Misery on the Mat

Not so long ago, I was having what was known as a bad day.  I was under pressure from a lot of directions, and feeling overwhelmed, and irritable, and all those things that happen to constitute a bad day.  The next morning, I woke up early, as I do, and headed off to my yoga class.  I had some extra time, so I took it.  What happened was magical.  Each movement was languid, and I absolutely luxuriated in it.  My breath was long and slow.  I held every pose for double the length.  It almost felt like I was moving in warm soup, with slow pressure and easy movement.  At a certain juncture, I realized that in a sense, my mat had become my magic carpet and had lifted me a bit above from my despair.  And further, I realized that all of those situations that were distressing me were already ghosts.  It had already happened!  It wasn’t still happening.  And then I was able to live in the moment, there in my practice.

At the end of all of that, I realized that my yoga practice has never been so good as when I am a mess.  The more miserable I am, the more I can show up to my mat, push everything aside and really be present in my practice.  Happiness rarely gravitates me conscientiously to the mat, not without a lot of effort at least.  My mind wanders, and I have to wrestle it back in.  I’m thinking about all the fun to be had, and my balance suffers.

This is where yoga truly becomes a discipline.  I can always make it to the mat miserable.  Making it when I’m happy takes commitment.  I’m happy to say that over the last three years, I’ve kept my commitment, but it’s taken me years of doing yoga to finally build that consistency.  Because of the steady practice, this time, I had the skills and the focus to have an almost out of body experience, which gave me true wisdom in my situation.

When do you practice yoga?  Can you find your pattern?  Let me know how it goes for you in the comments.

Workshop Links are Live at Willow Glen Yoga!

Hooray!  My Full-Bodied Yoga workshops are live at http://www.willowglenyoga.com/workshops/.  I am offering a stand-alone two hour class on Sunday June 26th, which is an introductory session to my work.  The other is a four week series that launches Monday, July 11th.

Both of these workshops will focus on helping folks to find how the pose can fit their bodies, using a combination of mindful breathing, flexibility and strength building while incorporating straps, blocks, walls, and anything else we need.

If anyone needs more information, please email me via my contact page, and I invite your questions.


Breathing Myself to Sleep

Yesterday I had the disconcerting experience of having a sleep study.  I am an insomniac, and working through getting to the bottom of frequent migraines, so my neurologist, leaving no stone unturned, sent me for a sleep study.

Due to my insomnia, and being just a wee bit claustrophobic, I found this experience awful.  When the neurologist explained the procedure initially, I pictured about a half dozen wires just sproinging out from various locations on my head and body.  The reality was a little more like Pinhead from the 90’s Hellraiser film series.  It took more than an hour to hook me up to everything.  I had fifteen wires attached to my scalp, easily a dozen on my face (including tubes in my nose), wires attached to my chest, down my pants, and one to my index finger.  The wires were so plentiful, that they actually had weight.  Whenever I moved, I had to tug my albatross along with me.

To make matters worse, I had a filter-free technician who shared with me the sleeping habits of he and his girlfriend (naked), his remedy for helping me sleep (a knuckle sandwich), and creepiest woodland creatures (between possums and raccoons, raccoons won, as he has been bit by a raccoon).  All of this was making me ready to freak out.  However, thanks to yoga, without even realizing it, I slipped into my ujjayi breath, each one becoming longer and slower than the last.  I breathed myself all the way into sleep, even though what I really wanted to do was cry (but that wasn’t a great option, as the technician had reminded me several times that he would be watching everything I did via the in-room camera).  If you haven’t found your breath as a coping mechanism, start looking some things up.  There are many different kinds of pranayama, and while less subtly employed in public, nadi shodhan (alternate nostril breathing) is one of my favorites.  If you take a deep breath, you can survive that pose, that bad day at work, and even being caged by wires and watched by a nude sleeping technician.