Archives for posts with tag: yoga

_DSC0013

It’s been 25 days since I woke up in Las Cuarentas, Nicaragua, to the symphonic sounds of a small village wiping the sleep out of its eyes and rolling out of bed. An army of roosters crowing back and forth to each other across the misty hills and valleys–their calls vacillating between a salute and a one-upping competition. Balancing out the screechy soprano of the roosters’ calls is a bass beat that shows up slow, steady, and rhythmic: my host mother meets the dawn with a melody she knows by heart. Behind the heavy wooden door of the kitchen, she slaps and pounds the homemade tortilla dough into shape before anyone else in the house is even conscious enough to know that breakfast is approaching. Outside, the bullfrogs add to the melody of the morning with a chirpy belch that sounds like a synthesized backdrop. A horse neighs once, twice–and dogs bark here and there like a stray cymbal crash.

In the rural mountains of Nicaragua, there is no marimba-style phone alarm going off. No Al Roker telling you what the weather is like in your neck of the woods. No brakes screeching outside the window or early morning honks to illustrate that road rage does not discriminate against the dawn. But there is also no silky sigh–in and out–coming sweetly from my son’s crib like the breeze blowing through the trees. No complementary snores echoing back and forth ridiculously between my husband and my dog.

I guess every place has its music. You just have to tune in and listen to it.

I walked quickly, recklessly on the dirt path–ignoring the dips and rocks along the way, more focused on distancing myself from the group behind me as I fought back tears. The more the tears welled up in my eyes, the more my stomach and jaw tightened. I was confused and frustrated by the emotion welling up inside of me because I could not articulate its source and that scared the hell out of me. So it seemed in the moment, if I could not explain why I was out of control emotionally, I was going to isolate myself so I could hide it. As I navigated my way back to my host home through a cloudy haze of tears, I heard someone call my name behind me, “Lindsay!” When I turned to see my friend and roommate, Lizz, I didn’t expect myself to soften, but I did. I let my tears out as I explained what was going on with me the best that I could and she listened and held that space for me. I guess it was fear that initially made me want to run for cover and hide, but it was connection that made me soften and let go of the tight grip I had on what was happening to me.

As Lizz had done so many times before for me, she walked beside me and saw and heard me for who I was in that moment, imperfections and all (the definition of connection, for all of your Brene Brown devotees). She showed me that whoever I was and whatever I was holding onto in that moment was okay. Looking back on that moment in Las Cuarentas, I think I have some idea of what was happening then–although I’m still working a lot of it out. I think that the source of the tears was fear–I was scared shitless by the depth of emotion I found in that village and in the people who lived there. I knew rationally that I had committed to this trip to be of service to others, but here’s the thing: you can’t really prepare yourself for the emotional part. What happens during an experience like this is an all-in, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, vivid, raw emotional adventure that you can’t wrap your head around until you’re waist deep in it. And even then, as illustrated by my emotional breakdown, you don’t even really know what to do with it.

I think my fear came from a place of knowing that this experience held so much potential for deep emotion–the heart-opening, fiery love kind and the heart-wrenching, jagged-edged despair kind. But you can’t just open up to the first one without opening up to the other. What I had clearly found in my time prior to that walk down the dirt path was unconditional connection, acceptance, and love from the people of Las Cuarentas, but what I struggled to open my heart to in that moment was all of the other stuff: the tug I’d feel in my chest in seeing the poverty and the lack, the urge I’d feel to want to fix things, and the despair that would grip me when I had to hug my host family and friends good-bye.

I am still struggling with this gamut of emotions five days after returning from Nicaragua and trying to wade through all of it. In my head, I understand that EVERY part of my experience contributed to the exquisite beauty I found there, but my heart is still working on knowing that. Rumi says, “Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.” I am so thankful for the group of women I traveled with to Las Cuarentas (Maura, Brittany P., Laura, Lizz, Shannon, Charly, Kristie, Michele, Brittany W., and Sarah) for going all in with me even when you were scared too–for inspiring me and fanning my flames. And to the people of Las Cuarentas (Janeth, Jaiyder, Josselin, Jackson, Yericson, Fernando, Rubell, Lester, Irving, Jamil, Thelma, Orlando, Sarita, Johnny, and so many more), I hope you feel my gratitude across the miles even though you won’t be able to read my words. You lit up a spark in my heart. I’ll seek to fan that flame for the rest of my life.

 

nica1

nica2

nica9

nica12

nica4

nica7

nica3

nica11

nica10

When I came home from my yoga/fundraising meeting Friday night and my husband asked me how it went, I purposefully didn’t go into the details. I just said: “It was great.” If I had plopped down next to him and told him all about how amazing I felt after a night of Kundalini meditation and discussion of personal transformation and social change, he would have burst my perfect, freakin’ bubble. He would have looked at me sideways with some shit-eating grin that would have propelled me into a defensive stance, warning him to back his conservative ass off of my special bubble. And that’s not good. So I said: “It was great.”

I reserve special bubble talk for certain people to protect myself. The work I do in yoga is highly personal–it’s like therapy for me. It’s my time to spiral into myself, to challenge myself, to regenerate myself so that I can then reach out to others in a more genuine and present way. And it’s reserved for people who are down with riding that kind of funky wave with me….which is where my girls come in.

I call them my “Board of Directors” because they are the women in my life that I imagine sitting at a long, rectangular board room table in my head giving me honest feedback on my life decisions in a loving, non-judgemental way. If I’m throwing the deuces up at a crappy job that sucks the life out of me without a plan for a new job, my BoDs aren’t questioning the rashness of my decision–they’re rooting for me as I walk away from a place that doesn’t serve me. If I’m depressed, they shine a light on the good things about me and serve up a typical BoD prescription for healing: a listening ear, raucous laughter, good food, and beer. If I’m making questionable life decisions, they grip me up by the shoulders and give me a little shake and say, “No girl, you’re better than that.” If I need to shake some shit off, they turn up the volume on the music, stand up next to me, and twerk like it’s their job. And you know a girl’s got your back when she’s willing to twerk like it’s her job.

At nearly 33 years old, I have come to realize that a healthy marriage to a husband requires an additional, intimate relationship of a different kind with a circle of outrageous ladies who all at once ground me and encourage me to fly a little closer to my dreams. Thanks for holding it down at the board room table of my life, ladies. Nothing but love for you.

I did a headstand last week. In yoga class. And it was a big deal.
When I got pregnant a little over a year ago, I felt like I was at the top of my game. I was making it to yoga class four or five times a week; I had just been on a life changing yoga retreat (The Art of Letting Go: A Maya Tulum Yoga Retreat); and I was rocking spandex with no fear. I felt strong, fit, centered, and adventurous. So when I knew for sure that baby Ben was on his way, I was so excited, but also pretty damn terrified. I didn’t really talk about the terrified part, though. I was asking all of the usual questions to myself about readiness to be a parent, but there were others that seemed too shallow to discuss with anyone else. Like how would my body change? Would it be ruined forever? Would I ever feel strong again?
My fear about discussing these questions had to do with how others would perceive me as a mom. I didn’t want people to think I was more concerned with my body than my baby. But one of the most important things I’ve learned so far as a new mom is that if I put a front up about what this experience is really like, I’m doing a disservice to myself and to other new moms. I had important feelings and opinions before this baby and they shouldn’t disappear just to prove that I’m a selfless mom. Discussing real feelings and issues gives all moms a better chance at connecting on a deeper level. I have a harder time connecting with a mom who approaches me by saying: “oh my gosh..can you even imagine what life was like before your little angel? Isn’t motherhood a dream? I just love every bit of it!!!!” Maybe it’s the irreverent side of me, but I want to say: “hell no, sister, I don’t love every bit of it. I remember my life before and I miss the amazing part where I used to sleep. And when my hormones weren’t driving this train to crazy town every other day. And when the shape of my butt gave me some swagger instead of an inclination toward empire waisted dresses.” For me, it’s important to accept that I can feel these feelings and it doesn’t make me love my son any less.
So I don’t have as much time now as I did before to practice yoga. But when I get there once a week, it feels good to spend some time focusing on my needs and I’m sure my family benefits from that. And it’s hard work getting my body back. But I’m feeling stronger every week and last week I got upside down again. My teacher may have helped pull me up and spotted me in case of a fall, but I got there. And it was a big deal.