I don’t have to do a damn thing and the truth is neither do you!

I have been practicing yoga now for over three years ago. I started off with yoga nidra as a way to relax and wean myself off the brown paper bag and Bach’s Rescue Remedy that I carried around to combat the ever present anxiety attacks. As I have shared before, coming from an Evangelical Christian background, I was pretty skeptical about yoga but learned quickly that maybe there was something to it. It actually took me some time to work into asanas (physical poses) since at that time I was dealing with a hernia and later hernia surgery recovery.

In the past year, I have gotten pretty serious about my personal practice. I prefer being in the studio but practice almost daily regardless of if I make it to the studio or not. Yoga is my drug of choice these days, it keeps me flexible and it probably keeps me sane. Yet yoga and the practice of learning to relax both my mind and spirit has taught me one thing…I don’t have to do a damn thing. I just have to be present in this moment. Let me repeat that, I don’t have to do a damn thing but just be and the truth is neither do you.

In the US which is where I live, we are fucking addicted to busy, consumed with what we must do, how we must be, frankly it is insanity! Day after day, I talk with people offline, online, wherever and we are all so stressed and consumed with our kids, partners, jobs, and whatever else to the point that if we were to be frank with ourselves, are we even enjoying this ride we call life? Sure, some of us get off on and even thrive on all this busy, but I suspect that many of us are doing it because we think we have to do it.

It’s taken the combination of yoga and the gift of getting older to realize more times than not that many times the pressures we face are pressures we put on ourselves. I thought about that this morning as I emptied my mind and let go of some residual tension that I had been hanging onto. I thought about it again this evening when I came home from work, grumpy and tired and pissed off about making dinner. No one said I had to make dinner; there is no law whatsoever that says BGIM must cook. Hell the man unit is a proficient cook and in that minute of intense frustration I decided I didn’t want to cook tonight, instead my partner made dinner. If he had been unavailable we would have figured it out. Worse case we would have eaten apples and Raisin Bran and it would have been fine.

Lately I find myself letting go of expectations in all areas of my life and telling others when I simply can’t and won’t do things and it’s liberating. I still have moments when I buy into other people’s scripts about what a wife, mother, worker, etc. is supposed to be and generally those are the moments I stop just being me and they pretty much all end in disaster. In many ways my new found willingness to just be has been liberating to those closest to me, I no longer get down on the floor and play with stuffies, Barbie or Lalaloopsy unless I want to. My daughter is now doing a lot more self-directed play which is a gift to all of us. My partner is feeling better that he can do more around the house, even my assistant is more confident and eager to take on more at work as I trust that if he shows up instead of me at a meeting, that it will all be fine.

I admit I wish I could scream it from the rooftops, but none of us have to do a damn thing but live and die. Those are the only things we are contractually obligated to on this journey called life. This journey is too short to waste on anything less than our personal best in whatever form that takes. So sit back and just be.

Tales of a Brown Yogi

It’s been a little over three years since I discovered yoga and despite my initial resistance, I can’t say enough how much yoga has changed my life. Coming from an Evangelical Christian background, I admit I had always given yoga the side eye. I mean seriously, all that oming and what the hell were they really saying in Sanskrit? That said a desire to manage my anxiety in a way that truly felt good and worked gave me the desire to at least try it. My first classes were the non-physical ones, yoga nidra which eventually lead me to trying the physical classes. I can honestly say now that for the first year, I probably only put about 50% of myself into the classes, as I can admit now I was still scared…not even sure what I was scared of but I was scared. Yet over time even only giving half of myself to the process, I started to see noticeable changes in how I handled life, so much so that eventually I decided maybe there really was something to this yoga stuff.

I admit being a Black woman who takes yoga in a pretty homogenous place can be interesting at times. For the longest time I had this sense that people were probably wondering why are you here? Hell, even I wondered but continued to chug on and for that I am grateful. Of course as I surrendered myself to more than just the physical poses but to the mental piece, I realized no one really cared what color I was and if they did, just screw em!

However I admit there are times when I do think clearly yoga was not designed for those of us who tend to not be rail thin and lithe. Can I just admit that certain poses are ummm interesting for those of us who are blessed in the ass and hip departments. Don’t even get me started on so-called yoga clothing; I have yet to find a yoga outfit that won’t ride up when I am bent over. I keep joking someone needs to come up with yoga gear for well-endowed ladies, in the meantime layering with a long tank top and a t-shirt seems to keep me from giving a peep show in class.

Last week I had a breakthrough when I decided to take an evening class at the studio I go to, morning classes tend to have more casual practitioners, but as I joked with my teacher the evening classes have the vibe of “I am a serious yogi”. For a moment I was intimidated as I was the heftiest gal in the class and suddenly self-conscious, never mind that for the past year my teacher has been telling me I was capable of taking the advanced classes, it was still a mental block.

The thing with yoga which I love is that while yes, the focus for many is just on the poses and how good the physical piece feels, when you give yourself over to your breath, it takes on a dimension that is so much higher. Ultimately it’s that piece which keeps me coming back, so no matter how awkward I may initially feel, I know that’s my mind trying to take me to a place I have no business going and instead focus on my breath.

Yeah, yoga is sort of trendy and hip, but at the same time, it can be whatever you want it to be, and since I am not a hip or trendy gal, I take the gifts that have been passed down and use them to make my time on this rock a little less anxious.


The practice of being…just be

It’s vacation week up in my corner of the world, which means the 6 year old is on vacation and for once so am I since my schedule follows the school calendar. For the first time in forever I am actually taking time off minus a meeting the other night. One of my goals this week and really going forward is to simply enjoy each and every moment; having a much older child I am all too aware of how fast time goes when you are raising kids. Lately I have felt like I am on the hamster wheel and frankly I am tired of running.

That said in 2012, to do anything but run on that damn wheel feels like blasphemy, I mean we are all running on it. I am not a particularly woo-woo crunchy granola kind of gal, so it’s pretty much expected that I will run too. Yet let me tell you, it’s a lot harder than it sounds to just be. Multitasking and thinking ahead is such a part of our culture, hell even kids do it! I have taken lately to telling the 6 year old to enjoy the moment at hand.

I realized today while we were out in the big city of Boston for a trip to her favorite place how hard it is for both of us to live in the moment. The kiddo asked me numerous times was I going to take pictures. Aside from two shots, the answer was no. See, I am tired of documenting and narrating my/our life, the problem with the constant picture snapping, and sharing is that frankly I am missing the moment we are in. It’s wonderful to document special moments, but somewhere along the way we started documenting every damn moment and if we are constantly documenting it, how can we live it?  Then again, maybe it’s just me.

The past several months in my yoga practice I have really struggled with this concept of being, of letting go and just being in that moment, in that pose on the mat with no other thought other than that present moment. Yet now that I have experienced it a few times, it seems only natural to try and take it off the mat. My yoga teacher who is just amazing, often says the struggles we have on the mat are reflective of something we are struggling with off the mat. For me it is true. My inner voice is always focused on what I should do, what I shouldn’t do and so-on, frankly she is not a good friend and I have decided to part ways with her. Especially after I listened to her a few weeks ago and made an ass of myself.

So, I end this mid-week post with one thought, just be…practice being in the moment for a few minutes each day. The only moment of life that is truly guaranteed is the one we are actually in, yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come, so live fully and completely in this moment.