Is gecko yoga a thing yet?

Last Sunday I had just returned home from my annual winter Restorative Yoga retreat and I was dragging my feet about unloading all of the things from the car. I happened upon a book about geckos that my kids had left out. 

Just to be clear, I don’t care at all about geckos but some times procrastination will lead you to the most interesting things. Sure enough, I found myself down the proverbial gecko hole. (See what I did just there? gecko hole = rabbit hole. Tee hee.) 

It turns out that geckos have an incredibly high amount of adhesive power in their feet. When they decide to stop, they will stick. It takes a crazy amount of force to loosen them.

However, when the gecko decides it’s time, just one small movement in the new direction, and the gecko is immediately detached.

Does that sound like yoga to you, too?

One of the most fundamental calls in yoga practice is for to use focus and determination to make connections in authentic ways.

And then when that thing you’ve connected with is no longer serving you, it’s time move in a new direction.

Simple. If only it were that easy. 

Now that January is over, our new year’s resolutions and intentions might be feeling a bit stale, maybe even discarded altogether. Old habits and patterns, the way we have adhered ourselves, are hard things to release. This shows up in all kinds of ways – physically, mentally, emotionally.

It’s easy to get down when you realize you slipped back into some old way of being that isn’t really that helpful.  But here’s where the practice of yoga in all of it’s forms comes to our aid. 

Continue to adhere quickly and strongly to the things that are useful. Hold fast to the things the support and uplift you. Be immovable. And when those things have run their course, let go and move in a new direction.

There are a lot of sayings attributed to the Buddha that may or may not be accurately quoted. Whether or not the Buddha actually said this almost doesn’t matter to me because the sentiment is exactly right.

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you love, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of the things not meant for you.”

If you need some help letting go and moving in a new direction, meet me on the mat this month.

Some Reflections on Rest

Today, I Rest

I don’t need fancy moves today.
I don’t want handstands or crow poses,
hollow body holds or revolved triangles.
I don’t want breath of fire,
or skull shining breath,
or breath retentions.

I don’t begrudge the repetitions.
I don’t hate on the powering through.
I don’t look down on the empowered muscled demonstrations of capacity.
I’m dutifully and honestly impressed by the drive.

But today
I don’t want to impress with how long I can carry the weight.

Today I ask
How skillfully I can set it down?
How lovingly and I can move away without wistfulness?

I’m here to celebrate the consistent,
the quiet,
the do it when no one is watching,
almost unnoticed increments of progress.

I’m cultivating slow.
I require the introspection of moving in steady a rhythm.
I want breath to merge with body,
the metronome of a beating heart to be the guide.
And above all,
I herald the boring
and yet the most revolutionary
Act of Rest.

Not because I can’t take one more step
or push anymore.
But because I can.
I can do more.
But because I choose to stop.
To lie down.
To withdraw.
To be still.
To be exactly as I am in the moment.
With nowhere to go,
but here.
With nothing to do.
But this.

Today, I rest.

 

The So-Called “Yoga Challenge”

my yoga challenge is not
requiring
more work
efforting
alone

my yoga challenge is not
discomforting
endeavors
hard working
dramas

my yoga challenge is not
pushing
body
expanding
capacity

is yours?

my yoga challenge is
honoring
kindness
being
present

my yoga challenge is
managing
sorrows
knowing
love

my yoga challenge is
arriving
abiding
serving
breathing
reflecting
learning
understanding
stopping
resting

is yours?

Who Has Time and Energy for This?

A few years ago I thought I wanted to go back to school to be an Occupational Therapist. I knew I was going to have to take a bunch of prerequisite courses (a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion doesn’t really cut it) so I went to Montgomery College to talk to an admissions counselor.

The counselor was great; he helped me figure out what I would need to take to be able to apply for the OT program and then he had me take a math placement test.

I tested into Remedial Algebra. That’s a nice way of saying I needed to go back to 4th grade. Seriously. Suddenly my two years of prerequisite courses became four years of just math. Eek! Could I have studied up a bit and taken the placement test again and probably done better? Sure! Could I have powered through those additional courses? Sure! Did I want to? Absolutely resoundingly: no.

Here saying no was actually a yes.

I’m telling this story as a contrast to all of those other stories you hear about incredible and far-reaching goals achieved with hard work and serious acts of willpower. We regularly hear those stories. Things like the story of Alex Honnold, my 10-year climber’s idol, who just happened to do the most dangerous free solo climb of El Capitan. No biggie. Ha!

But we don’t often hear the more common stories like mine. Those ones about regular folks who have an idea, realize how much work it will be to bring that idea to fruition, and then decide not to pursue the goal because it isn’t really worth it.

There’s absolutely something inspiring about seeing someone achieve their goals after lots of sacrifices and hard work. But I think it might be equally inspiring and perhaps more empowering to hear stories like mine.

We all have millions of goals, desires, interests, and behind every one of those is a certain amount of willpower to accomplish it.

If we acknowledge this and the choose with confidence to let go of certain goals, would it be possible to reclaim the willpower and energy that belongs to each of those goals?

There seems to be a kind of unspoken (sometimes very much spoken!) narrative that if you don’t go after your goals you are a slacker or a failure. But sometimes not going after your goal is about optimizing resources.

What could be possible if we could stop directing attention and effort at the things that aren’t really worth it?

In asana this can looks like making the appropriate amount of effort in each pose. This is not about working more or working harder but working differently. Perhaps it comes as a shift to some part of our skeleton, such as unlocking our knees and untucking our pelvis. Or sometimes it just means doing a pose in a different way so that there is a different load on a different part of the body.

Still other times it means doing something different with your yoga that might not even be asana at all. Maybe it’s time to revisit pranayama or to reconnect with your meditation practice. It is an 8-fold path and asana is just one piece of the puzzle.

As you move through the month of July, vacationing, working, summering how you do, consider what kinds of goals you have – the in-process ones, the yet to be started ones, the abandoned ones. How much willpower is there behind each of those? Could you be content with the ways that you have let go of goals that were too much work to achieve? I think you just might be able to redirect the latent willpower in those not-so-worth-it goals in order to move closer to what you really want.

Procrastination be gone!

In general, in most parts of my life and work, I’m a get-it-done kind of lady. But when it comes to this one particular item – writing a monthly blog post – I’m the biggest procrastinator ever.

I always have really good excuses…

“I just got back from a really busy (and totally amazing!) weekend retreat.”

“I’ve been juggling some childcare challenges.”

“I’ve been working on lots of new class plans.”

“I’ve spent time cooking for some friends and neighbors who needed a little help.”

And none of that would be a lie. But the real truth (get ready for the yogi confessional) is, quite simply…

I’m procrastinating.

In my procrastinating this month, I think I might have come to recognize why I put this off and always seem to find other “more important” things to do when it’s newsletter writing time.

I care a lot what you think. It’s been going on for awhile, like, ever since I can remember.

And my drive for you to think highly of me rears its ugly head when it comes time to write something. I get worried that you might think what I’m writing about is lame. Or that I’m bothering you by sending this newsletter.

Now in most things, I’ve mostly gotten over myself. I don’t care so much about what you think of my clothes or my hair or my post-baby belly (okay, maybe I’m still working on that one!) I don’t really care if you like my classes because I’m really confident in the value of what I’m offering. And I acknowledge that I am way more judgmental about myself than any of you are likely to be of me.

But when it comes to things that will be photographed, or in print, or on the interwebs for(ever?) a long time to come, I’m almost paralyzed by my need to be perfect because of what you might think and so I would totally prefer to avoid than to actually do.

So instead, I do the things I love like cooking, practicing yoga, planning classes, doing laundry, going to the car wash, watering the garden, playing with the kids…

And while all of those things are helpful and good in their own way, I totally know that there are just those things you have to make yourself do because they move you forward toward your goals, even if they make you uncomfortable. For me, it’s writing a newsletter. Putting myself and my offerings out there whether you like it or not so that hopefully you will all come to class and I can make a living as a yoga teacher.

Here’s the real point of all of this: are you reading this because you are avoiding something you should or have to do? If so, own it. Call yourself on it and then go! Get on with it, friend! Stop procrastinating. Get on your yoga mat. Finish your work. Clean your house. Call your mother. Go to the dentist. Go to bed. Whatever it is for you, go and do it.

Love,
Tara