Standing Up to Standing Bow

Please note that as of the end of summer 2014, I will be moving my blog to the following link (until that time all blog posts will be duplicated in both locations): http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog about my struggles with Standing Bow https://confessionsofahawaiianprincess.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/strength-through-vulnerability-nancy-does-standing-bow/

Today I share with you my evolving thoughts about the posture. On April 11th Leila Brewster of Leila Brewster Photography http://www.leilabrewsterphotography.com took photos of me doing yoga poses. She captured perfectly how I’m aiming to work on my Standing Bow. The series of pictures, located on my website:  http://www.confessionsofayogaprincess.com/#!standingbow/c12ob show how my instructor helps me into the pose. You can see how Loren helps me grab my foot and then reach the full extent of the posture.

When I’m in the class, he does things differently. Loren helps me grab my foot. Then it’s up to me to find my balance. Some days I have it. Some days I don’t. Some days I have the strength to attempt the full expression of the pose. Some days I don’t.

When I struggle for balance, there’s almost always one key factor that leads me to lose my balance: I stop breathing. It’s as though my body, or my mind, feels as though I can more easily retain balance if I stop breathing. I have no idea how I developed that logic, but somehow I did. I’m finding it difficult to retrain my self, retrain my thinking. What is it about the fighting for balance that makes me want to hold my breath?

Thinking about that question makes me wonder if I hold my breath through all of life’s uneasy situations.  I don’t mean this literally, of course. But inaction could, in a way be akin to holding my breath. When there is something I need to say to someone, but I’m not sure what or how to say it I put it off, sometimes. Not as much as I used to. Is there a small decision I want to make but I don’t? I’ve been a people pleaser all my life. It’s only been recently that I’ve been making choices for me, so there are literally times where I’ll think about whether or not people will be upset when I make choices just for me. I have to let go of that.

Struggling for balance, fighting for breath in Standing Bow teaches me that. I have to live in the now for me, and if people really love me they’ll be happy with whatever choice I make.

See? Yoga isn’t just about yoga. Yoga really is life. Love. Self-love.

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This IS Love

I’m in the process of moving my blog to http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com/

Until the process is complete, end of summer 2014, I’ll be posting duplicate entries in both blogs.

Driving home from an Easter morning with friends, I found myself craving potato chips for dinner. Ruffles potato chips. Full-fat potato chips. Potato chips I could dip into some onion soup dip mix.  I imagined myself sitting on my lovely red couch with a bag of chips and a container of dip while watching some tv. There’s not much on tv these days, so have no idea what I’d watch, but it really wouldn’t matter because I’d have my potato chips.

The morning had started off well enough. I’d dressed in my pretty and springy size 20 Ralph Lauren dress. I’d put on just a smidge of make-up. I looked pretty. Then I arrived at my destination and started to feel overwhelmed with sadness. I couldn’t stop crying.  I can’t explain it.  Maybe I can actually.

It’s my first Easter without my dad. My mom went to Arizona to see her sister. I have dear friends in my life who love me, but somehow, without my dad, I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. I’m not sure that’s rational or makes sense, but that’s how I feel. Without my dad, I don’t have my anchor.

I don’t mean to imply my relationship with dad was perfect—it wasn’t, but we bonded and healed and loved during those last months of his life. I couldn’t have written a better fairy tale ending. Nor do I wish to imply I want him back. His time had come.  The night before he died he said “I wish I’d have a heart attack and it would just be over.”

I think I’m digressing here, but I wanted to explain that part of my story. It might sound like an extreme metaphor, but I feel like a ship floating at sea, searching for a safe harbor to drop anchor.

Potato chips=a safe harbor, but not one I want to drop anchor in anymore.

It’s not potato chips I really want. It’s love. It’s the love that comes from inside. The love of self. The love that doesn’t depend on others. That’s the real treasure—and it doesn’t come from a bag of Ruffles. But dang it, driving home that’s what my monkey mind wanted to go buy! I even tried to manipulate myself into saying I could just go buy a small bag at the store. It would have two servings likely, but I’d still consume the whole bag!  That’s at least 400-500 calories! And empty ones at that!

The conversation in my head lasted forever. Finally, I told myself “go home. Take a nap. If you still feel like potato chips, then you can go get some.” That trick usually works because once I’m home I rarely want to go out again.  I also worked at turning the dialogue around. I talked to myself about all the effort I place into my Bikram practice, to my fitness efforts. If I eat the potato chips it’ll affect my efforts in the “hot” room. One bad eating moment also leads to another bad eating moment.

This is the dialogue. This is the self-talk it took to get me to the point where I’d decide I could love myself with healthy food. After I rested for a bit, I made myself a bowl of blackberries, sliced strawberries, and bananas. Then I drizzled some chocolate balsamic vinegar over the top.  I also sliced some raw cheddar cheese and made myself a cup of tea.

I wish I could tell you I felt happy now. I don’t, but I do feel so immensely grateful that I avoided the potato chips. I’d like to think I’d feel happy if simple things didn’t feel like such battles. But I won this battle, which means I’m geared up to win the next one.

That matters. I have goals. Dreams. Aspirations. Big aspirations. I have utmost faith that I will achieve them, one battle at a time. And along the way I’ll keep learning that loving myself in the small ways, means I’ll love myself in all the ways that matter. Ways that have nothing to do with potato chips.

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Secrets from the Hot Room Part Two: What YOU Think of ME is None of My Business!

Last week, after yoga, someone asked me how Bikram had changed me. I started to explain how it had changed me more on the inside, but I couldn’t quite find the words to express the deep fundamental changes that have taken place within me during these past 9 and 1/2 months. These changes are profound, and, at times, defy rational explanation and have occurred as a result of my efforts to improve my life by following a spiritual meditative lifestyle and engaging in Bikram Yoga.

For most of my adult life, I fit the model of a co-dependent personality. Every time I did or said something/anything the first thought to enter my mind would involve what someone/anyone thought of what I did or said.  Anything I did, any word I uttered, had to meet with the approval of others. For those of you who have known me, that might not seem to be the case, but inside my head, well that was my truth.

Sure, I always had a flair, an outspoken style. Hardly ever wore black. Heck, I don’t even wear black to funerals, but I have discovered lately a tendency to wear black on occasion as it does have that slimming effect! BUT I digress.

The colorful external flair didn’t match the internal drama of my “crazy brain”. I’d feel moments of terror if I did something someone didn’t like. What if they didn’t love me? What if they didn’t like me?  I’d feel this way with strangers, acquaintances, friends, intimates, with anyone. I lived with my stomach in knots a lot of the time. Food didn’t talk to me. Didn’t argue with me. Didn’t care what I did. And loved me no matter what.

I started to lose weight before I ever went into the hot room. But I still carried with me so many emotionally destructive patterns that had haunted and tormented me for years. Does this sound harsh?  Well, it’s the truth. What YOU thought of me mattered far more than what I thought of myself. I’d give up my happiness if you might not like something I did or said. I’d wait for others’ approval before I made decisions that would bring me happiness. I GAVE UP my happiness on more occasions than I ever care to think about.

One day last April when I was having a difficult time, my spiritual advisor told me to go hang more with my friend MK. When I told her what he said, the first thing she suggested was that I go try Bikram.  I said “okay”. I didn’t know how much that chain of events would change me.

Over the course of the past few months, my sense of self, my self-respect has grown. In some ways I’ve watched my reactions go from that of an immature little girl to those of a self-confident woman. As I have emotions these days I observe them, watch them. I can see when they come from an irrational emotional realm as opposed to a calm observant realm. I can’t always stop myself from having emotional reactions (I’m human after all), but I catch them much more quickly and am more easily able to rectify them when need be.

I’m finding that I make decisions about my life that make me happy without stopping to think if someone else/anyone else will approve/disapprove. If it makes me happy the world needs to celebrate with me, and if the world chooses not to, well then it’s not my problem.

I spend at least 9 hours a week in that hot room. I don’t do it for fun; although, I often do have fun and giggle a lot!  I show up because every time I do show up, I’m showing up for me the other 159 hours of the week outside that hot room. (The other spiritual efforts I sometimes mention, which occupy some of those 159 hours, I’ll discuss when the time is right.)

I’m learning lately that I can slow down. I’ve been running and running and running since my father’s death (actually, I’ve been running away from self most of my adult life), but in these past few weeks, I’ve noticed I can stop and be okay. I can spend a day, a whole day just by myself and be. Just be.

My head is far from perfect, but I’m happier. I’m more confident than I’ve ever been. That can’t be measured by a scale, by a measuring tape, by any external evidence. Well, okay, maybe by some! I have a swagger to my step that hasn’t been there before. I wear whatever makes me happy. I am happy. I am also very lucky.

And that’s how the hot room has changed and is changing me. I’m sweating away the illusions that have covered up the essence of who I truly am.

BTW, what you think of me really is none of my business, and what I think of you is really none of yours…………………….But I do happen to think you’re all pretty awesome!

Here’s a pic of some roses I bought myself just because!

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