Mothering, Pondering

End of summer mehs

Texas summer is hot, hot, hot. And it is hot through October. But summer ends well before the heat ends. Pools close, Halloween candy covers the shelves, and school begins. Just like everyplace else.

There is an air of transition. It’s different than most seasonal transitions. I wouldn’t call it The Blues. I’ll call it, The Mehs. The indifference, the lack of happiness or sadness. That “I’m ready for this but I could take it or leave it” feeling.

This coming week, Dove turns 9, we go for sneak-a-peek at her new school, and we bunker down for fall. In our tank tops and shorts. Are we excited? “Kinda,” Dove says. Meh.

Advertisements
About Breathing, Mothering, Yoga off the mat

About breathing, pt 2: It will click when you least expect it

In and out. Those are the basics. Fresh and clean in, used and finished out.

There are a multitude of breaths, or pranayama, in yoga. Tools to calm us, OR, to speed things up, to cool or heat the body, with the ultimate end goal of stilling the mind. Some call this zen, but I’m not clear on the differences between Buddhism and Yoga yet, so I will plainly call it stillness.

This past Sunday, my son (who will be three in November) fell on our brick hearth. I was not there to see it, but my daughter ran in to me, pleading “come now, please, Strider* hit his head and there’s a lot of blood.” Her panic was palpable. I immediately kicked into stoic mode.

What is stoic mode? Probably not a real thing, but for me, it is when I shuck off my emotions and shut down whatever I’m doing to focus on what is happening at that precise moment.

Stop what you’re doing. Go with her. How is Strider (son)? Crying, Dad has a paper towel and is holding it on Strider’s head. There is blood.

“Everyone needs shoes,” I say. “Let me finish brushing my teeth.” Dad is sitting in the backseat with Strider. Dove (daughter) in the front with me.

“He didn’t pass out,” I think/say. I call Bluetooth calling Urgent Care. Didn’t pass out, no vomiting, bleeding stopped. Ok put us on the list. “He’s not even crying anymore.”

Dove is close to hyperventilating. I turn off the music. I start paying attention to my breath.

“We’re lucky the doctor can see us today, we’ll be there in ten minutes.” Just now I begin to pay attention to how I breathe. In slowly, three, four. Hold. Out, two, three, four. My right hand is on my daughter’s knee. She rarely gets to sit shotgun, but she needs to be here today.

Upon arrival, the staff at Urgent Care takes a look at him and tells us he’ll probably have to go to the hospital because you can see his skull and they aren’t capable of MRI. Please wait and the doctor will see us.

We sure did get transferred. Three hours and ten stitches later we were home. We set an early bedtime.

“Mom, how did you stay so calm?” Dove asked me at bedtime. I am not always even and calm. It takes awareness, focus, and patience… also time.

“I’m not always that way,” I admitted. “As you know. But I can really turn it on when I need to.”

“How?” She asked.

“It takes a lot of practice.” We both laughed.

I would not say that practicing yoga will make you immune to stress or the dramas of life. But with practice, you might at least be able to turn it on and glide through.

AND! Strider got his stitches out today!

Beginner Yoga, Yin Yoga, Yoga to relieve stress

To begin a Yin

Stillness. If you sit still for three minutes, where does your mind go?

Yin yoga is a practice where you “start cold,” and hold poses (asanas) for three, five, ten… some number of minutes, and melt into the pose. It is very different from the more active, heart-pumping practice of yoga most of us in the West are familiar with.

I first tried Yin about two years ago. I didn’t break a sweat, so I decided it wasn’t for me.

Months later, I developed a persistent pain in the ligament stretching from my knee to the outside of my calf, down to my heel. It hindered my yoga practice and made running a (literal) pain.

I returned to the Yin class with an open mind, thinking “This is gentle. I’ll just do this until the pain goes away.”

That first class back, we held King Pigeon, a challenging pose in any practice, for three minutes. On each side. The long holds are meant to give time and space for the fascia and connective tissues between our muscles and bones to open and stretch… and while in pigeon, I began to sweat. A lot. My heart rate was normal, but I was indeed releasing something that had to go.

For me, three minutes of stillness is enough time to begin to question life choices, make big decisions, ruminate on asymetry, and eventually, let go.

In a world where we go, go, go, strive to achieve and “win,” Yin is humbling. Because it is a slow, quiet practice, it tends to be the first one to go when I am on vacation, or too busy, or in a rut. However, that ligament pain went away not long after I began practicing yin weekly. I’ll always go back.

I’m currently reading a book about Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark and it is blowing my mind. As a teacher in training I am excited to delve deeper, melt even more.

Have you tried Yin Yoga? What was your experience?

Mothering, Pondering, Yoga off the mat

Lessons from the Atlantic

Our family is vacationing on the sandy shores of southern Maine, aka Back Home for me. Our first beach day, coordinating boogie boards and SPFs proved to take a little longer than expected, so we arrived towards the end of the low tide coming in.

Man did we get thrashed. The waves were deceptively rough, making for lots of giggles in the beginning but resulting in bathing suits full of sand, goggles and hair-ties being swept from our possession, and extra salty tears.

My 8 year-old, an accomplished swimmer and aspiring marine biologist, took the brunt of Mother Ocean’s teachings. There is always another wave coming. Sometimes the shiny are revealed to be trash when you’ve finally got them in hand. If a great force takes your goggles, you will never see them again… let go and commit to holding more tightly next time. Sometimes you have to submit to the sand and accept it as part of the experience.

We all got beat up pretty well on that first beach day. I was worried that the kids wouldn’t want to go back. But we did! Before low tide. The tide was calmer, the surf gentle. We collected shells and whole crab carcasses, marveling at how clear and warm the tide pools were. “It’s nice to have a relaxed beach day,” my 8 year-old commented, “but the waves are too gentle to (body) board. So I guess it’s good we can have it both ways.”

Truth, baby. That’s the truth.

Pondering, Yoga off the mat

Flexibility, fostering growth

I was talking to a friend about her knee pain, suggesting she stretch because sometimes knee pain means tight hamstrings, quads, or even the hips, the back…

“A little every day is better than a lot one day. Build up to longer holds and deeper stretches…” quoting myself here.

It occurred to me this is a good mantra for most days. A little every day is better than too much. Don’t expect too much right away. Learn to pause, be still, take time, be now.

Yoga on The Farm

Yoga on The Farm, three days into summer

The past few days have been scorchers. 104* yesterday afternoon. Typical Texas summer, really. It was already in the eighties when I arrived at the farm this morning, a little past 8am, and the overcast sky was welcome.

Class featured a sun salutation, with a cooling moon salutation to balance. It was a challenging practice and my students were up for it. We had a great time. It was beautiful!

Gear Review, Highly Recommend

To B or not to B (Mat), gear review

I have nothing to do with B Yoga, and am not really here to do gear reviews. However, when I was shopping for mats there weren’t a lot of reviews for the B Mat out there, so I would like to put this out there for anyone who wants a lightweight, durable, never stretchy yoga mat for daily use.

I have had the B Mat Strong in Ocean Green since March, have been practicing on it daily. I am 100% satisfied. Here is what I was looking for in a mat, and how the B Mat Strong delivers:

Stickiness. I will only use sticky mats. Very sticky mats. I have owned a lot of mats in a lot of brands, used mats of many pro brands, and so far, the B Mat is the stickiest. I may never be able to use another brand of mat regularly again, because the B Mat is the ideal level of stickiness for the majority of my Hatha practice.

Support/Thickness. I was coming off of a very worn 5mm Gaiam Sol Grip mat when my friend loaned me a Jade Fusion. Super thick. It was nice, but it was an older, degraded mat and was stretchy. I decided to find something that was at least 6mm. The B Mat Strong is 6mm. It feels like much more, but with the firmness of a leaner mat. You have to try it to understand. This mat is supportive enough for long holds of one legged balancing poses. I love it.

Mid to light weight. I did not want a mat that was a slog to drag around. This mat is very light for how thick it is. It is a dense, lightweight rubber mat.

Color. I wanted a green mat. The B Mat jewel tones were right up my alley. I actually was very close to getting the yellow B Mat because it is gorgeous, even more gorgeous in person. But I had read that the lighter colored B Mats might show more dirt.

Which is a decent segue way into the not as perfect but not deal-breaking qualities of the B Mat Strong.

It can look dirty. Three minutes after cleaning my mat, it looks a bit dull. After a practice it can look kind of dusty. It’s like the mat is sooooo sticky, skin cells and lint are attracted to this mat. Now that I’ve typed that out it seems bad but it’s not really that bad. A friend of mine who is 500 RYT, in fact, that friend that loaned me the Jade Fusion, bought a B Mat Strong in yellow after seeing my mat. She loves the mat, but she carries it uncovered and rolled in her car, and her dog’s hair sticks to it. I have never noticed her mat looking dirty, but she sees it. It’s OK with the green mat, I can live with it. It is the price I pay for the stickiness.

Price. I wish yoga mats didn’t cost as much. I bought my B Mat from an online retailer, using percentage off coupons. It was worth it, but this mat is expensive for most folks.

Rolling / Storage. The B Mat must be rolled a particular way; logo out, from the top of the mat to the bottom. If you roll the mat in the opposite direction, it can crease and affect the ability of the mat to lie flat. It’s not a big deal.

Conclusion: I highly recommend the B Mat, it is perfect for anyone with an indoor practice. I would not recommend this mat for someone with a regular outdoor practice (I use my old Sol for that). Another caveat, if you’re looking for a mat that is always camera ready, you would probably be cleaning the mat multiple times a day, or using a lot of filters to buff away the dust.