Tag Archives: yoga

to love and to be loved

I am driving all over the Pacific Northwest this summer. I’m visiting my favorite people. I’m seeing famous landmarks. I’m biking, kayaking, running, and hiking. For some reason, I’ve spent half my time in wheel pose. Few things feel better than leaving Utah—pressing my foot against the gas pedal, getting my little engine up to 80 mph, and getting the heck out of town.

urdhva dhanurasana mid-summer

urdhva dhanurasana mid-summer

I try to stay optimistic about living in Utah. The mountains are beautiful, and when my schedule and weather allow, I am in them all the time. I love my job. I like teaching and practicing yoga there. When I meet people, and I tell them I am from Oregon, they always respond by saying, “Oregon is so beautiful!” I always respond by saying, “Utah is so beautiful!” Fate (to which I do not particularly ascribe) seems to want me in Utah. I, however, don’t know why. I don’t seem to fit in there.

I try not to emphasize my romantic life so much, but I am dating now, and it’s true that men in Utah don’t really look at me. And, to be fair, I don’t really look at them. The way they dress, the way they wear their hair, their hands—it all looks and feels wrong to me. And, I’m sure I’m doing all kinds of things as a woman that seem wrong to them. I’ve discussed this with friends, who all think it is a “cultural” problem. Utah men are all divorced, or religious, or violently (annoyingly) anti-religious, or too pious, or the opposite and partying way too hard. I’m none of these things.

In the past few years, this has happened several times: I cross the Idaho to Oregon border and suddenly these beautiful men start passing me on the freeway, nodding and smiling. Like, “Welcome back!” Ejc has commented that in the week I spent with her in the Pacific Northwest, I could’ve “gotten a dozen dates.” And, it’s true. So many handsome men have smiled at me, have nodded at me, have said hello, have made conversation. I look at them and think this is what men are supposed to look like. They look at me the same way.

In the Pacific Northwest, people smile and asked me for directions. I feel like I belong. I might look like I belong in Utah, but I feel invisible. And, despite trying for several years, I don’t think I fit in. I’ve come away from the first leg of this trip feeling like I seriously need to examine a few things about my life and where I live and how I am loved.

our winter of pomegranates

Shortly after returning to Utah after a Christmas Break in Oregon, we received a giant box of pomegranates from Z’s dad, who has an orchard of pomegranate trees in his yard. He sells them commercially, and we were fortunate enough to get some this year.

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box of pomegranates

Because it was the end of the growing season, we received a huge box of extremely ripe pomegranates that needed to be eaten right away, as well as a huge jug of raw pomegranate juice. I made it my goal to eat at least one pomegranate per day. I also did Bikram yoga once a day for 60 days in a row, which included an hour and a half of yoga poses, deep breathing, and detox sweating. Plus, I did an inversion on most days after class for a lymphatic cleanse. All of that was followed by a powerful boost of antioxidants in the form of pomegranates each day. They are especially known as a cleanse for the digestive system. Needless to say, I felt great and didn’t any of the various colds and flu that went around this winter.

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beautiful pomegranate

There is something very poetic about having and eating a box of pomegranates. Pomegranates require patience and attention that is not normally required of food. To gently peal and extract the fruit takes time. Each tiny seed is a delight to eat and oddly satisfying, but the whole process requires attention. To eat a pomegranate, one must slow down. At first, I had no idea how I would eat the entire box. Then, I developed a habit, and now I miss not having them to eat. Until next year, I guess.

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pomegranate seeds

 

on training to be a doula

It’s official: I’m going to be a doula! I signed up for a DONA certified doula training that will take place this spring. Several years ago, I began training to be a yoga instructor. In a few years, I earned my RYT 200 with YogaFit and taught yoga 4-5 days a week for four years during my PhD. I gained a lot of experience during that time and found that I absolutely love to teach yoga. I see being a doula as a natural extension of that practice.

Flickr image by Henna Sooq

Here are some of my early thoughts on the topic:

1)  Yoga practice and doula work are connected. My approach toward being a doula is inspired by my yoga philosophy and practice. Part way through my yoga training, I took a teacher training in pre/postnatal yoga. That training inspired me to consider a doula training because I saw it as an extension of teaching yoga, which is all about helping people connect to their bodies in empowering ways.

2)  Working to empower women. Part of my philosophy about doula work comes from the observation that childbirth is a process that has the potential to be incredibly empowering for women. Providing support for women during childbirth seems like a tangible way to help women access that power during childbirth.

3)  I’m a feminist. Because modern western medicine is mired in patriarchy and sexism, women are far more likely to feel disempowered by their birth experience. Birth doulas work to give women more power in their birth settling, and that’s something I support.

As of right now, I don’t know if I’ll like it, I don’t know if I’ll be good at it, and I don’t know that I’ll have the stamina for it (more on all of that later). I don’t even know that I’ll start doing the work any time soon. But, like yoga, I have a sense that this is the right move for me, even if I am not sure exactly why. I’m taking a step in that direction based on the inkling that it’s the right direction for me.

what the hell am I doing?

What the hell am I doing? This is the question I was asking myself during the late night Bikram class that I rushed to after a long day at work. My belly was full from a work dinner, and I had to sprawl out on the mat during several postures.

Today would be my 35th day of Bikram, but I will miss it due to a long day of work obligations. Since I did a double last week, I can afford to miss a class. Doing a double is like banking one in advance. But, I can practice again tomorrow, and I’ll practice through the weekend. I know I will miss two days next week due to long days at work. But, if I do more doubles, I can stay on track for a 60-day practice. Is that what I want? Is that what I’m trying to do?

Last night, I had to ask myself, as I was suffering in that hot room, what the hell am I doing? Why do I need to come every single day? Why do I feel compelled to complete a 60-day challenge? I have to admit that the answer to those questions is not always readily available. It has something to do with not wasting the 30 days I’ve already completed. It has something to do with a sense of accomplishment. It has to do with feeling good, being healthy, and staying in shape. But, sometimes those answers feel far too vague to offer any real comfort during a practice like last night’s, which, between my exhaustion and full stomach, did not happening under the best circumstances.