Actually I had a lovely time on Saturday as well so I’m in for a fortnight of wonderfulness. How grand would it be if each day we spent well gave us a credit for the week ahead? Like a sort of happiness coupon.
The more pragmatic of us would point out that we could alternatively just live each day well and forget the coupons already. Yes. Of course. That would be an easier way wouldn’t it? So how many of us do that?
If I had to say what exactly it was I did over the weekend that filled me with such bliss and contentment, I’d struggle to mention anything super exciting. It’s always been those tiny little moments that sort of creep up on me. Which is such a relief because that means during the weekdays I can just keep myself open to more of such treasures.
The heroine of a favourite book of mine had a ritual with her best friend called “White pebble or black pebble”. Each day they would fill an imaginary jar with white pebbles for anything wonderful that happened and black pebbles for anything not so. At the end of the day the women would ring each other and announce whether it was a white pebble type of day or a black pebble one. Ever since reading that book I keep a jar in my mind, a tad dusty as I don’t tend to it all the time, but I take it out more and more these days and check how many white pebbles I found during the day. The occasional black pebble shows up but I try to be less diligent with those.
Here are some of my white pebbles this weekend.
It’s important to be yourself!
Serving suggestions are not serving rules.
“What is up with your hot brother?”
Usually I teach during the weekends, which I adore, but it was nice for a change to have my entire morning to myself to awaken very lazily with a coffee. After a huge yawn whilst shuffling these cards I drew (I kid you not) the Awakening card. Do you believe in coincidences? Or destiny? Can we have both?
I’ve gotten really fascinated with geometry, I’m always seeing these fancy circles and squares showing up on weheartit and so on. So I gave it a go this weekend. Let me tell you, there’s more than one way to join the dots. Like a zillion ways. Figuratively and literally. Aside from getting a little cross eyed at certain points it was really absorbing. An interesting way to meditate if you can’t stand not doing anything at all. I think there are still more dots to join.
The power went out in our building, so we were trapped for a while. Luckily I had already made a coffee so fine by me. No harm at all. Until I felt ready for a second coffee. But then we figured out that the power inside the bedroom worked. We’re problem solving people. Hehe.
No I did not care to check if the washing machine had any power. Priorities.
Would you believe I have not had rice crackers until now since I was at uni? The first time around? If you want the math for it, that would be almost 15 years ago. Far out. And after I merrily ignored the serving suggestion and made my way through just about the entire packet I realised why I didn’t buy rice crackers anymore when I wouldn’t stop bouncing off the walls afterwards. And then I was insanely thirsty for hours. No original flavour for me thank you very much. Gimme the BBQ. It weirded B out to see snacks in the house AND to see me eating them. I don’t buy snacks because that was how I was brought up. We only got them if we were having a party. I think I will revert to that rule. But it was a nice treat x 4 serving sizes.
Oh, and I also had a visitor drop by during the afternoon to see how my drawing was going. Birds drop by from time to time and I always feel like it’s a good sign. My mood always lifts when I see the flutter of wings even for the briefest instant.
Eventually the power came back on and we watched a bit of The Other Woman. More than anything I think we like Leslie Mann’s voice. And I like the expressions Kate Upton makes, she seems so goofy. Oh and I felt really happy about the dinner I threw together. To counter ALL the rice crackers I ate. When everything is really fresh, not a lot needs to be done to make a delicious meal. And a cool salad is so good for balmy nights. And minimal clean up!
It’s pretty straightforward you just need to mix together a dressing, tear up some leaves, and add anything else you want to make it a filling meal.
So how was your weekend? I hope you had a wonderful weekend and a week ahead filled with magical white pebbles. xx
I know, I have been away for so so so long. I missed you though! I will totally update you on what I have been up to one of these days. But, let’s get down to business, yoga business.
Please can we pretend I said that in a Morgan Freeman type voice.
Are you wondering if I was away doing a Masters in how to be even more cheesy? Maybe I was.
ANYWHO, I promised I would upload a yoga video for the Not So Flexible.
Let’s make it a series!
High five to those of you who, like me, roll out of bed and are almost deafened by the sound of creaking as you stumble around the place. And you also struggle with identifying the difference between words and grunting. Oh, aaaaaand you feel incredibly un-coordinated and any kind of activity that involves looking graceful and fluid just leaves you standing there on the spot, blinking with a thought bubble hovering over your head that goes, “NOPE”.
Enter: a very short session for easing into the morning. This little segment takes about 2 minutes so you don’t need to worry that you will lose your spot in the queue for the shower/someone will finish all the coffee. Well done, by the way, if you have a queueing system for who gets to use the bathroom next. We sort of have an “I’ll scissor-paper-stone you for it”/arm wrestle system.
So, ok, not really a system.
Shall we get moving? I didn’t bother with an introductory greeting (who can speak coherently in the morning?! besides, we’ve already met) so be prepared to just hop straight to it.
Super important: Please be kind to your body, practice safely and I really hope you enjoy! No judgement here if you head straight back to bed with your coffee/tea/cat/dog/human/all the above/etc afterwards. That’s just awesome!
If you’re already at work for the day, then just give this a go when you get home. Ixnay on the changing into PJs in the office, unless you work at home, then, cool, go nuts!
Chat soon X
If you’re anything like me, it doesn’t matter how much stretching happens at night, when you wake up in the morning you can just about hear everything creaking as you start to move around… into the kitchen to make coffee. Ha!
So here’s a really short easy sequence you can do to help you ease into the day. Whilst the coffee brews. No special equipment needed and you can do it in your pyjamas.
You can repeat this sequence as many times as you like just be sure to take it slow and gently to give your body a chance to awaken. Please please please listen to your body, practice safely and enjoy!
Thanks so much for watching. Please let me know if you enjoyed that and if you have any special requests, comment down below. X
Sorry, I’m a little deaf these days, there’s constant hammering away in the apartment above my head since we last chatted. They’re doing it to drive me crazy renovating.
Hence why, I still haven’t uploaded that video I have been promising! I need to construct a sound proof room first which reminds me of the old music room at my school. I would go there every lunchtime for piano lessons. The entire room was wall-papered with egg cartons and painted blue to accord with the school colour. The effect was, uh, very crafty and three-dimensional. But aside from being quite visually effective the egg cartons really didn’t work very well.
Which brings me back to where I am seated right now. It sounds like the people upstairs are diligently tinkering away with teeny tiny hammers and chisels at the ceiling above my head. Which makes me imagine they are either chiseling a statue or they are trying to tunnel their way into my apartment.
Am I annoyed? Sort of, I guess I’m half laughing at the imagery and half wishing the noise would stop. I am distracted by the incessant tunnelling hammering. That’s what is getting me, that I am allowing myself to be distracted and affected by this external activity. It is beyond my environment so why is it having such a huge impact on me?
It is just like in yoga classes, if you have had the fortune to experience, when a person, perhaps on a mat next to you is a REALLY LOUD BREATHER. Really, really, really loud. There is silence all around, except a sort of hum of coordinated movements and breathing… then this fantastically pervasive rasping sound emanating from the person next to you. Has that ever bothered you?
Or how about if the lady next to you in her struggle to do any postures is blustering and swearing away. “Oh geez. Oh !@#$%^&*#@#@***” on and on and on she goes for the entire ninety minutes. She hangs in there for the full class. She has paid her entry fee and by *&$#@ is she gonna get every last #$@&* minute out of that @#$%^&* session.
What about the self-appointed class joker (hey, why did you look at me for?) on the other side of the room, who takes it upon himself, everytime the teacher claims says “One more breath here” to do a countdown “Five, four, three, two aaaaaaaaaand ONEEEEEEEEEE!!!”
EVERY. TIME. No one laughs after the first time. But he persists.
Or what about the person who is just too sweaty? Or the showoff? Or the two ladies who won’t stop talking in the back? Or the person who doesn’t smell nice? Or the person who is wearing hardly anything and you can see right up their bandha?
The list could go on and on ad nauseum.
Well? Do you recognise these people? Do you think to yourself, “What classes do you attend, and why haven’t these people been thrown out?!”
Well, these people don’t just go to yoga classes. They also show up in your life. They’re in the supermarket, at your workplace, at uni, they’re on the bus with you, the train. Yep, sometimes they’re in the guise of your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, best friend, mum, dad, or child or brother, whatever.
And they’re doing something and it just bothers the bejeezers out of you.
What is a ‘bejeezer’? You don’t even know. You’re just so annoyed right now you’re creating new words. Oxford Dictionary look out, coming soon your way, get ready to take notes.
Oh, and of course you’re not being nitpicky. It’s them. Right? It’s always them.
Do they have to do that? And in that way?*
YES THEY HAVE TO. And the more that it bothers you, the more they have to do that.
If you have ever experienced this then my suggestion is below. It seems to snap me out of my egg-cartoned mindset quick-smart. What works for me, might work for you. If you have never experienced this, well done, I guess you can carry on reading for entertainment?
Here’s the solution: Change your mind. Leave the world alone. Your world will evolve with time to fit the shape of your mind. You can make it as easy or as hard as you like, as I like to tell my students about our yoga practice. The choice is yours. You can struggle, or you can float. You do get to choose. You always have a choice.
Take a good look at these supposed ‘challengers’ and be glad they exist. They’re your true teachers. You will learn more from them than a workshop with a ‘celebrity’ yoga instructor. These are the teachers that teach you how to live. And they do it so effortlessly.
all your fellow
humans and name
– Erich Schiffman
I have met all sorts of teachers in yoga classes and I have to say over the years I still catch myself feeling exasperated and yes, distracted! It happens less and less but it still happens sometimes! Sometimes it’s the small, seemingly insignificant things that trip me up the hardest. I forget and think, “I am beyond that point. I love life. I love everyone. I’m fine.”
And then bang! I totally walk on my floaty cloud feelings into that trap my mind has set for me. I’m no longer practising yoga when that happens. I’m in somethingsomething-asana but it’s just a shape my body happens to be in. Because at that point, I have chosen to be more important than anyone else, more deserving to be there than anyone else and have decided that my comfort is more important than the comfort of anyone else, there in that class room. How egotistical does that sound when said out loud?
Instead of saying, “Oh, they’re so ANNOYING” but instead to phrase that as “I’m more important than they are.”
Yeesh! No, we have left yoga at that point. We’re just sweating and bending and stretching.
No yoga there. Just ego.
Oh, beware the ego trap! It is there all day everyday. There will never be a day when you reach nirvana and the trap is no longer set for you. You need to be on alert at all times. Be present in the moment. Live mindfully and completely in each moment. Question yourself.
And so, this is what I mean by
YOGA ALL DAY.
You do have to shout that a little at yourself, to get it through, past that ego trap. It has egg cartons painted in a hideous colour to distract you to the point of rage from realising that you have fallen deep inside. You can hear the sounds of life around you, but all you can see are those cartons. You are blind to the lesson in front of you.
There is far more to yoga than just yoga as I say. Our ability to do the splits, to touch our toes with our legs straight, or to stick one leg behind our head or stand on our head will not insulate us from the lessons of life. The ability to do any of those things are just acrobatic.
The goal of yoga is to cultivate an attitude of equanimity and one of compassion.
We’re all in this together, some of us swearing away, some of us panting loudly, some of us excitedly talking, some of us silently and we’re all chiseling away at this unshaped rock to make sense of our life purpose and find our way. When we look to our left and right and see we’re all trying in our different ways to do the same thing, live our lives any which way we can, the scales fall from our eyes, and the sounds and activities of life become what they always have been. Just a soundtrack of life.
Don’t get distracted by the soundtrack to your life.
Breathe. Practice your yoga all day. Know your fellow humans by name. Thank your teachers.
And between you and me, I don’t know what it is, maybe the renovations have finished upstairs, but I can’t hear any noise anymore. It is perfectly silent. All I can hear is the sound of my breathing and the sound of my fingers tapping on the keyboard.
Thank you thank you thank you. x
*Sometimes we are those very same people. We may not think it, but someone somewhere may be looking at us with disdain and think, “Oh go somewhere else, will ya?” How hurt would we feel if someone said to us that what we were doing was supremely irritating to them? Did we even aim our actions at them? Nope! We were just doing our own thing, right? Funny, that. Hmm.
Alright, alright, I hear you. Time to talk about yoga.
Let’s start from the top and talk about the REQUIREMENTS. Whaddya need and whaddya need to do.
You need your body. Check.
And just enough space to swing your arms around you. Check.
That’s it! You’re golden. Good to go.
There are no true requirements or criteria. Anyone can do it. You, me, Dupree, anyone.
People who learn that I teach yoga will usually say one of two things.
One: “Can you teach me? I’ve always wanted to learn yoga.”
Two: “Oh… I have always wanted to learn yoga. But you know, I’m just not flexible enough,” sometimes with an added “and now it’s too late.”
Somewhere along the line, as yoga has become more known, this criteria of possessing existing flexibility has fluttered into existence. But is there such a requirement?
No, of course not!
You won’t be turned away at the doorsteps of a yoga class if you can’t bend over and touch your toes with your legs kept straight. There’s no secret handshake to gain entry. There is no audition to become a student of yoga. A teacher won’t ever say to you, “I’m sorry. There’s just nothing we can do here.”
Over time with practice, one will start to see improvement in flexibility. But one does not need to be anything in particular to begin with. One just has to want to.
I remember when I was in primary school and failing miserably at a fitness test. Alright, timeout for a bit so everyone can have a good laugh. But no, seriously, I was really terrible at this test.
One component was the flexibility measure, and you had to plant your feet flat against a wall, and reach your hands along the floor towards feet whilst keeping your legs straight. I was truly a sorry sight. I will never forget it. I could not get my fingertips beyond my knees. I had the P.E. teacher trying to help me along, just about climbing onto my back to sort of wedge me closer to my feet. No one had ever seen anyone so hopeless. I mystified the entire staff. So young. So stiff. How is this possible? What does this mean? She is CLEARLY not trying.
Thinking about it now has me laughing so hard. The look on the teachers faces.
Some of us are born naturally flexible. I was not one of those. I have a reasonably bendy back but I still have those days when I reach for my toes and I feel like I have a metre extra of leg length that I could really have used in my torso area. So if we’re talking about candidates for yoga, I would not be what the general populace would consider ‘yoga material’. Have heart, friend.
Have you ever seen that cartoon of Batman and Robin? It pops up from time to time on social media. The one where Robin starts to say, “But I’m not flexible enough…” and before he completes his sentence Batman has slapped Robin so hard across the face his head must be spinning, yelling, “That’s why you do yoga!” It’s obviously a joke and completely not appropriate for any of us to walk around town responding to people Batman-style. We’ll talk about yoga and the practice of non-violence another time. Baby steps, hey.
I think it is great to encourage people to find what is good for their bodies but one needs to walk the line and not transform into a vigilante in the process. Health vigilantes can be especially tiresome. Especially when they have just made the transition into health-lover. Probably because they have all that extra newfound energy. Quite often, a person who has just discovered how incredible they feel after modifying their lifestyle to include working out, eating well, yoga-ing and so on, will then start to hound everyone in their circle to do the same. No one is safe. NO ONE. Everyone will be forced to listen to the benefits of spinning and kale smoothies.
If I had a dollar for everytime a pal of mine would bemoan their partner constantly nagging them to do whatever life-changing activity they have discovered, I’d have a quite a bit of money.
“He loses 5 kg and now all day long he keeps telling me I should start running. UGH.”
“If she mentions the gym one more time…” (voice fades to ominous silence)
“He just isn’t listening to me! I don’t want to!”
That last one is especially telling. It’s about choice.
I learnt a long time ago that people will do what they will do when they want to and when they are ready to. And not a single microsecond before that. I’ve been blessed to have some incredible students, all of whom have heard some variation of the “You can’t make people do what they don’t want to do, no matter how good it is for them” speech. But it’s hard, I know, in the aftermath of a practice session, all those lovely endorphins and whatnot floating around. Sometimes one just can’t help wanting to share this little secret under the tip of their nose.
“If only they knew!” I can just about read the thought bubble over their head.
That’s usually when I find myself wedged in that awkward conversational space between two people, one of whom is a student of mine, feeling glorious after Savasana (it’s the one where you lie down and look like you’re asleep) and the other, a friend of theirs and not a student of mine. Student will pipe up, apropos of nothing, “You should learn yoga from Dom!”
By the way, my name is Dominique. Hi.
Non-student will look extremely apologetic and say,”Oh…. I would. I really would. But I’m not flexible enough.”
Before I can open my mouth to express understanding and try to turn the conversation to some other topic, Student will exclaim, “That’s why you should do yoga!” Student then turns to me for confirmation. “Am I right? Right?!”
I can just about see the Batman light glowing in the distant skyline. We just need a cape, and a poor disguise and we’re there.
(Who is Batman even kidding by the way? I’ll just cover my eyebrows, and wear this pointy eared thing and I will look totally different. Him and Superman with the glasses. We are not fooled. We are just being polite and going with it.)
Where was I? Awkwardland, yes. Gah.
What my student heard was, “I have been given to understand that one must be flexible to practice yoga. I am not flexible enough, therefore, I cannot do yoga. Such is my life.”
What I heard was, “I don’t want to. I’m trying to be polite and not offend anyone. Here is a reason so we can all move on. Away from yoga. Please. Let me live my life.”
That’s what I heard. Should I take what the person has said at face-value? Possibly. But what I have learnt is that a person who has been wanting to do yoga, but felt they were not flexible enough, would have immediately turned to me and asked for themselves, “Can you still teach me? I’m not flexible.”
If that question had been posed to me, then I would say this:
You do not need to be young, flexible or physically able. It is fine if you do not have a background in gymnastics or ballet. Perfectly ok.
It doesn’t even matter what shape or size you come in either. An acquaintance of B’s once turned to him, after meeting me, and exclaimed with relief, “I’m so glad she isn’t thin! I thought I was too fat to do yoga.”
So if you were thinking something similar, I hope that answers that.
You don’t even need to be fit. There is really only one requirement:
You must not, absolutely cannot, be lazy.
You just can’t.
” Every one can do yoga, young, old or sick people. Only lazy people cannot do yoga.” R. Sharath Jois
And, as long as you aren’t lazy, you can do yoga.
We can even break the idea of laziness down to choice. A person who wants to and chooses to do yoga will never ever be too lazy to do something about it.
It is not so much can you or can’t you, or may you, but will you or won’t you. Do you want to?
If you read this, and thank you by the way, but if you read this, chances are very high that you want to do yoga. Chances are extremely high that you are not lazy. Therefore, you can do yoga. Please never let yourself worry about the need to be flexible enough anymore.
Are you still worried about the flexibility thing? Or the not fit thing?
Have no fear, I’m editing, hopefully in time for the weekend, a video of a short yoga practice you can do no matter how inflexible you are.
If I can get the spinning rainbow wheel to stop turning, that is. Talk about will it or won’t it.
For starters, here is what you can do. Hop up and walk to your mirror. Look into your reflection and say the following:
“I am clever and capable of doing anything I want to. I want to do yoga.”
By the way, the above works for anything. Not just yoga. You are never not enough for anything. You are just the right amount of you to do whatever it is you want to do.
In anticipation of tonight’s Mardi Gras parade and finding out what the anthem will be this year, here is an anthem of another sort that I adore.
Ego. With a capital E.
To my Ego, my Pride and my Hubris. I hope you like this song. I release you happily. Thanks for everything, you can go now, and take my Fear with you.
Without you, I am free now to create.
(Note: This used to be a link to an awesome remix on Soundcloud, but since then that link has changed. Until I find it again here is the original version which is still awesome.)
My favourite lines:
I held you in high regard, you were an answer from God.
When I used to love youuuuuuuuuuuu. There was nothing that I wouldn’t do.
You’re all take and no give as the expression goes.
But I’m tired of living this life. It’s getting harder to justify. I realise I just don’t love youuuuuuuuuuuuuu. Not like I used to.
The numbers just don’t quite add up.
I can’t afford you.
You’re just in the way. You don’t help me, you harm me. What’s the value of holding onto you and putting you first? Zero. Nil. Nada.
The most upbeat breakup anthem I ever loved. And shouldn’t these type of tunes always be anthems? We’re picking freedom from a toxic love, and that’s no kind of love at all.
Maybe, it’s me, maybe i bore you No no, it’s my fault, cause i can’t afford u Maybe baby, Puffy, Jay z Would all be better for you Cause all I can do is love you
Baby when I used to love you (There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do) I went through the fire for you, Did anything you asked me to But I’m tired of living this lie It’s getting harder to justify I realized that I just don’t love you Not like I used to
HaLa ala la HAla ala la
Maybe, I should rob somebody So we could, live like Whitney and Bobby It’s probably my fault, my bad, my loss But you are, above cost Cause all I could do was love you
Baby when I used to love you, There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do I went through the fire for you, Did anything you asked me to. But I’m tired of living this lie. It’s getting harder to justify, I realized that I just don’t love you Not like I used to.
Hala hala hala Hala hola hola
Do you remember when I used to love you (I used to love you) Baby no, not any more, love you (but I don’t love you) Ooohhhh, I love you (I used to love you) And you’re gonna miss me now
Baby when I used to love you There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do, I went through the fire for you, But I’m not gonna play the fool No I can’t live this lie, and I can’t justify, And I can’t make up my life Cause I don’t love you Not like I used to do Not like I used to do Not like I used to do
Hola holla holla Holla holla holla
(I used to love you) (I used to love you) (I used to love you)
I bet you miss me now Cause I don’t love you
When I let go and release what is no longer serving me, I make space for something better. Choose Love. What’s your fave anthem? And what are you releasing?