Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yoga and Hoarding

I have recently found out that I'm close to some people who hoard. Without going into detail about who they are and the fascinating details about what's like to hoard I'll just post my thoughts about hoarding and how we all do it some ways and how yoga can be used to approach hoarding.

Yoga is the process of letting go of what's not you. In yoga, we let go of extra weight in some cases, but really the letting go is of old habit patterns and ways of thinking and acting that are not in alignment with who we really are. When we practise the yamas and niyamas for instance, we can go through a process of witnessing ourselves in our lives, waking up from habitual ways of being so we can live more consciously.

Some of us hoard weight. We started off thin as youngsters and then over the years, we kept adding and adding and not being able to shed what we didn't need anymore and eventually it can weigh us down so that we're carrying extra weight and it damages our health. Hoarders are like this with stuff. Some of us can relate because maybe we've held on to some things that are no longer needed or used and we can't really store those things anymore but we try. I've written a few posts over the years of my own personal struggles with letting things go.

Yoga also works like a digestive system. It can help us to integrate the things that have come before so we can take on more of life. Not just food that we take in, but experiences. Yoga helps us to get current in our lives, so we're not bringing along a bunch of stored up feelings or things to deal with.

People who collect stuff often don't have a way to get rid of it. I found that in my own experience. There was a system that brought stuff the house, but the system that recycled or donated stuff wasn't as efficient. When we see potential value in items, that can outweigh the cost it takes to keep the items around, and we'll keep on keeping things that have potential use, but not actual use. Those projects we meant to finish. The scrapbooks we mean to put together. The books we will read. It can really expand from there.

Letting go of bad habits whether they're destructive to our health - both physical and emotional/mental - or just displeasing to others, is often a really difficult process. We often keep these bad habits in place for a variety of different reasons, however, they often bring about very similar results: isolation, shame, loneliness, lack of vitality and many other symptoms.

I think that the teachings of yoga have helped me witness myself and my patterns in my own life and it has helped me have a lot of empathy for the people in my life who are uncovering their own patterns. Yoga for hoarders will be coming in the future!

(The picture is from a Google image search for hoarding. I'll see if I can get my own shots for future posts.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Staying Fresh as a Yoga Teacher

Lately I've run into a number of old students from the Yoga Teacher Training programs I've taught in over the years and they've mentioned that they could use some support staying fresh as a yoga teacher. Just like how the obstacles on the path of yoga are the same as the obstacles on the path to anything you want to do, staying fresh as a yoga teacher is the same as staying fresh at anything you want to do.

A few years ago I was on the Omega Institute campus talking to old friends one who was a writer and the other a midwife. The writer said, "if I have to write one more course description..." The midwife said, "if I have to say 'push, push' again..." and I was saying, "if I have to say, 'inhale arms up' one more time..." And we all laughed at how we were in the same place but in different professions.

It happens to a lot of people - when you've been at the same job for over 10 years or however long until you feel that way - you get tired of doing it. Sometimes it's just the natural process of getting older. We struggle when we're young to settle into a routine and sometimes after awhile we feel constrained by it.

What to do?

You could quit. It's at that point some people quit their jobs and find something else to do. There are pros and cons to that. If you aren't dealing with whatever are the underlying issues to your frustration, you'll run right into that again after you've been in your new job after some time.

You could take a break. Sometimes going on vacation or trying something else new will refresh you. If you haven't had a holiday in a long time, build in a break for yourself. The particular summer I'm referring to at the top of this post was one where my holiday was a working holiday. I taught more yoga while I was away and at earlier hours than I did at home. I didn't occur as a holiday at all!

You could do nothing. Just knowing there are days when you will struggle to find inspiration to do your job can help make it normal and just like the passing weather, you can rest assured it will change again.

Another thing you could do is dig even deeper into your profession. Rather than going away from it, you could get right back in there. Study more. Take new courses, get a mentor, and remind yourself of what fired you up in the first place to become a yoga teacher, writer, midwife, or whatever.

Nurturing yourself, connecting with others, exploring your profession - these are some of the ways you can stay fresh as a teacher.

Do any of you have ways that you stay fresh as a yoga teacher or other profession? I'd love to hear your comments.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Yoga Rules

I come from a background of few yoga rules. I use a lot of "allowing" languaging. Anything goes. If you don't want to do it, don't do it. Listen to your body. You've heard me.

Every once in a while I get a group that challenges me and makes me come up with rules.

It makes sense that some groups will do better with clearer guidelines and expectations. The group I'm talking about in particular is the kids who've been expelled or suspended from school. They get to go to a special school, and I'm their yoga teacher. Their new principal is an old student of mine and he thought maybe yoga would help them to relax and learn how to cope better.

The first class had about 10 students in it and was awkward. A group of expelled and suspended students is a group of mostly boys, that's the reality. So we wondered how to present it so they'd feel good about going but not too weird to be in there with their buddies. Over the past few weeks we've worked it out but there were days when I had to take a big breath to walk in the door and deal with rowdiness, smoke breaks, phones on, people coming and going, the class ending early because everybody bailed, it was not what I've become used to when people pay to come to a yoga studio!

I worked with their social worker on the rules and we agreed: if you come in, you're in for the whole class. Come in on time or you can't come. No talking to each other during class. No texting - your phone isn't on your body. If you don't want to do a move, don't do something else instead. Stuff like that. Basic respect and manners. And I have to say the rules at the beginning of each class.

With those rules in place, we've had more repeat customers. They're learning some poses and sun salutations but the thing they seem to love the best is the relaxation where I touch them. I do the "leg jiggle, arm jiggle, head scratch" thing (the assisted relaxation if you've ever been in one of those classes with me).

Watching a group of troubled young men relaxing on their yoga mats makes me happy. It reminds me of the pride I felt when I was new with the police and would have a group of 20 guys (without their guns) taking 2 minutes to relax and how powerful that was.

It's taken a few weeks to get it together, but it seems like it's falling into place and having the other staff on board assisting me in holding space for these young people who choose to come to yoga (it's optional for them but 2 are doing it for gym credit) is making a difference and the kids are getting it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Herbs *May* Be Working

It's probably too early to tell, and maybe I'm just really hopeful, but I think this next period I have is going to be closer to a normal one. I can just feel it. If it's not, I figure I'm in big trouble and will have to do something about it, so there is a lot riding on this one, and I'm hopeful.

What I've been doing since I last blogged is eating seeds like I said, and taking herbs to reduce bleeding, and balance my hormones because apparently the situation I'm in is in part due to raised estrogen levels, which is natural at this time of my life.

I bought a Blendtec blender and have added lots of raw foods to my diet - without eliminating other foods altogether at all, rather replacing some meals with smoothies, which has been a lot of fun. I've been tweeting my smoothie concoctions and apparently they're getting tastier - my daughter is quite particular about her smoothies.

It feels so weird to have been going on a certain way for 30 years and then all of a sudden to have things be so different. I know other life situations are like that, but this was an internal process rather than an accident or some external intervention, just that clock inside.

The women I've spoken to who've had the recommended procedure have not regretted it at all and said their lives are so much better post-surgery and I find that encouraging. However, I'm still determined to resolve this without medical intervention. It was the same thing with the birth of my daughter. I was prepared to go to the hospital if I had to, and at one point during the labour my midwives "threatened" to take me to the hospital if I didn't get my kid out (full disclosure: she was 4.9kg, really long, and her head circumference was actually off the growth chart, ouch), but because of the research I'd done that revealed that often medical intervention leads to more medical interventions, I was really motivated to do it myself. My mom's had loads of surgeries that have made me want to make sure I don't have that happen to me and very sad for how she's had to recover from extra interventions that would have not been necessary if extra care had been taken during the surgeries. If I can prevent that from happening to me, I'm going to do it.

Managing what I eat and what time I take all of the herbs and supplements and rub on the creams and I tell you, it keeps me on my toes. I'm not quite at the point where I need an app to tell me what time to take which tablet, but I can relate to those who do.