Out of the Comfort Zone

I decided to join a contest held by Blogilates (aka Casey Ho) to win some fitness clothes from her new line called Popflexactive.

Participation required me to post photographs of myself on Instagram doing a specific pose for each of the first 14 days of February and then write a bit about each day’s hashtag.

Most Popsters (as Casey Ho’s followers call themselves) are around the age of 18, so I felt a bit out of place. That’s an understatement. I am way too old! (Social media is a bizarre universe where I (a woman of 43) can “follow” teenage girls and their fitness journeys.)

Turns out Popsters  are the kindest most supportive young people ever!

Beyond getting over the weirdness of photographing myself daily, Instagram challenged me in other ways.

For one, it’s hard to not compare myself to every uber flexible body out there as though that was a measure of how to do a yoga pose correctly or my own self worth.

Number two: As with everything, it’s easy to get caught up in the ego. How many likes do I have? How many followers?

At one point I realized I couldn’t hear my children because I was staring at my phone. So I’m a bit obsessive. But now that the contest is over, I vow to be less so… (Unless I win. In which case my desire for Instagram contests could send me down a dangerous selfie taking path. Ha!)

For now, I will continue to post to Instagram because I think any image of a normal person doing basic yoga, especially with props, is needed. Not every photograph should be a woman with a perfect body in a ridiculously bendy pose.

I’m chairyogini…  follow me!

Want to try triangle pose with a chair? I wrote a post on Ananda Panda.

triangle_chair

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Simple Revelation

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Today, as I sat I was reading my emails I came across one from a blogger that I follow. Her question to all her email subscribers was: What is your biggest challenge right now?

I felt compelled to reply. I had so many thoughts and questions swirling in my head. As I composed my answer I tried to write as succinctly as possible. Surely a blogger who sends out a major question to all her subscribers does not have all day to linger on a wordy response.

I came up with this question: “Why, if I have the dream to be a writer, have I resisted putting words to screen?”

As I sat staring at this question, I realized why trying to write succinctly was not working. The question was true there was so much more to it. Suddenly all the emotions that surrounded my lack of effort flooded to the surface.

Events from my past had made me fear loss of income. Therefore, rather than writing wasn’t I supposed to be spending all my free time searching for a job? Networking? Connecting with people via social media? Doing something, anything to boost my career and make me marketable?  Of course I have applied for jobs, yet I was not spending all my free time trying to make employment possible.

Then there was also the uncertain future. I envisioned a possible future where I had no job and no money to pay my bills and I still was not writing. In yet another possible future I write but cannot make any money and still cannot pay bills. In another I have a boring job where I come home too tired to write. And in yet another future I am wildly successful as a writer and living in a large house on the ocean.

All of it was scary. Even the possibility of success was frightening.

Then I realized: I have the present. What was the most productive thing to do in the present moment?

I began typing,

It was so simple.

The past can haunt you. The future is unknown. But the present is a gift. It’s a moment where you can change the trajectory of the future. The present is where you can place your fingers on the keyboard and type.

 

A Swamp Cicada Visit and Clearing Things Out

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Look who stopped by the other day!

He reminded me that I have not been posting to this little section of the internet.

Though I have been writing about yoga and yoga related topics over at Ananda Panda.

I’ve been cleaning out the basement, literally and metaphorically.

I’ve been sifting through my life: high school to present. Remembering fun times, scrolling through old emotions, locating long lost photographs, tossing old papers and generally feeling thankful for where I’ve been, for the people that have been in my life, and for each experience that has brought me to today.

The dust and cobwebs are being moved out.

Surrender

When I first practiced yoga I left class calm and relieved of tension. I would look back at class and try to understand what I had done. Physically of course, I had moved my body in ways I had not considered previously. But mentally I had a peace that my ever-busy, worrying, anxious brain had never experienced.  Looking back I can see that as I physically let go of tension in my muscles, allowed my breath to unwind my body, and my mind focused on how to make that happen, I was honing in on what really mattered in life.  

Nothing about this was obvious at the time.

So when the time came that life was at its most difficult, when I doubted myself, everything, and everyone… I capitulated and looked into my fear.

I surrendered my ego, the thin veil of “I,” to which I had been clinging and causing my stress.  

I identified my truth from which I had been running haphazardly.

I identified the important elements in my life that needed cultivating.

I tapped into a peace that I knew would be able to soothe me even in the most difficult situations.

To properly focus on the inner me, all I needed was to locate my breath… to remind myself that I was alive…. and that the source of my well being and the power to fix my reactions to life were within me.

Surrender, according to the dictionary, means “to relinquish possession or control (of something) to another because of demand or compulsion.” Synonyms for surrender include “capitulate,” “yield,” “relinquish,” “acquiesce,” “submission,” and “resignation.”

Surrender appears to imply the loss of something to another. It also suggests a weakness, either physically or mentally. We all think of surrender as applying to someone else… Right? Why would I ever need to surrender? When armies surrender they lose a country. Cults demand the surrender to a crazy, controlling leader.

But what if surrender isn’t so scary? What if surrender is a way to tap into our own inner wisdom, endless love, and create a more positive and empowered way to live life?

Our egos, those thin sensitive membranes of thought that pervade the brain, grasp onto material objects, concepts, and people that it wants to associate itself with. It can take us through our days with flimsy fantasies that unwisely guide our decisions and choices. The “ego,” the ever powerful “I,” can make us do and say things that deep down we know are not leading us down the right path.

The brain is yet another muscle in the body, sometimes when we have a weak muscle, the body begins to rely on another to do the job. This alternate muscle can do it, but eventually it causes pain because it has been given too much to do and the body is out of alignment. Likewise in the brain, sometimes we rely on the ego, the “I,” to do too much propping up of our identities where we would be better served by listening to an inner wisdom that does not depend on the outside world for affirmation.

What if we could break through the ego? What if the ego could surrender to a greater guide embedded within? This inner voice makes decisions, not based on how our hair looks on a given day, or how we feel others are treating us, but guides our days according to what really matters and according to who we really are.

Surrender all worldly worries, possessions, and desires of the ego, and discover hidden powers within!

Slow and Steady

As I drove past the speed limit sign I peered at my speedometer. I was driving 5 miles per hour under the speed limit.

For a person who just five years ago raced around Denver, Colorado as though it gave my life purpose, it felt like a victory.

I now stop walking to view clouds. I smell flowers. I listen to my son’s excitement over a video game and my daughter’s tears over her latest perceived loss of her favorite snuggling pig.

Focused on my present experience, life unfolds.

Stress may catch up to me in the near future.

Fall will mean the return to routine. The need to spend more money, and at the same time, the impending loss of my job.

These thoughts that previously would send my mind racing, are now just facts that require action.

May I find the courage to act while maintaining my appreciation for this life.

It will all work out. It will all be as it should be.

Should and Supposed to

Should

What should I be doing right now? That’s usually the voice of someone else telling me what to do. That voice could be someone close to me like my children. “You should let us eat sugar all day.” Or it could be the voice from the television, “You should drive a BMW so you can look powerful.” Perhaps it’s the voice of Sassy magazine from when I was sixteen: “You should have a gap between your thighs.”

I’ve decided I’m not going to listen to should thoughts.

I will decide what to do and tune out everyone else.

Suppose to

Supposed to… means my inner voice is creating a self imposed limitation. This could be something good, like guilt over the fact that I am supposed to be eating more vegetables, or exercising more, or eating less sugar. But “supposed to” also means that I am usually not forgiving myself, not showing enough compassion for being human, for making mistakes, for being short on time, or for not doing things because I decided to spend time with my kids.

I was supposed to fold all that laundry but instead, as a family, we went to the beach and ate bagels, and threw a ball, and climbed rocks, and looked at animals, and took a hike. Supposed to can make you feel bad even after making the right decision.