Thursday, May 31, 2018

BEST FRIEND

I brought my best friend to class last week.  She loves yoga, but has been feeling guilty about not getting to the studio on her regular days, nor as frequently, so I invited her to come and tried to assure her that her decision to also prioritize her aerobic and strength fitness classes at the Y were equally important to her health.  I reminded her that her doctor advised she lose a bit of weight and up her heart rate on a regular basis so she can ditch her blood pressure meds and stay off statins.  She hates taking pills!  So those other classes are important right now.  It's OK.

But I know she is a little stressed trying to fit all this "fitness" into her schedule.  Staying alive can turn into a full-time job at a certain age.  Yoga, though, is a necessary piece of the health and wellness puzzle for her and I know that too.

Once she arrived and rolled out her mat, I could just see her stress level dissipate.  I could see her breathing become slower and deeper.

I noticed how she propped her left leg on a cushion when we sat cross-legged.  I know it frustrates her so much to find she has limited motion in that hip, an occurrence that seems to have come out of the blue a few months ago.  She used to pride herself on her open-hipped flexibility.  She's trying to figure out what is wrong, and has tried to deny the pain and force her hip open and her leg to stretch into a nice flat space.  But I told her she needs to respect her body and what her body needs in every moment.   She listened and also doubled up her blanket under her right knee, which has been giving her fits too.  I reminded her to respect her body's changing needs; there is nothing wrong with that.  Body awareness is one of yoga's many gifts.

My friend has been thinking, talking, and meditating a lot on the realities of growing older.  She abhors the ageism that culture uses to define older people -- especially the assumed disintegration of body and mind that are "inevitable".  She is well aware of the realities of every age and stage of life and has learned that with each there are joys and challenges.   She won't let anyone put her into a stereotyped box of characteristics and expectations.  So what if her hip and knee hurt?

She thinks of how overwhelmed and stressed she was when she was younger full-on into parenting her sons, working full time, helping her mother through difficult transitions with dementia.   She couldn't sleep, got depressed, and had severe back pain.  All that is behind her now.  Life changes, bodies change.  We take control of what we can, and accept what we can't, hopefully with some grace and determination.  She's older now, and glad to live at a more leisurely pace, with the time and freedom to focus on mind, body, and spirit.

When Karen told us about a class she is taking, the first session of which focused on being your own best friend, I looked down at my legs stretched out in front of me on the mat, when everyone else had their legs seemingly tucked effortlessly back under them in Hero's Pose.  I thought to myself, "Hello, dear friend.  I'm so glad I brought you to class today, so glad you are taking care of that sore hip.  No matter what happens in life, I'm here for you..."  That "best friend" I brought to class was me!

Are you your own best friend?  Do you listen to yourself?  Respect yourself?  Seek to understand and support yourself?  Are you gentle with yourself?  Do you withhold harsh judgements of yourself?  Do you truly love yourself as you would your best friend?

Try it.  It feels good.

Namaste,  donnajurene

Photo Credit:  www.pixabay.com



Saturday, May 12, 2018

YOGA AND S-E-X

She's not going to go there, is she?  Yes!  Yes, indeed!  She IS going to go there!

Let's talk about sex.

At class a few months ago, we were giggling about keeping our joints loose and "juicy" (getting the synovial fluid moving) and a woman next to me blurted out -- this is also good for sex!  She and I cracked up!  I'm not sure if anyone else heard her.  She whispered, "You should blog about this!"

So here I am, after hemming and hawing about broaching the topic here.  Some people have delicate sensibilities when it comes to the "S" word.  But we know that yoga is life and for most of us at some time or another, frequently or infrequently, sex is a part of life, right?  And that being the case, Yoga might have some benefit in improving our sexual selves.

It's obvious, if you think about it in this context.  Yoga increases flexibility, allows us to move into various interesting shapes and postures, keeps those "juices" flowing, increases strength, balance and confidence, and sharpens concentration and mindfulness as we clear our minds of chit-chat and find the open space of being egoless-ly in the moment.

Hurt-y backs, stiff knees, closed hips and jib-jabber racing thoughts do not make for a relaxed and satisfying sexual experience.  As in Yoga, it's not a positive "ooh-ahh" experience if you've grit your teeth and knotted your brow into a headache just to endure and get through it.  (Also, as in yoga class, do NOT look at the clock!)

So even if intuitively I figured yoga might be of benefit in this most intimate of human expressions, I didn't know exactly which poses might be of most benefit.  So, of course I Googled "yoga and sex".

I have made this sacrifice for the sake of this blog with some trepidation.  I know my Facebook ads and Amazon pitches will now be somewhat risqué.  I always worry about who will access my computer and see my search history when I die.  Let me say right here: IT'S BLOG RESEARCH!

I found this article: https://www.doyouyoga.com/7-fabulous-yoga-poses-to-your-increase-libido/ to be of interest.  It's short and illustrated with a bit more detail than I show below.  Read it.  But here are the poses we do all the time that you may be surprised to learn will increase your libido!

1.  Cat/Cow (kegel builder)
2.  Bound Angle (hip opener)
3.  Pigeon (deep hip opener)
4.  Eagle (releases blood flow to pelvic area)
5.  Bridge (stretch hip flexors/tones vagina)
6.  Downward Dog (eases muscle tension in back)
7.  Wide Legged Straddle (releases blood flow to pelvic area, increases vitality)
8.  Kegels, kegles, kegles.  (Mula Bondha)

I am a bit suspicious that this article was written with women in mind, even if one of the photos demo-ing the poses is a man.   So just to be balanced, may I suggest adding Plank?

I think I'll leave it right there with this topic, even though I'm sure there is SO MUCH MORE to explore.

Have fun experimenting and remember....yoga is the yoking of mind and body, being present in the moment and finding love and compassion for all, in all you do.  That sex thing too.

Namaste,  donnajurene

Photo Credit: https://www.doyouyoga.com

Friday, April 20, 2018

BAD RESORT YOGA


Why is resort yoga so frustrating?

I'm on vacation and tried the yoga offering here at the resort.  Again.  I've written blog posts in the past about my resort yoga experiences.  (Find them in the blog post index under headings:  In and Out of the Studio and Wardrobe)   I keep trying, but geez....

I met the yoga group at the appointed hour at the fitness center, chose a beat up, frayed, sandy mat from the cart where they were stored, wondering how often they are cleaned.   We followed the instructor through the gardens to the beach, like little chicks following the mother hen.  We unfurled our mats under a shade tree and began.

With no preliminaries, she had us immediately stand in Mountain Pose and then rise up on tiptoes for "balancing pose"....and we were off on what she announced would be a gentle class.  It was, for the most part, but a bit disjointed and weirdly constructed as one move didn't necessarily flow into the next.  Random Yoga.  Also, she had this auto-pilot thing she did (I've noticed this so many times with resort yoga instructors),  where even with her eyes closed, or facing away from us, she'd say, "Good job!  Beautiful!"  HOW DID SHE KNOW?  She wasn't looking at us!  It sort of cracked me up.  We could have been writhing in pain or flipping her the bird and she'd say, "Good job!"

I have some suggestions:

First of all, we are all here from somewhere else, right?  How about taking the first 5 minutes of the class welcoming us?  Maybe go around and ask us to share our names and where we are from and if we have ever done yoga before or have any injuries or needs she should be aware of.  Seems that would help build a little community, and allow her to know how best to support our practice.  Makes sense to me.

Also, how about reminding us to breathe, to only do what we can and no more, to skip anything that hurts.  I always see at least one or two in the class at resort yoga grimacing or looking embarrassed by their inability to do the pose.  There are never adequate (or any) props.  Help us out a little!   (Of course there are always also a couple of Yoga Journal models effortlessly moving into each pose in proper alignment with their rockin' fit bodies mocking the rest of us.)

At one point she did give us an alternative option for a "resting pose" -- "Take either Child's Pose or Pigeon, your choice."  Hmmmm... OK.   I don't see those as equivalent resting poses, and I have zero hours of teacher training, so what do I know?  And this may be nitpicking, but she kept calling the Downward Dog pose, "Downward Doggie".  No.  Just no.

I know these instructors see an ever-changing parade of tourists and it all becomes "just a job" at some point.  I get that.  She was friendly enough, as they all are, but I get the strong impression they are most eager to finish the hour and move on to whatever else they'd rather be doing.

And yoga in public is weird too.  We are on the beach, with people walking by, oggling our Happy Baby pose wide spread legs in the air above prominent butts.  It felt a little exhibitionist actually.

When it was time for Savasana, we lay in silence, thinking the only sound we hear would be the waves crashing to shore, the gentle breeze in the palms above us....but no.  A woman on her cell phone stood about 10 feet away giving a verbal description of her surroundings to someone back home, including, "... and I'm watching some people doing Yoga on the beach, or something..."

Or something, indeed.  ©

Namaste, donnajurene

Photo Credit:  www.pixaby.com

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A FRIENDLY REMINDER TO THE PRESIDENT

I'm worried about our President.  I fear this job is taking a toll on him and he's only a little over a year into his contract.  I'm pretty sure he has ditched his Yoga practice.  I see all the signs...

First of all, at any age we need to stay strong and flexible to stay in good health, but it's even more important as we grow older.  And he is older. I don't know if his golf game is doing all it could for his physical suppleness.  A few Twists might loosen up his back and provide more range of motion for that golf swing.  He might also find a few Forward Folds would make setting his tee or picking up his ball less onerous.  (Or is that the caddy's job?  I  know little about golf and less about a caddy's job description.)  I note that he likes to ride in the golf cart too.  Maybe walking would be a good idea.  I read that his weight is one pound less than officially obese.  He might want to do a Thread the Needle on each side to help expand those hip joints.  He could also spend some time with the rollers to loosen the fascia and improve his walking gait.  Just a suggestion.

As we all know, Yoga isn't just about physical exercise; it also about peace of mind.  I think the President seems a little tense.  I've never heard him laugh.  He smiles occasionally, but it looks forced.  I get it; he has a lot on his mind.  But maybe a few "Laughing Yoga" classes would loosen him up and relax him a bit.   He tends to take himself rather seriously.

Yoga is ultimately about self-awareness and finding inner calm.  I bet if he stepped up his yoga and meditation practice, he'd be less apt to awaken at dawn after fitful sleep and find himself Tweeting provocative scattershot messages that he often has to revise in the light of day.  Sir, yes, people will disappoint, will misunderstand, will disagree, but name-calling is beneath the dignity of your office.  Take a deep breath in...hold...let it all slowly out.  See?  Better!

When we begin to accept ourselves in all our contradictory glory, to realize the folly of trying to always be in control, to give up judgements, and to embrace the wondrous diversity of this universe, we are better able to let go of Ego and find compassion for others.   We see in them the same fears, joys, challenges, and victories we find in ourselves.  We naturally want to reach out a helping hand, especially to those most vulnerable, and find collaborative solutions to seemingly intractable problems.  Best of all, we stop being afraid of what is "different", because isn't "different" merely a trick of perspective?  Once we deeply realize we are all one, any need to punish, exploit, or degrade vanishes.  Do unto others, basically.

So, anyway.  New York is chock-a-block full of yoga studios and meditation sangas.  I'm sure he has taken ample advantage of these opportunities in his NYC life.  I understand he's still getting settled in D.C. and learning on the job, since he showed up with no experience.  Been there, done that.  Not easy.  But it's time to get back at it!

As his Administration seems to have some degree of turnover, perhaps he will find he can accommodate a yoga instructor in the West Wing.  He could do his practice during morning "executive time", maybe slip in a few Partner Yoga sessions with Melania!  It's better than being a couch potato, noshing on cheeseburgers,  listening to the TV pundits, whose advice he'd be silly to take.  I'm sure he knows that.

I think I'll hop on Twitter and urge him to get back to his yoga and meditation practices.  I think we'd all feel better.  ©

Namaste,  donnajurene