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Annie Carpenter

Inspiration, Yoga

What Can You Re-Commit To?

April 30, 2012

Sometimes love is a choice.

I have some friends who have been married for over 15 years. They have been going through a hard time lately. Talk of divorce in the air. I am friends with both of them and have been offering an ear to each. One question which came up for me in light of their issues is this:

Can love be a choice?

I get it. After years of being married, after the kids, after having sex with the same person over and over (and over), you may get a little bored. Or, you shift in ways that are incomprehensible to your partner. Whatever it may be, the air becomes stale and at times, resentful and heavy. Like a slow suffocation.

Like a savasana that goes on and on and on and on.

And on.

What do I know? I have only been married two years. (Above photo was from my wedding celebration held at a yoga studio.)

But I do know that I have had this come up for me with other things in my own life.

I am committed these days to being my most honest self so here it goes.

I had fallen out of love with my own yoga practice.

There. I said it.

And yes, I make my living as a yoga teacher.

I have been working so much that the last thing I want to do is hear someone else tell me to lift my right leg or to shift into plank position. (Add the fact that, because of my hearing loss I cannot hear what the teacher says anyway, so when they say lift your right leg I am always the one lifting my left leg.)

I had grown resentful of it as if it had been my lover and had cheated on me. I rolled my eyes at it and gave it dirty looks and gossiped about it. I hated that I couldn’t hear what the teacher was saying and that I would end up feeling lost in a sea of Pincha Mayurasanas. (That is forearm balance for the laymen.) As in any relationship, miscommunication is where many problems arise.

Ah, my sweet beloved yoga practice that I once loved. I once was so obsessed with you that I dreamt of you often and changed my whole life to be closer to you.

What happened?

I will tell you what happened.

Life happened. 

Human being-ness happened.

I am using my yoga practice as an example, but you can insert your loved one or your job or your wife or whatever relationship it may be, and you will find the equation to be very similar.

Lack of Gratitude + Overworking + Not Showing Up To The Party+ Miscommunication =  the opposite of feeling in love.

1) I started taking my yoga practice for granted. I stopped being grateful for it.

2) I overworked myself so I had nothing left for me. When it came time for me-time, the last thing I wanted to do was my own yoga practice because I had taught so many times during the day that even the look of a yoga mat made me want to scream. (Sometimes I did scream.)

3) I got too comfortable not doing yoga. The hardest part is getting onto the mat. This. Is. True.

Just show up.

I am committed to falling BACK in love with… my own yoga practice.

Like all relationships, sometimes a little re-invention is needed.

A little coaxing, willingness, a gentle nudge, a sh*tload of commitment. Sometimes we get burnt out and we need to fall in love all over again. I believe this is possible.

The first step = We need to make a choice to commit. 

We need to dress up a little and have a hot date night. Or, in my case, a “yoga night” to re-ignite that fire.

We need to talk about it. Today, I am admitting my burnt-outedness and my  falling-out-of-lovedness. Once I got it out in the open and stopped being ashamed about it, I felt better. It was like a badge of Dis-Honor I was wearing on my heart. Once I talked about it to my teacher (thank you Annie Carpenter) and wrote about it here, I felt more human. I felt more connected to other people who have in fact fallen out of love with things they once were married to. (Or, at least were sleeping with.)

I am ready to get back into bed with my yoga practice.

I can choose to re-wire my thoughts so I once again feel passionate about my yoga practice. (You can do these same things with any relationship.)

I can make my schedule less jam packed so that I no longer feel nauseous at the idea of Downward dog. 

I can find new things that I love about my yoga practice. They may not be the things I fell in love with years ago. That’s ok. We have both grown older or wiser. ( I have grown older and Yoga has grown wiser.)
Where can you recommit in your own life? Answer below in the comment section.


Daily Manifestation Challenge

Daily Manifestation Challenge: Weekend Edition. FEAR.

October 22, 2011

“First you jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.”                                                                ― Ray Bradbury

Fear.

We all have it.

It helps us.

Sometimes.

When you’re in a dark alley and you see a man with a long trenchcoat running towards you with a big knife and your adrenaline kicks in and causes you to fly away as if you had wings. Totally helping you.

Good fear.

For many years of my life I lived under its guardianship. Fear watched over me. Helped me make my choices. Was my voice of reason.  Helped me stay in the same job for 13 years, live in the same apartment, eat the same foods over and over again. It helped me stay in a rut. It helped me stay depressed.

Bad fear. Cape Fear.

Lately the word fear has been popping up more than usual so I though I ought to pay it a visit.

I was in a yoga class last weekend with my mentor and teacher Annie Carpenter, and she had us all in navasana (boat pose) for a verrrrrrrrrry looong time. We all started to shake. I started to get angry. Then she started talking about fear. She asked us to identify a fear that we had previously had in our lives which we had conquered. Still in boat pose.

Then it hit me like a ton of navasanas. I had conquered my fear of gaining weight.

There I said it.

Of course, it was not simply a fear of just gaining weight, but to simplify it, I’ll call it that. I was, for many years, in the throes of a bad eating disorder.

Still in boat pose, I realized I had transcended the darkest, hardest years of my life. I felt like I could stay in navasana forever with this newfound realization.

Annie was saying how fear protects us at times but when it stops us from playing and living then it no longer serves us. Or something like that.  We were still in still in boat pose at this point…and here I was lost in my own newfound revelation, so I wasn’t exactly getting everything word for word.

 

I became severely anorexic when I was 17 years old after a doctor told me that if I wanted my breasts smaller, (they caused me a lot of unwanted attention and discomfort back then) I should just lose five pounds. (If I could go back in time and shake him uncontrollably for saying that, I would. Although I know it really wasn’t his fault. Even if it was a crappy thing to tell a teenage girl.) That was the exact moment I went home and made a list of all the foods I would and would not eat. Up until that point I had never exercised and I ate cheese steaks and TastyCakes. A lot. I’m from the Philly area. It’s what we do.

I quickly lost five pounds. Then 10. then 20.

Then I kept going.

Many years of my life were lived under a blanket of fear. I exercised four hours a day.  I was terrified to gain weight because I finally felt I could control what was happening around me and inside of me through my weight.

Cliché? I know.

I had a fear that people would stop asking me “Are you ill? ”  It made me feel like I stood out. Like I was special. When someone told me I looked “healthy,” I panicked. (I know that this is hard to believe for the people who know me now, especially my students. I am so at ease with my self these days. Most days.)

Well, here I am in boat pose still in Annie’s class last Sunday at Exhale in Venice, realizing all of this. I am at ease. I have released a huge debilitating fear. Finally. For the most part.

Of course, during times of stress, the eating disorder rears its ugly head. I never worry about what truly is the matter, such as, let’s say: getting married or letting go of a waitressing job I had for 13 years or my nephew having Prader Willi Syndrome. But rather, it becomes simply “I am fat.” My brain takes the path of least resistance, what it knows best. Much as the body will do. That is the old tape it knows.

This happens rarely these days.

I have, for the most part, conquered this thing that had such a clutch on me.

So here I am in boat pose, shaking like a dog, and I realize I have conquered this fear. This is huge. Finally we come out of the pose and I get a little teary-eyed. I start to feel sad for all the years I let this fear rule my life. What was the fear truly of?

It’s so dark and ugly. I mistakenly thought my self-worth was my appearance. Now, as a teacher of yoga, with so many beautiful young girls coming to me, I recognize the same thing in them. I know them immediately. Perhaps they recognize me as well. I somehow got programmed to believe that what I looked like signified who I was. Inside.

There is nothing farther from the truth. Nowadays, I feel such a deep love for who I am inside that it never even crosses my mind to think people even notice my weight or my face. How can it be so complicated? I am not, nor was I ever, a shallow person. I know better. And yet, for 15 years I battled this idea.

I was also terribly afraid to deal with life. With feeling or loss responsibility or death. When my stepfather died, 10 years after my father had passed away, I just ran. I went out to Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, New Jersey. and ran for over two hours straight. There, all better.

Not quite. It never works that way. Even if we want it to.

The pain and the feelings are still there, we have just distracted ourselves. Maybe fear is just a big distraction?

My sister said something savvy tonight. I love my sister. She said, “Ha. An article on fear? I could write that one in my sleep.”  (She could.)

As much as she has an innumerable amount of irrational fears, she is fearless when it comes to her son Blaise, who has Prader Willi Syndrome. She says that you find the courage somehow.

I get it. I have found courage through my own yoga practice, through my teaching yoga, through the amazing man I married, through my nephew Blaise.

I still have many fears and am working through them daily. Sometimes they feel so real, as if at any moment the fear will come true and I will be homeless, my family will perish, I will be without a job, people will hate me, that I will have to go back to waitressing. I will go completely deaf. A fear of the Future. The abnormal fears. They run the gamut.

But sometimes, when I am in navasana in Annie’s class, or teaching my own class, I look up at the sky and shake my fist and say “Eff you Fear! You ain’t real!”

And anyway, as the amazing Wayne Dyer says, worrying is like saying little prayers for the things you do not want.

And of course, in a sense, it is real. But as Martin Luther King Jr said…….

Normal fear protects us; abnormal fear paralyses us. Normal fear motivates us to improve our individual and collective welfare; abnormal fear constantly poisons and distorts our inner lives.

Our problem is not to be rid of fear but, rather to harness and master it.

This Weekend’s DMC (Daily Manifestation Challenge®): In the Comment Section Below write down a fear you have and then tell it to buzz off! Extra credit: add something you are FEARLESS about. Where is Fear Running Your Show?

WHAT ARE YOU SO SCARED OF, ANYWAY?

(This is a variation on an older post I wrote originally on Elephant Journal)

How To

How To Make A Life

September 20, 2011

How to Make a Life

 


First:

Take everything you’ve ever learned and everything

You’ve yet to discover and place it in a box labeled Thank You.

Second:

Take a picture of your face and remember

That in many years time you will be amazed at how gorgeous you were.

Be amazed now.

Third:

Find someplace to live.

Make sure it has the ability to let light fall

Across the room in such a way that every so often,

You’ll stop and mouth the words “Ah, sunlight.”

Before you finish dusting the books.

Don’t let the books get dusty.

 

Fourth:

Fall in love.

Touch. More than you think.

Have a child if you want one.

If you don’t, don’t.

Let your child out into the world

Discovering for themselves just how magical

It is. Or it isn’t.

It’s theirs to decide.

 

Fifth:

Get a job.

Remember this job is not who you are.

Sixth:

Do yoga.

Let your body discover what it’s like to move

without your brain holding it’s hand.

Tell your brain to take a hike.

Let your body believe fully in it’s own powers.

Let every person you’ve stored inside your muscles out every so often,

to breathe.

Lastly:

Do things that make you feel good.

Let your joy be contagious and spread through

Your home, your job, your children.

Let it spread through the world

Like a virus so that when you forget it,

Every so often, you’ll catch it from someone else.

~~Jen Pastiloff, after a particularly focused Annie Carpenter class on Sep 20, 2011

Balinese healing waters Nov 2012 during my retreat

Beating Fear with a Stick

Fear: Is It Running Your Show?

September 19, 2011

Fear. We all have it.

It helps us. Sometimes. When you’re in a dark alley and you see a man with a long trenchcoat running towards you and your adrenaline kicks in and causes you to fly away. Totally helping you. Good fear.

For many years of my life I lived under its guardianship. Fear watched over me. Helped me make my choices. Was my voice of reason.  Helped me stay in the same job for 13 years, live in the same apartment, eat the same foods over and over again. It helped me stay in a rut. It helped me stay depressed. Bad fear. Cape Fear.

Lately the word fear has been popping up more than usual so I though I ought to pay it a visit.

I was in a yoga class last weekend with my mentor and teacher Annie Carpenter, and she had us all in navasana (boat pose) for a verrrrrrrrrry looong time. We all started to shake. I started to get angry. Then she started talking about fear. She asked us to identify a fear that we had previously had in our lives which we had conquered. Still in boat pose.

Then it hit me like a ton of navasanas. I had conquered my fear of gaining weight.

There I said it. Many people know this about me but I have never officially written about it or announced it on paper. Of course, it was not simply a fear of just gaining weight, but to simplify it, I’ll call it that. I was, for many years, in the throes of a bad eating disorder. Still in boat pose, I realized I had transcended the darkest, hardest years of my life. I felt like I could stay in navasana forever with this newfound realization.

Annie was saying how fear protects us at times but when it stops us from playing and living then it no longer serves us. Or something like that.  We were still in still in boat pose at this point…and here I was lost in my own newfound revelation, so I wasn’t exactly getting everything word for word.

My beloved teacher Annie Carpenter

I became severely anorexic when I was 17 years old after a doctor told me that if I wanted my breasts smaller, (they caused me a lot of unwanted attention and discomfort back then) I should just lose five pounds. (If I could go back in time and shake him uncontrollably for saying that, I would. Although I know it really wasn’t his fault. Even if it was a crappy thing to tell a teenage girl.) That was the exact moment I went home and made a list of all the foods I would and would not eat. Up until that point I had never exercised and I ate cheese steaks and TastyCakes. A lot. I’m from the Philly area. It’s what we do.

I quickly lost five pounds. Then 10. then 20.

Then I kept going.

Many years of my life were lived under a blanket of fear. I exercised four hours a day.  I was terrified to gain weight because I finally felt I could control what was happening around me and inside of me through my weight.

Cliché? I know.

I had a fear that people would stop asking me “Are you ill? ”  It made me feel like I stood out. Like I was special. When someone told me I looked “healthy,” I panicked. (I know that this is hard to believe for the people who know me now, especially my students. I am so at ease with my self these days. Most days.)

Well, here I am in boat pose still in Annie’s class last Sunday at Exhale in Venice, realizing all of this. I am at ease. I have released a huge debilitating fear. Finally. For the most part.

Of course, during times of stress, the eating disorder rears its ugly head. I never worry about what truly is the matter, such as, let’s say: getting married or letting go of a waitressing job I had for 13 years or my nephew having Prader Willi Syndrome. But rather, it becomes simply “I am fat.” My brain takes the path of least resistance, what it knows best. Much as the body will do. That is the old tape it knows.

This happens rarely these days.

I have, for the most part, conquered this thing that had such a clutch on me.

So here I am in boat pose, shaking like a dog, and I realize I have conquered this fear. This is huge. Finally we come out of the pose and I get a little teary-eyed. I start to feel sad for all the years I let this fear rule my life. What was the fear truly of?

It’s so dark and ugly. I mistakenly thought my self-worth was my appearance. Now, as a teacher of yoga, with so many beautiful young girls coming to me, I recognize the same thing in them. I know them immediately. Perhaps they recognize me as well. I somehow got programmed to believe that what I looked like signified who I was. Inside.

There is nothing farther from the truth. Nowadays, I feel such a deep love for who I am inside that it never even crosses my mind to think people even notice my weight or my face. How can it be so complicated? I am not, nor was I ever, a shallow person. I know better. And yet, for 15 years I battled this idea.

I was also terribly afraid to deal with life. With feeling or loss responsibility or death. When my stepfather died, 10 years after my father had passed away, I just ran. I went out to Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, New Jersey. and ran for over two hours straight. There, all better.

Not quite. It never works that way. Even if we want it to.

The pain and the feelings are still there, we have just distracted ourselves. Maybe fear is just a big distraction?

My sister said something savvy tonight. I love my sister. She said, “Ha. An article on fear? I could write that one in my sleep.”  (She could.)

As much as she has an innumerable amount of irrational fears, she is fearless when it comes to her son Blaise, who has Prader Willi Syndrome. She says that you find the courage somehow.

I get it. I have found courage through my own yoga practice, through my teaching yoga, through the amazing man I married, through my nephew Blaise.

I still have many fears and am working through them daily. Sometimes they feel so real, as if at any moment the fear will come true and I will be homeless, my family will perish, I will be without a job, people will hate me, that I will have to go back to waitressing. I will go completely deaf. A fear of the Future. The abnormal fears. They run the gamut.

But sometimes, when I am in navasana in Annie’s class, or teaching my own class, I look up at the sky and shake my fist and say “Eff you Fear! You ain’t real!”

Teaching for Lululemon

And anyway, as the amazing Wayne Dyer says, worrying is like saying little prayers for the things you do not want.

And of course, in a sense, it is real. But as Martin Luther King Jr said…….

Normal fear protects us; abnormal fear paralyses us. Normal fear motivates us to improve our individual and collective welfare; abnormal fear constantly poisons and distorts our inner lives.

Our problem is not to be rid of fear but, rather to harness and master it.

“First you jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.” ― Ray Bradbury

 

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