June 2007

I’ve had challenges teaching Nadi Shodona in the past.  Maybe it’s just me but I need to get it straight in my own head which nostril starts and which finishes and by the time I’ve explained where fingers go I feel like the class *needs* some breathing to relax from all the thinking.  So I don’t teach it regularly.  But I love to do breathing techniques to start a class because they can be such simple powerful ways to get centered and grounded.  Ones that I hope people will use in their day-to-day life.

Then I found an alternative breath technique here that is a little more simple. 

Using your right hand, bring ring finger over left nostril and thumb over right.  Inhale through the left nostril (with right closed) and exhale through the right (with left closed).  Repeat.  Simple right?

I found it gives me the same feeling as Nadi Shodona and it was ideal for class because it allowed me to get everyone into breathing quicker without alot of yacking and getting lost in technique.  If you try it, let me know what you think.

I have an intimate and regular relationship with the “shoulds”.  It seems to come naturally to me.  I’m always pushing myself to do some thing or another.  But I’d prefer not to work that way.  I know that I’d like to be driven by what I *want* to do.  Either be clear that I want to do it or stop doing it.  I’d be a happier person.

I read a couple interesting things about this recently.  In The Sedona Method they suggest that to let go of ’shoulds’ you ask yourself “Could I be ok with doing this?”and “Could I be ok with not doing this?”.  They suggest that even if the answer is “no”, just asking the question can help take some of the tension from it.  And I think it’s true.  It seems that even allowing the possibility it could go either way gets me off-track from mindlessly driving myself.  I need to try that one more often.

And then I read a thing about Non-Violent Communication in The Wisdom of Listening.  It talked about how when we do something we hate and feel like we have to do it, we’re in victim mode.  We feel powerless.  But the fact is it’s still a choice, we’ve just made it a “should”.  So when we see it for what it is – 1) something we choose to do (even if we hate it to death) or 2) something we really can ditch – it’s a decision we can work with.  Then we’re out of victim mode and back in control. 

I think I’ll ditch the shoulds and look at what other clutter I can ditch from my life while I’m at it.

I taught my last class at my home studio for the summer, whew.  I’m looking forward to the break.  And I know i’m ready for one when I think about teaching and think, yup I’ve got nothing left to offer, nothing new, nothing interesting, just the same ol’ stuff.  And then my next thought is often – why do people even go to yoga class? 

That’s when I know it’s break time.  Time for me to get my butt out to some classes and remind myself why I do this.  

We renovated our house 3 years ago and the yard was completely dug up.  So we spent the bank’s money on landscaping.  I also had a baby that year so in the summers since have done only the minimal gardening I could get away with. 

This is the first summer that I’ve been really energized about it and Angus is old enough to hang out with me in the yard.  Sure that means trampling the plants and rolling around in the dirt, but at least he’s not running out into traffic.  I was teaching him to weed yesterday and thought about all the useful life skills I’ve learned from gardening.

Go with the flow – my Mom had gorgeous huge fragrant peony bushes when I grew up and I always wanted at least one in my own yard.  I got a little one years ago.  I fertilized it, watered it, even dug it up and replanted to make sure it wasn’t in too deep.  Nothing.   It got mowed under when we renovated and I thought “good riddance”.  Two summers ago a renegade peony appeared in one of my garden beds.  It’s probably the original one that was mowed under.  So I left it to see what was going to happen.  It’s under a tree not getting enough light, I haven’t fed or watered it –  but wouldn’t you know, it’s got 5 buds on it.  I finally broke down and put a tomato ring around it in case I actually get flowers.  All my obsessing in the past achieved nothing.  Sometimes you just have to let things take their course. 

Be Fierce Or Not – My mother-in-law is a serious gardener.  And her garden is gorgeous.  But I learned from her how to be fierce.  She’ll put in a plant, take care of it, and if she’s not crazy about it, out it comes.  Even if she’s got miles of it – out it comes.  I’ve been guilty of doing the hang-wringing and being unhappy and undecided when something doesn’t turn out the way I planned.  I’m trying to get better at being fierce, or not. Let ‘er grow, or rip it the heck out.

A better idea of control – I have satan weed in my yard.  It’s officially called “bishops weed” but my name fits better.  It is *evil*.  It spreads underground, it’s the first to start in the spring and you can’t kill it even with the most evil poisons that I would never admit to using.  Let’s just say if I had a dollar for every hour I’ve spent pulling it up……  But I have discovered that if I go out after it’s rained, dig down and go after the roots, I can control it.  But only control it.  Not get rid of it.  Trust me that’s never going to happen.  But for me, right now, that’s enough.

Have Patience – I picked up a gardening magazine once and there was an amazing rose and clematis with huge blooms mounding over an arbour thingy.  The article mentioned that they’d been growing there for 10 years.  I appreciated the honesty.  These things take time.  In a good location, a clematis takes 3 years to dig in and start growing like a weed.  So you need to find a good spot, plant it, feed it and let ‘er grow.  You can’t force it, you can’t will it to happen.  Just get on with life.  And other parts of the garden.

Improvement not perfection – I’ve gotten better at understanding that my garden will probably never be perfect.  In fact, it’s a gardener’s downfall to always see the weeds when others see the great plants.  But I’m finally understanding –  i’m only improving, not perfecting. 

So I spent some time on the weekend feeling like a total loser.  Don’t even ask how my kid’s haircut went.  Let’s just say that add some leather and throw him on a chopper and my three year old would look like one of the scarier characters from Mad Max.  Hmmm, maybe there’s cheap gas in this bad haircut for us.

Anyways today all I wanted to do was eat.  I schlep to work in the rain and my breakfast is a pious little bowl of oatmeal.  I put it in the microwave and doesn’t it explode.  By the time I clean up the puddles of warm oatmeal-goo there’s barely anything left to eat. 

And that’s when I notice a chocolate cupcake covered in billows of white icing and colorful sprinkles.  It’s leftover from Friday.  So I bargain with myself.  Let’s see, the icing would protect the cake from getting too stale right?  And does the icing ever go bad? It’s just sugar right?  And wouldn’t a less- than-fresh cupcake be a far sight better than what’s left of my oatmeal breakfast?

And then I heard them, voices in my head.  They sounded just like Lori and Betty from Bronx Beat on Saturday Night Live.  Check the clip where they say, “Don’t ever eat meatballs in a restaurant…. Just gahbage.  Balls of gahbage”.   I love those gals.

Except they were talking to me.  They said, “what are we eatin’ gahbage now?  Gahbage Cupcakes?  Why doncha just reach in the gahbage can for breakfast??”  I sneered at the cupcake.  I took my two bites of oatmeal back to my desk chuckling.

So yes, it’s true. I hear voices in my head.  But hey, as long as they do their job and save me from eating stale cupcakes for breakfast, they’re welcome to stay.

I went crazy this week with the workouts.  Tuesday I did some challenging stuff at the gym preparing to teach Power Yoga and then did it again that evening with the class.  And if that wasn’t enough I ran hills yesterday.  So this a.m. I got up feeling *so* stiff.  I poured a hot bath with Epson salts and did some bathtub yoga.  I’ll tell you about my routine.

Everyone’s bathtub is a different size, so these are just guidelines intended for the yogi with some experience.  The point isn’t to go for the gusto with the poses, keep it easy and enjoy the watery element that the bathtub environment adds to your practice, it’s very calming.  Here’s Cor’s Bathtub Yoga routine:

Fish in the Water – interlace your fingers behind your head with your elbows out the side.  Feet are in the lower corners of your tub and knees are bent.  Arch your back lifting your belly and chest toward the ceiling.  Press into your elbows, squeezing your shoulder blades together.  Hold for a couple breaths or come in and out of the pose with your breath.

Bridge over Bubbles – with your feet in the corners of your tub and arms by your side slowly lift your hips one vertibrae at a time until you come into an easy bridge.  Lower again the same way.  Come in and out with long breaths, close your eyes and try to feel each bone moving individually.

Knees to Chest – squeeze and hold for two breaths.  Then cross one knee over the other and press them into your chest.  Change sides. 

Bath Twist – Depending on the size of your tub it may be tricky to get a good twist in the water, but try this.  Scoot over to the right side of your tub, knees bent.  Then drop both knees to the left, let them rest on the side of the tub or in the water.  Press your right shoulder toward the right side of the tub to deepen the stretch.  Hold and enjoy.  Change sides.

Hara H2O – if it’s morning and you need help waking up, add some Hara-action.  Bend knees and keep feet on the floor of the tub.  Interlace fingers behind your head again.  Take a deep inhale as you exhale squeeze your core muscles and lift your shoulders up.  Exhale as you release down and repeat.  The key is to not go all the way back down or you’ll drown in a Tsunami, just lower back to water level and repeat.  Relax and rest for a couple breaths and then do a few more.

Hamstrings 2 Ways – On your back, lift one leg and find a hamstring stretch.  Drop your toes toward your face.  Change sides.  Alternatively, come to sitting and stretch your hamstrings with your legs in the water.

Hot Water Cobra – roll over to your front.  Bend your knees, plant your hands ahead of you for support and come into an easy Cobra pose.  Hold for 2-3 breaths and then come down and rest your chin on your arms while you relax.  Repeat again if you like.  

Half Child in the City - slide your hips back onto your ankles but keep your hands or lower arms on the floor to support your upper body.  Your chest is not resting on your thighs unless your water level is low enough.  Rock your hips slowly side to side.  

Soaking Savasana – Sink into the water on your back.  Let your head sink into the water so that your ears are under and take a few long Ujayai breaths.  Relax as many muscles as you possibly can and just allow yourself to float.  Set a “for your highest good” intention before coming back to terra firma.

Yoga baths are great because you’ve gotten clean, gotten a good soak and stretched out a bit too.  Although it’s not a major yoga session I find the warm water really helps me get more out of it both mentally and physically.  So grab your rubber ducky – we’ll see you in the bath!