More “Awkward” Moments

Alignment. I love working on alignment. I really do. My journey isn’t just about losing weight; it’s about becoming healthier in every way. How I walk, how I move has always been important to me. I’m not sure I can really explain this without offending someone, but when I was heavier I didn’t really walk. Waddle would be a better description. I hesitate to state that for fear of offending people, but it’s true. My body didn’t know how to balance the excess weight.

That’s why yoga serves as a central segment of my overall health program. It helps me to move more easily. I walk with more confidence than I used to because I have a better sense of inner and outer alignment.

I’ve been having trouble lately aligning my knees, so I’ve been more cautious while doing the second part of awkward. In the almost year and a half I’ve been doing Bikram it NEVER occurred to me that I had been doing the second part of awkward incorrectly. Bikram says “lock your knees by squeezing the thigh muscles” and I’m equally sure the same thing has been said in class many many times. I just didn’t hear it until NOW.

You see, prior to a couple of weeks ago, when I’d do the second part of awkward I’d squeeze my knees together as if the goal was to have the kneecaps meet. I didn’t concentrate on squeezing the thighs together.

Now that I know the correct way to do the posture, I can feel the difference in my alignment. My knees and thighs feel stronger when I do it correctly. I don’t beat myself up for not having heard this sooner. I’m grateful I hear it now, and it makes me more determined to get out of my own head and pay better attention to the moments when I’m in class. That’s why I didn’t hear this before—my head was too busy getting muddled in its own gunky thoughts!

So now I go forward again, with a new determination to be in the moment whether I’m in the hot room, my own classroom, or just taking a stroll in the middle of the day. Being in the moment—well, life feels happier that way!

Here’s a video showing how I used to do awkward and how I’m working at doing it now. The distinction might be hard to see, but I’ve tried! The goal is to squeeze the knees together using the thigh muscles, not the knees!

http://youtu.be/j8Lz7cS_e40

Awkward!

Awkward!

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What IF……..

Here’s a different kind of blog entry: a video blog. My ramblings on what if….what if when I woke up everything was perfect and I felt happy……….Oh and the video isn’t taken in the most flattering of ways and I’m not wearing make-up, but I’m sharing it with you anyways!

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I Have a Dream

I have a dream. About backbends. Someday I want to touch my heels doing a backbend. Others can do it. I’ve seen them so I know it can be done. I’m not in any rush to get there, but someday I do want to get there. Maybe in ten years. Maybe fifteen years. I don’t know how long, but I know I’ll get there.

It won’t happen by magic though. It will take hard work and effort—both of which I’m willing to devote to myself. To my health.

I always used to think that the key to awesome backbend involved going as deep as I possibly could, but I’ve learned recently that’s not the case. Effective backbends strengthen the entire back. There’s several ways of doing that.

In Bikram yoga postures are repeated twice, so a few weeks or a couple of months ago, Loren suggested that in one set of the backbend I concentrate on opening my deltoids to work the muscles in my upper back, so that’s what I’ve been doing, and I can actually feel the effects. It’s not something that can easily be seen but it can be felt.

Touching my heels isn’t about the physical accomplishment, it’s about going places I’ve never been. Doing things I’ve never done. That’s what this life is about. Going places. Learning. Striving. Living. Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ve always had. I want better. I want healthier. I want stronger. And I’m doing something about that.

Half-Moon Backbend

Half-Moon Backbend

Here’s a video showing how I do the two sets of backbends. I can’t go as deep as I normally do during class because I’m not warmed up to that extent, but you’ll get the point.

http://youtu.be/H5MwujZu5Hc

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Finding Balance

I have trouble finding balance in some yoga poses, and in some areas of my life. A few weeks ago in Standing Bow, when I had trouble with my balance, Loren told me I’d have an easier time if I looked up. He told me I almost always look down. If I look down, then I’ll fall down!

Since that day I started to observe how I view the world. Do I look at it with eyes up? Or eyes down? When I walk are my eyes up or are they down? How do I look at the world? I also started to notice how others look at the world. They tend to look down. Look down at their phones or other electronic devices. I see this when people drive. I see it when they walk. I see it when I walk into my classroom.

But this isn’t about other people. It’s about me and how I view the world. I’ve started looking up when I do yoga. I’ve started looking up when I walk. I see. I observe. I notice the world around me. There’s life out there. There’s also life in me.

There’s life in this physical body. I’ve made it a point to look up when I struggle for balance in Standing Bow, and you know what? Parts of my body have come alive in ways I haven’t expected. When I look up I feel more muscles working as I fight to stay upright. Even in moments when I struggle I still feel more alive.

Then there’s balancing stick. My nemesis until……………until I started looking up. I saw when I looked up, I saw my leg (the one in the air) wobble from side to side. I became a witness to my tendency to meld into an unbalanced stated. As I continued to look up, instead of down, I realized the power, the strength in working to keep my leg, the one in the air, in alignment with the rest of my body. I started to feel mesmerized by my efforts to work with alignment. Normally when I’d do balancing stick, I’d look to the ground, somehow thinking that would help keep me balanced, but really, looking down inspired me to fall down.

Looking up in yoga, looking up in life doesn’t guarantee that I immediately find balance but it does give me a brighter outlook and a greater awareness of the unknown spaces waiting to be discovered.

Here’s a video of me doing Balancing stick with eyes down and eyes up:

Me Doing Balancing Stick

Me Doing Balancing Stick

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In the Eye of the Beholder

I’ve been a bit silent lately because I’ve been spending a lot of time putting the finishing touches on a banquet I volunteered to coordinate at the beautiful oasis known as Lake Shrine in the Pacific Palisades. It took more hours than I thought, but every second taught me something about myself. I suppose at some point I’ll share those lessons.  This entry revolves around clothing.

I love the color yellow; almost as much as I love the color pink. I’ve been wanting a yellow dress for the longest time. One day, on a search for the perfect dress for this event, I spotted a bedazzled yellow dress with navy on the top. I fell in love with it immediately. Fortunately, for me, the tailor said he could adjust it. I found the dress in an Indian dress shop on Reseda near the corner of Reseda and Parthenia.

The day I went to pick up the dress, I felt so excited. Then I tried on the dress and the excitement waned. It wasn’t the dress; it was me. I just didn’t like what I saw. I felt bad about how I looked. I felt fat. I felt like a blob.

I saw where I was when I started this journey. I didn’t see where I am now. That’s the problem. I didn’t see the moment. I always wanted a pretty yellow dress. I found a gorgeous yellow dress, with loads of bling.

Feeling badly about myself doesn’t get me to the gym. It doesn’t get me to yoga.  It doesn’t inspire me to eat healthy. It has the opposite effect. When I feel badly about myself I’m far more likely to consume high-fat junk foods, and once I start eating those the cycle is sooooo hard to stop.

I’ve learned to accept my body more doing yoga. I don’t quite know how to explain it but I don’t view it was negatively as I used to, so when I have the moments like I did with the yellow dress I feel them more intensely.

I don’t wish to feel badly about myself anymore, so I’m sharing pics of me in the yellow dress. Pics from an event that by all accounts went amazingly well. If I can share anything with everyone it’s this—live in this moment and feel okay with who you are in the moment. That’s how you’ll find the inspiration and energy to create more moments that hold the promise of joy that you deserve! Life’s too short to feel any emoting other than love!

With my friend Sharon!

With my friend Sharon!

With My Friend and Co-Conspirator MK Daniels

With My Friend and Co-Conspirator MK Daniels

Talking to the Crowd: Playing MC

Talking to the Crowd: Playing MC

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This is MY Amazing LIFE!!!

Tonight as I started to fix myself dinner I glanced over to the side of the stove where I keep a picture of me with my beloved Granddaddy. Looking at this picture is looking at love. I see in his eyes, in his posture, in the way he holds his head, in all of that I see his unconditional pure love for me. In my eyes I see the look of a little girl who knows just how much she is loved. Every time I look at this picture I see love, and I am so grateful to the person, and I don’t know who it was, who took this picture. To have someone who loved me so deeply and purely is a gift from the heavens.

Me and my Granddaddy!

Me and my Granddaddy!

The gift of his love is with me still, just as the love of my dad is with me. Tonight, I couldn’t help but think, as I looked at this picture, how lucky and awesome this life is. I’ve been concentrating on that lately—the good, the awesome, the amazing gifts coming my way. I don’t know what all of them are. I’m not sure I want to know. There’s such beauty in the mystery.

There’s also beauty in learning to trust that life will continue to bring me more joy. I carried this picture of me with my Granddaddy over to my couch where I planned to sit with my computer and do some work. That’s when I checked my email and saw some AMAZING NEWS!!!!! News that made me sooooo HAPPY!!!!!!

Mantra Magazine, a magazine devoted to real bodies, real issues, and real transformation, published one of my favorite yoga photos of me doing fixed firm in their feature on Readers’ Photos from Across the Globe—a segment that features “the most creative photos sent in by the Mantra Yoga + Health community of yogis, meditators, and athletes”.

So, on a night where I planned to turn in early and had already dressed for bed, I quickly put on clothes and ran to Sprouts to buy a copy of the magazine, and it’s lucky I did!!! They only had one copy left!!!

This is my amazing life. This has been my mantra for the past couple of months and this life continues to get better and better!!! Not easier but better!!!! Check out the latest issue of Mantra and see ME!!!!! A REAL body in a REAL magazine!!!!

Me in Mantra Magazine!

Me in Mantra Magazine!

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With Hands Wide Open

I’ve been thinking lately about how I hold my hands—sounds odd? Well maybe not! I’ve lived a good part of my life thinking I’m the type of person who is open to change, but the reality doesn’t feel that way to me. In my mind, in my heart I feel resistant to change. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure if it scares me or just what the case is. To many it seems like I’ve changed a lot, but I still feel like I’m holding onto something, exactly what I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the idea of being safer stuck in the past. It’s easier to deal with the devil you know rather than the devil you don’t.

What does all this have to do with my hands? A couple of months ago, in yoga, my instructor told me how much I clenched my hands. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but sure enough I started to observe myself and realized how very much I keep my hands curled up: in savasana, when I’m talking with someone, when I’m sleeping……etc…..

So I started behaving differently. I took stock of my hands. Every time I caught/catch myself with my hands tensed in any way I release them and I say to myself: “I am open to all possibilities in this amazing life. I don’t know what’s coming my way, but I’m open to any and every opportunity.” It happens more often than I can care to think about, but I’ve noticed something along the way these past couple of months.

I feel better inside. I feel more hope. I know so many amazing things are coming my way. And those aren’t just words. I feel that truth inside me in a way I can’t describe. I’m lighting my own flame. I’m letting go of how I think my life should be, so I can embrace the life that awaits me. That’s a paraphrase of Joseph Campbell’s quote.

The point being, the more I let go of tension, the more I allow, the more I stop getting in my own way. So many amazing things have happened, including this interview with the author of Yes, Yoga Has Curves.  Yoga isn’t just a practice—it’s teaching me to embrace and be open the vast and endless treasures the universe has to offer me.

Stop getting in your own way. You’ll be amazed at what happens! 

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