Tonight, I was able to get to the yoga studio where I teach early enough before class that I could fit my own personal practice in. I always feel that when I have time to sit and breathe for a bit before class I am in a much better state of mind than when I am racing to get there. It’s hard to teach yoga when you are stressed out and going a mile a minute.
Some days are certainly easier than others to get myself to my mat. Sometimes, I have to be pulled to it, kicking and screaming, even though I know how much I need it. Today was not a struggle at all. I was ready to step away from everything outside and breathe. As I stood at the top of the mat, ready to begin my Sun Salutations, I looked down at my toes. My mind, that I was supposed to be stilling, immediately went into judgement mode balking at my neglected toenails. I took a deep inhale and kept going. As I folded forward, it continued, Damn you, hamstrings! Will you EVER loosen up a bit?! My inner critic seemed to be at its best today and was certainly doing a good job of trying to get the best of me. I continued but to no avail. My mat became a battle ground with me on one side and my mind on the other. I certainly didn’t have the upper hand.
I went to a class recently taught by a beautiful teacher and friend, Sarah, who urged us all to try something new. She suggested we try to move from headstand into Parsva Bakasana (side crow). I had a good laugh at first, but then gave it a go. I could certainly do each pose separately, but coming from a totally new direction was the big catch. The sound effects in the following minutes during that class consisted of: thud, flop, thump, oops, flop, thud, etc. I was going nowhere.
Tonight, I decided to come back and give it another try. Once again, thud, plop, ouch, whoah, thump… you get the point. It got to the point where I stopped and laughed at myself. (I believe I may have thrown a fist to the air claiming, ‘I’ll get you for this, Sarah!’) As I stepped back to regroup, I had a bit of what you may call a coming to Jesus. I had it all wrong today. I was totally out of touch with what my real practice is, why I practice, and what yoga really is to me. Every class I teach, I remind everyone that yoga is so much more than achieving a pose. I try to teach them that the journey is so much more of a teacher than the actual pose. I let them know that exactly as they stepped on their mat today, is exactly where they should be and they are perfect just as they are. I talk about letting go of the ego and keeping the inner critic at bay. Yet here I was, judging, criticizing, pushing for the pose. Today I became the preacher who did not practice.
I took a deep breath.
Then I remembered a quote I have heard over and over and over from another special yoga teacher. “Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart.”
I stepped back to my mat and I inhaled, each time I judge myself; and I exhaled, I break my own heart. I inhaled, each time I judge myself; and I exhaled, I break my own heart. I inhaled, each time I judge myself; and I exhaled, I break my own heart. And you know what? My toenails didn’t seem to be such a serious concern. My hamstrings didn’t feel so tight. And for the first time, I made it easily into a pose that had been such a challenge for me for a year now. That’s when I realized why all of the falls and thuds were so important tonight. It IS about the journey. It’s about getting back up and trying again. It’s about accepting exactly where you are in this present moment. It’s about inhaling and exhaling, inhaling and exhaling, through the pain, through the challenges. And what I learn on my mat, doesn’t stay on my mat. I get to take it with me everywhere I go.
My beloved child, break your heart no longer.
Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart;
you stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality.
The time has come. Your time to live, to celebrate.
And to see the goodness that you are.
You, my child, are Divine. You are pure. You are sublimely free.
You are God in disguise and you’re always perfectly safe.
Do not fight the dark, just turn on the light.
Let go and Breathe in to Goodness that you are.
So tonight, in light of all the falling and failing, I thought it best to introduce a bit of a no-brainer, easy recipe. It’s so simple, I am not sure I can even call it a recipe of my own. It’s super versatile so you can get creative!
I am a sucker for avocados. I eat at least half an avocado a day. They have more potassium than a banana, are loaded with heart-healthy fats, and high in protein. They have to be the tastiest of all healthy foods. I am pretty sure it’s a proven fact!
Mashed Chickpea Avocado Salad
One 15 oz. container garbanzo beans (if using a can, try for BPA free cans)
1 1/2 ripe avocados
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
1. Empty half of the garbanzo beans into mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, mash the beans. Add the rest of the beans to the mix.
2. Stir in the avocado.
3. Add and stir in garlic powder and onion powder. (Onion powder can be a bit strong, so start with half the amount and add according to taste.)
4. Add a bit of sea salt and crushed pepper to taste.
5. Refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes. Serve. I throw this on a big salad, dip veggies in it, make a wrap, etc.
6. Get creative! You don’t have to use chickpeas. Try it with shredded chicken or tuna. Toss in some crushed pecans or walnuts. Add a bit of heat with crushed red pepper. Skip the onion powder and throw in chopped onion. Add hard-boiled eggs. The possibilities are endless!
Notes: Avocado browns quickly. You can add a bit of lime juice if not eating for several hours.