Since the beginning of the “Shelter in Place” Order, I have hardly left my house. Yet, in spite of all of the so called “social distancing” I feel a certain closeness as we find ways to stay connected with our communities. Breathe Together Yoga, the studio where I teach is asking us to come together to provide free online content for our students – and anyone else who wants it. So, I’ve created a YouTube Channel and am learning how to make videos and stream live content. It’s a new level of teaching and I am feeling a bit out of my comfort zone. Yet, I want to continue to be of service – so I am making a concerted effort to pick it up as quickly as I can.
On Saturday morning, I hiked out to my chosen location to “go live” for the 1st time. As it was the 13 year anniversary of my husband’s death, I had a bit on my mind – and I felt like sharing a bit of it with my viewers. You see, yoga played an important role in my grief journey. Because of that, I always imagined that I might find a way to pay it forward once I became a teacher. So, with my phone set up on a tripod, with my new wide-angle lens adapter and mic, I set up my stream and hit the red button to start the feed.
it said, so I ran to my mat and began to speak. It was a bit awkward at first but, given my inability to know if I had an audience or not, I kept on talking. The words began to tumble from my mouth, and tears even flowed for a bit of it. After I’d shared what I had gone there to share, I began to lead my invisible viewers in a short but sweet practice. The sprinkles turned to rain as I entered savasana so my rest was pretty brief. Then I hopped up to stop the video, only to find the “connecting” message remained. And it seemed that I had never quite connected…but I wasn’t sure.
So, I decided to get on my mat and move with my emotions. If it came out okay, I’d add a VoiceOver instruction and upload it. Here is how it turned out.
There is a few more videos on my channel and still more to come. But, I need inspiration in knowing my audience so please leave me a comment, “like” my post, and subscribe to my feed. Apparently, once I have 1K subscribers, I will be able to go live from my phone far easier. I am currently at 36, so I have a long way to go.
Whether I roll out my mat at the studio or at home, my focus is the same. It is one of gratitude. Yoga is a feeling practice. There is so many other feelings and emotions swirling around in my body and mind but these emotions are the ones I am bringing into focus. As I bring my attention to what is right in my life, the fear, uncertainty, pain, and other feelings fall away.
I am grateful for this beautiful life, my health, my sons’ (lives, love, health, happiness…), the close relationships with my extended family, our dog, my home, job, my practice, and the opportunity to share yoga to others (among so much more).
I invite you try it yourself. It is hard to be fearful when you are focused on gratitude. You may notice that, while in a state of gratitude, it is far easier to make important decisions, create a vision for what you want to manifest, or simply just enjoy the moment.
Over the past month, my practice has been changing. We have had Kirsten Berg and Mitchell Gold, two Level 2 Authorized Ashtanga Teacher, as guest teachers in the Mysore Room for a 4 week period. One of them, is a talented bodyworker whom I have been going to for structural integration (aka rolfing) for a few years now. Like any long term project, it is all too easy to have a distorted view to the project after a long period of time working on it. The fresh eyes (and ears) of Kirsten and Mitchell was good in bringing my attention to patterns that needed addressing. They pushed us in new ways that inspired change or simply opened the doors to exploring the practice and/or seeing our body and mind in a new way.
You have little control over the world around you, but full control over the world within you.” ―
Mitchell suggested changes to poses in both standing and primary that might provide a deeper opening and more accessibility of some particular poses in intermediate. One of the areas of opening was in the muscles and ligaments that hold the SI joint together. For many years now, I have been consciously working actively to keep the SI joint intact for fear of another SI joint separation. Therefore the notion of creating freedom within the joint was a little scary. However, since Mitchell has worked on my body for many years, I felt that his assessment of risk was from a point of being well-informed. I explored the modifications with a mindful approach which resulted in a deeper inner focus within the context of the practice. I guess that is what happens when you are deeply feeling with the hopes of catching potential injuries before they occurs.
Those in the room with me, will certainly note that I was not this focused in each and every pose. After all, I *am* human – flaws and all. It should also be noted that, with the additional work, I have not gotten through my full practice everyday. In fact, I was quite surprised how different a few poses towards the latter part of my practice felt this morning as I inhabited them. It may not have looked any different from the outside but it sure felt different on the inside.
There have been other changes. Hot flashes after a kapotasana that is just a wee bit deeper. I breathe as I watch it pass. And, I must admit, it is nice to let my guard down a little and deepen the internal work. I can’t say that I am done resisting but I am happy for the journey deep within, however long or short it may be.
I stood at the head of the class, practicing tree pose along with my students yet acutely aware that my tendency for wobbling in and out of the pose could throw them off balance. I verbalized how sometimes it’s all too easy to do what comes effortlessly while avoiding what doesn’t. Acknowledging that balancing on a single leg was NOT one of my effortless areas of the practice, I opted to practice what I was preaching.
After class, I headed to the gym for my last workout of the year 2019. This past year, in particular, I have found it beneficial to balance out the flexibility gained from my practice with targeted strengthening in the gym. Although I am always sore, my reliance on anti-inflammatories and icepacks has lessened. Of course, there’s the nutritional component that plays a part as well. Limiting the foods that lead to inflammation (aka pain) in my body is another area requiring discernment. Rest, work, play… you name it.
It is ALL a part of the balancing act of living in a body. We find balance, we lose it, we gain it back, and we strive to maintain it. We teeter the edge, testing the limits, and maybe falling out a time or two. And when something new is added to our routine, we adjust and find balance anew. I think this ability to adapt is pretty cool. Don’t you?
Ah, those fluctuations of the mind. I know them all too well. Tack on a bit of enthusiasm and/or nervousness about teaching yoga, and all hope of stilling the mind goes right out the door. It’s hard not to feel a little hypocritical.
I mean, we are lucky enough to have two amazing Level 2 Authorized Ashtanga teachers with us through January 3rd and I can’t pay attention to my breath to save my life. I get some simple, yet transformative, input on my down dog that instantly relieves the wrist pain I’ve been feeling for weeks and all I can think about is how I might share that with the students in the classes I’m scheduled to teach.
“Inhale”, I tell myself. Then, 20 minutes later I realize that I lost my focus yet again. The voice in my head alternates between what Julie has learned, and how sad it is that Julie still hasn’t learned [insert anything]. Another notes that it shouldn’t be about me anyway; it’s about them. Then, there is yet another voice chiding me for how crazy it is of me to think that I have something to share when I can’t even just breathe in and out.