January 22, 2009
I’m having a sort of off day.
I was sick for a while. I lost my voice, got sick, then got better. Then I got really sick again, then I got well. I hit bottom on Sunday evening when I just couldn’t talk anymore. The pain in my throat had gotten to critical level. I was sick, really sick. I proceeded to – as all enlightened, health-conscious yoga teachers do – drug myself. I rarely take medicine, let alone hardcore nighttime cold medicine. But there I was, late that evening, standing in the cold and flue medicine aisle at the store. I wanted the kind of relief that would put me so far to sleep I wouldn’t care how badly my throat hurt. I got it. I took that blue liquid and no more than 20 minutes later was as high as a kite. No lie, I was done for. You know how those packages say, Never operate machinery while using this medicine? I now know why. I barely made it up the stairs to my bed. Dave must have covered me. I slept very soundly for five hours.
Then I woke up.
The throat that was sore when I went to sleep now felt like razor blades had been forced down it. If miserable sore throat were a condition warranting immediate medical care, I would have gone to the ER. It was that bad. I woke up crying, begging for relief. I woke up Dave, who dutifully went down to the kitchen and got my Cepacol and crack Tylenol Severe Chest Cold Nighttime. The Cepacol made my throat burn, it did nothing for the pain. I took the Tylenol, prayed to God for mercy, and tried to go back to sleep. It was a rough few days.
Then I woke up, and I felt human again. It got worse before it got better. I coughed, I moaned, I groaned. I had no voice, nothing. But it got better.
That was two weeks ago. My voice is completely back. YAY! But as things go, I’m starting to feel, well.. off. I’ve been practicing more, trying to get in more classes with the teaching schedule. It’s good. I just don’t know what’s up with me.
As a student of yoga, and as a yoga teacher, I know that the mind and body are one. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. My practice has been bringing up some emotional issues. As I deal with those, sometimes setting them aside for a time, sometimes not, I find my body reacts. I’m betting that these aching shoulders and tight hips are more than just surface issues. So why am I so stubborn? Why can’t I just rest and let myself recover, heal, and restore? Why do I keep gnawing at myself day after day?
My body is telling me something. I don’t need another bad chest cold to get my attention. I don’t need to lose my voice again to understand that the energy in my body is moving differently. What I need is to go back to yoga preschool. I need to work a little slower on my mat, give myself some room to breathe, and relax. I need to (as per the usual) heed the words I tell my students. I need to take care of me.
I’ve written before about learning this delicate balance. Teaching Bikram Yoga can be an exhausting job. It’s hours in the hot room, sweating, and talking non-stop.. On the other side of that, there’s the emotional expenditure. I walk in and very carefully encourage my students, I use the energy in the room, I try to discern how to best teach, how to motivate, when to push, and when to give compassion. Often it’s the latter that wears me out the most. We tell beginners and experienced students the same thing. Every day is different, every practice is different. Be kind to yourself and breathe.
I still need to learn these lessons.
So take me back to preschool. I hear they have snacks.
September 30, 2008
I’m here, doing this Training. So far, I’m enjoying it. Well, you know, mostly enjoying it. It’s got it’s ups and downs (have I said that before??). But there are things that I may never understand about being here. And it’s probably for the best. Maybe in six or ten or twelve months it will add up and make sense. Maybe not. Who knows?
This experience is so unique. I’m almost three weeks in, more or less, and I can’t even really explain it to anyone. I have come to the conclusion that it’s just something to let go. Explaining this journey to anyone who either has never walked it or never will is, well, a little maddening. I don’t mind answering questions, of course. I love to talk. I love to share, obviously, and writing is one of my outlets. But for me, I have started to become more reclusive in the things I’m sharing. I’ve given more vague answers than specific ones and I do it on purpose. I get the same questions over and over. What’s it like? How are the classes? What are you learning? How do you feel? My answers are generally the same. It’s challenging, but amazing. The classes are tough, but good. I am learning more than I can ever share here, and I feel awesome. But what people really want to know is far deeper than than. They want to know if I’m going crazy with homesickness, if the classes are killing me, and if my body is really holding up in this extreme situation. They want to know what I’m being indoctrinated with, and how different I will be when I come back to them in 7 weeks. I know, I know you all so well.
But the truth is, I may never even understand it all. I am trying. But it’s a little like being told a parable that you hold tightly to for years and years. Then, suddenly, one day that story becomes applicable. Light is shone on the truth of it, and you suddenly understand. I think a lot of yoga is like that. We are given nuggets of wisdom, truth, stories, parables, thoughts, ideas. If we are wise, and are paying attention, we store those things away for later use. That’s what this Training is. We are storing up truth, ideas, knowledge, and information that will enable us to go out and teach this yoga to others. I (we) don’t always celebrate this, of course. Why on earth is Boss keeping us up until 2 am watching a movie we don’t get? Why are we sitting here listening to lectures hour after hour? Why? Because we may never understand them. BUT, then again, one day we may. And I think just the glimpse of hope that one day we may is reason enough to listen.
Last night in Jim’s class I became incredibly angry. WHY is he holding this set of Cobra for so long? I am so FUCKING HOT, let me out!!!! I want to lay my head down. Ugh, doesn’t he get that? I can’t stand it when teachers hold us in this posture for so LONG. Oh and why is the heat so oppressive tonight? WHY? I hate this. Well, obviously I don’t hate it. Obviously I love it, or I wouldn’t be here, right? YES! Of course I love it. I came out of that cobra weeping, sobbing, and cursing the hot, soaked mat I was laying on. But five minutes later, as I did floor bow, I understood that long cobra. My warm spine bent easily and effortlessly. I held that posture with gratitude. Later Jim went on to tell us a story about loyalty, and how it’s one of the hightest Spiritual attributes you can have. Loyalty, huh? You mean, like loyalty to this yoga? Yeah, see? I get that.
There’s a lot I may never understand here. But what I know for sure is that it doesn’t matter. I do the best I can, give what I have to give, and commit to learning it. I may never understand even a fraction of what I am taught during this Training. But it’s all stored inside of me, like precious jewels that I may one day need to pull out to save my life. And for that, I am truly thankful.
July 22, 2008
For nearly a week I have been varying my spot in the room. It’s been good for me. But at times I like to go back to home base and be in “my spot.” Today I stood on the front row again and remembered why I love being there. I like having the mirror, I like not having to stand behind people, and I like being able to see myself and only myself when I focus. Yeah, I’m spoiled.
So anyway, I am going back and forth. Front row, second row, back row, front row.. over and over. Left side, right side, near the stage, away from the stage. The idea is to be able to practice anywhere in the room regardless of where you are standing. I’ll need this in Training. I can’t imagine I’ll have much opportunity to have a “spot” when I’m sharing the room with 500 other yogis.
I never intended to get spoiled. I never planned it out. I moved to the front row ages ago thinking that was the best place for me. I love it up there. But it’s also good for me to be in the back, off to the side, and right by the stage. I’m learning, and trying to be flexible (haha). It’s working, I think.
Tomorrow morning I will get up early and go back to class and try a new spot. Who knows where I’ll stand tomorrow. Stay tuned!