Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

It seems like, based on what people have posted on Facebook and Twitter that Valentine's Day causes a wide range of reactions.  Some people are totally into it, some people hate it, some people tolerate it, some bitch about it, and some ignore it.  But here's the reality.  Yes, it is a very commercialized day.  For those that buy into the whole idea that you have to have this extravagant gift, or a fancy night out, or the perfect night, maybe you're missing the point.  And for those that write it off as a bullshit holiday designed to make money for greeting card and chocolate companies, guess what, you're missing the boat too.  It's about love, pure and simple.  We have days that celebrate dads, moms, grandparents, teachers, secretaries etcetera, etcetera, why not have a day to celebrate love?  Does it mean you have to go out and blow the contents of your wallet on overpriced roses or jewelry or anything else?  Nope!  It just means that you take a moment out of your busy life, that you put your problems aside and take a day to appreciate the people you love, the people who love you.  And say it.  And be it.  We have 364 days to forget to make the people we love feel special and 1 day to focus on it.  So do it!  Right now!  Tell someone you love them!  Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Being a Yogi sometimes means admitting weakness

I haven't posted here in awhile.  To be honest, it's because I haven't felt like I've had anything to contribute to the world wide web.  And also because I haven't been teaching much as of late.  I've been thinking though that being a "Yogi" isn't necessarily being a Yoga Teacher.  It's embracing what you learn and realize about yourself on the mat and assimilating it into your life off the mat.  And sometimes being a Yogi means admitting a weakness in yourself.  Or a flaw.  Or an insecurity.  It means owning it and being okay with it.  Or trying to at least.  What has compelled me to post here tonight is a weakness that I may have always struggled with.  In fact I think it's a weakness that a lot of people deal with.  Not measuring up.  Not being good enough.  Within the parameters of a yoga class it's easy to do this, to feel this.  The woman on the mat in front of you can get her leg WAAAY up higher than you can.  That one over there looks perfect and you feel like a hot mess.  I could go on and on, and teachers can tell you until they're blue in the face that there is no perfect pose and to not compare yourself to others.  Sorry.  It's still gonna happen.  In life there are so many more opportunities to torture ourselves like this.  I do it.  I hold myself up in comparison against people I think are more successful, prettier, happier etc.  And when I fall short of my own measure, I beat myself up over it.  And THEN I get angry at myself for beating myself up.  Sick, right?  Well, it's my weakness and I'm owning it.  And surrounding myself with people who don't aid and abed this self hatred.  AND getting rid of people who assist me beating myself up. 
That's my weakness.  What's yours?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Back to "Being Yoga"

I have come away from being yoga.  It's been a gradual thing, but over the course of the past few months, I have come to shed the shield of peace my practice has brought me in the past.  My practice moved away from being mine, and began to become "theirs".  By theirs, I don't mean my students, because they have only added to me as a yogi.  No, by theirs I mean the dollar signs others have held in their eyes, the expectations, the criticism, the judgement.  I have let those who were only supportive of me if my teaching added to their bottom line cloud my vision of My yoga.  Even my personal practice came to feel tinged with this darkness, this negativity.  It felt commercial.  This past weekend, some old friends opened their arms and welcomed me back.  A space to teach, to feel safe in, to feel wanted.  A yoga teacher could not want more than that.  I practiced tonight with that feeling of warmth.  With a vision of that space, and those people, and that place, and again I felt it.  Yoga.  Stay tuned.....

Friday, March 30, 2012

34 year old-itis

If you had told me ten years ago that at age 34, I would be where I am now, I would have panicked.  I would have thought that by this age I surely would have it all figured out.  I'd have a perfect career, kids, a big house, and a perfect marriage.  My reality is that my house is just big enough, and it gives me agita to pay the mortgage, I don't have kids, and I am just figuring out what I want my career to be at an age when some people are mid level in theirs.

I have spent years processing the guilt I have accumulated over the road I have been traveling down since graduating for college.  I had in my mind an image of what I was supposed to be doing, and for whatever reason, I did not tow the line.  I couldn't stomach letting the grind of a corporate career ingest me, chew me up, and spit me out 40 some odd years later when I retired with barely enough steam left to make to the finish line.  Call me unrealistic, but I wanted more.  I still do.  At 34, I am owning the fact that I have tried on many hats, and have had the courage to take them off when they didn't fit.  I have heard it all.  "You never stick with anything." "What are you getting into now?"  "When are you going to buckle down and settle for something."  I always felt defensive when I was told these things.  Ashamed almost.  Why couldn't I stick with something?  Why didn't I buckle down?  The truth is, I would never have been able to "settle for" anything.  I get destructive when I feel like I am settling.  Angry, sad, unfocused, unproductive.  Woe to the employer who hired me for a job I felt like I was settling for. 
I'm not ashamed anymore.  Yes I have job hopped.  I have impulsively jumped at opportunities that have not worked out.  I have made decisions that others have shaken their heads at, and maybe even felt angry about.  I haven't acquired all the trappings that are the mile markers to a successful life.  I am a late bloomer.  I am someone who is getting it right.  Lately I have thought of myself as comparable to a bee.  Does a bee continue to attempt to draw pollen from a flower that has long since been sucked dry?  Of course not!  It moves on the the next flower and the next one and so on until it hits the jack pot.  So I am a flower hopper and I am good with that.  Eventually I will get it right!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Light

When does cancer begin?  What about a heart attack or any other illness.  What about a fight with a loved one, or the end of a relationship?  Don't we seem to view things as happening suddenly?  When a bunch of things go wrong, we are in the mind set of  "Oh my God all of a sudden the shit is hitting the fan!"  The truth is, cancer starts long before diagnosis, heart attacks brew well in advance of the actual attack, and the seeds of fighting and relationship turmoil are planted way before we experience them. Nothing manifests itself suddenly in life. Imagine what you would think if someone said to you "I went outside this morning and all of a sudden there was a giant oak tree in front of my house."  You would think he was crazy! So why don't we know and stop the progression of steps we take towards hardship?  There's a concept in the philosophy of Kabbalah known as the 1% realm versus the 99% realm.  The 1% realm is the limited view of things.  It is our limited perception of reality, and where we jump to conclusions, panic in the face of hardship, and judge things based on how they initially appear.  The 99% realm is the bigger picture.  It's where we tap into intuition, talent, power, goodness and understanding.  What's the difference between the two?  Continuing with the Kabbalistic definition, "the light" exists in the 99% realm, and the 1% is the gate blocking you.  What I mean by the light, is the universal energy of fulfillment.  It can be God, a higher power, or an unseen force.  Whatever it is, we are all gunning for it aren't we?  What's interesting is that most of us chase that light, or  fulfillment in such a way that we will never get it.  We think that if we could just get that job, girl, guy, house, or anything else you might want, we will be fulfilled.   But we won't.  Fulfillment isn't tangible, and we'll never get it by chasing it.  Part of the problem is we are all so ruled by the ego.  It wants it and it wants it now and anything less than that is catastrophic.  We don't see obstacles as gifts and opportunities to learn and grow from, we just focus on relieving the pain they cause ASAP.  We seek short term gratification at the expense of long term fulfillment.
By admitting to yourself that you don't see the big picture, that you don't have all the answers, and that you need help, you can begin to move out of the 1% and into the 99%.  We all have repetitive patterns of reactions to hardships, and also to the good things in life, and sometimes we are trapped by these patterns. Just asking for help, and admitting that you don't see the big picture doesn't guarantee that you will suddenly have all the right answers.  Tapping into the light is a gradual process.  But as long as your intent is to let go of your desire to hear what you want to hear and not what you need to hear the right answer will get to you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The idea for this post has been floating around in my head for quite some time now.  I've hesitated, because to write it would mean confessing things about myself that I had really wanted to just shove back into the past and forget about.  An email I received this morning from a woman who I used to train made me feel like I had to write it.  The email began with the sentence "I hate myself."  She continued on to say that she hated her thighs, her butt, her arms, her hair, her face, and well you get the picture.  After exercising and watching what she ate for years, she still felt like a poor man's version of Eva Longoria, an actress that her husband thought was the most beautiful woman on earth.  She was reaching out to me in frustration after feeling like she would never be good enough, pretty enough, or sexy enough no matter what she did, or ate.  She didn't want me to tell her what to eat, or what workout to do, she just had had it and needed someone to vent to.  I've felt like her, and I know others have too, both men and women.  Held up against the standards set by Hollywood or the fashion industry, and continually taken to the next level by make up artists, airbrushing and computer editing, we are trying to achieve the impossible.  You can't become what doesn't exist, and all these celebrities that we all lust after have cellulite, pimples, and bad hair days, just like the rest of us.

I don't know how much this woman's husband mentioned how hot he thought Eva Longoria was, but I do know how damaging it can be to hear that.  So here is confession number 1.  I once dated someone who had a thing for a particular Victoria's Secret model, and one night asked me what her name was.  He continued on to say that she was the most beautiful women on the planet, and in subsequent conversations said that although he loved me, he would totally leave me for her.  In hindsight I wonder if that was the beginning of the end of our relationship.  I just couldn't comprehend how you could say that to someone you love.  But worse than that, my opinion of myself diminished.  I allowed that to affect my self esteem, and I regret that.  How many of you have "free passes", or that one celebrity you'd be allowed to sleep with if you got the chance?  My opinion? Get rid of that.  Sure, appreciate another person for their physical beauty or nice body, but please stop short of saying you would leave your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse for someone else.  I guess some people could brush that off, but I have seen former clients and students come to me saying "I want to look like this person.", and then explain that the celebrity they wanted to look like was their significant others' "free pass".

Something else my former client said was that she just wanted to be skinny for one day, just to see what it feels like for once in her life.  When is this skinny thing going to end?  When do we stop holding ourselves up against emaciated actresses and models and feeling like we fall short?  I will take this even further.  If women feel the need to starve them selves skinny, how many men see images of actors with ripped abs and perfect physiques and feel like they don't measure up?  How does one compete with digital abs and airbrushed pecs?  So here's confession number 2, and a particularly hard one for me.  When I was in high school, I was a dancer, and although I didn't think I was fat, I desperately wanted the skinny ballet bodies that some of my fellow students had.  I would skip breakfast, save my lunch money and bring a piece of fruit for lunch.  When I had saved enough money I would buy diet pills in an effort to relieve myself of the appetite that stood between me and the perfect skinny body.  While that didn't last long enough for me to affect my health in any way, I did become too thin, and it was emotionally painful.  Skinny does not equal healthy, sexy or beautiful!

So, before I go on way too long (I may have already done that!), I just want to end with this.  I don't view one person or a few people as most attractive, and then everyone else rates lower on a descending scale.  I appreciate a celebrity's, or models, or any random person on the street's appearance for what it is, and then it's over. Maybe we can do that?  Let celebrities be hot, let them sit in the make up chair for hours, or fast for days leading up to an appearance, and stop letting them set standards that we hold ourselves and those we care about up to.
Oh, and in case the woman who emailed me happens to read this, this is for you (by the way you are beautiful and awesome:-) :

 See!  Normal, just like the rest of us!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy New Year!

January always seems like a great time to make a fresh start!  Although it's always a good time to start practicing yoga, Yoga Journal is helping us begin a Yoga practice or enliven an existing practice.  Visit for details!     Happy New Year!