I am so excited to have another inspirational blog article published on the most amazing website: ELEPHANT JOURNAL! Click here to see my full write up: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/10/im-breaking-up-with-myself-becca-pati/
I am a seeker, curious by nature and think outside the box. However, recently some of that dynamic energy has been committed to the process of finding the right underpants, butt shapers, boy shorts or tummy controlled undies to give me the coverage I’m so desperately in need of under my yoga pants. It’s frickin driving me crazy! The story I’m about to tell is gritty, real and full of hope. It reminds me of a documentary I once watched about the search for Ogopogo; people truly believing that this elusive Sea Monster actually exists and taking precious time to, hopefully, turn the myth into a reality. I am that explorer – so I hunt, shop and unfortunately spend way too much money on a whack of poorly fitting panties. But I am not a quitter.
Just to be clear, this is not a process of trying to hide my bottom or about any concern related to my behind. My issue is that I truly believe there are some things in life that are simply mine and mine alone – and my new knowledge of my see through pants has ruined my butt methodology. I only found out about this tragedy when I bent over to pick up a pen off the floor, in my home, and my beloved husband informed me that he could see my bottom… and then he took a photo. Perfect. That pic shook me to the core and right then and there I had a choice to make - I could choose to be that woman who didn't care if her assets were on display for the world to see or to do my best to get the right gear to wear under my tissue paper pants.
The World of Department Underpants
It’s almost mind numbing the amount of terrible ill-fitting underwear that’s on the market today. It seems like a simple request: find a pair of seamless panties that gives me the security of full ass coverage. My journey has taken me to several department stores, where I've tried on a variety of styles and brands. I actually had my heart start to race with excitement when I went to Wal-Mart the other day because the selection of under garments was so superb. However, the more I tried on, the more issues presented themselves; not enough coverage (bottom of my ass was hanging out), too tight (back fat jumping up and out) and the seams way too thick and bulky. But the crème de la crème was a horribly uncomfortable full pantie suit that was made with imitation rubber that's supposed to hide our bumps and lumps… geez! I tried it on and couldn't get it off… I thought it was stuck and had to start deep breathing so I wouldn't lose it. Discouraged but not totally ready to give up my dream of wearing thin fabrics, I thought I would try something unique, different and totally radical. I slowly made my way to the men’s underwear section. I wish I had sunglasses and a ball cap… but a hair clip and downward cast eyes had to suffice. Could it be that I found a solution? Has the Universe granted me the gift of breaking down gender boundaries, putting aside roles and reconnecting with humanity through this process? Umm… not even close. When I slid on the men’s small boxer brief, and stared and my sad self in the mirror, it had a tennis ball size hanging air pocket at my crotch that certainly would not be hidden in any spandex pant. OMG, what was I thinking and how do I hand a pair of opened tried on men’s tighty whitey's back to the Wal-Mart change room lady? It was a proud moment.
And here it is: the pants that have given me so much grief are
the same pants that have taught me a lesson. Through this ridiculous journey, I have unknowingly bared it all and have been left feeling insecure or unsure. However, as I come to grasp the bigger picture, I understand that these pants represent what most of cannot be: transparent, open and authentic. These pants have liberated my soul. There is nothing to hide, because there is nothing to be ashamed of. If we can put aside the feelings of needing to cover up who we are, we would find a beautiful creature within waiting to be discovered. I am choosing to bask in my imperfect perfection, and be one with my yoga pants.
THE EVOLUTION OF STRESS
Since the dawn of man, we have all been linked through one common stomach churning feeling: STRESS. It seems that through our evolution from knuckle dragging (some of us are still stuck here) to upright walkers, we have taken the idea of progress quite seriously. Our fast paced culture is truly a heart attack waiting to happen. Collectively we are all pushing the limits of our minds and bodies, trying to keep up with the speedy pace. It's as if we're still gripped by the prehistoric fear, that if we stop, we may just get eaten up by a saber tooth tiger.
I'm definitely dating myself, but do you remember how the Flintstones got their car moving? To move the vehicle forward, everyone seated had to start running on the spot. For the dramatic effect and humor, the car would stay in place, sputtering and shaking, until whoosh... in one quick movement, it would zoom off down the rocky road. This memory rolls back to me every time I get overwhelmed with stress. It feels like it starts slowly, puttering along, seemingly not having an effect on me. Then as the day moves on and I continue to ignore my stress levels, the feelings of anxiety, frustration and irritation goes zipping off out of my control. As I allow my emotions to cruise further down a winding turbulent road, I'm in 5th gear and there is no way for me to come to a full stop without crashing. What I've come to realize is, that I need to catch myself before the stress starts to shift into second gear. And that can be a huge challenge.
DIFFERENT SOLUTIONS - SAME OUTCOME
I am convinced that in order for us to change our habits with stress, we need to understand what causes our stress. This is tough, because it requires us to be fully present as we move in our day. However, one of the beautiful things about evolving spiritually, mentally and emotionally, is that we now have a more advanced awareness of what is going to bring us peace. There is no simple answer. You and I may find our solutions in very different places. But the results are the same. We need to find ways to take a deep breath, step back and observe what is causing us to get out of control. Then we can try to avoid or at least minimize what or who it is that drives us crazy.
We are built to run, hunt (vegetables of course!) and work hard. But we also now live in a time, when many of us, can and should, take a few minutes out each day and enjoy the fruits of our labor. We have grown, evolved and blossomed into modern man. We need to move past the simple thinking that life is merely to survive. Instead, if we give a few minutes each day to cultivating less stress, we can learn to cherish and appreciate the moments that make up our existence.
THE QUICK FIX
As a health practitioner and a curious woman, I am always looking for an easier way to keep up with maintaining balance in my life. I know, I know... there is no quick fix, right? For the most part, I would agree, but recently I've realized that there are definitely "simple" activities we can do each day, to help us stay healthy and whole. So maybe not a quick fix, but an easy fix if we choose to participate in our own health. When you decide to take part in making your health a priority, these techniques, once done regularly, will make a difference in how you feel mentally and physically.
4 DAILY ACTIVITIES
1) Journaling: If you don't like to write or have a hard time expressing yourself on paper this can seem like a challenge. Most of us think of pulling out a leather-bound book, scribbling down our deepest thoughts and then hiding it under our bed, for fear of others finding it. K. Let's not be so dramatic. Here's another concept: how about carrying around a small note-book for jotting down your random thoughts or pulling out your phone to take photos of inspiring things in your day? Once you have these small moments collected, you can review them and use them as fuel to keep you going when you've had a stressful or overwhelming day.
2) Exercise: When you read this you might think, "This is not EASY and it takes up too much TIME." I understand that if you have a busy schedule (like me), finding an hour or two to work out can be a struggle. Instead, let's shift our thinking to an easier approach. Do you garden? Clean the house? Or take the dogs for a walk? Since these are things that need to be done anyway, why not incorporate a small routine of stretches, core work and balancing movements into your chores. The biggest thing to remember, is that you don't have to sweat profusely for your muscles and mind to reap the benefits of exercise.
3) Meditation: Yes, this one can be tricky, but the key is to combine it with another hobby or interest. Think less of sitting on a mountain and "ohming," and more about engaging in an activity, where your mind can stay focused for a while. I find that when I write, my mind goes to a place of quiet, where I am in "the flow" and where nothing else matters, except releasing all the creative thoughts trapped inside my head. You may prefer calming your mind with going for a walk, reading an inspirational book or simply laying down for a few minutes and consciously breathing. Whatever activity you are doing, really focus on all areas of what you are involved with. This means you will be single minded in your actions, not multitasking, which causes more stress.
4) Music: If the above activities are not of great interest to you, most of us can find a way to connect with music. There is something really delicious about driving around or hanging out at home and having the perfect music playing in the background. The music should be positive, light and inspirational. No, I don't mean religious music, as that can be mundane and boring, but whatever genre allows you to feel alive and free. In order for this to be effective, tune your ears, close your eyes and begin to appreciate all the unique sounds, instruments and vocals creating an environment of peace, joy and surrender.
SIMPLE AND EFFECTIVE
I love the fact that all of these activities are easily accessible and when done, even in small doses, they are effective. I am always amazed that when I get stressed, my husband "sends" me to my yoga mat and within minutes of me breathing, moving and surrendering to the moment, I feel better. These techniques will change your life for the better. Maybe even for the best. So give them a try and see what happens. I guarantee you'll be surprised by how simple activities, done each day, can make a big difference.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT MEN AND YOGA?
In the past few years, I have noticed an increase in men practicing yoga. I am super excited by this transition, but I still feel there is a stigma attached to guys running out the door, yoga mat in hand, meeting their friends for a yoga class. At our Yoga Studio, for every 10 women, we have 2 men showing up. That gap is lessening as yoga has gained popularity, but that difference in numbers still bothers me. What is it about men and yoga? Those of us who practice yoga, have at least 1 male friend, who is not sure if yoga is their “thing.” What I’d like to know is... what is the main aversion? Is it the yoga clothes? The stereotype of being a human pretzel? Or is it fear of the unknown?
To read more about why men should practice yoga, click: ALIVE BERRY, to see my full published article.
MY FIRST TIME
When I think back to my first yoga class, I recall with a smile on my face, that the room was on fire, my clothes were too tight and I could barely catch my breath as we moved from movement to movement. My yogic journey started many years ago with a desire to try a different type of exercise program to stay in shape. In the back of my mind, however, I wasn't totally convinced that I was going to enjoy this unknown world of weird breathing, poses and meditation. I definitely had preconceived ideas of what a "yoga person" would look and act like. I had seen a few people who practiced yoga and so I assumed that the class would be full of tree huggin, granola eatin, chai drinkin, super flexible individuals.
DO I REALLY FIT IN?
Tentatively, I decided to give this yoga stuff a decent commitment, so I tried a few classes and was hooked. The first year, however, was mentally draining, because I was holding onto an "idea" of what I should be like if I wanted to advance in the yoga lifestyle (whatever that meant). I had started to read a few books about great spiritual people around the world who "lived" their yoga, and I knew I was no where near looking or acting like them. Regardless of this, I decided to keep attending classes, but every once in a while I would start a new fad I read about in a magazine, to see if that yogic "style" would suit me. It was exhausting... it felt as though I was trying on a variety of costumes to find the best fit. I was clearly missing the bigger picture.
COFFEE, WINE AND YOGA
My aha moment came in my first part of yoga teacher training in 2006, when I looked in the mirror and didn't like who I saw staring back at me. I felt like a fraud and inauthentic. I respected other students who were so dedicated to the yogic lifestyle, but I was not at the stage in my journey to have clear thoughts on the philosophical issues they were working through. I needed to let go of what I thought other people would expect from me and go with what I knew to be true in my heart in that moment. So I stopped hiding certain things about myself: I liked coffee instead of green tea; was practicing postures instead of meditation; and enjoyed going out for "sometimes too much" wine with friends. After "coming out," I felt a huge sense of relief and freedom.
Once I dropped the veil, I had a look around. Everyone on their mats, whether young or old, men or women, injured or flexible, were perfect. It was so refreshing to finally allow myself to be part of something where everyone fit in. And so it dawned on me, that yoga was not an exclusive club for those who could put their legs behind their heads, but for everyone who wanted to enter into this mystic world and learn from different teachers at their own pace.
JUST BE YOU
Diving into yoga over the past 9 years has given me a deeper understanding of the vastness and beauty of the practice. However, regardless of my new found knowledge, the key to the smile on my face is the enjoyment I feel from the physical practice and by living each day authentically. Being a yogi does not mean eating, acting or looking a certain way. It is about finding your own rhythm, being an individual and keeping true to who you are... while maintaining a love and connection for others. Maybe you haven't even tried yoga before and are freaked out by what you think it's all about or perhaps you gave it a try and thought you weren't ready to "Ohm" and wear see through leggings. C'mon, try one more time, with a slightly different mindset. Walk into a class, step on your mat and just be you. All the other stuff will come in time if you decide to go there. If not, just enjoy a beautiful break out of your day and a good stretch for your body.
Enjoy the journey!
If you were to look at my dad today, you would never know that beneath his button down shirt and his hairy chest (a trait unfortunately passed down to his girls), he has a long diminishing scar that divides his body perfectly right to left. Since his open heart surgery in December, he's lost 25 pounds, his eyes are brighter, and he looks like he's 10 years younger. It's amazing how well he's healed. I guess the saying is true - "time heals all wounds."
The symptoms of heart disease can be: fatigue; pain; shortness of breath; and a faster heart beat. Mmm... wait a minute, maybe I have a heart condition too. I have, at times, suffered with these same tell tale signs. As soon as I have a stressful day, argue with someone, get my feelings hurt, become overwhelmed... voila - my shoulders round forward, chest caves in and I walk around as if I'm protecting a diamond in a vault. NO ONE is getting in.
The issue is not that we have negative feelings at times, but that we learn to release that which is causing us to stay bound up. The heart yearns to be connected to people and experiences, and so if we take away that ability, it can start to die off. The level of emotional discomfort we feel when we disassociate ourselves out of fear of being hurt again, causes us to be exhausted, stressed, anxious and in pain.
We may not end up in the hospital from this, but it certainly can build up to a point where we may want to "check" our inner self out. Once we go to a place within ourselves that is uncomfortable and difficult... we know we are making progress. What do we need to stay open and connected? If we practice - letting go; not worrying about things we can't change; and forgiving... we'll be on the right track. Once we've moved through the difficult time, we can take a quick peak back, with pride, at the almost invisible scar, and remember we worked through something difficult and came out the other side a whole lot stronger.
I wouldn't consider myself a fearful person, but I would definitely say I have my moments. A few years back, while we were site seeing in Thailand, unbeknownst to me, there was an anaconda a few feet (ok, more like 50 feet) away from me. When I turned around to survey the beauty, I spotted "it" and immediately stopped in my tracks. I had a pure and utter inner freak out. I am positive it looked at me and was thinking about having Indian for lunch! Clearly, I have an issue with snakes. Needless to say, I took the long way around the park, trying to put one shaky leg in front of the other, mimicking some type of walking.
That was a while ago, and yet more recently, an opportunity came my way to be part of a public speaking event in St. Albert. I was flattered, but instantly started to get sweaty palms, dry mouth and a light headed feeling, as I read the email. I actually really do enjoy public speaking, but I get nervous before I have to talk. So, I immediately went into self preservation mode and wanted to avoid pain and repeat pleasure - which would mean saying a big "NO" to the offer. But after a few moments of talking myself down, I thought better of it, took a few deep breaths and waited to respond.
When it comes to using our talents, skills, and taking on new opportunities, fear can hinder us and cause us to freeze. It's an emotion that is totally made up in our minds about a worse case scenario that is most likely not going to happen. For instance, I am sure, after I calmed down, that the snake was NOT singling me out for its' next meal! We come up with "what ifs" and reasons not to pursue our dreams for fear of failure, success, rejection, not fitting in or looking "stupid."
The next time opportunity knocks and you feel like your head is spinning and your adrenaline is pumping... take a few long deep yogic breaths. Either write or say out loud your worst fear of the situation and then describe the best possible scenario. Notice how both are probably a bit extreme and unreasonable. Chances are, you'll find the outcome somewhere in the middle.
Once we can think with a level head and make decisions based on reality, not a terrible occurrence, we can start to feel a bit more at ease in our lives. Having fun and playing with new possibilities is what makes life so exciting. When new opportunities and doors open, we don't always have to have all the answers. What we can count on, is that, when we take a chance, we will inevitably grow and become stronger. But it's a journey. Take your time - conquer small fears and work your way to bigger experiences. Please just don't expect me, anytime soon, to walk through a door that leads to a snake, because I'm not quite ready for that yet...
I never thought that at this time in our lives, we would be testing out the "in sickness" part of our marriage vows. Yesterday, Greg, my life partner, had hip surgery. Not the replacement most people think of, but a scraping of the cartilage done arthroscopically - yikes! Days before this inevitable event, I tried to stay positive and relaxed. However, I could feel my guts getting tighter and my breathing more labored as the moments ticked by. I felt this uncontrollable boiling up of emotion, related to trying so hard to "fix" everything around me. I was starting to stress, because I wanted everything to be perfect. I felt that if I could control all the minor issues at home and with our business before we went to the hospital, then somehow the surgery would go better. WOW, was that exhausting!
I realize, it may sound strange to some, that as a yogi, I can't just let go. I talk a lot about breathing and releasing in my teaching, and part of the reason I do it, is to reaffirm that concept in my own life. The more I say out loud what I need to do to stay peaceful, calm, and level headed, I find it becomes easier to actually put it into practice. Clearly, I still need to work at it.
Let's be honest and call it what it is... I like control. Whatever I can manage, mold, or shape, makes me happy and content. But there are just some things in life, we need to let go of. I understand the concepts of trust, but I don't really know what I'm trusting in. Am I trusting in Greg's Doctors? Trusting in Greg's ability to heal? Or am I simply releasing fears, frustration and control out to the beautiful forgiving Universe to keep my sanity?
Whatever it is, it has all worked out. Greg is perfectly fine and my desire to keep a tidy little "no sickness" life has gone to shit and I love it. There is something refreshing about knowing that even when times get tough we can bounce back. We grow, learn and keep moving to relinquish the need to micro manage our lives. When we finally let go - even an inch, we can look around with a smile, and realize, the universe has given us a mile.
This morning, as I was thinking about an opening for my Core Yoga Class at 2pm, I was trying to tie in a Mother's Day theme, without just simply saying, "Moms are great. Do something nice for her." Chances are, my students had already heard that phrase from social media or a Hallmark commercial. I needed to be more inspiring. In order for me to come up with something creative and original, I closed my eyes and just let my imagination run wild. I started to think of a few ideas and one of them were traits of my mother. I decided to fixate on that concept and wouldn't you know, the words just started to flow - loving; kind; caring; nurturing; and forgiving. After I came up with a bunch of descriptive words that seemed fitting for her, I started to think about qualities that could be considered opposite or complimentary... and viola... I came up with the list above and a solid theme for my yoga class.
As I wrote down different attributes, I put them in two categories: Fire and Water. These elements are so different from each other, but each has its place in creating balance in our bodies. According to Ayurvedic and yogic philosophy, the right side of the body is related to the "fire" element and the left side is related to the "water" element. We all have fire and water roaming around inside of us, but I find that our society is generally more fiery. Most of us believe that the more we do and the busier we are, the better off we will be. However, this is causing our "motherly" mannerisms to dissipate from our society and in return we become hardened and less connected.
I personally struggle to keep a peaceful heart, calm mind, and a clear head about me as I travel through my day. I think back to my mother and understand that those qualities are so needed in my day, let alone in our culture. As you walk (or run) in your day, take note of the attributes that you are exhibiting to yourself and the people around you. Maybe if you find yourself overly busy and your emotions start becoming irritated or angry, you can work on uncovering the above water characteristics. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm saying its a path worth discovering to a more balanced life.
Namaste (thanks mom!)