Saturday, May 12, 2012


YOGA @ WORK by P1ncYOGA @ WORK, a photo by P1nc on Flickr.

A long time ago, in a country far, far away, I signed up for yoga lessons. It was at the British School, down the road from where we lived in Belgium. The biggest advantage was that the instructor was a native English speaker. Since I expended tremendous amounts of mental energy "speaking in tongues" every time I left the house, I didn't have any reserves to use on figuring out what a yoga instructor was saying----unless she said it  in English. Buying bread at the bakery, or vegetables at the village market, or cheeses from the delicatessen  all necessitated "speaking in tongues," my own special blend of French, which I'd learned in school, German, which we'd learned while living in Germany, Flemish, which was the official language in our village, mime which I made up on the spot, and a generous helping of  Gibberish to balance everything out. I had even taken the extreme measure of signing up for Flemish lessons in our village. What made this move extreme was that the only flemish classes available were taught in if I didn't have enough chaos in my head already! But I was determined that it was worth a try.  As for my forays to the market, the bakery and the deli, believe it or not, I usually arrived home with exactly what I had set out to buy. But it took it's toll. My clothing would be damp and clammy, and my face scarlet from the combination of my linguistic exertions and acute embarrassment.  Not the effect I was after in a yoga class.

And that was only the half of it. We still, at that time in our lives, had a full house which included a black lab with escape-artist tendencies, a Belgian Malinois puppy one of the children had brought home from the nearby stables, a supercilious Himalayan cat, a pair of chinchillas, an ever changing parade of lizards, frogs and geckos, and several young humans at various stages of development. Getting activities and meals and schedules organized so that I could go to yoga was, in itself, a major feat. I was usually dashing out the door, calling last minute instructions over my shoulder to whichever child I was leaving in charge, and skating in on one heel, after everyone else was already breathing deeply on their mats in preparation for the start of class. Mumbling incoherent [but English!] apologies, I'd flop down onto my mat and fill my lungs with air, then exhale, slowly, until my lungs were as empty as I could get them, then fill them up again.........

And then I'd wake up..... the sounds of everyone around me rolling up their mats and gathering their belongings. Almost every time I'd fall asleep after those first few breaths. I must have slept quietly, no snoring, since no one ever poked me in the ribs to either wake me up or shut me up. The instructor never called in the janitors to remove the unresponsive body. She might have been miffed that someone would sleep in her class, or, if one of the purposes of yoga is indeed to relax, she might have thought me her star pupil.....I was too embarrassed to stick around long enough to find out, but scurried off while her more actively enthusiastic students engaged her in after class chit-chat. And while each class was a restful and relaxing experience, I didn't come away from them with any greater knowledge of yoga than I'd had at the outset. So my yoga career was shelved indefinitely.

Until now.

 A few weeks ago, having had it in mind for months, I finally went to a yoga class. And stayed awake the entire time! I seem to have finally reached a point in life where I am, absolutely, ready for this. No use crying over the fact that if I had started a few years ago I might have been much better equipped for some of the curve balls life has thrown this way recently. No matter.  No amount of knowing you should do something, or having someone else tell you how good it would be for you, can make it happen. The only way it happens is to pick the day, ascertain that a class is offered on that day, rummage in the closet for something to wear that is comfortable, cool, and not too ridiculous looking, then get in the car and GO! There's even the added bonus of learning some words in yet another foreign language!

I'm loving it! Even if it is sometimes a hassle to fit it in around everything else, I'm always glad I made the effort. If you have even the slightest inclination to try it I'd say don't wait another day. I've already felt the preamble to rigor mortis---in my lack of flexibility, or the creaking that goes on when I bend my knees. Yoga can change all that, strengthen our core muscles and restore flexibility, and if you find it all a bit strenuous at first you can breathe deep and take a nice, restful nap. I promise not to tell.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Divinity Fluttering By.....

IMG_0946 by Mollybawn
IMG_0946, a photo by Mollybawn on Flickr.

It really is true that the nuns haunt me still. So much of how I think and feel and live hinges on things they taught me, even after all these decades.

Number Three: "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day."

 Way back in Senior Infants we learned the Ten Commandments. Does it count as reverence for creation if this butterfly, spotted outside my window, makes me gasp in awe?

Even God rested on the seventh day. And He was a pretty important guy....

And I don't think He ever made phone calls that ruined someone's otherwise perfectly pleasant Sunday. Of course not everyone had nuns as teachers, so they might have missed the memo on the Sabbath, and the one about maintaining some civility when speaking to others.Words are so powerful. Once they're out of their cage there's no calling them back. Much better to give some thought to which ones you want to release.

While we're being Biblical, another phrase pops into my mind.

 "The meek shall inherit the earth."

 Hmmmm. I may not be inheriting the earth in that case. Since meekness is out,  maybe I'll just turn off the phone on Sundays.

Meanwhile I'm focusing on that beautiful butterfly.