Tuesday, September 27, 2011

shifting into confidence (OM)

i am pretty confident in most areas of my life. i don't doubt my decisions, i think everyone should trust my instincts, and i don't mind sharing my opinions. i'm confident in my work, my personal life, my relationships, my fitness teaching, and my yoga. and i thought i was confident in my yoga teaching... until i started to reflect on a few instances over the past few months.

1. friends complimenting me on my teaching and/or cues for yoga: after receiving amazing compliments from close friends, on different occasions, i found myself smiling, thanking them, and truly appreciating the compliments. but, then, after each instance, i would think to myself that those friends weren't expert yogis, or that they didn't know what was "supposed" to be cued, and i began to doubt the accuracy of the compliments.

2. the invitation to teach at an internationally attended yoga conference: after being invited to teach both a workshop and a class at the sydney evolve fest, i felt elated, momentarily. then i thought OMIGOD! WHY ARE THEY LETTING ME TEACH THERE?! i thought for sure they must have been desperate for teachers and only allowed me to teach because they had way too many spots. which turned out not to be true... but that didn't really affect my perception of the invitation.

3. the subsequent "life-changing" comments from people at the workshop: after leading a yoga/art mind-body workshop i developed, i had people coming up to me telling me about the amazing experiences they had felt: how they had realized things they never thought possible; how they heard things from me they had never allowed themselves to hear before. i smiled, i blushed, i felt humbled. and then i left and thought, surely that life-altering experience they had was a result of something else that recently happened; they were only attributing it to me.

all of these smaller reflections began to add up, especially in combination with the realization of #4 yesterday.

4. i have never taught a class an OM (spelled "aum" in sanskrit, but referred to here in its americanized spelling, cap-locked for emphasis). i suppose i have never been a big OM-er. don't get my wrong, i like my OMs. i like doing them in classes, but i really love being in the middle of them, i love the feeling of reverberation through my heart and through my body from the community of voices contributing to my own. i've just never felt comfortable teaching them. first of all, i have a terrrrrible singing voice. it's fine among the others... but as the one others might "listen" to? unh-uh. no way, forget it! oh, and i teach at gyms! they don't expect it; it might turn them off; they may never try another yoga class if i get all hippy-dippy on them!

AHEM, excuses.

after realizing that, yes, these truly were excuses, i thought: WOAH. and when taken with those other examples!?! --> i'm not as confident in my yoga teaching as i pretend to be! and then i began to meditate on why i wasn't teaching the OM in my yoga classes. like, the real reason--not the excuses i had spouted to co-teachers, fiends, and students. why was i letting myself get away with this for so long? was i really that shy about singing a single word? was i really that worried about the reactions from my class--the people that come week after week to take a class with me? was i really so scared that i couldn't pull it off?

well, i think the real reason was because moving from intention to action is scary! and even though i had intended to introduce an OM into my regular classes several times over the past couple of years, i had never actually done it. i told myself things like, "oh, there were 4 new people today--way too many to start a new part of our practice" or "i had a bad day at work, i should wait for a day i feel really shiny!" yes, shiny. these are the things i tell myself.

but something happened yesterday. i shifted. the mini revelation, fueled by the smaller instances of awareness, gave me the courage i needed to shift.

i walked into my class last night and began in a similar manner as i normally do. we were on the floor in suptaBK. we moved our arms with our breath. we rocked up to sitting. and then, i surprised the class. i told them tonight was the night we started our class with three OMs. i was honest: i told them i thought it was important for us to begin together, in the same place, on the same note; to be able to feel and experience the community of the class. and i told them i had been nervous to start doing it in my classes, but that it was TIME.

something amazing happened. they giggled with me. they didn't laugh at me. and then they OMed with me--anusara style--quietly, in order to make one voice. to hear one voice. to be one voice.

and it was beautiful.

...and then we moved on. we also closed with an OM, but by then i wasn't scared at all. i had done it! nothing bad had happened! i felt silly for doubting myself and i felt silly for doubting my students. and, when it was all over, i felt better about my class than i could have believed was possible, just because of an OM.

it's only the sound of everything. what'd i expect, really?

but reflecting back on it, a day later, i know it was hard. developing the strength to trust myself in this instance; finding the courage; shifting; moving from intention to action... it was all insanely difficult. but we all have these times, these experiences of contraction. we feel an instant "no" before we can attempt to say "yes." we decide we can't do something for a non-reason.

but now i know. i can do it. YOU can do it. nothing is really as hard as we make it out to be. start from the yes. start from the beginning. start from the OM.

and see where it takes you.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

body wars

**disclaimer: i have written this on 1/4 of my normal amount of sleep. so expect nonsense. if it isn't nonsense, then, hooray!

i'm in such a state of war with my body right now. but, oddly enough, not the "usual" war. food? exercise? no, no, no. right now we're fighting about sleep, energy, and, well, my well-intentioned plans.

as much as i love and value impulsivity (impulsiveness, perhaps?), i'm a born planner. it's how i'm able to workout, do yoga, write grants, publish papers, teach fitness and academic classes, attend workshops and conferences, go out with special interest clubs and friends, make dinner half of the evenings, and (sometimes) see my billy. fitting my life into my life is quite complex. so, even though billy has done a pretty good job of fostering lessons about how to fly by the seat of my pants, i still have a planner full of plans.

so, here i am, wondering what to do when my body rebels in a way it never has before. despite traveling internationally quite often, i never seem to have problems sleeping. i sleep when it's night in my current city; you know, like you're supposed to!

i don't know what happened, but even though i didn't sleep on the 27 hours of flights home, i haven't been able to sleep appropriately since returning. i arrived home late friday evening. friday night i tried sleeping, but didn't fall asleep until 930am. at 530pm, billy woke me up, suggesting that i should get up or i may not be able to sleep later. those 8 hours were the best, deepest sleep i had ever had. but, when billy woke me up from the nap, i thought i had only been asleep for 30 minutes. since i was still exhausted, i wasn't worried about sleeping later, though.

billy and i went for a run, showered, had a lovely sushi dinner, and began planning our vacation. then, i went to bed. not to sleep, but to bed.

here it is 5am, and i'm still awake. i wouldn't be very worried about this whole craziness, since it's the weekend, and i'm actually being pretty productive in work catch-up... except for the havoc this non-sleeping is having on my plans!

i changed my life around in order to get back from berlin by friday night so that i could do my second anusara yoga immersion saturday-wednesday. i've now missed the first day of the five day immersion, and am seriously worried about what is going to happen tomorrow. i'm worried about whether i'll get my immersion, i'm worried about the money i've paid for it, and i'm worried about when i would ever carve out the time to re-do this immersion if it was required (because of missing part of this one).

and, yes, i'm aware that all this worry is quite likely keeping me awake right now. i'm just not sure what to do about it. i've yoga-ed, i've breathed, hell, i've even blogged about it. (ps: amazing post-travel practice by my favorite anusara teacher: elena brower!) ...my body just isn't listening to a word i've been telling it.

it's frustrating when other people don't listen to you. but when YOU don't listen to you?! that's pretty much the most frustrating thing i've ever experienced. but here i am, living through it. breathing through it. feeling bad about not being able to keep commitments, but hoping that life (and ananda) will help me come out smiling on the other side of it.

what am i really learning, though? well, i suppose life is teaching me the lesson i hate the most: you can't plan for everything. (billy: did YOU plan this little lesson for me?! ;)

and so, as in yoga, i'm flowing. some days my body doesn't want to do a crow to headstand transition (meaning, i fall on my head, face, or shoulder when attempting it), and so, i try going to the wall or doing a different inversion. right now, my body doesn't want to sleep. so, i'm doing what i can. flowing to the next activity, trusting it will be the right one for this space/time/experience in my life.

and, scene.