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Dance of the Warrior

As few weeks ago, we had a substitute teacher in yoga class. He had us do a series of poses where we moved from one warrior position to another to another then back to the first one. And so on.

The Dance of the Warrior, he called it.

The dictionary defines warrior as “one who is engaged in or experienced in battle.”

The battle in yoga, I suppose, is with the anxious, unstable, and not-so-Zen side of myself.

Can I learn to stay centered in the face of fear?
Can I find my balance when life seems to be throwing me in loops?
Can I take action with insight and compassion?

In other words, can I find the way of the peaceful warrior?

As I moved through the series, my muscles trembled, my body wobbled, and my breath labored. At least, part of the time it was like that. At other times, I was calm(er) and stead(ier) and moving in rhythm. Slowly, I’m learning the dance.

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Lazy Bones

During yoga class the teacher, Tina, tells me to lift up a bit. I’m squatting in a pose (it’s sort of this made up pose that I’ve dubbed the Tinasana) and Tina says my middle is sagging.

“The muscles in your body will automatically revert to being lazy if given the chance,” she says.

Lazy? But I’m working so hard, I think.

Later, in Warrior II I’m concentrating on my arms when Tina reminds me to firm my thighs. If I don’t pay attention, they become lazy.

Yet another pose and my feet are splaying instead of pointing in the right direction. Guess why?

Really. Out of all the things in the world, I don’t consider myself lazy. But apparently even when I’m truly working on my alignment there are parts of my body that are secretly trying to get away with as little as possible.

After class I start thinking . . . does that apply to other areas of my life?

No way. I’m motivated! Diligent!Relentless in my pursuits!

Aren’t I?

Except in the mornings. I like to linger in bed. It’s warm and cozy. Plus I’m still sleepy. By the time I do get up, shower, and eat breakfast, I’m always surprised at how much of the day has gotten away from me before I make it to my home office.

And walking. I love my afternoon walks. Love them. Then why do I skip them from time to time, opting instead to sit and work a little longer?

Speaking of work, I realized something as I began investigating this whole laziness issue. If I have ten things on my “To Do” list, I tend to opt for the easiest projects first. When I do start working on a hard topic (say an article that requires a lot of research or possibly a personal essay that forces me to do some inner work), I will drop it as soon as I feel stuck. I tell myself I’ll get back to it and turn my attention to the easier assignments again.

Isn’t it funny the insights yoga gives us into our lives? So if you’ll excuse me, I have an article I’ve put off. I’d better get working on it.

Finding Flexibility in Inflexibility

Week 2 of my six-week stint at a newspaper is coming to a close. Four more weeks to go. It’s a blessing, as a freelancer, to have the opportunity to be a part of these projects (steady work! money! live interaction with creatures other than my dog!). But man, the corporate life wipes me out.

I get home from work about 7:30 p.m., make dinner, eat, and plop into bed by 9:00 p.m., exhausted, where I drag my laptop on my lap and spend another couple of hours swaying between vegging out and trying to keep up with my other assignments. The evening yoga class I’d planned to attend? Skipped again.

The other night during one of my zombie-like states, I was flipping through Yoga Journal magazine. The question of the month just so happened to be from a reader who wants to dedicate more time to a yoga practice but finds that work leaves little time or energy to do so.

The yogi who answered the reader question suggested three options (1) back off of a less fulfilling activity and replace it with yoga; (2) spend less time working and more time practicing (which probably means adjusting your standard of living since you’ll presumably make less money if you cut back on work); or (3) make yoga a priority in your free time.

For now I’m choosing option three — switching to a weekend yoga class instead of trying to cram a class in after work when I’m tired and hungry.

Do you have an inflexible schedule that makes practicing yoga more challenging? How do you adjust?

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