Monday, February 7, 2011

40 Days

I wanted to start the year off with a deepening of my practice through participation in 40 Days to Personal Revolution. The previous year had been difficult; full of transitions, conflict and suffering. I was determined to change things. I believed 40 Days would provide the structure for this change, but somehow I can't seem to dedicate myself to this effort. I had all kinds of excuses. The weather delayed the start of our practice period by a week, then I had an injury, then the excuses started. I began interviewing for a new job, the kids had never ending viruses, and did I mention the weather? All of these excuses were simply avoidance, I didn't want to do the work because I was afraid. Afraid of what I might discover about myself on this journey. Yet I had been actively seeking answers-- just from other people. I had conveniently labeled this as gaining insight. Hmm, that's right, I was looking to other people for insight.

This brings me to today. I have lost track of where we are in the 40 Days. Work being my current excuse. This morning while I worked I stumbled upon an event listing. Elizabeth Gilbert was in Durham to promote the paperback release of Committed. I had read Committed in my quest for answers last year. I knew I needed to go, I was sure Elizabeth Gilbert would have something insightful to say, something I had missed when I read the book. As I sat in the audience, I listened carefully, I knew it was coming-- she had to have an answer. Not only did Elizabeth Gilbert have an answer, she had THE answer. "What I wanted to know, I knew."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Being “Hard Core”

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to strengthen your core. Interestingly, the term “core” has many different meanings. The first definition that may come to mind includes your abs, the center of your torso, or maybe even a six pack. But, my favorite definition of “core” is “the central, innermost, or most essential part of anything”.

When we express from our core during asana, we lift the pelvic floor, draw the naval to the spine, and firm the abdomen by drawing the frontal hip points up and the low ribs back. As a result, the pose can become well supported by the opposing actions of drawing in and expressing out from the central and most essential part of ourselves simultaneously. The pose then takes on the characteristics of lightness and joy. We are able to express from this strong center. We draw in to offer out.

One of the beautiful things about the physical part of a yoga practice is that it can be viewed as a mirror of your journey in daily life. For example, when we express from our core in everyday life, we align ourselves with our most central values and beliefs. In this way, we firm our spiritual center and move through life with grace and strength. Staying true to our core essence allows us to be authentic and effective. Here too, we draw in to offer out.

To strengthen your core, I challenge you to take some time to be introspective and to discover your most valued beliefs and goals. Then, an even greater challenge is to move from this place as you move through life. Learn to say “no” to requests that do not align with your core values, have the courage to say “yes” to those that do, and view your yoga practice as an opportunity to discern the difference.


Musings From My Mat

(January 29, 2011)

I write from the skies above Utah, on the first leg of my 10-hour journey home. Lori and I spent the weekend in Salt Lake City to take a couple of classes with our teacher, Baron Baptiste. Yes, you heard right—5 flights and over 10 hours in the air to get to the other side of the country for 2 yoga classes. I know how it looks, but I’ll ask that you hold your comments on my sanity. This shit has changed my life…

Earlier today, in a 90ยบ room with sweat pouring all over my mat and mascara smudged all the way to my toes, I sustained flip dog for 5+ minutes that felt like a lifetime. I was exhausted, my wrist was shaky and I wanted OUT, but I did it anyway. And I kind of loved it.

I don’t share this to impress you with my badassness. (If you had seen me in this moment, “badass” likely would NOT have been the first word to come to mind.) My point is this—Why did I do that? And what’s more, why did I love every breath? Was is because the man at the front of the room sporting the bandana is a little scary? (Possibly.) Because I spent my “Buy a New Car Fund” on that juicy flip dog? (Maybe, but probably not.) To impress the guy with the “interesting” tattoos on the mat in front of me? (Umm…NO.)

As I continued to ponder the questions of why and how, I couldn’t quite put my finger on an answer. One thing, however, was clear. I show up for myself on a different level when Baron is leading the practice. He elicits the FIRE in me. What is it about him? He’s just a guy. How does he do this?

Back in downward facing dog, I came face to face with what I believe to be the “answer” for which I was searching. As sweat continued to drip (okay, pour) from the tip of my nose onto the mat below, I fixed my gaze on the puddle that I had created. In that pool of sweat, I saw a reflection of myself. My mat had literally become my mirror, and there was a tiny Christy gazing back at me. In that moment, it occurred to me that perhaps it’s less about the bandana-clad man and more about me. I’ve got tons of respect for my teacher and I mean no offense, but maybe it was something within me. Could it be that I’m stronger than I think I am?! I’ve got everything I need within me?! I get to choose?! Yes! And the big "ah-ha" is that I can choose to show up for myself this way each and every time I roll out my mat.

Whoa. Like really. WHOA! (That’s an unofficial Baron-ism.)

So…what happens for you in the tough poses, the uncomfortable moments, when you know you simply have nothing left to offer? What lights your FIRE? Remember that you’re already strong enough. Dig deep. Show up for yourself in a big way.

Anything is possible,