Lately, I’ve been giving them a lot of thought.
First, my yoga teacher is always including toes in her instructions. Lift them off the ground (one at a time). Spread them. Plant them back on your mat (one at a time). It takes awhile to learn to control them – they’re so often ignored. Second, I was reading a book about a woman who had a stroke and was paralyzed on her left side, including all her toes. She was explaining the rehabilitation process and talking about the fact that she realized – once she could no longer use them – how important toes are for balance and for pushing off of when walking. Third, I just so happened to be reading the book passage while I was getting a pedicure (a gift from my husband).
So toes were on my mind.
For most of my life I didn’t pay attention to them. And when I got older I would shove them into cold, hard pointy shoes. In turn, that led to foot cramps. The cramps would attack in the middle of the night and hurt so bad I’d cry. But when I started practicing yoga, I noticed my foot cramps disappeared. I decided to give my feet the love they deserved. In addition to yoga, I began wearing comfortable shoes. And from time to time, I’d get a pedicure. I stopped painting my nails awhile ago (to avoid the harsh chemicals), but today I made a special exception.
I picked a color – Dutch Tulips – in honor of spring.
When they were red and shiny, I wiggled them and smiled. Thankful for my toes.
A few weeks ago I was in Tulum, Mexico for a week of yoga, meditation and silent beach walks. I arrived at night after everyone else had gone to sleep. Inside my cabana two flickering candles revealed a comfy bed draped in mosquito netting with a welcome card on the pillow. I picked up the card and read what was written. Holding it next to my heart I smiled. Then I crawled under the covers and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning as I was journaling in my notebook, I thought about the card and scribbled down what it had said: You are worth loving. I had a funny feeling that what I wrote wasn’t quite right, so I went back to my cabana to double-check. Sure enough, I had misquoted the card. It actually read: I am worth loving.
Notice the difference?
Why is it so easy to believe others are worth loving, but so hard to believe it about ourselves? Why is it difficult to say? To know? To live?
This isn’t a narcissistic kind of love; rather, it’s a “love your neighbor as yourself” kind of love. Eating mindfully, treating ourselves with kindness, practicing yoga — these are ways we can love ourselves by being stewards of our body and soul.
I began practicing yoga years ago after watching my then-boyfriend (now husband) ease into a backbend with grace. To this day I still can’t do that, but it doesn’t matter because self-love is about accepting myself for who I am, not what I can achieve. I will be blogging about yoga twice a week for the Eat Wasa Feel Good team (my partner, Zandria, introduced herself yesterday as the vegan blogger).
So here’s a warm welcome to you, loved one, and an invitation to join me on this journey. Feel free to post comments, questions or ideas. You can also e-mail me or visit my personal blog, Roughly Speaking.
Oh, by the way, my name is Jenny. And I am worth loving.
My life is full of words. If I’m not writing an article, I’m writing in my journal. If I’m not blogging here, I’m blogging here. If I’m in the shower or walking the dog or cooking a meal, I’m “writing” in my head. Other times I’m reading books (more words) and magazines and newspapers.
Mostly, this is good. I love words. But I realize it’s also important to empty my mind of the 26 letters of the alphabet that are constantly buzzing around in various arrangements in my head.
We live in a world with constant noise: TV, construction, motors, whirring coffee machines – even tranquil spas and yoga classes play music. What’s that about?
Anyway, as part of my home yoga practice, I’m trying to incorporate a time to be silent. I’m not chanting a mantra (more words) or telling myself, “When this is over I need to write that thought down!”
Of course it seems our brains are always full of thought (at least my female brain is…my husband swears he’s thinking of “nothing” if I ask him. Actually, since I’m on the topic, what do babies think about? Can you have thoughts without language?)
Anyway, sitting in silence is an attempt to empty my mind…and to simply experience the quiet. A need that my bloggy friend Kathryn describes as a part of our days that is sorely missing in these times. It’s nice to invite it back into my life.
My car crunches over the gravel as I pull into the parking lot of the yoga studio. Climbing up the rickety stairs of the wood building, I’m filled with hope.
This is the ninth yoga instructor I’ve tried since moving to DC. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to find a teacher that feels like the right fit. In part, I’m grieving the loss of my instructor from Los Angeles whom I adored. And I admit I don’t mind the teachers I’ve practiced with here, but I find yoga easier to maintain when I feel a strong authentic connection.
A few months ago I tried a class where the teacher did seem like a great fit. But when I returned, she was no longer there. I scoured the web searching for her to pop up in another studio around town. I only had a first name to go off of, but I think I might have found her and that’s why I’m here today.
I sign in at the desk and walk into the studio. The teacher is asking the class to get two blocks, a blanket, and a strap. Yep, that’s her. I can tell by the sound of her voice.
She walks by me on her way to close the door of the studio, but she pauses before reaching her destination. She watches me as I pull back my hair back into a loose ponytail.
“Hi. I’m Jenny. I’m a drop-in,” I say.
“I know you,” she says.
I sigh in relief. She remembers me.
“I took a restorative yoga class you taught in another studio a few months ago. I’ve been looking for you ever since. You’re hard to find,” I explain.
“Yes,” she nods, remembering the class. “It’s taken me awhile to get going and figure out where to set up shop.”
Well no wonder I couldn’t find her. She’s a new teacher. Later, I discover that she had a health scare which caused her to re-evaluate her entire career as a molecular biologist. Once she recovered, she decided to become a yoga teacher. Love that (I had a similar experience three years ago and that’s when I began writing).
We open by chanting three Oms. Then she tells us to be sure not to miss class three weeks from now. She’ll be teaching it outside where we will all face the trees so we can experience a “yoga foliage festival.” Oh yeah, she’s my kind of yogi.