Good Vibrations

**I’m just going to go ahead and preface this post that we’re about to get real hippie up in this blog. Like, complete and total stereotypical yoga hippie. Please feel free to leave now and come back next weekend after I do something stupid while drunk. Don’t worry, I won’t be mad.

Last weekend in YTT, we had a really powerful moment towards the end of the Sunday, the official halfway mark of the program. We were all exhausted from around 8 hours of practice across two days (11 hours if you count Thursday and Friday… I hurt), and we’d spent a lot of the weekend discussing mantras and chanting; the day ended with the group in a circle singing the Maha Mantra and clapping along, while three yoga mats were never empty in the middle, each of us offering a small yoga flow, or our favorite pose, or just something to each other to commemorate the incredible bond we’re forming in such a short time, basking in how palpable the love and support was in that room. I left after having shed more than a few tears in the final meditation, just bursting with emotions and feeling like I was on top of the world. There’s a tangible feeling radiating from a person when you’ve experienced something like that – in yogic terms, it’s like operating on a different level of consciousness. In layman’s terms, I’m talkin’ about good vibrations.

Energy. In scientific terms, it’s the property of an object that can be transferred or changed but never destroyed. In real life, it’s that feeling when you walk into a room of laughing people and you immediately feel happier, or how one stressed out and cranky coworker can bring the whole team vibe down (what? I’ve never done that). Through our own practice in life, yogis learn to be more sensitive, more attuned to the energies within our own bodies and minds, and a side effect is you become infinitely more aware of the energy of people around you. It’s why you’ll hear a yogi refer to someone in terms like “she has such a beautiful energy” or “I couldn’t handle being around that negative energy much longer.” It starts to become palpable, tangible how strangers and friends are feeling, even when they don’t say a word.  I feel like my people-sensory skills have completely exploded in the last month of yoga training, so much so that it’s caused a massive shift in my mindset around my life in New York City, where it is, where it’s been, and where I thought it was headed, until recently.

These kind of vibrations, this elevated consciousness or whatever you want to believe it might be aren’t limited to the moment you’re standing next to someone, and they don’t require someone to look you in the face. It’s why people can’t interpret text messages sometimes, like when you start dating someone and you can’t tell if they’re flirting with you or brushing you off; the words say one thing but your intuition is telling you it’s something else, the words are real but the feelings are implied. At times even the most direct words have a subtle vibration of something deeper to them, so instead of cutting through you, causing anxiety or even inciting you to engage, your reaction is a sad smile and maybe even some sense of relief. Because the more attuned you are to all of these vibrations, the good and the bad and the in-between, you’re also sensitive to what energies you’ll allow in your life, knowing they have the power to affect you when you least expect and least need them to.

Something we practice in yoga is ahimsa, non-harming, compassion. There are a million ways to interpret ahimsa in modern life, but in this case I’m referring to one of the most basic: don’t harm yourself. Don’t think negative things about the body that sustains your life in this world, nourish it with good foods and self-care. And more importantly don’t bring negativity into your Self, into your consciousness. Like begets like- negativity breeds negativity, and if you choose to surround yourself and engage with negative energy, that negativity will come back to your own life. I spent so many years of my life breeding negative thoughts about my physical and mental self that I’m only now barely scratching the surface of what it really means to be happy. The first step in that is an easy one though: the first step is to remove myself from situations where I’m doused in negative energy and focus on the rest of the positive things that have come into my life in recent and not-so-recent days and weeks. Like begets like – and cultivating this positive energy around me is something I have a feeling I’ll need in the months ahead, where the Big Change I thought I wanted is changing right before my eyes.

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Wring it Out

The past seven days have been trying, to say the very least. Between anticipated Whole30 crankiness, a family member in the hospital, then a nursing/rehab facility, plus the general drama that comes with extended time with my family, as well as a slowly-exploding workload, I haven’t had a ton of downtime for anything. Sunday was the first day I had a few hours to myself, waking up leisurely around 7:30, and spending the morning cleaning and warming up for a yoga class at noon. I knew the instructor, and knew to prepare because his classes are a little intense, but the one on Sunday was beyond what I was expecting – and not just from an asana perspective. Like, we started out by singing a mantra while he played along on a weird instrument? I’m sure it was supposed to be moving and spiritual and all that, and don’t get me wrong, I like some hippie granola with my yoga, but this was a little out there, even for me. My thoughts were racing through the whole song: this is dumb, my arms are sore (they were lifted the whole time), why won’t the hungover Australians behind me stop talking, until we started the actual sequences for the class, and all thoughts shut down so I could focus on breathing and praying I would make it through. The class was IN-TENSE – twists on twists on lunges, balancing one two limbs, one limb, planks to handstand prep to planks to backbends. When we made it to the final rest, I could feel my whole body sigh with relief at a few moments to reflect and steady my breath. As I lay there, listening to my slowing heartbeat and counting, four beats inhale, four beats exhale, I could feel all the negativity float out of my body back into the funny limbo where that energy stays,

Something people don’t think about in yoga is that the movements go way beyond… well, the movements. The poses, sequences, flows are all wonderful for toning the body and all, but each movement also has a very specific intention that helps you physically and mentally: negative emotions are stored in the hips, twists detoxify everything, standing postures keep you balanced, i could go on. I’d been focusing on more strength postures in daily practice the past week, still tirelessly working towards a free-standing forearm stand, but in that class on Sunday, my first one since before all the Easter mayhem, the instructor had us focusing on twists: seated, standing, balanced, on our backs, on our stomachs. We twisted in Chair Pose, we twisted in Cow Face, we twisted in headstands and everyone twisted in lunges, massaging the internal organs and sweating profusely as we worked through some emotional and physical build-up in the body. “Wring it out!” the instructor kept telling us, as we went left on the inhale, right on the exhale. “Wring out the negativity and the bad thoughts. Don’t focus on when this will be over. Focus on what’s happening to you right now – the burning, the twisting, the squeezing of toxins out of your body and mind.”

Yoga has this way of getting into my head and helping me realize other moments in life where I may be holding on to needless bad energy. The past week, it’s been difficult to focus on anything with everything happening around me, and it was enough just to try and keep all the Whole30 planning, family time, and work tasks straight. Everything combined meant I was holding on to a lot of crappy emotions, and it started coming out in nasty ways: snapping at my mother after a long day in the nursing center, yelling at the cat for trying to snuggle with me by kneading her claws into my neck, and finally beating myself up over not being “far enough along” in yoga practice, as though there’s a magical endpoint where I should be right now. Much as I can take deep breaths and apologize to the people on the receiving end of my snippy remarks, yoga isn’t so forgiving. If I’m angry, or annoyed, or frustrated, and I focus on that anger and frustration instead of the positive progress I’ve made, I won’t get into things that usually come easily to me, and I won’t move forward, a lesson I’ve carried into many aspects of my life.

I’ve been beating myself up quite a lot lately that I haven’t had as much time to write as I’d like. And even now, this post has taken me four days to put together, and I’m throwing the end of this together in a rare five minutes of peace before back-to-back meetings till five. I can also go into how I’ll probably beat myself up about taking the time to write this now, instead of handling one of the many, many outstanding tasks that need to get done this week, both professionally and personally. But I’m doing my best to stay on the positive side of things for now. I’ll get back to blogging like normal; I’ll get to the level I want to be in yoga. I’ll get to a place where it doesn’t feel like I’m drowning every time I open my eyes, and hey, there’s only two more weeks till I can drink wine again. Everything will happen, and things will feel better. And until that all comes into place, I’ll be twisting left and right and sideways, staying on the right side of a positive energy and wringing out what is keeping me back.