Friday, May 6, 2011

you can't always get what you want

Sometimes, when things aren't going the way I'd like them to, I hold on to the second part of that verse as solace: if you try sometimes you'll find you get what you need. 

Maybe though, it goes beyond that. Deeper than that. 

Maybe it's not about getting. It's about being. Being ok with where you are, who you are, what you have or what you don't. 

There's a Sanskrit term: swaha, which means give it up to the eternal fire. The way I interpret is: it is what it is. 

There are moments in life when the stars align, when blessings abound, when the air sparkles around you. And those are amazing. But that's not reality. Reality is the juggle, the stretching, the handling, the being. And if we (I'm talking me but invite you to join in) let go of what we want or what we think we need and accept where we are, then think about how much the struggle will lessen. 

I still love that song. But today, instead of interpreting the lyrics to make me feel as if I'm missing out I'm going to be grateful that such a work of soaring beauty and power exists. 

Time to crank the volume to 11. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

finding my thing

Yesterday, as I sat on a crosstown bus bringing dry clothes up to my daughter's middle school play rehearsal (she'd been caught in torrential rain that morning), one of my favorite yoga teachers was sitting in the seat behind me. 

Chance meetings like that, to me, are the universe giving me extra support when I need it. 

We talked about yoga school, Trader Joe's soup (tomato/roasted red pepper is just about my favorite food ever), and motherhood. 

We also talked about things. More specifically "things," as in what our "things" are - what we're meant to do, who we're supposed to be. I've been frustrated for awhile now that my thing doesn't seem to be author. I'd thought I'd found my calling. Only it wasn't. 

My teacher suggested that perhaps that was my "thing." That is, not having one set path, not one finite direction. To continually explore and dig and grope and question was more my path than just one "thing." 


Talk about seeing things from a different point of view. Looking at a far bigger picture. Finding a new vantage point. 

Turning things up side down. 

I was doing inversions without headstands. 

Practicing beyond the practice. 

Namaste Francesca. You totally rock insight goddess.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

the gift of yoga

While watching Kung Fu Panda of all things, I was struck by a statement that resonated far more than I thought I'd find in an animated kid film:

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called "the present."

Not an original idea, probably not an original quote, but the idea? Brilliant.

For me, it went beyond today. The present is this moment. The here and now. Not what I had for breakfast. Not what to make for dinner. Just the time and place I'm existing in.

Well, that's the goal anyway. Living in the moment is really, truly challenging. The day to day juggle can be so intense it's almost too easy not to get caught up in what ifs and maybes.

Yoga is a way in. The physical practice can be so all-encompassing, if you let it, there's no room for other thoughts to take over.

The practice, that physical practice, the time spent on the mat, the poses and the sequence and the flow is just the tip of the devotional iceberg. Or perhaps, better put, they're the first step on a devotional path.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

the bigger picture

Last night I was talking to my husband about this 40 days of Yogavotion. He thought I was committing to writing the book for 40 days. I'm thinking more that it's 40 days of immersing and stewing. 40 days of exploring and and sorting. 40 days of examining what yoga has become to me, when I'm not twisted into triangle or folding forward in an eagle pose.

Today I'm thinking about awareness. Of living in the bigger picture, not just the vast universe that exists solely inside my head. I used to think my thinking mind was me. Actually, I didn't really think it, it just was what was. But then, slowly, I started to understand that that inner voice, the spin, the drama queen was just a part of me. A powerful part. The part who delights in being in control and fights outrageously hard to maintain that position.

But there's far more.

At first (and to be honest still) as I tried to move beyond my ego, it fought back. Let's call that anxiety. Self-destructive behavior. Hiding behind negative but familiar behaviors. But, sometimes I'd have glimpses there was more.

Moments when I'd go beyond my thinking. To being.

I use to think I was so incredibly evolved - that thinking all the time moved me up on the evolutionary scale. From here though, I know that was my mind talking. It's the being that's the place to be. To be able to berate. To notice. To observe. To sit.

To soak.

To exist beyond the stories and the craziness that so often fills life.

That's the practice. It's not just poses on a mat. It's freeing your mind and diving in.

(day 3)

Monday, May 2, 2011

the front row

I've been practicing yoga, at the same delicious studio, for over 6 years. And in all that time I've not had a spot in the back row more than 5 or 6 times. I race from home at least half an hour before class starts, to assure that I'll get to hide behind the class as I practice.

I never wanted anyone to watch me. What if I made a mistake? What if I stumbled? What if I fell over? What if I looked stupid?

The back row was safe. The back row was anonymous. I could maintain an illusion of not really being there—I could slip out at any moment. It was as if my practice was a secret that I wasn't willing to share.

On those rare occasions I wasn't ensconced in my safety zone, I was distracted. Nervous. Too aware of everyone around me. And, more than once, I was kicked in the head. In fact, there was one time somewhat recently when my foot connected with someone else's ear.

The back row was so much more comfortable for me.

But then, last week, I got to class with plenty of time to spare only to find mats laid out across the entire back row with the rest of the room relatively empty. It seemed ridiculous to have people squeeze together to make room for me when there was vastness everywhere else.

Just thinking that meant I had been changing without realizing it.

I considered all the spots against the wall and realized the only ones available were in the front row.


I took a deep breath. Unfurled my mat.

And let go.

The light was beautiful. The cerulean sky crystal clear. Afternoon sun streamed through the windows. The silk curtains stood out against the brightly painted studio walls and crumbling architecture across the street.

I was far more aware of my body moving through space—my hand against the purple ceiling as I moved through peaceful warrior, my leg suspended behind me as I moved into devotional.

I felt graceful. Peaceful.

Connected in a different way.

And when my practice faltered in anyway, it didn't matter.

It never mattered. It was just me holding onto things I didn't need to anymore.

Next class? I headed up front.

And have been there ever since.

(day 2)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

a 40 day commitment

Day 1

This morning, my yoga teacher talked about starting the month with a 40 day sadhana, that is, a 40 day commitment to a new practice. She looked at me as she said this, as we'd had this conversation many times before.

She'd inspired me in the past. The first time I'd ever heard the word, a year and a half ago, I committed to writing every day. What a brutal experience. For the first two weeks I struggled every morning, panicked I wouldn't come up with a topic, stressing over each phrase when they finally came, terrified that what I was expressing was garbage. But, I stuck with it and now, hundreds of posts later, writing is second nature. Rarely a day goes by when my thoughts aren't distilled into sentences that I put out into the world.

That sadhana, that simple pledge that so often plagued me, changed me. It forced me to find and hone my voice. It made me a writer.

And today, I'm starting a new one. 40 days of Yogavotion. Of celebrating all that is beyond the poses because, from this place, I can look back and see how profoundly the practice has changed me, in ways I'd never imagined. I came to yoga as exercise, an alternative to step classes at the gym. And now my practice nurtures me when, recovering from injuries, I can't be on the mat.

I've barely scratched the surface of all there is. The more I learn, the more I know I don't know. But, it's time to delve deeper.

And so, I start with a huge namaste to the many teachers in my life who glow with that bright light and who help me along the way.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Today I'm meeting my surgeon. This is a first - I've never had surgery before hence I've never had a surgeon. I've met surgeons. My best friend's father when I was growing up. Various people at parties. But no one who would be slicing into me in the near future. 

A quick aside: I'm very queasy. I couldn't do animal dissection when I was in junior high. I've been a vegetarian for 20+ years
I'm a firm believer that anything inside a body isn't meant for me to see. 

I'm nervous. Which has been happening a lot lately. This isn't just low level anxiety. This is my entire abdomen clenched and churning. My teeth grinding. My lungs constricted. 

This is fear. 

Fear of the unknown. Fear of a stranger slicing into me. Fear of being chemically knocked unconscious. Fear of not being in control. 

I love being in control or at least the illusion that I am. And while I've learned to ease up on that in a major way, stress ramps it way back up again. Which is a huge mind fuck because the angst is about situations completely out of my control. It's a classic lose/lose situation. 

I haven't found my way around that yet. Although I do know there is no way around. I have no choice but to live it. To get through it. To feel what I feel and know that I'll be fine on the other side. 

Sometimes though, I lose track of the other side. 

Oh. Maybe it's not waiting to get there to be fine. Maybe I'm fine here, underneath it all. 

Or maybe it's not a matter of fine. Maybe it's learning to live in it is what it is.