Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yoga Away From Home

As I write this, my hubby is sitting in the Toronto Airport with about an 11 hour layover (barf). And he’s flying stand-by (double barf). I asked him last night if he was anxious about all the waiting and possibly not getting on his flights. He said he was a little, but I think I am anxious enough for him. I loathe flying (especially stand-by) and waiting in an airport for hours. His situation got me thinking what I would do if I had all that time alone in the airport. Of course, I thought of yoga.

For many people, going away on a trip, either for business or pleasure, is a perfect reason to not exercise. There are hundreds of excuses, but it really boils down to whether it is important to you or not. I hope that if we thought about it honestly, we would all agree that our health, and therefore exercising regularly, is very important to us. It’s about commitment, I suppose, to yourself.

I love yoga, as you know, so to not do it when I’m away from home really isn’t a “treat”. For that reason, I bring my mat with me almost everywhere. It is certainly a challenge to keep up with my regular practice while away, especially during holidays. But, I find sneaking away even for a short 30 min. practice is an excellent way to just check-in with myself, re-center, and gather my thoughts.

Yoga while travelling is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your body. It eases cramps and kinks from being in the same position for hours at a time, and relieves any tension built up from the stress of driving, sitting, standing in line or flying. Flying involves A LOT of waiting. Yoga is a great way to pass the time. There is usually plenty of space to find a corner of the area you are in at the airport to do a couple of asanas to loosen yourself up before and after a flight. There are some great practices for travel on that you could stream right to your Smartphone or iPad, or you could just do your own thing.

For many people it is really not practical to haul your yoga mat around with you everywhere you go, especially if you are flying. There is actually a yoga mat you can wear right on your hands and feet. They are super rad as they are just like gloves and socks, but give the same traction as a full mat.

And don’t worry about what other people think! Seriously, who cares?! You’ll be the one laughing when they get a Charlie Horse halfway through the flight and you are sitting back enjoying the ride.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Take Care of You

A friend posted a quote on Facebook the other day that made me think. It read:

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing, even when you’re not sure what the right thing is … and to forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong” - Donna Bell

Parenting is hard. Really, fucking hard. Sometimes I feel like I do more things wrong than I do right when it comes to my kids. I’ve had to forgive myself again and again. It’s a great quote, and I agree with what the author is saying … except for the first line.

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own” … A year ago I would have whole-heartedly agreed with that statement and actually been proud to say that is exactly how I live. A year ago I put my children’s happiness and well-being ahead of my own - not anymore.

When I went to Sadie Nardini’s yoga workshop she held last spring, I didn’t know what to expect. I still thought of yoga as just another form of exercise. Then she opened my eyes. We had a group discussion (which I thought was weird for a weekend dedicated to “working out”) and, with a group made up almost exclusively of women, the topic of motherhood came up. A few of us boasted proudly that our children came first, no matter what. She asked us why. How could that be that you would put someone else’s well-being ahead of your own?! I went home thinking “Oh, she’s not a mother, she would never understand”.

But her words resonated with me and I thought about them for a long time afterwards. I remember her saying, to some degree, “If you are not happy, and well-taken care of, how do you expect to take care of these little people whose lives depend on you? When your children see you putting everyone else’s happiness before your own, they learn that behaviour, and will grow to also please everyone else but themselves.”

I remember saying, shortly after we lost Nate, when asked if we would try again, “Well, I don‘t care about myself, I just don’t want to put my kids through that again.” I actually said that. I don’t care about myself.

I don’t want that for my kids. I don’t want that for me. I started putting myself first after that. I started caring about myself. And you know what? I’m a better mother because of it.

When you take care of you, it is so much easier and fulfilling to take care of someone else. So, yes, it is a choice. What will you choose?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yoga At Home

I attend a yoga class at the studio once a week. I feel that it’s unfair to my kids and my husband for me to go more often than that. So, I practice A LOT of yoga at home. Though it has many challenges, I find I almost (almost) prefer practicing yoga in the comfort of my own home. Namely because I can wear whatever/look however I want. Hell, I’ve done naked yoga in my home before on a hot July day (much to husband’s approval). I don’t care what my hair looks like or if I need to fart half-way through. I can practice any time of day I choose. It’s just me and my mat. Well, sorta.

There is one small (okay, two) factor. A little 5 year old, and a little two year old. They are very interested in my yoga practice, which is great. Except when I’m actually trying to practice yoga. My youngest thinks it’s super fun to crawl underneath me (and stay) when I’m practicing such poses as Downward Facing Dog or climb on my back while trying to perfect Cobra pose. Because I use yogaglo on my iPad, they find it nearly impossible not to touch the screen. As my legs begin to shake from holding a pose so long, I look at the screen to see how much longer I have to go and notice it’s been paused for the last 45 seconds.

So, my advice to you on how to enjoy your practice at home.
  • Do your practice when your kids are busy doing something else. Ie. Playing outside with Dad, sleeping or (my favorite) watching TV.
  • Use a mat. Even if you’re practicing on carpet. I didn’t use a mat at home for a long time, until I realized how much easier it is to get into, or deeper into, many poses with a sticky mat underneath me. I also love the feeling I get just by stepping onto my mat. Like, “Yup, this is where I want to be”.
  • Use props. One of the best investments I’ve ever made was on a yoga block. At home you have the luxury of having all sorts of props all around. Pillows, blankets, belts, even books. Props can help you get into poses you may never be able to get into otherwise. Think Hanumanasana with two blocks under your hands.
  • Always practice in the same spot. I would love to have my own yoga room with a mat floor and my own little meditative knickknacks on an altar, but it’s not possible in this house. Instead, I always use the same spot, so when I go there, my body immediately slips into ‘yoga mode’. Try to find a bright, happy place. Try not to practice in a cold, dark basement if you can.
  • Find a means to bring yoga to you. I used to just freestyle my practice at home, doing poses I remembered from class, etc. Then I changed to doing some practices from a magazine like Yoga Journal. I’ve done a few practices from TV and now I subscribe to and am able to choose the duration of my practice, the style and the level from hundreds of sweet classes all taught by big-time yoga instructors. Find what suits your style and your budget and get to it!
Well, the kids are at school, so I’m off to do a little yoga. Or maybe I should just watch Ellen … J

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. I find a lot of people just make something up spur of the moment, without much thought, so they don’t appear to be lazy or have no ambition. Or they have good intentions, but drop back into their old habits within a couple of weeks.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it a brave step for someone to resolve to change themselves or their habits for the better. I just don’t think it has to wait for the new year to happen. We should all try to better ourselves every day. That being said, a new year is a great time to remind us of this.

So, I’ve been thinking about what my resolution could be, if I were to make one. I know that everyone has room for improvement, and I am certainly no exception. Quitting smoking is always a big one, but a severe case of mono had me quitting in high school before I really had even gotten started (thank God). I don’t think I need to lose weight really, and I already maintain a fairly regular yoga practice.

As I pondered different resolutions people make, I began to think about that wall most people hit a couple weeks in, often stopping their progression in it’s tracks. And I realized that just being more conscious of why they made the resolution in the first place would be a big help for them to stay on track. To be more conscious …. hmmmm.

Yup, that’s it. My New Year’s resolution is to be more MINDFUL of everything I do in my everyday life. To be more aware of my actions towards others. To be conscious that everything my girls hear and see me do, is teaching them to be just like that. To be more attentive to the foods that I put into my body and how they directly affect how I feel and act. To be conscientious as I practice yoga and only go as far as my body will allow, on that specific day, in that specific moment. To be vigilant in treating the earth with love and respect, and heedful of treating myself in the same way.

I don’t expect to transform overnight, nor do I want to change who I am. But I believe I can be better. We can all, in all ways, be better.

What can you resolve to be or do better this year?