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A few days ago a dear friend and mentor of mine asked me her standard question: “what stood out for you?”. She was referring to the program I am taking now and it took me till today to give her an answer (or a non-answer, I should also say). I guess what has really been coming up for me is how I am feeling a little bit lost in translation. It feels like everything I have come to learn and understand has been challenged and brought into different directions. While I love it and see the value of seeing the bigger picture, it is confronting and it does trigger my sense of stability.  For example, as a dedicated yin teacher, I have always highlighted the therapeutic value of yin, and in fact, it was my default solution to everything. As I grew in my teaching and practice, I did begin to recognize that it is (as all things are) not the end all and be all of things. Nonetheless, I still had a big bias towards it and I guess having to shift perspectives makes me feel a little bit lost and out of my element.

In today’s session, we talked a lot about something deeply familiar to me: psychology. I got asked if I had something to say and in my mind there were a million things, but yet again, that fight, flight, freeze moment got me and well, let’s just say I keeled over and fainted again (figuratively, that is).

What dawned on me is that besides having what I know and believe challenged and having new things to digest and take in, when things are spoken in a language (well, maybe not language per se, but a vernacular? I don’t have the right word for it) that is different from what you are used to, it takes extra time to process it and put it together. Heck, even crossing the street and where to look is different here…I keep finding myself on the wrong side of the road!!!!

On a more personal level, I am not used to not being good at what I do and so to be lost in translation here, is not very comfortable for me. Not knowing the answers (or perhaps not knowing how to say what I am thinking and giving the answers) is quite disconcerting and given my stress response strategy, it isn’t very productive. Like I’ve said in the past few days, I feel like a deer caught in the headlights. My friend Hayley had a better description for it, and I think today this captures exactly what I feel: it’s like being thrown into a washing machine and spat out in the end. I am fortunate, however, to have such a great group of classmates and amazing teachers to learn from and to help iron me out and put me back in sorts. Hopefully this happens sooner rather than later. Har.

A more important realization hit me throughout the days sessions: I think what is really causing all this feeling of being lost and even the homesickness I am feeling today is the fact that I have lost that sense of balance that came from bearing down the way I know how. This came to me after being told for the umpteenth time to unlock my knees. While this may be the beginning of a new way to ground, right now, I feel like a child learning to walk all over again. Maybe soon I’ll be off running again. For now, I’m going to try on these new knees and let things be.

 

 

 

 

Since last weeks therapeutics training I have been keenly aware of the imbalances in my body, both subtle and not so subtle.  I have gotten to notice how much my left hip collapses or drops in comparison to my right, how one foot is a whole shoe size bigger than the other, and though I do not have scoliosis, it is significantly noticable how uneven my body is.  And as I always say in class, the practice gives us an opportunity to be aware of our bodies and from this awareness can come a means for changing habits if need be, so that’s what I’ve been working on.

In class today, however, I saw how quickly the body compensates to move away from discomfort and to find a place of ease. This came to me in dragon today, as I tried to lunge myself forward to the pose. Since my achilles tendon has been inflamed and acting out, any thing that flexes the foot and stretches that space is such a challenge. As I tried my best to relax into it and find a space where I can settle without pushing too much, I felt my knee and my hips resisting the pose with all its might. I was close to the mirror and I couldn’t help but smile when I saw how the knee refused to budge even if I willed it. I felt my weight continually shift to the outer heel instead of evenly pressing my feet and anchoring the inner heel as well, as that felt less uncomfortable than the latter. Indeed, the body finds ways to compensate all on its own.

Off of the mat, I am catching myself falling into old compensatory patterns (a.k.a. emotional overeating).  I’ve been so stressed out at work (not yoga work, but my “real life” work. I should really stop calling it that but for today I will) and so I’ve been eating too much and in such unhealthy ways. And yes, even soda has made it’s way to my refrigerator these past few days.  While these things offer me temporary “comfort”, I know that it is just that: temporary. Then before long I know that this will become a habit that’s hard to break.

Granted that these means of compensation serve a purpose, I know it doesn’t do me any good. After all, isn’t that what compensatory patterns do? It gives us an out when we need it, but before long, we find ourself sinking in quicksand.

I need to get out of that soonest. Wish me luck.

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One of my mentors always used to say I was ungrounded and that I needed to take pause and be still in order to grow my roots and find my foundation. For the most part, I often agreed with her, but at times, I couldn’t understand where that was coming from. On my end, it felt to me like I knew exactly where I wanted to be and I was really grounding myself into what it was I wanted and so it frustrated me when I couldn’t get what she meant. Eventually we had what I like to now call “speaking out” (rather than falling out or an argument, which, arguably I called it in the beginning) and then I began to understand where all that was coming from. It was because I was not coming from a heart of intention. Rather, I was allowing myself to be driven solely by ambition and the need to be something and to be affirmed, even when it didn’t speak of my intention. It was very much like my first attempt to do an adjustment in trikonasna: while I had an intention in mind, I did not know how to get there and so I tried to “fix” everything that seemed needed to be fixed, thus not allowing the student to really find the intention of the pose because I was moving her around so much.

Today on the mat, and through the xercises we did throughout the day, I came to reconnect with that idea of coming from a heart of intention. I realized that while I do come from that space, more often than not I catch myself still bailing when that happens and in place, I let myself find an easy way out or a compromise, even when it doesn’t serve a purpose nor contribute to the intention of the pose or my end goal. Instead, I just go with what feels comfortable and easy, even when it enhances a bad habit.

I think what shifted for me then was finding the courage to stand up for my intention and to not doubt myself as I do so, even if it means going against the proverbial grain. It took a long time for me to do that, and to be honest, it still often feels so foreign to me, but I know it is but growing pains that make it feel that way. What I do know now, however, is that coming from a heart and space of clear and pure intention, knowing exactly what it is I need to do even when I do not yet know how to do it, and finding the wisdom and discernment to make the appropriate choices without losing focus is bound to serve me well, once I let it. Today, it dawned on me that if I have found the courage to speak up to someone I looked up to and to be honest with her, I owe myself just as much. So today I acknowledge my habits and the shortcuts and patterns I have created to make it to where I think I want to be without working for it, and commit to holding on to my intention of living my yoga, even when it is hard, even when if it hurts to actually work on it, at least temporarily. And as my mentor had wished me for my birthday, I will have the courage to stand up to what has heart and meaning to me.

 

In the last blog contest hosted by Flow SurfYogaSamba, the power trio Noelle, Monica, and Denise posed a challenge to their readers to share a photo of themselves doing their favorite pose. That got me to think about what my favorite pose is. I do have several that I really like, but when I stop to think of it, my all-time favorite and the one that really makes me feel happy and free is Wild Thing, or Camatkarasana

Yoga Journal describes or defines Wild Thing as this: the ecstatic unfolding of the enraptured heart 🙂

I have learned many poses and conquered many frenemy poses since I started my practice, such as hanumanasana, eka pada urdvha dhanurasana or one legged wheel pose, and even nataranjasana, or dancer pose, but despite those being my current “flavor of the month” when it comes to yoga photos, it is Wild Thing that I still love very much. More »

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“but if you can plant yourself in stillness long enough, you will, in time, experience the truth that everything (both uncomfortable and lovely) does eventually pass” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

I have always known, from the very beginning of my practice, that yoga has the most amazing power to heal. I have always seen it, however, from a psychological lens, perhaps because it comes with my job as a psychologist. Nonetheless, from the first time I stepped on the mat I saw how yoga can heal the heart and the soul. I write very much about this, in fact, and it really has changed my life. Through the practice of yoga, I have been able to withstand very difficult times I encounter, the kind which at one point of my life, would have led me spiraling down in a pit of depression or reaching for things like food or alcohol to cover up those feelings that I could not sit with. Because of my practice, I have been able to make amends and surrender to my emotions, knowing that (as cliche as it may sound) it will eventually pass. More »