Yoga is not about fitness

As a new yoga teacher, I am surprised sometimes to learn how many people have misconceptions about yoga. Many are scared to try it – “it looks too hard!” they claim. Or “I’m not flexible enough!”

Because of the way yoga is marketed typically, I can understand where these misconceptions arise. Look at most covers of Yoga Journal or even ads in your Instagram feed that feature yoga and you will see taut bodies in shapes that may not look possible for you.

In truth, yoga is about “union” of mind and body (and some say spirit). It is a practice that allows us to realize our true nature. And perhaps most importantly, it is a practice to calm your nervous system. For me, that latter part is especially important. I find that, with all of the available “feeds” coming in, it is far too easy for me to become over-stimulated. A good yoga practice brings me back to my body, my breath and the present moment.

Yoga is preparation for meditation practice, for a process of getting still and looking inward. Generally meditation calls for an upright spine and focused attention. It is awfully hard to sit for very long if you have tight hips or a sore back. So yes, there is an aspect of physicality that is important. And, with an attitude of play and curiosity, yoga becomes an exploration of oneself and our inner being.

The more I teach, the deeper I go into the traditions and into the vast layers of this ancient practice. It is a science and also an art. I’m so grateful to have this tool for calming my nervous system, especially in times of great change and upheaval globally.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

P.S. If you want to try an accessible practice, our next online Sunday (re)Treat is SomaRestore for Gardening and features guest teacher Grant Foster. Register at this link by choosing “Sunday (re)Treat” from the drop-down menu. Hope to see you there! 

SomaRestore ticket for Instagram in JPG format

Renewal in times of uncertainty

Content here first appeared on Linked in on April 14, 2020. It has been edited for WordPress and re-formatted.

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Are you feeling like your head is busy and your body is unsettled?

Maybe you are trying to work from home, and it now seems like all you do is work…

Or maybe you are managing children’s “school at home” schedules and you are also expected to get work done.

boss Gallup article
Photo credit link (Gallup)

With the uncertainty and virus concerns, many of us exist in a new reality. Even if we might worked at home before now and then, now we are possibly sharing space with more people.

We don’t necessarily have the “commute bumper” of our day to delineate starting and stopping anymore. For some of us, maybe the dining room is now our makeshift office. Pets or children may interrupt us many times a day, not understanding that it’s a Tuesday, not a weekend!

It does not help that the news can be grim, and that we worry about the state of our health, our loved ones, and of just how the world will “recover” from such a disruption. While we may be able to focus on certain aspects of our work during the day, we cannot totally keep from wondering… what is next?

During this period of collective upheaval and change it is important to schedule self-care into our day. I’m writing this while snow swirls outside in Minnesota as we speak. So while a walk would be lovely and I highly encourage that as a routine for before or after your workday, or after lunch, it does not always appeal.

Yogi tea IG photo

Other things you can do include taking a break and making a cup of tea, and allowing yourself to step away from your desk. Grab a journal and write out your thoughts, or draft a  screenplay scene with yourself as the protagonist.

If you’re like me, you will add yoga or other movement as part of your day. There are online NIA classes you might take. Perhaps some quiet meditation or listening to some soothing music will help you calm and center.  Or engaging your creativity by getting out the paints or even some play-doh (remember kindergarten?) will give your mind a rest.

Whatever you decide to do, realize that these self-care activities are not optional. They are not frivolous, because they provide a respite from our left hemispheric thinking, which can be unrelenting. While thinking and problem-solving are wonderful aspects of our human capacity, over-emphasis can lead to anxiety, a focus on doing rather than being, and sometimes even insomnia.

I wish you well. I hope you experiment with and discover the activities that nourish your whole self, and nurture calm, clarity and resilience. I would love to hear about your favorite ways to relax in the comments below!

Take much care,

Cristy

P.S. If you have not already found online yoga options and want to join a live community of people via Zoom to practice restorative or slow flow yoga online, please join my email list (cristy@meximinnesotana.com) to get a free class offer. Or you can sign up for a sliding fee yoga class here. No prior experience necessary. Thank you for your interest!  

Healing Within Tree
Click here to explore Yoga with Cristy

 

New yoga gig – when possible

Hi Friends,

This is shameless self-promotion but it’s fun to share a piece of good news as most of our input channels seem to be focused on the virus situation. I got my first “real” yoga teaching gig close to home, starting when we start being able to meet with people face to face again. Or maybe I will try some online delivery via Zoom! I’m sharing the announcement that got posted on Thursday by the owner of Healing Within Acupuncture & Wellness Studio.

Capture

Sometimes good things happen when we get prepared and then stay attentive to possibilities as they arise. I’m so very grateful, especially at a time when my “main gig” is will be in transition in the next few months.

Ah, life! You never know what is around the next corner! Visualize something good that might come during any challenge. Perhaps it’s just as likely as the doomsday scenarios. 😉

Cheers & stay well,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

P.S. I am offering free 1:1 calls for people who want some extra support during this “corona-palooza” event. No obligation. Just a chance to speak your thoughts and emotions and to receive empathy and encouragement. Schedule a 20-25 minute call with this link.

 

Phones for talking?

Do you remember the days when phones were just phones? 

Did you ever have to “wait in line” for the one phone line at home?

Rotary trim line phone (red)
I don’t think ours was red, but this was the style my family had when I was growing up.

When you were a teenager, maybe you use the phone upstairs, and the cord would get twisted while you had to make sure your younger sister wasn’t listening in on the downstairs line… ah those were the days.

I guess I’m dating myself here! But today I spent time on the phone with a few friends who called me. It was delightful to talk with them, not to bother with email, but to have actual conversations. We did not need any fancy software to talk, and hearing their voices really helped me feel connected.

We had time to talk, and we spoke about the different experiences we’d had since this virus situation started becoming part of the public health recommendations for self-quarantine.

I also had time to talk with my sister on the phone. She’s an R.N. and she’s making preparations in case she needs to self-quarantine after she treats sick patients in the hospital. Our parents are in their 70’s and she is thinking in advance about how to protect them by keeping her distance, though their county has not reported any cases yet.

There is a lost art to a good phone conversation. I prefer phone calls to video calls. I find that I take notice of the tone of voice more, and get less distracted by seeing my image (or someone else’s image) on a video screen. I am actually enjoying this part of our self-enforced exile. I find that when I focus on my gratitude, there is less room for fear and anxiety.

What helps you stay calm in the midst of uncertainty? Have you tried talking with friends on the phone lately? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Sunday haiku – detritus (2 versus)

Accumulation:

Detritus that needs taming

Gathered in corners.

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KonMari says: Once.

But I know myself better.

Collections spread here.

I’ve managed to collect some clutter piles over the holiday season, and I intend to tackle them this weekend, since I find they are interfering with my energy flow. Maybe I didn’t successfully finish the “Kon Mari” work a couple of years ago, or maybe she doesn’t really address the habitual collecting that can be hard to defeat.

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cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Yoga for over-thinkers Week 1 – Ahimsa

Hello Friends!

This week I will start teaching my 5-week class on Thursday mornings. I have a good number of sign ups, and a couple of yoga teaching friends that may drop by, and I am excited to start.

Since I am preparing for that, I will be writing a weekly series on Wednesdays in October focusing on the 5 Yamas, Sanskrit for “restraints” which are part of the gems of wisdom making up yogic philosophy. These are: nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, nonexcess and nonpossessiveness.

Yamas and Niyamas
This is the book we studied in YTT-200 teacher training, highly recommended if you want to learn more.

The first week we start with Ahimsa, or nonviolence, literally to “do no harm.” This is so fundamental to the practice of yoga. Yet it is not always respected in our desire to “get things right” or to imitate our teachers.

We do violence to ourselves when we strive for perfection rather than balance, when we overdo rather than just do. The hardest part for me in this lesson was realizing how hard I was being on myself. My inner critic became apparent when I started listening to the thoughts in my mind more often.

Learning to bring some compassion to those “sub-personalities” that were driving some of my behavior, I have embraced a new pattern of nonviolence by becoming curious about that critical voice. Rather than believing it, I realize it often comes from that protective part of ourselves that is driven by fear and by the conditioning of our families of origin, and society as a whole.

By directing our attention to the breath and the body, getting “out of our heads” for a moment, we can step back from that inner dialogue. The mind’s stories create a cacophony of noise that is not the REAL self. Developing compassion for that inner voice, rather than criticizing ourselves for having it, allows us to move forward with greater ease.

This is in line with Kristen Neff’s work on Self-Compassion which I explored in an earlier post. There is a way in which treating ourselves with kindness flows out to our relationships with others as well. As Deb Adele’s book on The Yamas and Niyamas points out: “If you are a taskmaster with yourself, others will feel your whip.”

What I have noticed in practicing self-compassion with my flaws and short-comings is that I have so much more compassion for others as well. In this way, ahimsa becomes a powerful foundation for living well.

May you, my lovely reader, practice ahimsa by noticing where you are not being as kind to yourself or others as you could be. In what ways can you more easily accept yourself as you are without judgment or criticism? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com