Tag Archives: yoga

Heart of the Matter

Boomer, my yoga instructor, faced a life crisis earlier this spring when her 50-something husband had emergency bypass surgery.

faceted heart

faceted heart

She’s the more talkative of my instructors. Responsible for phrases like Vikings and temple dancers, bellies on vacation, and the duck index.

I like the banter.

“Stretch the myofascial tissue.”

“Stop carrying enormous handbags.” 

“Stand up straight or you’ll end up with a hump on your back and a walker!”

He survived the surgery. She missed a week or so of class. I don’t think she realizes it, but a new theme has surfaced in her coaching.

“Engage your thighs. You should feel them working, pumping blood up, strengthening your heart.” 

“Open your chest. Don’t let it close over your heart and lungs.” 

“Remember to breathe…” 

And then last class, this one.

“It’s amazing how easily the heart gets involved with everything.”

Yes, dear teacher. It is.

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Nothing Is Wasted, my new favorite song by Jason Gray. Listen. Take courage.

 What’s on your heart today?

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Yoga Face Time

Returned to yoga class this week. Took some time off over the holidays. Time to eat turkey, dressing, a dozen chocolate crinkles. You know, that sort of thing.

So did the rest of my class. How do I know? My instructor felt the need to speak this bit of wisdom to us:

frowning2

There are legitimate reasons to frown. The inability to do ardha chandrasana is not one of them.

Keep on keeping on. We’ll get there soon.

A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22 NRSV

Closer to Love by Mat Kearney.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

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Filed under humor, words to remember

Reader’s Choice ’12: Bellies on Vacation

Amy Heinz

Amy Heinz

Amy Heinz is the girl next door… and then some.

Besides having a very cool first name, Amy is a mommy blogger extraordinaire. Her blog Using Our Words was named Best NorCal Mom Blog by Circle of Moms this year and was a finalist in the Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards. You can catch Amy’s parenting posts on Disney Baby, too.

I got to know Amy online through a mutual friend, and this year I had the privilege of meeting her in person at the BlogHer Conference in New York. When she saw me sitting in front of her in a session, she texted me. Repeatedly. Only she was texting the wrong number.

Chalk up accidental cyber stalker to her list of accomplishments. Amy and her winning sense of humor have had a big year.

Amy’s Reader’s Choice is:

Bellies on Vacation

bikini belly

click to read Bellies on Vacation

readers choice

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The Duck Index

My yoga instructors offer a wealth of material for blog posts. 

Boomer explained a concept I must share with you. Something she learned from her yoga instructor. A practice called the Duck Index.

image by cursedthing, creative commons license

image by cursedthing, creative commons license

Many years ago, Boomer’s instructor gave her this advice: only do what brings you the joy of a three-year-old feeding a duck. 

“We all have to do things we don’t like to do,” said Boomer to my class. “We can’t only do the things we enjoy.”

True. We all deal with dirty dishes, smelly laundry, complicated tax returns.

“But imagine the happiness of a three-year-old feeding a duck,” she said. “We can choose to do more things that give us that kind of joy.”

Boomer put the joy of a three-year-old feeding a duck on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the greatest. She called the scale the Duck Index and began measuring experiences against it. She started saying no to as many things as she could that didn’t rank six or more on the Duck Index.

No to another volunteer opportunity when her volunteer hours were already maxed out. No to lunch with a demeaning colleague. No to a last-minute dinner with friends when what she needed was a night off.

“I could have done those things,” she said, “but someone would have paid for it. Either I would have paid for it in resentment and fatigue. Or those around me would have paid for it because I didn’t really want to be there.”

Sometimes saying no without guilt is difficult. But the more I do it, the easier it gets. The more it makes sense. 

Do I want to do this? Do I have to do this? 

If I don’t want to and I don’t have to, who will pay if I do it anyway? 

Can I say no to this, so someone who wants to do it can say yes? 

Can I say no, so I can say yes to what I want to do?

“Shoulders back and down. Don’t wear them like earrings,” said Boomer as our class continued. “Pay attention. You control where your shoulders sit.”

I am not the center of the universe. I am not in control of all the events in my life, but I am not a martyr or a victim either. I can place my shoulders back and down. I can say no without guilt. I can say yes to what brings me joy. So can you.

Pay attention. Your duck is waiting to be fed. 

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1 NIV

Wake on up from your slumber, baby, open up your eyes.

What scores 10 on your Duck Index?

 

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Bellies on Vacation

I’ve fallen off the yoga wagon. Hard.

bikini belly

not my belly

Our summer schedule doesn’t allow time for the mom to make it to yoga class. I bike and swim with my son, but yoga quest is officially suspended.

I can hear my instructor. “I see some bellies that look like they’re on vacation,” she’d say when we weren’t properly engaging the core in class.

She’d be mortified to see that now my belly really is on vacation. It’s on a Mediterranean cruise, complete with an endless antipasto bar and a Big Gulp Coke. Sip on that, Mayor Bloomberg.

It’s gone to Disneyland where dreams really do come true whether you exercise or not. You’ve never seen Snow White on a StairMaster, have you? All you need is a little Tinkerbell, a pumpkin, and a pair of glass slippers.

My belly unfolds like a beached whale on the sand. It spreads out like a jellyfish washed ashore. I took it to Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s for crying out loud. Can you say Vermonster?

Enough! It’s not that bad. It’s not yoga-belly either. My pilates paunch has gone kaput. The core is no more.

My wellness coach friend Lisa Hautly wrote an uplifting, common-sense post: A Health Centered Approach to Living Well.

ben & jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough

Ben & Jerry look strangely familiar

“Love your body,” she writes.

Move.”

Listen to your belly.”

Sleep.”

Reduce stress.”

I’m sleeping. I’m listening. I’m moving. I’m loving my body. Incredible, expanding belly and all.

Summer is flying by. School begins in six short weeks. The normal schedule will resume. I will drag back to yoga class.

My instructor may not recognize me sporting my new abdominal baggage, but she won’t turn me away. It’s the Y after all.

The core will engage. The belly will flatten. Equilibrium will return.

In the meantime, I’m not missing a moment of summer. And neither is my belly.

Wise words satisfy like a good meal;
the right words bring satisfaction. Proverbs 18:20 NLT

Something’s Gotta Give by Ella Fitzgerald.

So how’s your summer been?

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The Fear of Summer: Romancing the Routine

mom, I spy your routine!

Summer evokes a mild case of panic in me.

Oh, sure, there’s the good stuff. Long, sunny days. Outdoor swimming pools. Vacation plans. Quality time with the kiddo. But if I learned anything in all my years of schooling, it’s that summer is synonymous with the loss of routine.

I was one of those strange children who didn’t like weekends. More at home with the rhythm and clear expectations of the classroom, I skidded toward summer break on a downward spiral. And I know I’m not alone.

We Type As like our routines. Changes in THE PLAN are exciting, but they can be frightening at the same time.

Maybe you’re not Type A. But maybe you’re a parent. Maybe—I’m guessing here, you and your children thrive on some semblance of structure.

Come on, moms and dads. Back me up on this. Doesn’t the thought of filling all those unstructured hours of your child’s summer vacation strike a wee bit o’ fear in even the bravest of super parent hearts?

Ridiculous, I know. Yet the fear of summer lingers. It nabbed me yesterday morning in yoga class. I like my yoga instructors Grace and Boomer. I’m comfortable in this routine, this respite from the stress of relocation, motherhood, and what to cook for dinner. I don’t want to give it up.

But how will I continue to do yoga when my son’s out of school for the summer? What will I do with him during class? Turn him loose to run wild through the YMCA? Sit him in front of the Wii for an hour? What if he wanders out to the pool alone? What if (insert catastrophe)?

runs with shovel

And how will I blog this summer? When will there be time? Who will read it? What about the other projects I want to pursue? What if I miss all the opportunities? What if I wake up in September and they’re ALL GONE? What if the world ends tomorrow? What if (insert catastrophe)?

The only way to roll with the changes is one step at a time. One season at a time. That’s why they usually don’t happen all at once. Thank You, Lord.

I’ll take a cue from yoga. Follow my breath. Put my shoulders back and down. Let myself feel grounded. Take a moment to be thankful for another day.

Then I’ll put on my sunscreen and forward march into summer.

The day is Yours, and Yours also the night;
You established the sun and moon.
It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth;
You made both summer and winter. Psalm 74:16-17 NIV

Dear Routine,
Though we’ve got to say good-bye for the summer, darling, I promise you this: I’ll send you all my love every day in a letter Sealed with a Kiss.

How do you roll with the changes in your routine?

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Vikings and Temple Dancers

A good week finds me at the Y two mornings for yoga and two for pilates.

I have four different instructors affectionately nicknamed to protect their identities: the Boomer, the Ballerina, the Brit, and Grace whom you may remember from Namaste.

buffalo as seen on Manchester

The Boomer is my intelligent, sandwich generation yoga instructor. In true Boomer fashion, she delivers a hefty dose of unsolicited, often humorous, expert advice every week.

Tells us how we should put our handbags in our grocery carts when shopping to preserve our shoulders. How we must strengthen our quads so we don’t end up in nursing homes, unable to take care of our own bathroom duties.

It’s a fun class. Really.

One morning, she said, “There are two kinds of people in the world: Vikings and temple dancers.”

We giggled. “Vikings are the people we hear above us in the weight room grunting and dropping dumbbells on the floor,” she said. “They like the taste of adrenaline. They want to lift, sweat, and pump iron.”

“Then there are those of us who are temple dancers,” she said. “We like to bend, stretch, and feel the gentle flood of endorphins.”

“It would be good for the Vikings to dance and the temple dancers to lift weights,” she said. “But we have our preferences. We start with our strengths.”

what a feeling as seen at Sears

My Y-appointed trainer wants me to go to the Body Blitz class. Add the Muscle Pump hour. Do something called CORE in all caps.

Says it will help me “burn” faster. Speed up my metabolism. Thinks yoga is all cardio and no resistance. I’m avoiding her for the time being.

I pine for chiseled arms like Linda Hamilton’s in Terminator, so I may add weights. Vanity, oh vanity. But my metabolism is fast enough already.

And there’s a lot of resistance in yoga and pilates. It’s nuanced. You push against your own body rather than a free weight or machine.

It’s like a dance with yourself. A temple dance of bending, stretching, and wonderful, glorious endorphins.

You did it: You changed wild lament
into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
I can’t keep quiet about You.
God, my God,
I can’t thank you enough. Psalm 30:11-12 The Message

Dancing with Myself by Nouvelle Vague. If you’re used to the Billy Idol version of this song, you’re in for a treat with Nouvelle Vague’s cover. Fantastique!

Disclaimer: In case it isn’t blatantly obvious to you, I’m not an authority in health or fitness. I write of my own experiences and impressions. Nothing here should be construed as health, fitness, or medical advice.

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Filed under humor, women's studies