Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tapping into your inner child...and having fun while doing it !

Do you remember being ten ? Or even 6 ? Do you remember the level of wonder that filled your days ? All too often, I believe, we remember the bad...but we forget all about the goodness of those sweet days. We remember being teased in school, but not about laughing on the tire swing. We remember feeling scared about getting lost, but not the magic of seeing snow for the first time each winter. We remember the toil, but not the reward.

Mindfulness is one trait we're called to practice in Yoga. This not only means creating a sense of wonder and inner peace, no matter our outward circumstances, today, but also calling calling to mind the joys of the past. We're not meant to dwell on them...we're not meant to focus on how awkward we were. But, if we can discover just a glimmer of that inner sparkle we had as children, we can bring that forward today. We can give ourselves the gift of pure present moment living.

Here are some ways to tap into that inner child...with all memories:

  • What was your favorite book ? Check it out from the library and reread it. You may find you love it as much today as you did when you were younger.

  • What was your favorite food ? Ask a parent, or consult a cookbook, for the recipe. Savor each bite, regardless of the calories and fat. You're rekindling a moment, not thinking about your waistline.

  • What did you love to do outdoors ? Was it riding your bike, or spinning in circles outside ? Do it ! Go to a playground and swing.

  • What was your favorite outfit ? See if you can approximate something similar from your closet..within reason, of course. Looking like a schoolgirl in a short skirt tends to be more naughty than retrospective these days.

  • Look at pictures of yourself from a particular age and ask yourself : "What did she like to do best ? What were her hopes and dreams ?" Don't judge yourself based on where you are now, but think about what the girl (or boy) in that particular moment was thinking.

In this journey to the past, you may find some unhappy memories resurface along with the happy ones. Process those feelings. Understand them. But, then let them move you practice your Pranayama breath mindfully, you can let the negativity go...and breathe back into the young person you once were, but without the worries. As you inhale, envision pure love, pure hope and pure radiance. As you exhale, envision letting go of anything negative you have been hanging onto...your fears, your worries, your thought patterns.

By tapping into your inner child, you will find that you have the ability to heal yourself, do some laughing along the way, and then just let yourself stop being so serious. Even, if it's just for an afternoon, spit watermelon seeds, make funny faces at the mirror, do your hair in a goofy style and paint your toenails all different colors. Life is too short to lose that inner spark of childlike joy.

(This is me at age 12...back when I thought I could fly....)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yoga poses and alternate uses

Yoga begins and ends with the breath. Using your mind to control your breathing, you're able to facilitate your body's own healing and well being. However, yoga asanas (poses) are used to help train the body, as well as the mind. The asanas have been shown to improve health, strength and flexibility. But, that's just where the journey begins: you never know where the poses will take you.

The Lotus Pose: Lotus is defined as "the crossing of the legs while maintaining a straight back, making it ideal for meditation and concentration." Lotus is also useful when you have a strong desire to move into "Method Acting" and choose to become a pretzel. You can use positive imagary...just picturing sea salt being sprinkled over you, and being dunked into cheese dip. Not only will you be able to meditate, but you can also become a tasty snack !

Warrior Pose: "Place your right foot forward between the palms and pivot the left heel to the sand to slight angle. Bend the right knee into a lunge and lift upright through the torso. It specifically helps to alleviate pain associated with rheumatic conditions." Warrior pose is terrific for creating a sense of empowerment and strength. It's also exceptionally useful when standing in a very long line. You move into warrior, and just watch the people in front of you move out of the way !

The Seated Twist: "Gentle twist on dorsal and lumbar region makes spine more supple." Wonderful pose to reset your spine....and to spy on those irritating people behind you that insist on talking all the way through every movie. Casting nasty looks is a possible variation, but do be wary of the bad karma that this may bring. So, give an exasperated, dramatic sigh while thinking inner thoughts of peace.

Reclining head to knee: "Lying in a supine position, inhale one staight leg into your chest. Reach up and grab your ankle or foot. This asana has a beautiful rhythm and movement of opening and closing the body." This fabulous stretch is convenient to do when you are lying on the floor watching television. You can simply stay still, but when someone else enters the room, move into "reclining head to knee" and breathe deeply. It will appear as though you are working extremely hard. If these intruders linger, switch to the other leg. This asana is also helpful in creating leaner and longer legs. At least I hope so. It couldn't hurt.

Headstand: "Supported Headstand is said to be the "king" of all asanas. As with all inversions it reverses the flow of "prana" (life force) which can lead to self-realization. Held in proper alignment can help the organs move back into their proper placement." Seriously ? Not to be attempted by klutzes, without the strictest of supervision. Or, large insurance policies.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The LAZY yogini

The lazy yogini. That would be me. Yes, I’m preppy too, but basically I’m just lazy.

Webster’s defines lazy as “not easily aroused to activity”. Yogini is definted as “a female who practices yoga”. That’s me on both counts. My laziness isn’t just a dislike of movement or activity. It’s more of a downright slothful quality, seen mostly in slow moving marsupials….or princesses who have servants to wait on them hand and foot. Since I’m neither royalty nor a Koala, I can’t quite figure out where this extraordinary ability of lying prone in bed all day (without taking a break !) comes from. If I ended up on a desert island, I honestly don’t think I’d much know the difference. As long as I had my own pillow, that is. As far as I know, I’ve been this way my entire life. My mother tells me that she thought I was a carrot for the first year or two of my life…she was sure I had roots growing !

So, how does yoga fit into all this life of rebellious disinclination to work ? Yoga is amazing outlet for someone like me…that is, someone whose energy level has been compared to a root vegetable. Yoga classes start slowly. There is no mind numbing techno pounding into your brain, with a peppy, size 0 cheerleader urging you onto that step contraption (which I’ve successfully fallen off, I should add). In both the classes I’ve taken, and the classes I teach, yoga begins….lazily. Class begins with dim lights, soft music, a cushion to sit on and deep breathing. That’s my kind of exercise ! However, as I work through the breathing exercises, I find that my body just flows into the asana, or pose portion, of practice. It’s not that I want to do Sun Salutations or the Warrior seriers, but it just flows naturally. Somehow, there is an amazing transition from seated breathing meditation to vigorous flexibility and strength. But, because it sneaks up on me, I don’t even realize it’s happening. Generally, at some point during class, I’ll think to myself “Hey ! Look how strong I am !”. After an hour and a quarter of flowing body work, it’s time once again for laziness….to strip away the thoughts, the worries, the ‘to do’ lists, and finish the yoga practice with a time of quiet relaxation. The lovely part is, I know just how to do that one naturally.

Yoga isn’t exercise to me. It’s a way to overcome my sluggish side, and, like tip toeing into the shallow end of a pool initially, it still gets me where I’m going; body, mind and soul.

Pancakes, the Demon of Camden

Take a look at this little's precious, isn't it ? You just want to pick her up and snuggle her. The face belongs to Pancakes, otherwise known as the Demon of Camden. She may look like a bunny from a greeting card, but she is honestly the most devilish creature alive. I think it must be in the gene pool. After all, you can't be this adorable, without having some flaws, can you ?

Pancakes (also known as Fufu Bunny, Maisie Pancakes and Satan) arrived at our house when Josh needed a pet for a science project. The choices were a house plant, a rat, a duck or a bunny. Since I didn't think ducks or rats would blend well into our animal kingdom, and since I didn't think Josh would get a decent grade for a spider plant, I agreed to a bunny. I also agreed to the famous whine of "Mom, I promise I'll take care of her !". A sucker is born every minute...and most of them answer to "Mom".

So, I did what I always do: I read. I read a great deal. I studied "Rabbits for Dummies", as well as "Rabbits: your complete guide" by Virgina Guidry, and "The Rabbit Handbook" by K. Gendron. I learned that, contrary to popular belief, rabbits are territorial. I wondered how this would go over with Mackenzie, my German Shepherd. I also learned that rabbits are skittish, yet demonstrative. I read that rabbits must eat plenty of Alfalfa hay, should not eat much vegetables (so the Peter Rabbit tale of raiding Mr. MacGregor's garden is more like a story of a teenage boy going drive thru McDonald's) and can be litter box trained. I also read that these are largely silent pets. After my crash course in bunny care, I was ready ! Or, so I thought...

Pancakes does not like Alfalfa hay. When I put it into her cage, she does one of two things; she either poops on it, or she picks up a stack of it and throws it at me. I guess it's her way of being demonstrative. Her favorite food is banana. I figured this one out by her hopping into my lap, biting a piece of my banana off and scooting away when I tried to take it back. I think this is the Pancakes' version of being skittish. The litter box was an enormous success ! Pancakes happily uses it as her bed. She sleeps there every night. Going to the bathroom, however, appears to require a trip to my bed...which is now consistently covered in extra blankets and towels. When I try to shame her and put her back in the litter box, Pancakes makes between a growl and a hissing sound...further proof that rabbits aren't silent. As far as the dogs go, both Murphy and Mackenzie (who weigh more than 250 pounds combined) defer to Pancakes as her Royal Highness. If Pancakes wants to hop into a space where they happen to be, they immediately vacate...sensing royalty in their presence.

So, I've come to the conclusion that when it comes to our bunny, it's "Opposite Day". I think I should have read "Wolverines for Dummies". That may have been more helpful. It's a good thing she's cute.

Book Corner

Have you ever not wanted a book to end ? I recently finished an extraordinary book: "The Lace Reader" by Brunonia Barry. I was captivated by both the idea behind 'reading lace' as a gift, but also by the brilliant narrative and storytelling by the author. There were some very dark elements to this novel, and yet I also found it uplifting. The triumph of the human spirit over suffering is a theme I seem to come to again and again during my literary journey. It's easier to process challenging subjects, I believe, when I read them fictionally.

The main character in "The Lace Reader" disassociates with her past on many levels. In the case of Towner, the protagonist, her disassociation goes beyond what the reader is led to believe. However, a large part of me couldn't help but admire Towner for her gifts, for her strength and for her way of coping. The rest of the characers in this novel are so richly complex, I wished that I could go to Salem, and have tea in the tea shop with them. I found myself dreaming about the characters and came away with a sense of knowing them.

Every book brings a lesson to us. I believe this book taught me to appreciate the safe life I do have, as well as to grasp that, the need to live fully goes on, despite life circumstances.

Welcome to My Blog !

This is my very first time blogging, so please bear with me. I've created this blog to keep in touch with family and friends, and keep a record, for myself, about the way life seems to be creating itself. As both a Preppy and a Yogini, I have many thoughts to share; some funny, some not so much. But, regardless, I hope you enjoy your time spent along with me.

With regards from my popped collar and yoga pants....