So Many Thank Yous

Today, we had our “graduation” ceremony for yoga teacher training (200 hour program). It was wonderful and a little sad to be done, and I have many people to thank for helping me get through this process.

So, let me begin!

Derek – for keeping things together at home, feeding the troops on Tuesday evening and Saturday afternoon, listening to me fret and jabber about yoga, giving me the “gift” of teacher training in the first place, only looking bored about 25% of the time that I talked about yoga, and buying me my first Yogawood gift certificate 2 years ago.

Abbigael – for accompanying me to class, being my home cheerleader during the process, and being proud of me (out loud, to her friends, at 16).

Emmeline – for helping out around the house when I wasn’t home (even making a dinner or two) and coloring a mandala for me.

Ben and Nate – for saying “cool” when I told them the story of Ganesh, the myth of Hanuman, and all about arm balances.

Jacob and Devin – for asking me about yoga when they were around and telling me it was great that I was doing training.

Micki and Erik (and Maiga, Kati, Lee, and Vicki) – for being my yoga teacher role models and keeping me on my mat during my own classes.

Maria and Erica – for listening to my never-ending yoga teacher training stories without a hint of annoyance.

Beth and Lisa – for being my rocking, kickass, impressive, inspiring, supportive, hysterical, knowledgeable, and kind YTT instructors.

Yvonne, Christie, Katie, Leslie, Jessica, Mike, and Carrie – for being such a great group of peers, keeping me both entertained and challenged, and never reminding me that I was the old lady of the group (by at least a decade).

Luna, Indy, and Charlie – for covering my yoga pants, mat, towel, assignments, and books in hair, and always being here when I was feeling overwhelmed.

All of the folks I practice with at Yogawood – who are so supportive and such good yoga buds.

Everyone who came to my practice and final teaches – for giving me the opportunity to work on my yoga teaching skills and being so kind when I flubbed it up.

And the readers of this blog – who followed my trials and tribulations during the whole process, made comments, laughed at my jokes, and gave me a little extra oomph to get through the day!

Thank you all so much. I could not have done it without you.


Endings and Beginnings

Tomorrow marks several endings in my life, and simultaneously several beginnings.

It is, most obviously, the last day of April. April is always a very busy time in the life of an academic and seeing it come to an end is both a relief and a terror. It means that the flood of dinners, lunches, receptions, speeches, etc. will slow. But, it also means that May is arriving. Thus, commencement is just around the corner (my speech isn’t done), grades will soon need to be logged (haven’t started those papers yet), exams are next week (bahaha) and it’s time to start planning for AY12. On the other hand, family vacation is at the end of May, and Mother’s Day usually involves bagels and chocolate (not together), so that’s cool.

A second ending is the month-long blogging celebration known as YIOM.  For YIOM,  a group of intrepid bloggers committed to writing 3-7 yoga posts per week for one month.  I tried for one every day, but that didn’t always work out (I missed the 21st and the 26th).  It’s been a great experience reading and writing for YIOM and I could say that I’m sad that April is over and thus it is done.  BUT, we’ve turned YIOM (yogis inspiring oneness month) into YIOM (yoga inspired online movement) Network and now we’re rolling right into May and beyond with it.  So, that is the end of one blog project while beginning a whole new adventure.

Finally, tomorrow is my final exam in my 200-hour yoga teacher training program.  Assuming that I pass (please, let’s assume that for now), I’ll be finished with a training that stretched from the beginning of October to the end of April.  It was exhilarating, difficult, fun, heavy, mind-expanding, community creating, humbling, and confidence building.  I’ve grown used to being with my training peeps every week and I’ll miss that time together.  But… this means the start of my time as a real-live-certified yoga instructor.  I don’t know how that will unfold, but I’m looking forward to seeing it happen.

So go the samsaras of everyday life.  As stated by Semisonic, and maybe Seneca, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
(sorry about the stupid ad!)

Think Fast – Or Not

As regular readers of this blog, or my twitter feed, know, I’ve recently been fasting on “moon days.” This has meant full fasts on full moon days, new moon days, and ekadasi days. Having done so for a month, and having also completed two longer juice fasts in December, I’m trying to assess my reasons for fasting and whether I am accomplishing what I hoped with the process.

In December, I juice fasted for a total of 10 days (two 5 day fasts). This was partly to add additional tapas to my yoga journey, partly to cleanse the body in support of the principle of saucha, and partly to help my body physically process some strong drugs that I was given during a medical treatment. At the end of those experiences, I felt very positively about them (see previous post for details) and decided to investigate other plans/philosophies of fasting and yoga.

During this investigation, based on a suggestion of a teacher training peer, I encountered the triyoga idea of fasting, which encourages full (water only) fasting on the above noted moon days. This results in around four days of fasting per month.

While I have been able to do the fasting in the last month as planned, I’m a little conflicted about it right now. Fasting is not a religious undertaking for me; it’s a philosophical/physical undertaking. Thus, it needs to “make sense” to me in those ways. I understand the notion of freeing up energies usually associated with eating and I can see the value of that. But, I’m not sure it’s doing that for me.

Yesterday was a fast day, and coincidentally also a yoga teacher training class where we focused on the koshas. As we talked in class about the koshas and how yoga helps us to create more permeability in the physical, intellectual, and even emotional selves and thus improves access to the bliss self, I started to think about fasting in this way. Ideally, it appears to me that fasting is one way to remove focus from the “food layer” of the self and allow it to shift to other koshas. That seems good. But, I actually think, for me, full fasting is working the other way.

As an individual who has “struggled” with eating disorders for over 30 years, I’m not sure fully fasting is a good choice. I’ve fasted many many times in my life, and almost always for reasons completely related to the physical self and to the ego. I have a long history and a deeply ingrained pattern of seeing fasting as a way to weight loss or weight control. While I think the issues are relatively well controlled right now, fasting made them more present to me, not less. During fasting days, I found myself thinking about my weight and wondering if I would lose any weight. When I was hungry and considered breaking the fast, I convinced myself out of it not through any greater good, but through a combination of reminding myself that it would be good for my weight and refusing to “fail” at the effort. This is not exactly what I was going for with the fasting. These ramifications stretched somewhat into the day before and the day after the fast, when I wondered if I should reduce my diet more, so that the impact of the fast would be greater. The bottom line here is that I was actually more focused on the physical self and the ego, not less so. Hmmm…

I am not yet totally convinced that fasting is right out (to quote the great Monty Python) for me, but if I’m going to continue this as part of my yoga practice, I need to determine a way to do so that elevates my practice, rather than reinforces the “bad grooves” I already have.

This really highlights for me the idea that the practice of yoga is individual. Techniques – or poses – that work for one person may not work for another. Adjustments must be made to meet the needs of the student, whether that means an additional block or rethinking a fasting plan. Learning and yoga arrives in interesting forms!