3 B’s Trifecta

How do I say this?

I’ve lost my yoga mojo.

Maybe it’s just me being in pre-event mode, totally busy, stressed out to the max, and wanting any free time I find for myself (and a glass of wine) to be about being at home.

Maybe it’s the fact that during last Sunday’s yoga class I felt dizzy for most of it. That dizziness coupled with the new focus pose for the next two months totally disheartened me.

Not only are we back to hand stands but we’re alternating that with this:

 

Thank you Yoguini for this photo. And to Katherine who makes this pose look easy.

 

In Sanskrit this pose is called Ardha Bhujapidasana. I like to call it, No Wayasana. Do you see that her leg is held up near her shoulder?

Before we even tried to get into this pose we did Tolasana or Scale Pose:

 

Thanks to About.com for this image.

 

I could not lift my ass off the ground to swing it from front to back. That was defeat number 2. Defeat number 1 was feeling faint every time I did a forward bend. (Yes, I ate breakfast! I don’t know why I was so woozy.)

Once I felt the failure of that pose, I think my mindset was pretty fucked for the rest of class. I don’t know if it is that I don’t have enough arm strength or core strength or both or if it’s the fact that I am bigger than your average yogi. I have a belly and big boobs and they get in my way when I try to get into some of these poses. I am very flexible and bendy but that doesn’t really matter when you have a chunk of chub and a mass of boob occupying the space you need to fold yourself into.

Body slamming aside, I was terrified of this pose. A different kind of terror than the one that overtakes me when I attempt to kick into handstand (I do not like being upside down!). I know that my mind was a big part of the problem. It was the 3 B’s trifecta: Boobs, Belly, Brain, that really did me in.

I even have trouble with this twist pose:

 

You can imagine that a belly might be inconvenient when trying to twist like this.

I can twist. I can even hold Chair Pose pretty steady and long. But adding a twist to the Chair Pose and I’m wavering. Mostly because of the 3 B’s Trifecta.

 

All this is to say, I haven’t wanted to return to class. The class my favorite teacher leads! Because I am afraid that I will leave there feeling like a failure like I did on Sunday. Because in my mind there is NO WAY I will be able to master that pose at this point in my practice. It feels too advanced. I feel too heavy. I don’t feel strong enough – despite working out 3-5x per week.

I am going to try to take two yoga classes this week with other instructors and see if I can regain my yogi equilibrium. If I can light that yoga spark inside of me again. I’m not a quitter but I also hate failing. Sigh. My teacher says that a true yogi laughs when they fall out of a pose because it’s not supposed to be a super serious thing. That there is an element of lightness to the yoga practice. She also says that when she can’t get into a pose, she walks away wondering the deeper reason why. Where is the resistance? That’s the question I am pondering presently.

Where and why am I resistant? Is it body limitations or my mind?

 

 

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Internal Mantra

Despite repeated attempts in class and at home, I cannot seem to get up into crow pose (AKA Holy Shitasana). I feel a deep sense of failure and shame about this.

Crow pose requires balance and core strength and the ability to fold your body into itself. I’m having difficulty getting my knees up close enough to my upper arms because I have this monstrosity in the way. My massive, unsightly, annoying belly.

Once I begin to feel the frustration all I focus on is my belly. I send it angry, hateful messages. I belittle it. I blame it for my shortcoming. I get wholly distracted with negativity and shame. Is it any wonder  why I can’t do the pose?

Um, no.

Yesterday’s class focused on truthfulness about our bodies and what we are capable of. Not that we were the “best” in class or the “worst” in class but personally where we were at, stretching into our own possibility. And you know what I thought about for 97% of the class?

Yep. How I suck.

So of course I kept falling out of poses and wavering and having knee pain, etc. ad nauseum. As the class went on, my frustration grew. I was distracted and comparing myself to others. I went into poses already feeling like I couldn’t do them or do them well.

It’s hard to hold a pose when you’re internal mantra is “I suck”. It’s hard to operate in the world, actually, if that’s what you’re hearing in your head.

As I wrote this post I went back to my mat 4 times to attempt to get into Crow. Each time I could only get my knees slightly on my upper arms. Once it comes to shifting my weight onto my arms and using my core- if that’s even what I am supposed to be doing- I freak out. I don’t trust myself to hold myself. I feel too heavy. I know I am too heavy. All I feel in that moment is panic and fat.

I thought maybe I’d feel better having written this but . . . I don’t. I’m trying to accept my limitations but not be defined by them but frankly, I am doing a really awful job at it. I don’t like being bad at things. I don’t like not succeeding. And most of all, I don’t like being fat. I’m sick of how I let it define me and create parameters for how I live my life.

I don’t know how to reset my brain to stop this way of thinking. I’ve trained it for 37 years. I have had thoughts of giving up on yoga. Maybe it’s not for me, not for fatties who have bellies that get in the way. I am so mad at myself for thinking that. I AM NOT A QUITTER. When it comes to every other aspect of my life, I don’t quit. But when it comes to me it’s an option? That’s some bullshit right there. Some real fucking bullshit.

My current inability to do Crow is a metaphor for how I approach my body, how I live in my body. I am emotionally abusive to my body and based on its size and shape, I have physically mistreated it as well. I have used my body as a scapegoat for years and as an outward sign of my self-belief that I am not worthy, am not good enough, and should be overlooked. I’m a good faker- I can put a stylish outfit together from meager offerings at department stores; smile, laugh and entertain, use my wits and sparkling personality to charm, fall back on my “pretty face” to distract enough to get by- but inside I feel those deep pangs of unworthiness and it’s painful. It’s painful to not accept yourself, to not love your body. To walk around in the world feeling like not enough is no way to live.

I am better than that.

I can DO better than that.

I WILL do better than that.

Just because that voice is familiar doesn’t mean what it says is true.

It’s time to tell myself something new. Something that is actually true.

A New Challenge

Remember back in November when I was freaking out about doing forearm plank and handstands in yoga class? I’m happy to report that while I have yet to kick up into handstand, I did hold forearm plank for one minute. I still struggle to hold side forearm plank and transition smoothly from one side to the next but I can feel myself getting better at it with practice. Handstand on the other hand? HARD. Supple said it herself while spotting me- my fear is stopping me from kicking all the way up. I’m trying to visualize myself in the pose as well as building my strength with daily practice. It could take months or years but I will do a handstand one day. Mark my words!

Once while I was in class I could see into the other room where the advanced class was taking place. I saw these nimble yogis bending their bodies into a pose that I thought I could never in a million years be able to do. I joked about it on Twitter and my friend Amy sent me this:

It would be so awesome if I could actually do this one day.

Last night our new focus pose was announced and I cried an internal “holy shit!” when I heard what it was. It’s not quite the pose above but something like it. It’s called kakasana or crow pose and it looks like this:

Kakasana or Crow Pose or as I like to call it "Holy Shitasana"

You guys? I weigh close to 200lbs. How the F am I going to lift that heft up using my upper body strength?! I couldn’t even get my feet up. I basically squatted and attempted to copy the pose our instructor demonstrated. I could barely lean my legs onto my arms. I kind of laughed to myself, shaking my head and thinking “this one is going to kick my ass”. I feel like I need to do 1000 push ups and sit ups daily to get strong enough to pull this off.

I will keep going. I will keep trying. I will try to tell myself it’s possible to get better, stronger. I will try not to let fear scream out HOOOOLLLYYYYY SHIIIIIIIIT. I mean I used to believe that I could not do plank and now I do it (begrudgingly as it is not my favorite). I used to believe I could not do handstands and yet I’ve given it a go repeatedly and even been successful at half-handstand.

The point being that what I believe for myself is what is possible. And I believe that I can and will do holy shitasana kakasana some day.

 

Photographic Evidence

This is me attempting a handstand in the doorway of our apartment.

I actually attempted this after a couple glasses of wine while friends were over our house Saturday night. I have real life witnesses!

That’s about as far as I can get right now. I’m still too chicken to let both legs go up even if someone holds me steady.

But I never believed I could get this far so. . . anything is possible if you believe in it enough.

What about you? Ever accomplished something you never thought you could?

 

Finding the Good in the Bad

For the first time since I began my practice, I left yoga class last night frustrated and depressed.

I’ve been doing daily yoga practice before my 20 minute meditation every morning at 6am. Some days it feels glorious and I start the day off standing taller, feeling centered and more at ease. Other days, it’s just so-so but I power through and try to find the little moments in my practice that make my soul and body sing. That perfect alignment in a pose and the deep stretch it gives, the connection of my body to my spirit, the feeling of being IN my body whole which is, as I have talked about before, something I wrestle with. Meditation is still a struggle for me but I’m new to it and I try not to let negativity creep in. Being aware of my thoughts during meditation is progress. As much as I would prefer to just be good at it right off the bat, having to work at it will make me appreciate it more.

And there is the crux of it.

Not being good. Not automatically succeeding. Not having it be easy. It’s frustrating and I’m fighting it. Last night I felt sorry for myself. I was internally pouting complete with stomping my feet, huffing, crossing my arms, and shedding tears. Why can’t I do a handstand?! I can barely kick halfway up. Knowing my teacher took years to get up into handstand is not comforting me. I feel ridiculous and stupid. I look around the room at other yogis who are upside down being held up by their partner and there I am stuck on the ground. I hate it. It doesn’t seem to matter that I can now get into unassisted half-handstand which two months ago I had never in my life done nor believed I was capable of. I brush aside the fact that I can hold plank pose without faltering for far longer than I ever thought possible. No, none of those accomplishments matter because I am focused on my failure, my not being good enough, my being the largest person in the class.

Before we even got to handstand during the forearm plank and side forearm plank poses I faltered. It’s sort of how I felt when we started plank for one minute- petrified of failing and falling out of the pose. The agonizing over how my body shakes all comes rushing back to me when I lift into forearm plank. I feel awkward and unsure if I am in the right positioning. I can hold it for the 25 seconds (we’re working up to one minute slowly over 8 weeks) when on both arms but then turning to one arm side plank I can only hold it for a few seconds. I ungracefully plopped my body on the mat, took a deep breath, then hoisted myself back up. I wobbled when trying to turn to the other side, fell again and just laid there on the mat with my utter defeat. In that moment something inside me screamed out LOSER and I succumbed to the bad feeling.

Then the whole handstand debacle happened and by the time we sat for stretching, I was so over myself. I wanted to run off and cry. In one particular stretch we fold one leg in and cross the other leg with the knee bent in front of the folded leg. We put the opposite arm in front of the bended leg and twist deeply. I struggle with this- not because I am not flexible because I am surprisingly nimble and even double jointed in some spots- because of my body size. My god damned belly is in the way! I get so furious at it which is so ridiculous really because it is a belly and who made it? That’s right. I DID.

Ugh.

Today I am still trying to dump the negative thoughts and focus on what I have accomplished thus far. In a little over 6 months I have gone from doing very little yoga to practicing daily at home and 3-4 times a week in the studio. I can hold plank pose for one minute. I can balance longer standing on one leg. I have done an unassisted half-handstand. I have stretched, breathed, and bent deeper than I ever have in my life. I have met obstacles and fears on the mat with grace. I have given thanks for the burn of my thighs in a squat, my arms afire reaching out, the shake of my body as my core strengthens. I have become in tune with my body and feel more alive in it. I’ve had moments of love and acceptance for the parts of my body that I am embarrassed and ashamed of. And I have shown up for myself over and over and over.

So I had a bad practice. I let myself dip into the pool of Not Good Enough. Thankfully that pool is more like a wading pool than an ocean. I can stand here and look back, realizing how that is a milestone in itself. The Not Good Enough Pool has shrunk within me. Again I am reminded: It’s about progress, not perfection.

 

When 60 seconds feels like a really, really long time.

Remember how yesterday I was all, “I hope someday to be able to hold half-handstand for a full minute. Maybe even someday do a full handstand.” Um, yeah. About that. . .

Last night in class my teacher announced the new focus pose for the next 2 months. I should say poses because it’s not one but two, technically even three. They are-

  • More forearm plank held for one minute (because straight up regular plank was so last month).
  • Forearm plank into side forearm pose held for one minute on each side. I don’t know the technical name of this pose as I was too busy freaking out about my lack of core strength and inability to do it. It looks like this:

 

Side Forearm Pose AKA This Is Hard Pose

 

  • And drum roll please! The dreaded HANDSTAND held for one minute.

Groan.

Yes. You read that right. I could only hold half handstand for 30 seconds and now we’re moving right into full on handstands. My initial reaction was to turn to Supple with a look of fear and dismay plastered on my face. Please recall that I have never done a bona-fide handstand, not even as a kid that I can recall. I am overcome with a fear that I will break my own neck trying. I also feel very inferior because I am one of the larger people in the class. I know people probably aren’t judging me but I AM JUDGING ME. I’m working on it because I did after all start off the half-handstand series completely freaked out and convinced I wouldn’t be able to do it and then I did do it for 30 whole seconds and held plank for 60 seconds.

So there, self! STFU.

So for the next two months I am going to do daily yoga even if it’s just for 20 minutes at home before I meditate because I need to get stronger. I need to practice plank and increase my core and back strength. Last night when Supple assisted me into handstand I could only kick my legs half way up. I am comforted with the knowledge that my teacher struggled with this pose for years. If she could learn to do it and not give up and become the amazing yogi she is today, maybe I can do.

More than body strength, yoga gives me the opportunity to go deeper, push farther, be kinder to myself, slow down and remember that if I believe in myself I can do anything.

Remind me of that when I am spazzing out next time.

So That Happened

My sister, Dokey, and I were walking (somewhat illegally) down the street on our way to see Sufjan Stevens at The Paramount Saturday night. Part of the road was blocked off for construction so there was no sidewalk. We were headed in the same direction as the traffic and when the light changed a bus starts headed towards us so we picked up the pace. We were walk/running and I started to panic and Dokey was all “well hurry up!” and I laughed saying, “I feel like we’re in Stand By Me and I’m the fat kid and you’re Gordie.” I was SO Vern in that moment.

You kinda had to be there.

The show was good- definitely more a performance art piece and at points, a sensory overload but still, it was Sufjan which is a good thing in my book.

*****

We carved our first pumpkin together. And by we I mean Mr. Darcy carved it. I pulled out the guts and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Our First Pumpkin

*****

On the fly I decided to dress as Velma for the office Halloween party. I had the skirt and the shoes and glasses. Luckily I found the turtleneck and socks (which fell down all day long) at Goodwill on my way home from work the night before. I also scored a small ceramic dog which Mr. Darcy painted up with black spots and a collar to look more like a miniature Scooby.

Velma Dinkley of Scooby Doo

I am on the F.U.N. Team at work which means we plan parties and happy hours. We created a “haunted hallway” in the office with fake ghosts and spider webs and even a fog machine. Unfortunately with the door closed and curtains hung we were trapping the smoke in that area which set off the fire alarm FOR THE ENTIRE BUILDING. Everyone was forced to evacuate and wait for the firemen to come certify the building was safe for re-entry. Luckily it wasn’t raining but I’m pretty sure the rest of the agencies in the building weren’t too happy with us.

Oops.

****

Two months ago I balked at the idea of holding half-handstand for 60 seconds and yesterday I managed to hold it, entirely unassisted, for 30 seconds before caving. I have, please note, held plank and forearm plank for an entire minute during these past 60 days. When I stop and think about it, I am rather proud of myself. I hope someday to be able to hold half-handstand for a full minute. Maybe even someday do a full handstand.

I went ahead and invested in my very own high quality yoga mat and meditation bolster. I’m serious about my practice and now with my daily mediation, I want to create a welcoming space to devote myself to. I’ve taken to getting up earlier to do some yoga before settling down for my meditation every morning and am already starting to feel the benefits. It’s a peaceful way to start my day and I am grateful for it.

Push Comes To Shove

I am still feeling stuck.

I’m having trouble shifting my focus onto healthy self-care and find myself repeatedly self-sabotaging. I’ve been wallowing in the depths of my negative body image and frankly, I’m sick of it. Sick of the hurtful things I say to myself. Sick of only seeing ugly when I look in the mirror. Sick of it I say!

I buy an unlimited yoga pass each month which allows me the freedom to sign up and cancel classes without penalty. It’s a powerful motivator to attend as many classes as I can. But there are no classes in my level offered on Saturdays (for example) or on  some of the days/times that are more convenient for me. Short of totally changing my work schedule to accommodate yoga, I am forced to attend after work classes. I am much better and consistent at working out when I do it in the morning. Possibly with the meditation class I start tomorrow I will be forced to dedicate morning time to me, yoga, and my practice. (I hope. I need a kick in the ass.)

I love walking and have dropped a significant amount of weight solely doing that one form of exercise in the past. Sadly, there have been a rash of muggings and attacks in my neighborhood making me, the certified self-defense instructor, wary of going out on early morning walks. Especially because I wear my iPod when I work out. It just doesn’t seem smart.

I have slipped here and there with food. Refined sugar and white flour have slipped back in and the results have been rather…bitchy. It doesn’t happen daily but it’s happened more than I like or care to admit. I know those foods make me feel like crap and eat more food than I need to eat and yet I PUT IT IN MY MOUTH.

Sheesh. Get some willpower, Sizz.

Oh and I haven’t been to the pool in months.And I have a coupon for a dance/martial arts class but haven’t found the time to fit it in. Can someone get me 4 more hours in a day?And a personal trainer?

Scheduling is definitely a conflict. At least with exercise like running, you can plug it in here or there because it’s mainly a solo activity. With exercise classes, you have to modify your lifestyle to accommodate them. Despite timing conflicts the bigger issues is I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for losing weight and it’s replaced with guilt and shame. Those are not powerful motivators. I need something to click back into place for me because going backwards is not an option. Trying to fit in yoga, therapy, work, social life, errands, etc. – there still doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. And yet, that’s an excuse because we make time for what is important to us.

So what is it I truly want?

  • To feel good in my body.
  • To feel lighter in my body.
  • To feel strong in my body.
  • To feel energized.
  • To be healthy.
  • To have more options for cute clothes. (Materialistic of me but true!)
  • To feel less frantic and go-go-go all the time.
  • To feel proud of myself.

It’s time to rewrite the master plan and get to it.

Today.

What do you do when you need to reconnect to your health and fitness goals?

Shifting

I start a meditation class on Friday.

Me of the over-active mind and jam-packed schedule. Me of multiple jobs and too many commitments.

Yes, me.

I think I’m the exact right type of person for such a class. I’ve thought about meditating for years. But that’s it- just a nagging thought, an action item on the lengthy To Do list, an additional goal to reach, another pressure. Call me crazy but isn’t that counter-productive to the very act of meditation?

So when I saw that my yoga instructor was teaching a 4 week class, I paid the additional fee and registered. And now my concerns that I will be a meditation failure are swarming my mind. I keep telling myself that a meditation practice is like a yoga practice and it’s about personal progress, not perfection.

Breathe, Sizzle. Breathe deep.

Part of the commitment to the class is daily  meditation. Of course, I read that in the fine print after I signed up. What does that mean for my routine? Because now I get up, feed the cats, make tea, check my email and some of my sites, maybe post a blog, eat some eggs, get ready for work, change my outfit a minimum of 3 times, and then realize I am late for work, flare up into a stressed out crabbypants, hurriedly say good-bye to Mr. Darcy and arrive at work harried. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? Frankly, I am ready for an upset in this pattern.

The wee hours of the morning are my favorite though- that time when the light is just breaking through the sky, when the city is quietly waking up, the tea is steaming in my mug, and it’s just me alone with me. That’s when I will want to meditate. That’s when I will want to climb into the quiet and prepare for my day. That will mean not turning on the computer first thing (or maybe at all). It might mean not blogging as much. It might mean less comments from me on your blogs.

I’m hoping for a shift in consciousness because the way I’m prioritizing the things of my life is not working for me- the me I want to be in the world. Just maybe (hopefully) this new commitment to meditation will help me find balance internally and externally. I’m looking forward to learning how to quiet my mind’s chatter, listen deep, and just BE.

I can totally master that in 4 weeks, right?

(Kidding.)

(Sort of.)

Say 3 Hail Marys and Call Me in The Morning

Internet? I have a confession to make.

Last night marked my return to yoga after a two weeks hiatus.

TWO WEEKS.

How did that “happen”?!

Being out of town for two weekends in a row shook up my routine even though I would occasionally roll out my mat and practice at home (or in a hotel on a towel as the case may be- I don’t recommend a towel as it has zero gripping ability). It wasn’t the same as going to class and having my instructor lead me through the poses. Something about being in the studio amongst other yogis pushes me to be better. Is it okay to bring your competitive nature to yoga class? Oops.

Last night I bullied Supple into meeting me for class so I would have someone to be accountable to. No excuses! No letting the fear of half-handstand keep me from my practice! You don’t improve unless you commit to practicing. And frankly, I missed being connected to myself. I feel like I’ve been slipping into self-sabotage mode more and more lately and it concerns me. Yoga deserves a priority placement in my life because the effect of practicing ripples out goodness. I am more centered, more calm, more alive, more committed, more ME when I do so.

I won’t lie. It was difficult bending into some of those poses. I couldn’t hold forearm plank for the entire minute. I got up into half-handstand but didn’t stay up there the entire time. I tried to push the excuses and the  negative self-talk away and just focus. It helped that we were dedicating our practice that night to someone. I could keep her in my mind and when I struggled, the image of her could encourage me. Because she’s someone who is strong, positive and true. Someone I admire. Someone who faces adversity with a sense of humor. Someone who despite having crappy kidneys and arthritis at such a young age, lives life fully and loves big. Yep, I dedicated my practice to one of my dearest friends, the infamous Kaply. If I were in Kaply’s place, I highly doubt I would handle it with such grace. (Love you, Kap.)

I am blessed to be able to move my body every day. To practice yoga. To be healthy. I don’t honor that enough.

What or whom do you need to honor today?