Thursday, July 17, 2014

3 Myths about Yoga

Yoga is for everybody
Yoga has grown so much over the past few years, that even your sweet Grandma may throw around the occasional Downward Dog or Lululemon reference. Yet yoga's overall image to outsiders has largely remained the same. I know that at least half of the time, when I offer a free intro to yoga class to a beginner, I'm met with apprehension and usually, a comment such as:

"I'm not flexible enough."

It's hard not to get frustrated with those who are not aware that yoga is NOT about being flexible. It's about cultivating a relationship with yourself, and your body. Fitness and flexibility is a by-product. As Mantra magazine writer Erica Mather says, "the point of yoga is not to excel; it's to experience." So, if you're tight in your hamstrings, she says, just enjoy the ride and they will eventually relax. That being said, I personally feel that Yoga media portrays a certain type of yogi, who is always uber-flexible and amazing at headstands. My mentor Denise Druce is the first to admit that some people are just built that way. "There are mobile bodies, and there are stable bodies," I recall her saying during my teacher training. Yoga is the balance of both qualities. Even though their yoga poses, like the splits, may appear perfect, a hyper-mobile (aka flexible) person may actually be straining their joints, and thus would benefit from strength poses that inspire stability. Then there is the hyper-stable (this was definitely me), whose body is sturdy and solid, but lacks some mobility, thus benefitting from stretches that give muscles a bigger range of motion. So that gal on the cover of Yoga Journal? All twisted in a long, elegant dancer pose? Don't bother with comparing yourself to her! She is likely simply hyper-mobile.

"Yoga is for a certain type of person."

The granola dude in Birkenstocks at Whole Foods. The thin mom you notice showing off bare arms while pushing a stroller around the the park. The nose-ringed college student with colorful leggings and a Chinese cherry blossom tattoo.  These are people who you might assume do yoga. Not the in-demand, working-mom news director of KUTV 2. Not the mayor of Salt lake City. Not the soccer mom down the road with a few pounds to lose. Actually - YES. All of the above are yogis. You don't have to look or live a certain way in order to be welcomed into a yoga class. Not all yogis are thin, not all yogis waste their money on a fancy yoga wardrobe, and not all yogis live like those hippies across the street with the Tibetan flags strung across the porch. Yoga is for everyone. It is at its core the all-accepting, uni-loving practice of oneness. And though some higher-end studios definitely have a certain clientele (I know there are a couple in town at which I feel kind of like a black sheep), you can rest assured most studios, and especially that community class, host every kind of person under the sun.

"Yoga is a religion."

It can definitely feel like a religion to a beginner, who has no idea what the heck "Ohm" is supposed to mean, and why it gets chanted as a group! The fact is though, Yoga is whatever you want it to be. It can definitely be spiritual, as it promotes the mind-body connection, and connection with others. It can be purely fitness-centric if you are just there to burn some calories. Or it can be purely relaxing, if you just want to enjoy taking time for yourself and quieting your mind. Or it can be everything! If you ever hear the word "God" in a yoga class, it usually is referencing the oneness of everything; how everything is connected. And if you don't like that, that's okay! You don't have to subscribe to everything to enjoy yoga. I had the same question about yoga as a religion, so I started studying its roots. I read  Patanjuli's Yoga Sutras, which at first, looked to me like the "commandments" of yoga, but after I contemplated them for a bit, I realized they are simply just ways you can live your best life, free of conflict with yourself or others. There is no black-and-white good and evil; no heaven or hell. Just ways to live in peace. Bottom line, if you show up to a yoga class, you will get out of it exactly what you want to get out of it. It's basically a blank canvas for you!

I hope the folks who really need to read this get a chance, because yoga is such a powerful way to change your life for the better. Once I started practicing, I noticed I was worrying less about my weight and more about how I can feed my body more healthfully. Over time, I became a generally less-stressed person who is no longer easily offended or angered. I focus less on material items, and more on the kind of experiences I want out of life. It's just a sweet way to live, and I would love you to live it with me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What I (Reluctantly) Learned from a Psychic

I got a psychic reading today.

William was supposed to be here today - at the latest (I thought he'd be here two weeks ago), and I'm feeling helpless. Depressed, even. How can I be forced to be pregnant for even MORE DAYS? That's not fair! I've had a hard pregnancy! I need him here so I can stop feeling useless and bored (ego is having some obvious problems with the no-working thing).

Well, the psychic isn't giving this victim the news that she wants.

“You'll go into labor on Friday,” she says cooly.

That's the day after tomorrow. I had already asked the universe for 8 p.m. TONIGHT. Wednesday.

But I curb any comments and let her continue; my icy body language notwithstanding.

“This week is all about rest. About surrounding yourself with comforts. About the two lovers.”

High Priestess card can intimate self-actualization.
She points to cards that make a lot of sense, considering I'm doing NOTHING this week. All my nesting is done. And you can only lounge around the house a certain amount of time a day. But I let her continue.

“Then, in 1-2 weeks, that issue that you thought was black and white? You need to let it unfold as it should, and know that it will work out.”

Hm. Drawing a blank. Continue.

“In 2-3 weeks, the High Priestess. She signals enlightenment. You will come to some very good awareness about yourself and your life. Emotional fulfullment. Also, wealth. Abundance.”

My skepticism melts slowly away as I hear answers that could match what I'm seeking.

“In 3-4 weeks, you're finding a balance of all you have going on, finances included.”

I guess with a baby on the way, a dog, a business and several freelance gigs, that's bound to be in the cards.

“In 4-5 weeks, you're more assertive; confident, clear. Very cut and dry. You also start to notice a very inspiring, nurturing father figure in your life. You're also feeling very nurturing and content.”

And that's the end.

At first blush, I'm not turned on. But as her words slowly start to sink in, attaching themselves to various thoughts and worries bouncing around my brain, I begin to see a storyline.

My younger sister helps translate, as well.

“You need to just sit back and take care of yourself, and not worry when the baby will get here!”

She knew what was at the forefront of my mind. I have trapped myself in a losing game of predicting; trying to control when the baby will arrive; when I can get out of this “waiting” (my perspective) or “resting” (my sister's/the psychic's perspective) stage. I am fighting her advice to “take care of myself,” reasoning that there is only so much you can do! I'm bored, damn it! Doesn't anybody care that I just want a PURPOSE?

Moving on, to the “black and white” answer thing. It starts to seem to me like it's about finances. About whether I have to get a job, or face being poor. Maybe, the psychic says, it's not so black and white, and it will all work out how it should. I'll take it!

Then the High Priestess. I bet that being a new mom, and seeing life through new eyes is going to give me some great self-awareness and insight. I am starting to see that even though I am waiting now, my coming days are not full of stress or impatience, but rather fulfillment and self-actualization. And it gets better.

Finding a balance in three-ish weeks. Definitely sounds hopeful considering all I will have going on. I already know what my calendar looks like for that week, and there are several yoga commitments – my first since giving birth. It will also mark a month after my last regular paycheck. And also, I will be getting into a pattern with living life with an infant, and learning how that fits in with my existing family. So balance is a great word to hear. And that she said I will find it. I embrace that!

Lastly, being a “cut and dry” woman? When it comes to being the leader of my yoga business, I couldn't ask for a better trait! And that's not something I'd usually call myself. So being able to be assertive and tell it like it is (and price myself what I'm worth!) will definitely be a positive. It will also likely help me say “no” if I'm taking on too much, too soon.

When I see the whole picture, I am kind of in awe. It is such an evolution of myself. From selfishly wanting my child to come when I want him growing into a woman with more self-awareness, balance and assertion, I am shocked to see such a transformation. It helps me realize that “waiting” or “resting” IS a good thing, and that I have plenty more I can do just to ENJOY, not to ACCOMPLISH. I'm going to read a book. Write a blog. Get a pedicure. Make a table-top sandbox with a tiny rake (those are like my Xanax...the raking is the only thing that makes me trance out!). The new life starts here, and starts with me letting go of control.

Monday, July 7, 2014

3 Reasons I Quit My Job before Baby

As we all do time to time when filling space with strangers, a woman at the store asks me a question. But today, my answer is anything but routine.

“So, what do you do?”
A profound silence passes before I eek out, “Nothing."

This is my first day not working since I chose indefinite maternity leave. And little did that woman know, that her innocent question just threw me head-first into reflection, self-judgement and panic. 

For so many years, my identity has revolved around my career. A career for which I have worked long hours, taken every (unpaid) opportunity, and managed to cultivate an Excel spreadsheet about a mile wide full of pertinent contacts. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, it's also a career in the spotlight. From feature reporting on TV, to my most recent stint as a morning radio host, I got used to finally being somebody. And now, at my prime, where my face is on a gosh-darn bus, I am walking away.

The woman seems to notice my sudden silence and consternated look. 

"Um...well, what did you do before you got pregnant?" she fumbles. 

My fight-or-flight eases up a bit as I recall the time - three or so months ago - when I made the decision to quit. Amid a gaggle of reasons, I just had this feeling that there was no other (better) choice. So, without much reluctance, I bid one of my favorite jobs "adieu" and as of today, have embarked on a journey to figure out how I'll be, think and feel as a new mom, and how working will fit into family life.

So what were the reasons? Why leave a 10-year career of winning awards and ladder-climbing in the media, when that call from L.A. could be just around the corner?

  1. I don't want to be forced back to work.
    “There's nothing worse than being forced back to work on day 90, kicking and screaming,” says one of my husband's friends, who recounts his wife's traumatic experience of being thrown back into the sizzling pan of the workplace – its demands bringing her to a boiling point days later when she quit. Not only did she, like many women, say it's devastating to leave their babies, but just going from zero to 60 – and by that I mean the full performance most employers expect from new moms – is just rough. In my case, the radio station told me that after maternity leave (which I shouldn't take too much of, because “people forget about you after three months,” as one consultant informed me), I needed to return on a full-time basis. I personally know SO many strong women who can handle full-time, full-steam-ahead work – using what little power they have left after all the sleep deprivation and breast-pumping in the supply closet. But just knowing how hard pregnancy has been on me, I feel like I would need some flexibility upon return; some definite compassion. Not to mention, in a country that has literally the worst maternity leave in the world, don't you think some empathy, some flexibility, is the very least an employer could offer upon your return? So, leaving work was  the only way I figured I can return on my terms; when I'm ready to give 100 percent.
  2. I'm in a good place.
    Who knows where my career will go after motherhood?
    I feel good about the place my husband and I are at in our lives. Our relationship is rock solid, we have our priorities literally on paper (we'll talk budgeting in an upcoming blog), and he is incredibly supportive of me taking time to do what every mammal does after birth...focus solely on baby. (We already had the “will you resent me if I'm not working” conversation – which, by the way, ended in a resounding, “no” as he, like most men, are just grateful you're carrying on their lineage.) And you've gotta trust your gut; I just FEEL taking my time to come back is the right decision. When I was just a few months pregnant, I felt inspired to get certified as a yoga instructor; a process that involves exploring yourself from the inside out, which allowed me to figure out the difference between true happiness, and ego-driven desires. And though a career in the media definitely makes me happy, I do not need it in the next few months to serve as fuel for my ego. I know that if I'm meant to succeed in the field – especially in a town that knows I've earned my stripes – I will find something again when the time is right.
  3. A baby marks not only the transition into motherhood, but into the rest of your life.
    Who knows what doors will open for me, or how my passions will change after becoming a mom? I have already started a business, and have been teaching yoga pretty regularly from my magical at-home studio. I love it! I love working from home and also, having the freedom to move at my own pace for once in my life. I'm also excited about the possibilities in a media career after I've had some precious time to myself and with my family. I'll be a new person with new priorities and a renewed ambition. 

Especially today, where I'm making my husband pancakes and cleaning the house like a mad woman, I've noticed that I'm one of those people (Virgo? Tiger?) whose worth is largely defined by what I'm doing. And as stark as the transition may be from doing career work to doing what's best for my family, I am grateful for this time to finally define my worth based on who I am. And that, I now realize, is not nothing, after all.