How a Panda and a Tortoise helped me to put things in perspective

How a Panda and a Tortoise helped me to put things in perspective

Not Master Oogway, but a v old tortoise I met in Morocco :)

Not Master Oogway, but a v old tortoise I met in Morocco

 

December has been quite a contemplative month.  Despite it being a very yin time, it’s felt very eventful internally.  Mixed emotions. Darkness and light.  Among a number of things, during December:

–   I got my official teaching certificates, registered with Yoga Alliance and got insured

–   I got confirmation of my spondy and scoliosis

Both are interlinked and, for me, both take a bit of processing, for differing reasons. Consequently, the 25 Day Yogathon has been the backbone (no pun intended) running through the month, helping me to do just that.  I’ll admit I struggled with the refined sugar thing, especially in the run-up to Christmas week, but the biggest revelation for me was meditation – something I always found difficult before.  I’ve continued beyond the 25 days – currently I’m spending 20 minutes a day in seated meditation.

My 25 Day Yogathon was completed on Christmas Day, which I spent with my family. After breakfast, having been banished from the kitchen I noticed that Kung Fu Panda was on TV.  (For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s the sweet tale of a panda called Po who becomes an unlikely kung fu hero after being chosen as the Dragon Warrior.) I’d never seen the movie before and seeing as I am at heart a kid masquerading in the body of a 30something year old woman, I decided to check it out.  As I watched, I related to Po – a square peg that doesn’t look like it will fit the round hole of their dream.  I’m not suggesting I resemble a cute, furry giant Panda maybe aside from carrying a little more junk in the trunk post-Christmas. Though like Po, I know what it’s like to be seen as the underdog, and who hasn’t ever eaten when they’ve been upset?  (Never? Are your pants a little bit on fire…?  Ok, I’ll take your word for it, but I know Po and I aren’t the only ones who’ve been passengers on the emotional eating bus at some stage.) But I digress…

There’s a bit (well, more than one bit) in the film where the Oogway, the wise old tortoise kung fu master says in response to protests that Po cannot possibly be the Dragon Warrior:

“There are no accidents”.

I attended a Winter Solstice ceremony just a few days before Christmas where there was much reflection on the past year, acknowledgement of what had passed, gratitude expressed and the setting of intentions for the next twelve months.  That combined with my experience on the Yogathon, reminded me of all the things over the past year which have brought me to this point.  This time last year I was in a very different place.  It’s been one of the most transformational years of my life so far.

Maybe there are no accidents…

Via a bit of serendipity, I started having sessions with a brilliant yoga therapist this month. After my initial assessment, I quickly realised that this is going to take more work and time than I’d initially thought.  I admit, in that moment I felt a bit ‘woe is me’.  I wanted to curse the timing of it all (WHY did this have to happen right after teacher training?!) and wondered if I could really do this.

My yoga therapist must have seen how dejected I looked and said, “I think that sometimes, these things are sent.  I’ve been doing this for a long time and you know – the wounded ones are always the best teachers”.

The kind of teacher I will grow into remains to be seen, but I really appreciated hearing something like that, especially from such an experienced teacher and teacher trainer.  I am just beginning but I know that already this situation has hugely impacted how I feel about teaching.  I didn’t embark on this route to look or sound cool when people ask me what I do, or to present the image of a ‘perfect’ yogi. Instead, it is a huge step in terms of being truthful about what’s important to me. And it’s made that desire to be a good teacher even stronger.

So that, contrary to my initial response, makes me feel that the timing is probably ideal.

While I am not big on new year’s resolutions, I did set one intention for next year at the Winter Solstice ceremony. Sharing it with everyone at the ceremony felt far more profound than I’d imagined it would be, so it somehow doesn’t feel right to announce it here.  But I (and about a dozen other people) know.  And that feels right.

As I move into 2012, I travel not just with a little more junk in the trunk (which I am not knocking by the way – it makes me more huggable after all 😉 ), but with a little more faith and courage too.  If I can be anywhere near as courageous as Po the Panda then I’ll be getting somewhere :).

Whatever your intentions for 2012, I wish you a Wonderful year ahead.

Self Care 101

Self Care 101

While talking about food (usually one of my favourite subjects) at work the other day it became apparent just how far my eating habits had slipped when my colleague suggested I might want to have something other than cereal for dinner. And just the day before it was only when one of my teachers mentioned food in passing that it struck me, the last time I’d eaten had been about 17 hours before.  I was busy and I just forgot. Bad sign. I resolved that instead of having cereal for dinner (albeit gluten free, multi-grain, organic cereal) it was about time I cooked myself a proper meal and just generally tried to be a bit nicer to myself than I have been of late.

One of the ironic things about throwing so much into YTT assessments last month (plus dealing with other life stuff) is that the old self-care business has taken a back seat.  And related to this I’ve definitely been knocked by the recent changes to my asana practice.  (Since my last post I’ve had confirmation that I do have spondylolisthesis.) Given that currently I’m not able to practice asana in quite the way I normally would, I decided to take this opportunity to work on developing a regular meditation practice throughout December to ease my scattered mind.

But my body feels tired.  (Averaging roughly four hours sleep a night probably isn’t helping much…)

I am trying to listen to my body and it sounds as though it is saying it needs a break. Right now I don’t know if that means a total break from asana practice for a while.  I just know that when I tried that my mood slumped dramatically (that was only after a week!) and I was in no less physical discomfort.  I am increasingly feeling that there is a direct correlation between my stress levels and the degree of physical pain I experience. So, I am still practising, but in a different way, and going for some restorative classes.  I’ve also been doing more practice at home. And the luxury of a 20-minute savasana at my place the other day complete with blankets, cushions and eyebag – full-on Judith Hanson Lasater style-ee – was bliss (and a reminder that it’s been a while since I allowed myself to completely relax).

Hearing about the 25 Day Yogathon via the ever-inspiring Thais (@letitgo8) on twitter at the beginning of December was brilliant timing! A great incentive to stay motivated.  For me, even a few months ago something like the 25 Day Yogathon would have been all about the asana and getting to as many classes as I could, ticking each one off as I went. But right now my asana practice is different, which is forcing me (yes, reluctantly at times) to take a step back and examine things. Sometimes when our focus is on looking out for others we forget about ourselves. The 25 Day Yogathon is a perfect opportunity for me to take a rounded look at how I treat myself and to take better care. One day at a time.

Catch you later – I’m off to meditate 🙂