In every yoga class I say to my students -- at least once -- something like, "Check in with yourself. Rest if you need to. Push a little harder if that's what you need today. Be in the truth of what is going on Now."
Many times, it seems, the things I say to my students are the words I need to hear for myself. There are days when it's clear as glass that I've got energy enough to power the state of California. Those days I push, run, stronger, harder, faster, and I smile through the whole thing feeling like an Amazon warrior goddess. There are other days when my body and spirit just want to roll out my yoga mat, find some long, deep hip stretches and then lay across a bolster, cover myself in a blanket, and chillax in savasana while the rest of the class sweats through sun salutations.
And then there are those other days.
Foggy days when the inner compass just spins.
Where am I, and where do I want to be?
On those murky days I can't tell my sage from my inner slacker. Is that voice inside me that says "chill out" just some lazy snail that wants to take the easy way? I have a deep fear of being lazy. It comes from too many childhood years spent eating bowls of cereal and watching after-school specials, waiting for someone -- anyone -- to come home. When I left home at seventeen I left television as well. Already I felt like I'd let too much of my life slide by, lost important years of creative activity, passed by my full potential. When I went to college I went with a vision of creating something out of this life -- I wasn't sure what, but it would have a purpose, a vision, a drive. Still, twenty-one years since I left home, lazy feels like a rabbit hole that I could still easily slip down. I have a fear of falling into a state of complacency. Of being pulled into a life of consuming crap television shows while eating crap food and creating a life of nothing-special. Crap.
Or, on those murky days, is it the wise woman side of me who whispers "let me tuck you in, you should rest"? In my fear of lazy I've gotten confused. My window to my compass is covered in condensation.
This sage versus slacker question also rings with a familiarity from something else. It doesn't just remind me of the cereal/after-school specials years because of the non-productivity. It reminds of the zero-or-ten starvation/binge eating cycle that I bounced between starting around high school, wracked with guilt for dipping into the fundraising candy box and then ricocheting into the vow "do not let anything pass by these lips". I knew how to go too far in either direction. It wasn't just me, though. It seemed at times that eating was a family activity. We didn't gather around meals to nurture our need for community. We gathered around meals to overeat and then go on diets. No wonder I lost signal and then over-corrected.
Another familial gift I received was strong muscles. That's from my dad, I think. I was a gym rat since I took the weight-room option for 10th grade Phys Ed. In college I still didn't know how to eat, but I knew how to lift. I knew how to climb. I knew how to put on headphones and sweat the elliptical trainer.
I've gone through different phases of working out since those 10th grade Phys Ed days, but yoga taught me the best. I am still trying to learn how to read my compass for steady. Yoga at least taught me that there is a compass to look for. For center. For body-need. For truth. For compassion. To trust myself and the signals from my tired -- or wired -- muscles.
So here is where I am. Today I ran. Yesterday I ran. The day before I ran. My compass bounced around between inner slacker / wise sage and steady ahead.
Sunday was great, and I was completely in tune with my wise woman after my first rainy 5.5 mile loop around Griffith Park. I've actually been applauding myself that I bailed on the second loop as planned. I just didn't have the stamina for a 12 mile hilly course for my first run after six days of no activity. (Back story: Last week I didn't work out at all due to being sick. My inner compass read pretty clear since my skin was hot and red. I had no interest in anything but rest). Instead I took it easy like Sunday morning and went home, showered, ate, and then had a wonderfully sweaty yoga class with my sweetheart.
Yesterday's windy 4.5 mile run was harder compass-wise. My body was tired from running and yoga the day before. I wished my old running partner was around. She wasn't fast but she was constant. At least, until she wasn't constant any more. Somehow I managed to mostly run, partly walk it, with a foray into some roadside push ups to keep things interesting. At the end I bumped into another runner whose company helped me eke out another mile or so.
Today was better. I hooked up with the new running partner (Jacob) which kept me moving. It was a new route, new company, new day. As it turns out, it was just his second day running in years, and it was my stamina that kept him going for the 2.75 mile loop we did together. Just busting those first miles with some new company helped me finish off my run of 5 miles. I could tell that if Jacob hadn't been there, my inner slacker would have stepped in.
January 27, 2013.
Los Angeles, CA
Raining, in the 60's.
average pace: 9:45
January 28, 2013.
Los Angeles, CA
Sunny, windy, low-60s
average pace: 9:54
January 29, 2013.
Los Angeles, CA
Sunny, windy, mid-50s
average pace: 9:09