Flying and inner peace

Over the years yoga has been in my life.  At my heaviest (200+ pounds) I did yoga. Granted I hid at the back of the class but I did yoga.  At the very beginning I remember how hard just going through Sun Salutation A was.  I huffed and I puffed.  Holding Downward Facing Dog was nearly impossible.  However, there was this feeling I had after every yoga class that I just couldn’t shake.  It’s magical.

Right before my divorce in 2005 I hit my first Sirsasana or headstand.  It was an early Sunday morning class in Annapolis.  We were given time to practice flying.  When I actually got up into it I squealed and then promptly hit the floor.  I remember it like it was yesterday that is how profound it was.   Balance and flying poses are always a tell.  The more out of emotional balance you are the more challenging (if not impossible) they are. I never hit another one.

Over the last year or so I found an organization called Vetoga.  They are an organization created by a former Marine who wanted to share yoga with the veteran community as a way  to deal with stress, PTSD, and other anxieties.   There is something profound about being in a room of people who regardless of service, age or gender are family even if you’ve never met them before.

IMG_3506Then this past summer during a WOD at CrossFit Park City they had us attempting headstands as a precursor to handstand pushups.  From the CrossFit perspective it’s simple: you use your core and you should be able to pop right up into a headstand.  Now as a practitioner of yoga I know better.  It is not as simple as core strength then pop up.  In order to obtain a headstand you have to have inner peace.  Sure, core strength is part of it, but without the inner peace, even momentarily, you will never fly.  Since 2005, I had tried headstand many times, often met with me slamming to the floor in the most ungraceful like thud.  With all of the mountains and clearing of my mind I had had over the summer I figured why not try a headstand.  This was as far as I got, but hey it was progress over the previous 12 years.  While it is not a true Sirsasana which is suppose to be done on forearms, it was still much closer.

A few days ago at Trident CrossFit I was feeling much less pressure.  My internship was over, the paper was almost complete, and a host of other things in my life had fallen into IMG_4218place.  There are still stressors, but I am mentally at peace with the major decisions I have made.  I decided to give it another try.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Sure, I could fall on my face, but I’ve done that plenty in my lifetime.  Then this happened.  Again, I’m not on my forearms, but I’m up and I held it.  This is the truest sign I can have that the path that I have chosen is the right path.

What path is that?  I have decided to go through the Vetoga teacher training.  I have wanted to go through teacher training for many years, but the time was just never right.  Despite being in grad school, despite the stresses from work, despite every reason in the world why I shouldn’t do this, this just feels like the right time.  I don’t handle change well (I know that this comes as a surprise) so the fact that I made this major decision and I am at peace with it means I am on the right path.

I’m very much looking forward to the learning process.  Most of all, though, I’m looking forward to helping others find their moment to fly.  It truly is glorious.

If you want to help me reach my goal, click here, and donate to my teacher training.

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Persistence and expectations

“Do not sit still; start moving now. In the beginning, you may not go in the direction you want, but as long as you are moving, you are creating alternatives and possibilities.”

-R. Costa

I am not a fast runner.  Nor am I an agile runner.  I put one foot in front of the other.  Some days it may be faster than others, but all days it is about the meditative act of putting one foot in front of the other.  As an asthmatic runner who is subject to the whims of Mother Nature I don’t run for time.  I don’t run for PRs. If they happen, great, if they don’t, great.   Every run I go out with no expectations other than to finish.  I am a persistent runner.

Before I even left for Utah I was experiencing pain in my left adductor.  I saw Magic Man in May when I was in Montana and that seemed to take care of it.  Flash forward into June and I was running/hiking my tush off.  The pain started getting to be too much so I went and saw an acupuncturist in Park City who treated my back because they said that is where the pain was coming from (they weren’t necessarily wrong).

Then during the Kings Peak trip the pain in my leg on the way back out to the campsite was so bad it took my breath away.  Luckily WindChime brought Motrin with her otherwise I don’t know if I would have made it back in any decent amount of time.  The pain persisted for the rest of the time I was out in Park City.  Granted most folks would have stopped running, but my time in the mountains was coming to an end and I was not about the give up that time.  I thought it was just sore from all the miles, not actually something wrong.

When I returned I decided something had to change.  Obviously there was something bigger going on that wasn’t getting fixed.  I decided to see a PT instead.  We went through all my old injuries (which were extensive when you add in the number of times I was ejected off a horse) and we started doing mobility testing.  I could tell you all the things not working properly, but I’ll sum it up as this; train wreck.  Basically I have tendons acting like muscles because my physical structure is so twisted that the muscles can’t move the way they are suppose to.  When I told her of all of my exploits she was stunned that I was even able to do half of it.

“Persistence”, I said.

It’s amazing how when you receive small tweaks how all of a sudden things get really freaking hard. My tush has never hurt so much.  Even my abs hurt from one of the deceptively simple exercises she has me doing to active the deep pelvic muscles that stabilize my pelvis.  I may never do another crunch again.

“You’re a witch!” I proclaimed during our third session.  She laughed.

“I’ve been called many things, but I don’t think I’ve ever been called that.  I’ll take it!” she replied laughing as she moved my leg around in the socket.

We started talking about my goals and plans for the fall.  I told her about the 50k monkey I want to get off my back.  “Totally within the realm of possible”, she said.

She asked me about the training run I have planned this weekend  We spoke about the 20 mile loop I wanted to do.  She looked at the elevation profile and quickly nixed that.  “Too much right now.  I’m ok with the miles, but not the elevation change.  We need to get you stabilized first. When you do go out I don’t want you to have any expectations.”

I hung my head.  Dammit.  I said, “I always run with no expectations so that’s nothing new.  What about the C&O?”

“That’s perfect.”

Sigh.  I know she’s right.  I know I have to listen to her.  I want to be fixed for the long haul because oh my how much I enjoy the up and surprisingly, now, the down.

Seeing my sadness of loosing my mountain running this weekend she offered this; “Just think, if you were able to do everything you’ve done with only half of you working with all of you working it should be a piece of cake!”  Make mine gluten free, please.