Sukhasana.

Sukhasana means simple seat or easy pose- how amazing is it? See. You can do yoga too. 

Truth be told- I haven’t practiced in months. Since it’s easier than having personal accountability, I’m going to place the blame on lupus.

Lupus got me down in the dumps- to keep this light. Lupus made me feel weak and it made me forget what brings me peace. When friends asked if I wanted to attend a yoga class, I said no. The reason? One thing that I know to be true about finding a dedication to yoga is that it forced me to reflect. Not going to yoga was for no better reason than the fact that I didn’t want to think about my feelings.

Depressed. It’s an icky word that we don’t like to talk about, but lupus will do that. Do I have your attention now? Why does that word provoke a genuine curiosity? Hearing that someone is depressed creates a mixture of equal parts fascination, equal parts pity. Recently, in a lupus group I’m a part of someone asked: Do you struggle with depression or anxiety? The discussion evolved into a chicken or egg conversation. Lupus will make you fatigued. Lupus will make you inexplicably weak. It will make you struggle to find the words to ask “where are my keys,” because your brain legitimately can’t string together a sentence. It causes physical pain. It requires sacrifice.

I couldn’t go to yoga and face this obstacle. I couldn’t face it by myself, I didn’t want to talk about it with others, and I sure as hell wasn’t about to breakdown on the mat. And then my friend invited me to her new yoga class. And I genuinely wanted to be there and present, not only for her but for myself. I craved what yoga provided me with for years- sheer joy.

photo 1.JPGAs I found myself back on the mat and laying in savasana I made deal with myself to continue my practice.

To keep this vow, this morning I pulled out my mat, got cozy on my floor, and stumbled upon Yoga With Adriene through her YouTube channel.

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Title: Day 1 Practice Ease. And as she spoke, and preached her mantra: find what feels good, I decided I can get behind this. Today I practiced for 30 minutes. It was slow, full of ease, and she left me with something I need to make my own mantra:

In yoga, we cultivate the good space. The more we practice moving this way on the mat, the more we will move this way off the mat. 

Having lupus requires daily effort, but it’s my fight and I don’t quit. Life is complex, but find yourself and your purpose within it – even if you get lost or distracted. Today, as I laid in savasana and found ease, I also found a piece of my heart that I misplaced along the way.

 

Smile

Over the past two years I have fallen victim to the cult of yoga- I chant “shanti, shanti”, om, and listen to a harmonium… it looks a little an accordion and a mini piano had a baby. I wear yoga pants and yoga shirts, and I hate socks and shoes. One thing I love about a good yoga class is the inspiration you can take from it. Every teacher has their own practice and style, but I love a good story before a lesson.

In class today, my teacher discussed the nature of life in general and how it can have a propensity to become overwhelming. She’s a new mom and spoke to that, something I can’t fully embrace at this point in my life, but I’m sure it’s more challenging than a 30lb pug mix. It was an authentic dialogue and wonderful to hear from a yoga instructor when often they appear as though they have it all figured out – like life is simple once you find the balance and can hold a scorpion pose.

I recognize the ignorance in that statement, because who really has it figured out? I don’t want to butcher my teachers words, or put words in her mouth, but today spoke to me. When your life becomes overwhelming it is easy to half-ass (she didn’t say that, but see, you get the message) anything and everything. We become susceptible to falling victim of that crushing sensation and rather than fighting against it, sometimes we give into it. So what did she suggest today? Smile. Persevere, fighting through it, be the best version of yourself and give all of yourself to everything you do.

As the summer winds down and I transition from the easiest days where the sound of an alarm clock is sinful to days of actually having responsibility, I know i will have to fight against some anxiety associated with deadlines and grades and observations. So is life. It’s a generous reminder to myself that when I wake up in the morning I have to thrive and rise to the occasion. We have all had a woe is me moment, and actually, I’m not against wallowing in those waters for a little while. But at a certain point you do have to overcome. I write as a reminder to myself that I am a human, but I want to be the best version of myself that I can be as often as I can be. So let this be a reminder to smile – a mental note on a more taxing day.

0 Miles per Month

Get it? GET IT…?! Because I ran zero miles for the month of July! I probably could have, but I was already slowing down with my running schedule as it was. Prior to hopping on the Bikram band wagon cult, I was completely and totally lethargic. The longer I got into yoga and making sure I went each and every day, the more I did not want to run in fear that it would exhaust my body. I tend to forget that I have lupus and cannot push myself like others can- doing both at that frequency seemed like a poor life choice. The longer I went without a daily run, the longer I missed running.

Truthfully, I was fearful that I would no longer be able to run and that my body would have to retrain itself. I was hoping 105 degrees of torture would help to prepare me. Not only do I feel physically stronger than I was, but mentally I was continuously challenging myself to push through and each day I did. My new attitude: If I could do it, I can do it.

Following my 30 days of Bikram, I did give myself one day off from working out entirely, but I was pumped to lace up my sneakers and hit the boardwalk. It was actually a craving- I know, hard to imagine, I usually crave ice cream, not running, but I needed my fix. Day 2 post Bikram and I was ready for a change. I rode my bike west, met John for a 2 mile run on the beach, and rode home, totaling 11 miles on my bike. I felt alive again. I woke up this morning charged to go- making sure to take a gratuitous ring next to my sneakers photo.

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dirt and sparkles = love

Taking to my beloved boardwalk I ran, blasting oldies but goodies- yup, I’m talking about you Tricky…

And it felt freeing. Not easy, but freeing. Running, I love you and I missed you. I will never leave you for that long again! Today, I finished 4 miles in 40 minutes, not too shabby for a month hiatus. The muscles and brain do not forget, so maybe it has been a while since you last had a good workout, but it’s better to start sooner rather than later. Because, why not?! That’s the best logic I have for you.

I DEALT. I LITERALLY LIVED. FOR SERIOUS.

Class was coming to an end- thirty days: they flew and crawled all at the same time. Right as we laid in our last savasana, the instructor gave me a complimentary shout out and the class gave my a complimentary clap. Aw, shucks you guys! I had one of those I’m so uncomfortable, but I’m also loving every minute of this smiles planted across my face. There were times in class where I wondered if I was going to make it out alive- I understand that’s slightly melodramatic, but if you follow my blog you know the way I ride. If you know me personally, the blog does not represent a fraction of how much I love hyperbole. I didn’t cry last night, but I did smile, and as Jess and I walked out of class last night I was tapped out. Tapped out, but proud. Sweaty hugs went around.

A woman came up to me at the end of class to congratulate me and asked me how I did it, stating that she was on day 3. I told the truth:

  • I did what I could and if I couldn’t, I didn’t. I respected my body and it’s limitations of any given day and just because my body didn’t want to do something one day, didn’t mean I couldn’t give it a shot the next.
  • I never compared myself to others. If anything, what others were capable of became an inspiration to me every single day.
  • I was inspired by others- I’ve written about this before, but I love that Bikram caters to people of different genders, sizes, religions, races, ages… it doesn’t matter. We are all here for the same reasons, we are all here for different reasons. But we are all here.

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I don’t care if I’m not the best and that my back bend is not perfect. I did it! I do care that I was wearing that outfit on my last day. Definitely could have chosen some cuter gear.

So, now to my first day off. How did I spend my first day off? Feeling slightly lost, like I’m forgetting to do something while simultaneously feeling like I can challenge the world from my couch. My body wants a break, so my body gets a break! I thought about running and bike riding, so instead I went to Bed Beth and Beyond and bought myself a new comforter. Because my body deserves a comfortable sleep! I can’t say I haven’t gotten some kind of workout today-

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Life is exceptional.

I can’t even deal. I might literally die. For serious.

I might as well make a lame title because I feel like this

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because of this…

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Once upon a time I was told by many people: you don’t have to do this. Their intentions were all out of love as they saw me whine, moan, look like a hot mess. They were absolutely correct. I didn’t have to do a thirty day challenge. And I don’t want to mislead the masses and have you believe that everyday i walked into class with the Rocky music playing, head held high, a slow clap that moves into a fast clap playing in my mind. Let me reiterate: I was a whiney, moan-y, hot mess. One time my friend actually asked why I do it if I complain so much. I just like yoga and complaining… leave me alone.

Despite my complaints, I had every intention on prying myself off of my couch with my air-conditioned living room each and every day. Part of this is my love of a challenge. Every once in a while we need to sit back and remind ourselves that we can accomplish more than we give ourselves credit for. I needed a reminder because I have been feeling like a waste of necessary oxygen for the planet as of late. [cue my mom calling me to ask me what’s going on. I’m fine.] 

And now I’m here. On my thirtieth day. Twenty-nine classes done.

Today I hope to make it through every posture giving it my [honest] all. I hope that if I struggle, I am kinder to myself than I usually am. I hope that I lay in savasana and allow a smile to spread across my face. I hope I don’t cry- I nearly cried at the movie Trainwreck last night on 3 separate occasions. I have no good reason for that one. What I do know is that achieving things makes me feel feelings, and I’m not about that life. I’m having a difficult time finding the words to express how nerve-cited I am. With that, I will save it so that I have the ability to process these past thirty days.

I would really appreciate good energy right about now- so whatever you would like to direct at me, go for it.

In three hours I will be walking into my last [self] mandated day of Bikram yoga. And in 5 hours I will be toasting to challenges, accomplishments, and sweating my ass off. Literally and figuratively.

Necessities 

 

  • Bike- this is just a Long Beach necessity. Why use a car when you can get some fresh air.
  • Basket to balance my yoga mat on.
  • Basket serves as holder for soaking wet yoga towel on the way home.
  • Backpack holds my water bottle… That’s it. I’m not sure why I keep bringing my backpack.

And yes…That seat is wet from sweat. 

Yoga: All Day Erryday

As some of you may or may not know, my friend Jess and I got into yoga at the same time. One of us became a yoga instructor, one of us did not. It was me, I did not become the yoga instructor.

Either way, Jess is a pretty special person and we have a great time doing yoga together. Rain or shine, but mostly in the shine.

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Because she wanted to be even cooler, she also started to do stand up paddle board yoga.

It was a long time coming and today was the day she decided to not only organize a trip out on the bay to do stand up paddle boarding, but also a free yoga sunset session on the beach.

Because she is an overachiever.

I had a dilemma at hand: How can I go to three sessions of yoga? Can I? Will I die? Are there enough hours in the day?

At 10 a.m. a group of us girls went out for a paddle board session and had an amazing time. Usually she is an instructor through Skudin, so check them out if you are in the area and are looking for something fun to do.

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I always repeat this, but stand up paddle boarding is not as easy as people make it look- unless I’m just as spastic as I do look. And yes, you can look spastic. I am covered in bruises on the regular. I particularly took pleasure in watching my friends fall into the water. But that’s just me. A few of us grabbed some lunch and upon realizing that a towel was left back at the beach, we went back and hung around the area for a little while.

When was the last time you went on a swing? Because I went today and cannot remember the time before. My butt definitely did not fit in the seat the same way it used to, but swinging is a good time! I also tried to re-learn how to dive. Diving is another one of those things that people that can do it will tell you is easy, but somehow you [and by you, I mean me] suck at. It was the kind of day that reminded me of being a kid.

Today is day 19 at the Bikram studio and from there I will be heading straight to beach yoga. Peace, love, and yoga ya’ll. See you on the zen side.

What’s your sign?

I’m a Scorpio. I don’t wholeheartedly believe in all that hoo-ha-mumbo-jumbo astrological stuff, but isn’t it fun?! If there is any truth in astrology, that means I am strong-willed, trust worthy, ambitious, intuitive… jealous, resentful, manipulative… Maybe it is all true.

Don’t I sound lovely?

I understand how this has little to do with working out, so let me explain. I was in class yesterday, waiting to be signed in, when a woman swooped around me and scanned in before I could. I was astonished and my face must have said it all because the woman at the front desk looked at me and said, “patience really is a virtue.” I wondered if she was hinting to me to take a breath deep, or if she was making fun of a visibly rude encounter that happened before YOGA. Manhattan and buying a train ticket, I understand cutting in line, YOGA CLASS? Wait your turn, lady! At that moment I felt the burning sensation of my scorpio-ness, but I ignored the wrath reminding myself to breath deep and ommmmm.

Class was packed.

The woman in front of me actually moved her mat even more in front of me. This is a no-no in Bikram because in this class you are encouraged to have a stare down with yourself for the whole class. How can I check myself out when this lady is blocking my flow? Two first timers plopped behind me- thirteen year old girls. I commend anyone that takes on Bikram yoga, especially young people because we all know working out gets much harder with age. I just don’t want them near me in class. I know- I’m generalizing and I’m mean. To further this dialogue, I want to encourage everyone to come to Bikram yoga. That being said, it is 105 degrees. If heat makes you dizzy and you do not enjoy sweating bullets, this is not the workout for you. This is the same animosity I feel towards people when they freak out that there are sharks in the ocean. It is an ocean- the sharks home. YOU KNOW THIS STUFF. A hot yoga studio is exceptionally hot and if you can’t handle the heat either lay down or never come back to the kitchen.

Tell me how you really feel about this?

These two adorable little girls became my mortal enemies as they chatted with each other, stared at each other, one left for a little while, the other rolled around on her mat during savasana. When she laid her hair and arms onto my mat I had enough and actually let out an audible “hmppptpfftttt.” I was actually embarrassed by my own behavior, it’s as though my scorpion emotions got the best of me and I let my blood boil up to my head and come straight out of my ears. It was then that the teacher had me move my mat- yes, I had to change seats in class. I am officially a real student.

At the end of class everyone clapped for the newbies. I pretended to clap since I was still secretly bitter. Because my friends, here is the truth, I’m a scorpio, and scorpios hold onto grudges.

That time John did Bikram

I love, love, love having a friend by my side for a workout. I don’t know what the scientific reason for this is…OK, well, I just googled this and there are many reasons, but whatevs, I love it. Having a friend by your side is immediate camaraderie and emotional support. In fact, when I began going to yoga in 2013, Jess was right by my side throughout it all. When I started to run, John jumped on board and started running too. The sad thing is, I struggle to get Jess to run and John to do yoga. One of the few times Jess did a 5k with me she damaged her foot and struggled to walk comfortably on it for some time. John just hates the idea of yoga entirely.

I want to accept that not everyone I adore has to adore the things I adore, but, why not?!

Well, I’m proud to say that I got my fiance to come to a Bikram class. I think in part because I didn’t bully him like I normally would to get my way. Instead, I was casual about it- at least that’s how I remember it going down, though it is possible that there were threats involved. I do not recall. I do recall telling him the following things:

  1. It is the worst heat you will ever experience.
  2. You can watch the sweat form on your body as it’s happening.
  3. The smell. The smell is like a garbage can and a diaper had a baby with a foot.
  4. It’s physical torture and you might faint.

His initial thoughts? Wait, why am I doing this again? And so naturally I explained my inclination to want to give him the worst possible aspects of Bikram yoga so that there are zero surprises or expectations. Actually, your expectations are now so horrible that you might be pleasantly surprised by what you do experience during class. Somehow, he still wanted to come.

As soon as we got to the studio I saw a few men pass us by so I leaned over to John, oh so casually, and said, “hey babe, look, guys are here. Something I love about yoga is that people of all ages, races, genders, shapes and sizes come together to practice.”

He shot me a glance like, you have to be joking, and said “yeah, I don’t care- it’s not a big deal.”

Alrighty then, buckaroo. 

In some ways this was the best class ever, and in some ways in was the worst class.

Best class? I had Jess and John both with me on my halfway through my thirty day challenge day. It just felt like emotional support overload (yeah, yeah, Jess had to be there because she is doing it too, but it was still exciting). I also loved that I could share my practice with the person I’m spending my life with and that he was willing to give it a shot for me.

Worst class? I sat on my mat in terror envisioning worst case scenario- because that’s what I do. I imaged him getting up and leaving, throwing up on the mat, shooting death stares my way, the list goes on. Because I was so concerned he was miserable during class, I found myself falling out of everything. It didn’t help that I was perpetually checking on him to make sure he was breathing and doing alright. Or trying to catch his eye to give him a “hang in there, champ!” sort of smile.

What I really needed to do was focus on myself because- he did everything. Was he drenched in sweat? Hot? Tired? Yes. Yes. and Yes. But so is everyone at the end of class. We walked out and he said, “that was fine. It’s not my thing, but it was cool.”

And that is the end of my fifteenth day.

Moral of the story: Worry about yourself. Everyone will be alright on their own.

Boring People.

I call myself lazy all of the time- this is usually as I’m sprawled out on the couch, phone by my side, iPad on lap, TV blaring Shahs of Sunset, or some other garbage Emmy Award deserving show that I’m not so secretly obsessed with. I’m not actually a lazy person by nature, but sometimes, in these moments, I feel like I could exist on a downward spiral of Bravo forever and be perfectly content. In other moments I’m zipping around the house, restless: Where are we going? What are we doing? I’m bored. I’m bored. I’m bored!

Please, universe, do not give me a child like myself.

I’m probably not too alone in the conundrum of the do everything and the do nothing person- but it’s exhausting. Can’t I just be balanced? It’s when an entire day has passed me by and someone says: “So what’s new?!” And suddenly, I feel like the most boring human in the world as I stare at them blankly as though the only words I can muster are “well, I’m finishing Orange is the New Black Season 3.”  Which is true, and I think it’s alright. Not as good as season 1, but what really is?

But there is a lot to share!

Today I finished day 12 of my challenge. The room was hot, beads of sweat burned my eyes, I took two breaks, but I finished. I want to tell you that it gets easier, but it doesn’t. Some days are easier (the days I take the “shorter” class, the 60 minute classes) some days are harder for no rhyme or reason. I have spoken to veterans of the practice that will tell you the exact same thing- maybe it’s what I ate before I went? Because I haven’t eaten in too long? I had too much water? Too little water? The time of the day? The humidity outside? The variables are extensive and have a great deal to do with your practice that day.

At the same time, there are constants.

I love hearing my heart beating in my ear and feeling my breath slow down as I’m practicing being mindful of my breathing. I love the exhaustion felt as my chest and stomach rises and falls in each savasana. I love reciting “namaste” to my teacher followed by the last savasana as the once brightly lit room has been dimmed and I can lay with zero thoughts, something I struggle with on a daily basis. I love when my practice is over and I stagger a bit out of the hot room to feel the sensation of the air conditioned studio. It is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced- 105 degrees to room temperature? Sign me up. This transition is a taste of heaven and it’s a reminder that you are a survivor of Bikram. And you do more than just watch hours of television.

It isn’t easy. If it was easy everyone would do it. And remember, only boring people are bored!

Now, off to the city to watch my little brother do improv- now that’s brave!