21 December 2014

Up Front

By now at least some of you know that I am not a fan of practicing on the front row. I've got my spots on the second or third row that I love, and the corner spot on the fourth row for those times when by body doesn't feel bendy or I have eaten like a pig for a day or two. I know you aren't supposed to get attached to one spot in the room but it's all too easy to stay in the same spot for each class.

One afternoon a couple of weeks ago I was in my usual spot: second row on the right (hot) side of the room. One woman on the front row, nobody behind us. Then another woman took the spot in the corner to my right on the front row. Then with time winding down before class began, Florence (one of our instructors) took a third spot in the front. Still, there was no one behind me. So, for some reason, I grabbed my gear and took the last spot up front between Florence and the woman in the corner. 

"Feeling all alone. Thought I'd join you", I whispered to Florence. She beamed and gave me a high five. 

As class commenced, our instructor, Shannon, advised that he was not going to adjust the fans on our side due to a broken switch. Florence, who likes the room warmer than most, gave a thumbs up. 

"Yikes. What did I just do?", was my thought. 

So, off we went. As we started the second set of Pranayama, a regular front row student came in and, finding no room up front, took my original spot in the second row. 

"Damn! I knew I should have stayed put!". Quickly I calmed down and got on with the class. 

The biggest advantage to being up front is obviously getting an unobstructed view of yourself. Extra important for me since things are blurry without my glasses. Up front, you're not looking past people. It truly is easier to focus in on yourself. It also sucks, especially when I look at my body. As stated before, I hate looking in any mirror: studio, bath, or otherwise. Negative thoughts creep in about my shape, my weight, my lack of balance, etc. On the front row it was worse, especially when practicing next to or in front of such proficient students. Example: in Standing Head-to-Knee I know these ladies are all kicking out beautifully while I'm fumbling about trying to grab my foot while keeping my knee locked. In Standing Bow I know they are all rock steady while I'm working hard to keep my balance and not crash into one of them. As in many areas, I felt like I really did not belong in the front row. I felt out of place. 

The other big reason is that the heat always seems more intense up front. Now I like the hot side of the room, but on the front row it's REALLY hot. Why? Because the heat bounces off the mirrors and back at you. When the fans are on higher settings, the heat comes off the mirrors even faster. It's like being in a convection oven! Now, I sweat a lot in class, but I swear it was even worse in the front row. My work-study partner says she feels her skin get hotter when she is next to the mirrors. 

I made it through the class pretty well. I did lay out during stretching - I simply had nothing left. Being up front, and practicing alongside an instructor, did make me give a more honest effort and my postures were, in fact, better. No taking it easy in a posture. No sitting out Triangle. No doing only one set of Rabbit. 

Taking a chance and moving up front must have done something inside me as well. Why? Well this past Thursday I was able to take an extra class (normally it is tough to make a Thursday). There was a lady in my normal spot on the second row, so I just took a spot a couple of paces to her right. After a few minutes, I thought, "What the hell", and moved up to the front row and assumed Savasana. When the lights came on, I rose up to discover that the lady in question had followed me up to the front row. 

You never know how your actions affect others...


PS: Last week I was on the front row for a third time... What is going on?...

20 December 2014

The Holiday Post -- 2014

This post has appeared in various forms here and elsewhere. It changes a bit each year. Enjoy!

I know. The holidays are here. Rushing here and there. Looking for just the right gift. Planning the big meal.

Lights and tinsel and food, oh my! 

There are so many things to do. So many places to go, people to meet. 

Before all that, however, let's slow down. Just for a moment. Take a deep breath, and exhale slowly. 

It's not about mass consumerism and delayed flights and, "Just one more slice of pie..."

Give me a moment. It won't take very long. I have a few thoughts I want to share. 

1) If you are traveling, I hope your trip goes well and you get there and back safe and sound.

2) If you are in the military (of any nation) and the holidays find you far away, know that we are truly thankful for the sacrifices you make every day of the year. Godspeed and I hope you are with your loved ones very soon.

3) When you are with your loved ones, hug them. Hug them again.  Hug them harder. You just never know when (or IF)  you'll get that chance again.

3a) If there are children at your gathering, hold them, hug them, laugh and play silly games with them. Watch the sparkle in their eyes. Let go. Be a kid again. The cold, hard world will still be there tomorrow.

4) If you are at odds with someone, extend the olive branch. Call. Write. E-mail. Send a telegram. Send smoke signals. Try anything. Try everything. Try to make peace. Just try. Maybe nothing happens. Maybe great things happen. 

5) Never Forget: There are a great many people in need. Give what you can. The Red Cross, The Salvation Army, your local homeless shelter, women's shelter, soup kitchen, your local food bank... all would appreciate whatever you can give. Food, clothing, cash, doesn't matter. It all goes to improve someone's life (and therefore the world) just a little bit.

6) Never Forget II: Our four legged friends need a hand, too. The local Humane Society or SPCA can always use food or bedding for their charges. Perhaps you are looking for a new "furever" friend. Consider a shelter pet. 

7) Eat, drink, and be merry!!! If you choose to enjoy a drink, don't drive. Please. Call a cab. Call a friend. Anything. 

8) Laugh out loud. Do a silly dance. Let someone know just exactly how special they are to you.

9) Finally, perhaps most importantly, take some for yourself. Reflect. Take stock of things. Take a long walk and consider your life. What do you like? What needs changing? Seek advice. Write it out. Do whatever you need to start the new year out right. 

Love and Peace to all. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all!!!