The Magic of 108

I got a late start on walking The Poodle this morning. Sleep eluded me well into the wee hours of the morning. In a jolt I was up at 6:30, a good hour and a half later than my usual time. In fact, I nearly fell out of bed in a rush to attend to our house guest. That would be the very one who was pacing with pitter-patter perkiness in our room, nails tapping in a sort of syncopated beat on the wood floor as she paced about between the hall and bedroom.   Oh my!  How could I have forgotten that Nica (that would be my sister’s pooch) is still with us for the long weekend?   My old boy, The Poodle, barely opens one eye.  He’s curled up into a tight ball in his bed.

“Nica needs to go out ASAP,” I all but croak in my before-caffeine voice to Rocket-man as I reach for my phone and watch.  He still appears out for the count, as he should be given he’s enjoying a few days off.

I hear his soft groan of acknowledgement and breathe gratefulness that he’s going to do the first walk of the day with Nica.

Over coffee I check for messages.  Still nothing back from my son, I note.  I sigh deeply.  I had called two days ago.  He didn’t pick up (and I didn’t think he would).  Still, I left a message.  I sang Happy Birthday, and wished him the best on that September 1st day, his 36th birthday.

Later that morning I rolled out the yoga mat and inexplicably, without two moments thought, decided on something different from my usual practice: 108 Sun salutations, the graceful sequence of twelve poses or asanas called Surya Namaskar.

Good griefWhere did that come from!? I thought as I stood at the top of the mat.  I’ve only done 108 sun salutations once and that was nine years ago in a tiny studio overlooking the ocean in Southern California.  Typically the practice of 108 sun salutations is reserved for the change of seasons (think solstice or equinox).  It’s physically challenging enough when you perform three or so sets in a typical Vinyasa class; 108 is well, akin to a marathon.  108 is a sacred number in Hinduism and Yoga.  There is also a spiritual significance to the number 108.   For example, there are 108 beads on the catholic rosary and on a strand of Tibetan prayer beads.

courtesy of : https://yogawisdomforeveryday.wordpress.comsalutations-and-the-winter-solstice/

As I stand facing the wrong direction (eastward is recommended) A little dialog inside my head ensues:

So, you know you haven’t even had breakfast.

Okay, I know. So actually that is better. It’s advised to practice on an empty stomach. Check.

What about the dogs?

Yes, I know….I’ve got to do this practice slowly, purposefully, mindfully and with NO DISTRACTIONS. 

I’ll close them out of the bedroom. Check.

What if your daughter texts you?

Phone on airplane mode. In fact, take off your Apple watch too.  Remember, NO DISTRACTIONS.  Check.

And just WHY again after all this time are you considering this?  The autumnal equinox is still weeks away don’t you know!? 

So….my kind seven readers, I’m sure you will understand.  It’s my son’s birthday and my mood is blue.  I’m overdue for a calming mental shift. Estranged we remain despite ten months of him living in my basement.  Nothing seemed to appreciably alter our estrangement.  Not praying, nor purple minion head-popping moments, nor outpourings of love, nor soulful tears…not even family gatherings helped much.  Nothing changed. Well, except my heart is heavier over this second-time-around gentle boot out the door.

And so, with the dogs in another room thankfully slumbering away, I dedicate my practice to the boy I labored nearly twenty hours to bring into the world.  I still pray that he will find his way.

I select music from Spotify to help me through the practice; it’s my Dreamcatcher playlist.

Hands at heart center, I close my eyes.  Inhale, exhale. Okay, let’s begin….

As I move through the poses inexplicably I’ve got images before me which I haven’t “seen” for quite some time.  I’m at the Army hospital laboring to bring my baby into the world.  The nurse attends to a screaming young woman several beds away from mine.  She’s all of seventeen, if that.  I recall my judgemental stare.  It’s obvious she didn’t prepare for the miracle about to unfold!   Even the nurses are impatient with her; she is not cooperating on any level.  I’m doing my best to breathe through contractions and remain calm through her screams and saltier than a sailor expletives.  I’m starting to tire and am fighting the urge to ask for drugs (I eventually caved to an epidural after more than sixteen hours).  At some point my husband stepped out for coffee and my mother comes into the labor suite.  A nurse tells me that she’s not having success with the external fetal monitor.  “We’re going to have to monitor your baby differently now,” she says as she prepares me for the internal fetal monitor. I knew what that entailed.  I had done my homework. My mother barely lasted two minutes in the room.  With a dramatic wave of her hand she announced she was leaving and heading for a good bourbon on the rocks.

How vivid still, that stab of disappointment.  Yet again she could not offer even a smidgen of nurturing support, not even during the birth of her first grandchild.  The sting was over in a flash I recall.  In fact, I was immensely relieved.  But it would be many years before I understood why.  I would have been invisible; If she would have stayed in the room it would have been all about her.

Focus! shouts a voice in my head. What number am I on?!  

Inhale, Love…Happy Birthday son…exhale, peace…I pray you find your way…

And then the strangest sensation overcame me, somewhere around my 30th sun salutation.  As I slowly lowered into chaturanga a song from my playlist punctured thoughts of my son, literally stopping the video of him that was playing through my mind as I inhaled and exhaled through each pose.  It was a song from Coyote Oldman’s album Under The Ancient Sky.  Whoosh! I was transported in time…it’s now four years ago in Carefree, Arizona.  I am at my mother’s house.

Every morning before the sun peeked through the tallest saguaro on the eastern hills I would step out the door for my morning walk-jog.  I’ve no doubt that the task of caring for my mother for over three months would have done me in completely without this morning ritual that became sacred to me.  It was Coyote Oldman’s music that soothed me through four miles of gently rolling hills among cacti, saguaros, coyotes, Javelinas and other Sonoran desert creatures.   The song New Worlds was the first in that playlist.

As I exhale into uttanasana (standing forward fold) I may as well be in my mom’s driveway…I am there, gazing at the rising sun.  It’s still cool in the early morning and yet I walk tentatively down the long pebbled driveway on the look-out for rattlesnakes.

Stay on task girl…..you’re on number thirty-two, I think.

Inhale…exhale…

Just great.  So now thoughts of my mother, gone two years now, invade my yoga mat.  Images of her tirades during those difficult months morphed into other memories that reached as far back as when I was ten years old.

My breath becomes labored, more pronounced, as I worked to shake thoughts of her from my mind.  I do not want to lose my asana count nor the fluidity of the practice so I start to whisper my poses:  “Inhale, circle arms up to reach the sky, exhale fold….inhale flat back….exhale step/jump back into chataranga dandasana, inhale, upward facing dog, press back into downward facing dog….five breaths….

It was in that flow, to the cedar flute of Coyote Oldman, that somehow my mother came to me.  It was a surreal, supernatural experience that perhaps lasted a minute or two.  Honestly dear reader, I am still trying to process it.  It was as if my mother and I were one. 

Oh man…this is weird.  Perhaps I should have eaten breakfast!  I stupidly forgot to bring a bottle of water to my mat.I would not allow myself to step off the mat.

Tears escaped the corners of my eyes as I held to the rhythm of my practice.

Inhale, long exhale….inhale…

The feeling of her presence was intense.

“Are you here mamma?”  I whispered as I stepped back into downward dog.  Exhale…No answer.

“I feel your presence.  Why? Are you here to set things straight?” I whisper through tears now streaming down my face.  No answer.

But I begin to feel an answer…of sorts.  As “we” move through the poses she is exceptionally serene, a trait she never possessed while living.  I feel her amazingly youthful; her bronze skin is smooth, wrinkle-free.  Can it be that she wants to finally bond with me through this yoga practice…and that maybe, just maybe…she wants to feel its benefits too.  How I have advocated for years that she give yoga–any activity for that matter–a try; all failed attempts to get her to manage her bouts of depression, anxiety and mobility issues.

“I wish it would have been better between us.  Did you ever love me mamma?   What do you want to tell me?”

“No more walking on eggshells mamma.  Is it here and now, on this mat, that I can be brutally blunt with my questions?”

And poof…she was gone. Somehow, I managed to keep it together.

Inhale, peace, exhale….It’s Okay…let it go.   

Inhale, peace…exhale…It’s Okay let it go.

Bathed in sweat, the feeling that remained on my mat was pure peace.  Wow.

108 Sun salutations; a cleansing like no other!  In any other situation I probably would have freaked over this visitation of sorts.  The magic of it still affects me days later.

Inhale, exhale….There is bliss in that.

Raining Blue

No one saves us but ourselves.  No one can and no one may.  We ourselves must walk the path. –   Buddha

The morning air was as heavy as my heart as I listened to the music of Philip Glass while walking The Poodle.  The ground is still saturated from days of nearly non-stop pouring rain. We’ve finally had a break in the weather and with any luck from Mother Nature we won’t have any more rain through the weekend.  As I walk up the street towards my house I feel like I am pulling myself up out of a hole of quicksand.  I awaken from my thoughts to note that indeed, I am walking ever so s-l-o-w-l-y.

This is not my usual pace, I think.  Wow. Is my mood raining this kind of blue?! 

Let’s blame it on The Poodle.  He’s like a slug behind me though I think he’s happy for the slow pace, for once.  His snout has disappeared into a laurel bush just off the sidewalk.

“Come on,” I say as I pull on my stubborn love.   Out comes his head and along with it a snout covered in dirt.

We both drag on into the house.

Later I’m on the yoga mat trying to get into the rhythm of a practice that I had selected on Yogaglo.  I’ve been barely ten minutes on the mat when The Poodle decides to plop down, between my legs, smack dab onto the middle of my mat.

“Really dog!?” I say in exasperation as I nearly fall out of warrior II pose.

The sun shines warm through the window in front of us.  I can see that it is bathing my poodle in light and a comforting warmth. He looks content beyond measure.  I don’t have it in me to break up his happy place so I abandon the practice and instead reach for my little red pillow.

Now I opt to sit with Headspace Andy’s gentle voice.  I choose a twenty-minute guided meditation on managing stress as The poodle sleeps soundly by my side.

It was not easy to connect with my breath.  The “video” of two days ago is like an infinite slow-motion loop through my head-space.

So the “soft” kick-out took place.  My basement is empty once again.  Fortunately the day went without drama. No shouting nor expletives…no blaming or shaming.

Kind readers I am sure you’re scratching your heads over my blue mood.  After ten months of many purple minion moments you’d think I’d be doing cartwheels of joy across the living-room floor.

You’d be wrong.

My daughter calls to check-in.  She asks if we’re happy to have our basement back again.

“There is no joy in any of this,” I tell her with sadness coloring every part of my being the darkest blue.

My son has left in a position much like he arrived in.  He’s gone back to Pennsylvania.  He’s barely got enough to pay one month’s rent for a room that is smaller than the little study from which I write. And, his head is still stubbornly on backwards.

Sigh.

My efforts to make a difference seem to have been fruitless.  The bullet points of my plan (less than five to be exact) to help him help himself seems to have failed miserably.

I’m crushed. We have all been in the trenches with this soul for ten months and nothing worked.

I know, I know, I know….

Not my fault.

But still.….

I am the mom.

After the last item of what little he owned was loaded I hug him and tell him to be careful driving in the rain.

“You have it within you son to figure it all out and while you do so, never ever forget that I love you… to the moon and back and beyond.”

My thoughts inexplicably go to the ocean.  I see my eight year-old boy playing in the water.  He’s on a skimboard and he’s lost in the wonder of “skating” on sand and water.

The memory makes my heart swell.

There is bliss in that….

A Year Ago, Today

Yesterday on the yoga mat tears flowed.  They came from out of the blue.  This has happened once before, during savasana at one of my favorite Yoga Works class when I lived in Southern California.  I was mortified then, but likely no one saw me wiping tears because, well…it’s savasana.

I haven’t been on the mat for at least a week now.  So when I found myself on the mat yesterday I was not expecting that a piece from my Spotify playlist would tug at my heart-strings just so.

I may as well have been in that hospital room.  The images of tubes, monitors, tears (gut-wrenching tears), my distraught sister, and the unbelievably kind critical care nurse were strikingly vivid.

In that room, I had placed my iPhone on mom’s pillow as she lay dying after being taken off life support. I selected the first playlist that was a recent play for her to listen to;  it was an album of Albinoni’s Adagios. He was among her many, many classical music favorites.

Pressed back into child’s pose the Adagio for Strings stirred a Colorado memory from over four decades ago. Mom, fresh on the heels of divorce after twenty years of a tumultuous marriage, was driving in a posh Denver neighborhood to begin giving piano lessons to a new student.  The car radio was tuned, as always, to the classical music station.  The beautiful tree-lined avenue with opulent and stately mansions on both sides of the street was in sharp contrast to our modest home in a neighborhood that was on the verge of becoming known as “mont-ghetto.” Why I was tagging along, I don’t recall. But the stress of that time still creates a knot in the pit of my stomach–one that makes me nauseous–whenever those memories bubble to the surface.  But, as much as life with mom was difficult because she was an intense, high-strung, dominating force of nature, I realize too that she was simply fighting to survive, with minimal tools at best, any way she could during a time of great upheaval and uncertainty.   Mom stubbornly marched to her own drummer, refusing even to punch a time clock as in a regular 9 to 5 job.  She did have an amazing gift however and that was teaching piano. Her students, ages 4 to 64 could attest to that.

Tears spilled onto the mat as the dramas of my life came rushing into my present moment.   I had to quell this flood or the day would certainly be a wash, not to mention my fragile yoga practice. I sat up taking a seat on my little red pillow, the one that I am trying to get more use out of for  meditation or prayer. I closed my eyes and focused on slow and rhythmic breathing. With each exhalation I let my mantra be: Let it go.

Let it go. Let it go. LET IT GO.

The tears stopped.  The mantra worked…this time anyway.

So, It’s been a year ago today since sis and I said good-bye to our mama.

Her fall happened sometime between 10 p.m. last night and early morning today. She fell in the hallway of her “home” hitting her head.  She never woke up.

Since that evening a year ago when we witnessed her last breath there hasn’t been a day that I’ve not thought about my mother. The episode yesterday on the mat is one of many.  Some days something stirs a memory which results in emotions that I am not always proud of: anger, resentment….bitterness for things said and unsaid…things done and not done.

I may as well be a child again.

But there are other days that a smell (like nutmeg) or words (like, good grief!) triggers a smile that warms my heart.

In all sincerity, though my struggle is real, I am striving to not let negative emotions be the focus of my memories of mama.  Time is helping. I am managing to pull happier memories to the surface more often, which honestly, is surprising to me. I didn’t think that would be possible.

Like a shopping moment together at Target in 2014. I was taking care of mom in the aftermath of her husband’s death. Frail and weak from years of self-imposed hibernation in bed as well as some health issues, she agreed to accompanying me to Target.   I was practically doing cartwheels of joy over this.

“I need a new bathing suit,” she said.

“What do you think? How about this Itsy-bitsy bikini”

I was thrilled that mom had gotten out of the house and was participating in the shopping process.  During those last few years of her life, there were not many moments of normalcy and lightheartedness between us.

Mom was perched on the seat of her walker as I lost myself in the racks looking for a bathing suit for her.   I kept her within an easy arm’s reach because I was afraid she would fall.  But, while my back was turned for a moment mom decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I want this one,” she said.  I turned to find her holding up a white fringed bikini. She made the fringes dance as she waved the itsy-bitsy garment with a dramatic flourish.

Mom was smiling from ear to ear as she saw my surprise.  I couldn’t help but dissolve in laughter….and so did mom.

Naturally we did not buy the bikini but we did manage to find a couple of one-piece suits.

“So mama, now you have two new suits.  No excuses; you must get yourself back in your lovely swimming pool before your move.  Then in a month or so you will be in a new place which has both an indoor pool and an outdoor pool.  There will be people around assisting you. You won’t be alone anymore.  Promise me you’ll go to the pool mama?

“Oh sure,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand.

She only went once during the year and a half that she was in that stunningly beautiful continuing care community and that was only when sis and I flew out for an Easter visit.

It breaks my heart to this day that mom had decided life was over long before she ever left her beautiful Villa Paradiso home.  Still, just as in that one shopping moment, there were slivers of hope–and motherly love– that she intentionally offered to sis and me despite her years of depression.  Not many mind you, but enough to know that she was trying in her own way to make her daughters happy and worry less.

Oh mama,  I pray your soul has found peace and joy in your forever home.  I’m thinking you must be enjoying spirited conversations with some of your notable favorites: Krishnamurti, Mozart, Chopin and Orianna Fallaci…to name a few that come to mind.  And even though our relationship was strained since before I left your womb, I miss you.  I really do.

I look out the window and see that the sun is just beginning to peek over the hills in the distance.  It’s time to get on with this day. It’s mighty cold out but when it warms up there will be a walk with The Poodle, a piece of cherry pie and who knows what else the day will bring!

Inhale…exhale….smile.

Flip the switch, already!

Lord have mercy.  It’s already November 4th.  Where in the world has the time gone?

Christmas is now literally weeks away and I am, as usual, behind.  Makes no sense mind you.  I don’t have a job and I don’t have little ones to chase after.  In this moment I think of my sis who is like a little bumble bee at times; she’s buzzing around getting ten things done at once and manages to do them well and look like a Botticelli dream (The Birth of Venus comes to mind)  in the process.

Botticelli's Venus....My sister's skin is even prettier however....

Botticelli’s Venus….My sister’s skin is even prettier however….

One would think I have plenty of time to get things done on the “to-do” list.  And I do.  What’s my excuse?  It seems that I have a mighty bad case of Procrastination.  I think this should be included in the World Health Organization’s list of infectious diseases. I had to have caught this procrastination disease from someone, right?!  I used to be fairly good at being organized and on top of the “to-do” list…not great to be sure, but good enough.  Something happened after I quit working full-time I think.  Unfortunately, I’m also prone to chastising my poor husband for the same affliction…stepping over the line once in a while in frustration saying that his middle initial “P” stands for procrastinate.   I guess this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.  I’m just as guilty as he, if not more so, because he’s got the work card to play and I don’t.

Yep...I'm guilty of all three!

Yep…I’m guilty of all three!

Hmm.  Did I get this “disease” from him?  After all, we’ve been together for fifteen years.   Note to self:  Do NOT bring up said subject with him unless of course we are in a deliriously happy moment of cycling together or some such thing.

I’m not sure why I put things off.  I’ll admit to being lazy sometimes.  I heard somewhere that it is a Libran trait.  Horoscope aside, maybe I’m just overwhelmed with too many “videos” playing at once in my head so that I cannot focus on  any one thing.  These videos keep me awake at night.  There’s a good excuse…sleep deprivation!  Wanting things to be just right is also another reason I put things off.  It’s called perfectionism and I know it has paralyzed me often.   I reason that I am simply waiting for the right time or the right thing.  I think about the “Things To Do” list every day….then I sigh and go back to reading…or how about I watch a show on Netflix?  Or let’s take a nap to make up for lost sleep…or…I must take the poodle out for his walk now!

or….

well…you know where this is going….

So, clearly I’ve got to shake the cobwebs from my brain and get busy… however…. a visit to my mother looms; it’s just days away.   I’m already feeling a severe energy drain and I haven’t even boarded the plane yet. I’m perilously close to falling into a negative pattern so I’ve got to slap myself silly, metaphorically speaking of course, and get myself out of  this pre-holiday funk.

I’ve not been able to practice yoga via my online yoga membership because of internet problems for weeks now.  Calming the waves of the mind through a consistent yoga practice has been elusive for weeks.  This could be contributing to this whole negative energy thing and the procrastination issue.   Every time I pull up a class and try to settle in on the mat the streaming video re-buffers every minute or so.  Yesterday, frustration really got the best of me when attempting to participate in an online class… a stream of expletives came flying out of my mouth and I nearly threw a yoga block out the window.  Not very yoga-like!  Of course, after the short eruption, I beat myself up;  I should be able to practice yoga on my own!   I miss my yoga practice in Southern California.  I feel lost without it just like I did when my running mentor transferred to a new duty station all those years ago.  For a couple of weeks I simply couldn’t run;  how could I, without the woman who’d been my running partner, friend, and confident for almost three years?!  Somehow I managed to flip some switch in my thinking pattern and I got off the couch and out the door.

That’s what I need today.  A flip of the switch.

Or a kick in the tush.

OK….Out the door I go into the crisp, sunlit morning.  That’s a start.

OM…Grunt…Punch

Since I left Southern California I’ve somewhat fallen off the yoga wagon…just a wee bit mind you.  No cause for alarm…nothing serious!    In my defense, its been easy to do.  Living in California, I was less than five miles from a lovely yoga studio, YogaWorks. I was lucky to be a member of YogaWorks for well over two years.  I say lucky because my membership was truly a luxury as I also belonged to a wonderful gym that had every piece of equipment known to man plus all the group exercise classes (including yoga) and a great pool as well.  Not only were/are the YogaWorks teachers excellent and classes varied enough to appeal to any level, but the environment was so esthetically pleasing and soothing to the soul with its bamboo floors, tranquil wall colors and a beautiful wall-mounted fountain from which water cascaded down in a calming fashion from the ceiling to the floor collecting into a small pool.  I loved sitting in the lobby before class; the sounds of the falling water mixed with melodious Indian or peaceful new wave music….sipping on unique blends of tea or iced lemon water while waiting for the yoga studio doors to open.  I even liked watching sweaty, and sometimes sleepy-eyed people exit their class …they’d pour out into the lobby and OOH and AH about how great the class was….how wonderful they felt; such a camaraderie amongst so many people who came together to learn, to enhance their practice and ultimately quiet themselves, if only for ninety minutes, before going back to the chaos that often comprised the rest of their day.

My first yoga experience began nine years ago with a teacher that taught in a corporate setting. It was a one-hour class tailored for the lunch crowd corporate folks (I wasn’t one of them… simply the spouse of one).    I’ll admit to being reticent about yoga at first….I’d seen enough on T.V. (or in magazines); those emaciated men, heads wrapped in a turban, their limbs wrapped around their necks, chanting unintelligible words…that was decidedly not for me.  But yoga teacher Lou turned out to be the perfect person to nudge me on to the yogic path.  I had no idea that she would become my “guru” of sorts and I’m eternally grateful; she has turned out to be a great teacher and friend, and yes…sometimes a mother.  She even nudged me ever so subtly into a 200-hour yoga teacher training.  It took a lot of convincing mind you; it was not in the budget and I was paralyzed with fear over the thought of actually teaching yoga.  But she, along with my husband and the teacher trainers themselves convinced me that the goal of a teacher training does not have to be teaching (who knew?)….it is quite simply a path to learning more about the ancient practice and deepening my own yoga experience.  Whew….that was a relief!  With the pressure off to becoming a yoga teacher I got through the training, certificate in hand and yes…still decided that teaching yoga wasn’t in my immediate future.  I’d taught aerobics years before.  I’d gotten the group exercise certification and taught aerobic classes for two years and that burned the fire right out of me.  Teaching yoga is an entirely different animal, if you will, than teaching aerobics.  I knew I’d have to keep taking loads of teacher trainings, seminars and workshops in order to feel confident and competent enough to teach a really good class.  I’m fine with that….and who knows….maybe….later….even in another life…I’ll travel down that path. All is good….

This brings me back to now.

My mat awaits....

My mat awaits….

Why haven’t I consistently maintained my practice after the move to middle earth?  I’m struggling to answer that question.   Maybe it’s because there are less than a handful of places to practice here and one has to drive a fair distance to get to a class.  There is a tiny studio one mile from my house but its Bikram (hot) yoga and I’ve no interest in practicing yoga in a 105-degree studio.  It’s hot and humid enough outside that just walking to my mailbox I feel I am getting the Bikram experience.  In fact, last year we suffered through three weeks straight of 105-degree temps (another reason I give the moniker “middle earth” to this here place where I live.  I figure it is more positive than saying I live in HELL all the time, right?!)   And,  I did attend one class with friend Lou when she was visiting (actually, it was a Pilates class) but the class and the locale just didn’t resonate at the time; I was too fresh from moving to a place I didn’t want to be to give it a chance I suppose.  Rest assured, I am not ruling out a second or third go of it.  I’m moving like a turtle with regards to all things Alabamian.

Fortunately I am able to use a terrific resource: on-line yoga classes.  After my last class at YogaWorks I tearfully hugged my favorite yoga teacher Jorge and explained what was happening; I was moving to God-awful Alabama and from the looks of it there were only a couple of yoga studios…and no YogaWorks.  “Can you imagine that?” I cried. “I need to practice in a class environment Jorge…I’m just not disciplined enough to go it alone.”    Jorge hugged me, patted me on the back and said “Sweetie…it’s going to be all right…really.  So here is what you’ll have to do…..”  With that, he wrote yogaglo.com on a piece of paper.  “This is a site where you can take yoga classes on-line.  You can even try it out for two weeks free.”  I was very skeptical about the whole thing but I was desperate enough during the move to try it;  I did not want to lose the connection to my physical (albeit aging) self…nor  did I want to lose the most important part of what a regular practice was providing me…. a deeper spirituality…. a more meaningful connection with myself and God.
So…since moving to middle earth (over a year now) I have been taking classes on-line.  I’ll swear it really is like being in a yoga studio.  Almost.  Still, my practice has been haphazard and just the other day I figured out a possible reason…one which, obviously, I must overcome if I am to get back into a regular practice.  I’m alone.   It’s easy to be in a pose and then stop to answer the phone….or go to the bathroom and then never get back to the mat!  Once I was in the middle of a head stand and decided I wanted to break for a handful of almonds.  I didn’t get back to the mat.  So…  No one is around.  It’s just me.  Well…almost; there is the poodle.  He’s often laying by my yoga mat when I try to practice.  It never fails;  I think poodle is fast asleep (even snoring) but in an instant he thinks its time to play…after all, I am often down on all-fours when I’m in cat-cow pose or downward facing dog.  Poodle is awake in a flash.  He wags his tail, his tongue hanging to one side of his mouth which is open in what looks to be a smile….He drops his squeaky red ball complete with slobber on to the mat as if to say “I’m ready!  Yippee….let’s play!”  I try to put poodle in another room but then he whines.  Instead of breathing Ujjayi I’m cursing at the poodle.  Not good….sigh.

(On a positive note, I was able to practice yesterday….poodle apparently still dog-tired from a weekend of playing.  He didn’t move a muscle for my entire session.  Bliss.

Pink gloves...only color I could find.

Pink gloves…only color I could find.

In the end, it seems I need to be around people…in a more structured environment to keep me honest on the mat.   I’ve got to find a balance between on-line yoga and something else.  So, I’ve recently tried a yoga class at my gym.  The teacher was OK  but she was so shockingly thin that I just could not look at her…not to mention the southern drawl so thick that I could barely contain a giggle.  Clearly, I’ve got to keep looking or give in to the  drawl of “So now get to your Ujjayi breath y’all.”  I’ve also started taking a heavy punch bag class.  What? you say!  Indeed!   It’s a physical practice on another planet…diametrically opposite from a yoga practice.  Om, Shanti, Om mantra and Ujjayi breathing versus grunt, grunt, jab punch, jab, and literally kicking the stuffing out of a heavy punch bag.  That said, all that grunting and punching is helping me through this transition to middle earth, as well getting me through continuing heartbreak and angst over family issues.  It’s easy to put an image to the bag and get it ALL out…on the bag!   It’s all good….really!    Om, Shanti on some days….grunt and punch on other days.  That’s my balance….for now….and it’s working.

It’s a bliss I can live with.