This blog was originally posted on the blog site of Fightmaster Yoga (www.fightmasteryoga.com)
Sometimes the things we love to do or are passionate about can be our prison also. I’m talking about my love of reading and writing, playing guitar, and also practicing yoga. It’s so strange to me, until recently, how I can hit a wall with these activities. I will be religious about doing these things then I find my passion and interest waning, as though these things become a chore rather than a source of joy.
I get into a rut and it’s a lot of work to dig myself out of it with a new perspective, and sometimes it’s not the one I expected or wanted. To give an example, I’ll talk about my yoga practice. I was doing the 90-day Shine Program (available to people who join an app called MyYogaPal, which I came upon from following YouTuber, Lesley Fightmaster. She influenced my personal practice because her teaching philosophy and practice was “You don’t have to be perfect, because it’s not about the pose.”). Around the 70 to 80 day mark of the program I started to get stuck, because I repeated the classes 2 or 3 times, maybe even 4 or 5 times. I did so, because I felt I didn’t do it justice. What I mean by that is my focus wasn’t there, and my best intentions weren’t present.
I almost wonder if we should give ourselves some kind of a graduation ceremony for accomplishing a feat of doing 90 days of yoga as a recognition of completion and getting ready for the next step. What could that be after 90 days of the Shine program?
So what perspective did I gain after I had to re-boot myself from the rut? No pain, no gain. I am being a bit facetious in thinking and writing those words, but I’m not editing them out. The reason is there is truth to the cliche (as cliche as it may be). Here’s my real life experience about this. I have two stories to share.
I’ll start with my recent project that I started about 2 months ago. I decided that I want to be able to do at least one pull up before the end of this year. So, after teaching my twice a week yoga classes at a private club, I go to the weight room and work on my pull ups. One of my yoga students is dedicated about his weight training. He started to notice me be a regular in the weight room. He offered me advice on how to reach my goal. First, he asked what my goal was and analyzed my workout. Then he said that I needed to also do some weights to strengthen my pectoral muscles. I followed his advice.
Two weeks ago, one of my other yoga students joined me in the weight room as we continued a conversation after class. ‘What are you doing here?’, he asked, so I told him. ‘Well, have you tried doing one without the machines?’ I said no. ‘Try,’ he said, ‘You might surprise yourself.’ I was doubtful, but I did it anyway and guess what – I almost got to one… I was able to lift my weight higher than I ever expected. He said, ‘you’re almost there?!’ ‘Really?’ I beamed. ‘Yeah.’ My coach was there too, working on his usual routine. He said, “To be successful you have to be ready to endure pain.” I haven’t forgotten those words since.
The other story is I have been healing an injured rotator cuff or a very tight knot around my right neck and shoulder area. It’s been rather painful, that I can barely do a chaturanga dandasana (four-limbed staff pose). While I heal, I do a modified chaturanga dandasana. Here I am, a yoga teacher, and I’ve suffered an injury. I hope I’m not teaching anyone the wrong way. I’ve always always been mindful of making sure my shoulders are aligned with my arms, wrists and hands. It could be a combination of repetitive motion injury and arthritis plus my new pull-ups program.
But I recognized there’s something deeper going on here, so I stopped looking externally as to why I’ve suffered this set back. I decided to investigate inwardly. What is it in my life that’s really bothering me and that I’m avoiding or running away from? I decided to revisit writing on a daily basis again to help draw out this invisible elephant in the room. I went back to my roots of spending more time alone which I need on regular basis, because it’s always been my nature. Also, I have had to start being honest with myself and recognize to put myself first.
I was very spoiled when I lived next to a national park that bordered my home in Vancouver, Canada. I would spend hours in the trails of the forest with my dog running, hiking, jumping and being alone but not lonely in nature. I was one with the sounds of the forest – the rushing waters of the creek, the call of the birds, the soft wind through the needles of pine trees and leaves of deciduous trees.
That was my meditation.
Now, it’s 20 minutes if I can steal it from the heavy schedule of a regular job, and the pets (chickens and dogs), cleaning, cooking, shopping and teaching yoga. I got lost in all that and lost a vital part of me – just spending time with myself doing the things I enjoy without the pressure of the walls of time closing in. Isn’t it funny how we perceive time. It could be infinite or finite, depending on our state of mind.
I really meandered on this blog.
But it all ties in with the words of intention, time and tapas. To get to the next level of where I imagine my life to be then I have to be in tune with myself – aligned. I need to continually evaluate when I’m not tracking to my intention and put in the sweat, effort and time to re-align and stay in-tuned to my inner voice – that calling that cannot be silenced until there is no more.
It’s easy to get thrown off my path and I have to guard my time wisely because I haven’t got a lot of it measured in human years. I want to be generous with others, but I also need to be mindful to be more generous to myself. This is my authentic self when I’m taking care of myself.