Monday, April 26, 2010

Press Play

So I take circus classes. At the moment, it's a playdate I have with myself every week. Just a chance to do something that is just for fun. No one's making me be there. It's not "good for me." It's not necessary to maintaining quality of life, like chores. It's play. I don't know how thorough an explanation that is, but it's the most honest one. I'm having so much fun with it, and I'm picking it up pretty easily, so it may morph into a sideline of sorts eventually, but once it does that, it stops being play, so I'm not in a huge hurry for that to happen.

I bring it up because, in a lot of ways, it's very un-yoga. When you've got your feet wrapped in the silks, you need to hold yourself up until you unwrap your feet or you will fall. You can listen to your body, sure, but your body can't be the one calling the shots. Your arms may want to relax, but they just have to wait. With the exception of cloud swing, a lot of aerial dance isn't terribly intuitive. You just have to listen to the technique explained, and watch it being practiced, and then do it until it makes sense and becomes intuitive in your body. You really can't just "move in a way that feels good." Your body doesn't really feel all that good when you haul it high above the ground and make extensive use of every major muscle group.

In spite of these very serious differences, I love circus. I'm just wondering why. It certainly provides balance. I do enjoy putting my body through its paces; making use of its incredible capabilities. But, I think also, in some ways, yoga isn't play. Yoga is my job, and of course, it's also a life style. Circus is something I can pick up when it is of use to me, and then put down again when it's not. It requires a lot of discipline while I'm doing it, but the next day when my pecs are sore enough to make spreading my arms out in Warrior II more or less unbearable, I don't have to get back on the trapeze. I do have to do Warrior II.

I hugely endorse yoga as play, which makes me think I need to rethink my mindset on my yoga practice a little bit. Surely yoga can be both work and play...I think this is the point, four paragraphs later, that I was working my way up to: Yoga should be play. Yoga can be incredibly effective as an exercise routine because yoga is always playful, and always about listening to your body, and feeling good.

On the other hand, a lot of those asanas on the mat don't feel so very good at first, let along intuitive. Maybe circus is just discovering yoga, in a bit more of a kick-ass form, all over again. It's a lot of food for thought for me. But then, it's a rainy April day. What else are we going to do? I've got a suggestion for you. Take ten minutes, and then more if you're having a good time. Roll out your mat, or pick a hunk of floor, and play. I dare you.

Live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yogi Math

After nine and a half months of being thrilled to be getting by, the prevailing season seems to be cautiously optimistic! My husband is at a very promising interview right now, I'm having an amazing time gaining experience and insight through the community classes I'm offering at my church, and there's a job in the works for me, too!

Spring is always a great time to step out of that nose-to-the-grindstone bubble and thank the Universe for sunshine, sound sleep, chocolate-covered cherries, or whatever it is that does it for you. It's pretty cool that there is so much on the horizon besides those simple joys to focus on. Of course, I'm totally guilty of getting bogged down in the day-to-day. There is so much I need to get done today, and it's already 2:30! It's exhausting. Staying positive is a choice, and sometimes it's really hard work. Times like this it helps to keep my yoga off the mat philosophy in mind: integration, baby!

Wishing things were different (assuming you can't take steps to make them different) inevitably leads to unhappiness because things aren't different. If you can give your full attention to the present, not everything else on your to-do list, and definitely not on the work week ahead, you'll often find that there's actually nothing to be bent out of shape about. There's only a problem once you decide there's a problem. So is there really something worthy of being a problem at this exact moment? I'm typing up my blog at the library. Nothing in that sentence presents itself as a problem. Problem solved.

Just a yoga thought on a pretty April Day...

Live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

St. John's Is Down, Dog!

So, on Monday, I taught a yoga class to the youth group at my church: a group of roughly fifteen teeh-agers! Oh my, what an experience that was...I hadn't worked with that age group much before, and had no idea what I was getting myself into before I got there: would anyone be properly attired? Would there be three confused kids, or a big rowdy group? Would they actually be interested in anything I had to share with them? I was nervous enough to feel like I was going back to high school, instead of just going to work with high schoolers.

But once we got started, I had the best time! They were a great group of kids. There was definitely plenty of commenting and snickering, but after about twenty minutes, a funny thing happened...when some of the kids would start to talk, some of the other kids would go, "SHHHHHHH!!!!" Now that was gratifying. I had set up the flow to take roughly forty-five minutes. In my living room I flew through it in twenty, but teaching it to my husband took fourty-five minutes on the dot. I figured that would leave time to explain each posture, with a brief discussion at the beginning or end.

We got started probably around 6:30, maybe a little before, and wrapped up at 8. It was really amazing helping these kids to look at and feel their bodies moving through space with awareness for the first time. What a privilege! It was definitely a little more challenging for all of us than I thought it would be. It sucked me right back to the early days of my practice, when my downward dog was Old Yeller: in desparate need to be put out of its misery. It's still like that sometimes, but now there are also those moments when it's just a woman's best friend.

I did give a brief explanation before we began, and we had a great discussion afterward too. I really feel like I gave them something; planted a seed. It was so beautifully affirming of my choice to do this for a living.

Best part: Their first question was, "Can you come back next week??"

I was walking on air all the way home.

Shout-out to Emily who took a card and may actually be reading this! If you are, I'm super excited about next week's flow. Get ready to work it, Baby!

Live Omily,
~em