Everything Flows Onward

finding my dharma. living my dharma.

Legwarmers December 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 10:20 am
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Yesterday was a rollercoaster. It started off not so bad, quickly became super bad, then became an uphill battle and finally stabilized with an inkling of a feeling of victory and control. It didn’t come without its lessons though.

I won’t get into the gory details of everything but I’ll mention the important bits that led up to my anxiety attack yesterday morning. The biggest thing was that I have, in the past few days, become very aware of

a) how isolated I’ve let myself become
b) how scared I’ve become of putting myself out there and the risk of rejection when trying to connect with people and
c) how badly I actually want to make that connection.

With that awareness, and that acknowledged desire to connect… I suddenly began feeling like I was trapped in a cage. Actually, the analogy I used with my friend, Elizabeth, was that I felt like Ariel in that scene in the Little Mermaid when Ursula has gotten really big and huge and she’s created that whirlpool in the ocean, and you see Ariel sitting on a rock in the middle of it, staring up helpless and scared… trapped and immobile.

The next thing that happened was that it was my first solo store opening as a shift manager. Being the opener has proven to be something rather stressful for me. I don’t have a good rhythm down just yet and there’s a lot to do and depending on the day, you just never know how busy it’s going to be and how easily you’ll be able to get the procedural stuff done. I was anxious already and I knew it by 5:30 a.m. yesterday.

Suffice it to say, I was set up for what could happen and it did.

Work got sort of busy, no one had time to breathe really, and for me that meant a tailspin. All of a sudden I was plunged into the bottom of that oceanic whirlpool of self-doubt and self-loathing. I was seized by my feeling of fear and utter failure. The night before, I had wanted to call someone and hang out but I was so paralyzed by fear of rejection that I didn’t, which left me at home by myself and lonely. The memory of this came bursting in with the rest of the anxiety and by 11 am I had to leave for my lunch break or else I felt I’d go into a full on anxiety attack in front of my coworkers and our customers. My first thought was that I wanted cigarettes. I’d go to the gas station. But as I got in the car and drove, this teeny tiny voice broke through the screams of anxiety and said to me: “That’s a rather addictive and behavioral response you’re having right now. Don’t be reactive. Be active.” So, instead, I drove past the gas station to my yoga studio. No one was there, so I let myself in and just sat in quiet and breathed for a bit.

I calmed down and was able to make it through the rest of my shift (thankfully I was only there til 1 yesterday). But then there was the aftermath with which I had to deal once I was free for the afternoon. I felt overwhelmed by the weight of all the emotion. I wasn’t sure how to carry it, how to sort through it. I talked to my mom for a bit. Lots of word vomit and bad phrasing on my part and things coming out in ways that I didn’t mean. It was like unpacking a box that was not packed in an organized way. Just sifting through and tossing things out haphazardly. You see… when you’re cleaning and organizing things, it usually has to get worse before it gets better. You have to lay it all out there and see what’s before you. Then you can start putting it back in an orderly manner.

I suddenly felt like I would wake up one day and be crippled with regret that I’d wasted so much of my life hiding from people and not making connections. Then suddenly something in me woke up. The fear of that regret was greater than the fear of rejection. I made the call I’d not made the night before. I got a voicemail, so I left a message. But just doing that gave me an ounce of courage. I realized I wasn’t out of the battle yet. I felt my true defenses stand up, battered and bruised but determined as hell. I could turn this around. I could manage the victory if I tried. I realized how mad my ED voice was over the victory I’d gained on Saturday. It wanted to even the score.

I had been ready to skip yoga and mope all night but I decided I’d give my tired defenses some energy and go. I recently bought my [amazing, wonderful, generous, kind] friend Nancy and I some leg warmers for our yoga practice when we get together in CT this Christmas, and so in what seemed like a very trivial event, I decided that maybe putting on legwarmers for yoga yesterday might make me feel a little spunky. And if I knew anything it was that I needed some spunk to stay in this fight.

When I got there on my mat and started moving, with me in my yoga tights and leg warmers, the image flashed before me of myself as a ballerina. It sounds silly but it’s what happened. And then my whole practice felt transformed. Suddenly I felt, for the first time in months, graceful, pretty and, dare I say it, a little light hearted. This ballet, it still felt a little tragic, but it was delicate and poetic and full of grace. It occurred to me that my yoga mat is often the only place where I feel this way. I feel confident on my yoga mat. I feel like I float with the current. I never feel this way off my mat. After class, I let this realization settle a bit. I felt like I had a little more clarity into my issues. I simply HAVE to do something about my self-esteem, I have to build myself up.

In a rare moment of softness towards myself, I realized something else. Something very important. So… when you agree to fight anorexia you aren’t just agreeing to eat food again. You’re agreeing to feel again. I’ve said this before, I know. But what occurred to me is that in all my time avoiding feeling, I’ve never learned how to deal with what comes up. So I’ve agreed to let the feelings in but I’ve no idea how to treat this new company. That being said, it’s not going to be graceful and easy at first. It’s going to be just as I feel off my mat: hyper sensitive, clumsy, awkward and uncomfortable. But I just have to keep practicing. (I realized too that this is not unique to me… EVERYONE is trying to get through life in the same way.) All of the common yoga sayings popped into my head: “Practice and all is coming” (Patthabi Jois), “Open to grace,” (John Friend/Anusara), etc.

In my attempts at getting organized, things are probably going to get really messy before they get cleaned up. (For the love of pete, let me be in the middle of the biggest mess right now, though…) Sure, it’s overwhelming when it’s all laid before me, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s to dive in head on. I’ve got to throw out the trash, I’ve got to be awkward and I’ve got to feel my way through this. But if I keep fighting, if I keep practicing, if I keep cleaning I know in my heart of hearts that one day I’ll look up and realize that there’s no more mess about me and that things are in order.

I just know it.

 

Yoga Mat, Battleground December 5, 2009

If you’ve not been through an eating disorder before, it can be very hard to understand just what is going on inside the head of someone who is. Today on my yoga mat, Ed* and I engaged in battle. I wrote it down in my recovery journal, but I thought it might be helpful to post it here for others to see. Maybe it will help some people make sense of this disorder. Maybe others who suffer will know that they aren’t alone.

I got to yoga and I sat down on my mat. The first thing I noticed was that it felt good to be there, on my mat. And then I decided that I was going to let this practice be organic. I wasn’t going to push myself to get farther in postures, I just wanted to be right where I was this morning and that would be great. As class began, we all closed our eyes and began centering. In that very moment that things went dark, Ed stepped in swiftly. This was the perfect place for him to start.

Ed: Hey, it’s dark in here. I’d like to fill all this space in. Let me turn on the light.
Jenny: No, Ed. This is my practice. You can’t have my yoga practice today.
Ed: Hey remember that you got rejected by your friends last night. I’m here for you because no one else wants you. I’m always here to help you when that happens. Don’t say no to me.
Jenny: I have not been rejected, Ed. And I don’t want you here anymore. When have you ever followed through on one of your promises to me?
Ed: That is some accusation, Jenny. You’re not good enough and I’m here to make you better. To guide you to perfection. If you’d do what I say for a change you’d see how happy I can make you.
Jenny: These are lies, Ed. I’ve had enough. I want to feel again.
Ed: NO! Look- look at that woman. Let’s see if you can be more flexible than her. That’ll make you better and happy.
Jenny: You’re desperate and trying to distract me. Stop. You can NOT have my yoga today. You’ve taken enough from me. Right now I’m FEELING, Ed. I feel my body. You never let me feel my body. It’s not fair.
Ed: That’s because the EYES have it. It’s not about feeling. What has feeling ever gotten you? Whatever. Anyway… Hey do you want to eat after this?
Jenny: ENOUGH, Ed. Be silent now. There’s no room for you on my mat.

The more I moved and felt myself move, the stronger my true voice became. I told Ed again that I was sick of him. He has only lied to me from day one. He told me yoga betrayed me. But it never did. The whole time it was Ed distracting me from the purpose of my practice. He can’t win with things like yoga around. He is so threatened by the thought of me connecting to myself. He wants me to believe I need him. He’s so desperate he’ll do anything. HE is the scared, weak one. Not me.

I hear Ed so loud and clear these days. He keeps screaming but what he doesn’t realize is that the more he screams, the more I understand what he sounds like. He screams but I will use his screaming to separate myself. If he’s taught me anything lately, Ed, it’s that this is geurilla warfare. That’s fine. The gloves have come off. Today, I’m ready to fight dirty.

I know the war is not over. But today I won this battle. And every victory gives me fuel and energy to persevere. Every victory gives me the will to keep fighting.

*It’s always helped me separate from the eating disordered voice in my head by giving it an identity separate from myself. So I call my ED Ed and I treat my ED like a person who is not myself. Because that is the truth: I am not my ED.

 

YogaVive Apple Chips Review! September 29, 2009

Filed under: product review,vegan,yoga — Jenny @ 1:50 pm
Tags: , , ,

yogachips

Who needs 100-calorie snack packs when you can enjoy YogaVive’s Organic Apple Chips?

The truth of the matter is, I’ve never been a fan of snack packs. I usually find them unsatisfying to both my craving and my hunger. However, where YogaVive Apple Chips are concerned, this is so not the case. First of all…. I. LOVE. APPLES. And not just any apple. I. LOVE. FUJI. APPLES. I eat one almost every day. So you can only imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to notice right off the bat that these yummy snacks are made from USDA approved organic Fuji apples. They come in five flavors: Original, Caramel, Cinnamon Apple, Strawberry and Peach. It’s hard to pick just which is my favorite, but if you’re going to twist my arm and force me to, I’ll narrow it down to Original (can’t fight the natural flavor of Fuji Apples!) and Cinnamon Apple (there is nothing cinnamon can touch that does not turn to yum.)

There is a lot to love about these snacks. Besides the aforementioned Fuji-appleness of it all, I love the quick read that is the ingredients list. Take for example my two favorites:

  • Ingredients for the Original flavor Apple Chips: Organic Fuji Apple
  • Ingredients for the Cinnamon Apple flavor: Organic Fuji Apple, Organic cinnamon

That’s what I like to see, friends. A short list of words I can pronounce.  Just how all food should be. And of course, I’ve gotta love all their certifications: USDA Organic, EcoCert, Kosher, Halal, Gluten Free and Vegan. (Certifications list longer than ingredients list! YogaChips FTW!)

The other thing I like is how satisfying these little things are. I brought them to work with me or ate them as a quick afternoon snack before teaching yoga and they were consistently just what the doctor ordered. I mentioned before my disdain for snack packs. I was always still hungry and my craving was never satisfied. But YogaVive’s Apple Chips are in a category all their own. Before I tried the first pack, I had a hard time believing this little .35 oz, 35 calorie pack was going to feel like anything more than chewing air. But hey- I’m a yogini, okay? I work on detaching from my ego. And so I am totally okay with admitting it- I was wrong. They are deceptively satisfying! And what’s more, they have a really great texture. They’re just puffy, chewy and crunchy enough and they really are the perfect thing if you find yourself on the go and need to hold your hunger off til you can eat your next meal. (Something that, for me- a vegan in nearly-rural Western Kentucky/ Southern Indiana- is very important to have.) I really was happy to discover that they really did hold me over until I could get home for meal time.

Unfortunately these little gems aren’t so easy to run out and pick up in my area. (You can visit the YogaVive website to see if the chips are available near you.) However, they are also available online (for what I think is a really bargain price!) at the following vendors:

Amazon.com
Kosher.com
DrSoda.com
Pangea
FunkyFoodShop.com

I am officially a huge fan of YogaVive’s Apple Chips and plan on keeping my yoga bag consistently stocked with these babies. For a girl who lives life on the go (like so many of us do) Apple Chips are really a wonderfully healthy, yummy, satisfying and easily transportable snack to keep around for whenever hunger strikes!

 

Peace September 15, 2009

Filed under: playlists,Uncategorized,yoga — Jenny @ 2:56 pm
Tags: , ,

In honor of International Day of Peace, coming up on September 21st, I created this playlist for teaching yoga this week. I’ve called it simply, Peace.

1. Omiya – Mychael Danna

2. Mahadev – Ranga

3. Tiffany’s Party – Ranga

4. Knockin on Heaven’s Door – Avril Lavigne

5. Let it Be – The Beatles

6. My Sweet Lord – George Harrison

7. Redemption Song – Bob Marley

8. Give Peace a Chance – The Beatles

9. Examining, Examining – Mychael Danna

10. Within You, Without You –  The Beatles

11. The Times They Are A’changing – Bob Dylan

12. Peace Train –  Cat Stevens

13. Imagine – John Lennon

14. Twameva – Jai Uttal

15. Om Namo Narayanaya – Deva Premal

 

Feel August 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 3:20 pm
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I’ve been trying to blog for about a month now. I swear. You should see how many drafts I have sitting here, wanting to be filled out, completed, posted. But I get so far in and then I lose it. Whatever light I was chasing, trying to capture, it disappears.

It occurs to me that it’s not that I’m not feeling creative. In fact, I feel quite creative, but that energy is being invested elsewhere. Ironically, once I admitted and recognized that my energy was elsewhere, I was struck with inspiration for a blog. Where my energy has been channeled lately is into the art that is my yoga. For various reasons, my yoga practice has had to change recently. I fought it at first but recently I have come to embrace it and am now happily exploring something new.

I’ve gone from a daily Ashtanga yoga practice to a gentler, intensely intuitive Hatha practice. In light of recent events in my life, I have realized the importance of slowing down. The benefits of holding still, of breathing, of feeling the present moment. I have experienced the fulfillment of turning mind off and letting body lead body where it wants to go next. Instead of matching breath to the quick movements and upbeat pace of a practice, I let my breath dictate the length of my movement and thus, my pace. The result for me is a long, fluid, graceful movement, felt by body and soul from beginning to end (or should I say, rather, new beginning?).

The importance of spontaneity is number one these days. Even when I am taking a yoga class, I find that I sometimes ignore what the instructor has cued in favor of a hint my body has given me to do something else. Today I tried to return to an Ashtanga practice. Because of the pace of my breath I moved so slowly that, had I finished, I would have been on my mat all day just to get half way through the primary series. And as you may have deduced then, I didn’t finish. One quarter of the way in I heard my body whisper, “That’s plenty. I know what’s coming up and it’s not what I need right now. Please, I invite you to do something else instead.” And so there, one quarter of the way through Primary Series, I stopped. A couple counter-poses to balance myself out and then I carried on with an intuitive, slower practice for a bit. I sometimes read a quote to my yoga students. (I think it’s by Osho, but unfortunately, I can’t currently recall and my efforts at googling it have been in vain…) To paraphrase, the author says that we should never do one thing that goes against our truth or our will. He says if you are walking, and you suddenly lose the desire to walk, then you should sit down right where you are and take not one step further until you wish to do so. (Sounds like an Osho thing to say, doesn’t it?) But this is how my body is in the present moment. It fights restriction, predictability, plans. It wants what it wants and I am happily surrendering to its wishes.

This all has taught me a lesson in non-attachment. I love Ashtanga yoga, and I anticipate that I will return to it on occasion in the future. But I know that I was becoming attached to the progress and not the process- the results and not the effort – to the extent that I injured myself and jeopardized my practice on the whole. It was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Looking back I can see how attached I was and how willing I was to ignore my body’s true desires.

Now, both on and off my yoga mat, I am appreciating a slower, intuitive pace. Backing off, releasing my ego and pride. Taking my awareness inward again. I often say to my students, “It’s not what you do, but HOW you do what you do that matters on your yoga mat.” That is to say, it’s your intention on your mat that matters, not how “fully” your body may express a posture or how bendy or open you may be. Your body needn’t express the posture, your intention should express the posture.

Finally, I have begun taking my own advice.

I intend to move with grace and compassion; with lightness and fluidity; with devotion and love.

I intend to feel from beginning to new beginning to new beginning…

 

Perfect moment. Only moment. July 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 3:16 pm
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I talked briefly on this subject yesterday, but today I’d like to talk more about the cleansing diet that Baron Baptiste offers in his book Journey Into Power.  The idea is that as you go along the week, you are able to connect with your body and notice your hunger patterns, stop cravings for foods that your body doesn’t need, and truly doesn’t really want anyway, and just to generally tune your radio to receive clearer signals from the body on the whole. As I previously mentioned, I have been partaking in the week-long cleanse since last Saturday. It starts with two days of a light, macrobiotic diet, followed by 3 days of a fruit fast and then the last 2 days you gently ease your way back into a more regular eating pattern. Also like I stated before, I did not go on this journey to try and lose weight. I decided to start it because I was feeling disconnected to my body. I noticed that I hadn’t actually allowed my stomach to so much as attempt to growl in probably weeks. I was eating unconsciously and eating even if I wasn’t hungry just because “it was time to eat.”

I have tried other cleanses before but at the base of them, I was out to shed a few pounds. I am 100% certain that the reason I have been successful this past week is truly because my intention has been different. I have not wanted to deprive myself of anything, in fact, I have only wanted to honor my body and provide it with just what it needs to be healthy and happy.

Today I am on the last day of the fruit fast. It’s been surprisingly easy. I honestly haven’t felt like I’ve missed out on anything that I’ve “wanted.” (I think this is partly because I have a natural sweet tooth and so feasting on fruit all day long is no big for me…) Tomorrow I begin my foray back in to regular eating (the tofu is baking as we speak! yummm).

I wanted to talk about this because of how much I really feel this whole week has helped me on a level deeper than just paying attention to when I’m actually hungry. To have been honoring my body and tuning into the signals it provides me has been just what I have needed to do lately, as I am suffering from an injury (strained pectoralis major) that has me physically unable to practice yoga.

At any other time in my life, even just a few weeks ago, I would have fought against my body, pushed it past its limit and made things a whole lot worse than they are now. But something about being so in tune to myself this week set me up to be in the right place to recognize my body needs a serious break. Even more importantly, I have come to this conclusion without the slightest bit of resentment towards myself. I don’t blame myself for the injury, I don’t think my body failed me because a weakness had been exposed. Instead, I am truly practicing ahimsa here, and it has left me resting happily in a state that can only be known as Serenity. I’m floating with the wind, riding the wave of the moment. I’m not fighting an uphill battle with my body, instead I am accepting the present moment just as it is. These are the ebbs and flows of life.

It really does bring a lot of peace to be in harmony of body and mind. I am truly surprised that all of this week I have actually been in a mood ranging anywhere from Just Plain Good all the way to Spectacular. It’s the kind of feeling that truly only comes from living in harmony, mindfulness and awareness of the present moment.

I’m very, very thankful that I happened upon Baron’s book when I did. It seems like the universe timed this one perfectly (but then again, when doesn’t it?) This was a lesson I really needed to focus on and understand.

Breathing in, I know this is a perfect moment.
Breathing out, I know this is the only moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Ashtanga Adventures June 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 8:15 am
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One of the (many) things I took away from Gabriel is an understanding of (okay, and new adoration of/love for/enthrallment with) the practice of Ashtanga. I knew very little about it beforehand. And by that I mean, I had heard the word “Ashtanga” and understood that it was a style of Hatha Yoga… (Two cheers for context clues!) Upon receiving this new knowledge, I realized that Ashtanga is very well suited to my personality. In fact, I’ve only been working on the first half of the Primary Series (and using David Swenson’s DVD “Ashtanga: The Practice” as recommended by Gabriel), but as I do it each day, I am certain it is “home” in my Hatha Yoga heart. For one thing, it suits the part of me that desires a really physical practice. I find for myself that I have an easier time getting in touch with my subtle body, staying present and focused, as well as finding silence at the end of practice when my physical body is offered a greater challenge. It suits the part of me that likes to have clear-cut goals, something to work towards always. It provides a yard stick for progress, set backs, etc etc. I can notice changes in my body and mind daily. If something is easier today, harder today, tighter or more open, I can see this and I can fine tune my senses and become aware of what may be going on that is triggering these changes (be them in my body or my mind). Honestly, I have done my practice every day for almost a week now and not one day, one practice has been the same. It’s also perfectly suited for my home practice because the series doesn’t change and so I can stay out of my head and with my intention and meditation instead of pausing to consider what to do next.

Furthermore, I am in love with the history and lineage of this practice. The importance of the student-teacher relationship and then the continued emphasis on private practice both bewilder me. It’s like the perfect combination of “I, as the teacher, will give you these tools, yet you, as the student, must take responsibilty for your practice and discover how to lead yourself to divinity without my continued guidance.”

Am I getting the gist of this correctly, Ashtangis? Please… correct me if I have anything wrong about the practice. I am so very new to it but I am trying to read as much as I can to understand the principles of the discipline to the best of my abilities. I hesitate to use the word “religious” to describe my idea of the practice but our language is failing to provide me with a word carrying a better conotation… It’s not so much a religious practice but I guess the word I’m thinking of is closer to “devoted.” It is such a devoted practice and despite it being a physical challenge, that, for me at least, is not where the devotion lies. I have such a deep respect for Ashtanga, for the path that it lays down ahead of me. It’s like the next great adventure, involving a world of discovery inside and outside of myself.

And the more I am looking into Ashtanga, reading about it and things, it seems that a lot of teachers practice Ashtanga for their private practice. I knew it was a widely popular style (despite only just really learning about it myself) but I guess I had no idea how many people practice it at home. I guess I was thinking more along the lines of “classes available at studios” (and here in Evansville, IN…. well that just isn’t anything that we’ve got going on…). It seems to me the more I look at it, the more I am seeing Ashtanga as “the tie that binds,” which gives me even more to be in awe over. There’s something about knowing that so many of us do it privately that makes me feel it is even more devotional and connecting than I ever could have imagined.

At the end of it, I feel blessed to have been introduced to such a wonderful practice. I had the sense that I was wandering around the world of Hatha Yoga, knowing in my heart of hearts this is where I belong yet not all the way sure where I fit in, but Ashtanga has suddenly given me a foundation. I have found it easier to teach my classes (and to get off my mat as a teacher!!) this past week. I am able to give more attention to my students and focus on their practice during classes. I feel like I am more self-empowered and capable of leading. It’s like they have trusted me all along as a teacher but now I am so very assured (by myself) that there is reason to trust.

This is only the beginning of my Ashtanga Adventure, I can feel it. I am very excited to continue, learn more and go deeper in this new world.

Namaste.