Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Before I came to Kripalu, my Dad asked me why I do yoga. My stock answer is "because everything in my life is better when I do yoga".
And it's true.
I feel better emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I'm calmer and more present, I enjoy things more, I eat better and have more energy. I make better decisions and my mind is clearer.
The other thing I really love about yoga though, is that it's a metaphor for life. On a very real level for me, yoga is life/life is yoga, because it's a way of looking at things, and a way of living.
Kripalu's slogan is "exploring the yoga of life" and I couldn't think of better words to describe why I'm here.
Yes, I'm here to live my yoga.
The yoga that most people are familiar with (asana: postures) is only one part of it, but it is where most people start and is a very important part of the path.
Asana is like practice for life:
We purposely put ourselves in stressful situations (postures that require strength and/or flexibility), to practice dealing with whatever comes up (discomfort, anger, fear, frustration). It brings into focus how we react to situations in daily life. It breaks down our patterns so they're easier to see.
How you are in yoga, is very likely how you are in life.
When your muscles start to quiver, do you immediately back out of the pose? or do you stay steady? Do you push you edge?
If you usually back out, can you stay in? If you usually push, can you back off without judging yourself?
If the teacher guides the class into a pose you've never done, do you sit back and say I can't do that? or do you try it out?
I think my favorite thing about yoga (and it shares this with outdoor adventure activities) is that it allows people to do things they thought they couldn't do.
Which hopefully prompts the question: what else in my life can I accomplish that I think I can't?
Through my experiences as a TRiP leader I saw many students climb a rock they thought was impossible or raft a whitewater river that scared the crap out of them. To see that look of surprised confidence on their faces was the most rewarding part of my job. I'm not a yoga teacher (yet) but I can imagine it's a similar experience.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I was a little delayed in writing the last post. I in fact stopped eating sweets on the 8th, and so today marks the beginning of my third week.
But lets rehash...
Week 1: easy peasy! I was full of resolve and also the support of my community here, as I made my intentions public (pride won't let me fail now!)
Early Week 2: Definitely a little withdrawal... I was grouchy one day and my co-worker said "Geez Ali, go eat some sugar or something!" but overall not too hard.
Really cool opportunity to observe my patterns:
While I have been quite aware of certain patterns (sweets as comfort, sweets as reward, sweets as distraction) I wasn't really aware of how much of my eating was quite impulsive and "under the radar"
how many times I almost just grabbed something and stuffed it in my mouth without being aware of whether or not I even wanted it (and realizing that my body pretty much never wants it, but my mind wants it a lot).
Late Week 2/Today: I just want something sweet! and NOT a fucking sweet potato! (but yes, they do taste sweeter than ever before)
The bakery is next door to veggie prep (where I work) and I swear they must be trying to make me fail.
The two days ago they put 3 (THREE!!) brownies on the drink table and I must've walked by them 18 times. Usually any bakery gifts are gone within minutes, but these sat there all. day. GAHHHH!
Then today, there was an entire pan on cranberry walnut muffins leftover from breakfast and the dining room staff just decided to give it to veggie prep... and, oh wait - the bakery gave us some cookies they messed up... AHHHH
I was told the day three would be hardest and cravings would subside after that, well apparently for me it's week 3.
Another interesting observation is that mealtime has gotten a whole lot less exciting for me. I used to spend a very good portion of my day thinking about food
what I had just eaten, what was for the next meal, what I was cutting, what I wanted to eat that night, what I might eat on my break, what I hadn't eaten in a while and missed
but it's really gotten less interesting... good? maybe.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
doo doo doo doot doo doo ohhh honey honey....
It's over. We're breaking up. And just like any other relationship, we need to spend some time apart before we can try to be friends again.
So I've decided to give up sweets for one month. This will be hard, as I have a ravenous sweet tooth, and use sweet things to make myself feel better when I feel sad, reward myself when I feel good, give me energy when I have none and several situations in between.
I thought about just giving up sugar, but in a place like Kripalu where honey, agave and brown rice syrup are available at any given moment and most baked goods are made with other sweeteners like maple syrup or sucanat, I figured that would be too easy.
Besides, it's the pattern of eating sweet things I want to address more than simply taking sugar out of my diet.
I will also continue to avoid gluten and dairy as I have been doing since I found out during my elimination diet that they don't do good things for my body, but the main focus will be sweets, so if I want a piece of bread sometime this month, I'm just gonna go for it.
Why give up sweets? I'm doing it for several reasons
I want to see how my body feels and what my energy levels are like without sweets in my system.
Sweets depress the immune system and with winter coming for me for the first time in 9 years, I can use all the sickness fighting ability I can get.
Besides the challenge of disciplining myself not to eat something I love and have probably eaten just about every day of my life until now, I want to unravel my patterns.
I know that I eat emotionally sometimes, and also use food as a reward, but despite analyzing this issue for a while now, I haven't made much progress on understanding it, and can't seem to make changes in my behavior.
As part of the volunteer program, we have weekly classes about yoga called "Off the Mat". Two weeks ago, we had a lecture about the yamas and niyamas (guiding principles/practices of yoga such as non-violence and contentment). Our teacher asked us to choose one to work with for the next several weeks and I chose Brahmacharya (restraint, conservation of energy, recognition of the divine as omnipresent).
I found it hard to keep this in my mind and so I devised this 1-month sweet restraint practice because I knew it would consistently remind me to examine Brahmacharya in my life.
Also, in general, one of the practices of yoga (as in buddhist mindfulness) is to be aware of your cravings and aversions, rather than simply reacting to them (that brownie looks delicious - hmm I find myself eating a brownie, how did this happen?)
So I'll keep you all posted about any discoveries I make on this journey. Support in the form of blog comments or snail mail is highly appreciated.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
She said on the first night "We are addicted to our tension" and I thought: sure lots of people, but not me, I'm pretty flexible and get massages, I have an active job and I don't sit in front of the computer a lot. I thought of people with office jobs and long commutes, yeah it's fair to say that lots of people are addicted to their tension.
Oh wait - she meant beyond the physical body...
As she kept talking I realized that I am quite addicted to tension in my life.
Pay the bill at the last minute? tension
Start studying the night before the exam? tension
Minimally planned travel? tension
Leave thing unsaid in a relationship? tension
I may not have much muscle tension, but I have tons of emotional tension.
Tension between the known and the unknown, between desires and fears.
Not all bad of course; some tension in life is what keeps it exciting and as a lover of adventure, I cherish that.
What Seane's workshop made me realize though, is that I have to own that tension because much of it I choose for myself, and if I realize that it's not serving me, I can choose to let go of it.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It's been really nice to settle into Kripalu.
Beginning March of this year, I've packed and unpacked my bags a ridiculous number of times:
Starting with packing up all my stuff in Chiang Mai, then staying in about 15 different places while traveling Bali, Malaysia & Southern Thailand, then living out of my suitcase back in Chiang Mai for a few weeks, lugging everything back to Florida, visiting Gainesville, packing for Canada while unsure whether I would be following that with a stay at Kripalu, visiting Padg in Toronto, going to Guelph, up to Muskoka, right back to Guelph again, a couple trips to Ottawa... in sum, I haven't felt able to unpack literally or metahporically for a while.
Almost immediately upon arriving at Kripalu though, I felt at home. I unpacked all my possessions the first night, and have since been unpacking emotionally.
I had planned to stay at Kripalu for the minimum 4 months, but have since decided to stay for at least another 4 (till May). The program here is one of deep self-inquiry and personal growth and in order to really "unpack" some of the issues I'd like to delve into, I need to know I'll be here for a while.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
To give you an idea of the kind of place Kripalu is, let me describe the "All Staff Meeting" I attended yesterday:
As I mentioned before, Kripalu is kind of like a giant beached yogic cruise ship, and so a meeting with all the staff involved around 200 people. From kitchen, to registration, to front desk, to marketing, household, finance, etc... it's technically a non-profit, but the meeting felt quite corporate as the CEO displayed a powerpoint with a financial slide showing revenues of $27 million and "guest nights" of almost 90,000.
What made it Kripalu though was that all this started with a centering meditation and an "OM"