Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

First Week Round-Up March 27, 2011

Filed under: checking in,Pose of the Month — R. H. Ward @ 8:00 pm
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I thought it might be useful (for me, at least, I don’t know about for you) to check in periodically and see how I’m keeping up with my teacher training workload, and how it’s balancing out with the rest of my life.  TT began just over a week ago, so how did I do during my first week?

  • I’ve read about half of The Royal Path.  (It’s short and easy, I’m trying to stretch it out.)
  • I’ve started on the yoga sutras and have considered the first two yamas carefully (and there’s one more post in the queue on ahimsa and satya, too).  On schedule with this (especially since the next two are pretty easy – maybe I’ll make it through three this week).
  • I blogged Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday (a total of seven posts), so I’m keeping up with my rough goal of doing this five days a week or so.
  • I made it to yoga class at the studio twice, Monday and Thursday evenings.
  • I practiced my Poses of the Month (forward bends) almost every day and started keeping a journal about it.
  • My husband hasn’t throttled me yet.

I will start posting about classes and actual yoga at some point.  This week I had the weekend sessions to post about, plus some introductory things like the books.  Also, ahimsa is kind of a big topic.  I do see myself posting about the actual yoga I’m doing and the people I’m now doing it with.

The forward bends are interesting so far.  The idea here is to practice these poses every day, paying attention to how I feel in the pose, and see where it leads.  Right now I’m feeling really scatter-brained and unable to focus – hopefully that will improve over the course of the TT.  I will probably hold off on any big posts about the Poses of the Month until later on in the month when I’ve observed more.

I did, however, discover something interesting about my practice of paschimottanasana (seated forward bend).  N & J teach this as a pose of surrender.  They instruct their students to relax into the pose, let themselves go, just focus on the breath.  I’ve been having a lot of trouble with this, and I figured out why: I learned this as a much more active pose!  With my old teacher Gene, we focused on keeping a flat back, finding a strong grip/catch on the legs or feet, lengthening the spine on inhales and moving deeper into the pose on exhales.  So, for the two years I practiced with Gene and ever since then, I’ve practiced this pose in a very active way.  No wonder I’ve had issues with the way N & J teach it as a more passive pose.  Neither method is “right” or “wrong”, just different.  This month I’ll try to practice it N & J’s way and see what happens.

I haven’t been shirking my normal life, either, although there are definitely some bumps in the road to work out.  F is really understanding of me needing to spend extra time on yoga practice and homework, and therefore sacrificing some of our time together, but we’re still working out how we’ll handle things that we usually split evenly, like cooking and dishes, when I’ll be out the door to yoga two nights a week and needing to spend time on homework on other nights.  F also raised a concern about Facebook/computer time – if we’re sacrificing time together, then maybe we should be making some Facebook sacrifices too and not wasting time that we could be spending together.  He definitely makes a good point.  On the whole, though, I think we managed this week pretty well: got our taxes done, looked at some houses (we’re thinking about buying), had a nice dinner with my parents, vacuumed, cooked meals, even made it to church this morning.  I hope we’re able to continue fitting the TT commitment into our lives in a healthy way.

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Ahimsa and Satya, part 2

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle,yoga philosophy — R. H. Ward @ 7:05 pm
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I want to reflect a little bit on how I practice (or fail to practice!) satya and ahimsa in myself.

Sometimes in the past I’ve found it difficult to be honest with myself.  Maybe I know deep down that things aren’t going the way I want them to, but I tell myself that everything’s fine and press on.  If I keep working at it, the results I want will happen eventually, right?  But maybe it would be better to take an honest look at the situation and make another choice.  By telling myself that everything’s fine, I deprive myself of the opportunity to change things, and potentially put myself deeper in a bad situation.

Or maybe I’ve made a mistake, broken something or forgotten something or said something I shouldn’t have.  Then I tell myself what a bad mistake it was, I always do these things and that’s why I’ll never be able to succeed.  Then I start on a downward spiral: clearly this mistake means that I’m a bad person.  Clearly I’m overweight, I’m lazy, I’ll never get things right.  Ten minutes later I’m ready to cry and can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend time with me.  (This whole thing really perplexes my husband: he asks what I want for dinner and I burst into tears, because he’s always so nice and asks what I want, and a terrible person like me doesn’t deserve such a wonderful husband!)

Now, maybe some of the things I’ve told myself are true, but certainly not all of them, and even though I did make a mistake, I don’t deserve to be punished like that by anyone, especially myself.  I find it hardest to be forgiving to myself – I can always forgive a friend, and when I’m the one who’s messed up, my friends and family never fail to forgive me and reassure me.  Yet I’ll worry over this mistake, which my friends already forgave me for, and be unable to let it go.  Why can’t I treat myself like my own friend?

When I get into patterns like this, I’m not acting with either satya or ahimsa, and I’m hoping that practicing the yamas will help me deal with this bad habit. While it may be true that I did something wrong, satya doesn’t demand that I reprimand myself repeatedly.  Satya demands only that I recognize and acknowledge the error.  If I’m practicing satya, then I should keep the error in perspective: I only forgot to throw in the laundry, for goodness sake, it’s not the end of the world.  Blowing things up out of proportion and taking them out of context is dishonest.  Then, once I practice satya and acknowledge that I was wrong, ahimsa tells me to let it go.  Hanging onto it does violence to my spirit, and I hurt myself over and over.  Making one mistake does not make me a bad person, or an undesirable or unlovable person.  Dwelling on these things, spiraling down until I feel like I am unlovable: that’s harmful to me.

So what can I do to change this habit?  First, I need to recognize what’s happening while it’s happening.  I need to say to myself, hey, I made a mistake.  I admit I shouldn’t have played video games all night, I should have called my mother, I should have cleaned the bathroom, I forgot to stop at the store.  I was wrong.  People make mistakes sometimes, but that’s okay.  Sometimes it helps me to make a new plan to make up for the mistake: it’s late at night now so I can’t fix it today, but I’ll stop at the store during my lunch break tomorrow.  And then – it’s over!  I need to stop thinking about it at this point.  Go for a walk, do some yoga, wash some dishes, bake some cookies, complete another task that needs to get done that I can accomplish today.  Or even just find a funny show to watch on TV.  Take my mind away from the pattern, and move on to something else.  Although it may be hard to act with love toward myself in that moment, I can step away from that moment and try to find a new moment when caring for myself is more possible.