robert

Members,
  • Content count

    116
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    5

Reputation Activity

  1. robert liked a blog entry by Lorelei, Finding My Practice   
    I've been having a hard time getting to my mat since my mom died last month.  I know my practice will help me heal, yet it eludes me.  I've been running and lifting and generally working out at the gym.... but yoga.....yeah.  I haven't left it completely, not by a long shot.  Since I'm currently in a 6-month long YTT program, I'm working on the mat, for sure.  But, it's missing something.  I think the missing part is my heart.  I know it'll come back, and I'll keep trying.  Until then, I've gotta just feel what I'm feeling and be patient.  (And I'm trying to be grateful for the opportunity to work on my patience.......not my favorite thing!)
      (Notice that I am ON my mat.......not giving up! Good thoughts!)
     
  2. robert liked a blog entry by Lorelei, A New Chapter   
    My mom flew away on Monday morning.  I had been with her overnight and the whole day before, stepped out for 15 minutes, and she was gone.  Our healing begins now.  Very grateful for my practice that helped me keep it together over the long days and longer nights.  Happy that I have YTT to distract me and to bring new knowledge into my life.  

    Rest in Peace, Mom.  You've more than earned it.
  3. robert liked a blog entry by yogafire, Day 20 - finally returning to professional guidance for my pain management   
    These are my pain points I assessed on Day 1 with their current status:
    Neck: Mild - only on left side now (when I've been feeling it mostly on the right for the past 2 years) Right shoulder: None (seems to have been relieved from a neck stretching incident) Right lower back: Faint, less than mild Left hip flexor: Faint, less than mild Top of foot pain (new, made me take a break from yoga and running from day 7): Dull ache after walking 5 miles intermittently on Sunday. Otherwise fine but not walking that much. But, I didn't really work on my pain the way I envisioned with daily meditation and daily resistance band exercises.  Some people are more draconian than others in sticking to a strict schedule, so if reading about this laxity disgusts you, then please, switch to another thread.
    Given my rest state, I'm investing the time and money to get motivated from professional guidance since trying my own self-care is not enough.  I kept thinking to myself that yoga was enough to relieve the pain so much, and with that gone, I feel a bit lost. I made these appointments so I can stop obsessing about what is wrong with me and make it someone else's problem. Yes, the whole body is connected, but, apparently there isn't enough time to address all my pain in one visit. I am parsing out each issue separately for now since I have the time, and it's a new year for me try to maximize my healthcare benefits.
    Visit with new physical therapist visit was useful for my neck pain He confirmed that my posture is good (when most people slump shoulders and head while working at a computer), but, my thoracic spine is so stiff / straight that it's so hard to round, and that may be why there is so pressure on my neck. Cat and cow are the best stretches for me - I didn't realize how good it feels when I do cat, but I stopped because this position put the top of my foot down on the mat. My PT showed me how to just hook my right foot over my left ankle to protect my right foot. Tomorrow: try out a meditation and stress reduction class co-taught by a Tibetan monk and clinical psychologist It's also covered by insurance as group therapy, so, I'll see where it lies on the spectrum between traditional group therapy or free meditation classes I've been to before. Next week: see an orthopedic foot specialist my foot pain My PT told me they need separate referrals for each body part focus, and I only got one for neck/shoulder pain.  Pretty inefficient when I can see specialty doctors without referrals, and, the orthopedic will probably at the end give me a referral back to PT, but, at least I'll have another opinion from a different perspective. Pending next week / next month: an orthopedic spine / back specialist to rule out joints misalignment (and minor scoliosis in my upper back as suspected by my massage therapist - it actually makes sense why I can't bend it forward or back easily if this were true) Maybe there is some truth to vertebrae and joint alignment. 2 years ago, my previous physical therapist said she was popping my neck joints back in, but I didn't really believe her. But, yesterday while stretching my neck back and trying to massage out some parts, I felt a nub off-center to the right of my neck that retracted when I was gently touching it to figure out if it were just a knot. Then the craziest thing is all that right shoulder pain just disappeared after that, and, I've never felt so lightweight and free in more than 2 years.   My massage therapist recommended a chiropractor to me, but I got scared about extreme adjustment stories. Yet, I also got scared to see an orthopedic because most of them are also surgeons, so I assumed it would be invasive. But, I realized I can just go to an orthopedic first for a diagnosis and then figure out my options. Again, I may just end up getting referred back to PT, but, with a new perspective. I suppose all of the above is justification to myself that I am not scheduling random appointments to make myself feel better.
  4. robert liked a blog entry by Lorelei, New Year, New Game   
    2016 is here.  With. A. Bang.  

    I am a little bit in awe of the craziness that has descended upon my family with the arrival of the new year.  So far, it's been an El Niño.  (Disclaimer:  All events within this blog post are absolutely real.  Also, I am not looking for sympathy.  Really.  Just a collective "WTF?!" will suffice.  Think "purging" when you read this, because that's what this blog post is doing for me.)
    2015 closed with a call from my mother's memory care community.  It looked as if she was ill, and that I might have to take her to urgent care in the morning.  I went to bed, after letting my children welcome the new year officially for the very first time, with clothes and supplies at the ready for a long day ahead.  8:20 a.m. came on January 1st with the phone call I'd half-expected.  My mom most probably had an infection and needed urgent care.  Red alert for ya, urgent care is closed on holidays.  So, to the ER I went, with my poor, little 68-year old, advanced dementia-afflicted mother riding shot-gun.  I was blessed by the powers that be with wonderful holiday staff at the ER who got my mother out of my mini-van and into a bed.  Her blood pressure was a measly 67/45.  Things deteriorated further, because tests told us that she had a raging infection and was septic.  Long ago, my mother had told me to never plug her in, when we'd gone over the what-ifs of life.  Well, neither of us had anticipated a diagnosis of frontal temporal dementia at age 59.  It was a game changer.  And administering antibiotics at this late stage of that game smacked of "plugging" her in at this point.  I told them NO.  NO antibiotics.  NO IV fluids.  Just NO.  Enough was enough.  Painful for me to honor her wishes, but there you go.
    That was over 8 days ago.  Her siblings and my sister came in to say good-bye.  We played with the dry erase board in her room.  (Staff just tolerated our slightly-hysterical humor.)

    They have since gone back to their lives for now.  My mom's two sisters are (wonderfully) ready to come back from their homes 4 and 6 hours away whenever I call for them.  Her college professor brother checks in via text.  My sister cannot deal....and I can't worry about that anymore.  
    My Delaney Jane and I moved out her bed to make room for a hospital bed at the memory care residence.  She's a gamer, that girl.

    My mom is back at the memory care residence, with hospice.  Reaching the end of her adventure on this earth could take hours or weeks.  The point is that the end is near.  I am relieved that her peace will be soon.  However, I will miss her.  However, I've been mourning her for eleven years....since the dementia butted its ugly head into our lives.  This is confusing to the humanity in me that wants to mourn vs. the caregiver who is tired and rather raw/worn from emotion.  She'd have wanted this over ages ago.
    I've been reading to her,

    and knitting, 

    driving to get supplies,

    and indulging in my own little comfort care

    while preparing for YTT class.  (Such a timely read for me.)

     
    But, this is a yoga blog.  Let's get to the yoga.  Today, January 8, was the first evening of YTT for me.  I have been looking forward to it for a long time.  I almost didn't go, because of so many reasons.  For instance, the memory care community staff accidentally cut off and threw away mom's DNR bracelet.  Guess who got to put on a new one after going over AGAIN the painful paperwork that states that no one should interfere with my mother's death process?  Anyone?
      
    But somehow when the time came, I left her to go to YTT.  Talk about conflicted emotions, shall we?  
    What made me leave my mom's bedside for more than four awake hours so far this year?  Here's what.  My mom would have been furious, if she'd been able, had I taken myself out of an opportunity that I'd been awaiting for so long.  An opportunity to make the world a slightly better place, like she did once upon a time as a social worker, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.  I can only hope that I will be able to fill the shoes that my mother's imminent passing will leave empty.  Right now?  All is quiet.  No jangling of the phone bearing news.  We wait.  I am learning patience and also that I am not in control.  I am struggling to be ok with that.  The lessons of the new year will serve me well, I know. 
    YTT was WONDERFUL.  My instructor is kind and witty and strict-ish.  Classmates seem interesting and devoted.  The yoga studio is beautiful.  I felt free and new and alive.  What seemed earlier today as a tragedy of timing, now feels like a gigantic blessing and a gift.  I feel optimal gratitude.  Tomorrow will be a big test.  I will briefly stop by to check on my mom and then head over for 9 hours of YTT.  This training feels like so much more than yoga for me.  Send me good thoughts, please.  This community is the only place who has been told my story of 2016.  I am glad you are far-flung.  It makes the telling feel safe.  Thank you.
  5. robert liked a blog entry by yogafire, Day 7 - Check-in   
    Well, on Day 5 the doctor ordered me to take a week's break from yoga and walking long distances. The tendon pain at the top of my right foot hasn't gone away in over two weeks, but I kept on doing yoga almost every day because, cheapskate me, I had a GroupOn for a monthly unlimited pass.  I got concerned because we thought about going skiing this weekend, but ski boots are intentionally tight and will likely push right into that top part of my foot!  So, I'm letting that notion go and not rushing to test my foot.
    I stated my intention to still participate by following along with the suggested meditations, but I haven't. I'll try listening to a short guided one when I first wake up so it's more likely I'll follow through. 
    I continued with my physical therapy exercises for my shoulder, hanging onto a pull-up bar, and doing eagle arms to stretch out my upperback and relieve my aches.  Our pull-up bar is one of those as-seen-on-TV kinds that fits across a doorway. So at the minimum, I jump onto it each time I walk by and try raising myself a few inches to warm up my achy back muscles.
    Goal status: Upper back and neck pain is slightly worse since I'm less active overall.  Lower back right pain has disappeared now, so at least something is improving.  
    I sucked it up and finally scheduled physical therapy next week with someone new. I realized I can't always have yoga practice to help manage pain due to my random injury prone body!
  6. robert liked a blog entry by yogafire, If yoga practice is a refuge, then why do I keep escaping instead?   
    This is myself thinking out loud here, especially since I've been stimulated after reading other people's experiences with "slumps".
    My teacher said at the end of class on Wednesday that we can treat our mats as a refuge.  I thought that was an effective way to remember what my practice represents to me. It usually cultivates a feeling of contentment from within.  So, why did I deny myself refuge for an entire month, finding solace instead by escaping via TV, sleeping in, forum browsing, and online shopping? Those were external factors that help distract, but what was I trying to avoid thinking about?
    I didn't truly acknowledge this until now, after reflecting on a conversation with my sister earlier this week. I have some issues going on that I didn't want to acknowledge as big deals. I reaffirmed my decision not to visit my parents over the holidays so I won't have to explain why I don't want to see or ever talk to a certain family member again. I speculated with my husband about changing to a different job role so I don't have spurts of high stress and deadlines that require me to work on holidays and weekends.
    I don't have the solutions to these issues, but now I'm ready to keep them in the back of my mind instead of escaping like before.  That's not the same as being ready to face them (hence, I'm not actively seeking advice), but, I won't run away anymore. I shared details to avoid minimizing or exaggerating. Now I can sit with the truth and breathe through it, just like how I get reminded to breathe during my twisted lunges.
  7. robert liked a blog entry by yogafire, Learning how to endure in yoga has been my way of pushing myself   
    Pushing oneself is different for everyone - even in yoga when some teachers talk about "finding your edge" when stretching, I have to find a different focus to figure out which muscles to engage muscles to not stress my joints or ligaments.  Some of the high-energy aerobic classes I liked so much before triggered fainting spells and pulled muscles. I had to learn how to focus and endure discomfort done in a slow, subtle way (forcing me to look internally) rather than in a high impact way.
    Today's class focused on twists and lunges.  We did a standing series that lasted probably 5 minutes or so on one single side, so my quads and glutes were burning as we held each pose - and amazingly, I stuck with the whole sequence without ending early or skipping.  As I walked home, I realized around exactly around this time, 6 years ago, I tried my first yoga with my sister at home using a pre-natal yoga video.  We did a bunch of high lunges in the video, and I kept whining to my sister the whole time, "It hurts!! How can you stand this!!!"  As I kept falling out of the poses (from agony and imbalance), my sister said, "Shut up! This is pregnant women yoga! You can do it!"  And yes, my pregnant sister was doing it!
    I'm pleased now that I've learned how to cope and endure the terrible burning, how to recover when I feel my balance sway and... to not whine!  Learning how to endure was learning how to push myself safely in different ways than before.  Now I just need to see if the not whining part will follow off the mat, too!
     
  8. robert liked a blog entry by yogafire, Now I understand why Candace has 15 min yoga videos   
    When I first started watching Candace's videos, I thought, why are there so many short ones? None of these can replace my 90 min classes in the studio. (such judgment! I admit it!)  
    But! I am coming back from a rut - I didn't do any workouts for a whole month, including yoga.  2 weeks of this was due to vacation, and then, I got slammed by work and stress (working over Thanksgiving holidays).  I've been so exhausted - sleeping for more than 10 hours at a time.  I knew exercise and yoga could help re-energize me, but, I just couldn't bring myself to start. I had shamed myself for slacking off and was too embarrassed to go back into the studio, and was also not even sure if I could last an entire class.  
    I finally stopped making excuses yesterday and finally did the 15 min hip opening video.  Siting at my desk all day causes my hip flexors get tight, and, this video make me re-appreciate lunges and make me feel more excited about resuming my yoga practice and not afraid to face my regular teacher even though I haven't seen her in over a month!
    How do others use the short 15 min videos?  Do you view them alone as short breaks in the day, or do you bundle them with other videos to have a longer practice?
  9. robert liked a blog entry by Lorelei, Paris: Je t'aime!   
    We arrived home from our trip to Paris on Friday afternoon.  Yes, that Friday.  Upon arrival, our phones blew up with concerned texts from friends and family.  Our newly beloved Paris was under attack as we headed home from her.  As a matter of fact, we had spent the previous day wandering the neighborhood near Bataclan, the concert venue of the attacks.  We'd gone to see an exhibit at a tiny gallery in the area.  Having just been there makes the attacks more closely felt and more heartbreaking to my husband and to me.
    Our trip was simply blissful.  The hotel room was tiny and romantic and the building itself elegant.  There was barely room in it to do a decent yoga practice (but I worked it out); the view was a lovely flower-boxed building across the street from us, and we listened to French voices wafting through our balcony window as we drifted to sleep each night.  My French was adequate, which was exciting.  
    According to my Fitbit, we logged between 20,00 and 33,000 steps a day to all the must-see sites, along with many neighborhoods where we found ourselves lost without caring.  The steps (and a solo early morning run along the Seine) offset the macarons (Laduree.....yum!), red wine, croissants at each breakfast, hot milk in my coffee, and simply-fresh-delicious french food at every meal. There might have been a Nutella crepe that happened too.  Not a pound gained during a week of less organized exercise and more food intake.....that is reason to celebrate.  
    All in all, this trip was what it was meant to be:  An adventure that was lovely, restful, and a great getaway for two marrieds with kids, etc.  
    Thanks for the well wishes and great tips.  Good to be home!

     
  10. robert liked a blog entry by Lorelei, Boot Camp   
    Today, I took my first ever boot camp class at my gym.  I've been a member for just over nine years, and my M.O. is this:  get in there, get 20-30 min of good cardio, 35-45 minutes of strength, stretching at the beginning and end, and try to not speak a single word to anyone in the process.  It's worked for me.  I never thought of the gym as a social experience but as a place of solitary meditation through motion.  And, full disclosure time, I really thought I was pushing myself when I was at the gym. 
    This morning, I discovered that I'd been living in a dream world.  
    A co-worker suggested boot camp to me last week while I was doing a total mat work out, and she'd plopped down next to me to do some core work.  If you must know, the reason I was on the mat for an hour is because it was the first snow storm of the season that day, and I'd forgotten my gym shoes.  (Side note:  Surprisingly, the total mat work out turned out to be pretty ok, once I shook the negative attitude about forgetting my shoes.)  Anyway.....she said that the Sunday morning boot camp class was great, so I said I'd give it a go.
    It.  Was.  Brutal.
    I had to ask the kid working the fitness center desk where to find boot camp class.  His reply?  "Do you know that's the hardest class here?  Even harder than TRX."  Great.  
    I found the room.  It was conveniently situation right off the elevated track.  There was a circuit of nine stations that the sweet and welcoming (but slightly overly energetic for a Sunday morning) instructor had thoughtfully planned.  We worked through the circuit twice with 30 seconds at each station (she said, but it seemed closer to a minute) with other activities making a surprise appearance throughout.  There was running.  There was jumping rope (I hate hate hate jumping rope, because I stink at it.)  There were squats (three different kinds) and walking lunges with weights.  There were planks (of course).  There was a plethora of abdominal exercises.   We finished with stretches and a child's pose.  I really wanted to just stay in that child's pose and cry for a little bit before I got up, but I didn't.  Well, maybe I did.  
    By the time the class hour was over, I was a limp noodle with sweat dripping off the end of my nose.  It was wonderful.  I can't wait until next Sunday.
  11. robert liked a blog entry by Lorelei, Decisions   
    Savoring some quiet time.  It's almost 1am.  The house sleeps.  I'm reading yoga blogs, knitting, having a glass of wine, and thinking.  Getting ready to begin YTT in January, I've been reading a lot more on the practice and ideologies surrounding yoga.  I've had a slight revelation or two, unfollowed a couple flashy yoga types on social media, and ramped up my readings on Yoga as an ancient philosophy.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I want to approach teaching yoga as a practice and as a tool in schools for children who struggle.  I am searching for ways to introduce this gift of yoga to others and how I want to represent myself in the realm of yoga.  I will not attempt to authenticate myself in a way that is false.  However, yoga means more to me than a trend.  It's something beyond physical fitness.  My desire is to convey that yoga can heal a broken heart, give hope for a better tomorrow, uncover what was never thought possible, deepen a belief in oneself.  It is beautiful.    
    As an emerging practitioner, I honestly believe in the mystical properties of yoga.  For me, it goes something like this:  my daughter Delaney believes in fairies.  She is twelve and a half, and the magic of the world is starting to slip away from her ever-hopefully believing fingertips.  But fairies?  They are real.  She is a firm believer.  They live in our garden, visit in the night, provide a beauty in a world that has suddenly become scarier and uglier as her growing self becomes more aware of the horrors that are possible on earth.  Sad?  Depressing?  Yes.  But.  Fairies are her escape.  They deepen her faith that the good will triumph over the evil.  The light over the darkness.  They give her a path of hope and light and beauty.... and youth.
    That is yoga for me.  It is my fairies.  My challenge is to learn how to help convey its mystical and healing properties to others and to help them understand that they are free to choose what yoga will mean for them.
     
      Delaney Jane:  My fairy advocate.
  12. scottcraft liked a blog entry by robert, Sequancing to work deaper into poses (Hip opening sequance)   
    I did a sequence in class that caught my interest,  running through a similar sequence twice both times resulting in a 'side angle namaste twist', but gradually increasing it's intensity by changing which leg is forward while twisting in the same direction. The sequence:
    1: Down dog, step through (left), crescent lunge, twist to the right with hands in namaste with arm on shin
    2: Down dog, step through (right), crescent lunge, twist to the right with hands in namaste with arm on shin
    3: Repeat opposite
    I find this interesting as it may deepen the second round pose by doing a weaker variation first, preparing the body.
  13. scottcraft liked a blog entry by robert, Sequancing to work deaper into poses (Hip opening sequance)   
    I did a sequence in class that caught my interest,  running through a similar sequence twice both times resulting in a 'side angle namaste twist', but gradually increasing it's intensity by changing which leg is forward while twisting in the same direction. The sequence:
    1: Down dog, step through (left), crescent lunge, twist to the right with hands in namaste with arm on shin
    2: Down dog, step through (right), crescent lunge, twist to the right with hands in namaste with arm on shin
    3: Repeat opposite
    I find this interesting as it may deepen the second round pose by doing a weaker variation first, preparing the body.
  14. scottcraft liked a blog entry by robert, Sequancing to work deaper into poses (Hip opening sequance)   
    I did a sequence in class that caught my interest,  running through a similar sequence twice both times resulting in a 'side angle namaste twist', but gradually increasing it's intensity by changing which leg is forward while twisting in the same direction. The sequence:
    1: Down dog, step through (left), crescent lunge, twist to the right with hands in namaste with arm on shin
    2: Down dog, step through (right), crescent lunge, twist to the right with hands in namaste with arm on shin
    3: Repeat opposite
    I find this interesting as it may deepen the second round pose by doing a weaker variation first, preparing the body.
  15. robert liked a blog entry by yogafire, Beginning of Week 4 - Day 24 Progress Pics   
    Day 22: I decided to do a home video / progress pics when I did a practice at home rather than in studio, on Thursday.
    Before practice: Felt a little ungrounded - knew I was going to my teacher's last class, who I've been going to consistently for almost four years.
    After practice: Emotional.  Beginning of class my teacher talked about self-awareness being key, and it hit me hard.  My teacher said her main goal in teaching is just to share what has helped her and hopefully reduce suffering.  I started thinking back to all the times when what she said has helped me when I had rough times.. oh!  So much gratitude for my teacher. I'm pleased and content though. I gave her a somewhat symbolic gift and heartfelt card, so this was a great time to remind her of how much she is appreciated.   Day 23: Self-proclaimed rest day. The left side of my lower ab muscle (in front of my pelvis) has been rather tight for the past few days, so I decided to just give it a complete rest today. I still did my physical therapy exercises!   Day 24: Before practice: A little flustered - didn't finish everything on my to-do list before yoga practice, but I finally realized that was not going to happen and put it off till the next day. I then took a full hour break to do Candace's 60 min slow flow yoga. After practice: Hopeful - I realized I've been over-worrying about my recent aches and joint pains because almost 2 years ago, I thought my neck pain would "just go away" with rest, but, it has evolved to impact my shoulder. But now I see I've backed off and regained my strength in my wrists, and when we did some boat work, my lower ab muscle didn't have that horrible tightness I felt a few days before. I was also pleased to realize what an advantageous view I have with a home practice when I lift my arms in tadasana.     Progress pics from day 24 below. (On the right, I started smiling / laughing because my husband woke up from a nap and yelled, "I'm so tired!!!") Now I wonder if my left shoulder is tighter (harder to bind behind), which is why it looks like my right shoulder is leaning forward in the first picture. Well, it's not the end of the 30-day challenge yet, so I'll compare with day 1 later!
  16. scottcraft liked a blog entry by robert, The importance of keeping trying things   
    The peak pose of the class I yesterday was lotus, which I've attempted before and failed, so naturally I was expecting to have to sit it out. However when the pose came around towards the end of the class we where lead through a few lead in poses including half lotus. Much to my surprise (and my teachers) I managed to get into lotus pose on both sites without much difficulty. This was sitting on a block, I tried it again in my practice today and I can do without, though it's very strong.
    I've been very surprised with how much progress I've been making, considering that I was contemplating eliminating downdog from my practice just a few months ago. I think this goes to show the importance of keeping on trying poses even if you can't do them today, things do improve over time, and with regular practice using good methodology, rapid progress is possible.
  17. scottcraft liked a blog entry by robert, The importance of keeping trying things   
    The peak pose of the class I yesterday was lotus, which I've attempted before and failed, so naturally I was expecting to have to sit it out. However when the pose came around towards the end of the class we where lead through a few lead in poses including half lotus. Much to my surprise (and my teachers) I managed to get into lotus pose on both sites without much difficulty. This was sitting on a block, I tried it again in my practice today and I can do without, though it's very strong.
    I've been very surprised with how much progress I've been making, considering that I was contemplating eliminating downdog from my practice just a few months ago. I think this goes to show the importance of keeping on trying poses even if you can't do them today, things do improve over time, and with regular practice using good methodology, rapid progress is possible.
  18. scottcraft liked a blog entry by robert, The importance of keeping trying things   
    The peak pose of the class I yesterday was lotus, which I've attempted before and failed, so naturally I was expecting to have to sit it out. However when the pose came around towards the end of the class we where lead through a few lead in poses including half lotus. Much to my surprise (and my teachers) I managed to get into lotus pose on both sites without much difficulty. This was sitting on a block, I tried it again in my practice today and I can do without, though it's very strong.
    I've been very surprised with how much progress I've been making, considering that I was contemplating eliminating downdog from my practice just a few months ago. I think this goes to show the importance of keeping on trying poses even if you can't do them today, things do improve over time, and with regular practice using good methodology, rapid progress is possible.
  19. robert liked a blog entry by Lorelei, "Progress" is Relative   
    Well, well, well.....Mermaid Pose is progressing......very little.  I have been working on the pose, but I know now that I should have been doing so much more in the way of hip openers this whole month in order to have moved further along.  Live and learn.  Also, I am aware now that Mermaid Pose might be a bit down the road for me.  I was just so ready to jump in and DO IT!  But, I'll keep working on it, and when I nail it, I will post the most wicked Mermaid ever.  
     
    Real life has also been inserting itself into my practice over the last two weeks, as it tends to do.    I had to move my mom to a new memory care community.  Stressful?  Sad?  Self-Doubt Inducing?  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Then, that same day in the middle of it all, the phone call from school came to alert me that the event leading up to this happened:

     
    My point is that I did not concentrate on my practice as I had wanted over the last week and a half.  However, I did not give up and quit.  Bigger for me is this:  I did not stress about it.  I did what I could.  Some days, the real life stuff made me feel tired and off.  On those days, I did a gentle flow or an easy run.  Some days I knitted and read a book during my free minutes instead.  And you know what?  My balance has improved a little bit.  I still feel a charlie horse coming on when I bend up my leg, and I don't know what that's all about.  It's ok, because instead of getting very far on Mermaid Pose:
    Week 1                   Week 4
     
    This happened:

     
    Headstand practice has made me feel calmer, and so I did more of that over the last 10 days or so.  Then, last Sunday, in the middle of the school baseball field while my son kicked a soccer ball and my husband hit ground balls to my daughter, I did a headstand.  And then another.  Then I practiced handstands against the fence.  I'm pretty sure I looked like a nut, but I didn't care.  And that, my friends, is mindfully practicing yoga.  <3
     
     
     
     
     
  20. robert liked a blog entry by yogafire, Week 2 - Not much yoga on the mat, but surprised how more patient I am   
    Day 8 photos posted here.
    Day 9 was special to have its own entry, already shared here.
    Day 10
    Before practice: a unique day. Spent 1.5 hours waiting for a free concert, but I figured my husband and I would do it without question if we were on vacation. Turned out I was a bigger fan than I thought, so I jumped and danced without being self-conscious and just got into it - something entirely new for me. It felt refreshing - opposite of the experience we had a month ago when we went to a wedding with a friend who refused to dance. I realize now that we were passing judgment on others (in jest, not cruelly) so others couldn't pass judgment on us. Now I understand how tiring it was to think that way.

    I felt light and free when we got home and originally thought that would be perfect to do a longer yoga flow class.  But when I saw that the day's suggested yoga video was to de-stress, I realized it would make more sense to wind down since I certainly burned off enough energy. 
    After practice: I felt more relaxed - my shoulder soreness subsided.  I was still happy but not pumped up.
    Day 11
    Rest day for yoga, but I made time for myself to go running
    Day 12
    I ended up being out all day, so I took a rest day but with a few poses and stretches before bed. I spent all day outside helping my sister take care of my nephews (3 and 6). I told my sister at the end I had fun but had no idea how she does it everyday. I was impressed that I maintained enough energy to patiently reason with my nephews (yes, even the toddler!), and simply wait for them to understand instead of trying to force them to do what they needed to do. (In retrospect, I did find it amusing to watch my 3 year old nephew grab and put back the same lollipop 10 times, but, hey, he finally let it go!)
    Day 13
    Before practice: groggy, just woke up. I originally set my alarm for earlier to try to make an in studio class, but, I felt tired and knew I had "sleep debt" for not sleeping as many hours as normal during the week. I gave myself a break to do a home practice instead.  I chose to do Day 9's 20 min video for tight legs since I have been on my feet constantly for the past 3 days.
    After practice: Felt refreshed. I pleasantly realized I still had lots of patience because something happened right after practice ended that would previously annoy and frustrate me.  My husband came home from a pulled lower back at the gym. It seems unfair, but I would previously get annoyed whenever he got injured because he tends to push himself to the limits, and, I have to do more things on my own around the house when he's hurt.  My wrists and joints have also been feeling wonky lately (I think from Day 7 when I was doing some standing splits and put too much weight on my fingertips), but instead of having that get me down and frustrated on top of taking care of my husband, I just let my husband know, "My wrists and joints are still hurting. So, I can and want to help you, but I won't be moving as fast." He wasn't rushing me, but, I know previously I would have rushed myself and unnecessarily stress myself out.
    Day 14
    Oops, I ended up reflecting on my practice today rather than practicing. I pushed off my home practice for later, but my husband's injury shifted our schedule, and I couldn't practice before dinner. Instead of beating myself up, I will view this as a lesson learned to do my home practice earlier in the day. I'll probably set an alarm time so I treat it like attending a studio class. Opportunity for improvement for week 3!
  21. robert liked a blog entry by Lorelei, A Week for Patience   
    The last week has been packed with two sick children and a mother whose assisted living placement needs changing due to a decline in her care.  I am grateful for the opportunity to be available to my children and to comfort them when they are ill.  I'm grateful that when they are ill, it is a virus that passes without trauma.  I am grateful that I am in a position to be near my mother, to provide comfort to her, and to manage her care.  
    That is why I can realize that letting my yoga practice temporarily suffer is something that happens but that it was always be there for me.  I had to take two days break in a row this week, and I can feel that my flexibility has waned just a bit.  I am not ready to publish any of my Mermaid Pose attempts right now, but today I was able to raise both arms overhead while keeping my balance.  I've decided that I need to work on the balance piece before I can move into reaching back for a foot.  Just a readjustment of my plan.  I've been having some hamstring tightness that I have to work on in the coming week too.
    This week's unexpected opportunity to work on my patience has been a gift.  I know that every experience offers an opportunity for growth.  The choice is mine as to whether or not I accept that opportunity as a positive experience in my life and in the lives of those around me. 
  22. robert liked a blog entry by yogafire, Is my contentment... joy?   
    Day 9 reflections:
    As part of the mindfulness challenge, I reflected on how I felt before and after yoga class.  Before, I felt pretty tense in my neck and slightly annoyed that I keep re-injuring my neck in my sleep - it's been so hot that I didn't sleep with a neck collar one night, and, now I'm paying for it.  
    At today's Forrest yoga class, I spent a lot of time breathing in and out of twisting poses that challenged me while allowing my neck release.  At the end of class, my teacher, as usual, asked us to observe if there were a shift from the beginning of class to now, and to be grateful that we were able to make that shift.  I felt content (as I usually do) and light.  So light to the point of absent-mindedness - when I got home, I didn't even remember if I picked up my house keys at the studio after class (I did).
    Then I remembered something I read earlier this week from "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown (read in parallel with Candace's recent gratitude post and KristiSmithYoga's advice #2 - the universe keeps telling me how important gratitude is!)
    I've been wanting to escape and feeling disconnected for awhile, even though I know I have a "sunny disposition" and all my friends describe me as "super happy".  I can easily point out funny or cute things and laugh about it with others - that's all externally based on circumstances. When I read the above, I thought joy had to be a state of exuberance or even enlightenment due to the spiritual aspect, but now I see it's just the opposite of fear.  When I'm content, that lightness I feel is because I have no worries going through my head - I never connected that until today.
    I've been struggling to cultivate my own sense of self-worth. I have equated making others happy with my own happiness for a long time, and wondered why my happiness isn't always enough. Now I understand my yoga practice is a constant cultivation of gratitude that leads to me feeling content, and that is my joy.
     
     
  23. robert liked a blog entry by yogafire, Trying to be mindful off the mat, too   
    Updates for the past 3 days:
    Day 5 - Realizing I'm not being mindful off the mat
    I've been using yoga and running as an escape from some hard realizations I'm working through emotionally.  But today, when some things disappointed me, I didn't voice it and instead, stewed about it, and passively-aggressively took it out on my husband.  I will try to be mindful not only during this yoga challenge but in my everyday life - for example, let my husband know at the time, not later, what is bothering me. And if I don't know yet, just admit that.  It's too much pressure to always try to figure things out first - it doesn't have to be that way.
    The good news though.. my knees hurt slightly today, so, I swapped out today's suggested yoga practice for a rest day instead.
    Day 6 - Restorative was just what I needed
    I had an honest talk with my husband in the morning - that helped lift most of my tension.
    I still developed a mild headache throughout the day, mostly from sleep deprivation. I followed Candace's restorative yin session - my chest is especially tight (hard for me to do backbends and twists), so I appreciated the poses.  I focused on just breathing deeply (no ujjayi, just breathe), and, my headache did subside.
    Day 7 - Stalking my fear
    Feeling more motivated today, I decided to sit down and watch a recorded session from Wanderlust with Ana Forrest.  The 2 hour playtime scared me, but then I realized she spends time to demo and describe what to do first, so, it's not holding dolphin for 2 hours! The theme was "stalking your fear", and, being more aware of where we hold tension when we get scared. I know my tight spots are my neck and between my shoulder blades, but, I found out today that it was my throat - you know that, lump in your throat when you receive bad news? That's tightness, not a lump! It made sense, if I'm constricting my throat and lowering my chin down, of course my neck and shoulders are going to suffer.  I always love when I learn something new about myself.
  24. robert liked a blog entry by Anahata, All we have to do today   
    All we have to do today is show up on our mats. No demands. No expectations.