Thursday, January 22, 2015

Found my glow

Posted by Melissa Baumgart

I reached into my purse to clear out loose change so I could empty it into the change jar that my oldest uses to take the bus to school every day, since she had yet again lost her Orca card (for non-Seattleites, bus pass).  I gasped loud enough to startle my kids as I saw what I had pulled out.  It was a small, round, metal pin that I had never seen before.  I have no idea where it came from, but there it was in my purse....it had a heart on it and the word "Glow."

It was during my 60 day challenge in August/September that I first found my glow.  It must have been a day in September, because I know it was toward the end of the 60 days, and I know it was a Thursday night class at 7pm with Gary.  I was on my mat, in one of my usual spots in the middle rows on the right side of the room.  It was a very focused class for me, no fidgeting and just staring at my own reflection in the mirror.  There was very little darting around the room with my eyes.  Laser beam focus. 

Then it happened.  As I looked at my reflection in the mirror, I saw a yellow glow all around my body.  I thought maybe the heat was getting to me and I might be about to pass out...but, no, I remained standing and conscious.  The glow was around me for the rest of the class.  Each pose had its particular struggle, and that was OK, I realized the poses aren't meant to be without effort and sometimes pain. In between poses, I had the most peaceful savasanas I had ever experienced.  The whole class, I kinda felt like I was floating.

After the 60 day challenge, when I dove back into junk food, wine and no yoga, Amy and I often joked about how I lost my glow.  Then one day another friend reminded me that even when it's cloudy, the sun is still up there, behind the clouds.  And that even if my mind felt cloudy and my heart felt heavy with rain about to stream down my cheeks, my glow was still inside of me. 

Finding the glow pin reminded me that it's always been there, my glow is always with me.  Even when life is a struggle and sometimes feels painful, maybe it's not all meant to be easy, and we just need to find savasanas along the way until the clouds once again part and you see your own glow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pregnant Melinda Strikes Back

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Remember Pregnant Melinda?  I do.  I'll never forget the burn of humiliation on my cheeks or how deep I had to dig into my shallow emotional reserves to not fall to pieces in the pool that day during water aerobics.  When the instructor asked me if I was pregnant, into the microphone for the whole pool to hear, I felt I had hit a new low.  Since adolescence I have been hearing people either call me fat or ask me if I was pregnant.  And there I was, in a water aerobics class trying to be healthy and fit, and yet, meeting up with the same old comments.
03/12 "Pregnant Amy and Pregnant Melinda"

One of my current jobs is at a maternity store.  Last Sunday, I greeted a mother and daughter as they entered the store.  The mother said, "We need to find my daughter some maternity shirts.  She just isn't fitting into her tops anymore."  I stepped out from behind the counter to assist her and her daughter, "Of course, we have all of our maternity clothes right over here."  The mother looked me up and down and said, "Looks like you need one too," with a smile.  "NO," I said sternly and with force, as I continued to walk toward her, "I am NOT pregnant."  She continued to smile and pretended the whole thing never happened.  I spent the next 30 minutes helping her daughter find maternity shirts, exhibiting nothing but exemplary customer service.  I think they spent a few hundred dollars. 

While it did affect me, and I have shared the story with friends in a "Can you believe that?" kind of way, I did notice a huge difference.  I felt bold.  I felt fierce.  I did not feel small and less than everyone else just because those words were spoken at me.  I did not cower and want to hide with humiliation.  In that moment, I chose to stand tall and continue to do my job.  Sure, it has hurt my feelings since then, and occasionally added fuel to my fire of self loathing as I look into the mirror...but I can tell that I have changed since that last time I was called pregnant in the pool at water aerobics.  I still carry that inner dialogue of being the fat one and looking pregnant, but it's quieter and less incessant. 

I notice the contrast most in the yoga studio.  In yoga, you stare at your own reflection for 90 minutes.  This can be a challenge for those of us with body image issues.  The bright lights, the tight clothes, the sea of tiny women in the room seems to have no horizon at times.  I might start off class, looking around the room, comparing my body to others, feeling like the "big girl" in the back of the class.  But by the time I have rocked my way through half-moon, I feel strong and confident, and my size doesn't matter in the least. 


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back of the class

By Amy Baranski

Gratuitous yoga pose while on vacation once upon a time.
Wow 17 months since my last solo blog postIt feels strange to be back on this blogging platform.

I'm writing while my son works at the kitchen sink rinsing out his favorite household item, the Vitamix. Standing atop a wobbly chair circa 1890 high on his tiptoes, sometimes one-legged to maneuver the faucet. The water gets really hot too. Danger abounds. I'm so impressed by his natural ability to find his edge and the focus and persistence he maintains there. He always seems to push further exploring his environment and his place in it. I want to be just like him!

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After a two-year hiatus I returned to my Bikram practice almost a year ago. It has deepened so much of my life I'm extremely grateful to have returned. A few nights ago a student asked me why I always practice in the back of class. For the record I haven't always practiced in the back row, but recently I do place my mat in the same general area. This (ahem) happens to be in the back, under a fan, near a door. I rambled off something about not feeling prepared and following yoga etiquette, you know, reserving the front for the students with better postures, endurance, and such. The student gave me a "yeah, whatever" smile. I wasn't sure how to take that, and I couldn't believe I got called out.

Of course I obsessed. Why am I practicing in the back? I came up with a whole list of reasons!

I'm trying to stay anonymous. I feel vulnerable in the front. I have less self-criticism when I see my reflection from afar. (We practice in front of big mirrors; part of the Bikram practice is looking at yourself). I really haven't felt prepared lately. There was that one yoga party I went to...and I'm not entirely certain what I said to some other yoga students...so you know giving that whole experience some breath. I get to look at the photos of Bikram and Yogananda during Savasana, and you know, that's cool. I've been ok with feeling comfortable. This trend started after a consecutive 60 day yoga challenge and I just needed a break from being a "front row person". Yeah, so that's why.

The next night I moved to second row. (The front was filled).

It wasn't a class without many personal savasanas, but I worked harder. I felt more uncomfortable, but that felt good. I experienced more mental chatter, but I brought intention to my thoughts. I'm not sure where I'll practice tonight. I don't want a plan, but I don't want to fall back into the familiar either.

Maybe I'll just make things really uncomfortable and ask a front row person if I can take their spot. I can say something like, "You know, Bikram says we're supposed to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable."

The lesson I'm learning here is that discovery is all about rearranging. My son is constantly rearranging. Putting the top on the Vitamix then taking it off. Placing something in the blender and taking it out. Each time he discovers and delights in something new. I think I'll take his lead.