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Covid-19

Goodbye 2020

By Covid-19, Goal Setting, Health, Mindfulness, Transition, Values, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

I struggled to write an End of 2020 blog this month. What could I possibly say about this past year that hasn’t already been said? 2020 was over and I was over it. Not wanting to spend any more time or energy on the year that seemed to crush us all, I was thankful for the inspiration of Jennifer Aniston.

I love Jennifer Aniston. I’ve been a fan for years and still root for her to reunite with Brad. Scrolling through social media, I came across an article about Aniston. It featured a recent photo of Jen, kissing herself in the bathroom mirror, reminding us to give ourselves a little love. The article described how amazing Jen looks at age 51, attributing her beauty and wellbeing to her strict diet and fitness routine, her early morning lemon water and meditation regimen, and her collagen protein line. I found myself going down an all too familiar spiral of self-worthlessness: I am not enough. My downward spirals typically follow a sustained period of eating Hershey’s Kisses filled with Cherry Cordial Crème washed down with wine.

Maybe I should set my alarm for 4:15am to allow time for meditation before I teach. I could buy Jen’s organic collagen peptides, add spirulina to every meal, increase my cardio output, and ensure eight hours of quality sleep every night. I’m cracking the code to Jen’s secret!

My anxious spiral crashes into an epiphany: Jen doesn’t have two teenagers to raise and get off to college, a husband with a demanding and erratic work schedule, a small business to run in a remote alpine town, and goats to feed in -14F. Plus, LA’s climate is so much more forgiving on the skin, right?

Because Jen’s life is totally different from mine, there’s no reason I should hold myself up to her standards. I removed these out-of-place expectations and enjoyed a wonderful moment of real reflection and true contentment. I don’t need to change my life around to be like Jen or anyone else. I can keep meditating in the afternoons because that works for me. I can come to work with alfalfa stuck to my leggings—I love my messy, crazy life! And I’m grateful for my health! Knowing this euphoric feeling of confident self-love will likely be mercilessly fleeting, I decided to create one intention for this new year: contentment.

I will practice being content with where I am each and every day, even while I continue to grow, learn, and evolve. I’m not going to devise a detailed plan calculating the value of skinning up Mt. Werner, eating homegrown Fenugreek microgreens, climbing 1,000 vertical feet, drinking 18 ounces of freshly juiced celery, reading a New York Times Bestseller about personal development, or weighing the right amount by summertime.

As I reflect on this year at Rakta, I can honestly say I feel content. It has been a wild ride, but we have learned and grown so much. Offering online classes had always seemed like a good idea, but it wasn’t something I was inclined to add before 2020 forced my hand. Private and small group yoga also seemed like great ideas, but I was too busy establishing a perfectly cultivated variety of daily classes to pursue privates and small groups.

We had our moments though! When the mandatory mask rule was implemented this summer, class participation tanked. When the public health code decreased class size to 10% capacity, I wasn’t sure we would survive. Any time I began to question our ability to persevere, someone would inevitably express gratitude for the studio and our yoga community. People kept telling me Rakta was making a difference in their lives, and I found myself re-energized and ready to go again the next day.

The Rakta community has been amazing. The support (showing up on your mat), the trust (hanging in there with our virtual technical difficulties), and the dedication (continuing to practice yoga with us) have been such gifts. Our core community has become so connected. Although I used to miss the energy of a full room, there is a beautiful energy of practicing with our tight knit yoga family. I am content. And I am hopeful for a vibrant, healthy 2021 for all of us.

To those I haven’t seen since March, many blessings for a wonderful 2021. You are missed and I hope our paths will cross again soon. I want to end with the finishing quote from our final Fire Hot Series class of 2020.

“May Light always surround you; Hope kindle and rebound you. May your Hurts turn to Healing; Your Heart embrace Feeling. May Wounds become Wisdom; Every Kindness a Prism. May Laughter infect you; Your Passion resurrect you. May Goodness inspire your Deepest Desires. Through all that you Reach For, May your arms Never Tire. ” ~ D. Simone

In light and love, Sandy

Grace

By Ayurveda, Breathing, Covid-19, Energy, Health, Mindfulness, Seasons, Values, Vulnerability, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

Last month, the concept for my blog focused on my observation that we act differently around others while wearing a mask. When we are anonymous, our moral codes are disguised and we are not accountable. It seemed like we were losing kindness, connection, common courtesy, and politeness as we interacted or avoided interaction with each other. Over the past month, I have personally witnessed and heard others relay stories of aggressive, hurtful, and rude behavior in our town. It feels like we have hit an energetic low in this community.

There are so many possible reasons or a combination of reasons for this. Steamboat is super crowded right now. It has become more challenging to get outside and enjoy the feeling of getting away from it all. There are more people on the trails, at the lakes, and in open spaces. There are ongoing economic concerns as well as uncertainty around COVID-19 and its future impact on our lifestyles, businesses, physical and mental health, children, parents, and politics.

One thing to remember is to take a breath and realize that we are in the middle of pitta season. Wait, what? Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, is the traditional medicine system of India. It is based on the idea of creating balance throughout the body’s systems via diet, herbs, yoga, and pranayama. Things that affect the body’s balance include the seasons and the associated temperature, characteristics, and elements.

Pitta, or fire, season runs from late spring to early fall. In this season of fire energy, we can get out of balance from living at a high elevation, being closer to the sun, enjoying outdoor activities in the heat, lack of air conditioning, and even the foods we choose to eat. Too much pitta may manifest as becoming impatient, quick to anger, confrontational, or grumpy. It can also manifest as skin rashes, joint pain, or gastrointestinal symptoms such as reflux or diarrhea. The bottom line is: it’s hot, crowded, and we are losing our cool!

The one word that keeps coming to mind as I begin my asana practice on my mat these days is grace. It is one of my favorite words. I love its simplicity and elegance when spoken aloud. The word has several different definitions and uses. It can mean smoothness of action or beauty of form. It can indicate a pleasing or attractive quality. It can refer to kindness, forgiveness, or reverence.

When I practice grace on my mat, I am meeting myself right where my body is with honesty and kindness. Through the lens of an observer, I honor myself. When I practice grace with others, I accept them where they are in their journey and I extend kindness and compassion. I honor them. Grace is ending class with Namaste, which means the light, spirit, and divine in me bows to the light, spirit, and divine in you. I honor myself and I honor you.

It is easy to practice grace. And it is easy to be full of grace, until you aren’t anymore. I can be full of grace until I walk into the grocery store and spot someone walking down the aisle the wrong way with their mask below their nose. Incredulity, righteousness, and rage flash through my system. And I am instantly reminded that grace is a practice, and I am committed to it. My righteousness recedes, and so does my judgment.

Grace means we acknowledge that we are all shipwrecked in this boundless and unforgiving ocean right now. And we acknowledge, too, that we are all in our own, unique boats. I cannot assume I know and understand the kind of stress someone else is experiencing, just as others cannot truly know and understand mine. Just as it is important to balance pitta by selecting or avoiding certain foods and activities, it is also important to find ways to cultivate grace with yourself and others around you.

In light and love,

Sandy