Self Care Sundays: A Soak in the Tub

Self Care Sundays: A Soak in the Tub

Every Sunday in January I'll share a low key idea for slowing down and taking a much needed self care break.  If you like them and the feed back is good I'll keep them up.  Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what is helpful.  

Missed yoga class: 3 Lessons I Learned

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IMG_0083 - Version 2

Have you ever had your heart set on a yoga class?  You did everything right, stomach empty, mat in hand, drove yourself 35 minutes to the next town over for this specific class only to end up thwarted by st. closures for a road race?

That was my morning.  Luckily for me I've been practicing yoga for a while, and though I was disappointed I was able to let the desire for that class go and quickly shifted gears.  I used my yoga and simply let go.  My new Canon Rebel was in the car and I wanted to take myself on an artist's date after yoga class anyway.  Now I'd get to set out a little earlier to use my new toy.

Lesson #1 Let go of your attachments to follow life's flow: If I got frustrated and mad that I couldn't make it to class and had focused on the wasted time and wasted gas I wouldn't have been able to shift gears as quickly as I did.  The ability to let it go and find life's flow can be the difference between a good day and a bad day.  Sometimes interrupted plans are better than plans anyway because they help get your creative juices flowing.

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Lesson #2  Spontaneity is crucial to Creativity There is a lot to be said for routine.  Personally I'm a huge believer in route.  Dedication to goals, putting in hard work to achieve those goals - all of that is important, YES.  And you need to allow enough free time and flexibility in your life in order for creativity to blossom.  I almost had scheduled myself up for the morning.  I almost made a plan for Saturday morning which would have meant no room, no space, no extra time to just be.  That's normally my life. This was a great reminder to leave room for myself so creativity can blossom.  The free time allowed spontaneity to creep in and fuel my creative side.

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I love my state, but I especially love my City...

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All said and done I got lucky to miss class.

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Lesson #3 Feed your creativity Make time for creativity in your life.  It doesn't just happen.  You have to flex that muscle just like any other muscle.  If you don't work it you won't have it.

Speaking of muscles, I may have missed my yoga class this morning, but I think I'm gonna roll out my mat at home now.

xoxox -Alisha

The truth about a home yoga practice

Pose 1.3 Downward facing dog
Pose 1.3 Downward facing dog

If you are waiting for things to be perfect to have a home yoga practice you will never have a home yoga practice.  If you are waiting for a room devoted to yoga, or a full hour to be able to practice every day you will never have a home practice.  The best advice I ever received was practice every day even if you only have 10 minutes.  10 minutes every day is better than an hour once a week.  This serves me well even today.

Before I became a yoga teacher I thought yoga teachers had these perfect home yoga practices.  They must have whole rooms in their house devoted to nothing but their mat, a mediation cushion possibly a Buddha, and a stereo.  They must have these perfect hour-long daily practices at 4am where cares just fall away and they lose track of time they are so in the moment.

Yeah, not true.  Well, I sorta have a yoga room, but it's also sorta filled with boxes and other things too and there are many dust bunnies full of dog hair floating around.  There is a dog that I know I should put in another room, but he sits in the same room watching me.  I normally have time to practice right when I get home from work not early in the morning and I rarely get more than 30 minutes let alone an hour.  The house is normally a disaster zone because even though I'm great at many things, I am not great at keeping a clean house.  There are oodles of distractions around me.  It's just like normal life.  A normal life and a home yoga practice go hand in hand.

Tonight when I got on my mat, I found myself distracted because I was using my least favorite mat (yes, yoga teachers or at least this yoga teachers acquire multiple mats) and I kept slipping. Then I noticed the floor needed cleaning, and the dog being curious about what I was doing. Then I remembered it was about the breath not those other things.  For a few minutes I was able to stay with my breath and then I quickly got distracted again.  I noticed and then I tried to take it inward once again.  I wasn't very grounded tonight.  Getting on my mat and trying in the first place was the reason I noticed.

My message is don't wait for the situation to be perfect, Don't wait until you have enough time.  Just go get on your mat for 10 minutes even if you lay in savasana breathing for all 10 minutes.

Alignment

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This is a scary post to write.  I'll be honest.  I'm sharing very private feelings with you in a very public forum, but I believe these are important conversations that we are failing to have with one another.  This post is not a cry, it is an acknowledgment that you might be working through these feelings as well and you aren't the only one.  These feelings are uncomfortable, and that doesn't make them bad, in fact I want to get cozy with them so that I will understand.  I want to understand these sharper edges of life, explore the dull ache telling me that something is not right, and dig into the quiet knowledge that there is another way. As a yoga teacher I think and talk a lot about Alignment in the physical body.  My goal is to help students move into postures that allow them to make space in their bodies.   The hope is all of our extra space in the body will create extra space for our souls to breath, explore, create, enjoy and handle what the world throws at us.

After feeling generally not good yesterday I started to think about how maybe not feeling good is a sign that I'm out of alignment not within my body, but out of alignment with a deeper place.  My soul and spirit feel stuck and stagnant.   If I'd covered up my feelings, with various different distractions, I wouldn't have come to that conclusion.

In yoga it can take us years to find the right physical alignment in yoga postures.  I don't think the spiritual space and alignment I'm looking for is going to happen overnight, just like it won't in our physical practice.  It will take more than getting over my cold, a few fifteen minute meditation practices, or hot soaks in the tub (although those things do help!).  Finding the alignment I'm looking for might be unattainable, but the first step is acknowledging a problem even if I can't tell you exactly what that problem or solution is.  What I do know first hand is that the physical practice of yoga is a long bumpy journey.  You don't ever perfect or arrive at a pose, they are new each day.  Some times a pose that normally feels magnificent in all the right ways suddenly feels painful.  If I'm looking for alignment in my spirit and my soul then I'm sure it will be a bumpy journey to find what feels right for me.  

This journey for a deeper spiritual alignment has begun because now that I know there is a problem there is nothing else to do but start walking.

On the surface there is nothing wrong with my life, in fact there is an abundance of greatness.  Greatness includes but is not limited to my wonderful partner, my deep and caring friends, the community that is growing at my studio, the colleagues I work with at my day job, and of course my family.  Once you get past the surface I can tell you there is a storm brewing and it needs to be addressed.  I have a hunch that coming into alignment might take some courage, it might take big steps and leaps of faith, and require me to make big decisions that I'm not yet ready to make.  Maybe I'm not ready to do it all at once, but I'm ready to explore.

I don't plan on inviting you into my thoughts every time I'm thinking this over, I've got much more interesting content I intend on sharing here. Yet, as I ponder this journey for personal alignment, I'll check in once in a while and let you know what I'm doing to find the deeper alignment in my spirit and soul.

Rest Days, my extra long shavasana

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Shavasana, corpse pose, final relaxation is what I consider the most important pose in all of yoga.  At Greensboro Downtown yoga I require my teachers to give students a minimum 10 minute Shavasana.  Why?  Because in our culture we need rest more than we need anything else.  You all push hard, I know.  I see it, I hear you talk about it, and I watch you pull your tired selves into yoga class and push even though you need rest.  Shavasana helps you find balance.  Push yourself hard in class and then fully relax into a well deserved Shavasana.  It's about balance.  Your body needs to rest.

I need the shavasana too.  Let's just say running a yoga studio, working full-time, running regularly and juggling the demands of life can be difficult to balance, difficult to find the personal shavasana of life.  Yes, I too struggle with balance, ironic for a yoga teacher (it's not lost on me).  Space for Alisha to rest, find peace, relaxation, and free time that is desperately needed to nourish the body and soul.  Those are actually necessary to spur creativity, repair muscles and leave you energized enough to follow through on a demanding schedule.  Shavasana on the mat, shavasana in life, it's a must.

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What happens when you don't make room for Shavasana in life?  My body is often the signal that puts up a big fat stop sign and forces balance.  The pendulum swung hard this time to force me to stop as I spent the first 3 days of my vacation mostly in bed sore from the race on saturday and nursing the tail end of a cold that will NOT let up.  This year has been a trial, mostly created by my own doing.  There has been little space for rest, recovery, balance and shavasana.

I've been training for last Saturday's 30k since the beginning of the summer.  I struggled a lot during the training for The 2014 Salem Lake 30k.  Finding the time to run seemed more challenging than normal, and emotionally I may be hitting a wall juggling a business and full-time job.  Emotions like to bubble up in your running if you aren't addressing them.  It's just like yoga, you can't ignore reality, you can't push the truth out of mind especially if you are someone in touch with your body.   Have you ever found yourself in tears in shavasana for no apparent reason?  Yeah, that's just like when you have a crappy run, after a crappy run ALL  SUMMER LONG.  They are signs.   Recently the parts of life I try to push down out of mind (even though I know you can't do this) are popping up in my yoga, in my body, in my running.  That's why my running doesn't feel good, it's why yoga feels hard.  You can't hide from yourself.  There comes a time when you need a break, a rest, especially if those things aren't already a regular part of your day or your week.  the Shavasana of life is so important and if you don't get it your body will tell you.  Self time is not something I'm good at working into my own life.    Do you do this?  Do you tell yourself you are fine, you can handle more, you sign up for the PTA meeting, you join the board of the non-profit when you know you don't have the time for, you say yes to the extra project at work that isn't necessary to your job?  All of a sudden you've taken away any "you time" but you think "What the hell, I can handle it".

I knew the wall was coming.  There was some planning for a week off from my day job and subs for all of my yoga classes.  A full week off from the day job, even a plan to go away to the mountain for a most of that time.  So what's the problem?  I let myself get too depleted that when a rest was finally available, my body almost completely shut down.  This lingering cold threatening my dreams of long spells on the yoga mat by myself, shutting down dreams of slow recovery runs in the mountains.  This week I spent A LOT of time in bed.

It took me most of the week to recover, I got a slow bike ride and a slow run in, but mostly it was a prolonged rest, a prolonged Shavasana.  Maybe you can learn from my error?  If your body is talking to you right now, listen.  If you are tired find a way to rest, maybe take the restorative yoga class instead of the power flow. If you don't do it your body will find a way to do it for you.