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Stepping Into the Fire

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

So, I've finally decided to do it. Something I've been wanting to do for more than a year, but was too lazy and afraid to do. I'm committing to a daily Ashtanga Yoga practice, starting today.

I've practiced yoga for 7 years, and taught yoga for the past 3.5 years. Due to a busy schedule, my personal pracice consisted of one to two days a week usually. And, due to a general avoidance of anything involving early mornings, and frankly a fear that I wasn't good enough, I never attempted a Mysore class. Well, all of that is going to change.

What pushed me over the edge? Well, a big part of it was moving. In Portland, where I'd lived for 7 years, began my yoga studies and took my teacher training, I grew comfortable. I had my teachers that I loved, a wealth of studios nearby and classes in my preferred style of yoga, and yoga friends to take classes with or just chat about practice.

When we moved back to Denver in November, all of that was gone. I was on my own. I struggled to find any studios offering Ashtanga yoga in Denver, struggled to find classes to fit my preferred schedule, struggled to find the motivation to go to class when I didn't know anyone or the teacher. I longed for my old Monday night Primary Series class in Portland, my favorite teachers, my friends. So I logged on to my Portland teacher's blog, reading wistfully about the classes I so missed. But then I read some other entries - about his home practice with his wife and little child, about his travels to practice with friends on rainy rooftops in India and teachers on the beaches of Goa, about how through a decade-long daily practice he found a strong body, open mind, and a community. A ha! THIS is what I wanted.

I realized that it doesn't matter if your friends or favorite teacher are in class, or even if there is a class at all. Just DO the practice. Every day. No matter what. That, in itself, is enough. As Guruji said, "Practice, all is coming." So I will.

By sweating my way through the Primary Series every day, by using the asanas and bandhas and ujjayi breath to build that fire - the tapas, I hope to burn away those things that do not matter, that do not serve me anymore. Through the practice of dedication, concentration and committment, I hope to quiet my mind, to drop beneath those choppy surface waves and down into the deep still waters, to find the calm center in the eye of the storm that is life. And with enough time, and patience, and PRACTICE, I hope to be able to live my life from that calm center - to find and reside in the jewel in the heart of the lotus, where we are one, the universe and all of us.

So, the plan:
3 days of Mysore classes at a studio downtown (Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 6:30 to 8:30 AM, Sundays from 3:30 to 5:30 PM)
4 days of home practice
Meditation and mantra daily, with japa mala (made of lotus seeds)

Practice, all is coming...Practice, all is coming...Practice, all is coming...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DARRISBEE 5/3/2011 12:46PM

    This really resonated with me! After I became a yoga teacher, which was a huge dream for me for many years, I also finally got a full-time job after relocating & suddenly I couldn't make it to any of my usual yoga classes. My own practice fell by the wayside a bit & I have been trying to cultivate a home practice when I can't make it to class. It's a work in progress for sure. Thank you for the inspiration!

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GENKI_WARRIOR 4/9/2010 8:40AM

    so inspiring! thanks so much for sharing : )

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ZORAHGAIL 1/7/2010 10:37PM

    Thanks for the reminder that practice can happen anytime, anywhere.

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STEPFANIER 1/6/2010 1:33PM

  I see so much of my own journey in yours. I find myself feeling insignificant and inexperienced when I venture into vinyasa classes. I like Ashtanga; it soothes my soul and makes me stronger inside and out. Too many crazy poses and too much stunt work (arm balances and inversions just because, trying to overwork and exhaust students too quickly) leaves me feeling very un-yogic. I'm sticking with what I know, but pulling out more pieces of the primary series to fine tune. Five breaths once during a class is not enough time for me in some poses.

I, too, have re-committed to at-home and more frequent Ashtanga practices. I'm also taking that BIG step and branching out my yoga business. My mantra for the year: Lead with your heart; the rest of you will follow.

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Why can't I believe that I deserve it?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

WARNING: Long and rambling blog post. Read at your own risk.

Sometimes I wish I could just pound my brain into submission. I know certain things are true, yet my brain just WILL NOT believe it. The big one being - I deserve a good life.

It's so ironic, being that I'm a yoga teacher who spends many hours studying, meditating and espousing the philosophy that we are already divine beings, who deserve a life filled with compassion, understanding and love. And I do believe this for everyone - except for me. ARGH!

It's why I constantly say "yes" to plans, to working late, to skipping things I'd been looking forward to in favor of what someone else wants to do, when I'd rather be saying "no." But somehow I think that if I say "no," then I'll lose my friend, job, whatever. I'm always setting the example that other people and their WANTS are more important than my own.

In investigating why I have this reflexive reaction, I realized that it stems from my experiences from about mid-college going forward.

I had some pretty selfish "friends" and roommates who would fly into a rage or not speak to me or move out when I was gone for an afternoon simply because they didn't enjoy or understand the different direction my life was going in, because we were no longer united in everything we did or liked or wanted. And because these reactions were so out of left field and so intense, I lived for years on eggshells, never knowing what would set someone off. And now I can't seem to relax and be myself around anyone - I'm too afraid that they will make fun of me, dislike me, or leave. It's like I'm scared to death of being seen as "selfish." LOL, maybe I've been doing TOO MUCH yoga!

Those experiences were quickly followed by some pretty nasty work experiences. I had what I thought at the time was a great mentor, someone who had offered to take me under their wing and show me the ropes in the tough world of magazine publishing. Not wanting to be a dissapointment, I stepped up to the plate again and again when I was asked to work nights, and weekends, and stay until 4 AM the night before we went to press. After 4 years of giving up my life, missing family visits and events, stressing myself to the point of exhaustion and health issues, I was asked to take on yet another magazine. And when I said I just couldn't do it...just like my "friends" before, I got turned on. Told I wasn't a team player, that I was lazy. I suddenly wasn't part of the team anymore. And when I gave my 2 MONTHS notice (in consideration of them so they wouldn't be left in a lurch without another pair of hands), I got trampled on. And on my last day of work, my "mentor" sat me down to tell me I was a dissapointment, and told to leave.

With my trust broken over and over, I somehow managed to feel like it was always all my fault. After all, I was the common denominator. And now, here I am, wishing I could believe that I deserved all the things I want so badly: friends, trust, being thin, having a good job and a good life, happiness. Yet somehow, I just don't. In my little pea brain, somewhere in those far corners, I'm still convinced that becuase I am "bad" I do not deserve any of these good things. So I always settle for less.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VGASCON 6/25/2009 4:34PM

    Believe it or not, writing about your feelings and perspective may be the best first step toward improvement that situation.

I am grateful that you shared these thoughts and emotions with us. I hope this act serves as a release, a break of the chains holding you back, so that you can make progress.

It is easy to make recommendations and suggestions. However, I believe you already know what you need to do to make things better. The light from within will guide you forth.

Please know that you are not alone on this journey.

Be well, dear friend!

-= Victor =-

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WONDERJANE 6/19/2009 9:31AM

    Why is it that we women so often think that we don't deserve the good life? Keep up the good fight and the positive self-talk. You mention that you are a yoga instructor and as a complete aside I would like to say that the positive impact taking up the practice of yoga has had on my life is immeasurable - and its thanks to teachers like you that it has been so positive. Thank you for taking on the training and hard work required to become a yoga teacher and know that you are improving lives in sharing the practice. You will find your allies and friends, stay patient and Namaste.

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ZORAHGAIL 6/18/2009 7:13PM


My heart goes out to you; I've felt (& am currently feeling) the same way. We are indeed beings of light. By taking care of ourselves first, we can better shine to the world around us.

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LOLAGEEK 6/18/2009 3:49PM


Keep working on it. I hope your "Aha!" moment arrives soon that you deserve everything you set your sights on. Or that you have your "Aha!" moment that you deserve all the good things that are already in your life right in front of you.

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RENA1965 6/18/2009 1:56PM

    Hi Junglista,
You have to make "me time", I don't do well people whom throw temper tantrums and work appointments that invade my private life.. Real friends respect "hey sweetheart this time I am busy, can we do this at a later date or another day?" No one will thank you for running yourself down..
I have ADHD and had to do some serious thinking, if I want my lifestyle change to work "me time" is necessary and has to be a must regularly..
Now I have me time regularly I am a much happier mom to two ADHD teenagers.. I get every monday free while my youngest son is living with his foster family and my oldest son at school.. I do all the things I want on my permenant free day from work.. I work every third weekend so have to have a compulsory free day during the week.. I never tell anyone what I do, I go to the gym, take some sun, shower at my own pace and spoil myself with luxury cream and food of my choice that is not made in a hurry.. I sit in the park close my eyes and enjoy studying people from my ADHD autism world.. Just having the right to be me is enough to keep me on track.. I also go window shopping hunting for exciting workout outfits to my body building and have time much needed time efter years of caring for a dying husband and a very aggressive son. I was feeling suffociated and like a person lossing her identity, but times are getting better. hugs Rena..

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Le sigh. Today feels like it's going to be a tough one. Things are feeling a bit out of control for me and I'm battling back the grumpyness and urge to throw in the towel. A few things that are eating away at me today:

1. I gained a pound. This frustrates me so much. I've been stuck on this plateau for MONTHS and now, a gain. I really kicked up the workouts last week too, adding in an extra kickboxing class plus some running intervals. I just feel so frustrated, like once again, my body just won't cooperate with me. Like once again, it is my enemy instead of my friend.

2. My car got hit last night, while parked on the street outside my building. This happens on a fairly regular basis - well, it either gets run into or has the windows broken in. Ah the joys of city living. Not to mention the fact that I just dropped $700 last week to replace the entire radiator/cooling system. Cars suck. So do bad drivers and burglars.

3. I feel lonely lately. This weekend we had brief meetups with some old friends, and while it was nice, I just feel like I don't have much in common any more. Sometimes it seems that people want to do all the talking, but aren't really interested in hearing what's going on in your life. I kinda just feel like I'm just a spectator in the social world these days, just watching things but not really participating. Sometimes I think I forgot how to participate.

4. I'm nervous for my yoga class tonight. I really want to go because the class is great and the other students are too, but it's with a teacher who hasn't necessarily been the nicest to me (made fun of me in front of the whole class). It's been 3 weeks since I've been to his class, and it takes a good amount of me steeling my resolve in order to go. I just don't know if I'm up for it today.

I'm going to step aerobics at lunch time. Maybe that will help me feel better.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZORAHGAIL 6/1/2009 2:16PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WOLFY_GIRL 6/1/2009 2:12PM

    Bad teachers are definitely too much to deal with. I can sympathize. As for the loneliness...I just touched base with a good friend who updated me on a bunch of my former friends. I'd been feeling bad that those friendships had petered out, but then after hearing about them I realized I just wasn't part of that world anymore. It's still sad to let something go, but if you tell yourself it's okay that you do, you can feel more free to find something (some people) you really _do_ enjoy. (And as for the talking-but-not-listening, I find more people behave that way than not. It's frustrating, I agree.)

I also sympathize with the gain/plateau...if I knew the answer I wouldn't still be stuck here myself? but...at least you're hanging in there with your plans, so that's wonderful. Good on you!

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LOLAGEEK 6/1/2009 2:07PM

    Dang, I saw your status message read you had a case of the Mondays... and here it is. Le sigh. emoticon

1. Keep on with the workouts. They make you feel good and hopefully the lunchtime workout will have you in a great mood. Plateaus suck but you will break through at some point. This is a process.

2. Bad drivers and burglars are lame! The only exception is the Hamburglar... nobody needs to eat that crap.

3. I really felt like this when we lived in Miami. It sucked. I just hope you find that less lonely spot in the world soon because you seem like you have so much to offer to those you surround yourself with. A woman like you deserves good friends that have something to offer as well.

4. Hmmmph! The nerve calling you out. That just seems like an a$$ move on his part. If you go I hope you are able to hit that sweet spot in your practice.

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Mourning Guruji, being of light

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

If you are unfamiliar with Ashtanga yoga, the name Guruji probably doesn't ring a bell. Guruji is Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the founder and master of the Ashtanga Yoga system. And way more than that: he was a being of light, of wisdom and of knowledge, and who's words and touch transformed the lives of thousands. And he passed away on Monday at the age of 93.

I'm sure that Guruji, with all of his infinite wisdom and peace, has broken the cycle of life and death and finally reached that sweet place in the cosmos...and still, we can't help but mourn.
I feel like my heart and soul are cracking open, in sorrow and in gratitude for everything Guruji has given to yogis all over the world.

I'm teaching vinyasa tonight and plan to lead the primary series in his honor...

Wande gurunam charanravinde
sandarasita svatma sukhavabodhe
nihsryease jangalikayamane
samsara halahala mohashantyai
I bow to the lotus feet of the guru
who teaches the good knowledge,
showing the way
to knowing the selfawakening great happiness;
the doctor of the jungle,
removing the poison of the ignorance
of conditioned existence.

Thank you Guruji - see you on the other side. Hari Om.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VGASCON 5/21/2009 8:30AM

    Thank you for sharing your feelings with us. I am a new practitioner of Yoga and knew not of Guruji's work. But, through you and your words, I feel his presence in life, and I join you in a sense of gratitude for all he gave to the world.
emoticon emoticon
-= Victor =-

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LOLAGEEK 5/20/2009 8:36PM

    I have been seeing so many tributes online. This is a very moving time. Here is a link to yogadork's page and a list of online response links.


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ZORAHGAIL 5/20/2009 1:55PM


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You've come a long way, baby...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We got a new computer the other day (woo hoo!) and last night, as we were transfering over our files from our VERY old computer, we discovered some long lost photos of our lives nearly 10 years ago...boy what a difference a few years and a few thousand miles makes.

I guess most people would be nostalgic looking at photos of their crazy youth, long lost friends and time gone by. Me, on the other hand, not so much. In fact, I found the images really upsetting. Not that there was much upsetting content in them, just that they brought me back to a time in my life where I didn't really like myself so much. And boy did I show it. I abused my body with alcohol and a really poor lifestyle, and I was mean and obnoxious to most of the people around me - out of ignorance, out of self-loathing, out of the sheer terror that I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing in this life.

I realize looking back how the poor choices I was making were putting me in real danger. In the flood of long-forgotten memories that rushed back to me as I was looking at those photos, I felt ashamed - yet also so grateful. Grateful that I made it out alive, and that I learned so much and was able to make the good choices and changes I needed to in order to be where and who I am today.

I'm trying to resist the urge to stuff those memories back into the far reaches of my brain - I want to confront them and not be afraid or ashamed of them anymore. I want to process them and let them go.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SMIT050865 5/19/2009 8:38AM

    I think pasts like that are very common. Got one like that myself.

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LOLAGEEK 4/29/2009 4:55PM

    Gratitude for where you are in the present is a smart way to reconcile with your past.

I have done some dipsh*t things in my past. Not all things I am proud of. It happens.

I hope you can laugh about all of it soon. emoticon

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ZORAHGAIL 4/29/2009 11:27AM

    Thank you for sharing. Much of what you wrote resonated with me, especially since DH & I talked about how things were "back in the day" when we were crazy kids. Rumi's "The Guest House" has always helped me in those times when I want to run away from my memories & my self.
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

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