When this blog was first started, the intention was to a create a space away from social media such as Instagram to share how yoga and mental wellness can work together. However, life was not considered as a huge unexpected situation arose: COVID-19. One could assume that this would have afforded more time to write. It did not. Like so many others, life had other plans. COVID-19 caused changes; good and bad. For almost a year, my whole family was home together. This drew us closer but that was not the case for everyone.
COVID-19 led to further alienation between people. As there were those who lost loved ones due to COVID, there were other losses that were not accounted for outside of death. Friendships were ended, romantic relationships collapsed, people started paying closer attention to who and what they allowed into their lives whether out of obligation or desire to hold on to an ideal. For example, adult children began reevaluating their ties with their parents and other family members. There were many quitting jobs and examining their career choices. The start of realizing that choices exist.
With choices, it is important to be intentional with them as choices do not come without consequences. The reexamination of blood family ties can cause a lot of hurt. The change in career or quitting of a job can cause financial disruption. Moving mindfully and understanding your intentions can hopefully lead to choices one can live with in equanimity.
What makes a good life? Is it having a lot of money? Having everything your heart desires? Traveling the world? What is good living? These are questions that I have and the self-help gurus, even psychology professionals would tell you that only the individual can answer those questions. I can understand that but it’s hard to tell the person who has limited financial means or severe mental illness to find that one thing they’re grateful for, one thing that made you happy today.
For those who seem open, I tend to send free resources to things that they might find interest, in hopes to provide support. This worked for me when a friend sent me information about My Vinyasa Practice and their offer of free yoga teacher training during the height of the pandemic. I wanted yoga teacher training and as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, yoga teacher training and even yoga classes at a studio can be cost-prohibitive. Therefore, when I received the information, I was very excited for the opportunity. Especially as a mother, wife, and full-time employee; I needed teacher training that was flexible and accessible. I believe yoga should be accessible to anyone who wants to practice and the training is well. This provides more people the ability to find something just for them or something they could use to help others. Yoga has provided a glimpse into what good living means and I want to hold on to it.
When a person sees no way out of their situation, when they feel like they’re on the brink of despair, in a hole they fear they cannot get out of, these catchall statements lack pith. They are at best unhelpful, at worst harmful. So if you are the helping type, how do you help? Let the person know that you’re there. That you’re willing to listen. To have a good life seems almost mythical especially in our current world. Or has it always been mythical but we are blinded by youth or the stories our parents tell us? Or is our understanding of what a good life is unclear, muddied by life, an illusion placed on to us by others? For me, I am taking it one step at a time. Earlier this week, my husband happily declared “I changed the sheets and cooked! I have accomplished two things today, that is good!” And for some reason, that rung a bell for me, maybe the good life finding that one thing in your day. That if nothing else happened or you felt you did nothing, there was the one thing that you did.
As 2020 comes to a close, I have not been reflecting as much as I usually do at the end of the year. However, it is important that I reflect. 2020 had been filled with new situations, there have been challenges, and a lot of changes. Yet, when I sit and think back, it has not been so bad. Much of my stress has been of my own doing as I have been unable to ride the waves of 2020. A lot of unexpected circumstances occurred in that year that took me off guard. My capacity to remain optimistic was severely dampened in 2020. My yoga practice and fitness regimen in general was affected by that tumultuous year. It was difficult to separate myself from others’ issues. Empathy is a gift, simultaneously a curse. There has to be a balance, an ability to not take on more than one can bear.
We live in a society that glorifies working yourself to the bone, “grinding”, “hustling”. One thing 2020 taught me is that I’m not going to add more to my plate in the name of productivity. How productive can one be with so many things going on at once? Looking back, 2020, was a hamster on a wheel. Running in futility in one direction, yet not going anywhere. 2021 does not have to be that way. I’m sure it will come with its own challenges but it’s time to carve a path forward. The gift I’ll be accepting is perseverance. Happy New Year!
Hello, honeybees! It’s been a while since there’s been a post. In my life, the quarantine has made things even more busy. What have you been doing during this time? Have you been taking care of yourself? Businesses are starting to reopen and many people are living their lives as if COVID-19 doesn’t exist.
There are those of us who are making small and conscious changes to improve our lives spiritually, mentally, and physically. A couple of days ago, I was thrilled to get a text from a really good friend telling me that he had begun practicing yoga daily. He has been practicing for 12 days straight. That may not seem like a lot but it is for someone who has not done it before. To take the leap to care for yourself in healthy and sustainable ways is to be appreciated and applauded.
As much as I practice the physical part of yoga, it’s been a challenge for me to focus on the more meditative aspect. So for the past two weeks, my goal has been at least one meditation session a week. The session could be as short as five minutes. Even five minutes has made a difference. I meditated before work and a stressful day was handled a lot better because of the grounding that had been done that morning.
The pandemic has made many people even more on edge and agitated than usual. High levels of stress is deleterious to not only our mental states but our physical states as well. These high levels can increase our blood pressure, mess with our immune systems, impair our judgement, hinder our memory, essentially wreak havoc. We must be mindful of our stress levels. It can be difficult when we have so much to do. That is when we must stop and even if it’s just for five minutes, breathe. If we have too many thoughts in our head, have a notebook next to us, where we can write those thoughts that we don’t need in that moment. Let those five minutes be your time and your time only. Be your own shelter of peace.
It’s been one year of Spoonful of Honey. Still a work in progress and finding it’s way but will keep working and playing with it. Very challenging times right now with COVID-19 and we should remember to be kind to yourself and others. For this celebration of one year, I practiced with Adriene and enjoyed Happy Birthday Yoga. A beautiful practice for a birthday.
One morning as I was practicing yoga, my son came up to me and gave me a hug. He then whispered “I love that you do yoga”. As long as he can remember, I’ve been practicing yoga. He has always been there and is the catalyst to my continued practice. I have come to the realization how important it is to his little mind very recently. On a playdate not too long ago, I overheard him tell his playmate proudly “My mom does yoga, too.” I smiled inside because he associates yoga with me and he enjoys that I practice.Yoga is personal but not personal. The practice colors how I interact with others, with the world. I practice it in the privacy of my home, it feels intensely personal, yet my son watches, he is affected by my practice. Sometimes, he participates as a child can, many times he gets in the way. However, he knows that it’s a part of me and his acceptance of it and willingness to learn teaches me a lot about accepting those you love for who they are.My son’s love for me and who I am has led to loving myself and in turn, others more than I had before. His love reminds me that there is always at least one person who cares. Even if it feels like they’re getting in your way.
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
– Maya Angelou
As a yoga practitioner who practices at home, there are times when I feel that I don’t challenge myself enough. This is not just in my yoga practice, this is in my daily life. There are opportunities that present themselves that I hesitate to grasp due to shying away from a challenge. I want these opportunities, so why the hesitation? Is it fear of rejection?
This fear finds it’s way into my practice. Rejection in the sense of not holding or falling out of a posture. I’ve started challenging myself on the mat and this has led to me challenging myself more off the mat. With challenging myself on the mat, I decided to complete a 90 day yoga program by Fightmaster Yoga called “Thrive “. Its a program at the intermediate level and I was sure I could not do it especially in the first two weeks. I thought it was so hard and I thought I would quit. I was rejecting myself and the thought of quitting made me unhappy. So I accepted where I was each day and I didn’t quit. I ended the program feeling stronger than ever. It also helped me get through a very stressful few months.
I do not believe that you nor I deserve unhappiness or should live in fear. In fact, it makes me angry and even more motivated to make my own happiness and to face my fears. Now, I won’t be facing my fears in a swamp full of alligators, I’m no fool. But I can try new things like traveling to a country I’ve always wanted to travel to or have a yoga practice that always ends in an inversion. Even if I fall out of inversion or cannot get into it at all, I will try, because nothing will change if I do not. It’s exciting to grow and not feel stuck in the mundane. Finding that there are still new things in life. Thriving.
Peace of mind is a perception of a calm and quiet mind.
My mind is a noisy place. It is very rarely if ever quiet. Its at the quietest when I practice yoga. And I truly practice to clear the busyness of my mind. It is what makes yoga more challenging, it is not just the asanas, it is my mind having a conversation with itself. It may be telling me that I cannot do a specific posture or that I need to hurry because I have so many things to do during the day. It is not always like that, there are times in which I am able to reach the sixth limb of yoga: dharana. I am able to be completely engrossed in my practice. These times are rare.
Dharana may come across as being single-minded because in it the yogi is focused completely on one task or object. Meditation is an example of dharana and I have never been able to meditate longer than five minutes. Sitting still has always been a challenge for me. It is a work in progress as I am sure that there is a deep benefit to mediation. I consider savasana to be the closest I can get to meditation because after a good practice, it is easier for my mind to rest.
There is one way that I have been able to have a stilled mind, though it could be debated that my mind is not actually stilled, and that is while I am reading. Yoga has still not been able to bring me to the state that reading does. If I am reading a good book, I am completely in the book that I hear or see nothing else around me. In fact, if I am interrupted, I can become agitated. This agitation comes when I am interrupted during a yoga practice. I am hoping to reach that same calmness and quiet as I grow in my yoga practice. This is why I practice with no music; to minimize distractions. The beauty of yoga is that it is not a straight and short journey; it is winding with hills, valleys, many climaxes, and there is no end to it. That certainly makes it better than a book.
I wrote about the yama of asteya in my last post. I talked about how I was stealing my time participating in activities that served no productive purpose. I was not using my energy in the right way which is what the fourth yama is about, how energy is directed: brahmacharya. Now this is commonly interpreted as meaning sexual restraint, celibacy. and chastity. However, I am a married woman with a child so clearly I am not chaste. So this yama would appear to not be relevant to my life. Appearances can be deceiving.
Brahmacharya is directing your energy correctly and for the right purpose. It would be easy to question what the right purpose is but it is also easy to know where your energy should be directed. Is your energy focused on obtaining more “things”? In our world, we do need money to get our basic needs met but a lot of the time, we find ourselves focused on external desires such as a big(ger) house, a newer car, name-brand items, having what others have (“Keeping up with the Joneses” as my mother would say) rather than stoking our internal fire and finding happiness from within. This is cliche, I understand this well, but it is possible to find happiness within one’s own self. And it makes a big difference in how you experience life. This is not saying that you will find nirvana but it is about accepting who you are with what you already have within.
In the fitness world, we may find ourselves trying to participate in the newest fitness exercise fad, wear the fashionable fitness attire, try the newest food diet, and possibly idolize a certain body type. We could be using that energy working on a fitness regimen that works specifically for our body. What works for one, may not work for others. Not to mention, much of what we see, particularly online, is not always reality. For me, I was not using my energy in the right way. I was participating in yoga challenges that focused on a specific pose for the day. This was not particularly helpful for me regarding my yoga growth because I was using my energy focusing on getting into the pose rather than focusing my energy on practicing what I could already do and learning what it took to actually get into the pose. I feel much better now that I longer participate in yoga challenges. In fact, I have started from the beginning with my yoga practice. And what I mean is not beginner classes but focusing on alignment and breath. These are areas that I was neglecting and now I am directing my energy towards what I have been avoiding.
This goes for my life off the mat as well, there are areas that were being avoided that need not be. I am redirecting my energy to the areas that need it, one specific area: my spirit.