I have to admit that November has been a horribly depressing month. The election, my mom moving back to New Mexico from Hawai’i, and the passing of my Grandmother are all events that have checkered me in recent days. I think I am still in the shock/denial stage. As a mental health counselor, I recognize that these events need high level coping skills and interventions if I’m going to stay on the unlocked side of the psychiatric facility where I do assessments weekly.
A few coping skills that have helped me tremendously are my yoga practice, gardening, talking to my wife, and utilizing my colleagues who are also mental health professionals and are generous with their listening skills.
I light of these recent events, I have to admit that my yoga practice has been lackluster of late. For me that means asana practice every other day or so. After subbing last month intensively, I was wiped out. Most of my practice lately has consisted of supported postures. Normally, I like to experiment, but now I am just going back to what feels normalizing.
I have also started a garden as seen in my previous post. I was a bit pessimistic as I have not had success in growing things in the past. My wife and I tried growing upside down tomatoes a few years back and put too much calcium in the soil only to grow a tomato as hard as a rock. But lately as I have been spending time in it, I am noticing tremendous success. Things are spouting everywhere. I can spend an hour in my garden just in awe of the new life.
Today I had my first teacher training in a few months as my teachers have been away. I was extremely nervous about the training because of my aforementioned backsliding in practice. Today we went over the fine details of Pincha Mayurasana, or peacock feather pose. My teachers Ray and Shelley emphasized the importance of the base by rolling the forearms in and lifting the biceps to resist the back going toward the wall for prep. My teachers gave me a good feeling about my teaching abilities and I was able to execute the pose well.
Ironically, all the squatting and forward bending I have been doing in my garden has also given me a “secondary” yoga practice outside my field of awareness. Shelley gave instructions for Malasana which has always been my nemesis pose due to my inability for me to get my heels on the ground. Today the pose was still difficult, but I can feel more ease due to my constant squatting in my garden. It’s funny how yoga works its way into your life even when It’s not in your life. Hopefully, I make it through this month and not lose my sense of humor. Once that goes, forget it!
That’s been a tough month, Michael. Wishing you a little respite in the coming days.
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That sounds very intense, Michael. But your sense of humour and essential optimism shine through your post. Sending you loving, supportive vibes from the Great White North.
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Thanks for such honest sharing. A lot of my yoga students are gardeners. No wonder they execute malasana so well. It’s the garden yoga.
.You made me laugh when you mentioned coping with the election and trying to stay on the unlocked side of that facility. I feel that my yoga teaching in the days after the election was very much the work of helping others heal. My choice for coping was to try to do something every day that makes the world a better place, even if very small. Sometimes all it amounts to is making myself more informed. Other times it’s activism. It’s been hard to stay calm sometimes, though.
Two of my yoga teachers inspired me to commit to daily practice. One said he never teaches without having done his practice first. I tried that change in my schedule and noticed a difference in my teaching. Another teacher, who had a young family and a business to run on top of teaching yoga, said ,”My mat is always down. If I have time for three poses, I do three poses.” So I practice every day, even if all I have is ten or twenty minutes. I write every day and I practice yoga every day. It sounds wise that you’re meeting yourself where you are in your personal practice, with all those changes in your life.
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I just wanted to send you a quick “you are not alone”…
My practice of late has been mostly yin and restoratives. I have felt a strong need to rest my nervous system, to replenish myself as I allow myself to sink into more passive and meditative practice. The election knocked me for a loop, and many of my friends feel the same way.
I think that we are doing the best thing for ourselves at this point…listening to our bodies, evaluating how we are in the world and acting accordingly.
THAT is yoga…life is yoga.
The poses, whether restorative or traditional asana, help us to live in integrity with ourselves and the world. Allow us the space to meditate, to go deeper and make sense, or at least peace when life serves us upheaval.
I am back in my more physical hatha practice, and the time of replenishment has only enhanced it…much like your gardening.
Now, life, is the practice of yoga. We are practicing my friend.
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To get your heels on the ground in Malasana find a telephone book that supports your heels as low as you can go there Each day tear out page or two and slowly your muscles of you lower leg will stretch blessings
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Thank you thank you thank you!!!!