Post Yoga Thoughts

This past Saturday and Sunday, I attended my first yoga teacher training sessions. I am part of a group of 12 people who will journey through this together. We will meet monthly through April and at the end of it, we will be Registered  Yoga Teachers with 200 hours of education and practice.  In yoga world, that’s known as R-YT 200.

I didn’t know what to expect before I drove to Little Rock on Saturday.  Would we spend the whole time in yoga practice, perfecting physical technique? Would it be like a classroom with lectures and handouts and quizzes?  I had no idea.

It’s hard to explain exactly what it was.  We shared our yoga stories.  Why this mattered.  We learned about the history of its development and how it came to the West and has been modified over the years. Yes, there were handouts, in fact there’s a HUGE binder FULL of resources and reading material and forms to help plan classes and there is homework to complete each month between our meetings. And yes, there was yoga practice. We will have a guest teacher each month and we will also teach each other.

And it was amazing.

Have you ever been in a situation that you knew would push your limits but you also knew was exactly where you needed to be? I don’t know how to explain it; I’m not sure I’ve ever had this experience before. I love school and school has always worked well for me, but it’s something I do. This spoke to me at the level of who I am, not of what I do.

Throughout my life, I’ve been a pretty open book. I may have even been accused of oversharing a time or two. 🙂 What many don’t know is that when something is deeply important to me, I keep it close to my heart and I don’t talk about it a lot. Yoga teacher training feels that way to me. I’m not sure how to talk about it. I’m not sure that I want to talk about it. I think I just want to experience it.

I kind of feel that way about life in general these days, too. I love my life.  Each day has beauty and joy. I still see the problems in the world and I still ache for those who are hurting. I still see my own shortcomings, yet I am no longer willing to allow those to define me.

So I don’t know if this blog will see more use or not. Possibly. But I can’t promise. I can promise, however, that I will be living life fully, soaking up the things that happen to me and cherishing each moment that I can. big_thumb

Advertisements

Yoga

a-new-thing-thebusymom-com_

This weekend, I start yoga teacher training.

This is surreal to me. I am thrilled. Scared. Excited. Terrified.

I am all of those things, yet also certain. Certain this is the path that I am to walk right now. Certain that this is part of my story for this time in my life. Certain that it will be a ministry and an avenue for peace in my life and the life of others.

I don’t know how to explain the experience of yoga. Of course people can go to classes and learn the postures (or asanas) or yoga, but there is more to its effect than the stretching of muscles.

Yoga teacher training has reading and writing assignments and I will be sharing some of those here in case you’re interested in my journey.  Our first reading assignment was a short book about the ethics of yoga and we were to write a one paragraph response to the ethical practice that appealed to us the most.

After reading The Yamas and Niyamas, I am drawn to the idea of Nonviolence or Ahimsa. I have always considered myself a pacifist; I want there to be peace in the world.  I want people to learn how to respect and communicate with one another rather than resorting to violence. I grew up in a home that was full of yelling and hitting and did not want to repeat that in my own parenting. As an adult, I have learned that lack of violence was one thing, but promoting a peaceful home was much more than that. It also meant acknowledging the internal critic that drove so much of my decision-making. I was plagued by repeating the same hateful words to myself that I heard from my mom while I was growing up. In order to address my own internal critic, I had to make peace with my body and mind.  Yoga helped me do that. It was fascinating to read that one of the bedrocks of yoga is the idea of Ahimsa, or nonviolence, to both self and others, and that it begins with ourselves. We can only be as kind to others as we are to ourselves. That is my challenge: to do no harm to myself in thought, word, or deed and to extend that same nonviolence to others. Yoga is a powerful practice in learning to be kind and respectful to ourselves first and then to others.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the chapter on Ahimsa:

Our ability to be nonviolent to others is directly related to our ability to be nonviolent within ourselves. 

One of the biggest challenges to maintaining balance is feeling powerless. Nonviolence invites us to question the feeling of powerlessness rather than accept it.

I have come to believe that any sense of powerlessness we are feeling can be traced back to the story we are telling ourselves in the moment about the situation. 

I cannot say  this enough times: Our inability to love and accept all the pieces of ourselves creates ripples — tiny acts of violence — that have huge and lasting impacts on others. 

 Thinking we know what is better for others becomes a subtle way we do violence. When we take it upon ourselves to “help” the other we whittle away at their autonomy. Nonviolence asks us to trust the others’ ability to find the answer they are seeking. 

When love became the Lord of my life, I became fearless.

Nonviolence is woven with love, and love of other is woven with love of self; these cannot be separated. 

I did a thing

Sometimes, I do things that surprise me. Isn’t it interesting that we can surprise our very own selves?

And yet we can.

Over the last couple of years I’ve surprised myself by realizing that I enjoy physical activity. Not all of it, mind you, but there are things I enjoy enough that I will make room for them in my busy life. It isn’t a have to thing, it’s a want to thing.

because you love

And that’s another thing that surprises me.  Not that I love activity, but that I have learned to appreciate my body as-is. Is it perfect? No, but neither is anyone else’s.  That doesn’t change the fact that our bodies are capable of remarkable things. My body grew human beings, for Pete’s sake. It — no, she — my body is female — grew them, birthed them, and nourished them. That by itself is pretty remarkable.

So what is this other thing I did that surprised me?  Well, I was recently reminded of how much courage it takes to show up in a new place with people you don’t know and do an activity you’ve never done before when your body doesn’t fit the mold of who should be in that space. I mean, activity classes are for fit people, right? And yoga?  We all know what a yoga body is “supposed to” look like and let’s face it: not many of us look like that. I know I don’t.

I want to create safe spaces for people who show that courage. For people who have no idea what they’ll be doing or how it will work for them, but who show up anyway. Earlier this week I filled out an application for a weekend training for people who want to teach yoga for people with large bodies. Although I haven’t done my full certification yet, this is a good first step toward that.  I found out late last night that I WAS ACCEPTED and next January, I will fly to California for a weekend of onsite training.

There are not words to share how thankful I am. This is holy ground, y’all. Helping people learn to love and honor this amazing body that God has given us is holy, holy ground.

img_2845

Day 8. Or maybe 60 or 83. So . . Prompt 8.

Describe the last time that you had the type of fun that made you smile for a few days.

I’m not exactly sure what “fun” is so I’ll talk about the last time I laughed so hard I couldn’t stop.

I’m known for my laugh. My children told me that they can find me in a store because they hear me laugh.

I love laughing.  Laughing’s my favorite, but I’ve never been big about constructing a situation to intentionally have fun. I love life and believe in living it fully and more often than not, that means laughing throughout the day.

The other day Jason and I were talking. I don’t remember what it was about, but we both got tickled and started laughing. One of us said something else that struck us as funny so we laughed even more. The next thing said was also funny and it was late at night and we were tired so the laughter just keep going.

I don’t remember the details because this happens regularly. We laugh. We laugh at ourselves and each other and life and it is so good to have this.

If the people in your life aren’t helping you laugh like this, stop and ponder. How can you bring more joy into life? How can you find ways to add laughter into every day? Laughter is a good, good thing and it’s free. Absolutely, positively free.

I dare you to laugh out loud today.  Find the humor and the joy and share it with others.

These are not my words

Isabel Foxen Duke works extensively in the field of body acceptance and writes regularly about diet culture. In an email I received today, she included these words.  They are powerful and deserve to be shared.

I can think of fewer drugs (and I’ve tried some) quite as intoxicating as the pursuit of weight loss.

Planning a new diet used to literally soothe me of my greatest feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.

Whenever I believed I was ‘on my way’ to weight loss,
or perceived myself to be ‘winning’ at its pursuit,
I felt safe
like I could finally get some ground under my feet,
like everything was going to be okay;
I felt powerful
like I was gonna be someone,
like life was gonna do my bidding.

For all the hullabaloo about emotional eating (my thoughts on this here), emotional eating doesn’t even compare to how mind-altering, and ultimately habit-forming, the pursuit of thinness really is.

And if you don’t believe me—I dare you to give it up.

Stop trying to make yourself thinner…stop trying to make your body look a certain way…and then tell me how dependent you really are on this drug called “weight control.”

The highs, and the come-downs, are intense;

lest we forget about the come-downs…

the painful rebounds,
the excruciating feelings of failure,
the anxiety of needing to ‘keep it up,’
of slipping, of hanging on by our fingernails,
and the increasing and progressive hopelessness
we feel with every spin round the cycle.

Like most addicts…we too often forget about the come-downs when in the grips of a trigger.

Those are powerful words.  It’s easy to think of being addicted to food.  It happens. Even if it’s a behavioral addiction and not to a mind-altering substance, there’s something calming about sitting and eating at the end of a stressful day.

But have you ever considered that thinness could be an addiction? That the idea of having a smaller, more acceptable body could be an unhealthy thing?

Ask yourself: what would you do if you weren’t focused on losing weight and being thin?

Why aren’t you doing that now?

What would your thought processes be if you weren’t thinking about what to eat and when to eat and what other people think about when they see you?

If you can’t imagine a life without without thinking about food and weight, I completely understand. When I was asked that question a couple of years ago, I couldn’t answer it.

I want to encourage you to think about those things now. Today.  Think about how amazing you are. Think about how beautiful the flowers are today. Think about how much you love spending time with your friends and, yes, about how good that pizza tastes when you eat it. Enjoy it.

It’s OK to enjoy your food.

Week or weak?

I haven’t written in a while. If I stay with the 30-day journal prompt, today is day 7, but you all know I started writing longer than a week ago.  So, is this a Week Post or is a Weak Post due to procrastination? I don’t know if there’s a right answer to that.

1387b-blogging

But here I am again, and so I’ll follow the prompts.

Day 7: Review your entries from the past 6 days (or few weeks . . . whatever!). What patterns are you noticing?

1: I like pictures.  I love words, but also believe that pictures tell a bigger story than words can.

2. My family is important to me.  Very important. Last weekend, Jason and I went to see Wonder Woman.  Any time I saw Wonder Woman engage in battle, my thought was “yes. . . this is what women do. . . we fight for the people we love.”

3. I am comfortable being me. I am comfortable in my skin.

4. I do not have a good relationship with food, even though I have a much improved relationship with  my body and my self. In fact, when I have to think about my lifelong relationship with, there’s anger mixed in with.

5. A side note: I miss writing about clothes and figuring out life in these bodies of ours. I may some super fun discoveries lately and I’m excited about sharing them with you!

Mirror, mirror

Day 6: When I look in the mirror at myself, I feel…

…both thankful and challenged.

Why thankful? This may be the most important part.

I am thankful because I am.
I exist.
I live, I breathe.
I am capable of doing everything necessary for life.
My eyes work, my mind works, my limbs are strong.
I’ve grown, given birth to, and raised babies.

My body works as it is supposed to even though I haven’t always taken good care of her. (And yes – my body is female so I will use feminine pronouns.)

I am challenged because when I look in the mirror these days, I can also see two realities. A lifetime of weight gain and loss is obvious. Stretch marks. Loose skin. A higher set point. Minimal exercise. It’s all there. I’m still thankful for every bit of it, so the challenge is to not dwell on I should have or I wish.

I should have kept the weight off.
I should have exercised more.

I wish I’d found yoga sooner.
I wish I could tan.
I wish I hadn’t sunburned in my 20s.

Those thoughts could take over if I wanted them to so I challenge myself daily to see the positive aspects of myself.  I am also challenged not to moralize my choices as right or wrong or good or bad. They simply are. It isn’t right to be athletic.  It isn’t wrong to be a reader. It isn’t right to be thin and it isn’t wrong to be thick. It isn’t right to be energetic or wrong to be tired. It simply is.

And sometimes, choosing this daily is too much.  Sometimes, I choose it one small moment at a time.

When I look at myself in the mirror I feel thankful and challenged because I am a remarkable human being (and you are too) and each day holds new opportunities.

img_0830

Gratitude is the best attitude

Day 5: List 10 things you are grateful for today

  • Health.  After a spring of being very sick, I am thankful that I am healthy and able to get up and do what I want to do each day.
  • My relationship with my children. They’re pretty much grown now.  My oldest is 28 and my youngest will be 18 soon, so it’s a different kind of relationship than a mom with younger children.  Mercy, I love those human beings. We haven’t always communicated well and I made mom mistakes along the way, but we can really talk about things now. They’re remarkable human beings and I am thankful for them all.

IMG_0753

  • Yoga. Although there are days that I don’t do yoga (and — cough, cough– weeks), I cannot deny that it has made a difference in my life. Not only have I found a form of activity that I enjoy, but it meets a specific need for stress reduction and improved flexibility.

img_0144

  • Music. What would the world be without music? It expresses things that words cannot. It serves as a bridge between cultures and time. There are very few life situations that are not improved by adding music.  Having a bad day? Play some loud music to deal with the anger and frustration.  Need to focus? Find some calm classical to bring you back to where you  need to be. Having a great day? Turn on some music and get up and dance!giphy
  • Lifelong friends. If you know me, you probably know these people.  Or at least you’ve heard me talk about them. They are my people.  They’ve been here for as long as I can remember.  They know 8 year old me and high school me and college me and young adult me and present day me.  We have been through much together and we will continue to be there for one another. I have no doubt.
  • A husband who encourages me to do what’s good for me even when it means more work for him. I could not have taken the time for therapy or for starting a graduate program in counseling without the support of my husband. On a daily basis, I know he’ll not only pick up some slack, but go above and beyond even after having been at work all day. I am thankful.
  • Fiction.  I love fiction.  Fiction.
  • The internet. How many of us have been able to reconnect with people from our past because of the internet?  How many of us have been able to find information that helps us with our daily lives?  Yes, it can be a time drain if it’s not used well, but it’s an incredible blessing.
  • New beginnings. Whether it’s a new week, a new semester, a new month, or a new insight, I’m thankful for new beginnings.
  • The fact that clothes have finally been demystified for me. I’m almost fifty and it’s only been within the past couple of years that I’ve gained any real security in what I wear. I grew up in a school with a very high dress code so it took me years to learn how to dress casually without feeling and looking sloppy. I wasn’t allowed to wear pants to school, so that was another hurdle to cross. As women, our bodies are constantly changing and for years I was either pregnant or dressing in mom mode. I don’t even know what made the biggest difference, but these days, I feel confident in what I wear even if others may not like it.

What about you?  What are you thankful for today?

Day 4: After a weekend full of family

Dear Body,

I love you.  It’s taken me years to be able to say that, but today I can unapologetically say that I love my body. Yesterday alone, you enabled me to walk through the Clinton Library and Little Rock’s Old State House and share part of my story and the story of my state with people I love. You also supported me through a much-needed yoga practice after a weekend of busyness and activity.  Your skin — my skin — even let me know when enough sun was enough by slightly changing color and feeling warm.

 

Outside the Clinton.  The current traveling exhibit features giant bugs.  lol!

I love a good tablescape.

And you know I love me some Jimmy Carter, even if he’s painted on an Easter egg!

Little Rock’s Old State House.  A part of Arkansas and Lisa Fuller history. In high school, I was a delegate to student congress and our sessions were held in the old House of Rep and Senate chambers.  It was super cool. 

 

Last night, you slept and slept well. My eyes allowed me to watch one of my favorite movies with Jason and my hand allowed me to hold his hand while we sat together. My ears heard music that brought wonderful memories of both my mother and my daughter to mind. My mind accessed stored memories that had been filed away for later.

large_p3swjf5epsmbsub6c4ugth6v9ip

I love my body because it is strong. It grew and gave birth to babies and fed them throughout their first years. Sure its size and shape has been all over the place, but it has thrived through all of those changes and is still strong and capable. It lets me go and do and see and hear and feel and remember and smile and speak and sing.

After a lifetime of being uncertain, today it is very good to say: I love my body.

 

 

 

 

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑