Benefits of Yoga


It has been a stressful few weeks at the job. I love my work and can identify wonderful things that happen there every single day. However, sometimes it can be trying. Sometimes people seem to be at odds with one another; sometimes someone misinterprets your words or actions; sometimes I misinterpret the words or actions of another; sometimes students are angry, frustrated, embarrassed, or sad; sometimes co-workers are angry, frustrated, embarrassed,or sad; sometimes educational decisions make no sense for students. . .

Today at work a colleague was expressing her frustrations with recent challenges in the work place and in the middle of her diatribe she stopped and said, “You are so calm, despite everything that’s going on. It must be your yoga.”

Oh, yeah.

She is correct. Yoga has most definitely had a calming influence on me. Yoga and aging. The two together are a sure cure for angst and sleepless nights. At times it is difficult to define the benefits of yoga because there are so many. For me, yoga has gone from a practice to a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle that I practice regularly, which is probably what makes it a lifestyle.

Moving through a series of asanas (poses), using my breath as a guide, allows everything else to melt away. When I step on the mat and take a moment to set an intention and look inward, my body leads the way to exactly what it needs at that moment. By focusing inward I am able to get outside my head and let go of all the thoughts from the day that are the real stressors. For me, the practice of yoga, and mindfulness through yoga, has helped me to be aware of the thoughts that come into the mind, but not to dwell in them. I have learned, through practice, to notice and let go.

Once I can get to that place of noticing and letting go I am then able to select the ideas that actually need my attention. By noticing and letting go I can later determine which of the ideas that come into my head actually need more of my attention. I find that most do not need much further reflection on my part ~ the comment a co-worker made to me is not my issue, so I can let it go; the opinion expressed to me by another is simply that – an opinion and does not warrant more of my energy. Yet, the student who came to me recently with a concern may need more of my time and energy.

Honestly, it only takes a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, and for me it works best when I do a few asanas at the same time, getting my body moving a bit while using my breathing in an intentional way. When I have a choice to spend 10 minutes obsessing in my head over something I can’t control, or taking the time to let a multitude of ideas pass through my mind, notice what comes, and then let it go, I can take control of what I need to focus on.

Namaste.

Happy Mother’s Day

I originally published this here five years ago, but feel it’s worth a second shot today. Love you Mom!

This is my mom when she was four. She gave me this picture last year on my 55th birthday.

There are so many things I love about the photograph. Mom wasn’t sure, but suspects it was taken by my Great Grandmother Powers. She was a photographer and was the one who colored the picture.

As I look at the photograph now I think of Sandra Cisnero’s story “Eleven”. It is about a young girl just turning eleven, but the day doesn’t go as she hoped. She reflects on how, sometimes, “What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six and five, and four and three, and two, and one.”

I realize that never before have I thought of my mother as any age except the one she was at any given time. Today I know that she, like all of us, has carried all her ages with her through her lifetime.

I wonder how many times in her 80 years she has felt four. How many times has she gone back to that day on the beach when she was alone with her thoughts, listening to the sound of waves and laughter behind her?

I suspect there have been many of those days. Perhaps in July of 1951 when she married my father she was feeling timid and naïve, like a girl younger than she was. Or in May of 1952 when her first child was born and she held him with the same love she’d once felt for her dolls, when she was four. In November of 1963, when her first love passed away suddenly; unexpectedly, she must have wanted to crawl onto her own mother’s lap for reassurance and comfort.

When I look at my four-year old mother on the beach I see the precision she is using to place shells on the sand. It is the same precision she used when she cooked for us or when she created quilts, or rugs, or stained glass. I can see her in her forties kneading bread dough on a Saturday morning with that same concentration, and I can see her in her fifties planning lessons for her students, and in her sixties reading to her grandchildren.

Having lived as my mother’s daughter for more than 55 years I recognize that look on her young face. It is the same as mine and underneath it I know she is thinking deep thoughts, even at four. Thoughts that she may never share with anyone because then they would not be hers alone.

She seemed content to be four years old. And today, she seems content being eighty. I understand now, that when you’re four, or forty, or eighty you are all the ages that came before. You don’t leave them behind, but carry them with you, and sometimes clutch them tightly like a child clutching seashells in her hand.

Thank you Mom, for being there for me, no matter what age I am or what age I’m feeling.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Date Nights

Date nights are important when you’ve been with someone for a long time. Either planned or not, occasional dates can keep the spark alive. In addition they can be so much fun.

Recently my workplace sponsored some fun activities for the community to participate in. One was a Paint and Sip so I signed us up! Date night! I had never seen my husband paint anything except walls in the house and bee hives, but I didn’t think about that when I purchased our tickets. I know he is usually up for a new adventure and he doesn’t hesitate to humor me when I come up with kooky ideas.

The date was last Thursday evening and we had a great time. I think Dave especially appreciated the ‘sip’ part of the Paint & Sip. As it turned out he was the only male at the event. One way to look at it is that he actually had 16 dates that night. Being the good sport he is he jumped right into the adventure and went for it.

Our theme was pansies in a flower garden so it was quite challenging. Fortunately, the instructor had already drawn the design on our paper and she did have photographs available as a reference.Our teacher only gave us primary colors to work with so we had to be creative in mixing our colors, which was interesting. What I loved most was the way every person’s painting came out a bit different from the others, but they were all appealing in their own right.

Here are the end results ~ I’ll let you try to figure out which is mine and which is Dave’s. Both frame-worthy, you can look for them on our walls next time you visit.

Battle of the Spouses

So, I play this game with my husband, though he isn’t aware of the game. He opens doors, cupboards, drawers and I close them.

That’s it – very simple really. It feels very competitive, but no one ever wins. It’s a game that can drag on and on – I’ve been playing it for years now. It’s funny that he doesn’t know he’s playing. I am hoping one day he will stop playing, because in reality I get quite fed up with the game at times.

However, the other day, I just had to laugh about it. There I was closing the closet door for the umpteenth* time that day alone, and it struck me as hilarious that this game has gone on for so long. I have often wondered what it is about my spouse that causes him to resist (refuse?) to close doors and drawers that he’s opened. And yes, of course, I’ve also wondered about myself and what it is about me that insists they be closed. I mean, to me it’s obvious – if all the kitchen cabinet doors were left open it would be a dangerous place to walk into – risking harm to a variety of bodily parts.

Perhaps my husband considers it efficient, to keep the doors open, which could save time and energy when you needed something from the cupboard. If that is the case then why have doors on the cupboards at all? Take them all off and go with the open look. (Lord, please no – don’t let him even suggest this!)

I prefer the look of a neat and tidy space with doors all closed (to hide the mess behind, most likely). Maybe it’s a holdover from my childhood and throwing everything behind the closed closet door when told to clean my room. Was I the only one with fingers crossed, holding my breath, hoping that my mother wouldn’t check the closet when she inspected my room?

Anyhow, the way I see it is that I have two choices here: either get upset and have a fit about the doors being left open or just continue to close them and laugh a bit to myself each time I do.

*Definition of umpteen

: very many : indefinitely numerous

umpteenth play \-ˌtēn(t)th, -ˈtēn(t)th\ adjective

When You’re Missing Something

It has been months since I wrote an actual blog post and I miss it terribly. Not having time to write creatively has made me realize how much I enjoy that kind of writing. And how much I miss it.

So, today, as I sit watching the first storm of April 2017 outside my office windows, I’ve decided that I am going to take the time to do some free writing. My hope is that it will be today’s blog post AND that it will spark more regular writing, and therefore more regular posts here again.

When life gets busy the natural consequence is that you have to give up some things. With a new job, finishing my yoga certification, taking some courses, having a new grand-baby, beginning to teach yoga classes. . .it’s the writing that has fallen by the wayside. Throughout the last few months I have realized that I need creativity in my life. Creativity and the space to be creative.

In recent weeks some parts of my job have become particularly challenging and I found myself falling into some old patterns of negativity and angst. Both emotional reactions that can result in an overall sense of unhappiness. I know from past experience that in order to bring stability into my life a creative outlet is necessary.

It is the habits we cultivate in life that make us who we are and we certainly can cultivate negative habits as easily as positive ones. Any habit is the result of practicing that habit, therefore I will need to get back into a routine of regular writing. It is not easy to change habits because it requires a great deal of commitment, will power, and focus. Sometimes a mantra (“Just write” ~ “You can do it”) is helpful and making the time is essential.

Starting small will allow me some feeling of success and that will be a reward in itself. This is a time to let the ‘noise’ of the world around me dissipate ~ listening to the voices that say “not good enough”, “not enough”, “no one cares” will not prove helpful, so I will practice pushing the negative noises away and replace them with affirmations like “I did it”, “every voice is important”. In this way I am creating a sense of positivity related to the habit I want to increase.

To cultivate is to prepare and use something, so in order to cultivate the habits I want in my life I will need to dig, hoe, mulch, and weed as necessary to ensure I am providing the most fertile ground for the habits to thrive in. As the words begin to take root and grow that will be the encouragement to maintain the habit and return equilibrium to my world.