Self Love vs. Self Destruction

When your body cries out to you, how do you react? Do you curse it for always hurting?  Ignore it?  Or turn to “comfort foods” – like sweet, salty, fattening foods — which in reality only lead to further discomfort? When the binge fails to silence the body’s cries for help, do you switch to starving it with hopes that you’ll lose weight and will magically look and feel better?

Your body hears everything your mind says. ~ Naomi Judd

After months of self destructive thoughts and actions regarding my body’s complaints, I finally gave my body a little love in the way of 90 glorious minutes of therapeutic massage. It wasn’t a magic fix but it was a start (a step in the right direction).  The thing I love most about Jana (my massage therapist, fellow yogini, and friend) is that along with the work she does on your muscles, she also gives you valuable information on what she is observing. In my case, she advises me to relax a little, rather than continually working to “hold it all together” — especially in my hips and pelvis (where I have been known to have joint instability).  This information is valuable as I have been responding to the pain in my right hip and back as a signal to tighten my glutes (etc.) more.  With the same intention of finding some ease and relaxation, Jana also urged me to take time out each morning & evening to sit quietly and just breathe. 


The Process of Change

There has been a shift in the energies flowing through my body, mind and space.  I cannot put it into words, nor do I really want to.  All I can do is acknowledge my awareness of it.  It is change. Initially, it feels good but, after some time, it doesn’t feel so good anymore.

My teacher refers to the changes we make via our yoga practice as the process of breaking patterns. These patterns, or habits, develop over time and are often our way of adapting to past hurts. In a sense, this is often a way we bury the pain and move on. What is once thought of as healing may in actuality be the process of hardening — much like forming scar tissue. It is not complete healing but serves us for the time…until we are more capable of fully letting it go. And like when one has graston or rolfing done to break up adhesions, there is an integration/adjustment period that follows.

Similarly, the practice of breaking patterns is often a painful process to which there is a period of assimilation.


First things first

In the final months of 2016, I have been experiencing an ever-increasing level of tightness. This new-found blessing has been added to an always-sore back and achy, unstable right hip, and more than a few extra pounds which hopped on board over the past year. Twenty-sixteen was a year where I felt like my body – along with many things in general – has been sort of falling apart.  I remember talking to my yoga teacher about this sometime in the summer.  She was noting my inability to find balance in the standing balance poses.  When I remarked that I have never been able to balance in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, she stated that she has noticed I have lost what ability I had gained.

The conversation moved to areas where I tend to hold tension, whereby I admitted to having a sense that I never feel like I can relax in my everyday life for it feels like doing so would result in what has been bandaged and duct taped together will crumble all together. I have already experienced my life falling apart; I don’t want to do it again. There’s just one problem: Always holding and never releasing has its drawbacks. Like the duct tape I used on my bathroom faucet in an effort to divert the water properly, it was only a temporary fix. It was only a few days before my MacGyver attempt failed.

In terms of my body, duct tape or even KT tape doesn’t work to stabilize the parts of me that tend to fall out of alignment. Nor does my SI belt. Believe me, I’ve tried them. Well, all but the duct tape. I have to do the work. And as for the tightness, I have a strong suspicion that a combination of more focus on my breathing will do wonders in helping me get past this issue. Most probably, the breath work will help with the psychological/emotional issues as well.

But first, I must recover from this nagging cough and tracheal irritation that keeps me from fully expanding my breath. First things first, I guess.

Time to Rest

For the past 26 weeks, I’ve been participating in an Instagram (IG) challenge that my home yoga studio was hosting. In this Asana Alphabet challenge, one letter of the alphabet was featured each week. During the weeks where the featured letter of the alphabet did not have a corresponding letter in the sanskrit language (such as F, Q, X and Z), our host came up with an alternative. For example, there isn’t a letter Q in the sanskrit language so our posts, revolving around “Quick”, were stop drop and yoga posts. We tagged others, prompting them to stop what they were doing, bust a move/pose, and quickly post it.


The challenge was good fun in which each of us emerged with a few lessons learned (be it a new sanskrit word, the history behind an asana, or something about ourselves). The challenge also provided a nice community connection among the participants.

And now that we are at the letter Zzz…            It’s time to take rest.

Take Practice; Be the Change

The morning after election night, I awoke feeling a bit numb from the trauma of watching the map of the nation turn red before my eyes. By the time my head hit the pillow on election day, I was feeling significantly ill (lightheaded and nauseated from the emotional aftermath). Now, it was a new day and I wanted to believe that much of my ill feelings from the previous night were nothing more than a bad dream. Per my usual morning routine, I went to my son’s room to let the dogs outside. To my surprise, my son awoke from his sleep to say good morning. “Who won?” I asked hopefully. He just shook his head and returned to his slumbers.

It was still dark outside. I fed the dogs and returned to the warmth of my bed with my little shot of espresso.  The day before, I’d contemplated taking the day off to observe my would-be 25th wedding anniversary but the culmination of emotions left me feeling like it wouldn’t matter either way. At that moment, nothing much mattered. It hardly seemed right. I was alive, wasn’t I? That was good. Nonetheless, I decided to save the vacation day for a happier time – for I still had hope that happier would come…someday.

I packed up an outfit for work, changed into my yoga apparel, and left for the yoga studio. I was somewhat later than usual but the room was unusually empty. Those who had made it to practice yoga seemed to be moving in slow motion. I rolled out my mat and began to move through my own sun salutations feeling deep down that by doing so I was acknowledging that life would go on.

A short while later, our teacher called us all to stand at the front of our mats for the morning chant. Standing in samasthitihi, I put my hands in prayer in front of my heart, took a big breath in, and began to OM with my fellow ashtangis. My OM however got caught in my throat and exited with more of a stifled cry. Tears began streaming down my cheeks and I soon hear other distressed sounding voices in the room.  The Chant continued; visions of hope for peace on earth and compassion for all floated to the heavens. I remained standing for a moment after the final OM and said another little prayer to the god I’d known growing up.  Then I wiped away my tears, adjusted my ponytail, and returned to my practice.

On this day, the practice felt more important than ever. We cannot afford to crawl under our covers and pretend that everything is paradise. We must be mindful, compassionate, and strong.  Rather than being the affect of the change that we fear, we must *be* the change that we wish to see.

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