Rox Does Yoga

Musings on Everything Yoga

Things to Do in Life December 16, 2013

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 11:30 am
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I was, just a few moments ago in the ladies room and as I often do, pondering the Things I Want to Teach My Daughter. You know, the things that if somehow she grows up without ever learning them properly I’ll feel like I completely failed at being her mom no matter how awesome she otherwise is; the things that, if she grows up knowing them, I hope will enable her to get a head start on doing a better job of life than her mom has after spending 30+ years figuring them out. So I thought I’d share. I hereby present you with a brief list of The Things I Consider Important to Do in Life (Some of Which May Overlap):

  • Love wholeheartedly and unashamedly. (This goes for loving humans, other creatures, events [like parties or Christmas], and activities [like painting or dancing or using your EZ Pass to go through the tollbooth or wearing your yellow raincoat on rainy days]. It even goes for things [like your yellow raincoat or your favorite shirt or the art bought on your honeymoon], although loving living things should always come first.) Be full of love.
  • Be kind and compassionate to all creatures, including yourself.
  • Find the work that’s yours to do in the world, and do it the very best you can.
  • Leave the world a better place than you found it.
  • Understand that you are whole and complete and wonderful just as you are right now; never stop striving to educate yourself and become a better person.
  • Have a sense of humor, particularly about all of the above.
  • The world is beautiful; be present in it and enjoy the hell out of it.

I’m probably missing some obvious things here – it’s only seven bullet points as compared to all of life, after all, and I already realize I left out gratitude but seven bullet points seems much stronger than eight, and if you’re loving and compassionate and present in the world then hopefully you are also grateful – but I feel like this covers most of the bases pretty well.

My further thought is that, while all of these points can be applied on a lifetime scale, which may be the obvious way to use them, they perhaps would be most useful when applied on a daily basis. Did you leave the world a better place than you found it today? Yes, I put up my holiday decorations and cleaned out the sink. Did you work hard, did you try to improve yourself? Yes, but I was tired and skipped my yoga practice, so maybe I can do more there tomorrow. Did you love wholeheartedly today? Were you kind and compassionate today? Well, maybe I yelled at someone this morning, so I will try to make it up to him or to pay it forward with extra love tomorrow. Did you taste your good food, appreciate the feeling of the child in your arms, and notice how blue the sky was? Yes. Yes I did. 

What are your top things to do in life?

 

Pond House Part 2 June 4, 2013

Filed under: reflections,yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:17 pm
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Last week, F and YB and I traveled to Rhode Island with some friends for the Memorial Day holiday, and stayed at the same house where we all stayed two years ago. The house was just the same, but things have certainly changed for our group of friends: last time, there were seven of us (three couples and a solo friend), and for this trip we had the same core group but also brought along our friend’s new partner, two babies, and one more on the way. It was fun to go back to the place where we had such fun two years ago and see our family of friends growing and changing and welcoming new people to love.

And we had some yoga on this trip too. We didn’t lay our mats out by the pond again, but three of us ladies snuck off to the attic room on a chilly Sunday morning, pushed back the furniture, and had a nice yoga practice while the dads watched the babies. It was great to see my pregnant friend developing such a nice yoga practice – two years ago she had only a little experience with yoga, but nowadays she gets to class twice a week and is feeling great in her second trimester. Our other yoga buddy was the mom of the other baby in the house, and it was nice to see, together, that we haven’t totally lost our yoga practice (or our figures) in our new motherhood. I was so glad to have the opportunity to share this practice, and this vacation, with my friends.

The trip also reminded me again of how lucky I am in my amazing daughter. YB is such a happy kid, always smiling even on rough days. We took the train home on Tuesday, and what should have been a five-hour ride turned into an almost eight-hour ride because of Amtrak delays. YB had a tough time, and so did we, but she was a real trooper and found things to laugh about even in hour 8 of traveling. And when we finally got home, she was so happy just to be there, laughing and clapping and banging on the table. I had to put aside my own tiredness and frustration and just be there with her, in the present moment, glad to be back home.

 

Happy Mother’s Day May 14, 2013

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 2:00 pm
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For Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to share just a few of the things that inspire me about my mother, Diane. My mom has been struggling with a chronic illness for the past 25-30 years and has had three major surgeries, as well as countless unpleasant procedures and medication regimens. She’s had long periods of remission, but also long periods when her illness flares up and causes her frequent bouts of debilitating pain. She’s had to make drastic changes to her diet and other habits in order to keep her disease in check – it’s something she manages on a daily basis.

But what I want to share about my mom isn’t the disease that life has handed her – it’s her refusal to let that disease define her life. When I was a kid, Mom went back to school part-time to earn her associate’s degree, and later her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, all while working, taking care of her family, and dealing with her illness (she had two of her surgeries during this period). I get my respect and love for education from her. She also jumps at every possible opportunity to see and experience the world and just have fun. She loves to travel, always makes time for her friends, and will drop everything to hang out with her granddaughter. She always has some project going, like repainting the bathroom or digging a pond in the backyard. Everyone I know is inspired by her wild holiday decorations. As a teacher, my mom has inspired many students to achieve their best, all while pretending she doesn’t really care. Mom is passionate, enthusiastic, and has a great sense of humor, and rarely do people realize how much of what she does is done in the presence of great physical pain. Mom accepts what is but lives in the moment, never letting hold her back from living her life. I may be a yoga teacher, but I can learn a lot from her attitude.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

 

Stop Worrying April 4, 2013

Filed under: wellness,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 12:49 pm
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I was impressed with this article: The Most Surprising Regret Of The Very Old — And How You Can Avoid It. The author, Karl Pillemer, asked hundreds of older Americans what they regretted most, and the answer was often that they regretted the time they spent worrying. Here’s a quote:

Their advice on this issue is devastatingly simple and direct: Worry is an enormous waste of your precious and limited lifetime. They suggested training yourself to reduce or eliminate worrying as the single most positive step you can make toward greater happiness. The elders conveyed, in urgent terms, that worry is an unnecessary barrier to joy and contentment.

The implications of Pillemer’s research are clear: don’t waste time on worry. Instead, go out and live your precious life! The article includes three tips for how to accomplish this, including focusing on the short term instead of the long term (present moment!), and practicing an attitude of acceptance. This strategy fits right in with what Patanjali tells us in the Yoga Sutras: when negative thoughts arise, positive ones should be thought of instead. For more ideas along these lines, check out my past post on Yoga & Emotions: Worry.

What do you think? What are your techniques to reduce how much you worry?

 

Beginning Again… Again March 19, 2013

Filed under: yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:15 pm
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Recently I wrote about how I was starting to get my yoga practice back by carving out some practice time early in the mornings. Well, soon after that post, the entire family – F, YogaBaby, and I – all came down with a stomach bug. It took us days to recover. Then a family member visited from out of town, the entire family caught a low-level cold, and finally the disaster that is daylight saving time hit us hard. Any parent can tell you that “springing ahead” wreaks havoc on a small child, and it wasn’t too kind to F and me either. And so my yoga got off track again. I know that life is what’s happening when your plans get derailed, and maybe someday I’ll look back fondly on the vomit, screaming, snot, and exhaustion of the past month, but let me tell you it was not exactly fun to live through.

One of the worst things about a month like this, to me, is that I always seem to lose my yoga time right when I need it the most. Last week, for example, when YB was still adjusting to the time change and refused to go to bed for the fourth night in a row, I set her thrashing, howling little body in the crib, went to another room, and yelled and punched the floor. (Yes, the floor.) I felt frustrated, angry, and helpless, and knowing that none of it was YB’s fault just made me angry at myself for not having more patience. These are the feelings I count on my yoga practice to help me control; having that quiet time to check in with my body and spirit and to center myself helps me so much to be a calmer person.

My challenge at times like this is to find that calm center on my own, without the framework of an asana practice. That night I couldn’t find it. But YB cried for less than ten minutes before rolling over and falling asleep on her own – I was upset for a lot longer than she was. No amount of singing and cuddling from me could help her to do that, that night: she had to find it herself. The bedtime routine has improved steadily since then, and last night I had my sweet snuggly baby bedtime back. I appreciated it even more after the rough nights.

After a relaxing weekend and the chance to catch up on some of our lost sleep, F and I have started setting the alarm clock early again. We’ll gradually work backwards until we’re getting up at 5:30 again, but we started with getting up just ten minutes early yesterday. I did five half sun salutes in my bathrobe, then sat quietly on my meditation cushion for a few minutes. It’s a start. What’s important isn’t how many times you fall out of the routine – it’s being able to start fresh and begin again, and again, and again.

 

How to be a calm parent March 14, 2013

Filed under: yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:10 pm
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A friend sent me this great article: How to be a calm parent. I love this long list of ways to keep yourself calm when your children are inspiring not-calm. I’m going to file this away for future reference when YogaBaby becomes YogaKid. What things do you to keep calm in tough parenting situations? (Or any situations!)

 

Joyful Things March 7, 2013

I’ve been writing a lot lately about making resolutions and overcoming bad feelings like guilt, shame, and fear. I even have another post or two in the queue along these lines. When you think about it one way, you might see these as positive posts, reaffirming our ability to take action and make change – but looked at another way, I’ve been kind of a downer lately. So, in honor of the impending springtime, here are some wonderful things, things to rejoice about and be grateful for.

  • I have a poem published in the current issue of UU World magazine. This is exciting for several reasons: it’s the first time I was solicited for poems. As a Unitarian Universalist, it made me happy to see my work in a magazine that so closely aligns with my values, and which reaches such a wide audience of readers who share those values. And it’s the first time I got fan mail from a reader who liked the poem!
  • I work in a job where my group’s VP and product director care about meeting new hires and getting to know their people. I had lunch with our VP a few weeks ago, and our product director scheduled a group lunch for next month. Overall I feel listened to and supported at my job. And I have the ability to work from home when I need to.
  • I just realized that this January marked ten years since I started practicing yoga. Ten years! I took my first yoga class during my last semester at UNC Greensboro. It was an ashtanga-based power yoga class at lunchtime, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I was really confused at first, but I loved it. I still love it ten years later. How cool that it’s become such a part of my life!
  • F and I celebrated a special anniversary last week: six years since our first kiss. It amazes me to think about how my life has changed as a result of that moment and all the wonderful things that came from it.
  • Speaking of wonderful things that come from kissing, YogaBaby is clapping her hands, waving, and trying to stand up at every opportunity. She’ll hold onto our hands and walk across the room now. When handed a photo and asked “Who’s that?”, she answered “Dada.” (And we were able to repeat this event three times.) She also says “mamamamama” now, but only under duress when she’s upset. Predictably, I come running when I hear it. Overall she’s pretty much a joy to be around.
  • F’s sister came to visit last week. It was wonderful to see her, and she stayed in with the baby one night so F and I could go out for a nice dinner.
  • When our entire family unit was down with a stomach bug a few weeks back, I had reason to be grateful (1) that I did not in fact die lying on the bathroom floor like I thought I would; (2) that F and YB didn’t get it as bad as I did and in fact YB had the mildest case; (3) that YB still felt sick enough that all she wanted to do was nap and cuddle, which was about all we could keep up with; (4) that I have the kind of husband who will go to the store for medicine at 1 am (with a bowl on the seat next to him just in case) and then will change the baby’s jammies and sheets when she throws up at 3 am and I literally cannot move; and (5) that my parents were willing to come over with ginger ale and jello the next morning to take care of us.
  • I’ll be covering the prenatal yoga class at East Eagle Yoga starting next month when Sarah, the current instructor, has her baby. I’m excited for an opportunity to teach again, and I love prenatal. More on this in April!
 

 
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