Sunday, July 12, 2009

Simply the Best; Almost...

I find the more I venture into the world of "Yoga," the more I am peeling off layers and getting to the raw me. That's one of those epiphanies, you know, where all of a sudden something clicks and it seems like you just figured out how to stop global warming, but in reality it's more like 1+1=2. Maybe it's the fact that I'm less than a year shy of my 30th. I remember hearing, and I have no idea where I heard this, but 30 was the year. You know, the year where all those feelings of self doubt, body image, etc. drifted away. I am one of the few people who hold the age of 30 in high regard, an amazing accomplishment. Then, I discovered something around the age of...hmmm...26; that sounds about right. I finally stopped partying like I was in college and, well, found yoga. For the first time I stopped...I listened...and of course I talked and talked and thankfully I had a great support system who listened, but hey, that's what I paid her for! And so began my journey of self improvement, which I haven't yet stopped.

I don't need to be the best; there I finally said it. It's something I consider a blessing and also my Achilles' heel . I just need to enjoy myself and feel good in the process. Something incredible about one of my favorite morning classes is that I'm one of the youngest yogis in the room, (come on, do you really think I would go there?) and one of the few that can't balance a handstand in the middle of the room, or do Eka Pada Koundiyanasana I, and I don't even try. There is something about a 71-year-old man balancing on his hands that quickly makes the ego disappear. Instead of it frustrating me, I have no choice but to let it go...I'm not trying to make the Yoga Olympics here, I'm just trying to practice yoga. I might be the "wallflower" that my favorite teacher, Kathryn refers to, but I just haven't seen any scientific proof that balancing a handstand away from the wall or being first in your high school class, or president of a fortune 500, or hell president of the country makes you any happier. I mean Joe Biden looks like he's having a pretty good time, see what I'm getting at?

My mother reminded me of a story recently. I was in 11th grade and heading out for a night at the neighborhood mall with girlfriends. While exiting the house, my mom kindly asked if I studied for my test I had the following day. I told her I had. She then asked if I had studied enough that I would get an A? I told her I had not studied enough for an A, but was confident in securing a B and therefore I would like to spend the remainder of the evening hanging out with friends than wasting my time just to get an A. I think most mothers in that situation would tell their daughters to go back into their bedroom and study until they knew they could secure that A. But instead my mother had this look of contemplation on her face. She couldn't argue with me. Instead as she tells the story to this day, she was proud of the perspective her youngest daughter had. Now obviously that story doesn't work for everyone, but for the type of person I am, for the 4 year state university I would be attending two years down the line, well, then it works out just fine.

I would be lying to say I'm not envious at times of those type A, hardworking, stop at nothing until I reach the top, type of personalities, but envy doesn't change who you are, rather it creates a lot of negative feelings that don't serve a purpose. I spent a long time of my life, well, the 20's feel like an eternity, pretending to be a lot of things that I wasn't. It's exhausting, and it's confusing, but I realize it's part of the process. I'm finally starting to not only be me, but be comfortable being me. I am truly understanding what everyone was talking about when they said something just changes, shifts around the age of 30. And as much as I wish there had been a disclaimer letting me know the work that had to be done to get here, I'm sure I would have just skimmed over it to go hang out with friends anyway.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Life Back Guarantee

If you weren't one who thought of death from time to time, then you definitely have in these last two weeks. It’s been a strange time for the Entertainment World to lose iconic and influential people so close together. Its weird, creepy, and even fun to get to know celebrities from the roles they play. We, the public, feel as if we know them, whether it’s from their characters on TV or from the interviews and press we constantly see them in, they start to become very familiar to us. We don't always identify or feel a special bond to all celebrities, but from time to time there does seem to be a few who catch our attention. That being said, with the tragic deaths of Farrah, Ed, MJ, and Billy Mays, most of us felt a tug in our heart at some point in the past couple of weeks. For me, it was good ole' Billy Mays. I know, what can I say? I don't know if it was his boisterous voice and persistent demeanor I identified with or maybe that his show, "Pitchmen" was filmed in my home state, Florida. Whatever the reason, death was a subject not far from my mind.

As far as I can remember, my mother and I talked of reincarnation. Therefore, when I started practicing yoga and learning its philosophy and beliefs, which is closely tied with Hinduism, a spiritual practice that believes in rebirth, it wasn't something far fetched for me. According to the Hindu religious and philosophical concepts, man is composed of two fundamental principles opposed to each other per nature: one spiritual, the soul (atman), and the other material, the body (sarira). The soul is eternal, immutable, not born, not created, indestructible; instead, the body is temporal, created, mutable, destructible. The union between soul and body is not essential, but is accidental. An easy way to imagine Reincarnation: the soul is immortal and keeps reentering a fleshy body time and time again in order to resolve experiences and thereby learn all the lessons the material world has to offer.

I'm not writing about Reincarnation to project my beliefs on everyone; you know all 15 of you following my blog! But I truly believe that in each lifetime we are here to learn certain lessons and when those lessons are learned, we then move on to the next life.

The more I learn about yoga, the more I realize what an important part of this life it is for me, teaching was just a natural progression from my physical practice. I fell in love with yoga the first class I took over three years ago. I don't have a gymnast or dancer background, I grew up playing softball. But the more I learn about the history, the foundation of which yoga is based on, the more I realize what I'm doing here. I'm not trying to get all woo woo on you, but there is something about being in the room, holding a pose, breathing slowly in and out with your eyes closed and just feeling content. Its not about how strong your arms are getting or the burning in your legs, its about the space you create not only physically, but mentally. Your mind becomes clear and for a couple moments a day you feel content. And for me, that's really what life is all about, finding that contentment, even if it only stays for a few minutes each day. I realized that every time the subject of dying enters my mind, the one thing I hope is that I'm content. I am content with the life I have lived, the decisions and the sacrifices I have made.

I was watching the "Pitchmen" tribute last night to Billy Mays. They showed the time line of his career starting 20 years ago at home shows, always busting his ass making infomercial after infomercial. Only recently did his hardwork start to pay off with respect by his peers, credibility in his field, and a guest spot on, "The Tonight Show." They showed recent clips of him finally enjoying the family he never had time for before, the life he had worked so hard to obtain. So, I asked myself, why now? Why after busting his ass for his whole life, does he leave right when he has become content on who he is professionally, financially, and personally? And I can't believe I am writing this all about the man who is best known for promoting Oxyclean, but I finally realized, that was one content man.