So I Went to a Yin Yoga Class

I’ve been on staycation for the better part of a week and it’s had its ups and downs. “Staycation” to me, means going to run all the life errands I never have time to do. But, this time around, I had let myself believe in this glamorous idea that I would be waking up every morning starting my days with a meditation practice, cooking myself whole foods, doing yoga every day, writing every day, etc. Well…life, as it would have it, got in the way of all that. Most of the time, I ran to doctor’s offices, did laundry, cleaned my apartment, went grocery shopping, got my car’s oil changed, and always found something else to put on the “to-do” list.

However, with a little help from my friends / village of supporters that help me through this journey of mindful living, I was able to pull myself out of the daily grind of tasks and chores, and shit I just had to do and found a path to enjoying the staycation. So, I didn’t meditate once, but I did do yoga twice. Plus, my apartment is SUPER clean.

I decided to check out a new studio as they were offering yin yoga classes. And, as we all learned, I need a little more yin in my life.

It was an hour and a half class on a Friday night. After a week of staycation, it seemed fitting to spend a Friday evening calm, restorative, and taking care of my mind and body.

Well…not so much.

This class was an exercise in my patience. Yin yoga is apparently about holding largely uncomfortable poses that are meant to be restorative and calming to your nervous system for excruciatingly long periods of time. Well, for like 10 to 15 minutes, but those minutes feel like HOURS. At first, I was totally into it and thought to myself this is exactly what I need to learn: slow down. be in the moment. allow your body to sink into these poses. focus on the breath.

That worked the first three minutes of each pose. And then, suddenly, I was awake and aware of how long I had been in the pose and how uncomfortable it was. Better yet, I was starting to count the cracks in the ceiling; musing about whether or not the yoga teacher liked teaching the class; becoming aware of the mostly geriatric classmates who were breathing so heavily, I surely thought they would collapse a lung; and wondering whether the girl next to me was going to let one rip (hey it happens!). 

The best part was the music. I felt like my other more mindful self was really into it and was visualizing all sorts of meditation in a lush green Buddha filled garden. The present me was wishing she had brought a tissue because her nose was running.

At the end of a mere 4 poses that were stretched out to 1.5 hours of class and $20 down the hole, I left feeling unsatisfied. I felt more anxious after leaving the class than when I first entered. 

Perhaps, part of this journey of mindfulness is knowing what’s right for you and what’s just going to frustrate the hell out of you. I think I prefer my yoga with a little bit more movement, a little more sweat, and a little more yang.

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Mindfulness Practice Makes Peace

Mindfulness by definition is a practice. Just like yoga, just like any sport you have to excel at, or any craft you are fine-tuning, it is a practice. But, what I’m also coming to realize as I continue to the craft and art of mindfulness is that it is also a habit. And a habit that takes a lot of support systems both externally and internally.

For me to feel like I am in my most zen place of practicing mindfulness, a lot of things have to line up, to start, I have to:

  • Be eating a regular, routine schedule that is comprised of foods I know my body responds to well.
  • Be exercising on a regular, routine schedule that makes me feel strong and like I’m pushing myself.
  • Working somewhat normal hours at work without any major dramas/fire-drills/conflicts/kerfuffles/unforeseen stress projects coming from upper management.
  •  The weather should be a balmy, breezy 75 degrees for at least a week long period of time. Severe temperature swings need not apply.
  • Be regularly surrounded by my closest friends and the people I love the most in the world.

High maintenance, right? YES. Because the actual realistic probability and sustainability of all those things happening on a regular continuous basis  is approximately SLIM TO NONE. Life happens every day and it certainly happens while we’re all trying desperately to stack the deck of cards just right so we can control what we get dealt.  Most of the things listed above get derailed by a number of factors that are completely out of my control.

But the habit of mindfulness that I have been able to sustain? That my  mindfulness practice is always something I have to come back to. Whether it’s in my most zen state or my most frazzled state, I must remember to always practice, practice, practice.

Because, this time, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes peace. 

Be Rooted Into the Earth

I have started visualizing trees as part of my meditative practice. Deeply strong, rooted into the earth, nourished, beautiful, powerful trees that go through each season, weathering each storm to bloom again. I have found that they provide me a great deal of comfort in their evergreen resiliency.

Here’s some advice from a tree: FullSizeRender (3) copy

  1. Stand tall and proud.
  2. Go out on a limb.
  3. Remember Your Roots
  4. Drink Plenty of Water
  5. Be Content with Your Natural Beauty
  6. Enjoy the View

Is this healthy for me? 

“You have an incredibly high tolerance for the intolerable.” 

This core element of my “self” was brought to my attention recently and it made me particularly introspective at this observation. I’ll admit,  I have always considered myself to be rather tough, maybe even tougher than the average 30-year old middle class female. My tough-ness did not come overnight nor was I born with it. It happened over many traumas, challenges, heartaches, and failures. I have always believed that we are  a culmination and ultimately a product of our experiences. 

But, this begged the question for me: When does being so tolerant of the intolerable become a bad thing? When does that start to strip you of your personal prerogative to say “enough is enough”?

On my long and often windy journey of self-actualization and everyday mindfulness, I have consumed enough information to understand that “being well” is often defined by exercising smart, healthy boundaries in all aspects of your life. And in my most recent existential crisis, I’m realizing that if your boundaries aren’t strong and regularly fortified for your self, it’s very hard to move into that place of “well-ness” effectively.

I’ve written before about the vast and wild universe and how if there is a willingness to listen, it will rarely fail in providing. Because of this, I’m a firm believer that you will always meet people at the right time in your life who will always teach you valuable lessons. And in my most recent musings, I’m learning that perhaps the lesson I am meant to learn is that “crazy” isn’t the norm I should be used to. These people, fresh and new to me in so many ways, held up the mirror to say — look, Angela, by and large, you should not tolerate this. 

And so, I’ve started to ask myself a question about everything I do in my life: Is this healthy for me

Healthy for my mind, body, spirit, and soul. If it is not, I will no longer participate and it is within my power to say “no.” A large part of being mindful is just that – be mindful of the choices you make, the words you speak, the actions you take, and how they affect the whole of you. 

And for the universe’s sake – learn how to say enough is enough! 

Be well, be healthy, be mindful my friends.