On yoga and the challenges of playing dead

I have practiced yoga for about 10 years. By ‘practice’, I mean an overall average of three times a month.

My first time, I mindlessly followed a friend to hot yoga anticipating a gentle experience. I felt like an old man. I thought my ankles were going to snap off and spleen explode through my back onto the rear wall.

Now, I can grit my way through classes without embarrassing myself.  That’s the point of yoga, after all.

Ancient Yogis say you can achieve harmony with yourself and your environment by integrating the body, mind and spirit. When it all comes together, apparently you achieve a state of complete inner calm and peace.

I was once caught unaware by the teacher saying ‘wherever you are this moment is where you are in life’. I happened to be repeatedly banging my head on my knee. Without even noticing.

How hard can this be?

A friend recently described me using hurricane as a verb – I ‘hurricane’ around her. It could be nature or nurture but is certainly a way of life. I am always moving. I list ‘adapt or die’ as a skill. I am interested in  a bit of everything and have never put my meetings into a calendar. I like to think it has afforded me a full life, but have enough sense to know I shouldn’t be tortured by the corpse pose. That’s right, the one where you lie on your back like a dead person – I simply cannot stay still in mind or body.

Contributing to the storm in my teacup – I work from home.Two years ago we moved to the armpit of the earth (Port Elizabeth). I tried getting involved locally and lasted 2 months. Since then, I have been working in several capacities for 6 different organizations, all remote. I have done research, been a tour guide, written a debate curriculum and dozens of long, boring documents.  I say yes to everything, typically have either too much or too little and rarely know what’s next.

Give me this instead, any day.

It always seems to work out but has brought out my worst. Without stability, security or a schedule, not only have I become even more chaotic, I’ve learned how to worry. Now, concern about what may or may not happen later has further crowded my bottomless mind.

Amid of all of this, I have landed on a project that could change my life and make a meaningful contribution to something important. But (a big but), it is self-directed and nobody will pay me for it until it is finished, if ever.

I also became a Mom.  On the one hand, children automatically make you present. You don’t have to be a guru to appreciate the moment with a baby. On the other, you lose most of your control and time.

3 hours spent making frog cupcakes for my nephew's birthday.

3 hours making frog cupcakes for my nephew’s bday.

My resolution since Khaya arrived is to become more deliberate in my behavior. Decide who I want to be and structure my time accordingly instead of waking up and riding the rodeo bull. Be calculated, proactive, disciplined and start saying no to things that don’t directly match my priorities. By the way – I don’t get to have 150 of them.

This week I sucked. I fell into a dozen old habits, achieved a million things yet nothing at all and spent my weekly yoga class running circles around the inside of my echoing head.

Do I have something on my face?

Do I have something on my face?

How does an 18 pound human who eats one food at a time manage to dirty 6 dishes, 2 pots and a food processor in one meal? Why can’t I bake wheat-free, sugar-free granola to help shed this stubborn baby weight while interviewing an emerging Kenyan entrepreneur without screwing them both up? What do I need to do to get the internet to work properly without 2 phone calls and a trip to the mall?  And where the f*#! did the week just go?!

I made minimal progress on my big project, never set up on-line registration for this year’s SHLF run, forgot to call my friend back and didn’t bake my husband a cake for his birthday. Yet I checked Facebook every day and watched re-runs of The Newsroom. Oh and this blog is supposed to be about someone else. And I have mango on my shirt.

Do people change? Clearly I recognize the difference between importance and urgency, but how do I re-wire myself to actually apply it? I have read Strengths Finder and understand the value of building to your strengths rather than your weaknesses. But what if your weaknesses are prohibiting your strengths? Being the obstacle to achieving your own purpose is profoundly demoralizing. As is losing the same battle repeatedly.

"To the person that stole my running shoes I work at the gym, fucker, there is real sweat in those! Bad choice asshole!"

“To the person that stole my running shoes – I work at the gym, there is real sweat in those! Bad choice asshole!”

Last year my friend SaraJane decided to lose 30 pounds and wear a bikini. Growing up she was always lovable, but a little chubby and insecure. She has totally grown into herself and become a fantastically witty supermom to 2 kids and a Swedish husband. She started a blog and chronicled her transformation from running only when chased to running on a treadmill every morning. She got frustrated, hated her body, stumbled many times and felt jealous of skinny girls with fancy lives. It was marvelous. Mostly because it was raw, gave a voice to the struggles we all have and showed what an ordinary person must go through to change.  She lost the weight but still won’t wear a bikini. But, she went from eating candy by the bag to becoming a personal trainer so that chubby women feel they belong at the gym. I call that a far bigger win.

All this to say that I haven’t given up and will push on. Given the choice between this entry or nothing, hopefully it is a fill in rather than a failure. Even if I never achieve a state of complete inner peace, this week I will try again to conquer the corpse.

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