When you just can’t…

Thanks to all of you who sent such sweet feedback! It has meant so much to see every single one of your comments. (Special thanks to Athena and Liora for commenting on the website. It gave me a special thrill to know that my website has comments.)

And an extra special thanks to one friend who’s been having a hard time with her practice and shared that with me. She inspired me to share more of what’s going on for me in my practice right now.

A lot of my hesitation about getting this website up and running and writing a yoga blog has centered around the fact that my own practice is so sporadic right now. As a full time university student getting ready to graduate, leading eight sessions around Boston, and living at least an hour away from my school and from all the places I work, my life is hectic. Without hashing out all the details, suffice to say that, after being out of the house for long hours all day, I am physically too tired to do more than sleep, and I need as many of those sleeping hours as I can get.

So I count myself lucky if I get to a yang style yoga class once, maybe twice, a week. My home practice, if it can be called that, has become entirely yin, often done in front of a computer while I do homework. Who the hell am I to write a yoga blog? Do I even have time? What do I have to offer, really?

And the answer that I keep coming back to is that I love yoga. I love all eight limbs, I love sitting to meditate, I love the community. Ok, my physical practice is waning, and yeah, I have knots in my shoulders from the stress (and backpack) in my current lifestyle, and I miss that blissful lengthening and strengthening of muscle, and I feel the lack of my yogi friends in my life. But ultimately, I keep reminding myself that my practice isn’t about the physical stuff, and it isn’t about the other people, and it isn’t about having the perfect yoga lifestyle. It’s about constantly living and breathing in a way that feels right. To the best of my ability. And then, with that reminder, the question becomes: How?

There are three books and two songs that have been helping to keep me sane in the past few months. Most of the time my iPod is playing, on repeat “Invocation of the Great Mother” by Shanti Shivani. If I need a break from Shanti’s heavenly chanting, I play “Devaki” by Irene Solea (a local kirtan artist, check her out!) for more heavenly chanting. That half-smile I’ve got on the T when I put my headphones on? It’s probably because of one of these two songs.

And the books are Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, The Spirit of Yoga by Cat de Rham and Michelle Gill, and The Key Muscles of Yoga by Ray Long and Chris McIvor. Each of these books deserves its own full post, so for now I’ll simply put out all this gratitude to Kerry Dugan and to my mom for having given them to me. They help me remember that yoga is more than movement, that someday I’ll have more of that yoga movement again, and that outside of yoga there’s a lot more to explore.

And I’m curious: What keeps you sane when you can’t get on your mat? Or when you just don’t have the time or space to do whatever it is you’re passionate about? What reminds you that this life thing is still ok?

~ by Carmen Celeste Thurston on March 8, 2011.

3 Responses to “When you just can’t…”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Carmen. I can completely relate to what you’re saying. During our teacher training I was working over time, planning a wedding, recovering from surgery, fixing up and selling our condo, not to mention running my own company and trying to balance my friends & family with my yoga practice. I tried so hard to squeeze in morning practice and drop by weekend classes, but it just seemed to make my life even more chaotic. David said something to me once that stuck, similar to what you’re saying above – a yoga practice isn’t all about asana. My practice during that time was to develop my mental and emotional clarity by creating a yin space and not letting my list of tasks overwhelm me. Now that my life is quieter I’m enjoying strong physical activity, including sweaty yoga classes. Like you said, it feels right at the moment. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who struggles with balance from time to time. Thanks again for posting!

    • Oh, Laura! Thank you so much for this reply! I have been quietly beating myself up over not going to classes “enough,” when deeper than that I know that pressure is just adding to the chaos. It’s been a constant process of reminding myself, and then reminding myself again… (this post is one of my reminders to myself) It’s still easy to be overwhelmed, especially on days when I forget that the physical practice is not the entirety of the practice, or that the lack of physical practice does not make me a bad yogi.

      Thank you so much for letting me know you can relate to this! I was sort of afraid that it was “just me.” (Silly, I know. When are we ever alone? Isn’t that what the happy shining light friends, what namaste is all about? Still…)


  2. Great post Carmen – of course, same deal here with balancing a zillion things, and really missing the routine and the community of the practice. I love that we’re all still connecting on different levels, though – whether it be through blogs like this or getting subs for our classes. That keeps me (almost?) sane. Thanks for the song and book recommendations! xo, rockstar.

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