Things I Do Differently Now

Image result for burning yes stephen coveyI’ve taught yoga “full time” for 3 months now (woah), and am noticing some fundamental changes. This list will grow but for now, just trying to get in the habit of posting without being an obsessive, perfectionist freak about it:

1. When I pet my dog I make sure to get both sides so she’s not uneven (thank you, Astanga)

2. I’ve only worn real pants ONE TIME THIS YEAR. I am not exaggerating. Big win.

3. I eat vegetables and fruit now! Fuck yeah!

4. I tie almost every waking second back to Patanjali’s yoga sutra or more generally to my latest class theme. Obsessed; e.g., it took me & Steve about 4.5 hours to watch The Matrix Reloaded (my first time!) because I kept pausing it every 3 minutes to rant about how yogic it is.

5. I finally for the first time in memory have tasted space between my thoughts. And I want more. Meditation is no joke, folks.

6. Holy cat-cow I’m sore every day. But I’m learning, getting stronger. Yoga is not a “no pain no gain” deal but we do break down to rebuild; burn away that which no longer serves; phoenix from the ashes. No surprise here. For over a decade I took my yoga a la carte; focusing only on the physical postures (“asana,” pronounced w/ short “a”s, not “asauna”) and trying to make them look a certain way, practicing on my mat all the negativity I had about my self. But the thing is, yoga is prescribed in eight limbs (think of them as rungs of a wheel rather than steps to be taken in order) and asana isn’t the first or even the second!

Believe it or not, the reason we make all these crazy shapes in yoga actually predates instagram! The reason is that they make us better containers for our breath. They prepare us to sit with a quiet mind, to be less self-consumed. The first and foremost limb is the moral disciplines, the “yamas.” Okay, yes, I said they don’t need to be taken in order but it helps to attain “the bliss” or even to just sit still and/or breathe if you’re serious about the moral disciplines first; non-violence, truth-full-ness, non-stealing, right use of energy and non-hoarding. The way to “achieve” certain gold stars in yoga is not to strive and struggle blindly but rather to practice the preceding rungs, find the new lessons for you there in this moment. Practice and all is coming.

7. I’m getting super serious about my health and am finally taking ownership of it, knowing that I can change my outcomes. What we put in (tangible and intangible; e.g., pizza, ice cream, tequila, sunshine, music, sleep (#bestdayever??)) is what we become. We literally are what we eat. I don’t want to be made of bullshit anymore.

#YOGAEVERYDAMNDAY (do hashtags work in blogs? Help me, I’m old…) shines a very clear light on just how much bullshit you’re made of on any given day. In the forward of The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West the author’s yoga teacher, on catching her smoking outside his ashram, takes a drag of it himself and tells her “Your {cigarette} smoking will not get in the way of your yoga, your yoga will get in the way of your smoking.” And sure as shit it did; she quit a year later. It’s having that bigger, burning “YES” that makes saying “no” possible, makes change possible; and not even possible, but obvious, mandatory, a foregone conclusion. It’s having the laboratory of yoga where I visit with my self every day and see what’s up, what’s working and what’s not, what’s causing a distraction. I want different results, which means I have to do something I’ve never done before.

Now that I’ve made the space in my life (I couldn’t have told you then but that was the easy part!), my big YES is becoming clear. I am saying yes to breathing easily. Simple, right? Not so much for me but I’m banking on the magic of those moral disciplines and all that follow to help change that. Easy, eh? But that magic won’t work on its own. They’re guidelines not babysitters. Ol’ Liz has to step up to the plate here in a big way. Put the work and awareness in.

And it goes a little something like this: Bitching about having asthma = wasted energy. Doing something about it so that I won’t die in May like I have for the past two years = RIGHT USE OF ENERGY! yoga for the win!

It’s time to take the blinders (or wine-ders as the case has often been) and get honest with my self about what makes it worse (cheese! alcohol! caffeine! basically all party & treat yo self staples…. fucking tortilla chips!!! The inhumanity!).

It’s time for non-violence – for starters, and perhaps the most obvious example, it does me harm to keep fucking up, so…. stop fucking up! 

Holding up the lens of non-violence illuminates myriad ways I’m a dick to my self (and sometimes, sometimes… to others); e.g., it makes me sad to think about how much it sucks that I “have to” eat healthy and just generally consume and therefore be less bullshit…. so why think like that? Those thoughts cause suffering. Instead, think about how much I love Trader Joes and how their veggie section is lit. Seriously lit; e.g., try their Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix if you see it. We get it every week:

Image result for vegetable medley trader joe's jicama
I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I’ve eaten; even so, they have made me. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

(oh! and!  SUPER IMPORTANT: make sure you always eat cooked cruciferous vegetables w/ mustard powder. They lose potency/some of their healthiness when heated but the mustard powder adds it back! Science!

A natural extension of practicing not-stealing is that I’m robbing future me less and less, not selling my entire Sunday (& Monday) for a bender on Saturday… as often.

Right use of energy (often translated as “celibacy” though, c’mon folks, I’m married.) means respect and honor your resources. Don’t waste calories or thoughts but then also don’t waste time obsessing over perfection here… it’s a fine line. Balance. Luckily balance is a byproduct of yoga.

Non-greed, non-hoarding…. sounds to me like “stop binge eating entire bags of Tostitos. Just….. don’t do it! Don’t even buy them!” Purchasing any sort of junk food, I enter into a contract with myself that I will eat it before the sun sets on the third day (more Little Mermaid. Super formative; I logged at least 100 hours w/ it as a lass so… when you get Liz you get a little Little Mermaid, you lucky duck.) but really more like I’ll eat it within 4 hours and hate myself a little or a lot for it.

I love this quote instructing us to “treat yourself like some one you love.” Pregnant women are able to make major diet changes because they’re hyper-aware of the fact that they’re growing someone they love in their tummy (weird!). Do no harm. Thing is, is we’re growing our selves every day, it’s just a very easy fact to ignore in the face of gelato and second martinis.

8. I’ve always been obsessed w/ giving advice. It’s a big sister thing. So that’s not really new. But now people are asking me for it! Which is a major ego boner but honestly I’m just so freaking psyched to get to share all this super cool shit I’m learning. Super cool shit I’ve learned that I don’t even realize I retained until it comes out of my mouth. In other words, I LOVE MY JOB.

It’s now inexplicably 3:30 in the morning, all I want is tortilla chips, and I’m editing curse words out of every other sentence (“creatively” replacing them with “freaking”…) which means it’s time for bed.

Peace in the Middle East.

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