I have a question, and I would really love some feedback on this, my dear & sweet readers:
Is there such a thing as too much yoga?
In the last few weeks, I’ve been randomly asked how many hours I practice per day by numerous people. The answer, in case you’re curious, too, is: 3-4 (meditation and physical asanas). I want to meditate more, but right now it is between 20 and 40 minutes each day total (post-wake and pre-sleep sessions). I utilize the day care at the gym–my son enjoys his time there as much as I enjoy my 1.5-2 hours practicing. Then, I usually follow up at home for another hour to an hour and a half with certain poses I want to explore and track progress on while my child naps. In addition, I practice again when he is in bed for the night, often the shortest sessions of 30-45 minutes. Sprinkle in a few classes at local studios, and of course my ubiquitous beach yoga sessions, and I spend the majority of my free time doing yoga.
Is this too much? I still go about my other daily life activities. I don’t put off any essential responsibilities. The way I understand it is, I’m here in this new state with few friends, zero extended family, and a husband who often works long hours. If the option to hang out with people arises, I shorten or skip a session without a second thought. I don’t write as often, though. And I don’t run or play tennis. I haven’t been doing much css study, and I’ve permanently put my nano novel out of my mind.
So readers, I need some advice. Should I be reading more? Studying child rearing? Memorizing recipes? Cleaning the base boards more often? I don’t really know. I want to be a well-rounded person, and I’m either really excited or really afraid that I’m starting to identify as a yoga practitioner and structure my days around it.
I think I need to work on giving back to the world more. When I was working as a librarian, it was gratifying because I was working to further a societal institution. I’ve been volunteering in a library a couple of hours each week, but maybe that is not enough.
Related: I wonder if Betty Friedan would have done yoga if it was as accessible as it is today? I just finished reading this book, and it was fascinating!!
The last few months have been tiring, notable here on my blog by the glaring lack of posts. I rarely opened my computer, but when I did and saw the wordpress icon, I looked away guiltily.
I suppose I am guilty of overextending myself sometimes, my aspirations are greater than the minutes each day has to fulfill them; eyes are bigger than my stomach. 2013 has been a mostly quiet year so far. Introspective and temperamental, but not unhappy. Reassessing and planning, as I’m wont to do every 4 months (sometimes 3) I find there is a shift. Sometimes with the seasons, sometimes with circumstances, but routines get broken up and as we’re settling into our new ones, life can feel a little rocky.
I do not have enough words to express the gratitude I have for the few constants I do have in my life: yoga, nature, the sea, my family, my friends. Today I actually practiced on my mat at home while my son played with the combination lock on my train case, and explored the rest of our usually off-limits adult rooms. Seeking strength through my core, knowing the limits of my flexibility and wanting to push past them: these are lessons from my mat that I need so badly to apply to the rest of my life. Holding my spine upright as I walk into scary meetings with new faces just might be the edge that gets me the job I am interviewing for next week.
As always, I’ve been doing my best. Many mammals hibernate in the winter, here I am stretching out of my air chrysalis phase and ready to dig my feet into the earth.
“We can stop thinking that good practice is when it’s smooth and calm, and bad practice is when it’s rough and dark. If we can hold it all in our hearts, then we can make a proper cup of tea.” –Thanks, Pema Chodron!
If I can offer one piece of advice so far for 2013: accept your state, do not judge yourself on sad or lonely days because they will end, and when they do share your happiness freely.
One more thing: This morning at the gym I was in the bathroom, washing my hands. I looked up at my face in the mirror, for half a second, and the lady washing her hands next to me turned and said “you look adorable, so cute.” She wished me a happy Easter (after asking if I celebrate) and breezed out the door. She infused me with joy. Husband had left for work very early, and my sweet son does not have much of a vocabulary yet. That kind stranger’s words gave me a kick of confidence, as I dragged my yoga mat into a deserted wall space.
Instead of kicking up to warm up my handstands against the wall like I always do, I floated on my hands in the middle of my mat for a few moments of unexpected bliss. Thank you, kind strangers everywhere!
As Sarah sat waiting for the nurse to retrieve her paper cup of two generic headache pills, she rummaged around in a box of glasses next to her chair. They were all sizes and colors, and after examining a few pairs, she slipped some rectangular green frames into the backpack slung by her feet. When she tried them on in the girl’s room five minutes later, she smiled at herself broadly. Her vision was slightly altered with the green glasses. She felt more confident. Her features blurred in the corroded mirrors above the sinks as she concentrated on the details of the frames, and she tossed her hair around her shoulders to perfect the image for herself. She might even pass as pretty with these green glasses. Her pale face did not look so boring. This would be the day her life changed, though stealing glasses from the charity box was such an impetuous event, Sarah would never trace it back to that moment. Her vision would slowly adjust to the slight nearsightedness that the lenses corrected, and in the weeks to come, she would be stare absently at distant faces, not realizing she was gazing directly into their eyes.
Note: I’m inspired to write short exercises of Friday Fiction, in the spirit of this blogger.
I go about the business of daily life now in miniature variations of its former rigid constitution:
Twelve minutes of yoga here. A shoulder stand on the nursery room floor there. I try to include a proper (pro-rated) savasana too.
Baby sized meals. Often eating whatever is leftover on my ten month old’s plate.
There is only time to do quick errands, between nap time and lunch time and story time.
The dog gets walked on a short leash now. Even though we’re far from any traffic danger, it lurks in other places, like shallow ponds and swampy marshes (snakes and alligators, not traffic, are the main concerns here).
We food shop for one or two days at a time— we only have two arms to carry things inside, after all.
In the end, everything adds up to regular portions. I have acquiesced my control over things, for now, which has made it essential to do things in bits and spurts if I want to eat and breathe. Life is a series of short, intense moments—of learning, play, and tears.
There are other things, though, that I am consuming at a much more rapid pace:
Books. I’m quickly reading literature again. Like 2 novels a week, devouring it, staying up late and waking up early to greet my titles.
Wine. A bottle every two or three days. It sometimes feels like life is a vacation. Husband prefers his icy Yeungling (maybe the novelty that it is available here) but sometimes he’ll share my bottle.
Showers and baths. They feel so good, morning and evening and sometimes afternoon cleansing watery rituals.
Sleep. I know should be letting my hard working husband sleep more than me. He’s the one at work for so many hours everyday, after all. I’m home: shopping, decorating, eating, napping, playing, and reading. But, he insists on letting me sleep in the mornings so he can play with our boy. Its hard to argue with that.
Phone calls. I always used to be the one who texts back to respond to a voice mail. I’ve talked the same amount in the last two weeks than I have the whole rest of the year.
This last month was about final times, goodbyes, boxes and packing tape, living out of suitcases, eating quick meals, waking up in strange rooms, and starting again in new places. I’m encouraged by our decision to move, and the change. Even though I knew, months ago, that this was the right thing for us, it is still sometimes hard to feel confident diving into unfamiliar territory.
I used to rely on my daily activities to derive a sense of balance. That is impossible now. Life as a Southern Housewife is a jumble of inchoate ideas for routine and activity. Its easy to feel like I’m having a bad day when my Vriksasana gets blown out of alignment because the baby wakes up early from his nap. Or I get hung up thinking its too late for lunch, too early for dinner. But, I try to remember to breathe, and that these are small troubles with easy fixes. So I’m relaxing into my new life here, aware that Friday nights may not be able to include a double yoga practice, but they also will never include sitting in smoggy traffic on the expressway. It is a welcome trade off after five years of city life. And honestly, even though I can count on four fingers the names of people I’ve met down here, I feel at home.
I re-discovered Story People tonight. I know they’re banal and quaint in 2012, but I can’t help but adore them. Most every single one speaks to me in a way.
After [her] father died [s]he carried [her] life more gently & left an empty space for the birds & other creatures.
The empty space that I tried to fill with so many other things than what I was truly missing for so long. I sought it high and low, swatted at it without ever admitting to myself what it really was I was after. So it stayed just out of my reach. Close, but unless it was true, it was not a real salve.
“It” is love. Its always been love (or/and: understanding, compassion, friendship, allegiance, fidelity, esteem, veneration, idolatry) that I’ve been after. I’m sure I would have sought it whether or not my father died when I was little, but I probably wouldn’t have quested so urgently without knowing precisely what it was I was looking for. Looking back on my life now, I can CLEARLY see that it was human connection I was after, attempts at relationships, friendships formed over silly obsessions. I chased it around Europe for a few years, looked for it on the other side of the Atlantic around New England and other cities, and then the hunt closed in. To Maine. Finding my life partner was a lot easier than I ever imagined it was going to be. I used to believe there is one person out there for all of us, and we’re lucky if we ever find our mate on this planet so full of people. But, I realize the world is a design, and perfection comes in the way our lives unfold as it does when we stretch out an accordion. Maybe a confused jumble of angles, paper, and colors at the beginning–but, just as we gain insight into our lives, we realize the things we need the most are right before us.
Which is why I know my husband is my destiny. I used to feel funny because I didn’t “discover” him. He was a friend of a friend (I remember hearing about this sexy sushi chef many many years ago). We all ended up working together. I believe the friend of my friend met him just to bring him closer to me. We are each other’s destiny. We are love, and he has filled me up completely.