Thursday, April 29, 2010
If I were to ask you what the path to good health is, what would you say? People usually say things like, "Eat right and exercise." And while this is true, there are other important factors to consider.
Recently, I was working with a client who felt bad about not having done something we'd discussed and decided she'd do. Her life was full, overwhelming even, and she didn't have time to focus on what she was planning on doing. For her, it's important that she maintain her health, if nothing more. Drink lots of water, eat good grounding foods, and get plenty of sleep.
Sleep? Yes, sleep. Sleep is super important, yet we never talk about it. I just read an article on the importance of sleep. It regenerates us, allows our body to heal and grow, and allows our mind to work through the events of the day. Without sleep, we cannot live.
Yet, in today's society, sleep is considered so unimportant. When people say they need to leave a party to go home to sleep, they hear things like, "Noooo! Stay a bit longer" or when they get an early phone call that wakes them, they may hear, "Oh my God. Are you really still asleep?" Why is sleep so frowned upon?
Sleeping doesn't make you lazy, it makes you smart. Napping, too, is a great way to quickly regenerate your body, and your energy. We don't nap enough. We need to do it more often. And most of us need to get much more sleep than we already do. We need to re-prioritize our day so that sleep gets scheduled in.
Today, I decided to take a 30 minute nap. I don't often get an afternoon nap, and today's nap was amazing. It was comforting, and afterward, I felt amazing. It taught me never to underestimate the power of a nap, and perhaps, to nap a little more often.
Friday, April 23, 2010
We've all got something to do, some place to be. An appointment to make, a meal to eat. Something. We rush through our lives without taking time to enjoy each moment.
I was reminded of this message today, during Christy's yoga class. Early on in the class, she was talking about getting deeper into a position, not by force but by way of surrender. With each exhalation, we were to surrender deeper into the pose. The goal, she mentioned, was not the perfect pose, but enjoying getting into that pose. She'd lived in Hawaii, and said that visitors used to always want to visit Hana, Maui. They'd talk, talk, talk about going to Hana. And the whole ride there, they'd be waiting to discover Hana. On arrival, they'd notice a grocery store, a couple of restaurants, and not much else. You see, the glory wasn't in arriving at Hana, but was instead the magnificent, scenic ride to Hana.
She mentioned that we often look to the goal, rather than enjoying the journey. We do this all the time. We plod through the workout to have a better body, when really, we should be enjoying the feeling of our bodies working and sweating it out. When we eat, we choke down food in large quantities, instead of savoring each small bite. We work "for" or "toward" something, when we should be focusing on what's good now.
This is what I love most about yoga. It's not just about stretching, or building strength. It's about understanding life, and motivation, and focusing the mind and the breath. It's taking our bodies to the edge, and noticing where that is, when to push and when to hold back.
Friday, April 16, 2010
It's been a while since I've written, or frankly, done much of anything related to fitness in the past two months. I've been working with clients, and though my mind has been in fitness, my body has been on a sabbatical of sorts. I returned just a week or two ago, to yoga, if nothing else. I was nervous walking back into my old Thursday class, thinking (with the ego as my guide) that people would have noticed I'd gone missing and ask where I'd been. They hadn't.
Upon my return, my first yoga class found me on the mat with a disquieted mind. I was early and couldn't decide how to occupy my time. What did I usually do while waiting for class to begin? Child's pose? Twists? I couldn't remember. So I sat there, rather uncomfortably, until I remembered to let go of my ego and breathe. The class was incredible, and reminded me that not only did my body need yoga, but my mind did, too. I vowed to keep my yoga classes on my schedule at (nearly) all cost.
I had signed up to take Anusara Yoga with Bruce Bowditch at the yoga studio, Prana Yoga. I was nervous, not sure that I was up to it. Bowditch is a visiting yogi, coming for a weekend workshop of classes. His photo showed him in a seemingly impossible plastic man pose, and I was nervous that being in the studio with him for two hours just might make me feel like a yoga dunce. But deeper inside, I knew that the opportunity to take a class with him would offer something even greater - inner growth.
I went to bed last night, after a relatively wonderful evening with Ward, both exhausted and nervous. Exhausted from the events of the day, and nervous for the Bowditch class that was the next morning. I decided to breathe through the feelings and trust that I could handle the class.
Class was this morning. I went in, and told Bowditch that I wasn't sure I was advanced enough to handle the class. He asked about injuries (I have none), and what my experience was, then said I'd be fine, and he'd watch and help me, if needed. The class began with a small intro about who he is and how he'd come to find yoga, and then went into a series of communial Oms and chanting. I got lost in it all. Hands in Anjali mudra, the warm room, and all the voices Om-ing in unison. Unbelievable.
After some down dogs and a few other asanas, he went into handstands. For those who hadn't done them before (me), we went to a wall together and Bowditch showed us the prep pose for handstands (think down dog but with your feet at hip height up all wall. It was amazing. Going up, there was the strength challenge, followed by the feeling that I might topple over. The entire body has to be activated to maintain a solid position. Mostly, though, I found that I needed to say to myself, over and over, Trust yourself. You can do this.
As the (two hour) class wound down, I became a bit sad. I didn't want it to end. I liked feeling challenged, and I liked feeling powerful. I knew that there were more classes being offered this weekend, but not sure if my schedule allowed for another two hours away. If I can, I thought, will be heading back this weekend. Tomorrow's class is back bends, my favorite.
I realize that I need yoga for many reasons. Aside from the obvious, I found that challenging myself, pushing to my edge, helps my inner strength. Focusing on my breath, and the position of my muscles, takes my mind away from the non-important crap that exists in my life. The greatest gift that I receive from yoga is that, when I am practicing, I am honoring myself in ways I've never done before.