Archive for the 'self care' Category

who’s your number one?

This past weekend in the Enrichment Program we were talking about how hard it is to put ourselves first. To say I’m important.

How hard it is to say This is what I need. This is what I want.

there are things I have to do

Yes, there are. And people who rely on you. Most likely a job, maybe parents, maybe kids, maybe pets, probably a house plant.

I’m not suggesting that we all go around in our own bubbles taking care of only ourselves.

I am suggesting that every day we could aim to make at least one decision that is ours alone.

No to a lunch date.
Yes to a lunch date.
Go to bed 30 minutes early.
Take 15 minutes of alone time.
Take a walk.
Take a bath.
Let someone else make dinner.
Or clean up after dinner.
Put the headphones on and listen to your favorite song.
Or a meditation.

Do the thing you love that you’ve put off because there is no time.

boundaries

I have a friend who has really good boundaries. She says No kindly, but without skipping a beat. She is one of the most loving and supportive people I know, yet she rarely compromises what works for her to accommodate someone else.

It’s also about priorities. My friend is very clear that her health and sanity come first. If she isn’t healthy and sane, how can she be there for her family or friends?

Now, in certain circles you might call my friend selfish. You might wonder how her loved ones feel about her taking care of her own needs, sometimes first.

I can tell you that I feel a great sense of permission to be honest with my friend, and I make commitments to her that feel realistic for me. She has taught me not to over-promise or over-pack my day.

what you think of me is none of my business

Of course, some of our decisions are made from a wholeheartedly selfless place. We want to be of service. For many of us though, my guess is that our motivation is often based on what someone else might think.

How will it look if the house is a wreck?
What will people think if I don’t go to this party?
Everyone will think I’m weak and lazy if I take a lot of breaks in yoga class.

Friends, dare to disappoint. I know we’ve been trained to care about what others think of us (maybe more than how we think of ourselves). But we learned this and we can unlearn it.

The mantra

I am increasing my tolerance for other
people’s disappointment

has been incredibly helpful for me.

I love the idea of taking it a step further and proclaiming that

What you think of me is none of my business.

I just don’t need to know. It doesn’t need to matter.

.

So what is it that you’ve been longing for? What thing do keep saying I wish I could just… ?

Call a sitter. Call a house cleaner. Tell the people you live with you’re going on a walk. They’ll be there when you get back.

And you’ll feel great for having done something for yourself.

photo credit
Advertisements

hanging out with the shoulder, part ii

The other day I checked in with the group in the shoulder series and asked how their shoulders were feeling. One student answered, They feel powerful!

What a great way to feel. Powerful.

Let’s consider the other options. Do these with me:

  • Completely slump — let the shoulders round forward and hang the head. How does this feel? To me it feels sad. Like I can’t take it anymore. There’s no hope. And after a minute or so I get really really tired.
  • Now pull your shoulders back and pop your chest out (just don’t let my anatomy friend see you). How does this feel? This one is tricky for me. It camouflages itself as powerful pretty well, but if I really tune in and listen, I can feel how it’s a false sense of power. It’s more like force or bullying, with undertones of desperation and insecurity.

These are two extremes, and perhaps I’m dramatizing the feelings behind them, but we communicate with our bodies. We send messages about who we are in the world by the way we carry ourselves. So now…

  • Find the center point between those two. Imagine you’re rising equally from your front and back torso, growing tall from the inside right out the top of your head. Let your shoulders widen, as though you’re effortlessly pressing your outer arms into an imaginary hug. Let your eyes find a point straight forward from eye level. I feel present, like I’m greeting the world from an embodied and alive place.

Do you feel the difference?

How do your shoulders feel right now?

Is your load too heavy? Are your shoulders tired? You may need to delegate and take a nap; you could also try changing your posture and see if it changes your feeling. ‘Cause it works both ways.

Isn’t this body amazing?!

++++

Did you download your free class on the hips? Let me know what you think!

 

hostage: yoga mat

There was an assignment during one of my teacher trainings to create my ideal practice schedule — time, length, and type. I dreamed of having two hours of practice every day from 10-noon. For various reasons that seemed like the Perfect Yoga Life.

Ah, if only… at the time, I had a real job and was sitting at a desk during regular work hours. So I carved out other, less ideal times and went about my way.

that was then…

I still work at a desk, but it’s in my home… where I make my own hours and answer only to the voices in my head.

And yet… I practice less. For a yoga teacher (or in my schema of how a yoga teacher should be), I do actual asana practice pretty infrequently.

what’s going on?

There are numerous reasons my self-care goes in cycles — some personal, some not all that interesting.

What I know is this: I’ve been on a self-abuse spree. Good habits supporting sleeping, eating, practice, and general self care have been sadly lacking. The consequence is exacerbated by the fact that I am so hard on myself when I don’t meet my expectations (including the shame that is here in admitted this to you).

a teacher needs to prep, but a girl’s got to practice

There’s a saying that we teach for ourselves and we practice for our students. I agree. And I would expand it to say that we practice for the world — for our families, our co-workers, our neighbors, people we meet on the street, people we don’t even know.

Not only is it true that I can’t give what I don’t have (as a good accountant will remind you), the effects don’t stop at the people within my arm’s reach. When I’m connected through my practice to my body, breath, and the moment, I meet the world from that place. I respond to the world from that place.

june

One of the things I was reminded of during the Healthy Eating Cleanse at the studio is that I do well with structure. I like defined boundaries, check boxes, and measurable outcomes. Maybe there’s a little leftover Business Consultant in me.

Left to my own devices and generalities like I will practice more this week, I know I will not practice “more.” It’s too easy to let the morning slip away, and then it’s 4pm, and then there’s someone who needs something and all of a sudden it’s time to go to bed.

Because this online community of people near and far is so amazing and supportive, and you’re so good at creating accountability, I am making a practice commitment for the month of June:

I will practice every day.

On days I teach (3 days a week), “practice” may be as simple as legs up the wall before bed (serving two goals: a better night’s sleep and self-love time).

On days I do not teach, I will devote at least two hours of practice time on my mat. Not class prep, but me time.

And I will increase my twice weekly sits (with The Virtual Buddhas) to five, even if it’s just a few minutes.

priorities

It really comes down to what’s important? As I’ve written about many times, it’s difficult for me to say I am important. Important enough to take care of and nourish and love.

And you are too!

——————————————————————————————————————–

How do you take care of yourself? Among all the things in life that ask of your attention, how do you make time for yourself? Where do say No?

Really, do tell. It may inspire someone else whose self-love account is a little low.

And feel free to state a commitment of your own. Feels so gooood to write it down!

Be well friends. xo

ps- Here’s the real reason I haven’t been using my props. Shiva the kitty is holding them hostage! Ransom: a large bowl of canned cat food.

it’s only sort of about the biscuits

Today I needed to bake. I needed to make something with my hands, to watch the miraculous transformation happen when separate ingredients are combined together, to taste something warm, just out of the oven.

As I was gathering ingredients, I put on the Teach Now interview with teacher and poet, Jack Ridl. A funny man with an infectious laugh, he talked about how, even though we claim to be very process oriented, in this culture we are still very geared toward the product.

Sometimes the only access to reality is baking bread, or writing a poem… or where ever it is you go — there are things that only happen there.

Certain things can only happen with jazz, different things can only happen with poems, or walking in the woods.

What happens while you’re doing it?

What happens while you’re doing it is the important question. Not What do you get when you’re done.

Well, unless you’re talking about Coconut Biscuit Poppers.

Remember, I don’t do anything complicated in the kitchen. If it’s not easy, I don’t make it.

Enjoy the process, notice what happens while you’re in it. The bonus here is also enjoying the product :)

Coconut Biscuit Poppers

1 c Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix
1/2 c finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 T sugar
1/2 t Clabber Girl or Rumford Baking Powder (gluten free)
2 T Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend Original
2 T milk, plus additional if needed

Pamela’s Baking Mix =

I’m sure another brand
would be fine too…

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine baking mix, coconut, sugar and baking powder in bowl.


3. Cut in butter (I use regular butter, and about 1 T more than called for) with a pastry blender (I just use my hands). Gently stir in just enough milk to form a dough that will hold together in a ball.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch and cut into 2 inch rounds. Sprinkle with additional coconut.

5. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes. Recipe can be doubled (which is the only way I make it).

Dee-VINE.

*Recipe from Raley’s magazine.

work hard, play hard

work hard
play hard
try hard
think hard
run hard
do we even love hard?
we definitely hate hard
sometimes we even make our yoga hard

Why does everything have to be so HARD?

We’re a culture of extremists, intensity junkies. We go-go-go until we drop. We hold on as long as we can, and then we fall. We hold it together as long as we can, and then we crash.

What about softness, gentleness, rest, innocence, ease, peace, spaciousness, kindness, love, tenderness, curiosity, slowness?

Not as words or ideas or trite clichés, but as things we do every.day.

Things we make time for. Qualities we bring into our lives. Now — not when it’s the second before too late.

when hard shows up

Of course, I am thinking about this because I see it in myself. I justify it because the things I’m doing are (I think) “good” and worthy things. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s too much.

The other day I canceled a monthly lunch with friends because I had an overwhelming amount of work to do. Both women gently came back with, Really? You’re canceling lunch to … work.

In my overly stressed state, I was pouring lighter fluid on the fire. Yes, I had a ton to do and there are times to block out the world, hole up, and get to it. But my state was more chaotic than clear. More self-loathing than focused. And by avoiding the one thing in my day that could offer spaciousness and love, I was buying into hard.

extremes are easy

It’s really easy to tell when you’ve worked yourself to exhaustion.

It’s easy to justify a week-long vacation when you haven’t taken a day off in three years.

It’s not so easy to identify the first signs of overwhelm. Or to build mini breaks into your day/week when you don’t feel like you’ve earned them. Or to be soft and slower-paced… because that doesn’t feel like 100%, and boy, do you always give 120.

Extremes give us something to rub up against. We can feel them (as they slam the nervous system back and forth).

Middle ground is much harder to navigate. It’s broader and doesn’t give such a strong sense signal.

how to tell?

Hard feels urgent.

It’s also LOUD. And aggressive.

I have to keep working or else…
I need a day off now or else…

Or your body tells you — the heart races, you get sick, injured, clumsy.

Middle ground is… well, kind of boring. There’s no big drama. No panic. No bright and shiny.

It’s quieter. It’s wide. You may feel resistant to it (I would much rather work than take care of myself).

One way we can develop sensitivity to middle ground is to practice tuning into the subtle. Even now: notice the sounds around you. There are obvious ones, sure. See if you can begin to listen underneath those louder sounds. Are there softer ones? More far away? Closer? A lower tone?

Or go outside. Not for a power walk, but to sit and watch the leaves dance on a tree. Look at the sky. Plop your tush down in the grass and do nothing. No, you can’t take your phone with you.

We’re talking about feeling spacious. Feeling ease. Feeling soft. What would that feel like?

do the little things before you need a big thing

Take a break before you need it. Rest. Go slower. For God’s sake, go to lunch with your friends (which, by the way, I did—tears and all).

Because here’s the thing: you do not have an endless resource of energy. If you don’t take care of you, you won’t be able to do this good and worthy work, at least not well or with joy.

What one thing can you do right now to come into middle ground, to get out of hard, to take care of yourself?

let’s sit together


Photo credit: Ashlee Gadd

After missing the Women’s Meditation Retreat at Spirit Rock last year, I promised myself I’d go this year.

But for a myriad of different reasons, I am not going again.

I attended this retreat for two consecutive years and had profound, albeit different, experiences at each. It’s a highly scheduled, controlled, quiet, introspective time. For me it was as painful as it was peaceful (as sitting with yourself can be), and the effects stayed with me for weeks/months/ever.

In part, I look to this retreat to reconnect me with my sitting practice, which admittedly ebbs and flows. After a week of sitting 4-5 hours throughout the day, 30 minutes in the morning seems pretty doable.

But why does it have to be so extreme?

Why do I need to jump back in with 4-5 hours of sitting (and 3-4 hours of walking meditation) to get started?

Isn’t it the small steps that count? The day to day that makes a difference?

Would you like to sit together?

As a form of accountability, and also because it is wonderful to sit with other people, I invite you to virtually sit with me for the next 3 weeks: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:15 – 6:30 am. Rise with the sun at 6, pee, get some tea, get what you need to be comfortable, and get online. I’ll ring the bell at 6:15, we’ll sit together in quiet, and the bell will indicate the closure of our sit 15 minutes later.

Maybe you’ve never tried sitting meditation, or you have tried and you felt completely tortured, or you sit twice a day and watch the thought clouds pass by. Skill, experience, even affinity for sitting do not matter.

Why? or How?

I have had periods of mostly peaceful — or at least not combative — sitting. And, I’ve had periods of such distraction and discomfort that getting through five minutes was all I could bear.

What I know is this: no matter what the quality of the sit — how “right” I think I did it — my day is better for it. My state of mind is more clear. My attention is more present. I am more patient and connected.

If you are interested (oh, I hope you are…) email me at michelle@itsallyoga.com and I will send all the details on the virtual magic that will make this possible.

There is room for 12 people in this virtual experience, including me. So if you would like to sit together, contact me soon.

Other logistics

When will it be?
Tuesdays and Thursdays, May 10th – 26th from 6:15-6:30 am.

Do I have to “attend” each sit?
No, but it would be super cool if you did.

I work/sleep/do something else at that time, will you do it again?
Probably! Just know that I am (as are millions of others) sitting at that time. If you remember to feel your breath, you’ll be connected to it as well.

I don’t have a computer. Or I have a computer but I don’t have built-in video.
If you don’t have a computer, we will sit together in spirit.
If you have a computer with speakers, you’ll be able to see and hear me, but I won’t see or hear you.
If you have a microphone, we’ll hear each other.
And if you have video, we’ll see and hear each other.

How expensive, techy, and complicated will this be?
It’s free.
Techy? I figured it out. And that says a lot. I’ll send a link, you’ll click the link, and sign in as a guest — nothing to download or sign up for.
It really is that easy. I tested it with Bubby and he got it, easy peezy. (And I’m the technical mastermind in the family. Frightening, I know.)

I’ve never meditated. Will these be guided?
These will not be guided meditations.  There are some free guided meditations on this site with different techniques for focusing attention. The over-simplified way to approach it is: just sit with yourself, as you are, without pushing your thoughts or feelings away or getting completely wrapped up in them.

I don’t know you. Will that be weird?
Won’t be weird for me.

Have other questions?
Just ask.

Or just do it! It’s six mornings. A hour and a half out of your month. Little steps. We’ll take them together! Email me at michelle@itsallyoga.com.

devote yourself

So many things on my mind lately:

Ambiguity
Grief
Uncertainty
Attachment

These things have been taking me away from my work. (Worries can be so demanding…)

In an effort to refocus, yesterday I made a list of things to bring attention to this week. One of my list items is

devote time to new website.

I spent a while looking at the word devote.

Devote, devoted, devotion.

From the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 Verse 26:

Whatever is offered to me with true devotion — if only a leaf, a flower, a fruit or a sip of water — I accept it because it is given with love.

It’s not what is given, it’s the feeling and heart in the giving.

Perhaps even my worry, my grief, my non-productivity is my offering. That is what is here, what is real — it is what I have to give.

There is also a devotion that comes from discipline and commitment. Moving through resistance and into my passion — which will be captured on this new site — connects me to my heart’s work, and there is nothing more devotional than giving from the heart.

The Gita continues in 9.27:

Whatever you do, make that an offering. Whether it’s eating, sacrificing yourself, giving help, or even your suffering, offer it to me.

It’s not about personal gain or getting something in return. It’s an offering. A gift.

Devoting time to the new website gives it the time and attention it deserves. The inspiration was offered to me; it is my responsibility to put back into it equally.

I like to think of joy and play and pleasure here as well. There’s joy in giving yourself fully to something, and play and pleasure can be beautiful forms of devotion.

How different would my life be if my actions came from a place of offering and devotion rather than personal gain or guilt and force?

1.  I would practice my guitar with a spirit of play rather than perfection.
2.  I would sit it the morning not because I have to, but because it is my way to offer peace to the world.
3.  I would work on projects from a place of service rather than what will I get out of it.
4.  I would cook (and eat) in celebration and appreciation of this body and what I am able to do through it.
5.  I would reconnect with teaching as a service to other people instead of harping on my preoccupation of how I am perceived.

And the list goes on…

How would your life be different if your actions were a form of devotion?


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 76 other followers

Topics

Tweets