Sunday, September 27, 2009

The End of Overscheduling (yeah, right!)

It's always bittersweet when a job ends. You no longer see people, but you don't have to deal with the annoying ones anymore. You stop participating in certain activities, but you have time for others. It's a big disruption to the routine, but it's an opportunity to start something new.

I recently stepped away from a project that I was throwing myself into, but just couldn't keep up with, both energy- and emotion-wise. So I went against type and decided to quit rather than just keep limping along--it was time for a break. Guess what, the first night after that I had the best sleep in weeks. Hmmm.

All of a sudden I feel like I can focus, and the other projects that were only getting 30% attention (perhaps I should say, non-mommy attention), get boosted up to 50%. What's the point of over-extending, if everything gets short shrift...and I get tension headaches and can't sleep and am a real pill to live with.

The plate has been slightly cleared. Sitting there quietly to the side, was my dear friend Yoga, just waiting for me to get over this crazy urge to cure this country's bad eating habits and get back to business. So now I am thinking about the next chapter--a certification? a retreat? more writing? more blog?

Anyway, here's my challenge to you: take a look at your schedule and see if there's anything that can go. Surely there's something that is keeping you awake and could probably do without your brilliant contributions. Just think how much your other projects will thrive with that additional percentage point of attention. What's been quietly waiting for you to satisfy the urge?!?

Now I just have to finish the Yoga Journal article...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Neti, sweet Neti

Jen, of McSmithleyville asked the timely question: "I wonder if your readers have any thoughts on adjustments given that flu & cold season is approaching. One of the universities I teach at has documented cases of H1N1 flu and it makes me wonder if I should be "hands off" for the season, or longer?"

And just like that I, too, was laid low with the bug. I don't know if it's H1N1 (in deference to the pork producers in my home state of Iowa), but it's definitely respiratory and they say there is widespread flu activity in 21 states and almost all of it has tested as H1N1. So there you go.

On the plus side, it mostly seems like a really aggressive cold. The down side is now the boys are starting to droop...two weeks ahead of the vaccination. Sigh.

Here's what I'm doing:
1. Cancelled all my classes, so as not to be a vector.
Plus, I had no energy to teach, anyway. For next week, I think focusing on verbal cues is probably the way to go, since this thing is so easy passed.
2. Got some major cold meds, so I could pass the day in a haze, without too much goo.
3. Brewing many pots of tea, kept warm with a lovely lamb tea cozy my mom knit me...constant hot liquids (Tazo's Wild Orange and Stash's Caffeine-free Peppermint are in the current rotation.)
4. Went out and got a Neti pot. I'm going to go all Ecoyogini here, but I can't say enough good things about how soothing this little item is. This is nothing special, just a plastic jobber from CVS (called a Sinus Wash), but I feel much clearer, post-Neti, and if hand-washing can eliminate 70% of the H1N1 germs, think how effective sinus-washing is! It's a bit odd (one of my students described it as self-water boarding), but not particularly gross and--like I said--completely soothing. I have some mild seasonal and dust allergies, so this should help, as well.

So, Yogis, how are you dealing with the bugs? Any problems with sick students showing up? Sick teachers? Any cute, handmade pots on Etsy I should take a look at?

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Two Cent's Worth

First, Read, then Discuss: Yoga Journal's article, and then Dawg's link.

The topic of teacher training licensing caught my eye in last week's My Yoga Mentor, and now Yoga Dawg linked a quick (rather annoying) bit from Katie Couric, so I thought I'd weigh in. Apparently, there is some talk of requiring NY yoga studios to be licensed by the state to run teacher training programs (14 other states already include such a requirement). Some see this as unnecessary government interference--a way to make a bit of money off of popular programs. Others think this will dilute trainings to some generic set of information far removed from yoga's original message. Will it guarantee quality, or just cookie-cutter-ness? Will it squeeze little studios out of existence and benefit big corporate entities? Will it force studios to take their programs seriously and not treat trainings as just a lucrative revenue stream?

I don't mind the idea of regulation. I think all the above situations are possible, positive and negative, but I think regulation by a neutral third party is not a bad idea, especially if it will help "legitimize" yoga--in the same way that licensing of massage therapists, acupuncturists, and chiropractors helped bring the benefits of such healing practices to a broader audience. Perhaps it will let new students use their medical insurance to pay for their classes, as some companies pay gym fees and the cost of other alternative therapies. It seems to me that this sort of standardization will give yoga a new audience and help bring students to the practice that would otherwise have been scared off by images of turbans and chanting and spiritual peer pressure (undeserved or no).

The YJ article says that most states base their assessment on Yoga Alliance's standards, which are by no means wishy-washy or reduce the tradition to a series of exercises. Perhaps teachers can use this type of training as a starting point and would use later workshops and retreats as a way to augment their basic knowledge...and could market themselves and licensed, trained, and specializing in whatever.

I've been researching teacher training programs
myself and wondering if they were really worth the $2500 (perhaps students would be able to apply for gov't aid, if schools were licensed). My training was more of an apprenticeship and, while I know it was thorough and effective, a future employer would have no way to evaluate my background. I would like to have some sort of certification and I would rather have a designation that was meaningful to people outside the yoga world, rather than just a piece of paper with a cute seal.

A university Master's Degree confers a certain amount of authority because it is awarded by an institution that is accredited and recognized by a legislating body as insuring a level of expertise. Don't we want the same level of respect for our trainings from everyone, not just the yoga in-crowd?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Well, here it is, the day-after-labor-day and not only can we be grateful that white heels have to go back in the closet, but it's time to get excited about school. Or at least enjoy that new-beginnings/fall-semester energy that comes this time of year. My eldest headed off to kindergarten, anxious but proud. He's still not sure about the all-day, all-week aspect of school, but is keen on the idea of school-provided hot lunch (yuck) and jungle gyms at recess.

As much as I hate to see days shorten and temperatures cool, I say good riddance to this year's cold, wet summer in the Midwest.
All my tomatoes died from Blight last week and if that's how this season is going to reward all my hard work, I say, who needs it. Bring on the falling leaves and knitted garments!

The Y's classes start this week, so it's back to my regular teaching routine. I'm trying to incorporate more regular exercise this fall, too, to counteract stressful overscheduling and increase my stamina. Swimming is still a lovely workout, and I'm going to try to add some walking and perhaps a yoga class.

I have yet to find a local option that will work, but I'm going to branch out into the online world. I sampled a couple of classes at Yoga Download, that were quite acceptable, so I might give that a more regular go. Does anyone have other suggestions of podcasts of downloadable classes that they like?

This query is both for myself and for the next YJ article on creating an online yoga class. I'm fascinated by the internet as a teaching tool and how people have figured out how to exploit its potential in new and imaginative ways. The world gets smaller and smaller and, even though I really miss a hands-on, personal yoga class, I think there's some cool stuff to try out there...

So, whadaya think? Any thoughts on the matter? Secrets to share? I'm all ears, now that I don't have to schedule gardening into the mix (or making tomato sauce, for that matter...rats!).

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Wisdom from the Masters...

Oh my dears. How neglectful I have been. I've been gobsmacked by life, lately (haven't we all) and just haven't been able to put pen to paper (so to speak). Back-to-school for husb and son #1, heart surgery for Dad, four juggled projects and renovations to the home. Not particularly settling or calming.

My BFF during all of this is Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese monk and author of the book Peace in Every Step. He should be required bedside reading for everyone. The book consists of many one-to two-page chapters reminding us to see beauty in all things, be mindful of the wonder of life, and to smile when confronted with adversity. He comes across as very sweet rather than naive and his writings serve as a good reminder to live in the moment, instead of fretting about things outside of our control. A perfect something to ingest before going to sleep and help quiet the thoughts.

He reminds me (or vice versa) of the wise and gentle turtle, Master Oogway, from Kung Fu Panda, who delivers many aphorisms during the film: "Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present." (I'm not the only fan, check this out!) He, too, can teach us something about calming the "fluctuations."

So chill with some sages this month. Go for something more thoughtful from TNH, or lighter--yet just as insightful--with KFP. Anything to keep the mind clear and the thoughts positive.