31 December, 2013

Closing out the year

Today was Hatha with Gary at Ripple Yoga.

I had come for Cassandra's class but, due to the holidays, Gary had given her the night off, so it was Gary instead. And me. And nobody else. This is probably the first time I have taken a class where I was the only student in it. Under some circumstances, this could have been a very unique experience of having a "private class," But Gary's a new instructor, so we did stick pretty much to a standard class that he might have taught to a normal attendance, save for a few bits of conversation that would normally not happen when others are present.

The Hatha sequence was quite similar to what is taught at UYS, where Gary trained, with a few exceptions such as Crescent Lunge and Standing Splits being thrown in.

I had phenomenal difficulty balancing in the studio, which Gary noted may be due to lack of "Drishti" points on the walls of the newly painted studio, and a rather homogeneous coloration to the room. It might also be some unevenness on the floors, but I really could not tell for sure.

It was the last class of 2013.

This was a year that took me to studios in Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, Mountain View, Hawaii. I did yoga in such faraway places as Bangkok, London, and Munich. I had 204 blog entries this year, but I wasn't writing during the first 4 months of the year. It's probably a good estimate that I did at least 280 classes in 2013. Not quite the same clip as 2012, but there was no 108-day challenge this year, and I made a conscious move to give myself at least a little more rest than last year. As a result, I think I managed to avoid injury a little bit better than I did last year.

That's something.


30 December, 2013

Finding the energy when it's not there

Today was Vinyasa with Carley.

From the very first downward-facing dog today, I knew that I was operating on a near-empty tank. I've done a bunch of days in a row now. After getting into a pattern of taking a day off every 3-4 days, I went a little beyond, and I can feel it. Plus, not sleeping that great lately. In spite of the realization that it was not going to be an easy one, especially with the 90 minute agenda, I managed to stay in it through the class, and had a decent class.

I could say a bit about how the focus has been so scattered lately. But you've heard it before. The focus on the mat is okay. Focus at work, not great. Feeling a little disconnected in the social life. Is the winter with these short days a natural time to turn inward? Maybe I will emerge soon, one hopes.

I've been super-hard on myself lately. While others were enjoying the very prolonged holiday break from work, with many days off at my company, I opted to work right through most of it, with only 2 holidays actually taken. The thinking was that I'd save the time off for later. And I have berated myself for not getting more work done. And I have berated myself for not being more productive in my home projects. Lots of beratement. It doesn't seem fair to treat myself that way. Especially since I actually did get a good amount done in and out of work.

But apparently not enough...

29 December, 2013

Hallelujah...

Today was vinyasa with Kerry Armstrong on hitPLAYyoga.

I really did not want to do yoga today. I spent most of the day thinking about all the ways I could possibly not do yoga, and all the reasons why it was probably okay if I didn't. Already practiced 3 days in a row (though yesterday was yin). Stayed up really late last night (but I was in bed until 11am). The list goes on. But as the day wore on, and I found myself on the futon watching episode after episode of Breaking Bad, I finally began coming to realization that I did not have any good reason not to do yoga today other than inertia. The deal with myself was that I would do yoga when it hit 8pm.

So... 8pm rolls around, and I find the HPY class that I am going to take (this one). I go downstairs to grab my yoga mat from the yin class that I went to yesterday. And the yoga mat is not in the car. I immediately remember that I left it at the studio.

This could have been the easiest way out yet. I CAN'T DO YOGA BECAUSE MY MAT IS STILL AT THE STUDIO!!! Case closed. Issue resolved. But... it's never that simple. There is a crappy, thin, worn-out yoga mat lying around the house that isn't even mine, and isn't hardly ever used for anything resembling yoga. The last thing it was used for was protecting my carpet from the guitar rack that I built so that it wouldn't leave red paint marks when I was painting it. But if you want to do yoga, any mat is a mat.

And that's how I find myself here, now.

It was a reasonably leisurely class. And I do like this teacher, although I question her judgment in doing an a capella rendition of "Hallelujah" at the end of class. It's brave... I'll give her that much.

28 December, 2013

Going deep

Today was Yin with Cassandra at Ripple Yoga.

New studio. Old friend. When I saw that Cassandra was teaching at a new studio, it was pretty much automatic that I would go and visit. It's been quite awhile since I had taken her class, and Yin was really good for me on this day.

During the first few minutes of class, just listening to Cassandra's guidance, and recalling the familiar connection with her voice that brought me back again and again to yoga in the first place, I felt a strong wave of emotion. We never lose the special connections, even if there is time or distance or circumstance between them.

The real ones stay real.

Focused on the mat... but nowhere else

Today was vinyasa with Carley.

What a pleasure to have an unexpected substitute. I try to make it over for Elizabeth's Friday class whenever possible, which is now rare.

At the start of class, following Elizabeth's approach, Carley asked us all a question: what was the best gift we gave this year? I was surprised that most people's favorite were things like time, cooking, service... It made me feel a little materialistic for having my favorite actually be an object. I may have been the only one. Maybe that's a yoga crowd for you.

Class was good. Difficult but good. My focus on the mat has been decent lately. But I have been scattered at work. All over the place. Maybe I am being hard on myself. It is the holidays. But I feel like I don't stay on task for more than a few moments before wandering to something more compelling, whatever it may be.

On the news today I heard about a phenomenon called "highly superior autobiographical memory." People can't forget anything including things from childhood. It is all as vivid as if it just happened. It made me sad. Imagine. How can one possibly let go if anything if one can never forget with perfect recollection... Sounds painful.

Fortunately I do no suffer from this. If it were not for writing so much down, I might forget everything!

Well... Not really...

27 December, 2013

Good days

Today was vinyasa with Lara.

Another good day where everything felt in sync and my body felt strong. The class was very crowded and I felt a little frustrated that I had dirty feet three inches from my face. But I managed to forget about it and find the magic zone on my mat where outside things faded away.
Looking for more days like this.

26 December, 2013

All that is Gold does not glitter

I feel really badly saying this, because of the whole adage of "If you don't have anything nice to say..." but I really just can't help myself, so I will try to keep it as positive as I can.

I am not a fan of Steve Gold.

The blame may not reside solely in Mr. Gold's court, in that I think the major problem here is that so many yoga studios default to his music as the repeat backdrop for class, pre-class, post-class, you name it. that I have become totally burnt out on it. I have heard "So Much Magnificence" so many times, I don't think I am capable any longer of perceiving any magnificence should I actually find myself by the ocean, because I will only be able to think of his song.

Sure, it's a great thing that he's a non-Indian acoustic pop artist, and he has made a successful "career" recording and performing Eastern-themed songs. Sure. Great. We get it. But I feel (personally, and not humbly) that it is just as valid, dare I say, more valid, to play Eastern-themed music by people who are actually from the East. Even Krishna Das, who has been criticized by some for not being "East enough" is coming from a more authentic place.

The overplaying is probably at the heart of it for me.

Perhaps there is value in making Eastern themes accessible to the Dave Matthews-washed masses. Perhaps I stand alone in my harboring of silent rage toward the repetitiveness of such lyrics as "Let Your Heart Be Known." Perhaps we really did need to hear a dude from So Cal singing such traditional songs as "Om Namah Shivaya" or "Baba Hanuman."

Alternatively, perhaps this is just another good opportunity for me to practice relaxing with what is, and letting go of that which I cannot control. Because something tells me Steve Gold ain't going away from a yoga studio near me (or you) anytime soon.

Namaste :)

24 December, 2013

Dim light of Christmas Eve

Today was vinyasa with Erick Dannenberg on hitPLAYyoga.

I started the practice around sunset in my room, and the light transitioned to near complete darkness almost perfectly as the hour progressed. He has a good pace, and good set of cues. Reminds me a lot of Scott Francis from Be Luminous in his choices of words. The class was billed as a Gentle class, but it felt like a pretty standard Level 1 class, without many elements of gentle, save for perhaps a little more time spent in stretches at the end, at the expense of a standing balance series. Perhaps that is gentle.

Feeling peaceful, and glad that I did the yoga today.

23 December, 2013

Inspiration

Today was noon vinyasa with Michel.

It has been such a long time since I have had the opportunity to take a noon class (read: 60 minutes) with Michel, and I was very excited to have that opportunity today, being that it's a holiday week.

I don't know what to say about today's class other than that it was incredibly inspiring and joyful throughout. Michel is an amazing teacher. After class, in somewhat silly fashion, I walked up to her and told her it was the best class I'd ever taken, which might have embarrassed her a bit, I don't know. And her response was that she was glad that I had that experience today. The thing is, I showed up today knowing that it would be a great class, and that may be part of the reason why it was so great. She asked us to do a lot of things today that were challenging. We did four Camel poses. On a different day, I might have been very disgruntled about this. But not today.

Michel talked about how we can choose between whether we will suffer by resisting what is happening in our lives, or just find the freedom in accepting it. And I guess that message was working for me today.

What do I want for the next year? What do I want for all years to come?

I don't know what my life will contain, but I would like to show up for it from a place of positive energy. That doesn't mean "Saying Yes" to everything. And it doesn't mean "Smiles All The Time." But, for me, I think it means that the proverbial "mat" to which I will keep returning myself will a mat of positive outlook. At least show up on the mat (and in life) each day ready for good things to come out of whatever is in front of me. I am not saying, even, that I will expect the good things. Only that I will be open to the possibility that good may come. Too many days are started with dread or anxiety.

Remind me about this promise...

21 December, 2013

Getting through the heavy days

Today was vinyasa with Sean.

The moment I got on my mat, my body was telling me that it was one of those heavy days where gravity seems to be operating at twice its usual force. But my head was in a good place, and I found my way through the class, without too much struggle. Not a lot to say about this one, since it's been a few days since I took it.

20 December, 2013

Falling behind...

Last Friday was vinyasa with Sherrie Nguyen on hitPLAYyoga.

I fit in a home practice before my Friday evening plans. I only remember that it was a good class, with a good pace, and that I felt reasonably strong. My concentration was decent too. I once again let a few days slip before writing up the entry, so it is fading into memory. I am somewhat proud to say that I haven't let that happen much lately, especially compared to times in the past. But I think it is important to recognize that it is happening, and make the immediate correction, or else the purpose of this blog for my own growth starts to be lost.

This past week started off with a cresting of anxiety and worry about my life, and then progressively moved into ease, confidence, and a general sense of well-being. I see this pattern again and again in my life, and it has to do with the cycle at work. When I am in preparation phases, I worry, and when I am in execution phases, I thrive. And things always seem to turn out okay. So...

18 December, 2013

Yoga as a Hail Mary

Today was vinyasa with Alice.

I had planned on doing yoga at home. But I was having a hard time today. Head stuck in a bad place, and trying not to go to that old place of reactivity. Instead of just getting on the mat and letting go, I sat there in my room, ruminating, and barely hanging on by a thread from going into those places I try never to go. As time elapsed, I realized it was getting closer and closer to 8:30pm, the time at which Alice's class happens right down the street. I decided that I may as well go there and surrender myself to the heat, and to another person's words, and hope for the best.

It was a very good practice. Though my mind did slide off to the thoughts from before a few times, the class was definitely the right thing to do, and it took me from the brink back to a place where I was able to aim for what I really wanted, which was to feel better.

Alice has a consistency to her style, and a quiet delivery that I found incredibly grounding. Even though her classes are often quite difficult, the tone is so relaxing and, Live Love Flow, with their dim lighting and black ceilings, is a very calming environment.

Yoga is always there for us. We just have to choose it.

17 December, 2013

More thoughts about yes and no

Today was vinyasa with Laura Calcaterra on hitPLAYyoga.

Immediately after writing the entry for yesterday's class, I did a home practice Baptiste flow with Laura Calcaterra. It was a good class, very basic, and she has a message that does as good a job as any at keeping me in the practice.

At the very start of class, she was talking about how we should come to our mat to "check in" to our lives rather than to escape. And as soon as she said that, I started reflecting on what I had just written, and experienced in yesterday's class with Chelle.

The truth is, I always stay within my comfort zone. I play it safe. I don't take many risks. In my career, I have always done the "good job" on the things I know how to do, and rarely want to take on the Herculean projects that are career-makers. I fear that much commitment and responsibility, and always focus overly on the "What could go wrong?" approach. So, as it stands, I have a fair amount of success in my life but, for the education and opportunities I have had, one could say that I haven't probably met my potential.

The same was true when I ran track in high school. In all of the practices, I would be one of the fastest runners, and then, in the competitions, I would be middle-of-the-pack. Not meeting expectations. I wasn't willing to push myself to those limits where it might hurt, or feel bad. Instead I would stay in 3rd gear. And I guess one could say I kind of live my life in 3rd gear.

The question I still ask myself is whether it's good or bad that I operate there. Do I have to want more? Do I want more? Am I content? I go back and forth between lamenting that I have not accomplished more and not really wanting to even keep up the battle to maintain where I am now. I guess one could say that I don't really know what I want.

I am still a little unsure how I feel about being a yes, or being a no. It's so black and white. In that language, I feel as if Baron is saying that if we are not constantly adding new poses, and increasing the depth of our expression of the poses we already have, then we are getting nowhere. It may be true that the way I can become less fearful about taking those huge leaps in my career might be to learn to do Handstand. I fully acknowledge that.

But I still don't know if that is what I want.

And I seem to remember reading, somewhere, that it's okay not to know.

16 December, 2013

Is not being a yes being a no?

Today was vinyasa with Chelle Swierz.

Today's class really pushed me outside my comfort zone. Part of this push was because the class was very difficult, and had a lot of extra "stuff" in it, in terms of intensity. Seemed like every Warrior pose we did had some sort of folding forward with arms clasped behind our backs. It wasn't so much that it was beyond "Level 1" (whatever that means) in the poses that were called, as it was just an amped up intensity. For the most part, I met that challenge, except where I felt that my integrity was being compromised.

But there are some things that "I just don't do." And I know that the expression "I don't do that" has associated with it, especially in the land of self-help (which I consider yoga to be), a connotation of negativity or defeatism. For example, jumping into Crow from Downward Dog (3 times). Or doing Headstands. These are things "I just don't do." Chelle made the point during class today that we should "Be a Yes" (that is Baron Baptiste verbology).

But I pose the question back to... Baron: "What if I don't want to be a yes to that?"

I don't want to do headstands, really. Part of me feels I am not ready for it, and that part of me should perhaps be a yes for trying. But a bigger part of me really just doesn't want to do it. I do not aspire to be a big inverter, acrobat, yoga-to-the-tenth-degree kind of person. I come to yoga to take the energy down. I have never shown up to a yoga class thinking "I want to come here to be energized, electrified, awakened." I am quite aware that there are people who do come for this. And I respect that, though it does baffle me because it's not my disposition. But am I a "no" because that's not what I want out of yoga? It was interesting, because I felt, tonight, like the Baptiste language was excluding me from being okay with what I wanted out of the class. Part of me doesn't want to jump to Crow because I think about all of my feebleness with respect to wrists, shoulders, low back, etc. And I think, "Well, I could do this just for the sake of saying 'Yes, I was a yes'," but even if I surprised myself and landed a perfect Crow out of Downward Dog, I would not be thinking "I am glad I tried that!" I would be thinking, "Okay, so... I am sure glad I didn't hurt myself, but I am not sure I want to try that again!"

I have never been a thrill seeker, or a daredevil. The joy I have derived, in progress, in yoga, is noticing the subtle ways in which my body flexes a little more than it did before, and the subtle ways in which my mind or body are a little quieter than they were before. There are days that I experiment with things that push my boundaries, but acrobatics, save for an occasional close-to-the-ground arm balance, are not my forte.

Am I a no?

The sad part is that this pondering around whether I was a yes or no ended up making me start being an actual "no" in the sense of starting to resist and defy the instruction. I reached a point where I just found myself doing some other pose, or bagging on back bends because I felt like "I have had enough, and don't really need any more." I found myself thinking, "I don't really need 90 minutes of ass-kicking yoga. 60 was enough, so now it's time to spend 5 minutes in Pigeon." And it's probably true, at that point, that the rationalizations were being mixed together with the inner truths. And that will always be the case, on or off the mat.

What I want Baron Baptiste to teach is that "being a yes" means being true to whatever it is that you need in your practice, and not being governed by an external coach telling you what a yes or a no is.

All that said, I love Chelle as an instructor. As much as this class threw my mind into a tizzy, I would show up again for the same 90 minutes, and I would endure the same inner struggles (perhaps) that I did, without complaint. I think I would still not do the jumping into Crow, and I would still not do the Headstand. But perhaps I would not question myself, Chelle, Baron Baptiste, the students around me (for complying and making me look like a slacker!), and the universe, for not aligning perfectly with what I wanted for my practice on this particular day.

You know what I'm saying?

14 December, 2013

Didn't want to do it... but I did anyway

Today was vinyasa with Aylin Aydin on hitPLAYyoga.

I really didn't want to do yoga today. Woke up with my back muscles feeling really sore, and just decided straightaway that today would be no yoga. But as the day wore on, I noticed, indirectly, that my low back was not really hurting anymore. I still didn't want to do yoga. But, after having that argument with myself briefly, I decided there was no good reason not to do it, and plenty of good reasons to do it.

This was my first time with this teacher. It's a decent class. Pretty decent message, and good flow. She did forget Side Plank on the left side (I honestly don't know how the teachers who are posting their classes online don't make sure that the one they've posted is "perfect" - but that's the perfectionist in me talking).

Not a whole lot to say today. Now that the yoga is done, I am glad I did it.

13 December, 2013

Nothing like face-to-face

Today was vinyasa with Elizabeth Thomas.

I've missed her class. Having taken so many online classes lately, one thing I have been missing are the familiar faces and voices of the teachers that I know best. It had been at least a month since I took this class, so it was really nice to return.

I am still struggling a little bit, back and forth, partly being tired, partly having the moods from the dreary weather, and partly wondering what the heck is going to happen next in my life in THE BIG PICTURE. It's not like I am manifesting anything in particular right now, either, so I don't know why I would anticipate any changes.

I'd like to manifest losing 5 pounds.

12 December, 2013

Not here. Not now.

Today was vinyasa with Sharon Wells on hitPLAYyoga.

I shut off the class about 46 minutes into the hour long class. I want to blame the class for not holding me. But my head wasn't in the game from the start. It definitely didn't help that she did at least 3 different sequences in the class that absolutely required visuals to know what the heck she was saying, and that certainly did irritate me, because it's an audio class, and there should not be ambiguity about what the poses are.

But, of course, there's an opportunity for me to relax with what is.

And I chose not to.

Today I spun off into a land of anxiety and rumination about the minutiae of some elements of my job. This is a wheel spinning that I have done many times in the past. When presented with options about the little stuff, I end up spending all my energy worrying, obsessing, spinning over this little stuff, almost as an excuse (perhaps) to not deal with any of the big stuff.

Need to get out of it, because it does not feel good. And all that rumination devolves into negative impressions of self, and fairly negative attitude toward others as well.

Today is just one of those days.

I don't really want to complain any more than I just have, so I'll stop there.

10 December, 2013

Tired but present

Today was vinyasa with Kelly Armstrong on hitPLAYyoga.

Pretty tired. Not sure why, but the jet lag seems to have taken a second swing at me, a few days after returning to what I thought was normalcy. Didn't really want to do yoga, but I did it anyway, and managed to have a reasonably focused class. Not much to say about the class itself. It was a standard Baptiste class with no frills. Felt like my standing balance poses were very strong today, which is a good feeling. It is nice to do unheated classes part of the time, because the heat really does sap so much of my energy. I am curious if there are others for whom the heat does not remove energy at all.

Today we had a team-building exercise at work. One of those things where the group does some personality test and then we discuss how we are similar and different, and what the ways are of communicating with one another, blah, blah, blah. I like these types of exercises, because they tend to make me feel more connected, even if only temporarily, to those around me. Everyone, including myself, is usually on their best behavior.

At the end of the class, we were supposed to say something we want to do differently going forward, and I had made the claim that I would try to build stronger connection with the people whose types were most different from mine, and validate their approach. And as soon as I said it, I started to feel anxiety, because I am not sure it's a promise I want to live up to. I don't know if I want to take on the overhead of doing that, even though I know that it could potentially have value. I am skeptical. Would rather just stay inside my comfort zone of fostering the connections that are already working. But it was so weird, the strong feeling of "What the hell did I just say?!" It wasn't like anyone in the room would react strongly to what I said, and it isn't like anyone will be thinking, "I wonder if he'll keep that promise?" But I feel fear around it anyway. It involves me doing something different for two different types of people. There are the people who like structure and process, and try to create structure... I promised that I would try to do my part to validate their efforts, and to contribute in small ways that I can contribute. And then there are the people who are very direct, don't like to go through formalities, and need everything to be fun and exciting. To them, I promised that I would try to participate a little more in the "fun/play" aspect of being on a team. All of this is stuff that I dread, and I don't know why I found myself wanting to promise anything.

It goes back to a conversation I had with a friend the other day, which was actually about the very same topic. I think I have a tendency to believe that if I do the right thing, others will too. But the reality is, others may or may not reciprocate, and I need to make the choice about how I want to be without consideration of the behavior in return. Otherwise, I am going to be setting up for disappointment. And I am afraid, though. I don't want to put the bridge out there, and end up having it collapse with me on it.

Being tired, it occurs to me that I should probably not attach too much to the feelings I am having today.

09 December, 2013

Not feeling playful

Today was vinyasa with Michel.

It was a great class, but I didn't join in all the reindeer games. Michel did a lot of "Level 2ish" stuff in class tonight, with the "Donkey Kicks" and the headstands, and handstands, and playing up against the wall. For the most part, I just don't feel the desire to do these things. I am not sure why, but it's kind of funny that I was just reflecting on how I don't really like to get into the silly social aspects of workplace community, either. People in our office all have nerf guns, and silly battles often erupt. Or if it's not that, then people are posting ridiculous photos, video clips, and whatnot on the group chat network. And I don't partake, hardly at all, in any of it.

Am I just not a fun person?

It's weird, because I am definitely a funny person, but I am not sure if I am a fun person. It probably depends how much I have had to drink, in which case, perhaps I should start drinking at work and in yoga class.

Anyway, what I have been working on in my practice lately is "being okay" with the choices I am making. If everyone else "flips their dog" and that's not speaking to my body today, I am working on not feeling like I am sticking out like a sore thumb, and also not beating myself up, or assuming it's "letting myself off the hook." There are rarely days where I flat-out let myself off the hook, I am coming to realize. I might let my mind wander some, especially in the later parts of a class, but I rarely slack off the practice.

So, today, when everyone was doing their kicks, and flips, I did my thing... either downward dog, or dolphin plank. I mean, I don't sit down and play Angry Birds, but those poses just aren't speaking to me, and I feel like it's okay to make that choice.

Isn't it?

Back again

Today was vinyasa plus restore with Alice.

It is nice to be back again. Class felt reasonably strong and I adapted to time change in this direction much better. It is hard to stay in the moment when fatigue starts to set in. I wanted to focus on not thinking ahead or anticipating. But it is awfully hard.

Had a revelation that the thinking and complaining on the may are quite like that off the mat. I complain but usually deliver anyway. So why not skip the complaining.

That is where I need to work. It certainly feels better with no complaining. So why do I attach to it. Hard to say. Do I even need to know why in order to let go of it?

07 December, 2013

The difficult poses

They always say there’s much that can be learned from the poses that are difficult for us. The things that come up when we are in these situations often provide a much clearer picture of what we are probably doing in our lives, to a varying degree, at all times.

Today’s difficult pose was getting up to go to the airport at 5am after having only 2 hours of sleep. That was my choice to stay up late, because I wasn’t feeling tired. There are consequences to choices, but that’s not what this is about. The series of interactions I have had today in the wake of this lack of sleep made me realize something useful. My form of “reactivity” is to complain. I complain a lot. Probably every day, all the time. I complain even about the things that I like. To me, these are merely “observations” but they are often heard as complaints and it probably becomes tiresome to hear after a while.

The first interaction of the morning was with the front desk employee who called my room for the wake up call. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to anyone, so I was not pleased when, shortly after the wake up call, the man called again with some question about the logistical details of my trip to the airport. This person was trying to be helpful, but my internal reaction was “I don’t want to speak to anyone, and I want you to shut the fuck up before I scream.” Of course, I said none of this, but was merely curt with him. When I came to the lobby for checkout, the process took longer than I thought it should take, and there were again a lot of questions. Again, I wanted to scream. It caused such extreme rage in me.

When we got on the flight, there is one flight attendant who is an older man, formerly military, and he is going out of his way to be helpful, and polite, and conversational. I think anyone would agree it is a little much, but it was triggering such anger in me. I started thinking about how I plan to contact the airline and complain about him, and say he is annoying passengers too much and making mistakes because he’s too busy talking instead of doing his job. But then I caught myself, and thought, “What if the airline took me seriously, and decided to fire this person?” He would lose his job for what? For trying to do a good job, actually, for trying to do a great job, and be more than just passable as a service person on the plane. He would be penalized for trying, because some complaining asshole (me) had to express every feeling of discomfort.

I don’t stop in the middle of yoga class and tell the teacher I don’t like the pose, or that they don’t know what they’re doing. I also don’t write a letter to the yoga studio saying that so-and-so’s class sucked today. I wait a couple of hours or days, and that emotion is gone. Often in minutes. 

But there’s this reactivity.

My way of coping with discomfort is to complain. I started to recognize that there’s perhaps never a time where complaining provides value. There are times where it makes sense to be honest, and say that I am not happy with something (i.e. if the food is bad at a restaurant). I won’t go any further down that avenue.


I complain a lot, and I think it’s taking me away from where I really want to be going. 

Later on during the flight I discovered that the flight attendant was a very interesting man, whose "full time" job is coaching the German National Baseball team, and that he only flies once in a great while to keep his license active. He's an American, but lives with his wife and children in Germany. He served in the military for many years, including more than 1 war overseas. So, for him, the idea of being a flight attendant once every few weeks, or whatever it is, is a responsibility that he takes very seriously, and which gives him a pride in service. He doesn't experience the kind of burnout that people do who are doing this all day every day. So his enthusiasm is actually kind of refreshing.

It was me who needed the attitude adjustment, and once it happened, I saw his entire behavior through a different lens. That, to me, is one of the most interesting parts of these realizations... when nothing changes except how I see it, and that alone is enough to make all the difference.

Food for thought.

06 December, 2013

Running out of gas

Today was yoga in the hotel room, with no teacher, and no gas.

I waited until midnight again. And then a little longer. By the time I decided to do yoga, I was dead tired, and then there were problems with getting a good enough internet signal in the hotel room to do any sort of video or audio, so I was left to my own devices. I opted for a more restorative class, with gentle poses, staying mostly close to the ground. Moon Salutations, no Warriors, no Chaturangas. But even still, I was pretty beat, and when it got to around forty minutes, I petered out, and lost focus. It was past 1am.

What can I say? I did the best I could, and at least got onto the mat, and did some yoga.

There will be days like that.

05 December, 2013

Every emotion you've every felt... on your mat

Today was Vinyasa with Diana Hudson on hitPLAYyoga.

I waited until midnight to do the yoga, because I got together with an old friend this evening in Munich. It's a friend of mine from UW days. I visited her in Germany the first time I ever came here, and I have always had very fond memories of her. She's inspiring, a good person through and through. So we went to dinner, had a couple of drinks, caught up on all the news, and talked about all kinds of random things, including this new idea that maybe I want to move to Munich.

Yoga was left until midnight, but that was okay because I felt awake, inspired, energized by the time together. And it was a great class. Classic Baptiste at a good pace, with a good message. At one point in the class, the teacher said that we should be aware of all the emotions that come up, and just experience them, and recognize them. And, if we stay on our mats long enough, we will experience every one of the emotions we've ever felt in our lives. She's right.

Today was a decidedly good day. The tide shifted. And it was because I had a big presentation at work, and it went very well. Finally, I felt like I matter, and like I am appreciated, and that what I am doing is providing value. That's all it takes for me to feel good.

I think the challenge for me is to consider the possibility that I am always appreciated, and I always matter, and I am always providing value, and that it is merely my perception and my inner critic that creates this story of something otherwise.

At any rate, better is good.

And now it's time for another midnight class.

03 December, 2013

Struggling

Today was vinyasa with Shelley Lowther on hitPLAYyoga.

Whenever I am having a really hard time these days, I find myself turning to the Baptiste sequence. It's something to do with knowing what I will be experiencing. There's a familiarity, and calm that comes with it.

It's been a hard couple of days. I have been struggling a lot with feelings of inadequacy in my job. And I know it's likely all just my internal talk. But I worry that I am not doing enough (while simultaneously not willing to do more). Some said to me the other day that there's a way of addressing stress. It involves a few questions you can ask yourself. It went something like this:


  1. Is there anything that I can do about the way I feel right now? If no, then don't worry. If yes,
  2. Am I willing to do whatever that is? If yes, then do it. If no, then don't worry.
I think I may be missing a question, but that's essentially the idea. And yet, I find myself worrying about things over which either I cannot take action, or over which I can take action, but am not willing to do so. If Baron Baptiste were here in the room, he would probably say "How is that working out for you?" It's obvious, I think, that it's serving some part of me that believes that I deserve to feel badly. Because that's exactly what happens.

Yesterday, I was feeling worse, and worse. Finally, I realized that I needed to do something to pull myself out of it (willingness, a hint of it anyway). I sought out a colleague here, and asked if they had some time to chat about the project. Immediately upon initiating the conversation, I started feeling better, and hopeful. What it told me was that engagement is what makes me feel better, and isolation makes me feel worse. I walked away from that meeting briefly feeling better. But then I started spinning into the "What am I going to do?" thoughts, and drifted down a bit again. Then, there was a plan for a social gathering here in the evening, going out to a Christmas Market with some friends here on the team in Munich. My first reaction was "I am not going." But after I had already declined, and they were departing, I realized that I was setting myself up for feeling even more isolated and disconnected. So I chased after them, and decided to join. Then, I went through yet another down mood at the market when I was standing in line, alone, waiting for food, and feeling like it wasn't even worth waiting. I am seeing myself depriving myself of having enjoyment. Finally, after more brooding, I got some food, and slowly the conversation opened up with the others, and I started feeling better, and more connected.

The rest of the night, including yoga, was not too bad.

What I don't understand is why I feel the need to do this to myself.

Perhaps I am tired from the traveling, and it brings my mood down. Or perhaps something else. I don't have the answers. 

I hope that if I just keep showing up on the mat, it will work itself out in time.

02 December, 2013

Yoga in München

Today was "Hips Flow" with Rachel Nelson on hitPLAYyoga.

I am left to do yoga relatively late at night here in Munich, due to work schedule and sleep schedule. But I am on a second wind at this time of night, so it's not really a problem. I had been feeling a lot of tightness in my hip flexors, perhaps from sitting on an airplane for 11 hours, so I decided to try this class that sounded like it would be about the hips. It was a good class. There were a few moves in this class that I hadn't seen before. I will give you one example. Sit into a half chair with one ankle crossed over the other knee. Then, jump or slowly hop back into high plank without changing the leg position. Not so easy. The flip to a side plank, with the crossed leg on the higher side of the plank (i.e. you'd do side plank with right hand down, when you have left ankle crossed over right knee). It was interesting, and a bit of a new balance challenge.

I am struggling a bit with the emotional state, battling those feelings of not mattering, of not being worthy of whatever it is. Feeling like I am a big fake, and will eventually be found out, and kicked out into the street, and never let back in again, to anywhere.

It's a bit of up and down. And I do keep trying to find ways to get back up again, when I am down.

But I will tell you about that later.