A Day Off

Since quitting my full-time job in July, my life is my own. Or is it? What am I taking a day off from? (warning: this post evolved into total stream of consciousness!)

Starting from last Saturday, let’s take a look at my schedule for the past week, and most weeks. My 3 year old granddaughter stayed overnight with me Saturday, and again on Monday, while her mama worked. Thursday I spend with the now 6 month old twins. Tuesday evening is my Ayurvedic Spiritual Counseling course. I worked, albeit from home, Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, for a total of 18 hours.

Today, Friday, is the only day this week that I have nothing on my calendar. Not even a yoga class. So there you have it, a day off.

I always think I am going to “accomplish” big things when a day like this comes along. But what does that mean, anyway? I have in mind to get all my homework done, do some painting, do some writing, cook a delicious meal, go for a long walk, do laundry, clean the bathroom. I doubt if I’ll do all that, and I may do other things. It just feels good to have an entire blank slate of a day.

Right now it is the middle of the day and Robert is fixing lunch, some kind of garden veggie burgers, and vegetables and grains and it smells delicious! I guess if I’m going to cook it will be dinner!

wp-1484932347137.pngI got up at 6:45 and meditated.  Then I went back to bed for a bit. Got up and had tea, wrote in my journal, did some Yoga with Adriene, my favorite youtube yoga teacher. Ate my favorite breakfast of oatmeal with raisins, walnuts, and stewed apples. Took a shower and washed my hair. Threw some paint on a canvas, almost literally!

And I’ve been sitting here on the couch writing between doing laundry. I started a new blog this week, The Cat’s Advice – just for fun, check it out!

While we are on that subject, I also started Finding Ayurveda. It’s purpose is mostly for me to put together what I’ve learned into content that makes sense to people who don’t know anything about Ayurveda.

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Now it is after lunch, which is just as delicious as I expected. I sit here writing with my phone propped against the screen  skyping the aforesaid granddaughter. Lately, we’ve been doing this more frequently, just “hanging out” so her mama can have 30 minutes to do some organizing or whatever.  Precious time, precious child. I don’t post pictures of her at her mother’s request.

wp-1484942917585.jpgIn a little while, I will drive down to the nature trail and take a walk. Today it is a balmy 77 degrees, a beautiful summer like day in the middle of January.  Yeah I’m doing that instead of watching the inauguration. You’ll never find anything political here.

Whatever you do today, may you be happy and look for the good. Remember, whatever you put your attention on grows and strengthens.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Yoga, I love you

I may have mentioned this before, but I am in love.

Since leaving my day job, I have spent more time with yoga, and this love I have for it – it is the real thing.

I was briefly introduced to yoga five years ago at a gym I belonged to. I thought it was pretty great, but didn’t have much time for it. Two years ago, we were reacquainted during my trip to the Chopra Center. The best thing I learned there is that I can have a relationship with yoga even if I can’t sit in lotus or do certain asanas (postures).

Shortly after that I discovered the yoga studio less than two miles from where I live, and began to go weekly, for a while. Then I began studying ayurveda, and since I still worked full time, it was a challenge to get to class, so I stopped going regularly. In the meantime, I began to learn more about what yoga actually is.

The word yoga means union, and is a means to bring your entire being into balance and union with the greater consciousness many people call God. A common perception of yoga is that it is about moving your body into different positions to increase physical fitness, but there is so much more to it than that.

There are eight limbs of yoga:

  • Yama – this is about our behavior, principles, and how we conduct ourselves in life
  • Niyama – has to do with self- discipline and spiritual practices and routines
  • Asana – the postures practiced in yoga, through which we develop habits of discipline
  • Pranayama – this is about the breath
  • Pratyahara – withdrawing from sensory stimulation and looking inside
  • Dharana – concentration, dealing with the distractions of the mind
  • Dhyana – meditation or contemplation
  • Samadhi – transcendence, connection with the Divine, interconnectedness with all living beings

There are quite a few flavors of yoga, and this Mind Body Green piece explains the most common. I personally prefer a very slow flow, with stretching and holding poses for longer periods, a combination of hatha, sivananda, and yin. A have a friend who is dedicated to kundalini. Others love the more workout like flow of vinyasa or the heat of Bikram. There is something for everyone.

I am so happy to have found yoga. Or, as the owner of The Yoga Institute in Clear Lake, Rae Lynn Rath says “You don’t find yoga. Yoga finds you.”

I am elated that I have the time to pursue this practice. Yoga and ayurveda are sister sciences, so it makes sense to me to be able to teach this to those who are following this path of seeking better health through greater awareness.

And so, I have enrolled in a yoga teacher training course! Namaste. 🙂

 

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I love yoga! I used to love running.

Yoga, I wish I had met you sooner.

I spent a lot of years pushing my body to the limits, and if I had known yoga, I think I would be in much better shape now. For around 20 years I was birthing and breastfeeding babies. (7 of them!) I ate as healthily as I knew to, and my exercise, besides giving birth, was toting babies and walking with the kids around the neighborhood.

Half marathon
RunGirl 2011

Then in my mid forties, I took up running and participated in quite a few 5k’s and 10k’s and completed three half marathons.  Oh, how yoga would have benefited me then! I never really learned how to stretch properly, and now my body is much less flexible than I would like it to be.  I am glad I did all the running I did, but I think that I could have done better with proper stretching or yoga. This picture is me doing my last half in December of 2011, when I was 55. That was the only time in my life I had a personal trainer, and set a goal to complete it in less than 3 hours.  I made it with 3 minutes to spare! I would have done much better if I hadn’t started having severe pain in my left leg and knee. I was determined to finish, though, and limped my way proudly across the finish line.

I had an inflamed iliotibial band, the ligament that runs down the outside of the leg from the hip to the shin. Using a foam roller helped me heal from that, and I am convinced that had I been stretching well, or practicing yoga, I might have minimized that issue. Since then, I have participated in a handful of 5k’s, only to have a setback about a year ago with severe back pain that was likely a slipped disc. I have recovered from that, but have residual right hip pain. I’ve made a few attempts to start training again, but  haven’t been able to get the mindset to do it.

I first met yoga at a class at the gym I used to belong to, about 3 years ago, and fell in love immediately.  I had a great teacher, who said that it is ok that I can’t sit  in lotus, or even cross-legged. I am more comfortable sitting in a slight variation of seiza. It is important to find a position of comfort in sitting, and this was a breakthrough for me! Also, sometimes, at the end of the class when we were lying in savasana, I would feel a release of emotions, either laughter or tears. I knew that I loved the gentle yet strong movements that our teacher took us through, and I always felt better after class no matter how I felt before.

Over the last year, as I have sought healing and fitness, I keep coming back to yoga. I have thought about trying to take up running again, but it never works out. I have done some weightlifting and even bought some workout videos, but my body always is happiest with the gentle yoga asanas.

Yoga is much more than exercise, although with time it molds and firms the body. More importantly, yoga clears the obstructions and limitations in our bodies and minds, and increases  creative life energy. This is why I feel so peaceful and happy after an hour-long class, even if I have experienced discomfort, been disappointed at my lack of flexibility, and cried at the end. Note: it is important to accept your limitations and not compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone’s body and flexibility are inherently different.

I found a yoga studio just down the street from me, with a wonderful teacher who lives and breathes peaceful yoga energy. I went to my class last night feeling very tired and stressed from the day, just wanting to sleep. But as I moved through the poses, I felt the release of all the tension and exhaustion of the day.

And I had a very good night’s sleep.

Do you have a yoga practice? What do you love about yoga?

Sunday stream of consciousness writing

foggy morningI opened the windows last night because the air inside felt stagnant. After all the rain we’ve had, it warmed enough to be comfortable. This morning there is fog, and some kind of floating plant matter in the lake. I can hear the birds, but don’t see them. Feeling the cool air, wrapped in my fuzzy blanket – it’s almost like having a patio! The air inside is fresh again.

I had joined a group on meetup and was going to go running with them this morning. If I hadn’t changed my mind last night, I’d be there right now. But I had the realization that those days are over. I don’t want to injure my body again. I pushed it to its limits and last year it protested with a back injury, and with  gentle yoga and moderate walking I am finally pain free. Why would I put myself in the position of reinjuring myself, my body seemed to ask me? So here I sit, my body softer, but happier, enjoying the morning. I’ll do my yoga in a bit.

I was determined to finish  A Woman’s Book of Life, and I did, last night. This book is amazing, as it traces a woman’s life from birth to death. I needed to read it at this time in my life.  As a result of this read, I am more okay with my life as it has been, and more accepting of my own aging. At 58, I am considered “elderly” by the younger generation, and I am going to embrace the uncertainty of what that might mean.  I am studying new things, learning to trust my intuition in new ways, and, on the physical plane, trying to let my crazy graying hair be what it is, which in a way is more challenging than anything else!

I listened to the first part of the first lecture of my new class with New World Ayurveda. The main thing I learned is that ayurveda is consciousness based healing. This is so exciting to me. As I’ve mentioned, I am a nurse working in a hospital and it is a revolving door for so many with chronic illness. Traditional western medicine only looks at the body, then divides the body into parts. Thus we have all the specialty areas, and doctors focusing down to just one organ, and prescribing a pill which will only manage symptoms. I am excited to be learning to look at the person as more than just a body.

Last night, we watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The first one, not the current one in theaters. Excellent, fun, movie! I wonder if part 2 is as good.

Today, I will spend some time with my sweetheart, Robert. It’s a beautiful day, so perhaps we’ll go to the park and sit in the sun. I want to paint a bit, read, and see how life unfolds.