Why yoga is the ultimate “ex”

I’m on again in my on again-off again relationship with yoga.

This, perhaps, is why you might find more typos in this post than normal. My right shoulder is a little upset with me. It’s even trembling as I type.

I’ve been practicing yoga — and practicing is truly the operative word here since I’ve never quite committed nor become expert — since 1997.

It was through an employee-friendly work environment at Scholastic that I found myself first sitting cross legged in a dimly lit room and mumbling “Ong Namo. Dguru Dev Namo.” At the time, Scholastic offered exercise classes to its employees after hours, in addition to a fully-equipped gym both during the work day and after. (My current teacher on Hannaton also offers yoga in the workplace. More corporations would do well to adopt this mindset and strategy.)

In my fickle 17 year relationship with yoga, chanting, and meditation; I’ve found that the only thing that’s really changed over time is me. Yoga stays the same. It’s my needs and my approach to the practice that changes.

I’m very fortunate, in that case, that yoga is willing to welcome me back, time and time again.

This time around I’m noticing, of course, how my almost-40 year old body can’t quite meet the floor the way it used to. Where I once prided myself on always getting my heels to the ground for Downward Dog, I now notice the inch of space between my heel and the floor. Where I once used to marvel at my inner innate gymnast, I now realize that gymnastics is really suited to the under 30 crowd.

Mostly, I’m noticing my mind more than my body, this time around. Interesting, I suppose, as my body becomes more of a point of struggle for me than my mind. Whereas I used to be less accepting of my mind both in yoga practice and in life — my anxious thoughts, my incessant inner dialogue; I’m now open to what arises.

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I truly notice, as our yoga teachers suggest we do, instead of judge. Not all the time, every time (there’s still some judging, especially when it relates to my aging body). But in most instances when furious thoughts arise during my practice, I find curiosity has replaced judging.

“They” say that women at 40 are in their prime. That women at 40 can have any man, any woman. That women at 40 find themselves at an intersection of confidence, knowledge, and life experience. That, at this intersection, we can choose to focus on whatever we want — career, family, relationship — and succeed.

Don’t they say that? They say something like that.

I think there is truth in it. But in addition to confidence, knowledge, and experience, I think what women at 40 begin to develop is curiosity and wonder. It was always there — curiosity and wonder– lurking under the surface since before adolescence. But somehow was pushed down by either Self or society in order to achieve our personal and professional goals. Women these days take on the world. Control becomes our goal.

As I approach this intersection, and as I invite yoga back into my life, I’m noticing the return of curiosity and wonder, and the slow exit of control. The gentle inviting in of uncertainty.

Yoga knew I had it in me all along. But like the wise older gentleman in a May-December romance, understood I had to discover it on my own, in due time. Yoga knew that no matter how much he tried to convince me I was beautiful and perfect just the way I am, I would not be convinced. Not truly, deeply. I’d have come to that conclusion on my own.

As I laid on the yoga mat in shavasana today, I felt the aches in my tight hips and the pulsing in my under-used shoulder muscles. And I quietly laughed. There aren’t many things in life, certainly not in fitness, that are so willing to accept used up, broken down bodies. Then I thought to myself, maybe it’s because yoga doesn’t see us as broken. Yoga sees us as whole and complete. Yoga sees us as perfect.

And this I chose as my intention for the day as I sunk down into relaxation. Yoga sees me as perfect.

A virtual cure for anxiety is almost here

This morning, my hair dryer caught on fire.

Which is a lot better than my hair catching on fire — which actually happened once, the first time I visited Israel in 1992 and forgot to use a converter before I set my curling iron to my bangs.

I lost half my bangs that day … which was probably a good thing, in hindsight.

I sensed something was wrong this morning when I started to smell smoke. I smart girl.

By the time smoke started pouring out of the thing, my hand was already on its way to the outlet. So when fire sparks started shooting out from the plug, I pulled it out from the wall immediately.

RIP Conair Ion Shine. RIP smooth middle aged hair with no fly-aways.

It was startling, for sure, the fireworks display. It’s a fear of mine — electrical appliances spawning disasters. A friend of mine lost her house to a forgotten curling iron once when I was 10.

But the incident today was also strength-building.

How so?

As a lifelong anxiety sufferer, I’ve become really good at imagining the worst. My mind is programmed for disaster and tragedy; not so much survival and rescue. So that when I do save the day — when I manage to get myself out of a hairy situation or when, for instance, my child manages to narrowly escape harm all on his own — the grey matter in my mind has a new paradigm from which to think.

See, I can tell myself. You made it.

You are okay.

Not that I am inviting harm to myself or my children.

But I do firmly believe that a good, solid, quite startling, near tragedy is a muscle strengthener for those of us with anxiety. (As long as the outcome is a happy ending.)

It shows us that the worst isn’t always as bad as we think.

Perhaps one day, in the not-so-far away future, the smarty pants tech inventors I work with will come up with a virtual reality stimulator whose anxiety treatment is designed to fully scare the crap out of us.

So that we will see, once and for all, how strong, indeed, we are.

I’m no Katie Couric — but I really don’t want cancer

In order to be adequately prepared for a colonoscopy, you need to get to a point at which your poop looks like pee.

It’s the one time in your life when yellow liquid shooting out forcefully from your butt is a WIN!

I share this with you not to gross you out to the point of leaving my blog never to return, but in order to do my part towards colon cancer awareness and, like Katie Couric (although not as gracefully) to show that colonoscopies are not as bad as they sound.

I’ll let you know on Saturday if that’s true or not since I’m heading in for my first one tomorrow.

Sure — colonoscopies involve your butt, or as Dave Barry so appropriately coined it, your “behindular zone.”

And yes, the prep towards colonoscopy involves a lot — yes, a lot — of poop.

And no, poop blogs are not as popular as mommy blogs or political blogs, but since this is a personal blog, I decided I couldn’t receive full penetration by a camera attached to a long tube without sharing the experience with all of you.

I won’t be instagramming my IV insertion (since it’s usually a long and painful process for a nurse to find my veins), or tweeting my ease into sedative-induced slumber (because if the IV found its way in, it means it’s time to finally relax), but I do hope to encourage a few folks who have been putting off their recommended colonoscopy appointments by detailing how “not-so-bad” my experience was.

Here’s why:

My grandmother died of stomach cancer.

I was 12 when she died, but I vividly remember her wasting away in the months prior.

I remember what my grandmother looked like before — alive, full-busted and round. And what my grandmother looked like after — suffering, yellow and skeletal.

All my life, I have been troubled by a sensitive stomach and by these images of my grandmother, and if a colonoscopy can somehow alert me to pre-cancerous polyps, I think it’s well-worth the poop.

Wish me luck.

  • EDITOR’S NOTE

I completed the procedure this morning after the moderately challenging prep and happy to report clean results. I will say this — reading message boards about the prep before doing actual prep (drinking a laxative mix that makes you go for 24 hours straight) scared me into thinking the prep would be much worse than it was. It wasn’t that bad. Of course, this coming from a lifelong sufferer of IBS who is not stranger to spending 24 hours on the toilet.

Bottom line: Colonscopy is a lot scarier in your mind than in reality. Get it done. I’m not scheduled for another one for 10 more years. Woohoo!

What’s worse? Jet lag or war?

As if jet lag, back-to-school prep, protecting my kids from a polio outbreak and returning to work after a 2 1/2 week long digital detox wasn’t stressful enough, now I have to worry about a Syrian attack before Thursday.

Wait.

TOMORROW is Thursday?

Holy crap.

HOLY CRAP.

I should have bought more Tums while I was in the States.

Or I should have taken a longer vacation.

Either way, I am in deep doo doo because my stomach just can’t handle the stress.

Last night was the first full night sleep I have gotten in three days. THREE DAYS.

And tonight I have to attend a women’s birth circle on Hannaton. (Don’t ask.)

I have no time to clean out the MAMAD!

No time!

No time before Thursday!

Do you hear that John Kerry! No time!!!!!

Okay, I’m breathing.

And eating Tums.

And hoping all of this goes down the way of the Japanese dinosaur prank.

It’s scary for a few minutes until you realize the dinosaur is wearing jeans.