Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Injured Yoga

I shattered my wrist a couple of months ago after my car flipped me off the road while on my way back to St. Augustine from home in Georgia. And, the first question I asked my surgeon when I was coherent enough was, "Will I be able to do yoga?" He looked skeptical, and my heart sank. But luckily, most doctors are remotely fit an he was definitely in good shape, and understanding of the importance of my question. Obviously yoga is not all about "Being fit" but I feel like most people who are in good shape are more in tune with their bodies than those who are, well... not so in shape.

He told me I could ease back into it, which meant absolutely no wheels (backbends), which are my favorite. I do them every night before I go to sleep. And, no downward dogs, the stereotypical, but most-used yoga pose in the book. Basically, none of my weight could go on my wrists. How in the world am I going to be able to practice without freaking out, I thought?

But I did. After about a week away from any physical activity (that's like a wish for insanity in my book), I was back at it. I went to a yoga class everyday and just told myself I would do what I could do that way, and listen to exactly what my body is telling me. Yoga helped me immensely (surprise, surprise) with letting go of the emotional aftermath of the accident that was gnawing at me everyday. It made me realize that even if I am not in my full expression of a pose (instead, I did downward dogs and planks on my elbows), I could still reap the same benefits that I always have. It taught me that yoga doesn't have to be perfect. I don't have to be pushed beyond my max. I just need to listen to my body and  follow suit.

I am writing about this today, because it is the end of March- and YAY! This is when my doctor told me that downward dog would be safe again. So, a couple of days ago, I gave it a try. I pushed my palms firmly into the mat and raised my hips up to the sky. It felt new, almost, and my muscles were tight, because, well they had been on vacation from this pose. But it made me smile. I am so glad I never tried to push myself further than my body needed me to go. It just needed time to heal and that's why bodies are such an amazing thing. If we treat them well and respect them the best we can, they will be there for us, too.


Thursday, March 24, 2011


I am graduating in one month from college. I have put my blood and sweat into my work. I love my work. I live and breath my work and it brings me all sorts of emotions- joy, dread, dissappointment, frustration, confidence, relief, and so on. I have given almost all of my entire being to journalism over the past few years, ever since I knew it was what I loved, and what I am pretty damn good at, most of the time.

Anyways, I'll cut to the chase. Last night, water was spilt all over my laptop. My laptop has EVERYTHING I have ever worked on or am in the process of working on. This is the worst possible time this could have ever happened to me. I am actually not the one who spilt the water, and I thought I was going to go insane when it happened. Tears instantly exploded from my eyes. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. I wanted to pull all of my hair out. I cried and cried and cried. I was sad, angry, in shock, etc.

So, I passed out. I woke up this morning and prayed: "God, please help me to remain calm today. Please let it all work out, please let me be calm.. otherwise, I am going to lose it."

So far, so good. I am working hard today to stay grounded and to not get wrapped up in all of my emotions. My yoga class today was crucial. As I flowed through the class, I breathed in and out slowly and calmly. When my mind wanted to bring me to all of the works-in-progresses on my water-drenched computer, that are SO important at this point in time, I simply thought, "No, Mind, come back to the breath." Seriously, this may sound ridiculous, but that is what I did. And I felt better. The problem isn't fixed, and I am not sure if it will be fixed. And I don't know what I am going to do if it can't be. But, at least right now, I am calm and I am just putting all of my trust and faith in God for me to get through it without losing my sanity.

Thanks yoga.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sexual Abuse in yoga? um, No.

 I was skimming The New York Times website and came across an article about yoga teachers making adjustments during class. Apparently, some people have been so uncomfortable, they've tried taking it to court.

Here's an excerpt from the article by Emily Rueb:

Michael O’Brien Keating, a Denver lawyer who has represented individuals in claims against yoga studios, took on a case in Colorado filed by a practitioner who alleged that an improper adjustment had led to an injury.

The matter was resolved out of court, but Mr. Keating, who dabbles in yoga himself, sees a large gray area in manipulating and adjusting students.

“The difficulty is that you have people in class who aren’t very athletic,” he said, “or who are getting into compromised positions” and may feel uncomfortable speaking up if an adjustment doesn’t feel right.

Each style of yoga also approaches adjustments differently. For instance, Mysore is more aggressive, Mr. Brown said, citing videos of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the Ashtanga guru, pushing a man’s head to his knee in a forward bend.

It’s impossible for a teacher — even when working with experienced and familiar students — to know a person’s complete medical history or his or her emotional state on a particular day. 

Well, obviously, just because a person is certified to teach a yoga class, they cannot read minds, or determine someone's past, especially if it is a new face in the studio. From my experience, and I have taken lots and lots of yoga classes in at least 10 different cities, the teacher usually WILL say, If you are uncomfortable with me giving you an adjustment, please let me know, and I will not adjust you. A person should be able to say no if they are truly not comfortable with being touched in any way, even if the teacher is just trying to show them a possibly, better way to ease into the pose. I have never felt uncomfortable when I have been adjusted, even if it is a man!

I know that after I become certified this summer and start teaching a yoga class eventually, I will offer adjustments- to me AND women- but I will always, always always, make sure they are okay with it, like most of my trusted yoga instructors. 

Maybe it's just me, but I find it hard to believe some people think yoga teachers are going to use their class as a way to get off and fulfill their sexual desires by "inappropriately" touching someone in a yoga pose. Please. GROW UP horn dogs, get a problem.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Be here. Now.

Something I have learned in yoga is to be present. If only I could always remember to do that when I am off the yoga mat. If only I could stop worrying about what may happen in the future and just take each day at a time. Sometimes, when I am on my yoga mat, I have this thought come into my head saying, "My God... simply focusing on the moment I am in, and not worrying about what happened yesterday or tomorrow, is so much better!" I am so much happier and joyful doing that. Why do I worry about tomorrow if I am not there yet? And then, when tomorrow comes, I'll be worrying about the next day? That sounds like a vicious cycle to me.

So, if we all make a conscious effort to take the "present momentness" off the mat (or just in general, for those who do not practice yoga), we will inevitably be happier beings. What I have found in the past week during my practices, is that it is okay to have visions of the future and to know there are tentative plans, but it is NOT okay to constantly obsess over what may or may not happen tomorrow (and in the far future). And I have found that Trust- Trust is the key to truly letting go of that mind chatter. Yoga helps me to let go of the self-doubt and helps me to open my heart, which I plan on listening to for the remainder of my years on earth to guide me where I am supposed to go.

My heart knows. My heart knows exactly where I want to go. It is my mind who is indecisive. I always tell people I am the most indecisive person I know and it absolutely drives me crazy. But that is simply my thoughts and my mind grasping at what if's, what now's, should I's? and so on. My heart knows the way. And yoga helps me to feel it and to really know where to go next, after graduating from college.

It's funny how reading spiritual writing can truly leave an imprint on my brain and the way I live my life. I read daily spiritual devotions from a book called Journey to the Heart by a woman named Melody Beade (I highly recommend this) that my mother gave me, every single morning. And a couple of days ago, it told me to follow my visions. The next thing I know, I was laying in Savasana-the meditation part of a yoga practice-envisioning this path way. I was wandering through a dark scary forest and finally saw this opening of a fresh light pouring into the darkness. And then, as tears poured out of my eyes and down my cheeks, I saw my visions, and I know where my heart wants to go. But for now, I am right here, Trusting.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Using yoga to trust myself

I was so in need of yoga today. My mind was in a million places and I was in another bratty, bitchy mood. I had a good reason- my boyfriend and I had fought about the future- which seems to be what we always fight about. Since we are graduating NEXT month, we both have this feeling of uncertainty overwhelming us more and more each day as that Saturday in April approaches us rapidly. Our fight sucked and although we decided to make amends before I went to sleep, this morning felt like I was hungover. It wasn't from alcohol though, it was from the exhausting emotions and feelings of fear and sadness. We both ended up drawing the conclusion that we are fighting over a possible ending to our relationship, even though we both think we do not want that to happen. It's like we are trying to control our fate. 

And right now, we just don't know where either of us will be and there is no way of knowing that today. We know it will pan out and our relationship's truth will surface, but sometime it is such a scary emotion that takes over and clouds my fatefulness that we will endure a huge transitional part of our lives. Although I got about 7 hours of sleep after our argument, I woke up feeling drained and unsure and kind of lost. I thought, "Thank God. Yoga is at 9:30 and I will be there." I was ready to let my teacher lead me into a more peaceful state of mind. 

Anxiously walking up the steps to the classroom, I felt a feeling of betrayal wash over me. There was some function going on in the yoga room and the class was cancelled. A fellow yogi stood next to me and peered in the room. "What are they doing in there?" I said, "Some bullshit," and trodded back down the steps, pissed.

So, I thought, I'm going home and I am going to get out of this mood on my own. I rolled my mat on my living room floor and popped in an old yoga dvd I got back in the day when I barely knew what yoga was. About 5 minutes into the video when I was starting to feel somewhat calmer, the dvd quit working. I ejected it and saw it was terribly scratched and there was a slim change of it working. 

I proceeded to turn on some strange but strangely enjoyable ethnic music and lead myself through a practice. I quickly remembered that I don't always have to have a yoga teacher. Sometimes, my breath can be my teacher. Especially during times of emotional unrest, like this morning, I have come to trust my breath and my body to let me know what I truly need. Maybe there was a reason why the class was cancelled, why the dvd didn't work- or maybe that was just my luck today. But maybe, just maybe, it was God's way of telling me to work through it myself.

And sure enough, I did. For about 30 minutes, I relished in my yoga practice and had no hesitation between poses. On some level, I knew what I needed to come back to myself- to come back to my centered and more balanced state of mind. Sometimes that's what we have to do- we have to rely on ourselves and we must learn to trust ourselves to help us get through the harder time.