I did something to my body yesterday in yoga class. Something, something.. no idea what exactly.

I have these days where I do a lot in a day. Many times I teach two classes, I will practice a yoga class, and even train once (or even twice) with my budo teacher. I consider it amazing that I am fit, well and capable enough to do that much. Some see it as crazy, insane, even nutty. You’ve done what today? For me, it just is the practice. The practice of teaching, the practice of practice, the practice of training. I differentiate between practice (yoga) and training (budo) simply for clarity’s sake. Ultimately, it is all practice. Practice practice practice.

I’m a firm believer in do. Do what you can do. What you cannot do, you strive for. But what happens when you cannot do because your body says no? The most obvious answer is that we stop, rest, recuperate and come back slowly.

I’m not good at resting. I’m not good at stopping. I’m not good at slowing down.

As I sit here typing, thinking of my day with no yoga, no budo, no exercise or practice other than putting away laundry and tidying up the house, I feel like I have not done today. I have not pushed myself. Or have I? Is the inability to do, and the requirement to not do, my practice? In theory this should also work in the reverse, right?

I’m trying to see it that way.

Having pain in my body, of any sort, is not overly alarming to me. I know the difference, quite well, between injurious (bad) pain and irritation and sensation from hard work. I know when my back aches whether it’s going to hurt for a day or two or a month. I’ve experience both ends.

I’m not afraid of whatever thing has happened in my body. I’m not really worried that I’ll be immobilized or in pain for an extended time. No, I’ll get a massage tomorrow, take a very gentle class, use the steam room, take hot baths, and continue on with my life.

The anxiety for me lies in the desire to keep pushing. I want to train hard, practice hard, and push forward. But I cannot do that. I have to back off. I have to exercise enough humility to know enough is enough. Maybe for a day, maybe for a week.

That’s my practice for now – to not do.

Pain, pain, pain…

October 15, 2008

This isn’t going to be one of those fluffy, happy, zen-like Ren blog posts.  No, this is not that kind of post at all.  In fact, I am quite sure that tomorrow, or the next day, when I have recovered from feeling as shitty as I do, I will look back at this post and wonder why I felt the need to be so verbal.  But tonight, sitting in this hallway, I just gotta write.  So, if you are so inclined to read my whining, complaining, bitching, and moaning.. then read on dear friends.

I hurt.  All over from the top of my head to my toes.  My skin hurts, my back hurts, my joints hurt.  My hurt is so deep nothing touches it.  Tiger balm?  Ha.  Advil?  Not a chance.  I just hurt.  I don’t have any yogic insights into why I feel this awful, other than the MASSIVE amount of yoga I’ve been doing.  Of course, that is part of it.  But I suspect, as many of you probably also do, that my hurt probably also comes from some other place.  Emotions, grief, shit in the past.  Who knows, right??  I just hurt.

Emmy talked about Pain in week 2.  I remember when she came and she went on and on about it.  I was hurting then, a little.  I had a stiff, sore, aching lower back.  I thought surely my sore tailbone was pretty awful and I’d only get better from there.  HA..  Yeah right.

I sit on the floor hours and HOURS a day.  If it’s not in the yoga room, it’s in posture clinic.  If I’m not sitting on a floor, I’m sitting in a chair for hours, in lecture.  My body longs to rest supine.  Alas, those opportunities are few and far between.  Now, I know, this is my journey and all that and I’m supposed to be getting stronger.  I am, I really am.  I did sign up for this nine weeks.  This complaining is not about how I want out of my current state here in Training.  I just don’t want to hurt.  Or, at the very least, I’d like to not hurt quite as much.

Phew…  OK..

I’m trying to just let go.  Tonight in class I was humbled by having to lay out of a few of my favorite postures on the floor because my body just said no.  It just refused to do it.  Process.  All part of the process.  I trust the process.  I do.

So, I’m OK.  I will get over this and move on and something else will come up.  I will likely wake up tomorrow and be excited again.  But right now, after this long stressful day, I just want to cry.  It’s not even the Training getting to me.  I have said before I like it here and I do.  It’s just this body that’s a little bit worn down.  Not so good to need a weekend already on Tuesday, right??

Tomorrow’s a new day, thank God.


‘Nuff said Mr Tu.  I promise I’ll stop pushing into my hands in Cobra.  And I’ll save you the very lame excuse I had made for myself after doing it in class today.  Doesn’t matter anyway, right?  Right.  Onwards.

Oh HI everyone *waves*!!!  How are you all?  Me?  I’m good, thanks.  Yes, yes, ONE MORE WEEK!!  It’s coming, fast.  I’m so ready to go!!  Of course, I still need to pack.  But hey, I have a while, right?  Right.

It’s been interesting for me lately on the mat.  I’ve had some really strong classes and some less-than-impressive ones too.  Today’s class was sublime torture of the highest form.  I loved it and hated it all at the same time.  Truly, truly a love/hate thing for me.  I was inches away from the two people I was sandwiched between this morning.  The room was PACKED.  I could literally feel the heat radiating off of my two mat buddies.

But the heat didn’t get me too badly today.  I was feeling pretty strong for most of class but had some surprisingly strong emotions. I thought I was doing OK until I laid down for Savasana and then the tears just poured out of my eyes.  Tu was talking about fears, and the floor being a safe place and I couldn’t keep it in.  I have no idea where it came from or what brought it up, but there it was.  The tears came and went until I was standing in the shower after class when I finally recovered.  I’ve cried plenty of time in class. Plenty.  It never bothers me, and often feels good to get it done.  Get it out, move on.  Today was like that.  Just letting whatever “it” was go.  Buhbye anxiety.  But usually I see it coming.  Not today.  Today it got me out of nowhere.

I’m getting a little sentimental about the next week.  Tomorrow will be my last Saturday class at BYTW for two months.  Next week will be many “lasts” as I get ready to go off to Mexico.  Sunday will be my last Advanced for a while…  You get the idea.  It’s bittersweet, really.  This is my home.  I will miss my hot little orange room.

I’ve had SO many dreams about Teacher Training.  Lately I’ve been having tons of dreams about the hot room in Acapulco.  I’ve been dreaming about class, what it will be like to practice in a literal sea of bodies.  It’s not anxiety as much as just energy.  I want to get in there, feel it, get myself in the room.  Make my peace with the size of it.  I know I will, and I’ll spend far more time in there than I probably will ever want to, but still I think about it.  I think about all the things I’m working through here, all the challenges I have now, and how those things will show up on my mat in Mexico.  Even the little things like cheating myself in a posture because I’m tired, falling out early, resting weight in my arms.  That ain’t gonna fly at Training.

But I let it all go.  No matter what I say or do now, no matter the ways I try to prepare or the dreams I have, it will be what it will be.  I’m wide open and ready.


Day 74: 90 Done!

August 14, 2008

I am a day late getting this posted.  But yesterday was so, well… long that I went to bed early and decided to leave this blog until today.

I finished!!  I did it!  90 Bikram Yoga classes done!  I also, DID, actually do the 11 classes in five days that I talked about back on Friday.  And let me tell you, five straight days of doubles was something else.

This Challenge has been less about can I do it than the last one and more about how I do it.  In class I hear all the time stomach stomach stomach!!!!  But in my mind, I hear, attitude attitude attitude!!!!  In fact, the entire thing has been much more emotional than physical for me.  This is not to say I have not literally worked my ass off, but so much more of it has been internal.  I know I can do the yoga.  Clearly, I can do the yoga.  But the real question and yes, challenge, was – and still is – Can I do the yoga without complaining??  Can I do the yoga when my mind is screaming?  Can I do the yoga when I have a million things on my mind?  Can I let it go and do the class?  Can I release my control on stuff and do it?  Can I get through a class without whining about my back?  Can I choose to be thankful?  Can I do it with a smile?

Nobody’s perfect.

I’ve surely whined, complained, obsessed, and been far less than thankful.  You’ve seen it here on the blog.  But what I am taking away from this is where I am today.  Today am I closer to that ideal.  Today I am smiling, thankful, and resolved.  Today I am 90 classes stronger.

Daren asked me yesterday, Now what? Well, the truth is that nothing really changes.  I will, of course, keep going to class.  I will keep journaling here and chronicaling my journey through this yoga and Teacher Training.  I’ll sort of miss the countdown of classes, the feeling of pusing through, and the adrenaline of it all.  But even as bittersweet as that is, I look forward to giving my body a rest.  I need to learn Dialog, spend time with my family, and focus on the next month of my life here at home.  And yes, one month is all that I have left.

Last night as I was winding down my day, I became frustrated with something going on here at home and just lost my temper.  I got into the shower and let the hot water soak into my skin.  It was there that I craved my yoga mat.  I craved the space, the heat, the work.  Crazy, as I was literally exhausted.  But I recognized the yoga as my outlet.  It’s my solace and my release from the junk in life.  I take this as a sign of how far I have come.  Yoga is not a chore, it’s not a task to tick off of my list.  Yoga is a basic function of my day.  90 minutes on my mat.  Me and the mirror, the heat, and the postures.  That’s all I need.  And for that, I am truly thankful.


Day 40: Pain

July 10, 2008

Oh the pain in my spine. I woke up this morning exquisitely sore from last night’s class. I was tearing up during Half Moon. Yeah, pain..

Pain, or discomfort, has its place. There’s good pain and bad pain. Sometimes good pain brings us farther along in our postures. Sometimes pain damages. Sometimes pain teaches us that we are totally lacking in something. My pain is teaching me that there are imbalances in my body. My pain is showing me that where I have flexibility, I lack strength. Where I have strength, I lack flexibility. It’s teaching me that I have abused my joints and done stupid stuff to myself over the years. My pain is teaching me to work harder on set ups and pay closer attention to the words in the class. Left hip forward means left hip forward. Right foot out means right foot out.. All for good reason. No excuses.

I feel so much better now. The series always shows me that it works. I have renewed faith in the process after every 90 minutes. Even if I start off the class in tears.


I wasn’t able to write yesterday evening. So I’m combining the past two days (again).

I took Advanced yesterday as well as Regular class and it was great. Today I got up early for 5:30 class and felt awesome. Much less sore than usual after Advanced.

I think my lesson for the past two days is a simple one, something I hear all the time in class. Open your heart. I’ve been working through some emotional stuff lately. Yesterday in Advanced it kinda all came up for me. I have surrendered to the fact that the mat is the best place for me to leave this stuff. I don’t always like it, but at least it’s a safe place. I’ve been dealing with myself so much in the room. My reflection, my mind, my frustration. I’m just now learning to really surrender to it. Listen to my self, but be separate from it. Let it go, and open my heart. Let it be what it will be.

There’s tremendous clarity to be found when we allow the things that must be allowed and let go of the things that we don’t need. By opening my heart, I am beginning this allowing, this process of opening up completely. It hasn’t been easy for me. There’s tremendous vulnerability and exposure in opening yourself up like that. Admitting where you’ve hurt people you love, admitting your weaknesses, working harder, and pushing through. But ultimately never giving up. Sometimes surrender is seen as weakness. A wise friend of mine once said our vulnerabilities are our greatest asset. We must learn them, master them, and appreciate them.

I’m going back and forth a lot lately between feeling like I’m starting to understand this yoga at its core and feeling totally new to it all over again. Every day is different. But by opening up and allowing it to change me, I feel safe in my transitions.