yoga dad

dad1Today is all about celebrating the guy who not only willingly participated the first time I practice-taught yoga, but who has not stopped throwing down his mat with me since. I still have saved on my phone the recording of myself reading the 90-minute Journey Into Power sequence from when I began teacher training over two years ago. Now and again I listen to it for old times’ sake, complete with the backdrop of my dad breathing, and the moment during core work when he paused to say, “You want me to do what!?

My dad inspires me so much, and words cannot describe how grateful I am for his support. Whether it’s dropping his day to pop over and tear a hole in my bathroom wall when I have a leak, acting as a sounding board (always willing to tell me when I should drop the crazier ideas I come up with), or coming to nearly every yoga class I’ve taught, my dad continues to teach me the importance of just showing up. Thanks Dad, for agreeing to be my guinea pig when I “teach” and inspiring me to keep knocking down stones. Your soccer dad years may be coming to an end, but I’m so glad your days as yoga dad are just beginning.



do the work (it works)

Yesterday I did a pose for the first time:

Eka Pada Koundinyasana 2  (Split leg arm balance)
Eka Pada Koundinyasana 2
Split leg arm balance

Still pretty messy, yet just a couple short weeks ago, I tried this and was nowhere near getting either foot off the ground. What changed? Simple. I did the prep work.

Now, my point is not to demonstrate that I work hard, or to show off any kind of moves (hashtag yoga selfies). Rather, I want to shine light on the fact that I am 100% human, and like many others, I find ways to cheat the system or take the easy way out, sometimes without even realizing I’m doing so.

One example: lizard pose. In lizard, stacking my front knee directly over my ankle and hugging knee in toward midline for the closed-hip pose, gets pretty deep in that sticky part of my hips. You know, that spot right where it’s just uncomfortable enough that, despite knowing I should stay there and breathe into it, some days I simply do not want to. Cue the easy way out (for me, at least): turning my knee out slightly. I still get a decent stretch, but it feels a little less sticky.

lizard poseNote: there is a variation of lizard in which the knee turns out. This is not wrong. It just serves a different intention by targeting other muscles.

Recently, I changed my lizard approach. I chose to stay with the version of the pose that felt least comfortable, hugging my bent knee in toward my shoulder. By no longer cheating myself from this pose, I took the necessary action to prepare my body for the next step, in this case, split leg arm balance. Just a little glimmer of proof that while taking the easy way may feel better for the near term, doing the work over time goes further than I can imagine.

6.9.14 photo 56.9.14 photo 6If you want more info on split leg arm balance and how to prep for this (as well as other arm balances), this site has a ton of helpful hints!

my default

Yoga has woken me up to greater awareness of my default tendencies. By that I mean the habits, patterns, etc. I revert to, especially when things get a little messy.

One of my patterns involves wanting to give up and run away when life feels uncomfortable. This can be as simple as all of the times, stuck in traffic, I have decided, game over, I’m moving to Hawaii to live the simple, island-life, sans car.

Today, there is a situation in my life I’ve been feeling down about, and wanting to give up on. I told a couple of my awesome yogi friends about it, and they gave me a great reminder. They said it’s just like the practice – you just have to keep putting yourself out there, despite how uncomfortable it feels.

Comparing this other situation to yoga helped me a lot. So much benefit comes from just showing up on my mat, every day, no matter what. It’s a continual process of showing up, letting go, and allowing the practice to work it’s magic. Trusting that the uncomfortable feelings that show up will pass. And they always do.

I think a lot of us come to yoga class initially because we want to feel good. We crave relief for the everyday tension in our bodies. Then when it doesn’t feel good, we shy away or hold back. Something I’m realizing is that it’s not supposed to feel good all the time. Rather, in my body, the practice takes on a full range of physical sensation. I can either spend a lot of time in my head, thinking about those feelings and what they mean, or I can simply meet them with a deep breath, and let go of the idea that what is happening is good or bad. It just is.

Lately on my mat, I’ve been noticing my head. Sometimes my head feels pretty darn heavy, so I’ve been paying attention to the chain reaction of sensation that occurs when I let my head drop. I first noticed this in half pigeon. I tried something new, putting a block under my forehead. Sinking the weight of my head down into a solid surface, I felt some of the tension in my shoulders immediately melt away. That simple moment of awareness has continued to grow, and now I’m becoming aware of where else in the practice I can let go of the heaviness of my head.

I want to put this out there. Dropping out of my head, I’m ready to quit playing it safe. Just like in yoga class – all I need to do is show up as myself, throw my mat down, and move through. Face whatever arises with a deep breath. Trust that I am right where I need to be.