ms. fresh fish


Yoga’s not for me.
April 7, 2013, 9:03 am
Filed under: events, family, general, ottawa, recommendations | Tags: , , , , ,

This was the response I gave to my first invitation to a Yoga class. “It’s not for me,” I said. “I’m too hyper. I like running around, and if possible, yelling. Also, I can’t even touch my toes.”

It was my boss at the Department of Justice, Barbara, who had invited me. Barbara instantly was, and remains, a role model for me. She has raised a gorgeous pair of twin women (mere teens when I first became aware of their existence!), all the while maintaining this attitude towards life (including obstacles) that’s just so… joyous. Needless to say, she pushed a little and I eventually gave in.

That first class was not what I would call a success. In fact, I’ve continued my Yoga journey in spite of it. The main reason for my discontent was the teacher’s insistence on adjusting me. He didn’t ask about injuries or how long I’d been practicing. Rather, he just assumed I could go further. Not only did this make the practice physically uncomfortable, but I was also mentally uncomfortable with a strange man repeatedly moving my body without my permission. It got to the point where I would just sit down on my mat whenever he came near me. Subtle, I know.

There was certainly something about the series of postures though, and particularly being still for a while that intrigued me. When another Yoga opportunity came up at the Department of Justice, I cautiously signed up. This experience turned into the complete opposite of my first foray. Cynthia McBride is a retired Registered Nurse with grown children and grandchildren. The woman is more fit than most twenty year-olds. She teems with joie de vivre and exuberance. She’s soft, supportive and gentle. She ran as hard a class as we wanted for ourselves. I began to feel a calm, liberating control over my moods and a physical strength that I didn’t know was possible. While I started out unable to touch my toes, I quickly learned that – wait for it – stretching would help me get more flexible! Astounding, I know.

I began to practice Yoga elsewhere, in addition to my twice-weekly class with Cynthia. All kinds of yoga – Ashtanga was my favourite, but I also loved Bikram and Kundalini. When visiting the in-laws in Bolton, I became a semi-regular at the local Yoga studio. The combination of it and a new-found love of running had me in the best shape of my life physically and mentally. I was accomplishing things I wouldn’t have dared to even set as goals two years before. I’m not saying that this was all Yoga, because that would be a gross exaggeration. It was a certain time in my life when things aligned – a budding career, a new marriage, wonderful friends, a downtown lifestyle, wonderful therapist and some pretty amazing people that were inspiring me and making me think about how I wanted to live my life.

When we moved to Alta Vista, I no longer had (as-)easy access to Yoga. It was also the time that I started a new, very demanding job. Throw in home renovations and one ass-kicking (not the good kind, just to be clear) fertility journey and I was officially off the Yoga wagon. I knew it would help me physically, and help me find an inner calm. But I didn’t want an inner calm. I wanted to be angry for that time; I felt it was my right and my therapy. I always knew, though, that I would find Yoga again. I didn’t know when, I didn’t know how, but I knew I would.

So here we are, Spring 2013. Five years since the move to Alta Vista.

Amazingly, amazingly, we are on the other side of our fertility journey after we were lucky enough to get a happier ending than I would have ever dared to imagine (despite what the NYC psychic said).

I’m also back on the Yoga wagon. I began practicing with a neighbour last Spring who gives lovely, strengthening and restorative classes. One taste of it again and I knew it was my time to do what I’d been wanting to do for so many years – my Hatha Yoga Teacher Training (or, as I affectionately refer to it as, Yoga School).

Today, I graduate from the 200-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training program.

While I’d gone to Rama Lotus Yoga Centre a lot when I lived downtown, I actually chose Rama Lotus based on the very principled approach of calendar convenience. It was the only show in town that allowed me to be off for my children’s and husband’s birthday; I figured it was a sign. Our teachers were, thankfully, very easy to relate to. I was worried, I can’t lie. Jamine and Abe, and Kat – you are each such unique characters, but share in common a generosity of spirit and seeming inability to judge anyone, which is what I’ve learned most from you all. I appreciate so much that you all bring a unique knowledge, approach and understanding of Yoga, but, more importantly, that you all have a good dose of dark/sarcastic humour. I was both surprised and relieved by this revelation.

The program itself was a six-month (every second weekend) mix of physical postures and philosophical study (and debate!). The women (and two very inspiring men who have redefined “masculine strength” for me) with whom I have had the honour of studying, were each on drastically different journeys, each inspiring. There have been weekends that were hard (the Warrior weekend comes to mind, for example) but mostly it has been an amazing opportunity for me to find myself again (what? I’m not just a stay-at-home-mom? WHAT?!) and remind myself how to live the life, and create the world, I want. To say that I’m going to miss going there every second weekend would be an understatement; in fact, I’ve been borderline crying about it for the past two weeks.

Throughout the training, I’ve thought often of my wonderful guides who brought me to this point in one way or another. Particularly Cynthia, who I now realize was drawing on the Yoga Sutras to inform her practices by giving us encouragement for our “off the mat” Yoga practice. She communicated these teachings in such a simple, yet powerful and meaningful way. If it’s possible, I’ve been re-inspired by her and hope I can one day inspire others in even a fraction of the way. (Of note, you can find her goodness through her Infant Massage course, which I can also personally recommend!)

As for my former boss, Barbara, now living the retired life like a frickin’ ad for Freedom 55 (except that she’s more gorgeous than the actors they use), I will never forget how she gently encouraged me with the right amount of deferential enthusiasm to “just give Yoga a try.” I’m certain now that what she really wanted to say was: “Listen, you jacked up little know-it-all, I *know* about life. I *know* about people. And I *know* that you need Yoga more than the person who’s already calm! So get your butt in some comfy pants and let’s go!”

And so, my life post-Yoga School begins. I have no doubt that I will be practicing Yoga all the time, and hopefully sometimes it will even be on the mat.

…Namaste…

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13 Comments so far
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So amazing. What an incredible accomplishment LB. So proud of and impressed by you! I too hope that one day ill get back to being fit and feeling good. This, however, is perhaps the “get shit on track and be a little lazy” time of my life…

Congratulations dear. Well done.

Comment by Marianna Annadanna

Oh, you. You are definitely in that space and will be back to you in no time!

Comment by freshfish

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your blog. Your accomplishments have been wonderful!! I often laugh out loud at your posts, you do have a knack for this! Somehow, I think we were meant to be friends, except a generational thingy sort of happened and I am supposed to be friends with your mom (albeit we weren’t that close in high school and she may not even remember me). Some things you write just resonate with me in ways I find strangely fascinating. Thanks…

Comment by lindamgeorges

I totally know what you mean, Linda. I also feel we’re kindred spirits =)

Comment by freshfish

Thank the goddess… I hate when you think there’s something going on between you and someone else and it’s only you that thinks that … 😉

Comment by lindamgeorges

I ALSO HATE THAT. Also, I always thank the goddess 😉

Comment by freshfish

Congratulations LB – what an inspired journey you’ve been on (and will continue to travel). You are an inspiration. Incredible! Namaste & Sat Nam!

Comment by Amy Brown

You’re lovely! Thank you! And I know that you can relate, and know that I’m similarly inspired by you and can’t wait to swap stories when you get back! ::: much love :::

Comment by freshfish

You are indirectly responsible for my finally finding my way to yoga after proclaiming almost the exact same thing after my first few attempts years ago (“I can’t do “still.” I find my zen through being active”). You introduced me to M, who introduced me to my old yoga centre in Westboro. I haven’t been on the mat that much since my move, but I know my practice of “off the mat” yoga has been an immeasurably powerful force in my life this last year and a half. Thank you for being one of my inspirations, and congrats on your graduation!

Comment by missv234

I can almost follow that thread, but not quite. Either way, you’re awesome, a warrior, and that’s what counts!

Comment by freshfish

I too have been debating the Yoga thing but have never been drawn to it because of it’s lack of speed. I had no idea you were such a fan! Inspiring.
Great entry. I never think to read your blog unless you post it on FB so post woman! You’re a talented writer.

Comment by Taanis

Hey you! Thanks! I’m a super-fan. You would love it too, I’m quite certain. And I don’t say that about everybody, I swear. I swear!

Comment by freshfish

[…] for how this relates to my recent focus on Yoga (teacher training and now continuing my studies with the Makata Living Yoga program)? At the risk of (definitely! […]

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