Category Archives: yoga

Back on my mat, where I belong. And where I cry, apparently.

I’ve been hesitant to find a new yoga studio in my new town/area because I have practiced in the same studio for the past 10 years, and I love it. I’ve also practiced in a few other studios and was never fully comfortable. I was OK with the other studios/classes, but they had a very different feel — different order of things, poses that didn’t flow together, a different vibe. They’ve been good studios/classes, but they weren’t MINE. They didn’t feel like the place that I knew.

I loved my yoga studio so much that I wanted to do their teacher training (in terms of money and schedule, this fall is not the time for me to start my yoga teacher training, but I know I want to do my eventual teacher training with them). O2 is still the place for me.

So today I looked around for local studios and found one that had classes today. I looked up the instructor. She had done her teacher training with my old yoga studio! And so had half of the other teachers.

I went to the 4:30 Vinyasa class. I haven’t practiced in a few months. I’ve been holding so much in for the past year and a half, which I am JUST starting to realize.

Even before the instructor arrived, when I was already on my mat, I felt at home. Like I was unquestionably in the right place.

And then Saundra walked in, and the class was more than a little different that my old studio, in some ways, but it was so, so familiar and something broke open in me and I started to cry. I tried to focus on my breathing while tears flowed and my nose ran, and it was a pretty massive emotional release. This went on for a while, me crying while moving through the various poses, occasionally grabbing my towel to wipe my face or blow my nose.

I couldn’t stop it, and I felt no need to hide it.

I kept on breathing and listening and flowing, and the emotions eventually subsided. It really felt like something had been unlocked. Something I had no control over. Like I have locked up so much over the past year and here on my mat I could finally let it out.

Let it out I did. It didn’t hurt. It just felt like stuff needed to get out from behind the wall it had been trapped behind, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Do you know that feeling? When all the stuff you’ve been holding back everywhere, including to yourself, to keep things in control, just bursts out from behind the dam, and there’s nothing you can do? And you don’t feel sad or anything but just relieved for the release and a little surprised and start to recognize how much you haven’t actually acknowledged or processed?

Oh. Sorry. Let’s get back to me on my mat. Sometimes people crying makes other people uncomfortable, even if the crying person is OK with the in-public crying and glad for the release. Let’s normalize public crying.

And let’s reach out to each other more.

* * * * *

So, weirdly, in a connected story — I’ve had back/hip problems lately, including both of my SI joints locking up so tightly and weirdly that I was crooked and my left ilium was slightly sticking out the wrong way.

Yeah. In case you wonder why I haven’t been running.

So I went to see my beloved chiropractor of the past nine years, and she tried to release my SI joints, and I totally burst into tears, surprising both of us.

It didn’t hurt. Nope. Her thought is that I hold all my stress and pain in my hips. I know that sounds hokey. But. Any time I’ve done any kind of hip release (ask me about the Yin Yoga class I did at Kripalu), I’ve had a release. It’s not hokey: Google “hip release emotion” and you’ll find many such articles like this one. Seriously, like Shakira, my hips don’t lie.

Oh and also my chiro couldn’t unlock it that first time. I had a lot going on, emotionally.

* * * *

Then I was smiling and feeling good in tonight’s class, ferociously sure, more than I’ve ever been sure of anything, that being on my mat is exactly where I need to be right now. This is the space I need more than ever. And yoga teacher training is for sure in my future, when I have the money and the schedule works out.

And until then, spending as much time on my mat as possible with this yoga community is exactly what I need. And in this space I can grow and stretch and cry and release and be safe.

Near the end of class I had another crying jag, this one not lasting as long (but seriously, if you’re going to play “Hallelujah” you have to expect some tears from someone). By the end of class, I was fully calm and peaceful and feeling more like myself than I have in so long. More in touch. More able to let go. I’ve kept up a public front for the last long while, on absolutely every front, and it had ended up extending to me — like I haven’t been honest or in touch with myself for too long.

When I thanked the instructor as I was leaving the yoga studio, she asked my name. Another instructor at the studio, who’d been in the class also, was next to her.

I introduced myself. Then I added, “I just moved to the area. I used to practice at O2.”

They both visibly reacted. “Get out of here!” Saundra exclaimed. “That’s where I did my training!”

“Yeah, that’s why I’m here,” I said. “I looked you up. And knew this was where I wanted to be.”

They both smiled at me.

“I moved here in August, but I wanted to connect to the right studio. I’ve found it.”

They took this in.

“Welcome,” Saundra said. The other instructor grinned, and I can’t wait to work with her, too.

I’ve found my new yoga studio. I feel calm just envisioning it. I’m going again tomorrow.

This is part of how I’m rebuilding me.

A New Year: Where’s the Yoga?

My favorite local yoga studio had a great deal last January 1: Buy a 31-day pass on that day for a mere $31. Considering the average yoga class in this area is $12-$16, a month of yoga for $31 is a steal.

And it’s good yoga. I love the place. The instructors are variety of (more like a combination of) funny and nice and personable and warm, the instruction is really good, and classes can be really challenging (but the instructors also give modifications).

At the end of 2011 I was going to the studio a lot, so I bought the pass. I tried hard but “only” made to yoga class 15 times in January. I felt disappointed in myself until one of the instructors, Carol, pointed out that that’s every other day. Good point!

And that’s one reason I love yoga. When I go regularly, it calms me, and makes me feel more centered, and helps me trust myself, and (I know I’m sounding all new-agey cliche here) helps me find clarity. It makes me stronger. Running can do this, too–when I run alone, which I almost never do. And even when I do, I listen to music and rarely just give myself over entirely to the present.

Yoga, however, is all about the present. It’s something I really need.

yoga

Yoga at home is just not the same.

Unfortunately, several months later my schedule changed and my childcare changed and yoga fell by the wayside. It’s really hard for me to get to classes anymore, and starting Wednesday, when the boys return to school/daycare, I start a new project that should keep me pretty busy for a while. And I don’t have any childcare for the next several weeks, meaning anytime the kids are in school/daycare I should be working, not going to yoga.

But yet…

Tomorrow the studio has the same deal: For $31, I can go to unlimited yoga classes for the month of January. I have no idea how I can make the most of this, but I can certainly try. I like the community there, and I’ve been looking for more structure and community. And at this price, it sure is worth the attempt!

What better way to renew my yoga practice?

Here’s to a more mindful 2013!

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On the Edge of 17

Tomorrow’s my 40th birthday.

You’re probably thinking, “What will she do this time? How can she possibly top the crazed bacchanalia of her 30th-birthday rock-star party? How is this fun-loving, no-holds-barred, who-needs-boundaries socialite* going to celebrate this momentous occasion?”

Glad you asked.

The original, long-ago plan was to take a week-long mountaineering course at the American Alpine Institute. [Hahahaha. That was before husband and kids.]

The new plan was to take a day off, start with a trail run, get a pedicure, and go shopping so that when I meet my family for dinner on Saturday I’m not wearing the exact same top I have worn for every “nice” occasion for the past two years.

The reality:

  • A pre-dawn trail run with my wonderful running group.
  • Home in time for a quick shower, some hurried oatmeal, and then dropping Max off at preschool and driving C to work while on a conference call (he’ll drive, I’ll conference).
  • Next up: Chiropractic appointment (to tweak my back and neck back into place after last week’s 90-minute Astanga class, which I’m clearly not quite ready for), after which I will try to get to yoga, which will be the same 90-minute Astanga class (I’m older, see, but not necessarily smarter…).
  • Pinworm medicine. That’s right. Nothing says “Happy Birthday!” like pinworm medicine. Ben has pinworms, so we all need to be treated.
  • Work. I will spend the afternoon trying to move through an extra project I mistakenly took on, thinking I’d have more time for it. I do not. I have to work all weekend, due to what one might call a gross oversight in terms of biting off more than one can possibly chew if one has small children who need things like dinner and cannot walk themselves to and from daycare/preschool and such (come on, kids, Route 16 isn’t that busy…and if you’re early enough, the crossing guard can help you!).
  • Speaking of which, right around their dinner time I will knock off work to relieve the sitter, and then drive both hungry kids to pick up C at the bus station, and then somehow get everyone fed…

Saturday we’re celebrating with my parents and brothers and their families. We were going to go away skiing but there is no f*cking snow. Well, maybe it snowed last night, actually, but too late, sucker! We’ll take a weekend away skiing another time (back country/cross country, so a generalized snowfall is pretty crucial). Or maybe I’ll just go with a couple of close friends.

In a few weeks, when one friend is back from some traveling, I’ll go out to dinner with friends and then go on a ski trip with a few of them.

So, it won’t be the fanciest, most exciting, most thrilling birthday ever, but it will be…fine. And, unlike after my 30th birthday, I will be in excellent condition to get up early and run 10 miles the next morning! Which is what I will do. Because I will be 40, and I will still rock. Just in a very different way than I used to.

* I’m no longer a fun-loving socialite. I’m a quiet recluse, in fact, who lives her life in a one-mile radius except for the Internet and for yoga class, which is 2.5 miles away.

Bits and Bites

[Our home internet connection is screwy this week, so I dashed out at bedtime to buy preschool snacks (I’m on duty there tomorrow) and to grab some wifi. This post will be short bits.]

1. Graciousness. I have a sort-of friend, or good acquaintance, someone I think is really cool but never seem to hang out with. I saw her twice recently. The first time, I’d just gotten my new, beautiful business cards, which one of my sisters-in-law very kindly took the time to design for me (THANK YOU, PATTY!!!). I was so proud of them and excited to share them, but I don’t have any upcoming networking events.

I went to her house for a playdate that was not going too well, but I shared with her the story of my last blog-networking event, in which someone called me “lame” for my having to write my contact info on a scrap of paper instead of having proper business cards like every other blogger there. Friend-quaintance was excited for me, about the cards, and happily accepted one (the first I’d handed out) even though she already has all my contact info and knows my blog site.

So a few days later I went to a party at her house, all distracty and stuff because I was chasing both kids on two levels of house, and Ben kept trying to get into the beer cooler and jump on the beds, and Max just wanted to hide behind the potato chip bowl, eating his way through it, and C had left early to go to another party*, and it was too hard to try to keep the children corralled and they needed dinner and I was honestly a little afraid about getting them home and to bed on my own, without C’s help**, so we made an early exit from the party.

For some reason I thought that that would be a perfect time to tell my friend-quaintance about my cards and give her one, because I’m kind of a total dork. She graciously said, “That’s great!” and put it in her pocket. A split second later I remembered that I’d already given her one two days earlier.

She said, “I know, you gave me one the other day, but I figured you forgot, so I wasn’t going to say anything.” So kind! Then she asked me if I wanted it back, and I said, “Sure, you don’t need two!” so she pulled it out of her pocket and handed it back and I felt totally mortified about the whole awkward scene.

This could be why we rarely get together.

2. Safety. Like many parents do with their kids, we often carry Max and Ben on our shoulders. Ben, not often: he’s less stable and harder to grip. Also he grabs our glasses and suddenly lurches forward around our heads, laughing. It’s like trying to carry a chimpanzee on crack. But Max: it’s much easier to carry him on my shoulders than in my arms for any kind of distance. He’s almost 40 pounds, for chrissake (and yes, I try to make him walk, but sometimes we just have to carry him). He’s stable, he’s strong, he holds on, and we firmly hold his legs.

Recently, someone close to us–someone who’s incredibly safety-minded–was carrying his three-year-old on his shoulders. Somehow the child fell off and fractured his skull on the sidewalk. (He’s fine…no bleeding of the brain, etc. He is totally fine.) Talk about one hell of a scary accident! I guess when I carry Max on my shoulders, I never expect him to fall. I’m always nervous and extra-grippy when I have Ben up there for short periods of time, but Max, I worry less about. Now I’ll think twice about letting him ride on my shoulders. Yikes.

3. Yoga. I didn’t accomplish much else this morning in my three-and-a-half free hours while both kids were at school/daycare, but I did get to yoga class. I brought with me all kinds of Type-A energy, all frantic and rushing and unfocused. I dashed in and put down my mat and dashed back out for a quick pee, nearly crashing into the instructor on the way. She was very nice about it and waited to follow me back into the studio.

Then she had us bring our focus into the room, into our bodies, into our breath. It was exactly what I needed. I didn’t feel as smooth as usual–more like jangly, over-caffeinated, unrelaxed–but I was able to focus. In savasana (corpse pose, “yoga nap,” that thing you do at the end of class when you lie flat on your back and relax and clear your mind) I kept thinking about the freaky dream*** I’d had the previous night but managed to let it go. I wasn’t as clear-minded as I wanted to be, but I got clear enough to notice that my mind was very busy, which felt like some kind of achievement.

* We’re actually not raging party people. We rarely leave our apartment after 5 p.m., in fact. But we had this potluck, and C had his friend’s 40th birthday party to go to but we couldn’t get a sitter. Thus I offered to stay home with the kids so he could go.

** It went GREAT. I pried both kids out of the party past their dinnertime, got them home and kept them from melting down while I threw together a dinner from some old salmon patties I found in the back of the freezer, and frozen peas, and mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together (they loved the meal!!), and got them both to bed with absolutely no fuss or tantrums or problems at all. It was weird. And lovely.

*** None of your business. I’ve been having weird sex dreams lately, if you must know, but this blog ain’t the place to describe them.

Chokin’ Down the Humble Pie

I went to yoga yesterday. Carol’s Intermediate class, to be exact. Carol is intense. She walks around calling the poses instead of demonstrating them, sometimes mixing up “left” and “right” which leaves us looking around at each other in confusion. But yesterday she only mixed them up a few times.

Of course, I may have walked into class yesterday with a tiny bit of ego, possibly the teensiest touch of “Oh, I just went to Kripalu for the weekend and did yoga constantly, including a “vigorous” class which was so intense I barely remember it, so my practice is all honed and I’m so cool.” There just may have been a little touch of that. Just a touch. Also I was harried upon arrival and was checking my phone and texting the babysitter and needing to borrow a water bottle.

So maybe my focus was off, or maybe a basics class was more my speed yesterday, or maybe Carol caught my vibe and decided to go for the jugular (very un-yogalike, I know; she’s very nice and I doubt that was it).

Low crane went mostly fine. High crane? Hurt my triceps and I just couldn’t get my knees into my pits. Bird of paradise? Sure, if you don’t expect my leg to be straight or my form to be anything near to good. Bird of paradise variation balance pose? Thunk is the sound of me falling over. Repeatedly.

I slunk out of there feeling like I’d just gotten my yogic ass handed to me on a platter. Yoga has a knack for giving me exactly what I need, or telling me what I need to look at, and of course going in there with scattered energy and some cockiness earned me exactly that.

I biked home. My knockdown of a day wasn’t over yet, though. I put Ben into the jogging stroller and headed out for a 9-mile speed workout: 3 miles at marathon goal pace, 2 miles at 30 seconds/mile fast than goal pace, recovery, another 2 miles at the 30-seconds-faster pace, then 2 more miles at marathon goal pace. My running partner had handled this run marvelously the previous day; there was no reason to expect I couldn’t do the same.

Ha!

It was only 80 degrees out. I say “only” because I had survived running in our recent heat waves without disaster.

And so I didn’t think I needed to worry about the heat. I started out too fast, got through my first 3 miles and then the 2-mile speed work (grunting as though I were in labor, doing a loop on the bike path and a nearby smoothly paved street, wondering if my grunting and very vocal panting were disturbing people). I had to stop twice for fear of vomiting. I never get queasy when I run. Sweat poured of my head. I’m not usually a big sweat-er.

After the recovery walk, I didn’t feel like I was quite ready to do that again. Plus, in terms of time (I had to pick up Max from daycare) and distance from home, I thought I should modify things a little. I ran a half-mile at my marathon goal pace and then launched into the 2-mile speed work again.

But something was wrong. My stomach hurt like I was going to vomit blood or bile. I stopped. I no longer cared about my watch or my pace or my distance. My problem hamstring was clenched into a tight ball. All I could think was, “I need to get home. I need to get home now.”

I was freezing. I got goose bumps. I tried to keep running and decided to give up on the speed pace. I got off the busy road to a quieter road and stopped again. I couldn’t run. I checked my phone and saw an email from my running partner about something unrelated. She’d sent it an hour earlier, but I didn’t notice that. All I could think was, “I’ll let her know.” I sent her an email telling her I thought I was in trouble. She didn’t reply (she wasn’t near her phone/computer at the time, I found out later). I didn’t want to call my husband — what would I say, “Hi, honey, I’m having heat stroke, I’m out with the baby, I’m 2 miles from home, but don’t worry about me”??

I was so cold. I wanted a jacket and hat and gloves and long pants. I remembered the time I summitted Mt. Jefferson in a whiteout (dumbest f*cking thing I ever did, perhaps; people die up there in lesser conditions than the ones we experienced) and how cold it was then, my eyelashes frosting up (nothing else on me was exposed), and I thought I’d been warmer then than I was yesterday. My phone was blank — no emails from my running partner or anyone. I collapsed in someone’s yard and hugged myself and shivered and cried.

But I had Ben with me. He was quiet in the stroller, thank god. I had to get him home and keep him safe. I don’t know how I was in an icy whiteout in Somerville in July, but I was, and I had to keep us alive. As I did on Jefferson, I kept a tiny shred of wit about me. I got up and moved. I kept moving in the right direction, toward safety. I’d be warm soon. I’d be fine.

We got home. I put on more clothes. Our apartment was 83 degrees and I pulled on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, socks. After the kids went to bed I was still freezing. I made hot tea and couldn’t eat dinner.

I’m fine today. I guess it was heat exhaustion. I skipped today’s workout, because I felt like crap. But then I ate about half a pound of beef (literally), a ton of pasta, and some chocolate-beet cake
and I feel excellent and strong now. Tomorrow at dawn I’ll meet a friend or two for a long trail run, and I’ll be fine for my 15-miler on Sunday.

What did I learn from all this? So much. So, so much. Just because a heat wave is over doesn’t mean it’s not still hot out; I need to respect the heat more. And if I need to adjust the training schedule, so be it. I’m going to be stronger for the marathon if I take care of myself now instead of running myself into the ground.

As for yoga? I’m always learning something there. A hearty dose of humility is always nice, to be honest. And now I have even more to strive for.