Posted in inspiring activities, Writing, yoga

A Time to Pause and Reflect

I am getting ready to go to the studio and set up for this afternoon’s Yoga Nidra class. Every New Year’s Eve I lead this deep guided meditation called Yoga Nidra, and then offer people the opportunity to stay afterwards and write a letter to themselves.

Here is what happens: Unlike my normal classes where people arrive and chat as they take off their coats and set up their mats, today they will be greeted with signs on the doors that read: Please Keep Noble Silence.

They will enter the warm yoga room, find a mat and settle in. There will be a bowl of stones outside the yoga room door and each person will be invited to take a stone as they enter just as a way of letting other people know how many spots are still left in the room as they arrive. This is a free class, but I only have room for 16 mats.

At each mat will be a piece of paper explaining what is going to happen in the next hour. There will be a half hour of Yoga Nidra which is like a guided savasana. At the end of the Yoga Nidra experience, I will ring the bowl 3 times and people are then free then to leave, still in silence.

I will then increase the light in the room and invite those who wish to stay to take paper, a pen and an envelope, and move to any place in the room, or even into the lounge, for the letter writing part of this experience.

People tend to be in a very introspective and open place in their bodies and their minds after the Yoga Nidra experience, so it is the perfect time for some deep listening.

I invite them to start their letters by writing on the paper: “Dear (their name)” and then write: “I have been waiting for this opportunity to talk to you for a long time. Here is what I want to tell you.”

And from there, to just let their inner voice speak.

When the letter is finished, they fold it, place it in the envelope, seal it, and address it to themselves and leave it with me. I will then mail it to them so that it arrives in their mailbox on the first day of spring.

I have done this for a number of years now, and I think it is both a beautiful and a fitting way to end the year that is passing, and begin the new one that is dawning.

Happy New Year everyone.

Namaste.

 

Posted in Streaks, yoga

The 1 Thing I Am Good At

Yesterday I completed Day 750 on 750words.com

Milestone, I think. No badge for that, but still, the symmetry pleases me.

The one thing I am good at is sticking to things. If I commit to it, I do it. ┬áIt’s the one thing my friends and students always say they wish they could do, too.

So lately I have been wondering what to offer at my studio in January. What can I offer that my students might want to learn? What can I teach them that I myself know how to do? Inversions? Arm balances? Hells no. I suck at those.

The big thing they always tell you in yoga teacher training is: Teach What You Know. So it’s unlikely that I will be teaching handstands in the middle of the room any time soon.

But when they tell you “teach what you know” they don’t clarify a few essential things, like: teach only those postures which you yourself have mastered? Or do they mean, only teach those postures that you know how to TEACH?

For example, I can’t do a handstand in the middle of the room, but if I have a super strong student who is kicking up freestyle and almost nailing it but not quite, I could go over and give that person some tips, or advise them to work at the wall a little longer so as not to injure themselves.

But should I just say, “No handstands in this room, please. That is not something I can allow you to do because I, myself do not practice handstand?”

Who knows.

But all that aside, what I do know how to do is practice consistently. My favorite Yoga Sutra goes something like this: A practice that is truly grounded is done incessantly, with reverence, for a long time.

I am good at “incessantly.” I am good at “for a long time.” (I am working on “with reverence.”)

Like 750 words. I have not missed a day for 750 days. That’s 25 months. That’s over 2 years.

I stayed with Holosync for 456 days, which was 15 months, well over a year.

I have been journaling in paper journals since I was 23 years old. Not every day, but consistently enough for me to have amassed an alarming quantity of notebooks in the basement. That’s 37 years of journaling.

I have completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training at Kripalu, a 500 hour yoga teacher at Kripalu, and just recently another 500 hour yoga teacher training at Pranakriya.

This year I completed National Novel Writing Month by writing over fifty thousand words in twenty-eight days.

I have completed the Clean Program, not once, but twice, going 21 days without sugar, alcohol, flour, caffeine and other assorted inflammatory foods.

I have gone on long yoga streaks of not missing a day of practice for hundreds of days. So I think have some street cred when it comes to doing things for a long time. I am good at making commitments and sticking to them. Most people cannot seem to do this, but if they could, they would gain a lot of self-confidence and self-satisfaction from which they could build a life where their projects moved from the “maybe some day” realm into the “I am making this happen” realm.

So what I am thinking of doing is offering to help my students do this for themselves. Because there are tricks to it, and certain mind games that I play to keep these streak things going, and I so I think I will hatch a scheme where I offer to help my students do this through a yoga practice and other little tricky things.

Because most people aren’t lazy or undisciplined, they just self-sabotage. They start too big, or they start too unrealistically. Little baby steps and accountability are what is needed.