Milly the Yogi

by Amelia Kanan

Note: This is a really long post but I feel like it’s Okay because I haven’t posted in a awhile.

I ate pizza last night. Not just one piece, either. 3. It was Jet’s. Square. With veggies, gooey cheese and a greasy crispy crust. It didn’t stop there. I also helped myself to a piece of J bread, where I got another mouthful of ooooey goodness. Sure, I had salad but the sugar greek dressing and iceberg lettuce is nothing to be proud of. Although I felt horrible immediately after and when I woke up this morning my stomach muscles felt like I had done 1,000 sit-ups the night before because it’s not used to digesting stuff like that but, guess what? I don’t regret one bit of it. A: I don’t eat like that often. B: It spanks me back into my routine and C: Yoga has taught me to see the positive/negative in everything. It’s not a secret how much I love yoga and although my body literally asks me for it when I go a few days without it, it’s so much more of a mental practice that my soul is not ok without it. I’ve learned lot of things like being happy even when my body is working hard I smile through probably 90% of my routine. I can be upside down, unable to open my eyes due to all the sweat dripping, intensely engaging my muscles for balance and focused seriously on my breath but my facial muscles are relaxed and smiling because I’m so appreciative of the moment. Here are more things I die for in my yoga practices.

Finding calm in activity: When I’m traveling quickly in a flow sequence and my heart is pumping so fast, I can still find the stillness and calm that I can get from a resting pose through my breath, mind and even when I just relax my face and smile through it.

Movement in stillness: Yes, I’m standing, balancing in Crescent and I’m not going to break it because I want to understand the goodness in stillness. I’ve learned I can move even though my legs are still and my position on earth hasn’t changed. Within the deep lunge and with my arms and face stretched high, I can bring it deeper. Arch my back more, curling my arms back towards my heel. And it’s there that I can understand how to remove static from stillness. As long as I keep reaching and looking forward to something, I don’t have to go anywhere to feel relief.

Awe and respect for my body: As a female, I’m not alone in having issues with my body. Looking in the mirror at myself, critiquing as I twist and bend around. Since I began yoga about 2 years ago, it’s incredible how much I’ve not only let go but truly flipped my opinion. In class, in times of physical exhaustion, mangled body positions and strength poses I literally will find my brain telling myself “you’re amazing” and “I’m so happy you’re mine” because I am so proud of the things it allows me to do, where it’s brought me and excited for what more will be in store for us.

Don’t move on to Step #2 if you haven’t mastered Step #1: It’s ok, if my body hits a physical wall. My arms can’t hold my legs in a certain way, I can’t take a particular bind or I can’t bring myself into the third and final step. That doesn’t mean I’m not strengthening and teaching my body how to prepare for whats’ next. I can be in step one. Feel it. Understand the lesson that exists within it. I can test my strength and maybe find out if there’s any mental ish that’s debilitating my progression.

It’s Okay to not feel Okay: Being a person of “the arts”, I often have to deal with rejection, being pushed down and hearing phrases like “you’re crazy”, “Ehh, I don’t get it…” or “That’s not funny”. To some, it appears that I don’t have any shame or a lot of confidence but the truth is…I get so embarrassed. A lot. (Side Note: Just last week I was telling a story and asked the person in the middle of my sentence for a hug because I began to get a wave of self humiliation) Here’s the reality though, pose in yoga and in life can be uncomfortable, filled with pressure and difficulty. Instinctually, you want to close your eyes to it, leave it, move on to something else or just collapse but what happen when you just sit with it? Feel it or push more into it? There will always be a relief, movement will eventually come but there is no comfort without discomfort.

Let Knowledge be your goal rather than Success: When you do collapse or hit a physical wall, bring yourself to the wall and sit there. Is it balance, strength or are you neglecting a part of your body that could help in this process? As you try again, keep rotating, experimenting in your form, try new positioning and with your mindset being focused on learning the process as opposed to your body wanting to hold the pose.

The physical is nothing without the mental: My body is fully capable of standing strong for a long period of time in a half moon pose with the bind and then transitioning into Dancer’s Pose without falling however, the minute my mind begins to brag, compare and judge the person next to me, I fall. My mind needs to be humble, calm and positive in order for my body to be fully successful.

Just because you master something doesn’t mean you’ve gained everything you can from it: There are lots of poses in Vinyasa that can feel very routine and easy however, there is always a way for you to push harder, twist more, lengthen more and learn something new. You have the responsibility to not make your routine feel monotonous.

Appreciate everything each moment gives you: It’s easy to think “Ugh, I can’t wait for the sitting poses” or “I wish we were doing balancing poses instead of these fast paced sequences”. I’m holding a balancing pose or lunge and the one leg that’s holding me up is burning so I close my eyes and breathe deep, enjoying the fact that the movement has stopped and I can catch my breath. Appreciate the pros and cons of every place I am in life.

Don’t worry about everyone else: This is a huge one for me. I have been guilty of comparing other people’s timelines, abilities, strengths, talents and gifts to my own. When clumped into a group of people, my initial insecure instinct is to assume that I’m being judged. This forces me to go above and beyond to show people that they don’t need to look down upon me and that maybe, they’re the ones that are less than me. Well, that’s bunch of defense mechanical bullshit and although it pushes me in the moment, it’s stunting in the long run. When I first began my vinyasa journey, it was really hard for me not to be concerned with other people’s form, pose, flow speed, perfect butt, cute matt/towel, lack of sweat and blah blah blah. I’ve been forced to learn this lesson as of late thanks to the pulled tendon in my leg/butt. Hanumanasana (Monkey King Pose aka-the splits) used to come easy to me however, it’s completely undoable right now. Even just the beginning steps into it are painful, in the wrong kind of way. So now, when Hanumanasana is a part of the flow, I do Pigeon Pose instead. I don’t think about how the whole class is doing it, except me and how I wish I could tell them how I am able to do it, usually. A: No one cares. B: I’m still stretching and working. and C: I’m learning the lesson I am supposed to be learning.

Wow. How’s that for a Monday post? Namaste.