Friday, August 5, 2011

Shopping Time

Not being a “shopper” when a friend asked me to go with her recently when she wanted to get a bathing suit I was intrigued. You see, it was during the first week of August and we were in Manhattan.

Even without the shopping gene I knew from years of living in the Big Apple that when you go for retail therapy in August it is not bathing suits that you find gracing the clothing racks, it is sweaters, in autumn hues.

However, I am a huge believer in possibility. So, I happily followed along excited to see what we might find. As we stepped into the retail outlet my eyes immediately went to the large round table with the orange, taupe and brown sweaters on it, stacked in all their “Fall-will-be-here-in-a-heartbeat-glory.”

My friend, unmoved by the cool-weather fare surrounding us, sweetly asked the shop clerk if there were any bathing suits she could look at. He said no. They were gone now. Never mind that it was mid-way between Fourth of July and Labor Day, 80 some-odd degrees and sun blazing outside. If she wanted to look at bathing suits they could be viewed on line. Ah, on line where you can literally, virtually find anything at any time.

Now my bone to pick with real time and how it relates to retail time is not news. It’s something I’ve written on, well, time and time again. While I love that it’s easy enough to go on line and purchase a bathing suit it is still a wonder to me why they can’t hang around the stores until Labor Day. Really, they don’t take up half the space of the sweaters.

In a true practice of mindfulness we stay in each moment because, really, that is all that is. To think toward the rust-colored turtleneck then has my mind move to the fall wellness programs I haven’t yet chosen dates to run; the time when my flip flops will need to be placed in the back of the closet, and, well, soup, among other things that begin to swim through my head. Not the kind of swimming I want to be doing during the first week of August.

Do I really believe that the decision makers who wheel away the bikinis, tankinis, halter and strapless one-pieces will suddenly do an about face and keep the beach attire around with the outdoor furniture, citronella candles and grill utensils? Well, maybe. Hey, I said I believe in possibility back in the beginning. So, I’m putting it out there into the cosmos for some others to ponder too. I’m also making the commitment to keep present within myself noting the pleasure of walking barefoot in the grass, floating in a pool and reading outside among the sounds of the cicadas—all because it is August. Being in the moment during the moment will make summer last just a little bit longer. THAT I’ll buy.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Everything Yoga

When I took my first yoga class—over 20 years ago!-there were no tag names to the classes. No Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, Beginner, Open, etc. It was just called: Yoga. And you walked in, no matter what “level” you were and you just got on the mat and began practicing. There wasn’t any fanfare. Heck, there weren’t even any props except for the infamous sticky mat.

The beauty of yoga back then is that you quickly came to understand that it was all about your own practice, not the person on the next mat. It was easy to not compete! The person next to me was inverted faster than I was able to move out of my last pose and see what everyone was doing as a follow-up. Compete? It was all I could do to not sit and gawk, mouth ajar. There was no way to feel this because I was too busy feeling other things as I learned to maneuver the language. Oh, and I’m not even talking Sanskrit. Following the English took a few classes. Downward Dog? Cat/Cow? Baby Cobra? Hmmm……what is the deal with all the animal poses?

Yes, yoga brings up many questions. It also provides answers, sets up shop as a sanctuary, offers an ability to better know and be true to thy self. Yoga offers challenge. It creates space. It shares community. It is heart-opening. It is breath-taking and breath-providing. Yoga is joy. Yoga is healing. Yoga stretches, flexes, holds and releases. Through its’ eight limbs it offers an opportunity to shed, gain, understand, accept and radiate--among many other things that are both simple and not, yet always divine.

Now if anyone had provided me with the soliloquy of that last paragraph as I debated stepping into the studio for that very first class…..well, I may not have ever gotten there! However you are always where you are supposed to be. And since that maiden voyage I’ve had the opportunity to practice in many places.

While practicing in India was, I suppose, predictable, taking a yoga class in Lisbon was an adventure and a delight. Not able to speak Portuguese I copied down the address of the studio and had the hotel concierge arranged a reservation for the class. Upon my arrival I was escorted into the owners’ private back office, offered a seat on a beautiful sofa and provided with a cup of tea. When a co-owner came to greet me, we were both confused. She couldn’t understand why I—an American on holiday-wanted to take a class at her humble, neighborhood studio. I couldn’t understand why I was getting VIP treatment for a lunch time, weekday yoga class. It was a highlight of my trip. So, yes, yoga can take you to new places!

The road to yoga is long and winding—if I may borrow from John Lennon. Two years ago that wondrous little voice inside me (that I sometimes don’t hear/listen to as well as I’d like ) spoke loud and clear that I was going to be teaching this practice that I had come to revere. I am now clear that my journey both teaching and learning yoga will be life-long. Hmmmm….perhaps longer.

For the person ready to take those first steps on to the mat I would easily provide the same directive that I now give to my students when setting the foundation of any pose. Ground yourself evenly, check your alignment and remember to breathe. Good words on and off the mat.