A Beautiful Place To Do Yoga, Even Alone: Everyday Magic, Day 405

Yesterday I rushed to Westside Yoga for my first class, hauling my computer and speakers and big pile of laminated poems. Strangely enough, no one else was there early……or on time for the class…..or even late.

At first, I was puzzled, even to the point of checking that I was there on the right day and at the right time. Then I realized why I was confused because of an immense blessing over the last 20 years. All my writing workshops have, for the most part, gone off without a hitch. People always showed up (and often early, holding the door open for me as I carried in supplies). I’m simply not used to being the only one in the class.

So I did what any sensible person would have done: yoga. I also wrote a little bit, and put the music up high so I could dance around the room. This yoga studio is a beautiful place to be with a bamboo springy floor, high ceilings, and big windows overlooking the field and woods. The air is light, the light makes the whole room glow, and there are lovely touches around the edges (like a small stone shaped exactly like a heart on a window sill). Who wouldn’t want to be here?

Obviously, at least some people, but I tell myself that this is a fairly new studio on the westside of town where most people don’t go to do yoga, and we’re all quite young in this endeavor. I also tell myself I will keep showing up, keeping putting out the word, and if what I’m offering is reaching people at the right time in their lives, they will come…….if not, I have no reason to doubt what I already know: doing yoga with intermissions of writing is a great combination. By the end of a session, we will not only have gotten a good workout, come home to our breath, stretched and strengthened our limbs and core, but also written some words on the page that speak of who we are, what we need, how we see the unfolding world.

Meanwhile, I will be there next week and the next at 5:15 on Wednesday. If you’re around, come join me, and let’s see what we can explore and celebrate in this beautiful place.

First Day of Being a Yoga Teacher: Everyday Magic, Day 404

Does this look like a yoga teacher to you? Maybe not, but let's just go with it.

For some years, I’ve been a writing teacher who incorporated yoga occasionally, but today, I begin my life as a yoga teacher who brings in writing. Waking up, I felt like I was about to start Kindergarten, but instead of a Cinderella lunchbox, I shimmeyed into my new exercise camisole and yoga pants. I feel excited. I feel a little nervous. I feel like I’m ready to walk to the curb and wait for the yoga school bus to scoop me up.

I also feel indebted to Linda Blackburn, my therapist (who has since moved to the Northwest) who, when hearing me say, “I know this sounds crazy, but I want to be a yoga teacher,” didn’t burst out laughing, but instead answered, “Of course you do.” That response, plus the support of friends — none of whom voiced the parade of self-doubt ticker-taping across my brain (“You’re too fat. You’re too old. You don’t look good in spandex’) — made it possible for me to simply follow where I was led.

And where was I led? After months of exploring cheap cialis new zealand teacher training options, I had a dream that I was visiting with one of my yoga teachers, Gopi Sandal, in a London loft, near where she learned yoga. She was showing me a picture of a yogi, then saying he was her teacher. “You’re my teacher,” I told her, and when I woke, I knew she was the one I would train with, so no surprise that a few months later, when she announced her first teacher training class, I signed up without a second thought.

Avoiding second thoughts is key here. There’s no rhyme or reason for a woman who can barely touch her toes and finds being still extremely challenging to pursue yoga, but yoga pursued me, which is to say that what yoga means — yoking, connecting — unfurled like a lily on the the water. I knew what Gopi said was true: that lily was inside me too, and beholding it opened up the heart of my life.

So here I go, ready to lead other people in doing what has been one of the hardest and most beautiful things for me. If you’re local, come join me at 5:15 at Westside Yoga.

Choosing Yoga Over Typer Shark: Everyday Magic, Day 171

For years, I couldn’t understand what my kids saw in playing video games into oblivion, but then — just recently — I discovered Typer Shark. Turns out I was born to type very fast, killing sharks filled with words as they speed across the screen. And the better I got at Typer Shark, the longer the game. Earlier today, when I meant to do yoga, I found myself playing Typer Shark for 40 minutes instead (until, as is inevitable, the sharks got me).

What’s more disturbing is that as I played, I felt this frenzy take me over, wanting to keep going until I could get to the next level. My shoulders tensed, my eyes popped wide, my mouth got dry. What the heck was happening, and why was I still playing when obviously, this wasn’t a great way to relax or do anything of value? Besides, Ken is sure that the more sharks I kill, the more our oceans suffer.

So later today, with just 40 minutes between this and that, I rolled out the yoga mat instead. “You could play a quick game of Typer Shark” the shark-shaped devil in me whispered. “You could breathe yourself into health and nirvana,” the sweet but somewhat exaggerating yoga angel whispered. I let the angel win.

There are millions of diversions and distractions from showing up right where we are, and I’m as prone to rushing away from any given moment to waste my energies as the next person (maybe more so). But sometimes we have to listen to the more expansive angels of our nature rather than the quick-typing sharks, and at least for the last hour, the sharks lived. (Bottom picture: one of my yoga teachers, Gopi, making a very scary face, but hey, that’s yoga too!)

Second helpings:

Back to the Mat

The End is the Beginning

Yoga and Coffee

Writing Your Year Anew: Arrivals, Departures & Your Own Best Life: Everyday Magic, Day 164

Listen to a live podcast of this column here!

As 2010 dwindles down, I wanted to share a column I wrote for The Magazine of Yoga on what we want to invite in, release, mourn and celebrate in light of a new year. Please check this out, and also look at other inspiring articles in this lovely (free and freeing) on-line journal

Yoga & Coffee: Everyday Magic, Day Four

Sometimes things that normally don’t seem to go together actually were made for each other: cruise control and books on tape (or else, as I can well testify, beware speeding tickets or running out of gas), power naps and very hot or very cold afternoons, and yoga and coffee. While the last combination might make one a bit jittery, it’s the perfect way as I can tell to start the day, and not just coffee, but very good, just-ground coffee mixed with chocolate or vanilla almond milk and a touch of hazelnut agave. It’s the perfect breakfast food, an extension of sorts of the old Carnation instant breakfast drinks I downed on my way to high school back in the last century, but perhaps even better. I mean, there’s caffeine, chocolate, protein and sweetness not to mention the aromotherapy effects of brewing the coffee.

Then there’s the yoga. Today I drove to the Holiday Inn Express of all places for the final Saturday of my year-long yoga teacher training. Sitting on my mat in a circle with the 16 other women I’ve come to love and find great inspiration from, I alternately chanted Hare Krishna variation and sipped my coffee concoction. I had woken up feeling too tired to even imagine a downward-facing dog, and still a wee bit shaky from being a wee bit sick, but by the time I finished chanting, drinking coffee, and moving through a few sun salutations, I felt ready to burst out in “Oh, what a beautiful morning!” Lucky for my classmates, we were aiming ourselves into warrior poses instead, which funneled the sudden and alert magic of the moment for me through my extending arms and strengthening legs.

As I prepared to lift five or six bags of yoga books and props, including my mat and bolster, a friend came up to me, pointed to my empty jar, and said, “Please bring one for me tomorrow.” I nodded as we both giggled over the mutual magic we know of, and told her, “Absolutely.”