Monthly Archives: December 2011

Asana raincheck

I was looking forward to yoga when I woke up this morning. I got back from traveling last night and am leaving for another trip tomorrow, so today was the golden day of asana opportunity.

Knowing I’d be practicing after work, I dressed conveniently and came to the office prepared, toting my mat, water bottle, extra hair ties, etc. However, as the day dragged on my energy flagged, and the idea of taking yoga was less appealing. Which, I knew, meant it was all the more important that I go.

And so even though it was raining hard when I exited my office building, I pushed into the throng of wet tourists and commuters and headed toward the subway. I reminded myself to be patient as I bristled at oversize umbrellas and hasty passersby, reassured myself that I’d be grateful later, even if right now I was glaring at a town car driver who’d wedged his vehicle in the middle of a Times Square intersection, thus forcing pedestrians to stream single-file across the street, squeezing between bumpers and unavoidably splashing into me.

On the subway I visualized sinking into child’s pose, then holding plank and stretching into upward dog. These thoughts distracted me from noticing that my boots had failed to keep my feet dry.

I ascended the subway stairs to discover that the rain in the East Village was more torrential than it had been in midtown. My socks were soaked, and I knew they wouldn’t dry out by the time class ended, and I cringed at the thought of peeling wet socks onto dry feet for the trip home. But I’d figure something out, I told myself. Just another block, and I’d get what I needed next, and everything after would follow.

Preparation and perseverance and self-soothing are all well and good, but I still wasn’t ready for what awaited me when I approached the studio.

Class was canceled.

It hadn’t occurred to me that a holiday schedule would be in place, but it was, and thus I found myself drenched in a chilly rain with no yoga to validate my efforts.

There was a woman in my same predicament who pointed me toward the revised schedule. If I hung around for an hour, there’d be a class I could take. She was planning to wait; she told me she really needed to practice. “I can’t afford not to,” she said.

And with relief, I realized that I COULD afford not to. As much as I had wanted to give my body physical release, I need emotional care as well. Forcing myself to stick around for something I’d just barely managed to drag myself to in the first place did not seem like the caring thing to do. So I smiled, wished her a good practice, and retraced my soggy steps to the subway.

And now that I’m home, warm and dry, I’m not feeling guilty for giving up. Today, my yoga is no yoga. Sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. And everything is still okay.

Ahimsa toward self

I did the funnest thing last week—I recognized that I didn’t feel like writing a post for this blog…and so I didn’t! Such a simple solution to the pressure I was feeling, such a wonderful rush of relief when I set myself free.

One of ancient yoga’s basic tenets, the first yama (which I’ve mentioned before), is “ahimsa,” the Sanskrit word for nonviolence. It’s often interpreted as “do no harm,” and I’ve gotten pretty good about applying the concept outwardly. Will an action of mine hurt someone else? If so, perhaps I should reconsider.

But turning that consideration inward has taken longer—the mind can be so mean and tricky, is so clever with resistance! Nonetheless, I’m getting there. Recently I bemoaned a lack of creativity to a colleague: I really wanted to produce some writing, and I even had a great idea, but the words just weren’t flowing. I felt frustrated and was giving up with a disparaging email and a scowl. But her response made me smile: “That can be one of the most challenging lessons for me,” she confessed. “Ahimsa toward self!”

Do not harm myself! What an obvious concept, but one I have so often ignored. It’s great to think about how my actions impact others, crucial even. But it’s no less vital to care for my own feelings and needs, even the ones that are easy to override. How many times have I pushed myself in the name of discipline or obligation without pausing to examine what was truly necessary or in my best interest?

Sure, sometimes it’s in my best interest to do things I don’t want to do, but sometimes it really just doesn’t matter. A few weeks ago I knew this objectively but pushed myself anyway. Last week I let go.

And not because I couldn’t think of a topic: A friend of mine led a class I took, and because I knew her and (I thought) I knew the sequence she was teaching, I was partially on autopilot. As a result, I sank into a front-facing savasana to avoid some push-ups I was anticipating, but when she moved right on to a different pose altogether, I realized I’d given up on a challenge that was never even presented.

It was ideal blog fodder, but when it came time to move from jotted notes to a rough draft, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was preoccupied with other commitments (one being my new status as a contributor to the Om Schooled Teachers’ Lounge), and pretty soon the post felt more like a chore than a privilege.

It was then that my friend’s words, “ahimsa toward self!” echoed in my memory, and something wildly, appealingly reckless crossed my mind: What if I just. didn’t. post?!?!

The joy that prospect brought signaled it was the right choice for me, so, I didn’t write, and it felt great. So great that I might just do it again–anytime I feel like it, in fact. Hopefully I won’t wax extreme and stop posting altogether, but I’ll just have to see what happens, no harm done.

Om Schooled Teachers’ Lounge

Ever since I took my kids’ teacher training back in May, the Om Schooled sangha (community) has been growing, and with it, the desire for communication and outreach.

Enter: the Om Schooled Teachers’ Lounge, a forum for kids’ yoga teachers of all stripes to collaborate and share.

I’m honored to be a contributor, and thrilled to be working with some wonderful spirits who share my passion for bringing yoga to young people.

We’re not entirely sure what the blog is going to become, but we’re positive the journey will be worthwhile, and I invite you to come along for the ride! You can read my first post here:

http://omschooled.tumblr.com/post/13594354561/ready-and-waiting