Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Veg Link: Five Religious Approaches to Thinking about Meat Eating August 23, 2012

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 5:12 pm
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Ever since that terrific radio program with Matthew Sanford a few months ago, I’ve been following NPR’s On Being series on Facebook. Earlier this week they posted this piece on the ethics of eating meat: Five Religious Approaches to Thinking About Meat Eating.

Because I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons, and because I do a lot of thinking about the intersections of Christianity and Eastern religious practice, I found the five approaches described here very interesting. I hadn’t realized that most religious traditions begin with a vegan worldview. I also found the discussion of compassion to be compelling, since ahimsa, or nonviolence, was at the heart of my conversion to a vegetarian diet. However, all of the approaches given here may come in handy in future conversations about why being a vegetarian is right for me.

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politics and relationships August 21, 2012

Filed under: yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:35 pm
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As election madness ramps up here in the US, I thought I’d share this insightful post from Chrysta at Live Love Work: When Politics Affect Work And Family Relationships. There will always be someone in your life who has political opinions different from your own, but Chrysta offers some good concrete ideas for how to relate to those people without getting upset.

Especially when talking about politics, I try to remember the parakarmas, four attitudes discussed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras that help us keep our calm in relationships with other people. Check out my past posts on the parakarmas: friendliness and compassion, and celebrating the good, staying impartial to the bad.

 

Mom and Baby Yoga August 14, 2012

Filed under: yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 3:06 pm
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Mom and Baby Yoga Space Now that it’s been a few weeks and I’m feeling stronger, I’m starting to think about getting myself back in shape again. I definitely gained 30 pounds during my pregnancy, which seemed like the right amount – I stayed vegetarian and mostly ate a healthy diet (other than the vanilla milkshakes), but I definitely didn’t try to limit my eating in any way. I don’t know what my weight is now, but other than my massive baby-feeding appendages and a little bit of tummy, I’m back to what feels like my former size. Also, my pre-baby jeans fit again at only three weeks post-baby (they’re snug, but they button!), so thank you yoga and vegetarianism for that.

So, time to get myself moving. I took a walk a few days last week, in the mornings when it was cool enough to take the baby out in the stroller. I’ve only been going two blocks; I was exhausted after the first walk, but a few days and a few more walks later, I felt pretty solid.

I’ve started practicing some yoga again too: just maybe 20 minutes, and I’m starting off gently, but it feels really good, and it’s easier on my body than walking, interestingly. I’m surprised at how quickly my strength and flexibility is coming back to me. I had thought I’d lost a lot of strength during my pregnancy, but I guess there’s a difference between having the strength to lift my regular weight and the strength to lift my weight at nine months pregnant.

I’m including a photo here of my current yoga space. In order to do yoga at all, of course I have to work around the babe. Rather than waiting until she sleeps or sticking her in her swing, I’ve concocted this setup where she can hang out on her little jungle playmat while I do my asana practice. At first she was not into this at all, but I think I first tried it when she was a little too young for the playmat. A week or so later and she was way more interested in looking at things. The past few times I’ve tried it, she’s been cool looking at her little parrot and butterfly friends for a good 20 minutes, which is enough for me to get some yoga done, at least at this point. Eventually I’m going to want to get back to the yoga studio – I’ll have to, to get myself back in good shape physically and for teaching – but this setup is perfect for home practice.

 

 

Lead Me August 10, 2012

Filed under: Miscellaneous,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:51 pm
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Just a quick post today: my teacher N’s story “Lead Me” is up on The Yoga Diaries. N is an amazing person and she’s had a heck of a year. I’m always impressed by her serenity and her fortitude. I hope you’ll check out her story!

 

Baby Meditation August 8, 2012

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 9:00 am
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At one month old, my baby is a lot more wakeful, and much more alert, now than she was before. She’s awesome, and I love watching her discover the world. The flip side, though, is that hanging out with her can get a little monotonous. Don’t get me wrong, being with her is amazing and every flail of her tiny arms is miraculous, but watching her flail for an hour straight when she doesn’t feel like sleeping? Even as I hold her and rock her and talk and sing to her, I keep finding my mind drifting. When will she nod off so I can wash those dishes? I just got the schedule for the monthly lecture series I went to all last year – will I be able to go to any this year with a baby at home? I half-wrote this post in my head at least three times before I was actually able to get to the keyboard. And the baby knows she doesn’t have my full attention. When I one-handedly check my phone, she fusses, even though I’m still holding her and rocking her. I catch myself getting distracted and it bothers me – this is likely to be the only period in my or her life when I have uninterrupted time to devote to nothing but her, and I don’t want to cheat either of us of that. Yes, laundry and dishes are important, and so are my other projects, and I can do those things while the baby sleeps, but when she’s not sleeping? Other stuff should fall by the wayside and she should get priority.

But that’s easy to say and harder to put into practice. I know every mom must get distracted from time to time – moms have a lot of things to juggle – and I’m not going to beat myself up about that, but I do genuinely want to enjoy this time with her. And it occurred to me: I can treat spending time with my baby as a meditation practice. I have the perfect object to center my attention in the present moment. I can’t sit in a traditional meditation position, since I have to follow the baby’s lead and shift positions or walk around as I hold her, but I can still focus my attention and try to avoid distractions.

Yesterday I tried it. The baby had slept all morning, and by the afternoon, it wasn’t doing either of us any good trying to get her to nap because she wanted to be awake. I decided that, rather than forcing her to sleep so I could follow my distractions and do something else, it might be better just to do what she wanted, so that’s what I did. I challenged myself to stay focused only on her for half an hour. I kept catching myself trying to do other things, wanting to check email, worrying about the future, even just reaching for my water glass or wanting a snack. It was incredibly difficult to sit and pay attention only to her. But it was also pretty awesome. She was calm for that entire 30 minutes, no crying or even fussing really. She looked at me and gurgled and flailed and kicked, and I looked back. By the end, I was counting down the minutes, but putting in the effort to be truly present with her was something we both enjoyed. I don’t know if Zen masters would recognize it as meditation, but it was excellent practice at focusing my attention in the present moment.

 

Bob Ross as Guru August 3, 2012

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 10:16 am
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Today I wanted to share this video, which actually made me tear up a little: Bob Ross Remixed.

I grew up watching Bob Ross paint on TV. I even took a Bob Ross method painting class when I was 12 (my oil painting still hangs over the mantel in my parents’ house). I’ve always loved Bob’s calmness and gentleness, how every element he adds to a painting just makes it a happier place. I never met Bob, but watching him on TV, I always had the sense that he genuinely cared about me, that he believed I could create something beautiful. I think he did feel that way about his viewers and that’s why he appealed to so many people and is still so beloved years after his death.

Watching this video, it struck me that one could do worse for a spiritual guide than Bob Ross. He encouraged people to use their own creativity, to create joy and good thoughts. He said there are no mistakes, just happy accidents. At least in his television persona, he feels like the human embodiment of ahimsa, or nonviolence. We could all do a lot worse than to emulate Bob’s kindness and apply his words of wisdom about painting not just in our creative projects but throughout our lives.