I’m back from travels and have lots to say. You have been forewarned.
Prior to my epic three weeks of travel from which I just returned, I had a few crappy days. I stuck to my morning yoga and meditation practice, but lets just say that my practice was more like a quick cook instant meal like ramen noodles rather than a nourishing, home cooked meal with fresh veggies from farmers market. Ever have those days?
I survived and felt like I learned a few things that were quite interesting. When my “feelings get hurt”, it’s a hard feeling for me to shake quickly. Rest and talking help. Sometimes crying is necessary. Good friends and loved ones are like medicine. Clarifying my thoughts in writing and then editing those thoughts is very therapeutic for me. I notice that once I’m hurt, I imagine all the worst reasons why the “offending parties” acted the way they did. Why does it become so negative, what about the positive, or middle ground, or the fact that shit just happens? What about my life philosophy that it just keeps getting better after every bump and hurt, so why dwell so much on the hurt, why not learn from it and find the positive sooner? Situations become way more personal than they really are.
How does this relate to yoga? Not sure it does. But I was happy to find a more positive, sane ground after three days. I am calling it my “Three Day Rule”. I allow myself to feel whatever I honestly feel for three days. And it’s always better after that. And it’s usually time to move on after that.
Then I was on to three visit three countries in three weeks. My trip started in London with a little work and a little play and just enough yoga to carry me through the days. Then I found myself on the Emerald Isle, with nothing but a backpack of clothes, a rented bicycle, and a smile on my face. I cycled on the left side of the road, which took a few days to get used to. I stared in awe at so many stone ruins that after three days I forgot to take pictures of them. I enjoyed interpreting the Irish accent, especially when it was thickened by Guinness. I almost ran over a donkey, saw tons of livestock, countryside, fog, and mist while climbing through the Irish hills. Yes, they have hills, it’s not flat like the Midwest. In fact, I was quite humbled to have to walk my bike up a hill at one point. I bonded with a few locals and with a California-Jersey boy too. The food wasn’t bad, I had lots of toasted cheese sandwiches (don’t forget to get them toasted), cream of veggie soup, fish and chips, and even a dhal one night in the little surf town of Lahinch. A great vacation. I barely did traditional yoga postures even once. But I am of the belief that cycling, sleeping, smiling, eating, and relaxing are pretty good yoga practices too.
My final “country” was the great State of Michigan where humidity, family, friends, and Lake Huron welcomed me with open arms. I was able to visit Yoga Shelter in Royal Oak, where I took a heated vinyasa yoga class. It felt like a class I had taught before and I could see that who I am and where I come from is definitely reflected by my yoga classes and practice. I was pretty sore though and had to remind myself to take it easy after being off the mat for a while. Why do I think it must hurt to count?
Now I am back in SLO-town, where the weather is like a comfort blanket, the food is breathing life into my travel weary feet, and I am slowly getting back on the yoga mat and bicycle this week. I noticed how getting back on the yoga mat after some time off always feels so much better than exercising ever feels after a hiatus. It’s not really as painful as one would think, it feels more like a breath of fresh air after being indoors too long. A yogi friend said that the transformation that yoga brings to the energy body, our cells, muscles, and whole being is so much more than a workout brings, and it stays with us longer. The changes are more permanent. Muscle memory perhaps? Must be.
This week I am teaching about mula banda, the lifting of the pelvic floor held during yoga practice. It is known as the energetic lock which allows a yogi to perform the most challenging tasks with little or no effort. Mula bandha is said to cut through brahma granthi, the energetic knot of our resistance to change. On the physical level, practicing mula bandha creates attentiveness in the supportive musculature of the pelvis. This increases the stability of the pelvis, and, since the pelvis is the seat of the spine, its stability creates a safe environment for spinal movement. Thus, mula bandha strengthens—and teaches the importance of—the solid foundation that should underlie any movement. I am practicing a lot of basic standing poses and hip openers trying to engage my ever elusive mula banda to bring me back to reality safe and sound. I encourage you to try to keep it sucked in this week during yoga practice and see how much easier it makes your practice. Cheers to another day on the mat or bike or at the desk.