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Friday, November 19, 2010

Attachment (again)

If you’ve read some of my previous blogs you know that I’ve got a thing for Star Wars. Recently we were watching the third movie, and Yoda was being his brilliant, yogic self. He says to Anakin, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” I always point that line out to the children, and so my son, he offered to write it down for me to remember. Careful, small letters in red Sharpie on a bright slip of orange paper, with his unique seven-year-old writing (and spelling). It is taped to the cover of my laptop.

I tend to think that I have made at least a sliver of progress in the area of attachment. This week, I realized I am back to square one. Or about thirty feet behind it.

Our dear Sasha, sweet gray princess kitty, died. Or actually, I told the vet to give her medicine to make her die. We call it “putting to sleep” which is a total cop-out.

She had been getting thinner, not eating much. Still purring like a fuzzy freight train, and enjoying spending the nights (cold nights!) out exploring. That day, she was a little more hesitant in her movements; her breathing became very labored, so I took her to the vet. I was not prepared to be told she would go into cardiac arrest at any moment. That this was the end, or near it.

I asked, can I take her home to the children? One last cuddle? No, the vet said it was not wise – cardiac arrest could happen at any moment. For me to choose for the children to see her suffer; to choose to have her suffer that pain and confusion; and how long would it last??? It seemed the wrong thing to do to just wait and let it happen. He asked if I needed to call anyone. I said no. What is there to discuss? You consult the expert, and you make your decision. I knew my husband would tell me to do what I thought was right.

So I hope that I made the correct choice, but I suppose I will always feel the tug of conflict. Wouldn’t we all choose that last chance to walk outside, to look up to the sky, to be with our loved ones when that time of ending comes?

Maybe that is part of what draws us back here to incarnate again, and again, and again.

Later that evening, I complained of a headache. My son offered a kiss to the forehead, which helped a lot. “So,” he said, “Sasha’s gone. I mean, her body is still here on the Earth, but her spirit is not.” Ah, yes, sweet boy. Remind me of this great truth that is so easy to speak and sometimes so hard to understand.

Goodbye, dear Sasha-belle. Great yogi-cat-teacher who showed me how to live a life of work balanced with play; how to find the best, sunny soft spots to lounge; and to relax like you mean it. How to be unflinchingly yourself, and embrace your inner wandering-wild-outdoor-nature-loving-independent-but-living-with-others self. How to find fun in simple things, like tail chasing. Not to complain or whine (well, maybe if breakfast is late), and to love love love love without expectation or restriction.

In her final breaths, as I cried and cried and cried, and wished in my deepest darkest places that this would not happen, she taught me that I am still very much attached. To her, to my family, to my friends, to everything.

Much work left to do.



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Beginner's Yoga Pep Talk

Well, hello there. So, you’re thinking about taking a yoga class? You’ve heard it’s good for you. And out of all the things that you’ve heard of lately that are good for you (like fish oil, ewwww), yoga sounds somewhat appealing. You think, well, yes, it might help my body. I could be a little more flexible; maybe work toward a stronger core, build some upper body strength. Learn to relax my mind, handle stress a little better. Learn a little about proper breathing.

So you’ve probably visited the website once or twice . . . okay, 25 times, and you’ve looked at the schedule. What does “hatha” mean? And how “beginners” is Beginners Yoga? Are there men in classes at Uttara? And, um what do they wear?

What happens if I plant my mat down next to some spandex-clad rubberband wondergirl, and I can’t do what her 20-years-younger-than-me body can do, and then I just want to go home and sit on the couch?

Ahhhhhh. It takes some guts to show up for that first class, it’s true. And you also have to find (um, actually MAKE) the time to do it. That alone can be so difficult.

Some answers to the above questions: first, hatha (correctly pronounced “hah-ta”) means the “sun” and the “moon” – the “ha” and the “ta” – it is a style of yoga that is balancing, but also forceful. And beginner’s yoga can be for someone with absolutely no yoga experience on up to experienced yogis looking for a more relaxed class, or to perfect their practice.

Remember that any pose can be adapted to suit any body; just be patient, use the props your instructor offers you, remember that it is a PRACTICE, and go from there.

Yes, there are lots of men who practice at Uttara; some are beginners, some in between, and we have a dedicated few that have been coming consistently since we opened (and have progressed beautifully, and you know who you are!). And guys generally wear shorts and a t-shirt that is either snug, or can be tucked in (to avoid wardrobe malfunctions whilst going upside down.) Click on the Facebook link from our Home Page to see some photos from actual classes and maybe that will help you to see what people wear to class.

If you DO happen to end up next to Little Miss Spandex, keep in mind that she’s just doing what her body can do; be inspired if you glance her way. You are supposed to be paying attention to your own body and your own practice. Learn to stop judging yourself (and her, and everyone else in your life, for that matter).

It’s all part of the practice. Because, you see, what you learn on your mat – about your body, about your mind, you take out into the world. However it is you practice, is also usually how your live your life.

What else would I want every beginner to know about yoga and about Uttara?

First, that we are a welcoming place. The vibe is not competitive at all. Each student is encouraged to work at their own pace, and not push beyond their own limits.

The classes are TAUGHT, they are not just led. It is not just an instructor, up there on their mat, doing their practice while you try like crazy to keep up. You are instructed in the poses; you can ask questions; the teachers come around and make adjustments and assist you in the poses. And if you don’t want us to touch you, please just tell us and we’ll leave you alone! I remember being a beginner and not wanting anyone near me. I thought negative things about my body, and assumed everyone who looked at me thought the same awful things, somehow proximity made it worse.

One of the hallmarks of an advanced student is that they usually loved to be mashed on by the instructor, but it takes time to build that relationship (with yourself and the instructor) and to feel comfortable in your own skin. We understand this, just speak your truth.

Now, just because we want you to respect your own limits doesn’t mean we won’t push you. Not all yoga is easy-breezy mild stretching and breathing. My personal taste runs to butt-kicking, music-blasting yoga. I like to work you hard, get you warm, and then wrap it up with deep, longer-hold postures. And I mostly offer 1 hour classes because that’s what I can squeeze into my life when I practice. But that’s just my personal style. You have to try different classes, different styles of yoga, different instructors. A hatha class with one instructor might be quite different with another.

Just, whatever you do, don’t just keep thinking about it. Actually go to a class. If the classes at Uttara don’t fit your schedule, try another Studio; get a video; get a book. Schedule a private. Get together with a friend.

And, please -- stop thinking that you’ll do yoga later, when you have time, when things “calm down” -- because that is not going to happen; you won’t ever HAVE the time, you have to MAKE it. You’re not going to magically get stronger, more flexible, more serene, more focused -- unless you PRACTICE.

Quit making excuses, be truthful with yourself, and get past your fear.

You will be so glad when you do.

I’ll see YOU, in class.


Uttara Yoga Studio, LLC. Blog design by Jessica Hedrick