practice at home or at a studio? If you have a favorite website or studio in LA – please share in the comments. I love resources. Currently, I use yogatoday.com and took a class at InYoga Center.

Sundays Are For (Week 27)

 

 

 

Today was an up & down, moon void-of-course type of day.

We slept in late because we were out late – our friends had a big house-warming party last night. Once up, we decided to drive down to the marina to walk Carter. It’s been cold & gray, like June gloom in July. I’ll take it though. I don’t know why, but I am pining for fall and the holidays, so being able to wear jeans and a scarf this afternoon made me extra happy.

We walked the marina and a little shopping center. Brought Carter down onto this dock and saw this gorgeous bird, though I don’t know what he is. He was a brave one though, letting me getting super close to snap a photo of him.

On the way home, we went to Jamba Juice, and then I spent an hour doing yoga. Loving it so much.

We watched Battlestar Galactica, ate lunch, took showers and decided to head out for lattes. Ended up at my fav place, but Carter didn’t feel well, and his continuous coughing up fluid made it extremely annoying to sit at the coffee shop. So with coffees to go and a quick stop by Trader Joe’s, we were on our way back home.

The dinner plan was grilled carne asada, but because this day has been all about foiled plans, the gas grill wasn’t working. Dinner turn out fine, but not as amazing as I’d hoped.

H started his work vacation. It’s been a nice weekend, having him home. He’ll be around all week, which frees me up to go running alone and put some good time in at the office. Hope your weekend was enjoyable too xo

A Little Challenge

My energy and sleep are all over the place recently. And my head is full of the crap that tells you you’re not good enough. Meaning, I’m not good enough. No bueno.

Last night, on a whim, I decided to do 5 days of yoga this week.

This morning I did my first class via Yoga Today.

Maybe yoga’s not the right thing for you… but I bet there’s something that helps you relax, feeds your soul, quiets down those mean voices that you avoid. That you place at the bottom of your to-do list as the “reward” for getting everything else done. Maybe a bath, a swim, a nap, some writing, some walking, some meditating. Whatever it is, you dangle that nurturing action in front of you like a carrot… and then never get to enjoy it.

I read this post by Michelle – We have the time – and I agree. No one is going to paint your canvas for you, as she says. No one is going to run my miles, do my yoga, kiss my husband for me (let’s hope not, but you get the point hah). I am the one living this life, and I’m the one who gets to choose how I spend that time.

One day I will be gone. And the time I spent on yoga or hugging my husband or writing to you here will be much more valuable to everyone than the laundry done or not done.

What do you choose? Will you join me in picking one awesome thing for you to do each day? Would love to hear about it in the comments 🙂

Ask for Space, Receive It

Today was a doozy.

It probably started yesterday, when I was already feeling cranky about too many social obligations. But, the morning coffee date helped with a latte and conversation and then a hot shower put me in a good enough mood that I rallied.

At the bbq, I laid low. Sat outside away from the game-day noise, rocking on a chair with a friend. But after three beers and the games ending, I wanted to leave. My husband did not. He wanted to stay for a round of card games. We had a small tiff as he went so far as to ask what we’d do when we go home – read a book?

Uh, ya. I was craving rest and alone time. Once we finally got to leave, and I drove us home, I took advantage and worked on my Cultivating Courage class. I sipped tea and doodled and sat in the quiet.

In bed, though, the beer, food and tea all equaled grossness. I was caffeinated, sugared-out and uncomfortable. Sleep took forever.

5am – BANG. A terrible sound jolted me from my dream. It sounded like someone was banging a bat against metal.

Crazy homeless person in the alley? Nope. It was my sister’s rabbits thumping in their cage on the balcony. I tried dealing with them myself and then woke her up to bring them inside.

By 5:30am I was wide awake, on a Monday holiday, feeling my 3m run slip away and f-ing cranky.

H suggested we get up. I suggested we walk the dog at the beach, sunrise-style. We were at the beach by 6:15am. I was cold, hungry and pissed. This was not the way I’d pictured my day off before a hell-week of work.

But now that I’m learning (and relearning) and paying attention, I went with it. Foggy head, tired eyes, cold body. I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t struggle. I snapped some photos, listened to the waves crash. We decided to drop the dog at home and go out for breakfast, husband’s treat. I inhaled eggs mondaire and coffee.

Back at the house, I crawled into bed with a heat pack and laptop. I felt too ill to sleep, too tired to do anything. It sucked. I wanted to cry. Instead, I just gave up, and went back to sleep at 9am.

It was bliss. For the first hour I just laid there with racing thoughts, but once I fell asleep, it was the boost I needed. And then I laid in bed some more, wrote morning pages, checked email, went on IG and asked to be left alone by my family (which was my courageous act of the day).

And somehow, the rest of the day, was great. My sis and I video chatted with mom quick. Then we all packed up and went to the park where H and I played roller-hockey and my sis hung with the dog. Then we hit up Trader Joe’s. Returning home, I had more work crap to deal with (apparently the Universe didn’t understand today was a day off) and when the work stuff didn’t pan out, I gave up… and did an hour of yoga. I mean, really, who AM I?!

Yoga. Hot shower. More e-course work and then dinner, prepared by my husband. And now I’m here – sitting in an arm chair in our living room, relaxed and sleepy, ready to go get a solid 8 hours of sleep. Today was like three days rolled into one, but I am grateful I did two things: asked for space and received it.

I’m learning…

 

Yoga Makes It Better

Coming back from a trip is hard – there’s going back to work, getting back into a routine, catching up on sleep, eating better again and tiredness. It’s as if you’re running running running and bam you hit a wall. Even if it’s a relaxing trip. You’re thrown out of the vacation mindset and back to the real world.

It’s quite jarring.

That was the experience of my day. Happy to be alone, I made my way into work and started with email. I knew the moon was void of course but today it was more dream-land wasted time than tying up loose ends. My meeting was enjoyable but my conference call, smack in the middle of the day, was a slog. I won’t even go into my opinions about meetings in general suffice to say this one supported all of my reasons. It sucked up any energy I had left.

Even driving home felt confusing and tiring. Walking the dog and talking to my mom didn’t help either. I decided the only available course was yoga. It was a perfect time to test out my theory of showing up for the experience. That the act of doing yoga, the practice, is what will nourish and support me.

It worked. I did a 30min Anusara class via my YogaToday membership. Neesha is my favorite instructor and her information about energy (prana) getting stuck up in our bodies while we travel, not flowing down and out and creating that racing mind were all spot on. She even mentioned slowed bowel issues when traveling which was a negative point of my weekend trip. Amazingly helpful, the class was relaxing – like someone ironed out my kinks.

I’m not 100% back yet, but I’m getting there. Taking it as slow as I need.

Friendship Serendipity

I have some pretty awesome friends. One in particular is moving to the foreground. Enthusiastic, joyful, smart, communicative and thoughtful, she’s set a new bar for me as a person. Each time she goes through a challenging situation, I am awed by her logical and warm take on it – how she acknowledges her part without ever seeming to give up her power.

In the past year, she’s dealt with many changes and trials. Call it part of the Saturn cycle, but it’s as if her entire life has been taken apart piece-by-piece and she was called to go in and reassemble it. Amazingly, we’ve grown in friendship during this time, which for me, feels like an honor.

I haven’t had a friend like this since college, and certainly no one I feel I can look up to in this way since high school. In fact, this friendship is feeling very close to that nostalgic “best friend” you have in grade school – the one where you just show up for each other, hanging out and talking, and it forms a safety net of a relationship underneath your entire life. It’s awesome.

Wednesday we planned a walk at the beach and then dinner at my place. It was a perfect summer night for it. We talked, we walked, we cooked, we ate. Super relaxing and engaging. She packed up and left, I cleaned the kitchen, H and I put in a movie.

It wasn’t until an hour or more later that I went upstairs to find the bathroom light on, which was odd because we’re a family that general keeps houselights off. And there, on the counter, was a red envelope with my name on it. She had left me the sweetest note and a thank you gift. For what? Apparently being an awesome friend, which is pretty fucking cool considering I thought things were mutual / I was benefitting as much, if not more, from our hang-outs.

But, get this… she gifted me a free year of streaming on YogaToday.com which is exactly the most perfect gift anyone could give me. I had no idea how she knew. H said it’s b/c we’re friends, so I must’ve mentioned it. Looking back through emails, he’s right, but I never told her I was unsure about the cost… The whole thing, note + gift, just blew me away. 100% love.

And there it is… exactly what I wanted this week just magically showed up. And if that isn’t a sign from the Universe that to add yoga to my life, I don’t know what is.

Yay serendipity and awesome friends.

Experiencing It

Today, after writing my trusty morning pages, I rolled out my mat and did this week’s free class at YogaToday. This is not typical. My relationship with yoga is one of mostly avoidance on my part. I mean, why would I make time for something that makes me happy?

Last week, a thought hit me – how much my days are truly full of normal yet “perfect day” activities – writing, conversations, exercise, walks with the dog, podcasts, husband, cooking, photo snapping and reading. I don’t force myself to read, I just pick up a book and spend some time. Whenever I remember to snap a few photos, I feel lighter. Once I get going, exercise and cooking are both awesome, relaxing pursuits. And every morning I write 3-pages of long hand no matter what my mood, my sleep cycle, the weather or my issues. No questions.

So today while I’m smack in the middle of this yoga class, sweat beading on my forehead, my legs and arms stretched in side-angle pose, I feel this tense thought, “When is this class going to start?”

What?” another part of my mind demanded. “START?!” As if the sweat and shaky muscles weren’t enough of an indication, the sun had moved up past the window and time had obviously lapsed.

But what did this mean? How could I be half-way through a yoga class, connecting to my breathe and moving my body, and be that disconnected? Or more so, that outside of this string of present moments that my brain wasn’t on-board with the experience my body was having.

It was so odd. It was like I was expecting something, a more utopian version of what “doing yoga” should be / feel like. And it brought me back to last week’s thought about my beautifully full days and how all of these things are practices that I’ve slowly incorporated into my life. I didn’t used to write, take photos, blog, walk the dog, read and cook every day (sometimes I still don’t, but I make sure to get a few in before work). And that yoga was another practice I could add in, something I do no matter my mood, because it’s good for me and I’m always better for it after it’s done.

And how, by building in these practices of showing up, these daily rituals, I’m less inclined to be swayed by Resistance to avoid these good-for-my-soul actions. That’s where I think my thought came from today during yoga – my brain (ego) was still trying to talk me out of doing yoga by complaining that the class was so boring or low-level that it felt like it hadn’t even started yet. How silly. It comes up when I think about writing instead of moving my hand across the page or when I fantasize about baking instead of pulling the bags of flour and sugar out of the cabinet.

It’s really a matter of doing, of acknowledging the thoughts that try to deter us, thanking them for their care, and then continuing on with our practices anyways. Because the love I have for my life is not made up of the thoughts I had about doing or not doing something, but about the memories I have of actually experiencing it.

 

Sparkles Align

A friend invited me to Yogaworks South Bay. It was the first time since Thanksgiving that I attended a yoga class.

With overcast skies and light drizzle we drove on quiet LA streets. We told stories of huge snowstorms. My friend spoke about her little third grade shoes being stuck in the mud during a fire drill. Her fiance immediately recalled a scene when he has accidentally blew the fire alarm. I felt immersed in life, as cheesy as it sounds. I was present.

Sparkles

As a friend says, the good thing about having a bad day is that you know the next day will be better. Today was – yoga, coffee with a friend, and cooking not one, but two soups. These are all things that comfort me, specifically the types of things I avoid when I need comforting.

Yesterday, I dreaded yoga. I thought I had made a mistake committing to the outing. My thoughts ping-ponged between “You don’t really want to go” and “Did you just say ‘yes’ out of obligation?”

I honestly had no idea. It seems the reason I have trouble deciding what I want is that I’ve lost parts of myself to enmeshed relationships and people-pleasing. Why listen to myself when I receive so much validation from caring for others?

Well, to start – I’m the only one who really matters (to me). And I don’t think it’s something we’re taught when we’re young, but being able to soothe ourselves and be self-compassionate is paramount to our well-being.

As I was chopping onions for my soups, I thought about their aggressive defense mechanism of producing a toxin that makes our eyes tear and burn. It made me think about people and their actions / reactions. “I can say ‘she’s controlling’, but don’t I also play a part? Aren’t I the one being controlled?”

It made me pause. What has been my role, what have I gained, from believing I’m being controlled?

Honestly, it displaced my responsibility of caring for myself. I’ve been so focused on others that all I see is myself in relation to them. The outside, the external. As soon as a tense situation resolved itself last night, I felt free – free to do yoga, to smile, to get less sleep and have more energy. But that power is already in me, somehow, I just don’t know how to access it yet.

It’s a tiny shift, but it matters. Like the sparkly water running through the Santa Monica Library cafe in the picture. A moment caught in the sun. An adjustment I’m making to align myself, feeling where the tension is and breathing through it.

Intentions…

Intentions are important. They’re sort of like intimate, internal versions of goals. Like the idea that you can’t be “efficient” with people but you can be “effective”. Intentions are the support beams, the values, behind our goals and actions. But I’m just writing about this b/c I’m not sure what I really mean…

How can I know what I think till I see what I say?

E.M. Forster

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Hokie-Pokie Yoga

Today was another spur of the moment action. I went to a 7am yoga class. The dog magically relieved himself faster than usual on our morning walk. I stuffed my feelings of being a bad “mom”, got him back into his crate and left the house with 20min to spare. It ended up being one of the slowest classes of my LIFE. Level 2 no less. And as frustrated as I felt, breathing into my belly and just, well, sitting… I tried to allow myself to just be OK with it. Yes, it wasn’t the warm flow type class I was looking for, but it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t a waste of time. There was nothing else I was supposed to be doing – I was right where I needed to be. I had shown up.

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