Monday, May 9, 2016

Staying Positive

Something we often mention in yoga class is the idea of keeping your thoughts positive.  Instead of thinking of the heat as an obstacle, think of it as a gift that allows your body to go a little deeper into postures, which in turn allows for greater overall benefits.

I often catch myself thinking things that are not of a positive nature.  At times, frustration sets in when my body is not able to do what it used to be able to do.  Or, when I look in the mirror and see half a dozen physical qualities that I label as flaws.  Or I think of how impatient I was with Bill or one of my kids at one time or another and spend too much time beating myself up about it.

Thinking and expressing positive thoughts, for me, is an ongoing practice, very much like my yoga practice.

I have practiced the Bikram series for more than 12 years and I've gone through many stages of my practice.  In the beginning, I was way too tough on myself.  I demanded a lot of myself with my practice.  I got burnt out and would end up having to take time away because I couldn't bear to be in the room and practice in the way that I was on a continuous basis.
I had learned and believed that this yoga series was meant to me hard, and intense and relentless.  It is what I knew, what I understood and I knew how to work with this mentality.  But something was definitely changing because I was having a hard time keeping up with this.

It was only when I was about to walk away from the Bikram series, as a student and as a teacher that I somehow found myself in NYC at a Bikram teacher seminar with Diane Ducharme.   She talked about practicing and teaching this yoga series in a way that I had felt for so long but had never heard from anyone before.  And that was that it is a  therapeutic yoga series.  It is meant to heal, restore and make the body stronger, more flexible and more balanced and for many of us it is about learning how to take care of ourselves in a better way.  It is for any body, any age, and any ability level.  It is to be taught with kindness and compassion.  It is to be taught so that students can practice without causing more pain to themselves so that they may improve the quality of their lives.  I sat that day and I listened to every word spoken.  I listened to questions teachers had about postures and questions teacher had about students who needed modifications.  I listened to the answers of these questions and I watched demonstrations that were presented to us.  And I knew well before that day ended, that not only was I going to continue practicing and teaching this yoga series, but I was committed to opening a Bikram Studio.  In the time that followed this life changing seminar and the time I began the process of opening my own studio, I travelled frequently to Boston, MA to learn as much as I could from Diane.  I was able to write up a mission statement for the studio.

To contribute positively to our community by providing a safe, welcoming and healing environment for Bikram Yoga students through teaching with compassion, kindness and integrity.

This statement is what has led me in so many decisions I have had to make with the studio and it has kept me on track in the direction that I believe still fits our studio.

As I sit today and write this note to you and wonder how the words will all come together, I hear these thoughts trying to squeeze their way onto the computer screen.   I feel horrible.  My throat hurts.  My chest hurts.  I don't know if I can bear another sleepless night from the constant coughing.  Nighttime has become such a sweet time for me.  A time to slip into bed, knowing that the day is done, looking forward to the next and enjoying nothing but to relax and sleep and be grateful for so many things in my life.  But this past week, my lack of sleep has been relentless.  And I really miss being at the studio.  I have had to give up all of my classes this week.  I was five days into my 30 day challenge and it looks like I will have to start that over, doing most of it on my own.  Which is a bummer because there is nothing like having the support of those around you working towards a common goal.  And what really aggravated me today was that Bill was sick last night, but got up today, worked from home and ended up able to go to yoga tonight.

So then I ask myself what the heck is wrong with me.  Why am I so sick and why is it taking me so long to get better.  It has been a very long time since I have been this sick.  Bill had to take Emma to her voice competition this past weekend and take her to pick up her prom dress and buy her shoes.  Surely I will be losing mom points for this.  

After allowing myself this little pity party, I remind myself how hard I have been working these past few years.  I consider all of the things I have accomplished.  All of the mistakes I have made and learned from.  All of the new amazing people in my life.  All of the ways in which my life has changed over these years.  It has been as significant as that day I spent in NYC realizing I was going to open a yoga studio and understating why it would be so important.

Being sick right now feels hard and intense and relentless, much like the way in which I used to practice my yoga.  But, what has changed is that, although I do find myself thinking thoughts that are not really going to help me, I am able to let them pass so much easier and I am able to put things back into a healthier perspective.  I have learned how to take better care of myself and I believe as I age, my health and vitality will only become stronger.  I can't wait to get back to my yoga practice, to get back to the studio and see all of you.  I am proud of myself these days.  I can finally say this because every single time I walk in the room to teach, I am genuinely in awe of the strength, commitment and kindness that you show to yourself.  These are the gifts I have received from you.  Thank you;)