Woke up achy, stiff, and oddly flu-ish yesterday. Can’t be, my stubborn head insisted. It’s the middle of summer already. Shake it off. Time to get up and go. This in spite of the previous day’s overexertion that included a challenging run in the heat followed by teaching a super hot class that required more demonstrating than usual at high noon. Rest? Nah. Not for this warrior!
After an ambitious trail walk followed by lunch with my sweetheart, I went from warrior to wilting flower fast. My entree was the tipping point toward full-blown nausea…a vegan salad that included unpronounceable green stuffs, burnt seitan, and a mystery sauce. My dear man softly suggested that in the future, seaweed might best be left in the sea for our finned friends to consume.
An hour later I landed in bed, doubled over in belly pain, fever, and the shakes. I wriggled, turned, shifted pillows, added/removed blankets. No relief. Until finally, I thought about my yoga practice. What would I do in a situation like this? Where I’m uncomfortable and antsy as hell in a pose?
Be with it.
Simple. Just breathe deeply and be with it. It wasn’t easy, but I was out of options and miserable. What’s so fascinating, is that though I didn’t necessarily find comfort in my ‘being with it’ state, I found peace. Peace as opposed to yearning for a solution. Peace instead of feeling sorry for myself. Peace rather than fearing how my temporary pain might affect classes and activities remaining for the week.
So if you’re in an uncomfortable situation right now and struggling for mercy, try just being with it. It might just help.
Peace and love to you all.
I have just completed a Hair-a-thon. I am not exaggerating. Here is a mile-by-mile (or is it a blow-out by blow-out??) account:
- In less than one week’s time, I have gone from one end of the color spectrum to the other
- I said blonde, Hairdresser #1 heard platinum. He thought his work resembled a modern-day 70s glam girl Blondie. Reality looked like a pissed-off 80s bad boy Billy Idol
- I said please warm it up, Hairdresser #2 thought a lovely shade of eggplant oughta do it. His idea of a warm/golden tone ended up looking like Michael Douglas’ recent portrayal of Liberace
- In between racing to the next water (or in this case, hairdresser’s) station, I tore apart my closet in earnest trying to find my most Gangsta-esque hoodie to hide under
- Hairdresser #3, aka my Savior, kept me from visiting the nearest gun registry
The timing of all this is so interesting. The day my Hair-a-thon began, my awesome yogi pal/fellow teacher posted on FB a simple quote: “It’s just a bad day. Not a bad life.” I needed to hear this. Especially as well-meaning passersby grabbed their sunglasses to diffuse the glare off my shock of electric white hair.
During my Hair-a-thon, this quote served as my water bottle, motion-control running shoes, and “yer almost there!!!’ cheerleading fans as I trounced along toward the finish line.
Now happily golden, warm-toned blonde, I can look back on my multiple scalp scrubs and endless ass time in the chair and reflect. Reflect on just how traumatic a bad hair day is. Even if it is just a bad day.
Namaste yogis and hair warriors!
Get excited! I say this a lot in class. Usually with a wee touch of sarcasm. I like to toss it out just prior to offering up a doozy of a pose like Warrior III or revolved half moon. For those new to yoga, these are ugly poses (in my opinion anyway). Ever see one on the cover of Yoga Journal? Nope. More likely to see bendy Bob in giant back bend or badass Betty in a handstand. So my invitation to Get Excited! gets people laughing. Because what’s the alternative? Laughing in an ugly pose sure beats grimacing and silently cursing the teacher.
But as in life, there’s an important place for the ugly poses. Ugly poses humble us, strengthen us, frustrate us, and with time and consistency, shift us into a new way of thinking. I thought about the ugly poses and their place in life this morning at a class in Seattle as a friend/yoga teacher opened with an invitation to Get Excited! Crap, I thought…here comes revolved half moon and we haven’t even gotten past child’s pose yet. Mercifully, unlike me, my sweet teacher left out the sarcasm and simply encouraged us to feel excitement. She went on to share the evil side of excitement, which can zap our energy and get us agitated if we don’t manage it physically and mentally. This is where yoga comes in, of course. Great lesson for the day.
But for me, in thinking about excitement throughout class, I was focused on the uglies. As I moved into WIII (I pose I actually love, because it works the entire body), I got excited about the challenge of resisting the urge to peel open my hip (gotta make it prettier!). In revolved half moon, I wanted my teacher to come over and literally yank my chest open and pull my extended leg back a few feet to alter what my version of the pose produced: a quarter moon blocked by a rogue planet fighting for center stage. Every time an ugly came up, whether it was a pose, or some thought temporarily hijacking my practice, I got excited. Excited by the challenge of facing it head on, knowing that life is always throwing ugly stuff our way, and that there is real beauty in seeing what that ugly pose/event/encounter/thought/fear can teach us. If everything was pretty, we’d be ugly sloths with nothing to do all day.
An image of the lotus flower came to mind during my ugly exploration this morning. The flower in full bloom is breathtaking, but it’s journey toward beauty begins in a brown, muddy heap.
So Get Excited! yogis and friends. There is so much beauty beyond the uglies.
Daily lesson from June 2, 2013 (Teach the teacher): She’s new. And yoga is now her thing. My new student cheerily introduced herself, and made this bold statement as she gathered her arsenal of gear (mat, block, water bottle, towel), and set up yoga shop smack center in the room.
This took me back to my re-entry into yoga a few years ago. Read my bio and and you’ll learn I’ve been practicing for nearly two decades, but the reality is that for many years yoga was secondary to hardcore pursuits like marathon running, lung-busting hill climbs on a bicycle, and bootcamp fitness. It took a torn calve muscle and personal life crisis to bring me back to yoga, and I made the same statement to my teacher at the time.
“Yoga is my thing, sister. Bring it on!” She did, and I am happily teaching and practicing today.
How many times do we say this at the beginning of a new pursuit? We get excited about the newness of it all. The discovery of odd muscles that have lied dormant for too many years. The giant learning curve ahead. The cool people around us who are farther along on their journey. The clothes. The jargon. The props associated with our new thing. It’s all, so, NEW.
But then a time comes when we hit that God-awful place – familiarity. And boom, the fever is gone.
But here’s my yogi advice: bust through the familiarity by surrounding yourself with new, excited yogis like my new student today, and make a big, bold statement to yourself that:
It is your THING. Whatever that activity is. It is your THING.
Namaste and thank you new student for adding a little mojo to today’s practice for those of us fighting an occasional bout of familiarity.