Tag Archives: love

Risks

Via Flickr User Andreas Fetz

Via Flickr User Andreas Fetz

I’ve again been slacking in my blogger duties. At the beginning of the summer I was so concerned that I would not be busy enough–ha! Life has been surprising the hell out of me lately. I’m doing my best to stay grateful instead of letting anxiety take over–as I said in my last post, it can be difficult for any of us to let ourselves experience joy. There is certainly a part of me that is so freaked out that it compels me to want to quit everything and retreat into the Comfort Zone, where I can neither fail nor succeed.

But there is also the part of me that is exhilarated by this freedom. It’s terrifying and uncomfortable to be taking risks. Inevitably I will have failures, and I make mistakes. But how sweet it is to be in this place of growth, even if the experience isn’t always pleasant.

So much of this started with yoga. When I restarted my yoga practice back in January, it was out of desperation. I needed something to change. I had no idea how much it would help me heal; help me move my body and my mind and my spirit; help me process thoughts and emotions more effectively; help me learn about myself and about life.

The funny thing is that I don’t always want to go to yoga. Sometimes I even dread it. Because I don’t know what will happen on that mat. Will I feel strong? Will I feel weak? Will I nail this pose, or fall out of that one? Will any emotions come up? Will I cry, will I laugh, will I freak out, will I feel disconnected? Any of these are possibilities, and they’ve all happened–usually when I least expect them.

In yoga, as in life in general, you can’t know what to expect. It’s a risk to step onto your mat, not knowing what will happen there. Sometimes, yoga makes you feel like shit.

Yoga certainly isn’t the effortless experience some people believe it to be. Whether it’s your muscles shaking, your mind screaming, your heart swelling with a sudden onset of emotions you didn’t even know you had, yoga can be really damn difficult. I’ve had classes (and will continue to have classes) after which I feel awful. And some of those were even sessions I went into in a good mood. You never know what will happen. But the thing is–it’s always what you need.

And that’s why I’ve kept going. And that’s why I have begun to open myself to new possibilities–because yoga has helped me see how worth it it is to take risks.

I discovered a quote a few months ago by Peter McWilliams:

It is a risk to love.
What if it doesn’t work out?
Ah, but what if it does.

And it stuck with me. It not only applies to love but to everything. Daring to love in a larger sense is really daring to live–to make yourself vulnerable with no guarantees, to accept the possibility that it won’t work out. Because what if it does.

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Gratitude Tuesday #2

I’ve been meaning to update this thing for the past few days, but school has been pretty crazy. There are only weeks left in the semester, which means story and paper deadlines are approaching quickly. I’ve also been working on an iPad app all semester that my group and I will be demoing to about 300 people next week. Ah!

I’ve still been managing to get my yoga in, though, at least for the most part. I missed my gentle hatha class this morning, unfortunately, but I made it to a vinyasa class last night, and a vinyasa/Kundalini fusion workshop on Saturday. I had never done Kundalini before but was curious what it was all about. That portion of the workshop involved some chanting, meditation, and a CRAP TON of ab work, which was both great and a tad tortuous. I’ve been told that flexible lower backs and weaker cores tend to go hand-in-hand, which is definitely true for me. I can rock a lot of backbends, but when it comes to holding a pose like boat, I seriously struggle. So all of that core was a challenge, but as they say, your hardest pose is the one you need the most.

I would love to say that’s total crap and just avoid all of the poses I dislike, but I’ve had too many experiences that indicate otherwise.

It’s also Tuesday again, which means another three things I am grateful for:

  • YOGA. I know that’s just a tad obvious, but especially in these times of high stress, I feel so fortunate to have it as a tool to help me let go, calm down my ego, and believe in my own potential.
  • Having food to eat, clean water to drink, and a solid roof over my head.
  • This one today especially: the good in humanity. Yesterday’s tragedy in Boston bespeaks the darker side of humanity, the evil that grows from shame and misunderstanding and hatred. Though the lives that were lost are irreplaceable, and acts like this will weigh on all of our spirits, goodness and love are still alive: “When you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will'” (Patton Oswalt). I’ve always had a difficult time hearing about terrible events like this one, and they’ve quite easily led me to believe that any faith I had in humanity was delusional. But the good is there, and I am so grateful for reminders of that fact. This is not to belittle the pain that so many are feeling in the wake of all of this. There is nothing that can compensate for lives being lost to violence. But we must not give up on humanity; we must remember what we are fighting for and know that it’s not in vain.

Much love to Boston and to all of you.

The Great 108

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My 108 tick marks, accompanied by my feet and my cat Dexter’s tail

On Friday, I completed 108 sun salutations in honor of the spring equinox. My hometown yoga teacher, Jen, puts on the “Great 108” near the beginning of each season. My first 108 experience was actually the first time I ever took her class: I went into the studio for a beginner class and was thrown into the 108 instead.

I was a little freaked out, needless to say. I’d only been practicing yoga for a couple months, and I thought I could barely complete five sun salutations, let alone one hundred and eightBut Kim, the owner of the studio, assured me that there would be little breaks in between sets of 20, and there would be no shame in not doing all 108.

But I did them all. I did 108 rounds of sun salutation A. By no means were they all pretty and graceful, but I did them. I was astonished at what my body could do, grateful that Kim and Jen coaxed me into class, and proud that I’d had the courage to try it. If I hadn’t, I might have never known that I could do it. The experience is also what later encouraged me to seek out Jen for some private sessions–one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I’ve done the 108 several times since. It’s a special practice, and here’s why:

Why the 108 is *#$%&@! Great

1. No matter how many sun salutations you do, you always find out that you can do more than you think you can.

2. The practice becomes very meditative. Because you’re repeating the same asanas over and over again, you stop thinking about them and bring your focus to your breath and your rhythm.

3. It feels powerful. You feel like you’re putting all your strength and dedication behind your intention.

4. You get glitter after 100! Ok, so I’m pretty sure that’s limited to my yoga teacher, but you can always provide your own (and if you do so in a class, please do share the story of your classmates’ reactions to you whipping out a bottle of glitter and sprinkling it on yourself).

5. It helps us to remember to reflect upon the previous season and prepare to transition into the next one.

6. I mean, let’s just admit that it’s kind of fun to tell people you did 108 sun salutations, even if their reaction is, “What the hell is a sun salutation?” (For friends asking that right now, I’m including a little illustration below this list.)

7. Although it’s the same set of poses over and over again, you notice differences from one to the next.

8. The savasana, obviously. 🙂

In case you’re wondering, here’s a little information from Yoga Journal about 108.

This 108 was dedicated with all the love in my heart to my strong and beautiful mother, who will soon be undergoing surgery for breast cancer. I would do 1,008 sun salutations for you, Mom. Your light has many times been the only way I could see through my darkness. I could not have found the sources of my own light without the astounding power of yours.

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My mama and me

Much love to all of you, and to whoever inspires you to do your practice.