food, yoga

some guidelines

Dessert at the Happy Gnome

Dessert at the Happy Gnome

It seems beautifully ironic that this post is about contentment and non-grasping, when my photo du jour is of an delightfully luscious dessert. But I’m going to do it anyway.

In these months that follow my yoga teacher training, a program that I was told would be transformative, I’ve been thinking about exactly what may have been transformed.

Was my body transformed? Yes, but as expected. Every six months or so, I change things up a bit and there’s usually some degree of transformation. While in the program I was taking five, sometimes six vinyasa/power yoga classes per week, so I gained some muscle endurance, and maybe increased my back strength & shoulder stability.

Did I learn something, with regards to fitness, that has impacted me in the long term? Yes: there are finite limitations, with my and everybody’s body, in spite of the general mantra in a lot of yoga instruction, “keep working on it and you will get there.” No, with some areas of my body, I will not. This continues to be something that irritates me about some yoga teaching, and I do not plan to perpetuate it with my own teaching.

Do I see myself differently? Yes. As I’ve posted before, I’ve discovered a nurturing capacity in myself that I didn’t think was there. I can help people feel better, even if only by instructing them to breathe. (Wow!)

Additionally, I am now a teacher: I have experience and knowledge that I share with people, and people can consult me with questions about yoga, and, to a degree, fitness. I have new interest in gaining some background/knowledge in fitness, physiology, and nutrition.

Have my priorities changed? Yes. I’m now making time to prepare for and teach yoga once or twice a week, at my workplace, and that has been rewarding enough that I plan to continue doing it. Perhaps I can add one class at some other location, per week.

I’m making sure to “do yoga” on a daily basis, but I’m perfectly fine with the fact that on some days it may amount to a few moments of deep breaths in a check-out line, as a sort of mini check-in with my body and reality.

I think this was the logical result to learning more about yoga: it is a lifestyle, not a fitness regimen. And yet I’m surprised that I am not sustaining the near-daily group Vinyasa practice that I did while in training. The energy in a Vinyasa class is palpable, uplifting, and even comforting, at times. And, as a teacher, attending well-taught classes is great training, for me. But I’m finding again that balance is more sustainable for me. Some days, I get to class. Some days I go for a run, and do a few asana afterwards or later in the evening. Some days, I sit with a candle in my living room.

Has my thinking changed? Not drastically, but yes, and in good ways. I keep coming back to the Yamas and Niyamas: the 10 ethical precepts for yogic living. I find that when I’m facing a perplexing decision, I look to the Yamas and Niyamas for guidance.

Most often, there are three in particular that get me pointed in a direction that settles my fears: conscious communication (Satya), non-grasping (Aparigraha), and contentment (Santosha). These help with frequent questions along the lines of “What’s the best way to communicate a message? When do I need to let go of something? And do I have what I need?”

I have been transformed, and it continues.

As for the beignets: Satya didn’t really come into play, but Aparigraha and Santosha did. I was able to let go of the stranglehold I often have on my diet, and admit that my spirit simply needed the cute little french doughnuts. That’s my spin.