When we talk about the necessity of self-care, two images come to mind for me: the flame of a candle, and a pitcher of water. The flame of a candle burns out if it is not transferred to another, and a pitcher of water goes empty from filling other cups if it is not refilled. I have to remind myself that I am not the only flame around, or the only pitcher – that I don’t have to do everything, and I can’t. Especially during weeks like this one, while as some of you know, I’m recovering from a car accident. Practicing gentle asana as I heal from my concussion and whiplash is a real lesson in not attaching to what my practice looks like, but being present with what it feels like. I’m lucky to have worked with private students with similar restrictions before, and the practices I’ve created for them are becoming my own as I move and flow without putting my head below my heart. It’s been an invitation to be gentle with myself, do what I can, and let go of what doesn’t serve.
As part of my renewed effort in not burning out, I’ve made a few adjustments to my teaching schedule. I hope that we can still practice together, and that your yoga practice is a place where you can tend your flame and replenish your waters so that you have all that you need to move through the world. Beyond that, a few ideas for continued care in this cold one day, warm the next season:
/ See art. Right now, DC can feel like the center of a black hole, but let’s remember that all of our museums are still free temples to the creativity of the human imagination. One of my favorite exhibits of the past year was DC native and resident Linn Meyers’ large-scale site-specific line drawing at the Hirshhorn. I plan to go back and sit with her fluid, wave-like work many times – it’s on view through mid-August.
I’m so glad that Moonlight won best picture this year. The story unfolds with meditative pacing guided by thoughtful cinematography - it’s a true piece of art. Go see it. On a big screen, if you can. It’s even playing at AFI Silver before or after my Thursday evening class at Willow Street Yoga!
// Stay warm with a DIY heating pad – the world feels less hospitable when I am clenching my shoulders and freezing, so one of the first things that I do when I get home on chilly days is fire up my heating pad and give my neck some attention. If you have an extra long cotton or other natural-fiber sock (no holes!), you can make a new best friend: fill each with a cup of white rice (brown rice will smell…not great), tie off the top, and put in the microwave for 1-3 min. Try putting a hot one at the end of your bed if your feet get cold at night. These also make decent eye pillows when not heated.
/// Pet a dog. Our yoga practice invites us out of our thinking-of-everything-I-have-to-do-hamster-wheel and into our feeling-this-moment-mind, and so do dogs. If like me, you don’t have a dog (tear), go to a dog park. (Yes, I do this all the time).
//// Cook and eat mindfully. Cooking from scratch invites us to watch carefully, hear sizzles and chops, and adjust seasonings by taste. It can be a way in to meditation, and a way to care for ourselves. This month, my favorite grain bowls have been millet with black beans, acorn squash and roasted green beans, and my kale salad with roasted parsnips and pear over quinoa and lentils.
///// Listen to great music. Here’s the March 2017 NSFY (not safe for yoga) playlist:
In this workshop, Marietta Vis will teach yogis how to use a Critical Alignment Yoga backbender - a curved wooden prop about one-third the size of your yoga mat. See the video below to get a sense of what we'll do on it to release fascial restrictions that inhibit function and range of motion in the upper and lower back. Between CAY exercises, I’ll lead a progressive practice to feel out the movement that is available in the new areas of freedom that you have created.