Occasionally I hear things that demand a response, a comment, a moment of common sense. I recently had one of these moments (where my jaw dropped) when I heard a woman with a connective tissue disease describing people telling her to try yoga. It would "heal her." No. It won't. It would seriously harm her. There are warnings about this. There are certain physical ailments and issues and body structures that tell you you should not do yoga. Period.
And this reminds me that, as a yoga instructor, I need to be hella clear. Yoga is not a cure all. I can, and must, give my students honest information about things that would preclude their practicing.
I don't know that it is enough for me to tell individuals with health issues to check with their doctors. I don't know it is enough to state "don't do it if it gives you the ouch face." But, beyond providing information and suggesting "check with your doctor," I'm not certain of what more I can do. I can't kick people out of group classes that I am paid by facility to teach. I can refuse to give private instruction, but honestly, providing information is about the end of what I can do.
Yoga gives me a lot. I love practicing and teaching but we as teachers, as members of a yoga community, must be honest. Yoga can help with flexability and strength in mind and body but it cannot fix diseases. It is a practice that can help support you in your life and journey but it will not fix everything.
Be smart and honest about your health. Check with your doctor about your disease and ailments and about whether or not you can or should do certain physical practices. And please, if I tell you "no" or "check with a doctor first" take that as the loving gesture it is meant to be. I'm not being a jerk.
All the love,
Life is inconsistency. I maintain, if something is important, you will make time for it, but it may be more truncated in form. Like yoga. Like art. Like reading. Most days I can make time to get my caffeine and most days I can get my yoga. It just may not always be an hour or two. If I hit 20 good minutes, and that is all I have by way of time; good enough.
Same with reading. Same with painting. As long as I give those practices that support my space, time, and love... I'm doing relatively well.
I'm a bit of a Jane of all trades. An exaggeration, I suppose; I'm a Jane of a number of trades. I don't believe this to be a unique situation. I find that a number of us have to hit multiple areas of effort and expression in our lives. Like Hindu goddesses missing a few limbs, we try to hold it all down. And up.
It is inconsistent. That is okay. Just like we need to remember we are more than one thing, we need to accept and honor the inconsistency of life. Do what you can, when you can. Try your best, whatever that best looks like at that time.
You don't need extra arms or extra time, just honor what is most consequential right now and respond accordingly.
It is, at times, difficult to remember that I am more than one. I am not just an artist. I am not just a yogini. I am not just a poet. I am not just a crazy cat lady. There is more to my life and being than these collections of expressions and actions.
I forget. I forget and beat myself into shame because today I can't do the yoga practice I should. Or I belittle myself because I have not cleaned my home. Sound familiar? You are also not just one. You are, if we are going to wax Buddhist for a moment, everything.
It's like I forget, at times, that being human is a thing that involves letting some things go and not always being successful at every endeavor. We are a reflection of the myriad and actualities of the world. Meaning we ebb and flow in success and failure. But, that is yoga. And that is art. And that is cats; in spades (they knock things over and sleep on everything you try to work on)! I secretly believe cats to be impressive teachers of dharma.
Before I drift too far off point, let me put forth a rumination. Enjoy the lack of practice when it happens, allow that space to be filled in other ways, even if it is, quite literally, with nothing. Enjoy the practice when it is there as it is there. Hard, I know. Perhaps though, it is time to stop trying to force and to begin allowing. To start to find a bit more yin in our behaviors.
Love long and prosper,
Change. We all go through it. We all complain about it. We all beg for it. But...
Lately, I have been experiencing constant and consistent change. It has been painful and difficult and joyful by turns; I've had to allow myself to change so as to be more fully myself. Not so easy, but I believe you know that. I'm fairly sure this is a human experience into which we all delve. I'm also fairly certain we respond to the "opportunity" (scare quotes because the impetus is sometimes shit," in a different way. Sometimes our fear has us, humans, doubling down into our misery and habits. Sometimes we get brave and respond by changing ourselves.
This experience has had me thinking about how the various facets of my life and world respond to change, be it forced or planned. Yoga tends towards this acceptance point of view. Just as within asana, sit with the pain and struggle, accept it for what it is. The art sets itself into dissecting and expressing the change. Getting deep and messy into "all the feels" so as to explore the struggle more forcefully. The planner (because I am a #planneraddict) starts to organize in the most hardcore way possible.
Since all of this is me, I discover myself pulled in a variety of directions. I must need to find balance. So, I design a planner to suit my needs and get artsy AF with it. I start in on some deep meal planning and prep once a week. I start drawing things in new ways and with new mediums. I let the themes that pop up happen. And, I yoga like there is no tomorrow, adding in some martial arts inspiration for flavor.
What is it that comes up during your times of change? Or, what is coming up now? How do you allow (#yin) an experience to happen and progress but still press and lean in (#yang) where you need?
We humans go through so much and, for me, it's the art and the yoga and the planning that is my grounding. But, I can't be permissive in letting those grounding factors take over. I must (I find that we all must) create space for the rest of life... the fun, the silly, the ridiculous things that keep us sane.
And with that, I'm changing. Evolving. I'm going to be revisiting my offerings and changing up my work. I need to be authentic in what I give out.
Stay tuned for change.
As a teacher in general and in the specific area of yoga instruction I preach, continually about the importance of rest. You must give your body and brain the relaxation and rejuvenation they need to function.
It's always about how the body does not function well without enough rest.
That tells you about my mindset right there.
It will come as no surprise then, that I struggle with rest (#thestruggleisreal). As a concept I get it; the body needs to have downtime, respite, so that it can function optimally. So too, does the brain.
As a yoga instructor I can (and do) tell anyone and everyone to rest and listen to their body; as a human I can support you when those days hit that you need to sit and do nothing. You need a rest- find your repose. You need to recuperate- go get cozy. Want me to get you a cozy coffee or tea while you put your feet up?
Okay, so that "anyone" does not include myself. Surprise! I seem to not be able to encourage the same understanding and compassion when it comes to the human in the mirror. In-fact, I tend to give myself so much crap about what I should be doing that my attempts at rest tend to be more of an exercise in futility.
Yourself can be the most difficult human to be kind to. Amiright!?
But then I did it. I did it yesterday. I. Rested. No working out. I slept in. I ate like a human. I ignored my to do list. I took a nap. I got my nails did.Yes, I had to keep reminding myself to put shit down. I had to stop myself from checking that to do list. But, I did indeed find ease.
I'm one of those (what was called) "type A" personalities... or something akin. I have to work; if I am not being productive I am all the guilt and self-recriminations. All of them. All. Know a someone like that? Could that someone be attached to the face you see in the mirror?
Maybe give them a stern stop-being-stupid-and-take-your-ease lecture while you set them up for a nap. Or time with a good (or trashy, it can absolutely be a trashy) book. Or, whatever floats them like an easy and relaxed boat.
Okay, you pick a better bit of imagery.
The funny thing is, I'm in fields of work that you would (and people do!) assume that I know better. If I had a penny for every-time I have been told that I am so calm, that more people need yoga because of stress, that I must not have stress because of all the yoga I do...
Every profession comes with it's own misconceptions and bullshit expectations. And for that matter, so do we humans. We have to fight and struggle against them; it is how we get better. Don't assume that your yoga teacher is the relaxing kind. They may seriously have to put effort into trying to take it easy.
I, litterally had to spend my rest day telling myself (outloud) that I was happy I was taking a rest. That there would be no ill effects from this action. That I would only be positively affected by resting.
I'm not anymore off kilter than the next human. We all have our hangups. There are those of us that have to work at not being all effort all the time. And, in our society we have to work doubly hard at not wearing this as a badge of honor in the cult of busy. It just creates a vicious cycle.
Full disclosure; it's 6:30 on a Sunday. I'm up and working. I've been up for about an hour at this point. I plan to nap after I finish with this. I won't win every skirmish but, I can work out a few compromises with the land of rest. So that maybe I don't wait to take that break when I'm no longer in a position to choose.
I do feel that my yoga practices and my art tie into my entire life experience. There is a huge overlap between knowledge, practice, and understanding. We humans seek it out to become our best selves. And today there is so much opportunity; podcasts, books, magazines, the internet... we can stumble into amazing knowledge from so many delightful sources. But we have to approach them, and ourselves, with caution.
Like now, I'm listening to a podcast series (I'm a podcast junkie) and the author, David McRaney, pointed out that we average humans are now engaging in the same quantity of writing that has typically been produced by academics. The internet has upped the amount of written word we engage in. Paired with this is the knowledge that we write most when we disagree. :-/
(If you get a chance check out the You are Not so Smart podcast. I'm listening to the current series McRaney is sharing on logical fallacies)
This struck me pretty strongly. The impact on our modern society and what it could be. We are now able to share ideas (beautiful) but we still get hung up on being right (sometimes sucky). There are times that pushing an idea, the correctness of it, is important. I'm thinking things like equality, compassion; the kind of ethics that promote the goodness and diversity of humanity.
And I'm not against the correcting of grammar, and incorrect assumptions based on incorrect data. Hech, my grammar leaves a lot to be desires so I love help in that department! We should strive to have the best (most true) knowledge we can. But we should be cautious of or "need" for superiority... that ish just doesn't pan out in a good way.
Here is where the ART and YOGA enter into the picture; intent. What is the intent of YOGA and what is the intent of ART? How can these two intentions effect our intent in communication, and how will that affect humanity as a whole? Let me drop this idea for you:
The intention of yoga is (understand that this is my current understanding of the practice) to understand the self so clearly that you can then give your best and improve your life and the life of everyone else. That is some heavy beautiful stuff... then we add in art. The purpose here is (my understanding, again) to comment on life and society to effect positive change. It's not just a beauty thing (though that can offer up it's own societal improvements). There is intense honesty in both actions; what happens if we take these practices into our communications? Honesty and a desire to promote positive change.
So here is your challenge; be intensely honest in your communications this week. Practice the yama (yoga principal of right behavior) satya, meaning non-falsehood. If you are ready to dive a little deeper into the practice, check out this article from Yoga Journal (you over-achiever you) on the yamas and niyamas. Next week we will dive into this philosophy; kicking off a study on philosophy and ethics. And how it effects change, affects our lives and practices. Because spring, because humanity, because we all want to be our best for the world.
Love long and prosper, Muses.
Here we are in 2016. It's a new year, I have a new planner, and a slow start. That last bit is unusual. My historically-proven MO is to take something like a new year and splash about with new resolutions/intentions/I-will-do-all-the-self-improvement-things like I'm drowning. I tend to look a bit like I'm having a seizure induced by my intentions. Not so this year. This year I've taken to a different tact.
I've been Desire Mapping and listening to a lot of Danielle LaPorte on SoundCloud; I'm experiencing a shift. One I hope will prove positive.
For those of you not in the know, Desire Mapping is all about finding your Core Desired Feelings (how you want to feel) and then figure what you need to do to feel that way. The to-do list is second to the how I want to feel list. You can check out more about Desire Mapping and Danielle here. I recommend that you do; but that's just me ;)
I've settled on one word to describe my core feelings thus far; EASE. I tend to be a high-stress individual. I am what was once called (still is?) Type A, and I take most of the world onto my shoulders. Think planning, lists (abound), worry, concern, and over-booked-self.
You see, responsibility is a tricky thing for me. We humans are responsible for our own actions, inactions, responses, and reactions... but not for anyone else's. If you and I are two of a kind in wanting to be helpful and supportive, perhaps you go overboard. You know, like I do. Perhaps you, like myself, agonize over interactions, worrying about how the other person feels and constantly worrying you did the wrong thing or did not do enough. Ooh, that last on is my kicker. If I I let it, I would never feel like I've done enough.... Can you see how maybe this is a bit detrimental? But, this tends to be the case with a lot of us compassionate, intentive, hard working yoga-artist types. And just about a million other types. Still with me?
If so, maybe you join me in seeking out something different. I'm still going to do things like #yogaeverydamnday and recycle and volunteer; but I can acknowledge that sweet down time I need to be able to support all the things I pursue in life. Things like painting, teaching, helping, and just being present with the people I love.
You cannot pour from an empty cup."
So, let's be kind to ourselves as well as others, figure out how we want to feel and go after it. In the yoga community there is a saying; "you cannot pour from an empty cup". This is probably a saying in a lot of communities tbh. The idea here is that if you don't take care of yourself you cannot take care of others. And as a human that tends to push towards collapse and beyond (with stress, guilt, and all the fun things) I'm just (as in just now) getting this idea of balance not being that rest at the end of over-exertion. So, to be kind to others, let's first be kind to ourselves.
For me it is a feeling of EASE, for you it could be something else entirely. But whatever it is find out how you want to feel and make it happen. Give yourself this kindness so that you can continue being the awesome baddass that I know you are. Hey, it may even make you more amazing. And wouldn't that be some sparkle.
Love long and prosper, Namaste.
Rest days are scary as hell. As someone who was once quite a bit heavier, I find the idea of taking time out to rest pretty scary. Like everything I've worked so hard for will fall apart if I don't keep going.
And then I get exhausted.
And then I get injured.
And then I get sick.
So the lesson is to take time to rest. But, that does not have to be the same way that other people find rest. That's the journey; to find out what rest looks like for me, and do it. In yoga, Savasana (that rest at the end of a class) is stressful for me. I cannot relax mentally or physically. So I've started bring my sketchbook and a pencil into the mix. I can lay on my stomach and quietly draw or write. This relaxes me like nothing else. I feel rejuvenated and calm. If I continued to force myself to lay still on my back and "relax" I would be tense and anxious.
What I'm getting at is this; your rest may not look like someone else's. Just because your in a room full of quiet and blissed out yoga practitioners does not mean that there is something wrong with you for not feeling calm. You may need to find your own way to find that ease of stillness and rest.
And when you find it, get on with your bad self.
Love long and prosper, Namaste.
There have been technical issues. There have been time issues. And there has been LIFE.
Do you feel that way? LIFE getting in the way of, well, life? It's funny, I can remember that as a child I could not wait for the responsibilities of adulthood, it seemed amazing and exotic. It's not that I mind them entirely now, it's simply that an approximate 24 hour span is not enough time for everything. What's a human to do?
Some will share memes and inspirational quotes about dropping those things that don't excite and inspire you. If that happens to be pesky things like paying bills and going to work and feeding your kids... I don't see that working well.
I don't particularly care for washing dishes, but I do like clean dishes.
Pick one task today that is not your favorite. Something that absolutely needs to be done; while you accomplish it or after, try to remember what you like about it or how it serves you. Is it a positive result or a a (surprise) positive experience?
I did not always get pleasure out of physical activity; I was overweight, embarrassed, and uncoordinated. It took a desire to be healthy and strong and not-overweight to get me to reenter the world of yoga and walking. Yup, I'm a walker. No grand running here. But I found that the act of walking gives me a peace of mind that I don't get from anything else. It started as a means to meet an end and became a daily requirement to my sanity. You won't find this in every necessary act but the opportunity is there.
Love long and prosper, Namaste.
In 2 weeks and 2 days it will be Thanksgiving. Add another day and it will be my birthday. Give me presents ;)
Seriously(ish) this is supposedly a season of giving thanks, love, well-wishing and crazy amounts of glorious sugar-laden food. But I'm already seeing controversy (Starbucks red cup anyone?) and feeling stress about living up to the expectations of the season. This is not good.
I suck at sending holiday cards. In approximately 13 years I have sent one. Gifts, I'd rather get something for a friend when I see something that makes me think of them. Not on a timed schedule... it gives me anxiety and a yucky feeling.
So, I'm taking off some of the stress now, collecting those sweet little odds and ends that make me think of some wonderful people in my life (like Chloe who is probably already done with all things holiday... because she has evil powers) and shortening my list. That's right, I'm cutting out those people I'm obligated to buy for and only shopping for people I really, truly, honestly love.
No one in your life wants you to go broke over the holidays and it should be about the people who bring joy and ridiculousness into your life. Not pressure, ick, and stress!
For some of those wonderfuls in my life I'm taking them out to spend time together. Who says an shared glass of wine (or a bottle, responsibly) is not a great gift?
So think about what you want to give and to whom. Spend time, spend money; if you do it with love it will be the best.
Love long and prosper, Namaste.
Jocelynne Lowans is an animated Yogini-Artist on a mission to deepen the creative experience and growth of the world while remaining a crazy cat lady.