Thinking About Yoga

| December, 2023 | The importance of hair

Hair is important. Brushing, washing, cutting, styling, coloring, shaving, it’s important. Personally, I’ve vacillated on the amount of effort I put in to my hair. Recently I am committed again. My friend and I talked about this during a walk in the woods one day. I trust her opinion and she’s been there for me when I needed the honesty. I was having a rough patch and she told be exactly who to go to where I live. I trusted her and went down to see my new stylist for a consult. He was everything that she said he’s be and I got going again with regular appointments. I felt good about my hair. Then we had the time with covid when we all went to uncolored, crappy hair. Even the dogs! Wilson is a white curly haired dog and he couldn’t wait to get a decent grooming again. I was a little slower because my stylist died suddenly at the very beginning of our covid seclusion. I did the DIY. Hair was not important.

I will get to the point of yoga soon. I had an overseas trip planned and it came up fast. Family time in Italy, in the summer, fun. I didn’t plan for my hair. The night before my trip I had a thought about my hair. It was late, 7pm I would guess and I was calling all the local salons. I called one, it’s been in town as long as I can remember. I left a message and got a return call. We scheduled an appointment for the next morning.

I don’t know how long it had been since a professional took care of my hair. It was obvious. I got a nice cut and a little more. My new stylist lightened my hair. I listened to her suggestion and opinion. She was right and so I would go back with irregularity and always to her. I go regularly now.

Finally, here’s the point. Last time I was there we got to talking. I heard a story about her grandson. He was climbing and I think it must be new to him. I can’t say what kind of climbing, I don’t know the terminology. But the kind where you climb up with your arms and legs and it’s not indoors. So he get’s to a point and is out of space with nowhere to go next. I’m thinking he can’t get his next moves and has a choice to make. One choice is to give up, and somehow get assistance out of the situation. That was a real possibility. What he chose instead was to back it up and reassess. To get a new look at the problem. He did. He backed it up and found his line. It worked. To me, that is yoga. The finding the way. The new look, the permission to move ahead. The practice.

| October, 2023 | I Run

I run, I am a runner. I found this out today and have also known it about myself for a very long time. I love the feeling of my feet on the ground and the roll moving forward, the next move, step, breath and glance. Around the corner, in that tree, the other end of the road. The next show, the next adventure, the next project. Running no matter how fast or slow is freedom on my own feet, my shoes know where to go. I’ll always be a runner. This sitting life is misery.

| August, 2023 | I’m always thinking about yoga

Really, I am. Always thinking about yoga. You could be too and don’t even know that you’re thinking about yoga. Anyway, here’s what’s on my mind. This morning I taught an early morning Classic 84 class and there were three of us total with about 100 road miles in between. We could all see each other and created a community of discussion and movement actively for about 75 minutes and then ebbing for hours. This is not the same as when we are together in a physical space. Being separate physically is not void of connection as we may have thought. We are in fact live and together with a familiarity and respect that allows us to form a practice group. It cannot be replicated and repeated as it is live connection.

| July, 2023 | How do you stay so thin?

Never have I ever felt more flexible and strong. I say this a lot, especially when I am teaching class. Because I’m constantly reminded when watching and observing students in class about how they progress in flexibility and strength. We live in our own bodies every day and all day and the changes are not as easy to perceive. But for the outsider, the teacher, it is obvious. Here’s another thing, I get the question or comment a lot about being slim, in shape, thin, you get the idea. And then the follow up comment about that I must be always working out, eating really well (strict diet), again the same types of assumptions. First, I am what I am and I am the the biggest I’ve ever been. My shoe size is the biggest anyway. The fact is, I have a small frame. That means I don’t have a lot of extra. As an adult I’ve learned that daily exercise is important. I started as a daily runner at 26 and then daily yoga at 40. I am a lucky in some ways and not in others. I am thin and that is natural. My mother was the same, and my grandmother was the same. My dad was the same and his parents and sisters. As a family we aren’t particularly big. I was always the youngest, the smallest, the lightest. This is who I have been and is part of who I am now. Seems that it still shows and I’m okay with that.

| April, 2023 | Keep Doing it

I read and hear it all the time, “show up, do the work, consistency, practice, and it will work”. The message in my head is “I can’t finish, there is not end, I don’t possess that level of commitment to anything, I have no ability to focus to that end, and it goes on and on.” Today I was updated my teaching calendar for beginner and advanced classes and realized that I have shown up for 16 years. Consistently for 16 years teaching beginners yoga. Every week for 15 years leading an advanced practice. There it is, I actually do have the ability, now what do I do with it.

| January, 2023 | Quitting and Not Quitting

I’ve thought about quitting since the first yoga class. See at that point I was a runner and going to yoga wasn’t something that I saw as long term the way I could think about running. Running was for life. Yoga, well, it was great, but wasn’t on track to replace running. It could supplement it though. Over time, my identity as a runner transformed and became less a part of my daily life. Yoga took it’s place. It was just how my life was evolving.

In the early days, I did think that there would be a day when I would pick up daily runs again. I didn’t. What I’m not saying is that I quit running. I never did. I just don’t run every day anymore. I did start yoga every day. The world I know now sees me as a yogi/yoga teacher. I’ve practiced every day and for a long time twice a day and for years. I don’t practice every day anymore and sometimes I practice twice a day. I teach a few classes a month now and for years I taught that many classes in a week. Recently I thought how much I’d like teach full time. I think about walking away.

| July, 2022 | FK Yoga, Round 2

There we were again on vacation in Italy practicing the yoga series. Things had changed in a year, of course. For a few days our family was travelling and so the practice waited until we were grounded again. It was really wonderful to pickup and revisit the same program, system. And experience the changes that you can only notice when you separate for a while.

Most of what I teach to the public is hot yoga which I love. The two specific series, 26+2 and Classic Advanced 84. I’ll figure out a way to teach this series that I also love so much.

| October, 2021 | Where I am Now

Tonight Wilson and I were walking around the block before dinner. It was dark and I could smell the leaves aging as we walked by. It is late in October and the passage of time is measured in the darkness of the season. Monday is November and a good time to start a new project.

For the month I committed myself to an illustration yoga challenge. I am willing to draw one asana per day. Good for me!

Update – 11/12/2021

I have drawn ONE asana. The one I chose is Seated Forward Bend [Paschimottanasana] because it’s my favorite and I found out that it is hard to draw.

Head to Feet Yoga Asana Drawing







Since the time I thought up this great challenge and project for myself, I came to the conclusion that I was just revisiting a past project where I took a daily photo of an asana. There is not a lot of difference between the two, just the media. Most importantly, this type of project is more a distraction than developing any skill.

In that revelation – and for the purposes of entertainment – I give you some of my drawings and their corresponding photographs.

| September, 2021 | My Doc Quit Yoga

He did and he told me that he did and he told me why. I like my appointments with him because we have relevant conversations.

This is what I heard him say to me on the day of my 2021 physical exam.

“Miss Louise, I went to yoga classes regularly for about a year and a half and eventually quit because I didn’t find I was ‘getting anything’ from the instruction.”

“I just got so sick and tired of being instructed by the flexible bendy yoga teacher. Those classes moved too fast for me and left me feeling defeated and like an outsider. I did find an instructor who had a little more time for me. At that point I just said, screw it, so I went to the front of the class and set up right next to the teacher in order to get the best instruction possible. It occurs to me that over time he didn’t appreciate my attendance. I stopped going to class. I originally went because I made a promise [to Norman] that I would try yoga and I would like to do this, but I just didn’t feel right there.”

My instinct tells me that my doctor ‘was not seen’. I have to guess that he is just over 50 years old, has average strength, flexibility and mobility and is hoping to regain some of the body that he has known. This man is no slacker, so what happened? Will he get back to yoga? For now he is active and running road races and marathons to raise donations for cancer research.

| July, 2021 | FK Yoga

I gave the practice this name, FK Yoga, after my brother-in-law who introduced it to me while we were on vacation in Italy. Those are his initials, FK. He learned it a while back during a time he spent at an ashram in India. This is a part of the knowledge he gained and one that he shared with me. It was everything that I needed then.

Generally I call it Range-of-Motion Yoga because the definition is in the name. If there there is something that I have learned over time it is that yoga, yoga classes, yoga teachers, and yoga studios are intimidating. If you can understand it, you can do it.

When I came home from that vacation I continued the practice a couple of times a week and then started to teach it to my friends outside of my yoga world. It’s very approachable and accessible. As the name implies, this practice focuses on range of motion using yoga exercises to maintain and improve it over your lifetime.

| September 14, 2020 | First Virtual 26+2 Practice

By September we were still basically at home and there were some rumblings that yogis were looking to take class but not the 84 practice. We decided to offer the 26+2 on Monday’s at 6:00 am with a slightly changed format. I would practice the first set with and instruct the second set. Over time that changed and I teach the first set now and practice the second set with.

| March 25, 2020 | first virtual advanced practice

When the stay-at-home advisory was announced in March 2020 and it was clear that there would be no in-person yoga classes I invited those yogis who I had been practicing with to join me virtually. Ellen Olson-Brown generously offered to host the classes using her Zoom account.

I put the invitation out to the group and we decided to start practicing right away on Wednesday’s at 6:00 am and Saturday’s at 8:00 am. It was a challenge and oddly exciting. It didn’t take long to figure out that I would not be able to replicate the studio heat and practice that same way. Eventually I had a method that worked well enough for me – a 5-minute hot bath and a simmering kettle on the stove gave me the extra that I needed.

* When I wrote this piece I found that my memory was a little twisted and decided to check the facts. Here’s a link to the COVID-19 pandemic timeline for Massachusetts.