Re-finding the centre

Re-finding the centre

Untitled design-2Ok so perhaps I’m not feeling banished, maybe a li’l? A failure? Yes, somewhat. I’ve had to cancel my Tuesday classes. Despite my enthusiasm to find a teaching groove, supposedly the winter is not the best time to try and cajole Western Australians from their homes for a yoga session?

I’ve sat many a Tuesday evening alone in the studio, waiting for one or two students to join, to be mildly disappointed when no one showed up. I’d buoy myself and say that just being there was enough, so I’d practice solo, go through the class I had spent the week crafting, and settle into a meditation, enjoying the warmth blowing from the heaters as light traffic whirred by, imagining my new future students walking into the space, sharing the yoga goodness.

And then, life changed, again. Hubby has a new demanding job that starts soon, meaning I’m hunkering down at home for the next year or so while our family readjusts to new working situations and I try and figure out how to navigate the new scenario. The thought of continuing with the current arrangement no longer felt right, though I’d only been there for a few months. Even if a few more months might have seen a turnaround, I needed to reassess.

It seems the yoga class is not in the cards right now. I was anxious ringing the studio manager. And when she understood and told me to just let it go, graciously freeing me from obligations, I felt relief, lightness and freedom. And that was all I needed to know. The right decision has been made for now.

Do I wish I was teaching a yoga class right now? Yes. Do I think it’s actually going to work out with my life at the moment? No. Thems the breaks when you have small kids and a part time job that requires attention as well, and something has to give. Heartbreakingly for me it feels slightly like I’m letting go of a small personal salvation.

What do we do when our dreams don’t go the way we planned? For now, for me, it’s taking a small step back, refocusing my efforts on getting the website spiffed up a bit, and reassessing what my next focus will be. I have some ideas, ok lots, so I know this is not the finite end. Despite a hollowness that fills my chest and the doubts about my own abilities and worth as a teacher, I’m trying to take the broad view. I believe I have something to offer and know when the time is right that the opportunity will unfold. Living through this heartache and maintaining self-belief is my work at the moment.

I’m back to purely enjoying yoga for what it is and for what I need each day. Each time I’m on the mat, I’m enlivened; though things aren’t quite fitting together how I’d hope at the moment I look forward to seeing you on the mat, one day.

So I’m finding my centre, a constant challenge as a mother who is trying to hold down a job whilst at the same time nurturing the passions that bring a fullness to my own existence. For you moms out there, I’m interested to learn how you navigated this time in your life. For me, to simply say, oh I’m a mom and that’s what I am going to do goes against every grain in my body. I need my own “stuff” to keep me happy and attentive towards turd bird. I wonder when one finds the natural groove, where things fit and flow together, if not perfectly, at least reasonably.

Well yoga on dear friends, and do stay tuned, I shall continue with my blog and add new yummy things for you to try in your home practice in the weeks and months ahead. I would be so very honoured if you stuck with me in cyberland.




or neat-o ways to open the side body

Ola dear blogosphere. As promised a small snippet of reflection on Tuesday’s class. Do you feel tight and scrunched even with regular yoga practice, or more likely without? Our bodies are naturally orientated forward and backwards; we can alleviate a lot of this tension by opening into the often neglected side body and peripheral zones.

Our turd bird can count to five all by herself! In honour of this amazing milestone that has me convinced she’s future mensa material, my humble five suggestions for you to consider incorporating into your practice*:

  1. Banana-fy your asana – if your spine’s orientation is vertical consider putting a gentle lateral curve into it. You can start with something simple like a comfortable cross-legged or child’s pose(arms extended overhead) and work up to high and low lunges as well as warrior 1s, 2s, side angle, triangle and balancing half moon. Not only does this help release or serratus anterior from its’ usual position (these are the muscles that run along the side of our ribcage) it gives extra room for the breath. Take it a bit further and extend and exaggerate the curve in arm(s) that powerfully extend alongside your ear(s).
  2. Flow – Marry your breath to your new shape – inhale back to the straight spine, exhale with the curved one, start gentle and with time and comfort expand the range and feel the breath, body, ribcage and hips gently open with the flow. Transitioning from warrior 2 to reverse warrior is a fun flow.
  3. Play – Do you feel like naturally opening a bit further, perhaps twisting or back-bending? If it feels good, go for it. I’ve had plenty a well meaning yoga teacher re-position my arms in triangle back into the in between two-panes-of-glass scenario, which at times feels constricted, especially after lugging her highness around all day. If it feels good to open a bit more there’s no harm if body and spirit are happy and strong.  We spend enough of our day playing it straight so don’t be afraid to get curly.

    Extending the side body through reverse warrior.

    Extending the side body through reverse warrior.

  4. Give your shoulders some lovin’ – specifically the tension collectors that reside along top of our shoulders and into our neck, the levator scapulae and trapezius. I’ll go into more detail in next week’s class where we explore hip and shoulder opening.
  5. Don’t forget the sides of your pegs – Release low back, knee and ankle tension pain with two simple postures. Cross one foot behind the other before playing with a flowing forward fold to half forward fold, linking the breath. This releases your IT bands, a radical connective tissue that runs from your knee up to the outside of your hip. Runners will be familiar with the ITB. Bring the sides of your calves and ankles to life with a wide-legged forward fold, holding for a few long breaths to lengthen your lower gams.

Want to go further? Check out these awesome online classes:

  • An accessible hatha class with Rod Stryker on yogaglo(I really love Rod’s voice….not like that’s the ultimate criteria or anything but…)
  • A sweet Yin practice with Tiffany Cruikshank on yogaglo (Tiffany’s classes are great for you athletic types. I love her accessible and informed approach)

*ok so even though it goes without saying, use your common sense here lovelies. Don’t get overzealous with the experimentation if you’re new to yoga, work with where you’re at, and stay safe! If you have never done yoga before, talk to your doctor to get the all clear before heading off to a local studio where you can get some hands-on guidance from an accredited yoga teacher.

Yoga on, and please share if this post was helpful for your home practice!

The Bottom Line

So the low back is still a bit sore; I’ve had to take it very slow to get back to recovery but it has been a blessing. I was making my way from sofa to floor with darling on board when I lost my footing and smacked my sacrum hard. A few vertebrae were compacted and the pain ensued though it was bearable, considering we had a back yard that was going to quickly fill up with guests.

The day after my legs tingled and I could barely grab sweetness from her cot; I was desperate for any bit of relief that thankfully my chiropractor helped with. She advised I would be at least four weeks before the back was completely resettled. It’s been longer and I still wake with low back pain and I have become acutely aware of tightness in my groin and psoas. All chain reactions to the initial trauma of the impact.

New opportunities arise when we are hit with a setback. My return to intense, short gym sessions have been put on hold to make sure my back is fully recovered. In its place I’ve become acquainted with a yoga practice that is responding precisely to my needs. I’ve had to take it slow, feel it out day by day, and pull back more often than not. Giving me more time for meditation, quiet, and of course an appreciation for a healthy pain-free body.

It’s nice to witness true discomfort. It has allowed me to create some sequences that I believe will work in this region of the body that so many people are affected by. And it has given me a strong reminder of what it is when a student approaches me in the future and mentions low back pain, or any pain for that matter. It can be easy to forget what that really means if we don’t experience discomfort regularly, so I’m thankful for the reminder.

Lastly, I’ve been introduced to a new style of yoga: Yin. I’ve been a couple times to a class put on by the lovely Fiona Galloway of YogaBlu. I was so inspired by how incredible I felt, in both mind and body, after the class that I purchased Bernie Clark’s book, Complete Guide to Yin Yoga. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

So yeah, I’m grateful for this. Though I’m a little off my original plan it’s an interesting detour. I’m still growing and learning, which is for me the bottom line.

What’s your bottom line? When things have gone astray from what you may have envisaged what remains important to you? And if at first you tell yourself it’s not there, do you see it if you look a bit deeper?

Rajasic Naptime

Some days I do better than others. Things can feel calm and collected and flow so easily despite the disarray. Others I think of all the things that I wish to do and I contemplate how to condense them into two one-hour naps and I yearn for the time when life was not carved out for just me in such small snippets.

Hubby is volunteering so I have the main chunk of today with our girl. Lucky for me we had a family outing to the beach this morning and I had a wonderful swim in the choppy waves while dad and turd bird played in the sand and shallows. The swim was tough but I enjoyed it, loved the feel of coming out of the water panting, arms a bit achy and fatigued from the effort, legs wobbling as they took their first steps on the beach. Aside, very disappointing how the WA government is treating our shark friends, who have every right to be in their habitat.

And it has cascaded from there; something about the swim put an energy in me that has me wanting to take big bites today. We came home she went down for a nap quickly. Always a few chore things like dishwasher, one load of laundry etc, unless I am completely at my wits end, which I am at times, and then I force myself to just stop.

But today, there is so much to do! I am feeling very rajasic, how to get to the sattvic? I optimistically purchase The Australian every weekend, and am lucky to get through two sections – I want to read it all and be up to date on all world issues so I can go to my imaginary dinner parties, holding my glass of wine blithely in my hand so informed about everything, so witty and relaxed, not thinking or worrying about my child at all, who is in someone else’s care and is probably doing just fine but I cannot help but think about her every breathing moment. But no dinner invitations loom, so really, it’s just something I love to do that was once just a thing that is now much harder. Oh and some yoga, meditation, maybe that can wait until the afternoon nap? What about the writing, yes I must definitely get to that today, the household has taken over my resolution a bit this week, but all to a more organised, smoother life, eventually, hopefully.

And tomorrow a big one for us, Big Day Out for mom and dad: Pearl Jam and Primus for dad, Arcade Fire for mom. A wee bit of youthful fun that has taken a lot of coordination to pull off. So perhaps I should type up some notes for the two shifts of care we have sorted for her so there are no questions because for some reason people do not call or text and just clarify or ask before making their own decisions which really annoys me because hey, there are certain things I do want done certain ways and for good reason. Or maybe it’s just a respect and manners thing, the Canadian, consultative, inclusive part of me that seeks clarity and what I would expect from others in what I can only label (naughty!) a cowboy country from time to time. “She’ll be ‘right; we’ll do it and then see what happens instead of trying to do it more right the first time.” That’s a larger, very generalised statement but I digress and I’m in the mood for a bit of snark.

And then there’s my little blog thing, which I do love and have written a few posts for but that are all living in the editing room at the moment, more yoga focused than this little unplanned, cathartic rant.

I joked with my husband that maybe I’d get more alone time if we were divorced – I was kidding. But seriously, he would have her more on his own than the current arrangement. Well, he retorts, you should speak up and say something more often. Guess what’s happening when he gets home? Truly he is wonderful and helpful.

Oh and another anticipatory note, my mom is coming from Canada for a month. Just to stay and give me a brief reprieve, where sorting the gym visit will be as simple as going out for an hour instead of having to put reminders in my phone to call the crèche because I keep forgetting. Where hubby and I can go to the odd movie and dinner without having to think twice. I wonder if mom had any plans to do something herself?

Ok, back to a speed-read of that newspaper (at least the most important bits like Review and the magazine)! Time is ticking.

Update: Bub-licious awake the moment I pressed publish! And what a delicious little treat she is. X

Embracing Imperfection

Embracing Imperfection

Thanks to my sister’s suggestion, I started an online course with Brené Brown on The Gifts of Imperfection. Which is perfect timing, considering the new state of affairs in our household. So far, one week in, I am fast recognizing my propensity to want perfection. Of course it’s easy when life, relationships and circumstances resemble expectations– but the unplanned, undesired or imperfect are a struggle.

Who isn’t dealing with some degree of this in some way at some time? I figured I had been making the transition into this new phase of motherhood pretty well. It was this morning while on the phone with a good friend that I broke down in tears and realised I have a long way to go with this new deal.

I’ve been struggling with a wicked virus for weeks – which means no gym visits and toned down everything else (walks, vinyasa, social outings) in an effort to get well. The typical outlets and small sense of accomplishment that comes with them are not available to me.

Thinking I would be back in the gym by this weekend, I was struck for the fifth time with the down swing of said virus a few days ago. The low energy also means housework and little chores that I usually whiz-bang off no problem are piling up before my eyes. Working from home means I get to stare my lack of efficiency in the face too. Yay!

Darling came down with conjunctivitis earlier in the week – meaning no day care and an envisioned productive workday down the tubes. That’s all right, I told myself, you’ve got Thursday; tackle the work 100% then. Her condition has meant more frequent waking at night, which has not helped with my health or patience.

This morning I hand my screaming baby, who desperately clings to me, over to the day care, feeling a huge sense of relief and excitement about the chance to get some work done, even though I am plugged up with a cold again. Of course as I drive out of the parking lot I feel guilt, is it normal to feel so happy to off-load her?

Less than two hours later I get a call, and it’s confirmed by a visit to the doctor: hand, foot and mouth disease. Sparing details, there’s no swimming, no day care, no outings until she’s better. After my taste of freedom this morning, it’s another round of virtual house arrest for baby and me.

I ask for a blood test; surely there is a way to chalk up the hell I’ve been going through. Perhaps it’s my Hashimoto’s acting up again? “I just want to get something started and finished in my life,” I say to the doctor as I tidy up the blocks girlie has tossed around the office.

“Oh you won’t,” she laughs, “Didn’t anyone tell you about being a parent?”

Uh. Not really.

So I’m in an extended “just get through this” mode. The cycle is taking on a never-ending tone and I admit my patience is slowly eroding into anger. This is more imperfection than I signed up for!

How do you resist these moments of imperfection in yourself and in your life? And how do you accept them? Image