Category Archives: yoga truth

Hangover

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We’ve all been there at one point in time or another.  Waking up and peeling your eyelids open and wondering at what point during the previous night did you eat a cat.  The light hurts, your stomach spins, and you pray to whatever you believe in that, if you could just hold onto the bed long enough to keep the world from spinning, you’ll never ever have another night like the one before. Until you do.

We often think of hangovers just in terms of alcohol consumption, but the reality is that we more often that not have hangovers that have nothing at all to do with booze.  We have mental hangovers, emotional hangovers, anxiety hangovers, trauma hangovers.  Those hangovers, believe me, are just as much of a bitch as the happy juice kind, maybe even more so because alka seltzer, a nap, and a greasy cheeseburger don’t do a damn thing to help them.

They say “hair of the dog” is what will cure you when you’ve had too much booze.  You know, the whole concept of “what got you in will get you out.”  Not so with the other kinds of hangovers.  While we might do things that feel or sound good or appropriate at the time, eventually the moment of reckoning comes and all we’re left with is doubt, guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, fear, or any combination of those.  In those circumstances, doing what got you there most certainly will NOT get you out, it will only get you in deeper.  It can be a horrible cycle of trying to explain things and that only makes things worse.  Kind of like when someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it does no good to clear up the situation by simply repeating yourself over and over again or, my personal favorite, saying the same things LOUDER.

For years, I have taught “hangover yoga” the day after traditional days of celebration: New Year’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, Homecoming, Halloween, etc.  Those classes were centered around asana that would cleanse the body of toxins, lots of twists, pranayama, forward folds, gentle inversions.  About 6 weeks ago, I realized that we all need to detox from our emotional and mental hangovers as well.  We need to learn to stop beating ourselves up over and over again.  We need to let go of the shame or anger we feel for ourselves or for others.  We need to let go of the poison.  We need, in other words, to get the toxic shit out of us so that we can forgive and move on.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but forgiving myself is the hardest thing in the world to do.  I often do things in the heat of the moment that cause me to feel shame or regret the next day or next week or next whatever.  It sucks.  It REALLY sucks and I have long moments of absolutely hating myself for it, but you know what?  We all do that.  We all do that because we are human.

1378623_10153428801170192_1386442562_nOddly, it’s not the original act that hurts us the most, it’s the squirrel cage circular thinking that does the most damage. There is a basic tenet of yoga called Ahimsa which essential means Do No Harm.  Listen, like I said, we’re human.  We’re going to fuck up.  The sooner we accept that, the better we’ll all be.  BUT here’s the thing, we don’t have to keep harming ourselves over our fuck ups.  We don’t have to make the situation worse on ourselves by reliving our mistakes over and over again.  We don’t need to keep beating ourselves up.  If we keep ourselves filled with shame, there is no room for acceptance.  And if there is no room for acceptance, there is no room for love.  We have to learn to let it go.  We might never ever be able to remedy what we have done.  Somethings just can’t be fixed, sadly, but we can keep the experience from hurting more than it already does.  Sadly, there is no AA for emotional / mental hangovers.  They are going to happen.  We have no choice over that matter.  What we DO have control over, however, is how we deal with them.  Feel the pain.  Feel the shame.  Feel the embarrassment or anger or anxiety or whatever it is, because if you don’t feel it, it will come back to haunt you.  Feel it, and then step away.  Ahimsa – don’t pour salt on the wound. Salt is for margaritas.

Are You Talking to Me? Obviously Not.

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I have debated writing about this for several days.  I have tried to gradually move this blog back into more of a yoga / mindfulness blog and less of a grief processing blog, but as I stated in my first Brian post, I just can’t separate the two.  Ultimately, this is a blog about my life and how I see it and what I learn from it.  Lotta strands in old Duder’s head. – and they are all tangled together.

While I wouldn’t say that this past week has been the hardest of my life (not by a long shot,) I can with certainty say that it was a fucking nightmare created entirely from the twisted minds of other people.  Yes, I know, I should be able to stop this post and my squirrel cage thinking with that sentence.  NOT MY DOING.  The end.  Easier said than done. While I have espoused for years the mantra of “what other people think of me is none of my business,” and I believe it, the fact of the matter is that when people take actions based upon their erroneous beliefs, the results can be devastating.

While my kids and I came out smelling like roses, there were about 36 hours of complete and utter terror in my house last week.  No one needs that in their lives, but it was especially traumatizing to us since we are all still trying to recover from the trauma of Brian’s death.  I won’t get into the specifics about it because to lend power to the events would be to lend  power to the instigators, but the details don’t matter so much to the lesson.  I will say this – one of the most painful parts of the whole thing is knowing that this egregious assault on character and lifestyle came from people who could have and most certainly should have spoken to me first, rather than making asinine, unfounded assumptions and acting out of misconstrued truths.

At any given point, the instigators of this horrible week could have spoken to me about their concerns, asked questions, voiced their opinions (not that their opinion would have swayed me one iota,) and asked for clarity and / or more information.  These people chose not to do that.  They chose instead to gossip amongst each other, gathering hearsay data and mixing it with their own judgements, and jump to ghastly inaccurate conclusions.  The result?  My children and I were hurt and traumatized and have taken the actions necessary to prevent ourselves from further injury.  The result for them?  They don’t get to be a part of our lives.  Honestly, I think we got the better end of the deal.  When someone shows you who they truly are, believe them.

Satya and Ahimsa.  Speak the truth and do no harm.  We need to talk to one another instead of talking about one another.  In this situation, everyone hurts.  Had there been open and honest communication, we could have all been saved some pain.  Sadly, the other parties involved chose to hide behind other people and sneak around like thieves in the night to fulfill their agenda.  I won’t lie – there were days when I wanted to lash out and retaliate against these people for the agony they caused and the fearful distrust they have created in me and my children.  I’m human.  I wanted them to hurt as badly as they hurt me, I wanted them to feel the slap of betrayal as clearly as we have.  I wanted them to suffer, but (gratefully) I have learned to give things time and space so that I can act instead of react.  As I write this, my feelings at this moment are those of pity for them (and, admittedly, righteous indignation,)  but also pride in myself and my children, in our ability to see through the fog, in our ability to stop playing the dreaded “Telephone Game” of our youth and go straight to the source, and in our ability to make the choices that are best for us and the lives we want to lead.

Talk to each other.  Speak the truth.  Do no harm.

It’s really that easy.

The Power of White

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When I was a kid in school, I was in special classes for “gifted” kids.  I always have hated that term.  Aren’t we all gifted?  Anyway, in these courses, I was given the opportunity to do incredible things.  I wrote two “books” before I was in Jr High School, attended court cases, took trips to botanical gardens, got out of regular classes to do hands on learning, and was able to meet some wonderful professionals.  When I was in 7th grade, I had an experienced that changed my life.  At the time, I had no idea how powerful it would be (who knows these things when they are 13?) but I have never forgotten it.  One spring Saturday, my “gifted” group and the similar groups from other schools piled into the auditorium and listened to an author speak about the writing process.  He spoke at length and answered questions and, honestly, I don’t remember very much except the one thing that has guided my life: “You must conquer the power of white.”

Before you go getting all steamed in your bloomers, this has nothing to do with race or color or anything other than writing.  You have to remember, I’m older than dirt.  When this event happened, people didn’t write on computers.  Most folks wrote on a word processor or even, gasp, on paper with a pencil or pen!  What the author was talking about was the terror, the complete and total block that comes when you sit down in front of a white sheet of paper and suddenly cannot think of a single word to write.  The whiteness, the purity, the blank sheet is too overwhelming and everything that you might think about writing starts to seem wildly inane and insignificant, so you sit there drooling on yourself like an idiot and get nothing done.  The white has won.

His suggestion? Get the paper dirty.  Scribble on it.  Spill something on it.  Smudge it.  Do anything – ANYTHING – to destroy the power of white.  When it’s not so blank, things start to happen.  It’s the same as waking up in the morning to a blanket of pure white thick fresh fallen snow.  You want to go out and play in it (okay, I never do, but I hear that most people want to,) and yet you don’t want to ruin the perfectness of it.  A perfectly frosted cake.  A pristinely made bed. A perfectly wonderful life, a perfectly profound grief.  They all can become all you see and the fear of changing it, even a tiny bit, is horrifying.  Adding humanity to it, adding life to it, adding (or subtracting)  ANYTHING to it risks fucking it up irreparably.

It’s been quite awhile since I have written and I couldn’t find out why I was struggling to get words onto the page.  I stated something along those lines on my FB status and got some insightful responses.  The one that struck me most profoundly, however, came in the form of a private message from a friend who suggested that maybe I am not sure what to write about now, how much of my own life to include in the story, is because I have been so very bold and open with my grief and my process and, now that it is taking on a different color, I’m feeling the need to protect it.  My life now has it’s own power of white.

Last time I wrote, I mentioned that I am now in a relationship with a wonderful man.  The feedback from that has been interesting, to say the least.  Most people who say anything at all to me about it are INCREDIBLY supportive and excited.  Many of my friends and family members have met him and it’s clear to them that this is a good thing.  It’s very clear to us that this is a good thing.  That said, there are several people out there (quite likely more than I know,) who are not so thrilled with this turn of events, who feel that it is disrespectful of Brian or of our marriage or whatever.  I realize that, for a long time, I was more terrified of what other people would say or think than how I would feel.  That, my dears, is utter bullshit.   Their feelings are their story.  My feelings are mine.  I’m the one who gets to scribble on my page so I can overcome the fear of writing a new story.  I took a breath, took a chance, and scribbled like mad and, guess what?  My story has a new plot, a wonderful, exciting, sincere, honest, compassionate plot that doesn’t dismiss my story with Brian, but has added onto it.  My story is still being written.  Had I not taken the chance, had I not scribbled, I’d still be dying daily while sitting on my couch.  I did that for months and months and months.  Brian wouldn’t have wanted that.  My kids didn’t want that.  *I* didn’t want that, but it was happening.  I messed up that perfectly blank sheet of grief and somehow, a story of life started to unfold.  I stopped dying on the couch and started, slowly, to live again.

I have been picking up additional yoga classes as the other teachers at Yoga Sol are vacationing.  Getting back into a more active teaching role has helped me scribble on my yoga page as well.  After Brian died, everything I did was colored by my loss.  It is absolutely impossible to avoid that.  Fortunately, it worked well for me and it made my teaching more … profound?  Intense? Real?  I don’t know what to call it, but for a long time it was even more of an extension of me as it has always been.  As I began to heal (and I’ll be healing for the rest of my life,) however, it started to feel like I was stuck.  Again, the power of white was blocking me.  I was too comfortable with the blanket of grief teaching and it became all I could see, even though it didn’t fit anymore.  One day, I did something I hadn’t done since Brian died: I ended the class with the singing bowl and a chant.  I scribbled on my class and, oh how the story started to pour out!  I have been doing yoga for more than half of my life and I have taken just about every kind of class you can imagine, but it was suddenly like I was a beginner again.  Beginner’s mind, yo.  Everything was new and wonderful and exciting and vibrant.  The grief hadn’t gone away, but suddenly there was the opportunity for much more than grief!  I think the same thing applies to all yoga students.  It might not be grief they are experiencing, it might just be complacency, or even incredible bliss, but if nothing ever changes, nothing ever changes.  I have had the pleasure of having new students in my class recently.  Yesterday, a lovely yogini arrived to my Flying Friday class and confessed that she had attempted to come the week prior, but got scared before she walked in and left without taking the class.  White white white white white.  Yesterday, she stayed, she took the class, scribbled al over her mat, and started to bloom into a million colors.

We can get blinded and paralyzed by extreme joy, extreme grief, extreme pain, extreme ambivalence.  It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks – it’s their story they are writing, not yours.  Only you can write your story, but you have to write it.  You have to take a chance, mess up the page, conquer the power of white, and get it out there. You never know how wonderful it will be unless you start letting it pour out onto your own page. Let it have colors.  Let it have adventure.  Let it have flavor and texture. Let it have music (I’m fond of the mandolin.) Let it be bold or timid, but let it be.  Don’t hide behind the power of white, get out there and start scribbling and be amazed at your own brilliance!

Oh Dear Maude, She Cooks!!!

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Alright, children, I know you’re shocked, but it’s true.  I cook.  Not only do I cook, I cook WELL.  Yep.  I know my way around a kitchen and occasionally miracles occur.  Hey, what can I say, even a blind dog can get a bone now and then.

I recently wrote about changing my diet drastically from an all pasta all the time diet to a completely grain free diet.  I have been adhering without fail to being grain free for 5 weeks now.  I feel great!  While I still occasionally have bouts of insomnia, and when they occur they are horrible, I am sleeping about 90% of the time.  That was my main reason for changing the way I eat – I wanted to sleep!  As the days passed, however, I started to notice that it wasn’t just my sleep that was fucked up.  Nope, I suddenly realized that my joints felt different.  I noticed that I could breathe easier.  My skin felt different.  Lots going on, Jack.

To that end, I have spent more time than I expected trying new recipes.  I found books, websites, blogs, talked to friends,  put on my mad scientist hat, and hit the kitchen.  Some things – most things – have been amazing.  Other things … not so much.   Regardless, it’s been fun and I am not hungry.  Win all around.

Due to request, I will be sharing some of the recipes I’m using here.  You will be able to find them under the “Diet” Category if you do a search.  There are a few things I need to say upfront right now:

  1. I am not a food writer.  To that end, I’m also not a food photographer.  You won’t find a bunch of awesome photos to go along with these recipes.  Usually I’m using my camera (iPhone) to blast inappropriate music from my Bose docking station while I cook, so there aren’t pictures.  Occasionally I might get a little snapshot taken before we eat it all up, but don’t count on it.  Consider it the yoga of cooking: it doesn’t matter what it looks like – the only thing that matters is how it feels.
  2. It’s not very often that I have recipes that are 100% my own.  That said, it’s even more rare that I use a recipe exactly as written without making my own modifications.  I take a little from column a, a little from column b, throw it all out in the mud for an Outsiders style rumble, and see what comes out.  Don’t throw me the side eye – I swear everyone on Food Network is exactly the same way.  Here’s my promise: when I can reference a source that has strongly influenced my recipe, I PROMISE I will give credit where credit is due and link to the original.  Elvis knows I have had more than my fair share of folks stealing my words and ideas.
  3. This shouldn’t surprise you, but, um, I’m not a stickler for rules.  Or measurements.  I’m very much an “eyeball it” kind of cook.  Of course, there are some recipes that require exacts, but others are totally a matter of taste.  If recipes require exacts, I’ll do my best to make that known.  They will mostly be baking recipes.  Be aware, however, that for most everything else, you’ll get “a little this, some of that, a handful or so of this, however much you have left in the jar of that.”  Look, I don’t have your taste buds.  I don’t know what you like!  Do what makes you happy, okay?
  4. I am NOT vegan or vegetarian.  I’m sure that there are ways to make all of these recipes vegetarian or vegan (if they aren’t already,) but I don’t know how to make the conversion with 100% success.

Soooo…. here we go!  Belly up, grab a fork, and dig in!

 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, chef, nor a dietician.  I don’t know if grain free is the right thing for you or not.  I also don’t claim to say what I cook is necessarily healthy – Mama does like her cheese.  Nothing I write about food nor recipes I post have any claim to any health benefits nor are endorsed by any specific diet.  It’s food, y’all.  Cook it, eat it, be happy. 

The Yoga of Living and Dying: When Goodbye Really Means Hello

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I’m in kind of a strange place.  I’m feeling extremely sad and scared, but at the same time I’m feeling delighted, excited, and alive. It’s difficult to feel so many contradictory feelings at once.  This damn yoga – it makes me actually feel my feelings and that’s not alway easy.  In fact, some days it’s really fucking hard.

Someone I love is very sick.  She has been sick for a long time.  For years, she wasn’t exactly sure what was going on and life was a strung out lesson in the agony of the unknown.  Now she has a diagnosis and a treatment plan, but no cure.  Certain aspects are improving, others aren’t changing, and some, sadly, are worsening.  It doesn’t look good… to my eyes.  If you ask her, though, she’ll tell you that things look amazing! She’ll tell you that she was so much sicker a year ago than she is now. She’ll tell you that she’s going to be just fine.  She’ll tell you that she’s happy.  She’ll tell you not to worry.  She’ll tell you it’s okay. She’ll tell you that she knows things now and that knowledge is everything!  She’s not delusional.  She’s not in denial.  She’s not lying.  She’s slowly dying.  “And so are you,” she will say.

Touche.

We are all dying. We start dying the minute we are born. Every day we reduce the number of breaths we will take in our entire lifetime.  Each day the number of cells we will regenerate in our lives is cut.  Each day our hearts grow a little older, our skin gets a little thinner, our bodies and our lives a little … a little … a little more precious. Yes.  More precious. At least it seems that way.  The fact of the matter is that we just never know when we will take our last breath.  We could be happy and healthy and safe and something – anything – could come and take that away.  It could be something as simple as an allergic reaction or something as horrible as a chronic disease or as random as a car accident.  There are no guarantees.  This life comes with no warranty.

My friend gets really excited about little tiny things these days: laundry, salt, kid noise, rice, wool, snails. It’s kind of infectious!  After a talk with her the other day, I had a very difficult time sleeping.  My mind kept wanting to take me to the gloom and doom and grief associated with illness, but somewhere along the lines, my mind jumped tracks and I started thinking about – get this – scrambled eggs.  You should know that I make the best scrambled eggs in the world when I make them the way I like them (with kale and cheese and chili peppers and hot sauce.)  They are amazing and someday I will win an award for them, I am sure.  I eat them a couple of times a week, but my conversation with my friend made me realize that I eat them, I love them, but I don’t often take the time to appreciate  them.  Each tiny bite has not only flavor, but color, texture, temperature, and aroma.  Quite a lot for breakfast, eh?

I woke up the next morning and made the eggs.  I took the time to appreciate all the fine details about those eggs the same way those hideously pretentious wine people appreciate fermented grapes.  I noticed that, if I looked really closely, my coffee had a very groovy looking oil slick like pattern on the top.  I saw that my dog Audrey has a little blueish dot in each of her brown eyes.  I found a new freckle on my arm.  Under the smell of dogs and boys and yoga mats, my van has a faint vanilla smell.  I counted the funny white hairs that are randomly growing on the left side of my husband’s beard.  I woke up. I opened my eyes. I decided that even though I am dying (as we all are,) I am going to live!  I’m going to notice things.  I’m going to be aware and appreciative.  I’m going to Love This Life  (click that or the picture below to read the Manifesto I recite in class often.  My friend is the one who introduced me to it, by the way.)

Someday we are going to have to say, “goodbye.”  I think it would be a damn shame if we did it without saying, “hello” first.

We don’t have to wait for “the big one” to have our wake up call.  It’s a decision we can make to open our eyes and start living.  We get the chance a thousand times a day, each time we take a breath.  We end our yoga practice with Savasana – Corpse Pose – a symbolic death.  We die so that we can leave the mat a new, reborn person.  That, friends, is the yoga of living.  And the yoga of dying.  Let us start now.

Namaste

Then Almitra spoke, saying, “We would ask now of Death.”

And he said:

You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.

Is the sheered not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

~Kahlil Gibran

 

Every Teacher is a Student, Every Student is a Teacher – Except When They Aren’t.

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Yeah. Not a teacher.

It happened again this morning.  I was drinking my coffee and browsing my Facebook and Twitter feeds and the news and blogs and all kinds of stuff and generally checking in with the online world and I came across someone saying that they are a “Yoga Teacher” now.

Of course they are.

A few minutes later, I was talking to a good friend of mine.  She mentioned that she had been invited to go to a yoga class in a nearby town.  When I asked if I knew the teacher, she said that nope, I didn’t and no one else did, either, because this person had had absolutely zero training.

Of course they didn’t.

I saw the newest lineup of “yoga” classes at a local gym.  I also looked at the lineup of “yoga teachers.”  Zero real yoga, zero real yoga teachers, and tons of blind yoga students being led by untrained teachers.

Of course.

Hear that? That is the sound of shoulders and knees going out, of hamstrings tearing, and of Ahimsa being ripped to shreds.

Now, look, I never once claimed that everything I write will be kind.  I also never claimed that I gave a hoot or a holler if anyone agrees with me.  What I have claimed is that I will write the truth as I see it, so put on your big girl yoga panties and get ready for a hearty slice of Satya.

Not every person claiming to be a “Yoga Teacher” is a Yoga Teacher.  I’m astounded and shocked at what people are accepting as adequate training before being allowed to teach yoga.  A weekend training does not a yoga teacher make.  A memorized DVD does not a yoga teacher make.  Not even years of practice does not a teacher make. And, if I’m going to be completely honest (why shouldn’t I?) not even all 200hr Yoga Teachers are Yoga Teachers.  I’ll wait here as you get on your soapbox and get defensive and start huffing and puffing.  Breathe, folks.  Hear me out.

Most of the gyms around here and even (mindbogglingly) a studio or two in this area require absurdly small amounts of training before “yoga teachers” are allowed to teach.  We’re talking maybe MAYBE 20 hours.  In these trainings, these students are told NOT TO TOUCH anyone.  They are told nothing about alignment, nothing about modifications, nothing about anything, really.  It’s insane.  It’s harmful.  It’s like sending your newborn to some dude in a garage for pediatric services because that dude once took a mandatory health class in Junior High School.  Know how I know this?  Because I did it.  I took that training.  I started teaching with that little amount of training and even then, even before I knew that I wanted this to be my life path, I knew it was a total joke.  Still, I taught with that small training and I nearly lost my job because I knew due to my own personal research and study that folks were busting their knees and shoulders and necks and so, in order to prevent injury, I touched them.  You BET I touched them.  I moved knees and heads and arms and feet.  I was willing to lose my job in order to keep others from losing their safety.  I regret nothing.  Clearly, I eventually left that location and into a real yoga studio and took the leap and got my 200hr certification and training.

Guess what I learned after 200 hours of training, 200 hours of teaching, over 30 books read, and more than 16 years of practice?  I learned that I barely know anything.  Far cry from those folks who have 20 or 30 hours of training, one book read, 3 dvds watched, and a spotless yoga mat and think they know it all!

Let me stop right here and say this: EVERYONE HAS TO START SOMEWHERE.  I know this.  I started there, too, remember? But it’s a starting place.  Just a starting place.  If you think you’re going to get a decent yoga teacher training studying a program that is designed to be taught in a gym, well, please stay in the gym and think really hard about what you’re doing.  You’re teaching Asana.  Asana is the smallest part of yoga.  It’s actually the least significant part of yoga.  If you want to stay with that, fine.  But don’t tell me or anyone else you’re teaching yoga because you are not. If you want to teach yoga, use that training as a springboard to get you into classes with a highly trained and certified YOGA teacher.  Be an apprentice.  Shadow.  Learn.  Take notes.  And then, for goodness sake, get some real training at a highly qualified yoga school.

Even that can be tricky, though.  What is a good school?  Folks will point to Yoga Alliance and, while it’s something, it’s not foolproof.  YA is not certification.  It’s registration.  There’s a difference.  I am certified through White Lotus Foundation, but I didn’t pay the fee to register with Yoga Alliance because it really means next to nothing.  Yes, you have to be certified by a Yoga Alliance accredited Yoga Teacher Training school, but dear lord, look at who they accredit!  They accredit folks who really really don’t have much training in areas that matter themselves, much less have any business training other people to be teachers.  Perfect example: one of my dear friends and former / sometimes current students recently completed her 200hr YTT at a yoga school that I thought would be perfect.  It’s not too far from here, I have (limited) experience with the yoga teacher trainer, I thought it would be perfect for her.  Yes, it’s true she learned more than most do about the Yamas and Niyamas and the other limbs of yoga Patanjali mentioned, she learned next to nothing at all about:

  • Modifications
  • Adjustments
  • Alignment
  • Contraindications

She kind of left wondering what the hell she spent all that time and money on.  I wondered the same thing myself.  I mean, if you aren’t taught how to modify, how to adjust, even the very basics of alignment, you haven’t been taught to teach.  My friend is a very studious person, however, and she’s taken notes on every class she has taken, has read way more than what was required of her, and knows that she still has much to learn, so her training has served her well in that it taught her that there is so much more to learn! Reminds me a bit of me (and everyone else who truly wants to learn the path of yoga), that girl.

So what do you do?  Start with Yoga Alliance.  It’s a good place to start and will at least weed out schools you really don’t even

Vitarka Mudra: the mudra of the teacher. Every teacher is a student, every student is a teacher. Sort of.

want to look at.  You ask around.  You ask for references.  You check and double check credentials.  You look at syllabi.  You research.  If you want to be a teacher, get fully trained.  Do not settle for a place that doesn’t require 200hours before unleashing you to teach.  Do not settle for a place that doesn’t teach alignment, adjustments, assists, modifications, contraindications, anatomy, history, philosophy.  Look, I know that there are some excellent teachers out there who have been teaching long before Yoga Alliance and there are loads of folks out there who are excellent teachers out there who are not accredited.  I’m not here to say that you have to have all of that to be a good teacher, but those people have been teaching AND studying forever.  They know that you don’t stop learning. They know that you have to keep learning.  And I’ll tell you this – they know that the more they know the more they have to learn. I also know that, if you ask them, they’ll tell you to get a high quality education, that there are no shortcuts, that a mat in the front of the room doesn’t make you a teacher.

They’ll also tell you that if this is what you believe in, if this is what you love, if this is the path you feel has been chosen for you, then do not let anything stand in your way.  If you feel drawn to this, as though you were born for it, follow it.  Go after it.  Do what you need to do to be the very best at it you can be.  Do not stop.  Do not give up.  Do not see obstacles.  Dive in, swim deep, and be.  They will tell you that the world needs you.  They will tell you all of these things — and I couldn’t agree with them more.

Yoga is a sacred journey.  It is a path, a lifestyle, a way of being.  It is not something you do, it is someone you are.  Don’t cheat your students or yourself out of all the incredible gifts that a thorough, consistent, dedicated, all encompassing education can bring.  Don’t be in such a rush to call yourself a yoga teacher that you forget that you must first – and always – be a yoga student and all that entails.

Love and light from your ever-opinionated, constantly learning, 200hrCYT, highly flawed, rebel yogini.

Namaste

Satya, Scumbags, and Chef Boyardee: To Thine Own Self Be True

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Besties back when we were younger and cuter. Sort of.

I was talking with on of my oldest dearest friends today. He and I have been closer than close for nearly 18 years now, having met over a cloud of cigarette smoke and cheap beer in our college dorm in January 1995. In close to two decades of friendship, we have talked about just about everything you can imagine.  We have shared nearly every experience people can share.  We talk in code that I’m sure drives everyone around us insane.  We have yet to find a single life experience that cannot be explained by quoting Steel Magnolias, he gives me shit for being older than him, I give him shit because I’m aging better, and I am responsible for introducing him to the Beergarita and thus the subsequent demise of his liver (sorry.)  We shared an apartment together for a while and we made 3am calls to our mothers to tell them that we loved them and tequila, we once shared custody of a psychotic cat, and we have enough dirt on each other to bury several generations of shame, but there is one thing on which we will never ever ever see eye to eye.  Each and every day we have nearly come to blows over this very important topic and, frankly, it doesn’t seem like either of us will ever budge. It’s vicious and vile, petitions have written, flow charts created, and campaigns waged on both sides to prove definitively who is in the right (duh, ME!,) but still, the war wages on.  Today, that old tired battlefield saw action yet again and I am going to state my position right here and right now for the entire world to see:

Chef Boyardee is disgusting.

There.  It’s out there and I’m pretty sure, since my readers are brilliant beautiful people, that you’ll agree with me.  After all, it is the only way to see things.  It is the only truth there is.

Or is it?

The older I get, the more I’m becoming aware that there is more than one way to skin a cat.  (Side note: who the hell thought of that disturbing idiom?  I mean … wow. Okay, moving on… )  There are multiple ways of seeing things and they can all be right (except that biohazard in a can.) The thing that matters is if it’s right and true to you!  (except for Jason and his beyond unforgivable food choices.)   It doesn’t so much matter what you believe as long as you truly believe it.  It doesn’t so much matter if someone judges what you like as long as you are okay with what you like.  It doesn’t so much matter who you are as long as you are truly who you are.

I grew up calling the lowest of the low “Scumbags.”  If they were disgusting and undesirable and causing trouble, they were Scumbags and I would avoid the holy hell out of them (until I was in my late teens and early 20s and then I’d date them. Oh hell, who am I kidding?  If I was single, I’d still be dating them.)  Anyway, Scumbag was always icky. You didn’t want to be called a scumbag.  However, just like a fungus, certain truths start to grow on you.  Suddenly, the term “Scumbag” doesn’t seem so bad to me at all.  I might even call myself one – but it’s like that whole deal with mama.  I can talk about my mama, but don’t you dare talk about my mama.Don’t you dare call me a Scumbag or I’ll make you eat a can of Chef Boyardee (a fate worse that standing in hellfire.)   There’s even a song that espouses the glories of being a scumbag! The thing is this: if it’s your truth and you’re okay with it, it’s not so bad!

One of the 8 limbs of yoga is Satya: being truthful.  Being truthful doesn’t just mean not lying.  It means being exactly who you are, not hiding your true self from anyone, most especially not yourself.  We MUST be honest about who we are. Lying about who we are, hiding who we are, portraying ourselves as anything other than what we are is not only dishonest, it’s un-yogic and it’s wildly unfair to yourself and to those around you.  First of all, no one is that good of a liar.  People will know you’re not being true.  It’s in the way you carry yourself, the way you defend yourself when no one is attacking you, it’s in your eyes.  And while folks hate being lied to, the biggest truth is that no one will respect someone who lies to herself. Just be who you are.  Just be who you are.  Just be who you are.  Be a queen, a king, a sad sack, a sick soul, a scumbag, a sentient being, a lover, a healer, a hell-bound whiskey drinker, but be it honestly.  TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE!  I’ve tried with all my might to make this blog about my truth, my scroll of Satya, if you will.  I have laid it all out here honestly and, while it hasn’t always been easy nor been openly accepted, I am better off for having done it and continuing to do it.  I spent years hiding who I was.  As a child, I hid my opinions.  As a youth, I hid my disbelief in my family’s teachings. As a young adult, I hid my own self worth.  As an adult, I started to hide the fact that I am not either a  “Scumbag”  OR a “Sadhana Mama,” I am BOTH / AND. It is my Satya and I am so much better for living it openly.  It is my truth.  It is who I am and I am more than okay with that.

Jason will continue to eat that swill in a can and I will continue to see it as dog food in a dish, but that’s okay because we’re both speaking our truth.  The fact that my truth is the correct truth is of little consequence.  What matters is that we have our truths, we believe them, and we’re living them.  That’s what is important.  That’s the Satya.  That’s the yoga of it all.

Whatever your truth is, STAND IN THE LIGHT OF YOUR TRUTH.  Don’t hide.  Don’t cheat yourself or the world of who and what you are.  So Hum.  I am That.  I am That.  I am That.  I am That I am That I am That I am That I am.

Namaste