Tropical Run

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While on the elliptical machine I can crank up my workout playlist, and disappear into a world where I am fast, strong and powerful. I can feel my breath, rising and falling, getting faster as it matches the rhythm of my stride. I can feel my heart in my chest, pumping blood though my veins. My muscles are working, arms in perfect sync with my legs as lean in, warmed up after mile one, I move into a faster pace.

I find my inner rhythm, breathe, close my eyes and I leave the gym. I am running in a tropical paradise. The blue-green ocean is to my right and I can feel the warmth of the humid air in my face. The gentle breeze is blowing through my hair, and rustles the palms fronds high above me.  I smell and taste the hint of salt on my lips, mixed with my sweat. I am in my zone. My sneakers mimic the sound of a drum as they hit the hot sidewalk that leads around the harbor. Mile three, I push harder. Picking up speed, I see the beautiful boats, all sizes and colors anchored to their moorings, gently swaying up and down, cradled in the oceans arms.

I circle around, following the harbor trail path and then the sea opens up before me. I am on the beach now, breathing heavily and kicking up white grains with every step. My pace is slowing down as the sand sucks at my feet. I hear the waves crash onto the shore, as my heart slows to match the rhythm of my breath. My run is now an easy jog, muscles tired, my mind clear and focused, and I feel joyous, elated. I gaze up at the blue sky and see the seagulls soaring above me, effortlessly gliding on the wind. I let the sun settle on my face as my jog turns into a walk.  I spread my arms above my head, stretching and reaching as if I could touch blue of the tropical sky.  I stop, smile and take in a deep breath. I open my eyes.

I am back at the gym on the elliptical machine. With four miles behind me, I climb off. Drinking deeply from my water bottle and while wiping the sweat from my forehead, I know that tomorrow I will be back. And once again, I will board my plane to paradise.

via Daily Prompt: Crank

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Everything Is

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Everything is a beautiful mystery. Every breath we take, every sight we behold, every sound we hear.

The subtle humming of the universe, energy circling all around us, purposefully yet playfully riding on currents that we cannot see, but when we tune in, if we choose, we can feel.

The touch of a loved one, the smell of spring grass, the fall of the rain from the sky;  all common occurrences, yet if we are consciously aware, offer moments of profound oneness with ourselves, with others, and with this universe we call home.

Every day life offers us a choice. See the mystery all around us and be amazed, or walk through the hours blinded to the magic in the moments.

Let It Bleed Challenge # 14

Image Credit: Noahbradley.deviantart.com

The Mirror

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Yoga is a journey that you embark on with your whole self, body, mind and soul. It’s not a gym workout, a cardio fix, or a calorie burn. And although Yoga class can, and does, offer any and/or all of these physiological effects, that is not the point. Unity is the point. Yoga literally means “union”.

I know this, but I struggle with it. I want to breathe in healing vibes and know that my Yoga practice has brought me closer to my truest self and one with the universe as a whole, but I also want to feel my muscles burn, and know that I have pushed myself, my body towards being stronger and leaner.

A Google search of Yoga bombards us with images that show thin, lean, muscular women (and men),  with sweat gleaming off of their tanned bodies, wearing colorful, beautifully patterned Yoga outfits.  (Yeah, I just posted about that, Yoga Pants, which lead me to a deeper conversation with myself about this.)

When I was a distance runner in my 20’s, I had a runners body. I was lean, thin and had muscular calves and thighs. When I taught aerobics, I was very skinny but less muscular as those workouts were designed to burn calories. Lots and lots of calories.

So now I do Yoga, but do I have a media defined “Yoga body”? No. I am thinnish, but I’m also a woman of a certain age. I have adult children. I cannot turn back time. (another previous post.)

I know I should accept and love my body.  I know I should feel gratitude that I can still go my gym, rev up my heart rate on the elliptical machine, then hope off, do the nautilus circuit, and then grab a mat and do my Yoga practice.  I also go to the studio and take two to three Yoga classes a week. My body allows me to engage in these wonderful activities. It carries me from day to day with relative ease, and I really do know that I am so very lucky.

But still, when I look in the mirror at the gym, I am shocked at the person who stares back at me. In these moments, after my workout, I still feel like that twenty something year old athletic girl, but I look at the mirror, and she’s gone. And that makes me sad.

And the realization that I am bothered by it also makes me feel badly, shamefully so. I want to accept, embrace and love the person I am today, with the body I have. But our society makes that difficult. The pressure to look a certain way is everywhere from the Victoria Secret commercials, which I despise for the way they exploit young women, to the emaciated plastic manikin’s in the clothing stores draped in the latest size 2 spring fashions.

Distorted body image and eating disorders are a real issue for women and men of all ages.   The statistics are staggering. 

~9% of women will struggle with anorexia in their lifetime

~1.5% of women will struggle with bulimia in their lifetime

~3.5% of women will struggle with binge eating

~.3% of men will struggle with anorexia

~.5% of men will struggle with bulimia

~2% of men will struggle with binge eating disorder

So how do I, and thousands of others, close our eyes to the images and unrealistic expectations of body size, shape and type. We are not all the same and were not designed to be. I know it’s getting better. I know there is a great movement in the media, hollywood and the music industry geared towards encouraging young women and girls to love themselves and their bodies, and this is beautiful and so important. But is it working? I hope so, but I don’t really know.

I do know that I still struggle with accepting my body, and seeing it as an amazing,  wonderful vessel that carries me though my life. I still struggle with the amount of daily food intake that I allow myself, and I still want the image in the mirror to drop 10 or 20 pounds. I do not have an eating disorder, but I also do not have a healthy relationship with food or my weight.

There was a time that I did believe the saying,  “you can never be too thin”.  I now know that is the farthest from the truth. But the challenge I still have is to love the body I see in the mirror. To fully embrace, accept and love my body, not in spite of, but with all of my flaws. Because we all think we have flaws, even the women with the “perfect” bodies who wear the size 2 yoga pants.

I am going to spend some time meditating on this one. I’m going to introduce a new mantra for my silent time, maybe something like:

“I am perfect just the way I am. I feel gratitude for my wonderful body. I love and care for this amazing vessel that carries me through my life.”

Yes. That sounds perfect. Just like my body.

 

 

 

Yoga Pants

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This is kind of a nutty post, but it is what it is.

I wear black all the time, it’s my go to color. I mix in other colors of course, but if you saw me from day-to-day you would know that my primary wardrobe consists of various patterns of black pants, black shirts, black sweaters, long black sleeveless vests, black onyx beaded bracelets, black bead necklaces and silver and black earrings.  I’m sure you’ve got the picture.

The same goes for my Yoga attire. I have two pairs of black yoga pants and two black tank tops. Today I went to a local shop to look for more Yoga pants, since I practice daily at home and attend three studio classes a week. I just wanted to add to my Yoga wardrobe.

The rack was loaded with Yoga pants in my size, and they were soooo colorful. They ranged from hot pink to bright turquoise, but no black. Not plain black anyway. The black pairs had huge white flowers all over them or swirling designs that looked like marble.

They had Yoga pants covered with beautiful pink cherry blossoms, gorgeous blue designs with regal elephants, (I love those elephants), and very cool bohemian style tie dye. They had Yoga pants covered with leaves, hearts, cats, and even glittery diamonds. It was Yoga pant eye candy.

I love these prints. Adore them. I “Like” them as the pages scroll by in my FB feed. But I don’t like them on my body.  I knew this even as I grabbed a few pair and headed for the dressing room, thinking, “hey, they could look okay.” My Teacher wore a lovely blue pair with a flowery design during my Vinyasa Flow class yesterday and she looked amazing!

I pulled them on, one by one, negatively scrutinizing every inch of myself from the waste down. I peeled them off and put them on the hook in the dressing room with a sign above it that read, “Maybe Next Time”.  They didn’t have a hanger for “Never In A Million Years”.

I was a little sad. They really were pretty and kind of cool.  But those designs and colors seem to add 10 pounds to my thighs. I know it’s all in my head, and totally not the point of Yoga practice, (a post for another time….Body Image and Yoga), but I am distracted and disconnected enough from my self during Yoga Class that I don’t need to look down and wonder whose body I walked in with.  That happens all by itself as it is.

So, as much I love the elephants and the psychedelic colors of the bohemian style Yoga pants, my trip to the store only reinforced what I already knew, I just needed another pair of Black Yoga Pants.

I got in my car and headed across the street to the You-know-what-Mart. It was great. They had plenty of black pairs and I was psyched. But then, something caught my eye. Mixed in among the black Yoga pants, I spotted a pair that was dark grey with a small white lotus flower on the ankle. Simple, dark fabric, and cute. So I took a leap out of my comfort zone and I bought them.  I tried them on when I got home and I really like them.

I guess I can wear more than black yoga pants afterall. Who knew?

 

Yoga Pants Courtesy of Google Images.

Suns Warmth

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The earth is yearning to feel the warmth of the Spring sun on it’s surfaced skin.

Today’s sun is bright and lovely, but her rays, still weakened by Springs late arrival feel far away.

The grass is slowly greening, and tree buds are cautiously peeking out to see if the harshness of winter has passed.

The early flowers push their way up through the cold earth with strength and perseverance, seeking Suns warmth.

I join with nature and call out to Sun to come and cover us with her radiant warmth.

I too, am yearning for Suns arrival, waiting for her to burst forth and shine with all her glory.

Let It Bleed Challenge # 13 

 

Disconnected

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There are many wonderful and exciting new challenges in Yoga for me, but the one that surprises me the most is the difficultly I have turning my awareness inward, to the deep places that are my body.  What makes this so surprising to me, is that I never would have thought it would be so hard. I mean, come on, it is my body!

As part of my meditation practice, I do body scans on a regular basis. I intently focus on each separate area from head to toe, and every body part in between and I can fully tune in the sensations deep within.  I can easily visualize energy and light sources radiating to and from any body part that I feel needs it.  When I do my guided imagery, I can easily put myself into any peaceful setting I desire and whether it be the ocean or the forest, I can see, hear and feel myself in these places with full conscious attention and awareness. This stuff is easy for me. It’s Cake. So why doesn’t it translate into my Yoga practice?

In class, I struggle with instruction to find and connect with those very same parts of my own body. As an example, even when instructed to move into a very basic downward dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana, there is the challenge of changing the way I move and connect with myself.  Prior to finding a Yoga Studio,  I had always used my shoulders as my main power source in this pose. While doing my solo home practice, there was no way for me know any better. During my practise with my YouTube Yoga Teacher, I thought that as long as my arms were long and outstretched in front of me, my butt was in the air and my heels were pressed down on the mat, that I was doing pretty well.  How very wrong I was.

Now that I am in a real class, I listen to the gentle instruction of my Teacher and I understand that the power source must come from my hips and legs. (I think).  So moving into Adho Mukha Svanasana, I now try to lift with my lower body instead of my arms, and push back into my legs and feet to find the pose. Sounds easy right? But it is not. I really have a hard time connecting or  feeling myself inside my body to make the correction.  This is a huge problem for me, and I don’t understand why?

Obviously I know the difference between my legs and my feet, or my front and my back, and I can focus my attention on any given body part, get it into my mind and visualize it, but I cannot feel it.  In class, when my Teacher instructs us to either be in our front body, or back body, I draw a blank. I simply do not know how. I scan the body parts in my mind, focus on them and try to feel it, but it’s like there is a huge disconnect. I honestly feel as thought I am not in my body at all during these times. It’s not like I am distracted, or thinking about being anywhere else. I am fully present, acutely attuned and trying really hard to work with this construct, but there is a blockage. A massive brick wall before me, preventing me from finding the deeper meaning of this connection with my body, my soma, my core inner self.

And so this is my Yoga Practice. I know I will get there. I know I will eventually break through and find the other side. And I know that when I do, it will be utterly crystal clear.

In the meantime, it’s a challenge. And I love a challenge. And I love Yoga. So I will keep trying. I will embrace the process, be gentle and patient with myself and continue, with awe, this amazing journey on my mat that I have begun. And I am grateful for every wonderful minute of it.

Namaste

Photograph Credit: Google Images

 

 

 

 

 

Monkey’s Birthday Weekend Share #27

Its good to be crazy Sometimes

Its Thursday at 7pm in the UK and that can only mean one thing

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Thats right, its time for the weekend share. I hope you are excited? If not why not? Get excited right this second. This time 6 years ago I was just going into labour ,  the fact Monkey is still learning to read and to be honest, unless you are blogging about lego, he really doesn’t care, but its a time to celebrate because I am celebrating, so we all might as well celebrate. As its his 6th birthday there is going to be finger dip foods, such as sausage rolls, prawns, chicken nuggets, pizza, chips. Drinks shall be juice or water.

If you have never done this before, give it a go, you lose maybe 30 seconds of your life adding a link and you never know who might see it, I will, my mum probably will…

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