Enjoy The Journey

In writing yesterday’s post, I was reminded yet again about enjoying the journey. So often, when I was living my life mostly in my head (as opposed to dropping down to feel my heart/body), I often thought that being exhorted to enjoy the journey was just silly Jack Handy nonsense.

But in reality, the journey is even more awesome than the destination. I wrote yesterday about enjoying the journey to increased prosperity but it applies to anything.

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.”

― Rumi

As example, weight loss: Sure you may want to weigh 130 lbs. But really even losing 10 lbs is amazing. Understand that each pound, each 5 or 10 lbs lost is an opportunity for savoring the journey, enjoying what you’ve accomplished, and learning about yourself on the path. What have you learned about yourself as you allow yourself to release overeating? [Or course, the presupposes you’re not using willpower to overcome your body- that way lies madness].

Self Isolating through the Coronavirus pandemic- Is there any upsides?

My family and I have been self isolating for two weeks now. The first week I allowed myself to have a lot more avoidant behavior, including overeating and have more drinks than normal. But the second week, I asked my mind to show me the benefits of the isolation. I gave it something to do.

Now, I’m cataloguing all of the ways life is actually sweeter if we have to quarantine. For me, I see how busy I was before. I don’t need to be that busy. We were also spending a lot more money than we needed to on going to dinner. I also realized that having a home yoga practice is something I can and should start. As I mentioned in this post, I’m practicing a set yoga routine and I’m able to follow all the sun salutations (a,b, and c) with increased flow and grace.

I’m also uploading my photos to Flickr and I’m doing my first jigsaw puzzle in 20 years. Slowing down and allowing my mind to slow down. Less distraction, less screen time, more family time and quality time.

I’m so grateful to be amazed about this journey. I take a step on what I think is the path and I am allowing the path to show itself to me. Let’s not resist what is happening.

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A Few Ways to Make Self Isolation Work For You- Being At Home During the Coronavirus COVID-19

After a week of two of freaking out and moving from that to acceptance, I think a healthy next step is to look at what good can come of being isolated and at home. I know that for some this means a total loss of income and for other this means a total loss of cherished routines, connection, space from children and partners, and so much more. Yes, there is often much loss going on right now. But there can and should be some good things that can come from this.

I think you can look at the next 30 days (Virginia just implemented a 30 day lock down so I’m going to use that as an example). I’ve personally be social distancing for nearly two weeks already so this will be about 7 weeks of social distancing. Gulp.

#1 – Stop feeding your mind with scenarios of doom, virus statistics, and negative input without also consciously feeding it an equal amount of uplifting and positive input to help you maintain your mental health.

Of course you’re going to want to stay connected to what’s going on. But if you spend an hour on FB or Insta and an hour researching the daily statistics, then you’ll also need to spend two hours on positive input. That’s four hours a day which is nearly impossible so cut out the time you’re spending researching the doom and gloom and on social media. Instead, cut it down to one hour and then spend one hour a day on the positive angle. I suggest spending a half hour a day listening to Brooke Castillo’s podcasts where she’s helping put what’s happening into perspective through describing what the brain does in times of danger and stress and ways to reframe the problem. Highly recommend! Then find another 30 minutes of uplifting content, from Marie Forleo to Martha Beck to sitting in meditation and quieting your mind.

You can also plug into the Mystery and the Divine for 30 minutes or longer using the techniques I wrote about in this post. All of it will help your mind from going all flight or fight on you.

#2 – Set up a goal for the next 30 days that you want to accomplish.

For me, I’ve decided that because I can no longer head out and do my daily yoga, I will use this next 30 days to build up my home practice.

I’ll be honest in that, although I’ve spent years practicing yoga, I don’t actually have any of the pose sequences memorized. I just rely on my teachers to guide me and keep me moving. But now, I’m going to learn a 90 minute sequence by heart so that I can have the sequences memorized when I return to group classes when this ends. I’ll start with surya namaskara A, then B, then C (the sun salutations), then some balancing poses, some stretching poses and end with shivasana.

I love balancing half moon and wounded deer poses so I’ll be sure those and some of my faves and my least faves are included.

I have some old injuries and I’m going to add in some strengthening routines so I can strengthen and stretch my core muscles, including my core, my psoas, my hip flexors. A recent visit to a physical therapist revealed that I haven’t been engaging my transverse abdonminis muscle (TVA) so I’m going to slow down with my yoga and exercise routines to ensure I’m engaging my TVA.

I’m also going to prioritize ensuring healthy eating habits because I know that I have a tendency to eat out of stress and boredom. So even if I don’t lose any weight over the next month, I can at least not gain weight.

#3- Notice What Habits and Mindsets You Have That No Longer Serve You

So I’ve begun to dig into the positives that can be revealed by this time of slowing down. I see how much I’ve rushed around in my life trying to get the kids here, this shopping done there, and meet self-imposed deadlines. And none of it was required. I see that even when this is over I can slow down and let some of the busy-ness go.

What have you noticed about your life that you can see changing?

Yes, this quarantine can have some positive outcomes too, (besides the health one).

Hugs to us all.

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Yoga in Bali and the Joy of Sticking with Something

Ganesha in the garden with koi pond

2nd class at the Yoga Barn, with Malika

I arrived in Ubud, Bali on Jan 14, 2019. I don’t know exactly when but it was just a few days later that I started practicing at the Yoga Barn

Yoga Barn class upstairs with Ganesha

My first class at the Yoga Barn with Chris Fox

. The Yoga Barn is one of the most popular yoga studios in Bali, if not THE most popular. The morning classes are normally completely packed with up to 65 students in a class. The check in process can be quite impersonal but I kept coming day after day, 6 days a week most weeks. The staff became more friendly and I got to know the teachers. Some I immediately clicked with and some were quite off putting for me but there are so many classes that it’s easy to keep trying new teachers or stick with your faves. Lots of other students became familiar too and it started to feel like an easy to support routine.

Yoga studio beautifully set up

Yoga during my 2nd trip to Nusa Lembongan

I was so amazed and thrilled those first several weeks at the global reach of all of the teachers; Swedish/American, Jamaican, Spanish, German, Venezuelan, Japanese, Balinese, Canadian, and American. I worked hard to understand their accents and learned to love their varying emphases about breath, movement, rigorous adherence to yoga dogma or listening to your own body.

At first, I was terribly out of shape.  I was tight with weak muscles and hadn’t been serous about my yoga in months. I have a pelvic injury from carrying the twins (called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) that I was ignoring for the past 4+ years. It caused me so much pain but it’s hard to not walk a lot with twin toddlers. So I ignored the pain and as a result, my hip and abs got incredibly weak but I was able to manage most days.  But yoga helps with the pain and tightness so I knew the yoga would help me strengthen and heal my hips, pelvis, and abs.. The first few moths of yoga were so hard. I was 50 years old and I was trying to get my body back in shape. It was so hard. Did I mention it was so hard? Sometimes, I thought I would pass out from trying to keep up with flipping my dog and transitioning to plan and doing my umpteenth chaturanga.

Mt. Agung

Mt. Agung on the way to yoga from Nusa Lembongan

Sometimes all I focused on was how much less flexible and strong I was compared to where I had been years before. And I sometimes I focused on my progress. I pushed myself so hard when I focused on the gap between where I had been and where I was. But that wasn’t healing my hips. Instead I realized I needed to just accept that I have an actual injury. My pelvis is hurt. I have tight and weak muscles as a result. And when I accepted what is, I stopped pushing past the pain and have started to strengthen the muscles. I’ve seen tremendous progress since I slowed down to speed up.

What I see now, 6 months into a consistent and rigorous yoga practice is how casual I have been about my practice in the past. I would reach a certain level and then allow a trip or something else pull me away from my practice. My practice was not a priority for me and my progress was slow, as a result. I see now that it takes time and consistency to become a better yogini.  And by time, that means it might take years to get to where I want to be.  I still can’t do a bind. I can’t jump back into plank or forward into a standing forward fold.  I can’t do any inversion except shoulder stand. But how you do anything is how you do everything. I’d get to a certain level of mastery and back off.

Now, I’m so close to my first bind. So close. At first I wasn’t trying to do a bind. I just kept doing the full expression of the pose at a more basic level and then one day I tried to do a bind and I could feel how close my hands were. It inspired me. Now I try to bind whenever I’m in certain poses, like in Parsvakonasana.

I’m also practicing jumping through and jumping back. It’s fun to try it. I also decided to practice headstands by doing figure Ls on the wall to work up to a handstand. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was so much easier than it had been months ago. I’m practicing with dolphin pose to work up to Pincha Mayurasana.  It’s exciting to do something so new.  And to see

Yoga studio beautifully set up

Yoga during my 2nd trip to Nusa Lembongan

progress. It might take me a year or 5. But I’m willing to give the time. What a sense of accomplishment to finally experience a different level in my yoga poses. I can feel my psoas and QL muscles tighten and give and maybe one day they won’t be so tight.

And something has clicked in me about yoking breath to movement. One breath, one movement. It just wasn’t important to me in my practice in the US.  Another serious work in progress is staying present while on the mat. Now I also dedicate my practice to staying present so I can practice and stay present on my own mat without worrying how well (or worse) others are doing theirs.

Ganesha outside the yoga shala from my second trip to Nusa Lembongan

Ganesha at the yoga shala

And again really, that old adage is so spot on, so beautifully accurate: how you do anything is how you everything. And at the start of my 2019 renewed yoga practice, I was rushing through my poses, breathing hard, totally trying to keep up with my teachers and fellow yogis rather than feeling my way through my own routine.

Now that I’ve stuck with a very regular and committed yoga practice, yes, I’m stronger, more flexible, and able to remember the yoga routines without as many cues from the teacher.

More importantly, now I see that my breathwork is so critical to a focused and loving yoga practice, that my transitions are as important as my poses,

Yoga on Nusa Lembongan

Yoga wherever I go

and keeping my focus on what’s happening on my own mat is far more helpful in becoming a “better” yogini, and a better person.

Recently, as I was noticing that my transitions are so much flowing and I’m almost- so close- to achieving a bind -MY FIRST- and my focus was on my breath. No matter where my family travels, where I can practice my yoga is an important part of the planning process. Yoga is incredibly important to me now and by making it a priority, others see how important it is to me and expect me to take the time to practice my yoga. It’s no longer a negotiation.

I’m so grateful. It feels so much more loving to practice this way. And I’m such a better yogini!

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Moving to Bali – A Brief Overview of the First Six Months

the pool and yard at our first villa
The tropical plants and large pool in our yard

In January 2019, my family and I moved to Bali, my partner, our 4 year old twins and me. We bought one way tickets and had two months of housing booked through Airbnb. Beyond that, we would just wing it.

Because of my passion for yoga, we decided to try Ubud first to see if it was a good fit. We were so fortunate to find a house right near the Monkey Forest and had to walk past by countless monkeys to and from the street.

They grabbed at our bags and at the fruit off the trees at our villa. They were scary and thrilling at the same time.

Baby, held by Mommy
Photo Credit: Dion Hinchcliffe

I started at the Yoga Barn, taking classes six days a week. I needed the walk, the adult interaction, and the exercise. I was badly out of shape and getting back into shape was difficult. I almost wondered if I was too old, at 50, to get into good shape and realized that was a silly question. My children are fours years old. Their Mommy needs to be in the best shape possible, as fit as possible, to help them have a great childhood. And this thought served as all I motivation I needed.

We met our Balinese babysitter, Kadek, who would take care of our kids for most of the next few months, allowing me time to do my yoga, get some massages, shop for food and essentials, and see Ubud a bit. My partner worked in a bedroom while the twins got used to Kadek, who eventually became a trusted and beloved friend.

The kids checking out the rice terraces at our first lunch
Rice terraces at lunch

The first month was spent in Nyuh Kuning, a beautiful small village to the west of the Yoga Barn and south of Ubud Center. The second was in Peliatan, in a very cute villa that had connecting bedrooms and twins beds for the kids. This home also had two part time staff, who did a lot of the cooking and all of the laundry. Such a treat!

We then had to renew our visas, so we chose Singapore to visit. Singapore is not my cup of tea but there some great moments there. More on Singapore in a later post.

Then the village of Mas, and then the village of Lodtunduh for another month. After Lodtunduh, we decided to move to Sanur to allow the kids more access to their favorite activities in Bali, the beach and the indoor playground Peek A Boo.

For our second visa renewal, we decided to head to Malaysia instead. My partner was traveling for business so it was just me and the twins for 2 nights/3 days. I love Kuala Lumpur (KL). What an absolute treat. More on KL in a later post!

Sawyer uses his shirt to hold a bunch of sand, on cloud 9
Sawyer in his happy place, the beach.

Then back to Sanur for a few more months. We’re now about to head to KL on our second visa renewal trip and we intend to get social visas this time so we can stay the remaining 4 months of our trip before we head to Turkey in November and Chamonix, France for December through February 2020. We’ll back in Bali in March 2020, if all goes as planned.

So far, so good.

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