Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Starting Over Again: Springtime Edition March 25, 2014

Filed under: checking in,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 10:06 am
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This has been a hard winter. A really, really hard winter: snow, cold temperatures, more snow, daycare closings, illnesses, more snow and more daycare closings, coughing and snot, a fire at daycare, a stomach bug that necessitated four changes of crib sheets in one night and sanitizing the entire bathroom. Probably more that I can’t remember. It was a season of hunkering down and waiting for… not even spring, just not-winter. F and I have been so tired it’s been hard to do anything except keep going: feed the toddler, wash the dishes, fall into bed at 9 pm and do it all again tomorrow. I’ve said no both to plans with friends and creative opportunities because I just didn’t have it in me to do anything extra.

And I lost my yoga practice. So did everyone else, apparently – no one has come to to my Tuesday night yoga class for almost two full months, so I can only guess that everyone is feeling as worn out as I am. I’ve been wanting to get back to my practice; I’m achy and sore, my hips and calves are tight, my arms feel weak, and I get winded running up the stairs. Worse, my mood has been affected: sure, anybody would be grouchy after this much winter, but I’m less patient, more prone to be cynical and depressed, more likely to throw up my hands and say I just can’t deal with this. I don’t like myself when I’m feeling this way, and I’m not a good person to be around, as a mom or a colleague or a friend. But the thought of starting over – of waking up early, of finding time to focus on something just for me – was overwhelming.

And then I read this infographic, which states (among other things) that a mom’s satisfaction with her life has more impact on the development of a child’s social and emotional skills than a variety of other factors, including the mom’s education level, income, employment status, or how much time the child spends in daycare. If mom is happy, then the child is more likely to be well adjusted. Now not only my own physical and emotional well-being depend on restarting my yoga practice – now it’s integral to my daughter’s healthy development too? Great. No pressure or anything.

Last Tuesday morning I got up at 5:35 am and was on my mat at 5:42, in my bathrobe. I did some basic seated poses for 20 minutes. Afterwards I felt less like crap than I did before I started. I did it again on Thursday morning, and yesterday I worked from home and did 40 minutes of yoga on my lunch break. I’ll just aim for baby steps, making things a little bit better one day at a time.

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Update September 4, 2013

Filed under: checking in — R. H. Ward @ 2:10 pm
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Things have been crazy in RoxDoesYogaLand lately. Here’s a quick update:

  • I finished all my 15-minute sequences! I wrote ten sequences, practiced almost all of them (still haven’t done Strength), and posted them all here. Very happy about this. Now I need to print them out for quick reference so I won’t have to flip through my notebook to find and decipher the hand-scrawled version. Details, details.
  • I went to my first yin yoga class last Monday and LOVED IT. Luscious!
  • My family member is home from the hospital and feeling better. Possible surgery in the future, but we won’t think about that now.
  • YB was on again off again with that fever all through that weekend, poor kiddo. I think we were probably just teething something awful. This has been affecting our sleep schedule, sadly, which therefore affects my yoga schedule. This morning was the latest in my ongoing series of fresh starts – I hadn’t gotten on the mat in a week. My back, hips, and calves are back to being problematic – and the yin had been really great for the hips, too. Sigh.
  • This weekend I got the chance to celebrate at the wedding of one of my oldest friends – I’ve known Sam since she was two, and now she’s all grown up and married. (And I learned this weekend that she’s a regular reader of this blog!) I’m so incredibly happy for you – congratulations, Sam!

The rest of September for me will include one neighborhood yard sale, two business trips (one day trip, one three-nighter), and a family long weekend in Cape May, plus two fun yoga events. I think it’s going to be the sort of month where I have to hang onto the seat of my pants. I’ll update when I can, but I’m giving myself permission to slip off my usual twice-a-week schedule for this month. Whee!

 

The Latest Fresh Start: Holidays, “I Should Be Better” Syndrome, and the Power of a Good Routine July 16, 2013

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 2:00 pm
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Last week I was feeling a little down: angry, overwhelmed, the works. In mid-June I had (re)started my daily yoga practice and it had been going great, even when I could only manage 5 or 10 minutes a day. I saw myself become more productive in other areas of my life, too: at work, on the blog, and I even finished a writing project that’d been hanging over me for months. And all of this while YB was having a rough phase of sleep! I was so impressed with myself. But last week things got away from me. The July 4 holiday weekend meant a break in our routine; we had some houseguests, one of whom stayed an extra few days longer than planned, which was wonderful but also outside of our usual routine; and we threw YB’s first birthday party, which was a lot of fun and a lot of work. At first I hung onto my yoga practice and even took time for a good long asana session on July 4, but soon I was only getting in some seated stretches on the floor during YB’s playtime – which isn’t necessarily bad, but isn’t what I want to do every day, either. And then Wednesday and Thursday last week, I missed my yoga practice entirely. After fitting it in every day for 20 days in a row! I felt so angry at myself, even though missing yoga gave me the chance to catch up on some much-needed sleep. I also began feeling a bit overwhelmed at work, particularly in light of my upcoming job transition and all the things I need to accomplish before handing off my projects to other editors. When I feel overwhelmed by my projects, I sometimes cope by procrastinating and doing nothing at all, which is a terrible coping strategy and just makes everything worse. And Thursday night I fell down the emotional rabbit hole: I’ll never have a steady yoga practice again, I’m a bad mother, YB loves F more than she loves me, I can’t even water the garden right. You know how it goes. Another flare-up of “I Should Be Better” Syndrome. And thus did it happen that I neglected my blog all last week.

On Friday morning, I dragged myself to my mat, and after keeping my practice going over the weekend and catching up on some things at home, I’m feeling better now, but as I well know, “I Should Be Better” Syndrome is a chronic condition. It’ll be back at some point. So what have I learned this time around that can help me to deal with the problem next time? First, there’s the value of sticking to a routine, even on holidays and weekends, even when disruptions are occurring, even when I’m tired, because it makes a big difference in my mood. If I can stick to my routine and keep my practice going when things aren’t on a normal schedule, maybe it’ll give me the stamina to get through that non-normal more gracefully. And if I can stick to my routine in the long term, the practice might prepare me to deal better when life gets derailed on a larger scale.

And, as always, it doesn’t do any good to lay blame. There were certainly some events and issues in the past two weeks that I could have done a better job of handling, some behavior I could have improved and some yoga I could have done more of. But the past is in the past. Instead of laying blame on myself and looking backward, better to assess where I am right now and what I need to do to fix the situation and move forward. A friend of mine loves the saying “It is what it is,” but as F mentioned to me last week, “It was what it was” also holds true. No use worrying over what it is or what it was, since that can’t be changed; I may have some input into the future, but “it will be what it will be” is also an accurate thing to say. All I really can change is my attitude.

 

Starting Over Again, Again June 11, 2013

Filed under: reflections,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 3:20 pm
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A few items of interest today:

  • At a church picnic this weekend, a friend asked me about my yoga practice, and I had to admit it’s been nonexistent. We didn’t get to continue the conversation because we were both holding squirming babies (one of whom was desperately trying to hug the other, who was kind of uncertain about the whole thing – guess which one was YB? My child is aggressively snuggly!), but it made me think that that’s not what I want to have to say at parties.
  • My husband F has made a new resolution to get up early to write first thing in the morning – not just “if YB sleeps well, then I’ll get up early”, but “I’ll always get up early unless YB has a terrible night.” It’s a key distinction for him – the first has him getting up early only when it feels convenient (which is never), while the second has him getting up early by default. This morning YB helped out with the new resolution by needing a bottle at 4:30, so once she went back down F got a lot done.
  • Last night after dinner I was waving my arms around to make YB laugh and ended up doing some half sun salutes, which she totally loved. It worked best when, after reaching up, I brought my arms down in front of me instead of out to the side and wiggled my fingers in her face. She also liked the peekaboo aspect of the halfway up between the forward bends.

I’m taking each of these as a sign that it’s time to start rebuilding my yoga practice (yet again!). I can get up early with F in the mornings and show some spousal solidarity, and YB may be at a point where she’s receptive to sharing my practice. It’s past time to make that happen – I’ve always wanted yoga to be a natural part of her life. So today I got 15 minutes of asana practice in before breakfast. I felt great afterwards and was dancing in the kitchen as we got breakfast ready (much to the annoyance of poor F, who’d been up since 4:30), and I’ve been feeling good all day. It’s a start!

 

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.

 

Getting back in the swing of things February 21, 2013

Filed under: checking in,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:45 pm
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For the past week, I have practiced yoga every day! On the weekend, I got a good half-hour practice in each day during YogaBaby’s naps, but on the weekdays, I’ve been getting up at 5:30 am so I can practice for 15-20 minutes before we start the day. This hasn’t been as horribly as I would have expected. First of all, my husband F has been getting up at 5:30 for a while now to write, so I’m already used to the alarm going off. Also, YB suddenly decided that she only needs one night-feeding instead of two, so getting up early has been much easier now that I’m getting a little more sleep. (I also theorize that, with having a baby, I’ve gotten used to sleeping less in general, so getting up early may be less of a hardship than it would have been for me pre-YB.)

I have to say, I’m feeling so much better than I was. I hadn’t practiced yoga at all between January 14 and February 13 (family illness, out-of-town guests, and then inertia as contributing factors), and it showed. My body felt rusty, sore, and old, and even worse, my emotions were noticeably more negative and less under my control. I hadn’t realized just how much I relied on that yoga time for not just my physical health but my emotional well-being too. Add to that the fact that it’s winter, and February is typically the worst month of the year for me, and you can imagine how I was feeling. It wasn’t good for my family either (YB looked so surprised the day I randomly burst into tears at the dinner table!).

After only a week, and with such short sessions, I’m not back to 100 percent yet. But I feel much better. My body feels pleasantly sore instead of creaky old lady sore, and I find myself yearning to go for a run or a bike ride. My problem areas are still my calves and hips, along with my back, which is suffering from annual hunched-over-freezing-cold achiness. The calves are improving, and I’m much more likely to start stretching them during the day while waiting for coffee or the elevator. Hips are more troublesome – I can’t manage cobbler pose at all – but at least now I know that my left hip is tighter than the right. My back, shoulders, and neck are all delighted to be practicing again too.

And emotionally I’m much happier, less snappish, less easily frustrated, and more patient and responsive to YB. I still have a lot of room for improvement – I had a bit of a breakdown on Sunday, and Tuesday night I got grumpy with F for no reason just because I was tired – but I feel like I’m starting from a calmer, more positive baseline. I really hope to keep it up!