Yoga Talk

I go to yoga seldom enough to miss it when I am not there: sometimes twice a week, sometimes twice a month, sometimes every twice month. I miss it because I feel my abs deflating and I feel an intuitive pull towards child’s pose, which is really just lying down on one’s face. But what I realize, every time I “arrive on my mat,” is that I haven’t missed the yoga talk.

It’s a jargon that grates at me, maybe because of its recent mainstream appearance on  lunch bags or because of something more. I think it’s a feeling of being on the outside,  wanting to be in.

I’m sure all resident doctors feel this, all aspiring baristas and apprentice sorcerers. Everyone wants to be at the point where they can use the jargon without feeling they’re faking it. There’s probably always a moment where one tries to distance oneself from it by mocking it. A resident mocks the doctor for the nickname he gives a scalpel, or whatever. But there’s probably also always a moment where one tries it out for the first time, feeling the absurdity roll clumsily of the tongue: “It was nice practicing next to you today.”

I go to so many of these yoga classes and at the end, and at the beginning, and all the way through, I wonder how these teachers can be faking it so bad. They surely don’t actually want me to tell my neighbour one gift I will be giving someone for Christmas, (for example, the gift of my time)? They surely didn’t ask me to run around the room and hug people? They surely didn’t mean that this class was going to be focused on passing energy to someone else by holding in my pelvic floor muscles in mulabanda?

Then there are moments where I hear someone who isn’t. Where I hear a teacher who has so honestly connected with the talk. And I wonder if it’s just me who is the problem here. Maybe yoga isn’t my way of being, my way of seeing the world.

There is one saying on that unmistakable, ubiquitous Lululemon bag that bothered me so much for so long but has since become my favourite saying. It reads: “Don’t let what is most important give way to what is least important.” At first I thought it so shoddy, so simplified and common. But the saying has popped into my mind at several moments, enough to let me know I’d been moved. When I’m driving and I want to check a text message, I tell myself to not let what is most important (my life and others’ lives) give way to what is least (emoticons). I read it off a yoga bag but I made it mine.

I’m finding it hard to sit through 90 minutes of someone else’s yoga talk, but I am learning to tune it out. And then once in a while I hear gems. And maybe they touch me because you feel it, or maybe they touch me because I’m feeling the same thing, right then, but that connection seems to be what I’m there for when I go to yoga: some other reason, some  higher reason for stretching my muscles and opening my heart.




Every 2 days

What do you do every two days? I bet it says the most about you. It’s the thing that’s the most important in your life but that others don’t see as integral. It’s not your work – it’s what you do to refuel. It’s your work in the sense that it’s your life work. It’s the thing you make resolutions about, wanting to do it every day. And you know that if you did it every day you’d reach some place greater. Maybe you did it every day for a while and you felt changed. But it’s the thing you do every two days because every two days is realistic and it lets you keep doing the thing that you love.

When I first started this blog I decided I would post every two days. This seemed like a natural goal: it would keep what readers I had interested because there would almost always be new content but never an overwhelming amount. It seemed manageable. If a blog post takes me twenty minutes to write, then I could spend an hour a week on my blog.


image from

It wasn’t until I placed into my life a new activity (a full time job) that I noticed that every two days gets reserved for one thing. Maybe I go to yoga every two days. If this is the case, then I’m probably writing here every three. If I am intent on focusing on my novel, I put this off for the sake of that. I even started meditating in the morning. If I did that every two days, I felt complete. I forgot that I had a responsibility here.

We can’t do everything every two days. We obviously can’t do everything everyday. But what we choose to do with the time that isn’t spent on our work – what we choose to make our lifework – is what defines us. When I’m not here every two days I hope I’m at yoga. I hope I’m writing my novel. I hope I’m not watching a new season of Community every two days or visiting various Dollar Stores for teaching materials. I hope I am reserving the precious time in my life for what I once believed, and still believe, is the thing that I am meant to do.

Ending and Starting Things

I thought it was a well-known aphorism that what you did on New Year’s Eve was what you would be doing the rest of the year. But when I relayed that piece of wisdom to someone else, out loud, in words, I realized it made no sense. What could that mean? Everyone will be getting drunk all year, every year?

People are obsessed with the ends and the beginnings of things, and with end and beginning-like things. It’s like the middle is second only to how the middle began and how it will end. We’re so in love with markers, dividing lines between then and now, that we forget about the now.

Ram Dass says to put up signs around your house: What time is it? Now. Where am I? Here. I like to think I don’t need to be here now, because I’m somewhere smarter, planning my future (in french: avenir, or literally, “to come”), or analyzing my past. Then I realize that of course that’s wrong. Of course this moment is all that counts. Of course New Year’s Eve is one night and not one whole year.


(from Ram Dass’s book Be Here Now,

image borrowed from

People wanted something to happen on December 21st so they would have a point in time to work away from. Before December 21st 2012. After December 21st 2012. As if the world has to end to have a new beginning. Because the world isn’t enough: we need the end of the world.

Then again, it’s true I keep rewriting the beginning chapter of my book. It’s true I reflect on last year’s new year’s resolutions and write new ones on December 31st. It’s true I think first dates and last kisses and closing pages of books are significant. It’s true that falling asleep and waking up are far more lived experiences than sleep.

But we can’t forsake our lives for the sake of starts and ends. A first chapter of a book would not be a book. Resolutions would do nothing if there wasn’t a year in which to not fulfill them. First dates and last kisses would be empty without the relationship, closing pages of books hasty and corny without the context. And then what about our dreams. I sleep for my dreams, and also to stay awake the next day. So I can be present in my life. So I can work at being present in my life and stop dividing my life into moments before I was present and moments in the future when certainly I will be present.


Hardest Challenges

It’s so much easier to be an hour early than it is to be on time.

So much easier to go for a hike on Sunday than it is to walk a little every day.

It’s so much easier to sign up for a 30-day yoga challenge than it is to go to yoga two days in a row.

So much easier to plan to run a marathon than to make running something I do.

To help a stranger than a friend.

To dive in than to step in.

To write a novel than a poem.

(photo from

The Moments That Don’t Count

I’ve been overwhelmed by a life theme these past few days: people keep telling it to me in different forms. They’re saying it’s the moments that you don’t think count that are the most significant. They’re saying pay attention.

I attended a lecture on professionalism as a teacher. I was advised to be professional in every moment – especially in the moments you don’t think you need to be. Professionalism in the staff room, in the hallway, in the parking lot. Could it be a lifelong motive, this professionalism? What if I was the most respectful, positive, well-mannered person in every moment of my life? I should strive for that. Of course I should strive for that.

I attended a yoga class. I was told that it is the moments that we do regularly – the “lather, rinse and repeat” moments – that we let go by easiest. It is in these moments that we practice yoga. It is in these moments that we can breathe, observe, connect.

(, taken by Robert Sturman)

I love that. I love that I can improve on myself in every moment. In every dull, repetitive, standing-on-a-bus moment I can do something to better myself, and it can just be one deep breath. And by bettering myself, I better you, and you and I better the world, or the bus.

I’m so tied up in school, or more so the idea of school. We have nine classes at once. It’s hard to put everything in its right place in a binder, let alone do the work required. I’m more overwhelmed by the idea of work than the work itself. I think I’m losing track of ways of bettering myself: am I sleeping enough? Exercising? Letting my mind rest? Writing?

No. I’m not doing enough of any of those things. But I’m doing a lot of moments where I look up from an article or a schedule or a blackboard and I think of brilliant ideas. I breathe. School is a place for creative thoughts that aren’t school. I write them in the margins. I highlight them. I make lists of things to do if I wasn’t tied up in all this. I might be prone to think that nothing will come of these ideas, but last year I broke out of school and wrote a novel from my marginal thoughts.

So maybe it is the most banal moments – the bus rides and the three-hour lectures and the late nights over late papers – that make up the most significant parts of life. Because it’s in those moments that I’m growing.

Accomplish One Thing

Then you can leave your seat, or you can lean back on your chair, not forward.

Then you can do some real work, some work you need to do to get paid.

Then you can go outside and see the sun and see the moon.

Then you can go to yoga, to de-stress from having accomplished one thing today.

Then you can read a book and not think it must have been impossible to write.

Then you can be a good person to those around you, patient and still.

Then you can scratch those mosquito bites – only then can you scratch them!

Then you can go and do other things and mull over your story in the back of your mind.

Then you can go and make suggestions to yourself in your diary, small suggestions only.

Then, and only then, only once you accomplish just one thing, can you go to sleep, go to life, go to work. Just one thing. One little thing.