Hi and Happy Monday,
I hope everyone had a great first weekend of September. We had a great weekend filled with activities and lots of re-connection after time apart. This month's focus is on pranayama and with the school routine starting up, it's a great reminder for me to practice this limb.
This past weekend I finally had Michael and Melissa back for 5 full days. Sharing them has been the absolute worst part of my divorce. Due to the way our uninterrupted summer time worked out, I haven’t had them for 5 full days in over 3 weeks. Normally, when they come home to us they are tired, amped on sugar, moody and disconnected, but after this long apart, everything was amplified. What I have learned over the past year is that sometimes, most of the time, I need to pause everything I am doing so I can be present to re-connect and give them space. It has caused a lot of stress for me. I find myself gung ho in the beginning and it slowly starts to fade as our time moves along and I start worrying about all the things I feel need to get done. Another part of the stress has to do with the fact that Joe and I have to counter what happens outside of our home, this includes us setting up playdates, getting the kids outside, limiting screen time, making sure they have clothes that fit, shoes that fit, other activities for them to participate in, and feeding them all the fruits, all the veggies, all the healthy choices. The serving of healthy foods are easy, the getting to eat them is just another stressful part along with saying no to chicken nuggets, chips, ice cream, french fries, chocolate, and all the other treats. It’s not like I don’t like those things or think they are bad, it’s that they make up their diet half the time and I feel that I have the responsibility of balancing out their diet. For the most part, I feel like the bad parent, the un-fun parent, the strict parent with all the rules, and it sucks.
Sometimes I stress about this so much I can’t sleep, I can’t relax, I am angry and moody. Sometimes I am encouraged and feel like change is happening, that we are making progress, that we are making breakthroughs, and then they leave for 5 days and the cycle starts all over.
Big breath out, I have this habit of being very serious and very intense about those I love in my life. I forget to have fun. It’s why I love yoga so much, teaching and practicing, it reminds me to lighten up.
My very first formal experience with yoga was at a retreat center in the Catskills of NY, a place called New Age Health Spa which is unfortunately closed. I took my mom to the health spa for a Mother’s Day weekend in May of 1996 or 1997. I signed us up for spa services, massage and facial, along with a laughing pranayama class and some other movement classes. I didn’t know what the laughing pranayama class was, but I knew I liked to laugh, so why not.
I remember the room we went into for that, it was spacious and there were a lot of people. We formed a big circle, more like an oval, and the teacher was at the end. I think the class was for an hour, but this is over 20 years ago, so I don’t remember exactly. I also don’t remember instructions for the class, what I do remember is the teacher said “We begin” and she had a low voice that began to “HA, HA, HA, HA” and she didn’t stop. Some people got right into it, but there were a lot of us just looking around like “what the…”. When I began, the laughter was forced, but within moments something happened. The laughter took over. I could feel my abdomen pumping and my mouth agape laughing. There is a lightness that took over a free feeling that it was ok to be. I was starting to drool a little because my mouth was open and I was “HAing” and I didn’t care. The more I “HA’d” the more amazing I was feeling and soon snot was coming from my nose and tears from my eyes. Not a ton, but just this release, enough of a release for me to notice, not everyone in the room, and yet, I still didn’t care. I felt amazing. When we finished, and I have no idea how long we did that for, I felt ALIVE. Something happened. It felt like I was me, the best version of me, I was able to listen with focus, I was able to speak with clarity, I was able to BE.
If you have taken a beginner yoga series with me, I tell this story on the first night. I tell it for a few reasons. One reason is that everyone will have a different experience in yoga, but ultimately that connected free feeling is what I am hoping the beginners experience through this practice. Another reason is that it reminds me of the experience I had with yoga that first time, how I felt – how the asana practice left me feeling the same way – that that’s why I do yoga.
The remembering isn’t just in the breathing, it’s in the laughing too. The healing takes place there. It reminds me that it’s going to be ok and so am I. That I am on the right path. That we are alive here and now and that’s what matters.
With Love and Laughter,