All Dolled Up for Charm School

Added to my to-do list: Plan yoga practice for skating.
Added to my to-do list: Plan yoga practice for skating. (No, this isn’t me. One day, though …) 

I didn’t so much fall off the bandwagon. It’s more like the Ghost of Christmas Present kicked me off in a whirlwind of junk food, booze, and family gatherings. So … I didn’t do yoga at all while in Louisiana for Christmas, nor have I skated since coming home. My muscles have been tight, my energy has been low, and I was just starting to feel a bit of regret about it all earlier this week. The good news is, you can always rededicate yourself to your practice. Atha yoganushasanam, right? Now we begin. There’s a reason this is tattooed on my forearm. I need the reminder frequently.

My motivation this week has been to prepare for Charm School, a Saturday-morning clinic for aspiring derby girls put on by the Charm City Rollergirls. This will be my first chance to interact with the Baltimore derby crowd (aside from watching them bout), so I’m completely stoked, but also a little nervous. I fall slightly less often than I used to and can theoretically skate backwards, but I still basically suck. On the bright side, I got most of my gear for Christmas from my amazing husband, which means I’m now equipped to do all the falling necessary to actually get good at derby.

I wish I’d done more skating this week, but it’s cold as the bejeezus outside and frankly, I don’t wanna/you can’t make me. Instead, I’ve been using my yoga practice to help build strength and endurance. Thursday morning, for example, I did several rounds of Sun Salutation (with jump-backs) to warm up, then worked on pigeon pose and eagle (two of my favorite standards). After that, I touched on my project poses: handstand, pinchamayurasana, bakasana, and bhujapidasana. I’m finally able to kick up into handstand and hold it for several seconds without using the wall, and my bakasana (crow pose) has gotten a lot stronger. I can get into pincha from headstand if I use the wall, and I can do the first step of bhujapidasana. My asana goal for 2014 is to master this set of poses, and I feel like I’m already making good progress.

What do these poses have to do with derby, though? While Sun Salutation may not be what you think of when you want to build up your endurance, it really is a challenge once you start building up to the 108. Plus, skating can be intense on the hips and low back, so I like to use various yoga poses to work out the kinks from practice as well as that unique post-travel, cold weather stiffness. Finally, all those inversions and arm balances may not seem related to skating, but they certainly help build core strength, focus, and overall confidence. I feel pretty good about the progress I’m making lately, and while I don’t expect to be the best skater at Charm School, I feel ready to learn a lot and challenge myself.

 

Read More

Monday Night Nonfiction: Still Practicing

life is just one big balancing act
Lately, I’ve been feeling wondering what my next steps are and where they’re leading. I’m loving teaching yoga, the online classes are going well, and I’ve got a new studio class to work on, too. I’ve even been experimenting with streaming my personal yoga practice as a way of forcing myself to do it, although the truth is I’m a little self conscious about it.

I’m definitely ready to deepen my practice and my teaching, though. Some of the poses I practice I don’t yet feel confident enough to teach, and there are definitely advanced poses that I want to learn. I know doing impressive poses isn’t the most important part of yoga, but if I’m asking anyone to see me as a teacher, I think my end of the deal includes striving to better myself, build on my knowledge, and hone my craft.

On the other hand, everyone’s at a different place on their unique path, and none of us are perfect. That means in terms of our physical practice, our self-discipline, our understanding of the sutras, the depth of our meditations — in all of it, we are imperfect. We always have something to learn. If we were perfect, wouldn’t be where we are right now. Maybe without knowing it that’s what I was getting at last winter when I started setting my goals for 2013: Love more, sing more, be imperfect.

Have I loved more this year? Yeah. I think I’ve been given more opportunities to love and to stretch my understanding of it in everything from my relationship with my husband to my connection with my yoga community.

Have I sung more lately? Not always well, but yes. I mean literally singing along when a good song comes on the radio even if someone might be listening. I also mean Omming in class. But I also think there’s a kind of inner resonance akin to “smiling with your liver,” which feels like singing. I think that’s how you know when you’re on your right path, and I’ve been finding that a lot more lately, even though sometimes I struggle to hold the tune.

Being imperfect, though … I thought it’d be the easy part, but it’s not. I’ve always wanted to be perfect, and I think most of us do. And I’ve always known how very far from perfect I am. I am aware of all my compulsions and obsessions. I’ve seen all my own bad behavior. I’ve seen every seeable flaw in my body. I’ve endured my own cruelest thoughts. And it occurs to me that if I could stop grasping for perfection, I would be perfect. If I stopped wanting to be other than I am, what I am would be just right. I’m very slowly getting better at letting go of the struggle, but it takes practice, practice, practice.

Read More