Living Your Life With More Ease ~ Yoga Lessons

woman-1801281_1280

Yoga Lesson 1: Keep Your Eyes Open

When the pose is tough and kicking your butt, focus on one spot. Concentrating on the one spot helps you to ignore the screaming muscles. They call this Drishti.

When I first started practising, I would fall into pigeon at the end of practice, feeling the breath ripple through me and my body thanking me for making it to class. My eyes were always closed as I took in each sensation. One night the instructor said, keep your eyes open. Don’t close yourself off, even during the relaxing, releasing part of the practice. Feel everything. Keep your focus.

Hmm. We all hear about people’s fear of failure…this reminded me of fear of success. Keeping your eyes opens tells your inner self that it’s ok to enjoy the fruits of your labour, to take pride in reaping the rewards of your success. At the end of a challenging practice, we shouldn’t close ourselves to the amazing feelings of having made it by going inward and closing our eyes.

In life too, keep your eyes open and enjoy all for which you have worked.

Yoga Lesson 2: Go Into The Pose With Ease

Speaking of work, nothing should ever really feel like work. No matter how difficult the pose, nor how far you can get into it, the struggle automatically doubles when you fight it, or try to beat it into submission, or constantly think, this is so hard.

The instructor’s cues during difficult poses always include: take a breath, relax your face and smile.

The same thing happens in life, no matter how annoying the task. For example, God help me, making lunches is the last thing I want to do after a full day of being everything to everyone. So, I breath. And, I’ve actually started to express thanks for the food in my fridge which means I can feed my family, for the health to stand in my kitchen and use my hands to make this food, and for the children I’m feeding because I really wanted to have them. That’s when I smile. Voila. Instant ease. I’m still making the lunches, but suddenly, the task doesn’t feel so heavy. I’m not fighting it, but completing it with ease.

Yoga Lesson 3: Isn’t It Great That It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect?

Oooooh, this is a big one for me. BIG. The mat gets messy, and some days are ah-mazing. I    breathe, I flow, I move, I stand on my head, I nearly get my hips up for hand-stand….other days, ugh. Child’s pose please!

The point is…listen to yourself. Our bodies tell us what we need. The beat of our hearts, the pit of our stomachs, the sweat in our armpits, the ache in our guts, the constriction of our throats, the tightening of our shoulders….the list is endless. LISTEN! And, then agree that enough is just enough. And, that in itself is perfect.

Yoga Lesson 4: Have Fun

What’s the point if it isn’t? There’s always room for laughter, smiles, giggles. When we fall, when we soar…leaving room for fun is essentially what makes all of this worth it.

Any lessons you would add which have helped you navigate life with a little more ease and fun?

blog sign off

Advertisements

Breathe…You Can Do This!

inhale exhaleWhen the alarm goes off and you think you have at least 10 minutes to shower before the kids get up, but surprise! They’re both awake and telling you they’re hungry…breathe…

When your husband asks what’s for lunch on a Saturday afternoon, and instead of committing murder because you’ve been juggling the three year old, the house, the coming home from the soccer game, and are desperately hoping to squeeze in a yoga class…breathe…

When deadlines sneak up on you at work and you’re staring at the calendar wondering how that happened…breathe…

When a co-worker flags a student which you should’ve flagged a few weeks prior and now that kid is probably struggling more than he should be…breathe…

When the teacher calls because your angel of a child has not behaved like an angel and now this mothering business is gettin’ serious…breathe…

When you watch all of the precious writing time be eaten up by practices, games, rehearsals, meetings, appointments, cooking, playing, homeworking…breathe…

When you look at the coming month and automatically close the calendar because it’s not possible…breathe…

When you wonder how you get the energy to do it all…breathe…

When you stop to thank your lucky stars for your health, happiness and pretty awesome life…breathe…

When you realize how freakin’ amazing you are…breathe…

Perfect in our imperfections and our imperfect lives. It’s a beautiful thing.

Hope your week’s a good one!

blog sign off

Get Messy, Be Unmessable #YogaLessons

woman-1801281_1280

Hearing the words “get messy”, followed closely by “be unmessable” when I started practicing yoga made the English teacher in me raise a brow…oxymoron much?

Get messy.  It implies disorder, inefficiency, chaos. Everything which makes me cringe. I like order, calendars, ticking off boxes. Getting messy wasn’t what I was about. Little did I know, it was exactly what I needed.

It wasn’t until I embraced Get Messy and allowed myself to Get Messy did I see just how Unmessy it made me.

The freedom to allow myself to try, to learn to recognize fear of falling and failing (something I still struggle with on and off my mat), to look like a complete fool because the pose is completely wrong brings with it the promise of peace. Of quiet. Of telling every outer and especially inner critic to gth because I’ve got this.

Getting messy helped me tap into my confidence, my sense of certainty that regardless of how messy life can get or I get as I navigate it, I am okay. And, therefore, I can be unmessable.

When I accepted a position as a Guidance Counsellor, an area of teaching I had tried so many times to get into, I almost talked myself out of it because of the visibility of the position within my school. I was afraid that my mistakes would be known by all. I might have to do presentations to staff (something I find terrifying…yes, I’m a teacher…I know). I could make a decision which others would disagree with or an oversight could affect a student’s academic pathway. My reasons were endless. But, I also knew I couldn’t let the opportunity to learn something new, to stretch myself as a teacher pass me by. Well, I made (and am still making) mistakes. I asked (and keep asking) a lot of questions. I presented to staff and a group of parents…and, I survived. I gave myself room to be messy and in the process became un-mesa-ble. (see what I did there?)

Yoga practice offers insight about who I am and how I live my life almost every time I hit my mat. The nuggets of understanding are invaluable. But, this one…becoming messy and un-mesa-ble at the same time has enabled me to bring to fruition my biggest dream: to author a novel.

After two years of assessing my life on and off my mat, I can confidently advise anyone who is feeling off course, to get messy and become unmessable. Fearlessly embrace who you are, what you want to do, and then don’t let anyone stop you from doing it…especially, yourself.

blog sign off

 

Spring Cleaning

It’s April 8th and I woke up to wet snow.  My backyard, which was a swampy mess yesterday, was once again adorned this morning by a layer of icy white. Not the pretty fluffy powder that warms my heart in December. The heavy, wet, chunky clumps that tighten my chest because it’s April 8th. Yesterday, I had the windows open and cool air refreshed my home as I thought of spring and not far behind…spring cleaning. Bright sunny days make me want to make my house shine. The grey days of winter mask the dust that rests on the baseboards and cloak the piles in bottomless closets. The instant the clouds give way to the sun and rays of light pour in through the windows there are spotlights on every single crevice that needs tidying, purging and a good scrub.

from beautifulhomesandgardens.ca

I have to blink several times to adjust to the light and then I simply must move.

Spring cleaning goes beyond the building in which my family and I live. I also pay attention to the body I inhabit. There is an energy inside me that has been building up all winter (in addition to the few extra pounds from all the chocolate I’ve consumed) and I must unleash it.

So it is generally in the spring that I take up one of my favourite forms of exercise. I run. I am not a runner – I do not measure my run by distance. I do not even run continuously during the 20-30 minutes I am outside. I will jog, walk, sprint and run. My heart pounds in my chest, my lungs hurt, my legs scream and I love it. I do not stop. It is normally when I am running that I do my best thinking. I purge every negative emotion that crept into my soul during the long, dark winter. I remember that life is wonderful. I give thanks for the beauty of my life and for my ability to move. I feel the sweat cleansing my body of the dust I have accumulated over a long winter.

In my mind, this is me:

from motionshoelab.com

This is probably more what I look like:

from mynextrace.com

Once I’m back inside I proceed with another favourite, yoga. I love yoga. It’s a lovely way to settle my aching muscles down after a good run. I close my eyes, breathe deeply and smile as I abandon myself into each pose (until my son decides he absolutely needs me urgently, like right now mommy because if he doesn’t get that toy on the top shelf he might pass out from boredom because he has no other toys in the house). Now, back to breathing….

Where envision myself doing yoga because my mat is normally sandwiched between the couch and coffee table and I’m surrounded by toys:

from womenshealth.com

The last part of my spring cleaning routine is to reacquaint myself with my journal. I’m sporadic in pretty much everything I do. I dive into every project with passion and find myself consumed by it, until I get bored or lose the energy to persevere or find another endeavour that enraptures me. And, so is my relationship with my journal. I look back at the journals I’ve accumulated over the years and all of them have huge chunks of time missing. It’s like I disappear for months (a few times for years!) at a time and then I dive back into journalling trying to make up for lost time. In any case, while I’ve been more consistent with journalling of late, it’s still something that calls to me more in the spring.

I’ve enjoyed enough springs to know that my home will always have corners that need a mop, my body will always carry an extra 5-10 pounds and my journal will always have gaps in time. I am also fully aware that the strange energy I feel is simply nature’s way of waking me up after a long (long) sleepy winter and that this energy will surely lead into the lovely, hazy, lazy lull of summer’s heat. Nonetheless, I will enjoy every second of polishing my home, pushing my body to its limits and my pen across the page. It’s how I shake off winter and welcome spring into my life.

What are your spring cleaning rituals?

sign off bookmarks