Practice Yoga

I lost a dear friend a month ago, and what I thought was a lifelong relationship fell apart the next day. To say the least, I was reeling for about a week. The first morning after the breakup, I went to yoga. Paula met me with a box of tissues, saying she had seen my Facebook status change to “single.” She found me a spot in the back row and told me to just do whatever I needed. I practiced my yoga and cried off and on. Afterward, one of the other students listened with sympathy to my tale of woe.

I have practiced yoga most days since then. It’s making me strong, inside and out, and I am becoming part of the kula. I’ve enjoyed dinner, breakfast and coffee with other members, and am feeling a closer bond with everyone. I’ve long preferred to attain spiritual growth through physical practice, and yoga is again confirming that preference. During 2010, my “year of good health,” I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds, and developed a much healthier body image. I’ve become stronger, more balanced and bendier.

I tried a couple of places before I settled on Shakti Yoga Shop in Des Moines. The instructors focus on Anusara Yoga, and offer two to three classes a day most weekdays, and at least one class on weekend days. I love the continuing encouragement, the small corrections that help you get the most out of every pose. Next month I plan to attend my first workshop, and take my practice to new levels next year. If you are in need of a “year of good health,” try yoga in 2011.

Love Your Body

There’s been a lot of controversy during the last week about a photo of a “normal woman” in the September issue of Glamour Magazine. Body image is certainly an area that trips a lot of women up, and I am one of them. The blog post about the reaction to the photo talks about how important it is for us to see women who look like us to be able to develop healthy self concepts. Being happy in our own skins is something that most women have to continually work on our whole lives.

The Supergirl Dilemma outlines two areas where girls’ attitudes went backward instead of forward between 2000 and 2006–

  • 84% of girls say they are under a lot of pressure to dress the right way
  • 60% of girls say the most popular girls in school are very thin

Dove’s Self-Esteem has a Toolkit and Resources you may find helpful. Here are some other sites you can take a look at–

  • Memoir to My Former Self–This video, written by 17-year-old Katrina Garcia, explores body image, eating disorders, women’s rights and cliques. It presents several viewpoints and delivers a message of developing a strong sense of self. Some processing questions might be–
    • What are the issues facing the girl in the video?
    • Have you had any similar experiences?
    • How did the video make you feel?
    • How do you feel about being female?
    • What would you do if you were the girl in the movie?
    • What would you do if you were her friend?
  • A Girl Like Me–This movie was directed by Kiri Davis, when she was a teen living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York. The film is about an experiment Kiri conducted based on one from the 1950’s. Her film was featured on Media That Matters and is an inspiration to any young woman or filmmaker, present or future.
  • Shea B. invented the #Freshface Friday campaign to combat the pressure she and her high school friends felt to wear makeup. The Miss Representation Facebook page highlights actions like hers that promote healthy body image. Their Web site has a link to a movie and a lot of other stuff you can do about this important issue.

Discover Creativity

I listened to Speaking of Faith this morning while I did yoga. I use this routine to focus on spirituality and fitness; it’s easier for me to meditate when I’m moving! This week’s podcast was titled “Fishing with Mystery” and James Prosek said that creativity is our gift from the Creator. Discovering our own creativity and expressing it is a form of worship. From there my mind wandered back to the workshop Rachel Rockwell facilitated for Chrysalis After-School facilitators and mentors yesterday.

She worked with us on creating paintings and stories in the safe, respectful environment of Culture Inc. Afterward, one of the facilitators said she always becomes anxious when she is in a situation where she has to create. I think a lot of people feel that way, as we have had the products of our creativity judged and sometimes gotten little support.

I think it might help me to use James Prosek’s metaphor of connecting to the creative pipeline when I sit down to create. At times, I’ve experienced that connection when I’ve painted, written grants, facilitated groups. I think it comes more from letting go than from trying really hard. And again, it’s a process and learning experience.

Then there is the discipline required for creativity; I’ve found I need order. Stephen King requires himself to write 2,000 words each day before he does much else. The Artist’s Way recommends morning pages–two pages of writing first thing in the morning in a stream of consciousness mode.

So creativity is a sum of at least two parts–tapping into the pipeline and discipline–available to most of us.