Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What am I supposed to do?

I'm sorry I've been gone. I've had a cold so I've been feeling sorry for myself and watching a lot of the Food Network. I've been thinking a bunch too. One of my favourite days of the month has become when I find the latest issue of Yoga Journal and they had a very insightful aspect about balancing these four aspects of your life. I couldn't even think about the other three however because I'm totally hung up on the first aspect, dharma. Dharma is duty in yoga. It is your job, your duty to your family and your community and following your life's purpose. In terms of my job, I'm a student which is going fine, I'm a research assistant, I lag a bit in that department and I'm a lifeguard and since no one has drowned on my watch I think that's going ok. But am I serving the world the way I'm supposed to? Am I serving my community? Am I working towards my life's purpose? These are such deep questions and my answer is unfortunately, heck if I know!

I know the things I like, but I cannot differentiate between those that are my life's purpose and those that are my passion (what I do for fun). I love politics but sometimes the vast unfixability (yes I know I made that up) of the world can overwhelm me and intimidate me. Sometimes when I read about the catastrophe that is Haiti, or Somalia or even the Reservation system in Canada I just want to curl up in a little ball with a romance novel and pretend the world outside doesn't exist.

Instead what I'm going to try doing is taking a deep breath and working a little closer to home. I want to volunteer at this community centre that I heard about where they grow most of their own food and have an after school cooking program. I want to open a farmer's market at my school (there's an ambitious project!) and change the world a little bit through food.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Yoga off the mat and on the dinner table

So I would be lying if I said that I have not shifted the purpose of this blog a little bit. My intention, to do one fearless thing a day, or week, or even a month hasn't really happened. I'm still terrified of talking to strangers (blame it on being told from childhood that its a bad idea), I still seem to be pretty much convinced that I'm not going to succeed at anything that I really like. In spite of my anxieties and my neuroticisms (that's not really a word, I invented it, you're welcome Freud) I'm happy about a lot of things, I like my classes, I like my job in theory, I like my friends though I don't see enough of them and I'm enjoying delving into the world of yoga. Don't get me wrong, I plan to take that cooking class, go on that yoga retreat, and talk to more guys (because really, that's what this is all about) and finally trust myself enough in crane pose tha I can hold it for longer then half a second, but I'm 21 it's ok that I cant do all of these things yet.

The direction of this blog seems to have taken a sort of yogic turn, maybe you noticed, maybe I noticed you noticing. Well, the reason is because anything that makes people happy, serene, content and uplifted, that provides answers to life's hardest questions, that helps people find answers to life's hardest questions and that gently suggests a way of living that makes you say "If everyone lived this way the world would be a much better place" is something that I want to talk about.

Now as I mentioned previously, I injured myself last month. It really cramped my style or threw out my groove or whatever young cats are saying these days. So what could I do? I don't really have a lot of experience meditating, I have a true (as Buddhists say) monkey mind. I'm not a vegan and am currently serving the greater good by getting my degree political science or, as I have started calling it, understanding the world. I always feel as though I should be doing more however. So taking advantage of my winter holidays I have been studying up on mindful or ethical eating. By ethical, just so we're clear, I'm not suggesting vegetarian or vegan (though most serious students of yoga eventually follow that path) however since I'm relatively new to the world of yoga let me suggest a smaller step. Eat local. What does local mean? The definition varies, however the first people to really bring this issue to the forefront (authors of the 100 Mile Diet) suggest a limit of 100 miles. This is tough and it is unrealistic for your diet to comprise of 100% 100 mile food, (especially during the winter) however, if you do you're best you will find yourself cutting down on packaged foods, meeting the farmers who grew your food, eating pesticide and artificial fertilizer free food and (if you can afford it) eating happier and healthier meat. The health benefits of eating this way can be enormous. You enjoy a more varied seasonal diet, many people have reported weightloss, they have reported being satisfied by their food more easily and of course there are the social benifits (think of the time you can spend at the farmer's market with your family, and think of the pride your kids will have in opening up a jar of jam that they helped make the summer before). In short, veganism is a big step and it isn't right for everyone (I'm talking to you anemics) but there is no reason why we can't all be a litle more aware of where our food comes from.

More to follow on this later!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Asana on Hold

I am frustrated beyond measure. Why? Because I fell off my mat (the yoga wagon if you will) quite literally. Before I fell let me explain the appeal yoga has for me. In a phrase, I like how there is no such thing as a perfect yogi/ni. Every other thing I do is something that I feel that I should excel in. If I fall short of being a perfect daughter, being a great friend, being an amazing student (and I inevitably do) it's really quite heartbreaking. Yoga has always been something different however. Just touching my toes felt like an accomplishment after years of tight hamstrings. To feel downward dog change from a struggle to a wonderful stretch was a joy. As my core grew stronger I could hold tree pose for longer. I had all the wonder and enthusiasm of a new yogini. So I started to branch out. Anyone with the privilege of living in one of Canada's major urban centers has access to something called passport to prana, which is a pass that, for a nominal fee gets you a free class at over 30 different studios around Toronto.

So there I was, happily branching out. Being adventurous, trying out different studios, different styles, different teachers when one day I fell off my mat. I was tired, it was a vinyasa class and everyone there was far more advanced then I was. Rather then focusing on my own practice, listening to what my body needed and trying to stay present I did exactly what I was avoiding. I started pushing myself, not just trying to keep up but trying to prove that I belonged there at this ritzy studio catering to blond, fit stay at home moms with their six-packs. (In my defense, the teacher did not encourage us to take a moment and reconnect but she pushed us harder then I had ever been pushed before.) So there I was, near the end of the practice doing one final vinyasa, and as I rolled over my toes and pushed myself back into downward dog, I felt an enormous wrench, as though my knee had suddenly turned around to face the back, and as I fell down, in excruciating pain and put my hand on my knee, I realized that that was exactly what had happened (actually my knee cap had dislocated itself and was now on the outside of my leg).

I saw a physiotherapist and she said the one thing I was the most scared of hearing: don't go back to yoga just yet. Get that knee healthy first. So I heaved a big sigh and acquiesced.