Imagine Balance

imagining balance to achieve balance

Category Archives: Yoga

unequaled equilibrium

(unbalanced me)

In case the blog title didn’t give it away, I’m searching for balance. When I started this journey, part of me – probably most of me – thought balance meant perfection. It meant learning to spend exactly the right amount of time and energy on each aspect of my life in order to make me blissful. The more I practice yoga, the less this is the ultimate goal.

Yes, part of what I need to learn is how to balance my time and energy on different things to stay happy while being productive. But that’s no longer enough. Life has a way of tipping the scales as soon as you get them level. Even if I achieve unequaled equilibrium one day, the next may introduce a new element.

A Year of Living Your Yoga really brought this into focus for me last month. Judith shared with us that “Balance is not a static state but is like a pendulum that swings from side to side.” and that we need to be grateful for our mistakes and regrets for they give balance to our victories and celebrations.

I see a kind of balance at work every day. As a server, I basically live off tips. Some people don’t seem to understand this concept. Here’s the thing though: at the end of the day the people who leave good tips almost always balance the bad tips. I used to just focus on the bad tips. It is so much more fun bitching about cheap tables. Lately, I’ve challenged myself (and my co-workers) to brag about our big tips as well. To recognize the balance.

But what I’m looking for is more than just looking on the bright side of a bad situation. It’s accepting the bad situation for what it is and how it completes your life. You can’t understand joy without sorrow. If only this was easier done than said 🙂

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Mastering Crow {#365yoga}

(source : lifeinterstitial)

Judith’s wisdom for March 10 was that difficulty is one hundred percent subjective. What is easy for me may be hard for you. What you make look simple eludes me. She then challenged us #365yoga-ers to pick an asana that we find difficult and keep at it for the next twenty-one days.

The first pose that came to mind is crow pose (crane pose / bakasana). I lack both balance and upper arm strength. So for the rest of the month I set to mastering flying. (What asana did you choose?)

I’m starting with these videos by Sadie Nardini. VERY helpful!

 

Take That Fear!!

(not me : source : Holly Mosier )

Yesterday I wasn’t feeling the led practice I was doing at home. I was falling out of simple poses. I couldn’t concentrate at all. So instead of giving up (which is what I probably would have done a few months ago), I put on some Adele and just did what my body wanted. Turned out to be Sun Salutations and attempting a headstand (Salamba Sirsasana).

I’ve never done a headstand (as an adult) and was thinking I’d fall and break my neck. Turns out I didn’t. The wall caught me. My arms supported me. It didn’t even hurt my sometimes bum shoulder. I was totally high on yoga. I was dancing and freaking my cat out. And since I was practicing with the shades up at night, I was probably entertaining our neighbors. It was perfect.

Now to carry this fearlessness into the rest of my life…

back to class

(source : mday2010)

Almost all of my yoga practice has been at home. I would love to take more in studio classes, but sadly it never fit with my work schedule when I could afford it and now that I have free time I have less money. Last year for Christmas I signed up for an 8 week beginners Ashtanga program and LOVED it. So this year I bought myself a pack of class passes. Yesterday I signed up for my first class of the year: Beyond Beginners. I thought it would be a nice transition back into a led practice.

I was insanely nervous on my way there. What if I can’t keep up? What if I’ve forgotten all of it? Will I like the teacher? I freaked myself out over nothing. In fact, the class was far too easy for me. It seemed more Before Beginning than for someone who would have taken one of their beginner’s programs. While it was relaxing, we only focused on a few poses. At first I was disappointed but after thinking about it more, it was perfect. Now I feel more confident to jump into a led ashtanga class.

I’m also threatening my husband that we either use our gym membership this month or I’m canceling it and using the money for yoga 🙂

asana acoustics {1}

I used to practice to led audio podcasts or maybe a soft classical playlist. Lately I’ve been taking it up a notch and using music to get me motivated and on my mat. Here are some songs that inspired me this week.

What were your yoga songs this week?

#365yoga {01.30 – 02.05}

source : NamWizard

I’ve realized that while this blog is mostly for to me to be able to look back on my journey, neither one of us wants to read bland recaps of something you may be doing yourself. How I’m going to solve this, however, I haven’t completely worked out. So this week I’m going to try to go a little deeper into my favorite and most challenging day of A Year of Living Your Yoga and see where that takes us.

Favorite Lesson : Jan 31 – Yoga is not about avoiding difficulty.

When challenged to do something difficult for me for 5 minutes, I chose to apply for jobs. You might be thinking “that does not sound difficult” or if you’re my husband you might be thinking “it’s about damn time”. I really don’t like to think about why it’s hard for me, but without facing this, I can’t move past it.

When I lost my job 2 years ago (has it really been that long?!), I felt completely rejected. While rationally I can see that the elimination of my territory was more about the company’s lack of market research prior to hiring me, emotionally I feel like I wasn’t good enough. I did, however, jump full force into the application process right away. Hundreds of applications and months later without a lead just made the initial emotional wound that much deeper.

Then I got my current job as a waitress. While I wouldn’t call it “stress-free”, I don’t bring work home. It is easy for me and I’m good at it. Is it what I want to do for the rest of my life? NO! So why am I clinging to it? Because I’m excellent at denial. I’m comfortable here and it’s easy to let time pass without acknowledging the need for change.

Thinking about only having to apply for jobs for 5 minutes made it feel less of a big deal. I actually ended up working on them for longer than I anticipated. I’m hoping to go into this “only 5 minutes” mode for at least one night a week from now on.

Most Difficult Lesson : Feb 03 – Life is holy.

When asked to dedicate my practice to God or a divine being, I was at a complete loss. As I’ve mentioned on my Open Mind page, I’m not a religious person. I neither believe nor disbelieve in a higher power. I honestly don’t care either way. I am a good person (most of the time) and do so merely to be a good person. My parents chose to raise my sister and I to follow many of the same moral rules you see in religions like Christianity, but without the faith or fear of an afterlife or higher being.

So how do I align my beliefs, or lack there of, with this aspect of my yoga? I ended up dedicating that day to my husband instead. I picked someone who loves and supports me. Someone who helps me be a better person. I could have easily picked my parents, sister, or a close friend with the same intention.

I tried to look up some information on yoga for non-theists and came across a lot of articles about fear of yogic religion. Let me be clear, I don’t fear religion and welcome the ideas of many different cultures. To each their own. While I’m aware that I can benefit my life both physically and mentally with yoga without the spiritual aspects, I’m wondering how to best supplement them. If you are an atheist, or agnostic, or even Buddhist, how do you approach the theist side of your practice?

 

#365yoga {01.26 – 01.29}

source : Gosia Janik

I posted a few days ago about starting #365yoga and while I’m journaling each morning about the previous day, I think I’m going to just do weekly summaries on Sundays for the blog. If you are participating in #365yoga and Tweeting/blogging, please let me know so I can follow your journey!

This was a short week due to my starting the program on Wednesday. This was the perfect day for me to start. 01.26 reminds us of the need for consistency of discipline and challenges us to practice for the following 21 days without missing a single one. I’ve already had a few days where I’ve been hesitant to get on my mat. However, I’m always glad I did afterward. I’m also shocked at how asking myself to stop and pay attention to my feelings on a particular day has already started a habit of doing it the following days as well. I love taking a second to close my eyes and feel happy or confident or even angry.

Favorite Lesson: Creating an intention for my practice.

While I really enjoyed and needed the reminder to find intention for my practice on Thursday. I’m concerned about using the same intention every time. Not that this would be terrible, but I feel like I should find a variation in order to expand my practice further. Do you have any suggestions for intentions?

Most Challenging Lesson: Noticing resistance to my life.

I was a little confused about this one. Was I supposed to notice negative thoughts? What does it mean to resist your life?

How did your week of #365yoga go?

*I picked this image for the week due to Luna’s aversion to my doing yoga. She’s been very vocal while I’m trying to meditate.

#365yoga

A Year of Living Your Yoga by P.T. Judith Hanson Lasater Ph.D.

A Year of Living Your Yoga is a collection of aphorisms by Judith Hanson Lasater, drawn from her teaching of yoga over the past three decades. Reflecting her knowledge of classic yoga philosophy, her own yoga practice and teaching, and her life experiences, these aphorisms are inspiring, humorous, and down-to-earth. There is one aphorism for each day of the year, along with a suggested practice. Some practices will take you onto your yoga mat and others will take you off of it. All will give you the opportunity to be present to yourself, and to life’s ups and downs—day by day, breath by breath, moment by moment.

– via Amazon.com

You may or may not have noticed under my Books Page that I’ve started A Year of Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater. I started the program on Wednesday, but since I started late I did go through and read the days I missed. I’m extremely excited about this program! Each day contains one aphorism and a challenge on how to apply it to your life for that day.

For example:

Jan 26 – Without discipline there is no art.

Living Your Yoga: The art of yoga comes from the consistency of discipline. Today resolve to practice for the next twenty-one days without missing a single one. Note it on your calendar.

Jan 27 – Discipline arises from clarity of intention and commitment.

Living Your Yoga: Sit quietly on your mat. Create an intention for your practice before you begin, such as this Mantra for Daily Living: Today I will focus my practice on inviting inner stillness.

(my favorite of the ones I missed) Jan 19 – Suffering comes from our unwillingness to be present.

Living Your Yoga: Today notice five recurring thoughts that take you away from your life as it is. Write them down. When you get a chance, burn the paper lovingly, and let those thoughts drift away with the smoke.

I’m keeping a journal of my favorite aphorisms and my thoughts/feelings on the challenges and hope to update once a week. I’m doing this via my Kindle. While I think it would be nice to have the book in hand, I always have my Kindle on me and it keeps my place so I can just open straight up to the next day.

Are you participating in #365yoga?

Practice at Home – iRelax Melodies

I’ve been working towards practicing yoga at home without being led. I’ll be sure to post about what podcast and DVDs I use in the near future. However, this week I wanted to introduce you to an iPhone app called iRelax Melodies. You simply click on the types of sounds you want to hear to add them together into one beautiful melody. You can save favorites, set a sleep timer or alarm, shake to shuffle. My favorite mix is flute, orchestral, zen, and melody. However, they also have piano, waterfall, thunder, night, fire, river, ocean, rain, wind, music box, lounge, and birds that call all be mixed together how ever you want.

Here is an online review I came across of the Premium app that also includes images of the app. (there is also a lite app that is free)

Surya Namaskar B {Sun Salutation B}

Surya Namaskar B is the second sequence of an Ashtanga practice. You would do this after five Surya Namaskar A. I’ve bolded what is different from Surya Namaskar A.

{Find a video of the Surya Namaskar B sequence at the bottom of the post}

1. Tadasna – Mountain Pose (link)

  • notes to self : remember to keep all four corners of the foot equally rooted, you can start with your feet hip width apart until your balance is better

2. Utkatasana – Chair Pose (link)

  • try to keep your hips at the same angle as when standing in mountain pose

3. Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend (link)

  • bend from the hit keeping the back straight only curve head towards shins once bent over

4. Ardha Uttanasana – Half Standing Pose (link)

5. Plank Pose (link)

  • can start with half-plank pose (on knees) and work your way to full plank pose

6. Chaturanga Dandasana – Four-Limbed Staff Pose (link)

  • can lower yourself to your stomach and work towards this

7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward-Facing Dog (link)

8. Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward-Facing Dog (link)

  • do not hold this one for five breaths!

9. Virabhadrasana I – Warrior 1 (link)

  • right always goes first
  • work on bringing your hips forward

10. Chaturanga Dandasana – Four-Limbed Staff Pose (link)

  • can lower yourself to your stomach and work towards this

11. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward-Facing Dog (link)

12. Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward-Facing Dog (link)

  • also do not hold this one for 5 counts

13. Virabhadrasana I – Warrior 1 (link)

  • now repeat step 9 with your left foot forward
  • work on bringing your hips forward

14. Chaturanga Dandasana – Four-Limbed Staff Pose (link)

  • can lower yourself to your stomach and work towards this

15. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward-Facing Dog (link)

16. Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward-Facing Dog (link)

  • hold for 5 breaths – if you can comfortably hold this pose with your heels on the floor for all 5 breaths then place your feet further back

17. Ardha Uttanasana – Half Standing Pose (link)

18. Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend (link)

  • bend from the hit keeping the back straight only curve head towards shins once bent over

19. Utkatasana – Chair Pose (link)

  • try to keep your hips at the same angle as when standing in mountain pose

20. Tadasna – Mountain Pose (link)

— repeat 5 times —