Posts by: Leah Markowitz
The wise teacher with whom I took a yoga class this morning said something during class that was, well, wise. She asked us, as we started into the first of a handful of down dogs, to notice our habits in these “simple” poses. She said that these habits could teach us things, and that instead of fighting our habits, we should learn from them. I mumbled something snarky about how these were some pretty tough-love teachers. Am I right?! For me, a couple of things, or habits if you will, plague me. My mid-back is one of them. Oooh, that mid-back. It just wants to creep up and out like some kind of inchworm in mid-move instead of lying smooth and integrated like, um, butter? You get the point. And I know that what my mid-back habit is teaching me is not that my mid-back is the problem. I”m working on sourcing that habit’s origins. So in the (long) meantime, thanks to my wise, external teacher, perhaps I will try harder not to battle and struggle with my didactic habits, but will instead cast a curious ear towards what they have to say to me.
Six Degrees of John Cusack
Yesterday I was playing Procrastination Girl at work, and saw that Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax had done a wedding-related column earlier in the day. I don’t usually read that sort of thing, but since I was a) procrastinating; and b) wedding-planning while procrastinating, I thought I’d take a peek. And there was one gem in and amongst the blah-deh-dee-blah, which actually cannot be attributed to Carolyn herself, but to an oft-quoted and well-loved figure, and which I thought had some beauty vis-a-vis yoga practice, and it being Friday. So, courtesy of Carolyn Hax of the WaPo, but out of the mouth of Lloyd Dobler, aka John Cusack, aka, Nice Guy Who Finishes Somewhere Near the Front of the Line:
“You must chill. You must chill.”
Allow me to present an interesting–to me, at least–follow-up to some of my previous posts on exercise and on anger. When posted, they didn’t necessarily have anything to do with each other. But I’ve been observing some interesting stuff… As mentioned in the exercise post, now that I’m deeper into yoga study, I rarely go to the gym or do aerobic exercise. Which is nice in a lot of ways, as it had become a real chore to think about scheduling in gym time. And while many times I felt better afterwards, there were increasingly times that I didn’t feel very good during or after my workout. (I think I was experiencing mild panic attacks on the elliptical trainer, actually!) Anyhoo, later came my post on anger and irritation, and how I’ve been experiencing this a lot recently. Granted, I am a Pitta, so I guess anger/irritation can somewhat come along with the territory (when provoked). Add to this the fact that we’ve been in the high heat of summer, when Pitta is at its meatiest point. One plus one equals two, duh. In and amongst all of this observation of my emotional state is that I have also been frequently feeling a prickly, icky heat and sweat in my face, which I’ve chalked up to an anger/Pitta imbalance. Ok. Facts laid out. So, last Friday, I went to the gym and hung out on the elliptical trainer listening to fun music and reading silly magazines for nearly an hour. Just a few minutes into it I was like, aw, yeah, this feels GOOD. And I tell you, up until yesterday, when some things occurred that tickled my irritant hot spots, I hadn’t experienced the face sweat thing. So, sometimes aerobic exercise may be just the energy-moving block that does the trick. Sweet! Free therapy!
Lately I have found myself getting very angry about things. Lots of things. Mostly little things. But they start to feel bigger once a bunch of the little things pile up. And what makes me angrier, ironically enough, is that I KNOW, as I’m experiencing the anger (frustration, annoyance, whatever), that I’m overreacting, even that, in some way, I’m just creating the drama to have the drama. A very bizarre experience to have and hold that simultaneous knowledge (be upset/know that you’re creating/exaggerating that upsetness).
So as I try to deal with this, to sit with it, as one smart friend reminded me to do, to acknowledge and accept and move on with it, as I try to remind myself to do, I was very happy last night to go to Leigh Ann’s class. (This was my first class with her, really enjoyed it overall.) She focused the theme of the class on giving and receiving, WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. You know, I had almost completely forgotten this tenet of yoga–to be without judgement, especially towards my own self. So, as I work with the stuff that’s going on in my head and body, I will try to process without judgement, which is such a sweeter, more compassionate place from which to work, and for which I’m grateful to embrace.
Um, excuse me, could you please move the &*^#% out of my way??!
I feel like, lately, my Ego has been making a strong show of itself in my life. I mean, like it’s an “excuse me-pardon me-excuse me” kind-of-dance, as if you were trying to pass someone in the hallway, and they just kept stepping into your direct path, practically on your toes.
Not that this is harmful, per se, but it’s certainly not very YOGIC. One of the nuggets I have picked up on this yoga journey is that we should strive to remove judgement about ourselves and others, good or bad, in our actions and thoughts.
I think the place where this has become most noticeable is in the yoga space. While I’m not totally comfortable putting all my thoughts and experiences concerning this out there in the blogosphere (see above: EGO), I will say this–as I come closer to finishing the teacher training program, and actually begin to stand up in front of a group of students and share with them whatever knowledge I have of yoga asana (and maybe a smidgen of philosophy), it’s a sometimes wobbly struggle of pushing my ego out of the way to help students in the most “yogic” way I can.
Does this resonate?
More on Jin Sung and Triangular Properties
I took Jin Sung’s workshop this past weekend. I remember taking one two-hour kindofthing with him at Boundless many moons ago, and thinking, hmmm, this is kind of esoteric stuff. But that was then, and this is now. Now I get it. And it was good. (5 hours was a wee bit long, perhaps, and although Jin Sung said, “it’s not a big deal if you do this more frequently,” I don’t know who really gets to practice for 5 hours straight here in DC–maybe it’s an Oakland thing.
At any rate, I was struck by many things during the workshop, including the awesomeness of Uttansana done right. But what I wanted to write about was Trikonasana. I’ve long struggled with Triangle, given the instructions I received as a beginning student (keep your body in one plane, like it’s being smashed between 2 panes of glass), and then later as well (roll the front sit bone under, ROLL IT UNDER!) Long and short of this, I have always felt totally crunched in my torso and lower back, thinking that I had to maintain some kind of straight plane line. But in the workshop, Jin Sung came over to me and just plain tugged down on my hips and butt, ALLOWING me some room and freedom–and man, did that feel GOOD! I thought it meant that I’d be too out of alignment, that my butt would be sticking out too much, etc, but with some of the other instructions given, it all seemed to work jez’ fine.
Aaaah. Pretty cool.
Just Sit It.
So I’ve been going a little nuts lately. Granted, I guess I do have a fairly full plate–work (whatev’), outside my job-description project at work (moderate), wedding planning (agh!), yoga teacher training (yow), and life in general. But I’m a pretty good multitasker. In fact, I need to multitask in some form to keep my sanity (I need to break up whatever thing I’m working on quite frequently to be productive), but I’ve been pushing the multitasking breaking point. I really realized it hard this morning when I tried to do my home practice. It’s hard enough for me to practice at 6:15 or so every morning–not that getting up is so hard (a) I’m a morning person; b) I have no choice when faced with two irritatingly persistent cats), but I am not very disciplined then in my practice. Or at least not in doing any real difficult or not-fun poses. And then there are the times where my mind just begins to totally wander, I gaze off at the bookshelf next to my mat, get caught by one of the book titles…you get the point. Anyway, I was laying there this morning on the mat, having done at least a few poses, but so all over the place, wondering how I am ever going to really have a home practice, when I realized that what I needed was to just SIT. So I did. And relaxed. And breathed. And you know what? The whole rest of the morning has been calm and present.
Cool–definitely excited to be blogging on the Boundless site. I’ve long wanted to chat with others about a question that has nagged at me since I began the teacher training program. I was a pretty avid exerciser before I began the program–gym, running, soccer, whatever. Mostly in the name of liking to eat/not wanting to get fat. (Also because of health, but…) Anyhoo, once I started the program, I had much less time to work out. Which leads me back to the liking to eat/worried about the pound-packing…’cause I’m just not as disciplined as Mr. Iyengar says I should be. (in fact, i have to blog at some point about my “anger” at being told what to do/not to do when it comes to eating/lifestyle.) The dilemma goes further, however, because even if I do exercise outside the studio, I often feel guilty about it–that is, I feel like I’m “undoing” all the yoga–making my muscles short and squat, tightening up what I’ve worked so hard to loosen and lengthen. What do others think/do?
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