31 December, 2011

The discipline to "not do"

New Year's Eve.

We always talk about the resolutions that "kick in" on January 1st. But for some reason, the last day of the year has always seemed equally, if not more important than the first day. What we choose to do on the last day of the year is something of a summary or closing remark on the year behind us. We can seal the memory of the year and, thus, set the intention for the year to come by finishing this one well.

That's why it might seem strange to hear me tell you that today I elected to not attend a yoga class. 

This December I took 26 classes in 31 days, with one stretch of 12 consecutive days without missing a day. And the fact is, I was just completely wiped out today. The progressive dehydration, with which I have still not fully learned to compensate, left me with the equivalent of an alcohol-free "hangover" that sent a message loud and clear:


I really wanted to go. And I had my mind set on Colette's morning Hatha class. But, alas, it was not to be.

In a sense, I feel like the recognition that rest was what I really needed was a more important message to hear,  to accept, and to heed. So often, when I get in a mode of being committed and disciplined in something, I become obsessive with it, to the point that I drive myself needlessly beyond my limit. 

Listening to my body, and being okay with it is a big step for me. One of my hopes for this year is to show more lovingkindness to myself because I think it is a certainty that we can only give back to the world what we are willing to allow ourselves.

Starting in the Middle

I wish I had started this journal the first day that I ever stepped into a yoga studio. But, much like everything in life, we are always on the path before we become aware that it is even a path.

My yoga practice started in earnest a little under three months ago. I do a mix of Hatha and Power Vinyasa yoga, at Urban Yoga Spa, which is a hot yoga studio in Downtown Seattle.

I can count on one hand the number of times I had done any form of yoga prior to this. I attended UYS twice as a guest, several months earlier (and had a terribly difficult time with the heat, the intensity of the workout, and the overwhelming feeling that there was something wrong with me because everyone else seemed to be fine, but I was struggling). That experience did not leave me thinking "I can't wait to do some more of that!!" Then, in September, I attended three Bikram classes in Kona, Hawaii, on a vacation. This experience was what made me realize two things: 1) I can do this, and 2) I want to do this. I am not sure what the difference was, but I think it had to do with a commitment to myself to be more present, and to try to start being with "the discomfort" that goes along with self-reflection.

On a number of occasions in my life, I have either read about meditation, or attempted meditation or, of course, flogged myself psychologically for not getting into meditation -- talk about the irony of that!

Though we've all, as humans, got "monkey minds" that are constantly busy, I think that mine is perhaps a little more busy, and has had a little less experience quieting itself. Thus, a sitting meditation hadn't been something easy for me to grasp. Truth be told, I didn't put in very much effort at trying. I had a visceral negative reaction to the discomfort and decided I wanted no part of it.

The yoga is turning out, so far, to be a place where I see the potential for "getting there".

My purpose in writing this blog is to log my experiences in this journey. I want to keep track of the changes internally and externally; the milestones, both physically and mentally, that I achieve. And I also hope to share a little bit of the colorful story of what it is like to be on this path, through the lens of what Urban Yoga Spa brings.

Another parallel goal of this yoga journal is that I hope it will help break the ice and get me back into writing every day, as I once did. The yoga practice seems like an appropriate backdrop for the self-exploration that has always been a core goal in my writing.

I hope that you will join me on my journey.