So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions – I’ve written about that before – but it is a reflective time of year, and lately I’ve been thinking.  A lot.  Some would say overthinking.  The end result of all this thinking?

A want list.  A very personal, very selfish want list.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

1.  Health, or the semblance thereof.  Many of my Bikram Yoga teachers will say, as we are in savasana, to “visualize yourself in perfect health”.  I want that.

2.  Staying with a theme…I have noticed that almost all my Bikram teachers compliment the same things about my practice every time I see them (and I basically see the same teachers every week).   And for whatever reason, those things are the ones that come a bit more easily to me.  In the meantime, I’m over here all like “hey, did you notice I didn’t fall over even ONCE in the balancing series?”  Or “I stayed in Rabbit despite being so far into it that my cleavage inhibited my breathing”!  Crazy, I know.  I want them to notice the things that are so hard for me that I am surprised.

3.  I’ve been thinking a lot about love.  I would like to know that there is someone – maybe more than one – that loves me (whatever love means, anyway) without it being an assumed condition of our relationship.  (For example, I love my family, even when I don’t like them.  Would I love them if they weren’t my family?  Well, some of them, sure.  Would they love me if I weren’t family?  Well, some of them, I think.)  Love, offered with no conditions, is something I want and want to give.  And I think everyone deserves it.  (And before you say it, no, I am not talking about a romance.  Sigh.)

4.  One thing I want I completely control.  2016 will be the year I get the weight back off.  I won’t say “get back to my goal weight” as I’m not sure what that is anymore, but I will be at the right weight for me in the new year.

5.  I also completely control my reactions to the bad behavior of others, and I want to stop letting others’ bad behavior get to me.  Both friends and strangers, in fact.  I may want to talk about it, but it is not going to upset me any more.

6.  I want to remember to be nicer to my cats.  And myself.

And, oh, World Peace.

May your 2016 be the year of getting just what you want.

Not (necessarily) what you deserve. 

 

What Makes A Great Class?

I really didn’t want to go to my Bikram Yoga class today.  I came up with every lame excuse possible, and when I was done, I hauled my fat ass out of bed and went to class.

imgresSee, I’m on sort-of restriction.  Due to injuries, I’m only supposed to practice every other day at most, and even then, I have to be careful.  So all my excuses came to naught, as today was one of my days.  I had to adult, like it or not.  And I did NOT like it.

Until the class started.  All of a sudden, it just felt right.  Perhaps my postures looked like crap, but my muscles felt loose and long, and I balanced better than, well, pretty much ever.  When the teacher said “smile” and I did and she noticed, I smiled even more.

It was a freaking great class.  But even during a great class, my mind does wander on occasion (yes, that was me forgetting floor bow and trying to move ahead to fixed firm), and I could not help but wonder why I was loving this class, today, on the day I didn’t want to go, during a week in which I’ve been sad and angry.

And I think that’s why it was a great class.  Once I was there, there was nothing else to do but practice my yoga.  Just staying in the room at first took so much discipline, that by the time the class started, I could not help but let go and let my practice happen.

I’m not sure this can translate to any other part of my life (and it was not a great day, though I like to think it was better than it would have been), but for ninety minutes today, I kind of had my own version of “let go and let God”.

So, let go and let yoga.  Let walking.  Let Pilates.  Let whatever.

But haul your ass out of bed and make it happen.

It just might be great.

Don’t Try This At Home

A friend of mine recently posted an article titled “This Is What It Feels Like To Have An Anaphylactic Allergic Reaction” on Facebook.  And boy, did it make me angry.  Not the description of the reaction – that was hers, and we all describe it in our own way.

What made me so adont-try-this-at-homengry was the absolutely cavalier attitude toward the use of an Epi-Pen.  A simple Google search reveals deaths caused by its improper use,  and all recommendations, including from the manufacturer, state that you should go to a doctor, or ideally, an Emergency Room, after using one.

So, why am I bothering to write this?  Because the sister of the original post’s author challenged me to do so.  Her exact words were “[I} encourage you to write a thorough and educational piece on this topic that meets your own standards.”

So, here’s my advice, and I’m going to assume you’ll know enough to check it with your own doctor:

  • TALK to your doctor.  If you are not clear on anything she says, keep asking until you are.  I know many of us have doctors who schedule so tightly we feel rushed (as I am sure they do too), but make them take the time you need, or change doctors.
  • READ the inserts provided with any medication.   If you don’t understand them, ASK your doctor AND ASK your pharmacist.  They have different levels of knowledge on these issues – they are both necessary for you to be fully informed.
  • If those inserts are not included, as they often are not with medications that do not come independently packaged, ASK your pharmacist for a copy.
  • DON’T assume what works for someone else will work for you.
  • DON’T recommend your methods to others as though you know they will work for them (as the author does with her “lip test”).
  • DO speak up if you see someone using medication irresponsibly, even if all you say is “is that how your doctor suggested you use that?”  (Yes, stick your nose in their business.)

I wish I could come up with a cute acronym for these points, but hell, at least you can be sure none of them will put you at risk.  (Unless, of course, the recipient of your concern in the final point punches you in the nose.)

Good health!

Why I Will Still Practice Bikram Yoga

I’ve written before about Bikram Choudhury and the  charges levied against him, but the situation has changed.  While the criminal charges have been dismissed, more women have come forward and are filing civil suits against him.  Now, we still don’t know what is true – and anyone can file a civil suit – and to be completely politically incorrect, some of the described incidents sound completely avoidable to me – there’s a lot of talk, and some have asked me what I think.  Some have even suggested that I should change my practice to avoid any association with Mr. Choudhury and his name.

So, I’m taking a stand.  I will continue my yoga practice.  I will seek out studios when I travel, and vacations that incorporate this yoga.  524089_649930008373225_1489855080_nAnd I will not hide that practice by calling it other than what it is – “Bikram Yoga”.  After all, it’s the yoga, not the guru, or as a wise friend of mine pointed out, not everything has to be a cult of personality, and not everything has to be destroyed if an idol is toppled.

Bikram Yoga has changed my life in only positive ways – I am healthier, more disciplined, happier, and I have a circle of friends and a community at Bikram Yoga NYC and the other studios I visit when traveling that I would have missed out on without this practice.

Making this decision might be easier for me than some; I’ve always tended to assume that anyone – anyone – can disappoint me.  But when they do, I’ve also been able to acknowledge the positive elements (assuming there were some) from our interaction.  Even the Evil Ex taught me some things.

I don’t have some profound ending statement to make – and there may be those who see this as a defense of the man, not of my Bikram Yoga practice.  But that’s theirs to figure out.  I’ve made my decision, and I’ll be in the hot room.

 

Pain Management

I have chronic, and sometimes acute, pain.  I have written about him before, and I think I actually believed I had a handle on living with him.

Well, I am here to tell you I was wrong.  It is just in the last few weeks that I have really accepted (as opposed to just knowing) that he will be with me for the rest.of.my.life.  Some days, he’s distant and uncaring; other days, he snuggles right up and grabs hold.

image

And so, like any relationship, he takes managing, and attention, and care.  I am still figuring him out, frankly.  What do I do that makes him want to cuddle?  What successfully makes him a bit more distant?  Why won’t he leave?  (Okay, I know the answer to the last one.)

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1)  “No pain, no gain” is both fucking brilliant and fucking stupid.  My guy is a constant education, but when you push him, he’s dangerous.

2)  Pain is relative to mood.  It is absolutely true that you will feel better if you, well, feel better.  And your emotional state is often more manipulable than your physical state.

3)  If you accept something as part of your natural state, it automatically becomes just a bit easier to address.

So, that’s it.  Right now, that’s what I know about pain management.  And also, that this guy’s name is “Fred”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five (More) Things You Might Not Know About Yoga

 Just a follow-up to my last post…and there may be more.  But I hope you’re learning things, because I am, as these thoughts drift into my head (usually during class) and onto my blog (whenever I have time)…

  • Your practice will change you, but maybe not in the ways you think.

This just made me laugh.

You may have read or heard from other people about how yoga changed their lives, and honestly, I’ve said that about my Bikram practice. However, I’m pretty sure not all of my results are good, whatever “good” might mean to you. Yes, I’m stronger, more flexible, and my health has improved. I find I have less trouble with my ADHD and also with controlling my temper. And all of that is positive.

But I’m also a little more self-righteous, and I think, a tad judgmental. Leading to my next point…

  • Prepare to judge and be judged.

Before you reflexively say “I’d never do that”, trust me, you will, and you do, and better to admit it than pretend. You look at other yogis and even if it’s just a for a brief second, you notice that flaw – in their body, in their postures, in their silly hairstyle (oops…) – and yes, they are doing the same thing, and sometimes they’re not shy about it. I’ve actually caught fellow yogis looking me over, and then openly commenting to a friend in my presence. They might think I can’t hear them, but for things like that, I’ve got ears like a bat.

But you know what? Everything about our society leads us to this behavior, so I’ve stopped blaming myself. Instead, when I catch myself doing it, I try to examine that moment, because usually, judging someone else is much more about you than them. So if you take the time to think about what you’re really judging, you might learn something.

  • Listening is hard. But if you do, you will always hear something worthwhile.

This honestly surprised me. Listening, like breathing, should be easy and natural, right? After all, I have upwards of twenty years of formal education and more than another twenty years in the workplace, and in both those arenas, you have to listen, right? Well, no. Listening is tricky. Are you really hearing what someone is saying or are you already formulating your (physical) response? The Bikram dialogue may be the same (but really, it’s not) every time you take class, but even if you think it is, every teacher is different. Every teacher will, wittingly or not, emphasize different words/moments/phrases.  

This tendency not to listen is particularly noticeable in Bikram, I think, as you will see yogis begin the postures before the teacher has even given the first instruction – because, you know, “it’s the same every time”. Except it’s not. Really. In fact, just the other day, I heard a teacher say something really helpful that I never heard before. That actually has been happening a lot lately…maybe I’m getting to be a better listener?

  • Yoga is not a cure-all

I think that’s kind of self-explanatory. So go to it, have fun, listen, breathe, and hopefully learn stuff.

Oh, and do share your thoughts on what you know that I might not know about yoga!

Seven Things You Might Not Know About Yoga

Yes, I'm laughing as  I come out of my imperfect triangle with my imperfect body.  But, oh, what fun!

Yes, I’m laughing as I come out of my imperfect triangle with my imperfect body. But, oh, what fun!

Yes, seven.  Though I did not number them, as numbering implies prioritizing and I did not want to do that.  So there.  And so here, in no particular order, seven things:

  • Yogis come in all shapes and sizes.

Yes, despite what you see in Yoga Journal, or in commercials, or modeling yoga clothes, yogis vary.  A lot.  And the “perfect” body may not always indicate the “perfect” practice.  Someday, I hope advertisers and editorial staff (I’m talking to you, Yoga Journal) figure this out and start using photos of real bodies having real fun.

So, that first bullet leads directly to my second (though, still, you know, no particular order…)

  •  It’s as much mental as it is physical.

Okay, you probably did know this, at least if you practice yoga.  But it bears repeating.  It’s easy to spend your class practicing the physical postures, without remembering you’re also there for the mental practice.

  •  Breathing is hard.

Right now, you’re probably laughing.  “Breathing’s not hard.  After all, we all do it without thinking about it!”  But it is hard.  Hard to keep your breathing calm, and to use it correctly, while you’re once again falling over just.as.your.head.touches.your.knee. (DAMN IT!) or when the frustrations of your daily life interrupt your concentration and the “fight or flight” kicks in during Rabbit… or even during Savasana.

  • Savasana is even harder than breathing.

I’ll just point you at this post…because you know, this is hard for me.

  • Not all yogis are “earthy crunchy”.

Not that there is anything wrong with being an organic vegan tree-hugger… No, but seriously, the idea that in order to practice yoga, I had to give up, to offer just one example, booze, kept me away from it for a long time.  I don’t mean to say that I think those who choose to be what I call, for lack of a better phrase, “earthy crunchy”, are wrong.  It’s just not me.  And I’ve discovered over my years of practice, that it’s not a lot of us.

  • Teachers have bad days too.

Yes, we all have bad days.  And sometimes, your teacher may not be able to hide the fact that she’s having one of those… so cut her a break.  How many times have you come into the studio grumpy, and used her positive energy to help change your mood?  Return the favor!

  • Yes, it is all about you.

Your yoga practice may be the one thing in your life that is only and solely about YOU.  What YOU want, what YOU need, what makes YOU better (whatever better means for YOU).  Glory in it.  And you’ll soon find that letting it be all about you ends in it being all about those around you.

 

 

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