I had a dream the other night. Usually I don’t remember my dreams, but this one was so vivid that it stuck with me long into my waking hours. I dreamt that I was in a busy underground train station. It was loud and I was disoriented; the place was unfamiliar and I didn’t know why I was there. When I turned I saw an old friend from Montana and her family. I worked with her son, Kadence from the time he was in pre-school - 7th grade as his sign language interpreter. As I approached them, I wondered why they were in the same train station as me.
Kadence reached out for my hand and I held it while his mom told me they were going on a trip across country. All I could think about is how is hand felt in mine, it felt safe. That is when I noticed that the sign on the station said North Conway, NH. Behind me I could hear the train approach and sense a lot of movement. I turned to look at the train pulling up to the platform. As I turned back to let them know that my train was here, they were gone. The crowd approached the train and just as I was about to step on, it moved away from the platform and left me behind. I looked down at the ticket in my hand and approached the ticket booth. The man behind the glass told me there would not be another train to Boston until 3 am. Rather than waiting what my subconscious considered an insurmountable amount of time, I decided to walk through the tunnel and try to meet the train at the next stop. As I started walking I became anxious. There were fewer people in the tunnel with me, and all I could sense was darkness. I was thinking if I follow the tracks in the direction the train went and as long as I kept moving I would be ok. Fear began to take over as I approached the darkest part of the tunnel and I realized that Boston was hundreds of miles away. I could never walk there. But the thought of staying alone on the platform for hours was equally frightening. I just stared into the tunnel until I suddenly startled awake.
The dream was on my mind all morning and as I walked to the studio I carried the sense of unease with me. I was distracted and anxious as I taught my first class, I just couldn’t shake it. And then as I brought the class down onto their mats for Savasana, it hit me! I could have just rented a car! I wasn’t stuck in that tunnel and I didn’t need to wait for another train. I could go up out of the tunnel and rent a car and drive myself home. It seemed so simple. I felt a rush of peace and calm, as though solving my subconscious representation of fear and anxiety helped rid myself of that uneasiness in my waking life. My day got better and I felt more clear and productive.
I don’t usually spend much time trying to interpret my dreams, but this one really stuck with me. I think the meaning of this dream is related to the idea of letting go. By releasing an expectation, and responding to the present moment instead of reacting to something not in my control. When action is needed ask yourself what is it you are trying to create, and with attention, hard work, and intention, you will find your own path forward.
Sometimes in life, we find ourselves on a good set of tracks: strong and reliable, with well-lit tunnels and comfortable compartments. But life can take us in a different direction at a moment’s notice. When COVID hit, I think a lot of people felt (and still feel) that things started to go off the rails. I personally started to fear that my own life, my set of tracks, that I had worked so hard to maintain, was slipping through my fingers. The train was coming to a stop and I wasn’t even driving it anymore. I had a few choices: I could stay on board, deny the need to adapt, and do what I had always done until I ran out of track or I could switch gears, take the wheel and follow a new path of my own creation. If there is one thing the last seven months has made clear it is that we have to be flexible as conductors and resourceful as engineers. In the case that our old tracks become aged or broken or otherwise corrupted, we have to be able to change and rebuild for ourselves. The good news is we don’t have to stay down in the tunnel, we can get up out of the tunnel into the light of day! It may not look exactly the way we thought it would but with a lot of hard work and flexibility we will arrive at our destination and that promise of abundance on a path we laid down for ourselves.
When we are overwhelmed, feel trapped by the challenges we face we might develop tunnel vision. Instead, we need to be open to letting go, let go of the past, let go of the future and be present in this moment, take the wheel and our direction will become clear.
What messages are your dreams trying to tell you?
My Best to you, Lori Russell
September 6, 2020 Flexibility has dual meaning./Flexibility in Yoga and in Life
I feel like I have been saying “we have to be flexible” a lot lately! I am sure I am not the only one. I say it to myself often when I am trying to figure out how best to serve our yoga community. I feel like I am constantly juggling a forever changing schedule, new classes, and new times. WE are all learning that what worked for people pre-COVID doesn’t necessarily work for us now.
It has me thinking about the dual meaning of being flexible. How it pertains to our physical bodies and our social/emotional states. People come to yoga for many reasons, the most common reason is to become more flexible. If your goal is to reach down and touch your toes, then you need to practice the poses that will support that movement. Most don’t consider the process or the “journey to the toes.” For others it is about strengthening the muscles that support the joints due to hyperflexibility. Some people can reach well beyond their toes, without considering how overextending can destabilize the joints. In social situations, too, we can be stiff and unmovable or bending over backwards to please everyone at the expense of our own self-care. When you practice yoga to improve flexibility you just may find balance on your way down to your toes.
I first came to yoga strictly for the way it would support/compliment my triathlon training. I needed to stretch more. Some of you may already know my story, I had a heart condition that caused me to pause all physical activity while I waited for a life saving procedure followed by a long recovery period. The only “exercise” I was allowed during my recovery was yoga. I had no idea at the time how my yoga practice would change my life, but it led me to become a yoga instructor. I wanted to share what I learned, connect with people and see the progress that comes from practice. Yoga improves your immune system, builds your physical, mental and spiritual strength, and brings balance into your life. Yoga has given me more easy and joyful moments with my family, friends and community. Yoga has become somewhat of a metaphor for how I approach my daily life. Yes, I can touch my toes, most days. Although, some days I need to bring a bend to my knees and rarely do I reach beyond my limits as I am more present with how my body feels.
This month, through my blog, I thought it would be fun to share with you my thoughts on the dual meaning of being flexible. I am using an Acrostic Poem, to honor all of students going back to school. Talk about having to be flexible!
F Find your yoga:Pranayama, Asana, Savasana - Breath - Move -Rest. This has been my recipe for my best life! In Yoga there is no final destination. There's also no time frame that you should be meeting. There is no competition, no judgment, no awards and no “Super Bowl” of yoga. There's only constant self-improvement and small achievements along the way. This is why we refer to yoga as a practice.
L Learn about your abilities, strengths and weaknesses: be curious, ask questions, leave behind the judgments and create a support system. Become a part of a yoga community.
E Ego: “No Pain - No Gain” disinvest from the beliefs, the time and energy on thinking that will produce a painful response. Instead, invest in making changes, taking a step back or moving out of a shape that has pushed you beyond your "edge," from an uncomfortable sensation to painful one.
X eXtra Care for yourself: Take the time to clear your mind, find support, stay in savasana longer, schedule a massage, CST and Reiki. Be proactive for better health and wellness. As is commonly said, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Those who are hyper flexible may give too much of themselves and become “weak in the knees” by saying yes to often to others and neglecting themselves.
I Increase your range of motion: loosen up, try something new, even if it is a little uncomfortable.Step outside your comfort zone and push yourself to find your full potential.
B Be supple:sup·pleadjective 1. bending and moving easily and gracefully; flexible.Start grounded, root down to rise up, move with your breath. “Trees may bend but they don’t break” adapt to the changing, constant and sometimes unknown pressures that you are facing. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Find something or someone that makes you laugh with a full belly. Move through life with ease and grace.
L Listen to your body: Find the ability to “play with your edge,” that place of mild to moderate discomfort. Bring awareness to the discomfort,” in the here and now.” Allow for the awareness to inform your actions as you begin your journey (“to your toes”.)
E Energy: Keep it positive, set an intention. This could be a simple word or phrase, a prayer, dedication or sentiment of gratitude that is important to you. Be inspired, be present, be grateful, accept change and be open to possibilities. Share your energy with those around you who can use some positivity.
My Best to You, Lori
Things you can do at Yoga Moves this month to improve your "Flexibility" and continue your journey to your toes:
Make a commitment to your yoga practice again by choosing Live-stream. Indoor or Outdoor classes and getting reconnected with your teachers and community. Click for Schedule & Registration
I just dropped my youngest off at Coastal Carolina University to start his freshman year of college. Under any circumstance it is difficult for parents to watch their children head out on their own, even though that is exactly what we raised them to do. Fly on their own! In fact my son decorated his graduation cap with that very quote, “Look mom, I can fly.”
2020 challenged all of our situations dramatically. I had my son home (in my home) every day since March. He took his classes online, lost out on spring sports, prom and all the pomp and circumstance that we expect with a traditional graduation. We developed a new routine of comfortable togetherness, and the expectation of physical and emotional support, safe at home together. When CCU emailed to say move in and classes will go ahead as originally planned, he breathed a sigh of relief. He had been planning for this day for months. We did all the shopping for dorm necessities, coordinated with his roomates, and bought our plane tickets. I went down to help him settle in, and then came the goodbyes. We had a contest to see which one of us would cry first. He said “it will be you mom.” But I couldn’t cry! We hugged and I said “I love you, be safe, work hard and have fun!” Seth invited me to be his friend on Snapchat ( I am in the inner circle now) and still I couldn’t cry. I got on a plane and came home. I wanted to cry, I felt like crying, I feel like I still need that “good cry.” It is a conflicting feeling, as sad as I am to be far way from my son, I am relieved that he will get this experience when so many other kids will not. I am excited and proud that he felt confident enough to go even though there are no guarantees. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder, does he know everything he needs to know, will he ask for help if he needs it, will he get lonely or scared when faced with inevitable unknowns? All triggers for me to cry, and yet I still can not cry.
Of course, I also might be held back just because I simply don’t have time to cry! I have a business to run, classes to teach, social media to post, emails to send, etc. I worry that if I cry now, will I be able to pull myself together to meet my obligations? I need to give myself permission to cry. Afterall, allowing ourselves to release our emotions is all part of the overall wellness—self love—we sometimes deny ourselves. Self love means finding ways to let go, refresh, renew, rejuvenate and restore, and often these opportunities are right at our fingertips. If I spend just 15 minutes in a supported reclined butterfly pose or half pigeon, that ought to do it! Taking time for self-care supports our busy schedules, allows us to give of ourselves more deeply and be more present for those we love and support. Wellness practices are not only for post-trauma rehabilitation, but are also important for the maintenance of our overall well being by strengthening our positive responses and reactions. Sometimes, we have to give ourselves permission to be present and feel deeply—even to cry—knowing we have the fortitude to overcome whatever it is that brought us to the edge.
Things you can do in the coming week at Yoga Moves to love yourself enough to have that “good cry” or any thing you need to support your overall wellness:
August for me has always been that slippery slope from summer to Back to School. A combination of a desperate rush to do all those summer activities I didn't get to and preparing myself and my kids for the school schedule. Well, this August is not your average August. Our worlds have been turned upside down due to Covid-19. The stress of running my studio with all the uncertainty and the unknowing of how and when schools will reopen have left me in a state of insecurity.
I am not comfortable when I am not in control. The stress to my physical and mental wellness shows up in all my daily interactions. I have had trouble sleeping, I stopped walking to the studio every day and drive more often. My personal Yoga practice has been less consistent even though I am teaching more. I wake up tired from worry and feel unsure how to make the most of my day.
The little bit of routine I have kept for myself has given me some sense of control. I have committed myself to do at least one thing every day to be available to the Yoga Moves Community. Some days it is enough and other days I am afraid it will never be enough again. The growing and diverse needs of the greater community can be overwhelming.
That is why this August I am going to make it all about self-care and wellness - and I am encouraging all of you to do the same. Let's take care of ourselves, take time for ourselves, and be kind to ourselves. Maybe I will make it to the beach - but maybe not. I might make a list of all the back to school items my kids need, or I might get only half way through it. Either way, I am going to concentrate on the things I know will make me happy and (side benefit) healthy!
Things we can do to take care of ourselves during this "Not So Average August":