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We Can All Do More

Yoga-Teacher-Graduation-Ceremony

It’s been quite a week.

I graduated from the Maitri 250hr Yoga Teacher Training program Wednesday evening. I don’t really have adequate words to describe the women I came to know through this program. They fill me up. I have to keep reminding myself to check my ego. These ladies just won’t quit with the compliments!

“Thank you. Thank you,” I found myself chanting like a mantra, the words losing weight with each repetition, collapsing into a jumble of abstract sounds, like a tired tongue twister.

I called my husband Thursday evening right before he boarded a plane for home, a day earlier than planned. His surprise arrival meant I got to sleep in Friday morning and take a leisurely shower while he ran errands with the girls.

I’ve been binge listening to Ultra Runner Podcast lately. The latest episode with Kaci Lickteig played while I sipped my morning coffee. She described her suffering during the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. She spoke plainly about the anger she felt towards her grandma for giving up chemo. The stress she felt over her inability to help rocked her race and, at the same time, drove her to the finish. So she could prove to herself and her grandma that we can all do more than we think we’re capable of.

“Am I angry with my mom?” I wondered. I don’t think so. Although I do feel angry with my dad, for bailing while he was still needed.

Friday night I taught kids’ Superhero Yoga at the Denver Comic Con, and it went really well. The kids were all engaged and my nerves fizzled as soon as we started. Afterwards we went out to eat downtown. The weather was perfect, my family was with me and I was feeling the buzz of beer and relief.

Superhero-Yoga-Denver-Comic-Con

It’s a strange thing experiencing joy in the middle of grief. Celebrating the beautiful moments, both large and small, and continuing on. Going through the motions of daily life as life ends.

I ran during the hottest part of Sunday. My watch stats tell me the temperature ranged between 88 – 106 F. There wasn’t any shade. A visible and textured layer of salt coated my skin by the time I finished. It was hard. But as my hero Glennon Doyle Melton says, “We can do hard things.” I reminded myself that at least the heat meant I was less likely to meet a rattlesnake. I reminded myself that I will survive. I will finish. Or, perhaps more accurately, I will continue. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other, because we can all do more than we think we’re capable of.

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I’m Teaching Free Yoga Classes. You Should Come.

The time has come! The time is now! Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now?? Oh wups. I got carried away for a second there. Actually, the time has come for Yoga Teacher Training graduation. And the time is tomorrow. I can’t believe it. The last year has flown by.

So, naturally, I’m starting to think about teaching, and that is making me feel very overwhelmed. Not so much the teaching part. That part is only a little overwhelming. It’s more so the getting a job part. I’m trying to think creatively, summon the courage to do scary things and also just trust that things will work out.

In the meantime, I have signed up to teach two free yoga classes!

Well, the first one is not really free. Sorry for being misleading there. You will have to pay to get into the Denver Comic Con, which may be sold out at this point… If you do find yourself there, definitely swing by for Kids Superhero Yoga from 5:30 – 6:00 pm on both Friday and Saturday. You’ll get to do things like stop a train, lift a car and rescue a cat from a tree. Also, I’m going to wear a costume.

Kids-Superhero-Yoga-Denver-Comic-Con

If you happen to be an adult you might be more interested in the free yoga class I’m teaching at Matri Yoga – Arvada on Sunday, July 16th at 1:00 pm. You don’t have to practice there to come. I’ve put together a draft of my lesson plan and it’s fairly challenging. But my goal is keep things light and welcome play and mistakes. Mostly because I know I will be nervous and making mistakes myself. So don’t worry about having yoga experience. If you like being active you’ll fit right in.

Free-Yoga-Class-Maitri-Arvada

Hope to see you there!

Photo Credit: It’s Super Tre by Mike Fernwood is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Added to marketing image

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This Should Totally Work: Pizza, Diet, Cake

Produce-Pizza-Diet

I thought about going on a diet at the grocery store this morning, which is quite a feat because usually I think about how I want to buy all the donuts. I suppose this is something I am always quietly considering underneath all the other thoughts. Sometimes less quietly.

I’ve never been an especially “healthy” eater, but lately my habits have really taken a turn for the bad for me. And by lately I mean about 3 years ago when I got pregnant with Baby Girl and decided Five Guys burgers and fries should become a food group. So it’s her fault really. Hers and Dairy Queen’s for not having a store in California and then having one too close to our house in Colorado.

It’s been a long time since I weighed myself, mostly because I don’t want to know what the number is. Not that the number even matters. I can feel the blizzards weighing me down, lingering uncomfortably in my gut.

But I hate the word “diet”. I don’t want anything to do with that word. I don’t want to start weighing myself. I don’t want to count calories or points or drink shakes. Well, I mean, of course I want to drink shakes. I want to drink the ice cream kind that taste really good and generally don’t belong in a “diet”.

I do want my pants to fit comfortably. I want to run a little faster, or at least feel like there’s less to haul up a hill. I want to poop regular poops regularly. I want to not get diabetes. I want to live until 120+. And I want to feel super hot… basically all of the time. These are reasonable expectations, yes?

I found myself commenting on how strong my inner thighs are during Yoga Teacher Training this past weekend. Later in the day the topic of a woman’s relationship with her thighs came up. I thought to myself, “I just called mine strong.” And then I gave myself a big old pat on the back.

This morning I took Baby Girl to a dance class for toddlers. There were mirrors on two of four walls so I could check myself out easily. That’s what they were there for. I found myself comparing myself to the other moms there. “My thighs are smaller than hers. Phew. Oh, but they’re bigger than hers… and hers… and hers. Uh oh.” And then I thought, “This is not a healthy way of thinking.”

Complicated relationships aside, I could definitely benefit from cleaning up my diet. So I’m going to start washing all my produce, even the avocados and the bananas. That’s not true. But I am going to eat more avocados and bananas. More vegetables and less sugar. I’m going to start immediately. Just as soon as the leftover pizza is gone.

…and the birthday cake arriving Friday.

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Not Your Average Yoga Retreat

I took no yoga pictures, but managed to sneak in a quick run during our one legitimate break and snapped this one.

I went on a retreat for yoga teacher training this past weekend. An image is likely coming to your mind. Perhaps you just let out a sigh that was a mixture of relief and jealousy. Whatever it is you’re imagining, let me assure you. It was not that.

I don’t mean to say it was bad. I cried twice publicly and full on sobbed for a solid hour one evening while I shared a personal story with my roommate. I was obviously affected by the experience, and I feel like I can say with some confidence that I wasn’t the only one.

But it was not relaxing. I was up at 5:00 am every day so I could pump and still get to the 6:00 am asana practice. Nursing Baby Girl takes all of maybe 5-10 minutes, but some combination of performance anxiety and unnaturally small breasts/improperly sized equipment led to 40 minutes of pumping per session. For the most part our free time consisted of 10 minutes here and there to collect our things and move to another location. And a second round of pumping commenced around 9:30 pm when we were finally dismissed. In reality, it was exhausting.

The focus of the weekend was yoga philosophy. We went over the entirety of the Yoga Sutras and about half of the Bhagavad Gita. I’m churning over all of the material.

I think I would’ve oddly felt more comfortable studying the bible for a weekend, because I am very much at ease with not being Christian. I feel more conflicted about yoga philosophy because I know with a certainty that I want to teach. How much of the material do I have to buy into in order to teach in good conscience?

“Take what serves you and leave the rest.” This is what they tell us. So I plan on setting aside a good chunk of it to mull over in my own time.

I am taking with me the beautiful friendships that are beginning to bud, blossoming and flourishing. At the end of the last day of retreat we did a closing ceremony, during which most people shared very personal and emotional thoughts and stories. We cried and we hugged. It was profoundly moving.

As Brene Brown says, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically and spiritually wired to love, to be loved and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

I am beyond grateful for the bravery this group of women showed through their vulnerability and authenticity. The love and acceptance within this community is the medicine we all need.

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I’m Grumpy! And Don’t Try to Stop Me.

 

Grumpy-Big-Girl

I’ve been feeling stressed, completely maxed out, burnt out and grumpy. Especially grumpy. I’ve been extra impatient with the girls all week and especially with Big Girl who, never a model pottier, seems to have forgotten how to use the toilet all together. She wets her pants at least once a day. At age 5!

We’ve had several serious talks about it this week, during which I have expressed my concern that all the kids will make fun of her when she starts kindergarten in the fall. I felt like I really got through to her. She said she was worried. And then she peed her pants 20 minutes later.

Yesterday morning the doorbell rang and she ran to answer it, naked from the waist down. (Don’t worry. It was only Grandma.) Because I figure it’s time to redo potty training. And, also, I just can’t deal with all that laundry.

My husband “helped” with the laundry last weekend. He put the clothes in the machines and pushed the buttons, but he didn’t actually put anything away. Thursday morning I could only find one pair of pants for Big Girl in the volcano of clean laundry that erupted and coated the entirety of our bedroom floor.

I figured I’d better throw a load in the wash so we’d have at least 10 pairs on hand for the weekend, but was deterred by a load of my own clothes sitting the machine. Remnants of my husband’s helping hand, a week old, damp and smelling like mold.

He forgot to put them in the dryer. It’s an honest mistake. I can’t blame him. But this week has felt like one unexpected crisis after another.

First there was a miscommunication with my husband that led to a frantic search for last minute childcare. Then the science museum decided summer camp immunization cards were due 2 weeks earlier than originally advertised and added some extra requirements to go with it. Then there was a technical glitch on my website that I didn’t anticipate and sucked up all of Thursday morning. Then there was an issue transferring money from an IRA in my Dad’s name into my Mom’s name that I had to suddenly deal with yesterday morning. Because understanding financial transactions are just not one of my Mom’s talents, and the law office we’re paying to manage this stuff doesn’t appear able to manage it either.

Did you actually read that last paragraph? I don’t blame you if you skimmed over it. It’s not an enjoyable read. Nor was it enjoyable to live.

There was a lot of discussion Wednesday evening at Yoga Teacher Training on the topic of non-attachment. This idea that we let go of expectations and let any unexpected turn of events just sort of roll off our backs.

Well, I’m clearly no good at this. All of this week’s unexpected work made my grumpy! I’m also feeling entitled, like I deserve to be grumpy. I don’t want anyone telling me that I should let go of these unpleasant feelings. I will eventually get over it. But it will be on my own timeline, thank you very much.

I went for a 6 mile run Thursday night. I felt more calm, more patient, more content and at ease with life during the few hours after that run than I did the whole rest of the week. Running makes me feel better. But listen. I’m not going to tell you that this is how you will feel or should feel after a run. You just do your thing and figure out what works for you on your own timeline.

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The First Step on My Path to Teach Yoga: Overcome Fear

Overcome-Fear-Yoga-Teacher

To overcome fear we just have to do the scary thing. Like become a yoga teacher.

I drove past the Bikram Yoga studio in El Cerrito, California I don’t even know how many times before I finally decided to overcome fear and give it a try. Even then I couldn’t bring myself to do it alone. I had to convince a friend of mine to go with me. And when she stopped going I recruited someone else.

Over time I became more confident in my practice. I took comfort in the routine. Laying out my mat, a beach towel over top of it and a hand towel along its head, my water bottle just outside the top right corner. Rolling up the package into one, big bundle after class. Letting the cool air of the locker room dry the sweat on my skin. Chatting with my yoga partner before finally mustering up the energy to change into dry clothes.

I can’t remember when I first thought of becoming a yoga teacher. Just like I can’t remember the first time I noticed the studio. A seed was planted and over time the idea grew into my conscious awareness, showing up with roots so thick it felt like they had always been there. I knew with a certainty that I wanted to teach.

Yet I still came up with a lot of reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t. Teacher training was way too expensive. Not at all a wise investment given how much yoga teachers make. I couldn’t take the time off work. I couldn’t leave my babies.

But if I’m honest with myself, the real reason I decided not to apply for teacher training was fear. And not even fear of something reasonable, like the ability to practice for 3 hours a day in 105 degrees without becoming dehydrated. No, I was afraid of asking the studio owner for the required recommendation letter. Afraid he would think I was not even remotely close to ready, not at all teacher material. I was afraid he would think I was a joke. So I kept my little dream a secret. Not just from the studio owner, but from everyone, afraid that if I gave it voice someone else might judge me as harshly as I judged myself.

At one point I went so far as to develop a 6 month plan. I don’t remember all the details, but the basic premise was to practice a lot more and get a lot better at asana. I would practice and practice until I felt like I was good enough to ask for the letter without embarrassing myself. I would overcome fear by over preparing.

One day after class one of the teachers handed me a sticky note that read, “Bikram – This certifies that Laura is ready for teacher training.” It meant the world to me. Such a simple little thing, but I will never forget it. I taped the sticky note in my journal and it’s there still.  You might think this was the turning point, the validation I needed to overcome fear. Or that I at least used it as an opening to a conversation about my future in yoga. But no, instead I very emphatically assured him that I couldn’t possibly ever become a teacher.

When I look back over my life and my career, especially, I see the same pattern repeating itself over and over.

  1. Realizing something about myself, something I want to do, getting an idea.
  2. Coming up with a million practical reasons why it won’t work.
  3. Developing a plan to better educate or prepare myself for whatever the thing is.
  4. Doing nothing.

Because here’s the thing about fear. Here’s what I’ve learned. The only way to really get past it, to overcome fear, is to confront it. Sure, practice and preparation helps build confidence. But in the end we just have to do the scary thing. Here's the thing about fear. In the end we just have to do the scary thing. Click To Tweet

When we moved to Colorado a year ago I decided it was time. I picked a Yoga Teacher Training program. I met with the studio owner. I submitted an application. I began practicing at the studio, trying out different styles of yoga for the first time. A lot of the poses I hadn’t seen before, and I didn’t know what to do with all the props. I felt uneasy closing my eyes and the music was distracting.

But just as before, it gradually became familiar. One blanket folded in half twice and then in thirds to sit on. Two blocks at the top of my mat. A sweater and even socks to keep warm during centering at the beginning of class and savasana at the end. Head always facing the front of the room while prone or supine. Peppermint soap in the bathroom. Rooms full of teachers and students I now call friends.

This past weekend I took a class at the Iyengar Yoga Center of Denver. I talked a friend of mine into going with me, just like that very first day. Because new things never stop being a little scary.

After class the teacher checked in with us to see how it went. A lovely welcoming gesture. She asked me if I was a yoga teacher, and it meant just as much to me as that sticky note once upon a time. The only difference was this time I got to say, “Almost.”

Photo Credit: IMG_6683 by The Yoga People is licensed under CC by SA-2.0 / Cropped and text added to original