Tag Archives: yoga

Perfume, bye-bye!

Perfume: n. a substance that emits a pleasant odor; a fluid preparation of natural essences or synthetics and a fixative used for scenting; fragrance

joyThis is embarrassing. I just tossed two bottles of perfume that have sat on my bureau or bathroom counter for decades.

I haven’t worn perfume in decades. (Except for the fabulous essential oil fragrances my son created – and just discontinued – at Jimmyjane.)

The bottle of Joy has been with me since the boat trip I took across the Atlantic (Quebec to Le Havre) right after college. A dashing member of the German crew gave it to me as a momento of our brief but torrid shipboard romance. (My name is Joy and that was a very popular and expensive fragrance at the time).

As you might imagine, the fragrance in the bottles bore no resemblance to what the perfumiers originally bottled.  So why did I not discard them years ago???

Well – they were gifts with special memories attached. They were small. And you never know… I just might want to wear a dab some time….

This morning the veil fell from my eyes. I emptied the bottles down the sink and put the empties into the recycle bin.

It felt like a major victory.

Woo-woo postscript from yoga class later in the morning. Our teacher has two little baskets from which we can draw random words on which to focus in class – one contains round river rocks and the other contains cards (with words in English and Sanskrit). You can use the words as areas to focus your intention for the class, if you want.   From the middle of the pile in each basket I drew (not peeking) a rock that said “Joy” and a card that said “Joy.”   The dharma talk at the beginning of class centered on vairagya, learning to let go of attachments.  Oh yeah.

Parigraha: holding on to stuff

Parigraha: n. ancient Sanskrit word meaning grasping, hoarding, holding onto one’s stuff.

Sooner or later – and the way the economy and my savings are going right now it’s looking like a lot sooner – I’m going to have to sell my house and move into much smaller quarters.

I am therefore faced with two inarguable reasons to let go of a lot of my stuff:

1) A home that is sparsely furnished shows better when it goes on the market because prospective buyers have enough open space that they can imagine themselves and their stuff in it.

2) My future home, which will be about half the size of this one, can comfortably fit only half as much stuff – if that much, maybe less.

In yoga, we study the yamas and niyamas, which are about how we want to be in the world as compassionate enlightened yogis. Patanjali wrote them down about 150 BCE (!) as part of the Yoga Sutras.  They’re kind of like rules of conduct – not rigid or dogmatic – but more like ideal states of being to continuously work towards.

The fifth yama is aparigraha (the opposite of parigraha) or non-grasping, non-hoarding.  Ideally we yogis are not attached to our stuff. It flows in and out of our lives – we use it and let it go, use it and let it go. Ideally.

But our stuff means so much to us! It is SPECIAL stuff. Even if it stands in the way of emotional and physical freedom, we clutch it close.

My current spiritual practice involves gathering the equivalent of a box of stuff every day – either for disposal (recycling LOTS of paper right now), re-use (Goodwill, here I come), or sale. I’m starting with easy stuff – a couple of days ago it was ancient computer manuals, old tax papers and receipts. I’ve got boxes and boxes and file drawers and file drawers more paper to go.

Not wanting to overwhelm my recycle pickup service I switched yesterday to culling socks, stockings and tights.

Today is table linens. I have an amazing number of napkins that I never use because they clash with my dinner dishes, or are stained, or are insufficient (why is it I buy a set of SIX napkins, when I rarely feed less than EIGHT for a company dinner??).

I know I’ll have to make much deeper cuts in every department, but I’ll use the easy stuff like mental weight-lifting, to strengthen my resolve.

The hardest will be stuff that I equate with memories – of a special person, place or time. Down the road.

Pause for the present moment

Pause: v. to stop temporarily, to linger for a time

Present: adj. now existing or in progress, being in view or at hand

I take two yoga classes a week, which I love for many reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity to slow down and pay attention to the present moment. We practice being present by focussing on the breath and on the sensations in the body as it’s twisted into pretzel-like postures (future P-post?).

All well and good. My problem is bringing that focus into the rest of my life, starting with the ten-minute drive to yoga class.

Somehow I’m always running behind. I try to pack 14 last minute tasks into a time slot that can maybe hold three. So on the drive to class I’m trying to figure out how to pass the slow-poke car ahead of me, how to time the next stoplight, whether to take an alternate and possibly faster route.

You get the idea. I’m not present.

This race to yoga is not a winning strategy. This morning, for example, the sun was just poking out behind a blue-gray storm cloud and lighting up a patchwork of brilliant yellow and red leaves on the trees that line Burnt Bridge Creek. If I’d had an extra two minutes, I would have pulled off the road and just soaked in the beauty of the light, the clouds, the fall foliage.

Well, I consoled myself, maybe the scene will still be that lovely when I pass it on my way home. But of course two hours later the rain was falling heavily and the view was obliterated.

That particular moment is gone forever. I could spend THIS present moment beating myself up for my bad habit of running so late that any pause is impossible.  Instead I decided to find a little beauty in my own yard when the rain broke (briefly) a few minutes ago.

Here’s one colorful corner – a formerly purple cotinus (unbeatable for fall color!) in front of my formerly green grapevine ( you have to click on it because the expanded image is much better):


Playing hooky from plank position

It’s been a week since I pulled a pec doing too many pushups. (In yoga a sun salute involves half of the pushup – from plank to cobra position, so it’s more like a slow drop down…).

The doc had said no pushups or plank for six weeks (!). I had said, no way!

But then I allowed myself to stay home every morning this week, to not rush off to strength training or yoga classes at 7:30am and it has been LOVELY.

I miss the exercise, but not the rushing. Which tells me something I don’t want to hear: that if I don’t want to rush I’d better be getting up a lot earlier (and going to bed a lot earlier too, because I need at least 8 hours of sleep).

This morning I really really was going to go to yoga, and just chill in the back of the room in a restorative pose whenever we were supposed to do a planky sort of position. But here I am at my desk writing, hoisting a cup of coffee instead. Happy.

I’m one of those people who is slothful enough at heart that if I don’t routinize my life with specific commitments to be at a certain place at a certain time to exercise it won’t happen. ANd I’ve discovered that if it doesn’t happen first thing in the morning, it generally doesn’t happen at all, because the day takes over.

On normal weeks I go to a strength training class 2x a week, yoga 2x a week and I walk with a good friend the other 3 days. My pulled muscle did not prevent me from walking except for the first couple of days when I could scarcely breathe, but my friend was out of town, so I didn’t even do that.

Little vacations from routine are a good thing. I hope by Monday I’m eager to get back with the program.

Pain from pushups?

At strength training class we all moan and groan about doing pushups.

Not I. I am proud of my pushups, having moved from the knee position to full plank about five years ago. Machisma! (Of course I only get my nose half way to the floor because if I allowed my nostrils to reach the floor they’d be permanantly flattened because I don’t have the triceps strength to lift off.)

Pride goeth before a fall. Last Thursday I felt a little twinge at about the tenth pushup. But I did a second set anyway.

Then, instead of listening to the twinge (which lingered…) I went to yoga on Saturday and did a number of sun salutes which also require a pushup-like maneuver.

Big mistake.

Since yesterday afternoon my left rib cage hurts so much I don’t want to breathe deeply, or cough or sneeze. Today was the day I was going to tackle my weeds with a vengeance, but I can’t even pull a puny petunia.

It hurt enough that I actually went to the doctor – a rare thing. She pressed and prodded and concluded that nothing was broken, but that I would be laying off pushup-like poses for a couple of months.

I’m not at all pleased. Who ever thought I’d WANT to do pushups???


Patience: 1. The quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. 2. An ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

One week and six hours ago I turned on my computer to discover it hung at the Windows screen.

*I rummaged thru my geek experience and pulled up a bunch of tricks. Tried them. Nothing. I went online and looked for more tricks (I have a laptop too). Nothing.*

[Repeat several times from * to * while breathing deeply.]

I slept on it and tried more tricks the next day with the help of a techie pro. Nothing.

Thinking it was a bad drive I ordered a new highly recommended one from Newegg.com and tried to move on to other things for a few days. I took lots of yoga classes. Breathed deep. A gal in my yoga class shared about having to pull life-support from her severely damaged newborn. Another spoke of trying to make peace with her dying mother. And I’m hyperventilating over a hard drive?

Breathed some more.

The new drive arrived yesterday afternoon and I transplanted it where the sickie had been. Partitioned it, loaded Windows. Or so I thought. When I turned the machine back on it hung in the very same spot.

[Repeat from * to * above while breathing deeply.]

No dice. So…

As I said earlier, “phuck that!” This morning I did what I should have done a week ago – I took it into the local computer shop. They’ve got the spare parts and they have the patience.

In prior incarnations I’d have been rending my clothes over such a disruption, but there’s still plenty room for improvement in the patience department.