The Problem With Keeping it Neat & Tidy

my yoga room

back to boring neutral-hued walls

Two current situations are proving how miserable life is when not allowing myself to get messy. Both on the mat and off. I’ve been in a fixed state of keeping it neat and tidy for two weeks now and the result has been less than 4 hours of sleep a night, an achy right hamstring that’s waiting for some TLC and a “you look really tired,” comment from a pal I recently had lunch with. What gives?

Neat & Tidy is Killing Me Situation #1:

We listed our condo for sale. And man it looks sparkly clean and shows beautifully. After rearranging the furniture and storing anything that resembled clutter (bicycles, over-sized ottoman, computers, Vitamix, Athleta catalog I can’t part with – stuffed in drawers or off-site storage), Swiffer-ing every square inch of hardwood floor and relegating my poor kitties to long stretches in the laundry room, the place looks damn good. But I’m suffering for it. A typical conversation with the man and I goes something like this:

He: “Hey babe, can I make you a veggie shake?”

Me: “Um, do you have a towel and granite cleaner nearby? I just wiped down the counters..”

Our yoga room, complete with a chalkboard wall with inspiring quotes, incense, mats, blocks and a Ganesha mural smiling down at me has sadly been reverted back to what’s supposed to look like a traditional ‘office’ (future buyers, our kind but firm Realtor advised, need a desk and neutral-hued walls to visualize working in there).

Neat & Tidy is Killing Me Situation #2:

I’ve just begun the Baptiste Certification process, and having a helluva time with the video portion. Ya, I have to videotape an entire class with yours truly teaching. Technical nightmares aside (that’s another blog post – my GoPro Hero camera that’s behaving like a Loser), what footage I did capture was real, raw, and messy as it gets. That would be fine, except when viewing the footage I got caught up in neat & tidy on the first attempt or you SUCK mode. Watching the clips over and over again, I sunk further and further down the “I really suck at this” rabbit hole – why am I leaning against that wall? what kind of cue is that? how come I didn’t see that student in the back who needed an assist in chatturanga?

It never occurred to me that videotaping my teaching, reviewing it and incorporating changes is a process. One that takes time to garner results. Instead of treating it as such, I cringed. Lost sleep. Felt more cramps in my right hamstring (stress manifests there). Clearly I’ve been doing the opposite of what I encourage my students to do – enjoy the process, lose the expectations, and treat the messiness as an integral part of growth, awareness, and fun.

So this morning I got on my mat (now in the hallway sans my dearly beloved yoga room-turned-office) and set an intention to practice with a giant smile and commitment to mess it up. Flailing handstands, side crow face plants, jump up thuds and half moon tip-overs were the main course in this morning’s practice. So much fun. And I’m hoping I take this much-needed messiness into the rest of my day and beyond.

Next time you reach for the little accent pillow on the love seat to straighten out, just leave it there. Rumpled and askew. No need to get all neat and tidy today. Mess it up already and see how great it feels!



Level Two Day Four: the insidious nature of hiding

In the vortex with a yogi pal in Sedona!

In the vortex with a yogi pal in Sedona!

*This week I join a badass group of 120 Spiritual Warriors on the Baptiste Power Yoga path in Sedona, Arizona to work, seek, play, and grow in our teaching and in our lives. Here are my reflections:

“What are you hiding?” our leader asked. Every day. Several times a day. A big part of this training are the inquiry sessions. In between long sweaty yoga marathons and practice teaching, we spend time getting honest with ourselves and each other about what’s keeping us from living authentically. As challenging as it is to hold a 5-minute plank pose to better understand the intricacies of proper alignment (upper arm bones back, front of the pelvis lifts as the tailbone descends, outer shins hug in…); as hard as it is to go through round-robin teaching/feedback sessions in our small groups; settling into full-on inquiry is the toughest. The rawest. Figuring out what I’m hiding from my students, my family, my peers is hard work. I’ll sweat through another plank pose over this work any day.

It took me three days to really know what I was I hiding. It’s insidious! At first I was convinced it was fear of making mistakes. But that’s not it. I’ve f***ed up plenty of times and shrugged it off, or used it as an opportunity to show my students that I’m human too. Then I thought my hiding was feeling stupid…at age 5 I barely made it past kindergarten as my parents had divorced and my mom was struggling to get food on the table. But that wasn’t really it either. Hard work, tenacity, a college degree – I know I’m not stupid.

After much probing, sharing with other participants trying to get to the bottom of their hiding, I figured it out. I was hiding that some times I feel invisible. Insignificant. As though what I do doesn’t make a difference. And hiding that from everyone simply perpetuates the feeling.

Since returning from training, I’ve used this new understanding of my hiding to encourage students to recognize how unique and important they are in the universe – to everyone they come in contact with, whether they know it or not. And that comes from being honest and sharing that I feel invisible at times. This training helped me realize that coming out from hiding can open the door for deeper and more authentic connections with others. And for that I am grateful for these tough inquiry sessions.