Breathing: the One Bikram Asana I DISLIKE(D)

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Breathing: the One Bikram Yoga Pose I DISLIKE

I know. I know. Breath gives life. Breath gives existence. Yet, I resist it. From the beginning I’ve resisted it. I didn’t want to engage my core in the opening sequence, nor in the ending sequence. Too difficult, too hard—those serve as excuses, don’t they? The greater truth lies in the power of breath, the power it has to manifest untold soul realizations.

Last Friday, I casually mentioned that I hated the breathing sequence. Didn’t really see its purpose. Of course, I knew better. Breath gives more than oxygen to the lungs; breath gives oxygen to all the muscles, all the cells in the body. The better I breathe in the first breathing sequence, the better my body will do in the remaining poses, and the better my mind and spirit will do during the rest of the day. My mind knows this truth, but my body and spirit resist it. That is to say they resisted it until this past Friday.

After my very casual comment, my instructor told me that breathing happened to be the most important asanas of the class—I kinda knew that but had been resisting it. Then he dared me to do the breathing at the beginning and end of the class and do no other poses in between. Just spend 75-80 minutes observing my breath. I suspect he may not have thought I’d take him up on it, but I did!

As I normally do two classes back-to-back I decided that I would put my all into my poses so I could really have a deep meditative breath experience during the second class. I didn’t tell my instructor I’d be taking him on the dare, but I’m me, and I’ve got a lot of mental sh*t to let go of, so I’m sure it didn’t come as a surprise!

As the second class began I immediately made a decision to fully place myself within my breath, allowing oxygen to fully embrace my being. I kept my core activated during the entire opening breathing sequence. As soon as the the class started the half-moon sequence I stilled my body. For a few moments I just stood there breathing.

Then I laid down in savasana and tuned out all the happenings around me: the instructor’s voice, the movements and breath of others. The difficult part, of course, involved calming my own mind. So many thoughts raced through for about 15 minutes. I watched a mental thought movie of my life: I saw so many negative messages pass through. Messages people told me through the years: “I’m too needy, too emotional. It takes too much effort to be my friend.” I can’t really remember all the messages now, but they came flying at a startling rate. I didn’t become involved with them though; I waited for them to pass.

The insecurities, the negativity, every crazy thought filtered through my mind. I found myself wishing that I could express my self more in the moment. I saw every wrong “thing” go through my head. I struggled to stay still but I knew if I just waited the thoughts would stop. Finally, they did. The voices shut up.

As my mind stilled, my body became heavy, so heavy that I no longer felt a part of it. A deep peace flowed through my body. My conscious relaxation became an unconscious relaxation. I had no awareness of my surroundings, of my thoughts, of any external or internal force. For about 40 minutes (a rough estimate) I experienced a deeper peace than I’d felt in any other meditation (I do meditate regularly).

My physical body apparently decided it needed to move at some point and the numbness of my ar*e melded my mind, body and soul out of its deep peace, not entirely though, but enough to start a slow awakening.

When it came time for the final breathing I didn’t want to move, to leave the calm peace I’d experienced, for I knew I wanted to avoid a rough reality.

Sure enough, as the day progressed, the blissful emptiness I’d experienced filled with so many of the negative thoughts I’d seen filter through my mind at the beginning of my meditation during class. I so want this to be a journey of complete mental, emotional and physical healing. I’m such an emotional eater that I know I have to be willing to see deep inside my self.

I have a hard time expressing my self in the moment. My emotions become so clouded by my past that I struggle with the simplest of expressions. I struggle with telling people how I feel. It takes a literal miracle for me to express my self if my feelings have been affected because I know my past experiences cloud my present emotions. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have the right to have my feelings because they’ve been forced down for so long—a survival mechanism for sure.

My struggle, my greatest battle is this: SEPARATING THE PAST FROM THE PRESENT TO MOLD A BETTER FUTURE.

After my yogic meditative experience I went on one of my favorite hikes. I knew I needed to give my self space to process all the sh*t that deep meditations can bring up. I wanted to give myself the space to feel, to experience, to wade through it all, so I could find my way out.

As I sat on a bench atop a hill I asked the universe for a sign, a very clear sign that would help me find clarity and beauty in the moment, and the universe delivered. I got my message in the most unexpected of ways, from the most unexpected of persons. The message didn’t solve my issues, but it made me smile and it told me very clearly that I had chosen the right path. That I would work my way through the muck to see the beauty.

Yoga really does heal. It doesn’t mean it’s always easy. But, in this moment, I know I’ll make it. I am determined to make it. Determined to let go of the past, to separate it from the present so I can create a better future.

Indeed that’s exactly what I’m doing: creating a better future.

I embrace the realizations that deep meditation brought forth. I embrace the work that lies ahead. I embrace the idea of spending a whole class lying in savasana again. Breath brings life. Breath brings hope. And now I have a whole new respect and perspective on breath.

Oh, and the next time you see someone spending the whole class in savasana know that they just might be having the most amazing transcendental transformational experience of their lives. Consider trying it some time! It’ll be the most amazing roller coaster ride of your life.

Follow more of my journey on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess

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On Finding Balance—In and Out of the Yoga Room

I am unbalanced. Well, my body is anyways (see pic below). The right side of my body is bigger than the left. I notice it. I’ve always noticed it. When I was heavier, and could BARELY, if at all, fit in a booth I’d always scoot in with the left side of my body because it was smaller and would fit in a little easier. Sometimes, most of the time, I’d just avoid booths altogether.

When I say the right side of my body is larger than the left, I mean my right arm, right thigh, right calf and yes, the right side of my abdomen. So, what can be done about this? Well, achieving balance takes effort and doesn’t happen overnight. A few months ago, my instructor, Loren observed that I’d always turn over the same way when doing the floor series (the ½ part of the postures in Bikram), so he suggested I alternate sides between poses.

In the ensuing months I noticed the strength in my body shifting. I still favor the right side, but the left is growing in strength and slowly my body is becoming more balanced. SLOWLY. But that’s okay, because I find myself appreciating the emerging muscle tone in my core, which I notice when I’m activating it.

This improved balance is impacting so much more than my body. It has me thinking about how I live and love my life moment to moment. How am I living each day? Each activity? Do I approach each facet of my life with joy?

These are tough questions, with even tougher answers. I haven’t cared for some of what I’ve seen. I’ve sensed the need for certain impending changes, and rather than wait until I’ve reached my breaking point, I’ve decided to change certain aspects of my life NOW!

One obvious change involves how I spend my free time. I usually spend one afternoon a week doing some volunteer work, and I’ve come to see I need to cut back. I need to spend more time taking care of me. After all, while helping people is essential, I can’t really help anyone unless I put my own oxygen mask on first. I’ve spent too much of my life putting others first, at the expense of my own happiness, my own joy, my own laughter. In many ways, this is the first time I’m actually living MY life.

I have a food addiction and beating it takes time and effort. I need to spend more time working on my food, preparing and planning my food.  Because that’s going affect how I feel. The cleaner I eat, the better I feel about myself. The better I feel about myself, the happier I am. When I am happier I have more energy. When I have more energy I reach greater heights in the yoga room, on the hiking trails, in meditation. I have a greater ability to just be.

And more than anything, I want to be happier, to be lighter in mind. All of the support I’ve been honored to receive from people all over the world has increased in me the desire to work harder at making my life better.

As my plans come to fruition, I’ll write a blog on food prep. And as an aside, I have a yoga goal that I’d like to reach by my birthday in April. Currently, I can’t quite reach my feet in floor bow. I’m willing to take the time to care for my body so that I’ll be able to reach that goal, and then go beyond that to even greater heights!

IF you’d like, please feel free to follow my daily journey on facebook via my community fitness page:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess

the photo below is from July 2013

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The Day I Finally Knew

So much of my life has changed this past year, so much of my life has changed during these past five years, and in some ways I’m tired of changing. I’m exhausted with all the effort it takes, yet, yet, I sit here plotting more change!  Why? Because I want more out of this life. I KNOW I am so much more than my mind would have me believe. My heart, my spirit tells me this clearly and definitively.

As I sit here this morning, New Year’s Eve 2013, I’m creating and planning more definitive and, dare I say, drastic transformations in my life. I’ve watched myself and my emotional eating behaviors over these past few months. I’ve engaged in more comfort eating than I’d care to admit. I’ve observed the fast food cravings that would hit me with a force that would make 80mph gale force winds seem like romantic caresses from Mother Nature. I resisted them sometimes but not all the time.

On more than one occasion, a small or medium French fry from McDonald’s filled my heart with love the way nothing else could. It’s been months since I had one, but I can soooo easily recall the soothing embrace of a chocolate dipped cone, also from McDonald’s. The reasons, the moments, the incidents that brought forth these seemingly necessary culinary medicinals—I can recollect in detail, but this post isn’t about that.

This post is about my continuing metamorphosis, my lightning fast transformation into a healthier individual, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Riding that spin cycle on Sunday instilled in me the desire to take the next step forward in my journey. To take another, a deeper look at my food. I know the triggers. I know the situations. I know. I know when, where, why I’ll want to eat food that doesn’t work in tandem with my goal. But I needed to get to  a place of greater emotional strength before I tackled this part of my food journey.

Thankfully, I’ve reached that pinnacle, that fork in the road. For the next three days I will be doing some serious work with food. I’ll be going to stores: Whole Foods, Sprouts and a couple of regular stores. I’ll be buying AND exploring. Looking for healthy foods and snacks I’ll enjoy eating because if I don’t enjoy the taste there’s really no point.  For dietary changes to be permanent I have to enjoy what I’m eating—I am, after all, a FOOD ADDICT. 

Any foods I buy will need to be separated into serving sizes.  Seriously folks, who amongst you can eat just one serving out of a potato chip bag or a bag of nuts? This way I’ll be able to just grab a snack to keep with me and if I DO happen to eat it out of emotion, I’ll know what I’ve eaten, and it’s the KNOWING, really KNOWING that is more than half the battle with me.

But it’s not just the food, I have to create a clean nurturing space in my apartment where I can just be. I have spaces where I meditate, but I’ve fallen off the wagon of keeping my spaces as clear as I’d like, and this is so important because so often these past few months I’ve found myself feeling overwhelmed, feeling as though I have no time, feeling like I can’t breathe.

And shoes. This girl needs shoes for her new cycling habit (do you see how I’ve already decided it’s going to be a habit!:)

This is my task then for the next three days. This is what I’ll be doing. This is what I’ll be focusing on. Food. Clearing Space. New shoes.

I’ll be skipping yoga on Wednesday. I’m not going out on New Year’s Eve. I’ll be getting some exercise, but it’ll be interspersed with the work I’ve set out to do. These changes aren’t about having New Year’s resolutions. These changes are about me deciding I’m worth working on. And that’s something I can be excited about………………………………….

I’ll be detailing some of my journey on facebook, so please feel free to be a part of my journey, if you’d like: https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaHawaiianPrincess?ref=hl

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have some shopping and cleaning to do!!!

Here’s a poem that inspires me to keep working on me!  

The Journey by Mary Oliver (with thanks to Joey for posting this recently and reminding me of its power!)

One day you finally knew 
what you had to do, and began, 
though the voices around you 
kept shouting 
their bad advice—
though the whole house 
began to tremble 
and you felt the old tug 
at your ankles. 
“Mend my life!” 
each voice cried. 
But you didn’t stop. 
You knew what you had to do, 
though the wind pried 
with its stiff fingers 
at the very foundations, 
though their melancholy 
was terrible. 
It was already late 
enough, and a wild night, 
and the road full of fallen 
branches and stones. 
But little by little, 
as you left their voices behind, 
the stars began to burn 
through the sheets of clouds, 
and there was a new voice 
which you slowly 
recognized as your own, 
that kept you company 
as you strode deeper and deeper 
into the world 
determined to do 
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

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