Daily Fire

Day 12: The Breathing Flow

Doing yoga every day looks a little different than I thought it would. Before I started, I said to myself that I would do half-hour long videos every day and stick to that. Rigid. I’m a perfectionist, you see, so everything has to be just so. Usually I need to keep myself accountable and in a routine and do things a certain way, or my anxiety takes over and I feel stressed and out of control.

But somehow with yoga I’ve been feeling more free. I haven’t done half hour long videos every day, and I haven’t even stuck to the app I’ve been using every day. Over the weekend, for example, I did five-minute yoga practices, and just now I did a 20-minute flow all on my own: no app, no video, no music, nothing. And it was kind of incredible.

All I was aware of was my own breath and the sound it made as it went in and out of my mouth, my throat, my lungs. I felt connected to my body and breath and for the first time, everything just kind of…flowed. I didn’t plan ahead and just did what felt right in the moment for my body, and it was breathtaking. Ha. Get it?

No, but seriously. I’m loving this. I love it. And I can’t wait to keep going day after day, finding my breath over and over again. Because finding your breath is where that yoga thing happens, and your body and mind connect. Beautiful.

Namaste.
-firebird

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Daily Fire

Day 9: Milestones

Today I’m 20 weeks pregnant, exactly halfway through my pregnancy. I felt the baby move and kick for the first time a few days ago, and now I’m so aware of this little life growing inside of me.

Today I did yoga outside, in the sunlight, on a gorgeous winter Cape day that feels more like spring. One of my cats was outside with me, lying on a picnic blanket. I’m a hippie at heart and it was so amazing to do yoga outside, with the breeze and the birds and the sunshine. I’ve never done that before. And I got this much closer to touching my toes.

Today I let go of the house that we thought would be ours, that we made plans for and had dreams for and made memories in, but which we have to move out of in a month. I let go and I’m looking to the future. To a new house where new plans and dreams and memories can come alive. It’s going to be fine.

Everything is going to be fine.

Namaste.
-firebird

Daily Fire

Day 8: The Fluke That Wasn’t

Um. So. Somehow…somehow I can almost touch the floor. The breakthrough I had with relaxing my hip muscles more is continuing. For some reason I thought it would go away, like it was a teaser or something but not genuine progress. But…it didn’t go away. I can hinge at the hips. I can hinge at the hips. Someone pinch me.

This may not seem like such a big deal, but for me this is…an impossibility happening. Even when I did bikram yoga for 2 months almost daily, I could never get close to touching my toes. This is…insane. How is this happening?

I mean, I know what’s happening. What’s happening is that there was a psychological lock on my muscles and I’ve found the key. It applies to my whole body, and I can notice a difference in everything, but particularly with my hips. Which makes sense, because hip-opening is…well. Something that was forced on me when I was little, and as a result I struggle with relaxing that particular part of my body.

But not anymore. I refuse. This is my body, not anyone else’s. Mine. And I won’t let the actions of another person affect the very fibres of my muscles anymore, if I can help it. Yes, it’s a process, and no, it doesn’t just happen…I have to focus and breathe and talk to myself in soothing tones…but I can do this.

And since yesterday, I feel like my body is actually craving yoga. I remember getting to this point last time and it’s pretty glorious. It becomes less a “I have to motivate myself to do yoga” thing to “why can’t I do everything on my yoga mat” thing. I’m glad. It’s nice to be here, in the sunshine of my growing, breathing soul. ❤

Namaste.
-firebird

Daily Fire

Day 7: Mind, Body, Soul

Yesterday, I almost touched my toes.

I’ve forgotten just how mind-body-soul yoga is. But also, the last time I attempted to start a yoga practice a few years ago, I wasn’t being open with myself about a lot of things, and I honestly think that me pushing things down that I needed to deal with affected my yoga practice. I don’t want to go into all of that right now, but the point is that over the past few years I’ve finally become…me. With everything out, nothing hidden or suppressed, just…me. It’s been difficult and I’ve lost some friends along the way, but sometimes that has to happen.

And I can tell, because on only day 6, something finally clicked for me. I literally only had time for 5 minutes of yoga, so I didn’t even bother with the app – instead, I decided to work on one pose. Just one. So I chose uttanasana (forward bend) because as I’ve said in the past, I can’t get anywhere near touching my toes.

I stood in front of the mirror, looking at myself from the side, and watched my body as I tried to do the forward bend. I stared at my hips. I focused and breathed. And then I realized how incredibly tightly clenched my muscles were. Like…I’m-being-attacked-and-have-to-hide clenched.

Anytime I do anything with my body, this happens to me. Without going into it too much, I have PTSD from a childhood thing, and getting comfortable with my body – this thing that someone else used – has been a really long, arduous journey. I’m still on it. And with yoga, there is no hiding. Your body and breath and soul are all there is.

So I breathed. I breathed like I’ve never breathed before, and forced my muscles to relax. And then…you guys…and then I suddenly actually did hinge at the hips, and I very nearly touched my toes. It burned like hell, but I nearly touched my toes. I almost cried.

To think that this is what has been holding me back – not my own body, but this thing that I’ve been carrying since I was little…this thing that someone else inflicted on me…it made me sad and angry at the same time. And it made me angry that I’ve projected this onto my own body. Just like I blame myself for letting it happen, I blame my body for not being flexible enough or good enough. I blame myself for not being good enough to not be abused. It’s crazy how connected it all is and I honestly have never thought of it like that before. Whew! That was a lot to confront all at once.

But I let it go. With another breath, I let it go. Because you guys. I nearly touched my toes. And I choose to be elated about my progress rather than hold onto my anger and hurt. I’m letting it go. And I’ll keep letting it go for as long as it takes.

Namaste.
-firebird

Daily Fire, Food

Day 6: The Yoga Life

The more I take care of my body, the more I want to take care of it – not only for my sake, but also for my unborn baby’s, and for the life of my little 3-person family. It started with gym, then yoga, and now I’m tackling our diet.

We actually eat fairly healthy and I make everything from scratch, but because of rather serious budget constraints (and me being nearly 20 weeks pregnant and tired by the evening) we’ve been eating more pasta than I would like.

However, thanks to a fellow blogger at Claire’s Review of Books, I’ve discovered Mealime, which is free and makes it really super easy to plan and shop for healthy meals. You can set your restrictions and allergies and then swap out recipes for others. Because of budget, I set ours to vegetarian and added a gluten-free restriction for the sake of health. I also swapped out two recipes that used asparagus, since it’s really pricey down here.

I’ll start using the meal plan once I’ve used up all our current ingredients, but I’m excited! This will not only make us healthier but also save us money. We’ll still have meat once a week when my husband cooks.

Anyway, now for some mat time. I’ve really been loving Down Dog‘s restorative yoga sequences and I’m definitely sticking with that until I get my fitness level up and become more flexible. It’s just a nice, no-pressure, gentle yet effective way for me to build up my practice. So here I go.

Photo from Mealime.com

Namaste.
-firebird

Firebird Yoga | yoga newbie
Daily Fire

Day 5: And Fold Deeper

“Inhale, and as you exhale, fold deeper.” A very soothing voice coming from my phone is telling me to fold deeper when I can’t even fold at all.

Some people (not anyone who actually does yoga, of course) would probably say that I shouldn’t be doing yoga at all. I am the most inflexible person I’ve ever met. Other people who say they’re inflexible proceed to touch their toes, or at least hang around by their calves. When the instructor says “hinge from the hips”, they actually have hinges that can hinge.

As for me…it is literally a burning stretch when I sit down with my legs stretched out flat in front of me and straighten my spine. Sitting at a 90 degree angle, which for most people is just like…normal…is a huge accomplishment for me.

And you wouldn’t think it. I look thin and spry and supple, but my muscles are about as elastic as a steel rod. So “folding deeper” for me means leaning slightly forward and hoping that one day, someday, I might be able to touch my knees.

When I first started going to yoga classes, I felt inferior to everyone around me. Even people who before class talked about how stiff and awkward they were during yoga were 100 times more flexible than me. But the yoga instructors at Yo Yoga in Cape Town are truly incredible. All of them would say several times throughout the class that this isn’t about comparison, to let go of feelings of inadequacy and shame, and to just breathe and focus.

I’m really thankful, now that I’ve been forced by circumstances to have a solitary, at-home yoga practice, that I was at Yo Yoga for those 2 months. I carry those words with me all the time, so that when the Down Dog instructor says “and fold deeper” I know that means that I should fold deeper for me, that whatever I can do in that moment to increase the stretch is more than enough.

And I will keep going, and I will be able to touch my toes one day. And beyond that, I am determined to eventually become a registered yoga teacher (RYT). Right now it seems impossible, but I know I can get there. And in the meantime, I promise to enjoy the journey and love and appreciate my body right now, for what it is right now, and not for what it can be. Namaste.

-firebird

Daily Fire

Day 4: More

I didn’t feel like doing yoga today. I dropped off my husband at the bus station for a 5 day trip and it’s the longest we’ve been apart since we got married in December of last year. In fact, we haven’t been apart for even a night since then, and we both work from home, so we spend lots of time together! It’s hard when your Person is usually in every detail of your life (making dinner, running errands, reading, playing with cats, making tea and lighting candles, all together) and then suddenly just…not.

But I committed, and I’m bad at finishing things, and I don’t want to give up this time. So I unrolled my mat and aimed for half an hour of restorative yoga, which is the longest practice I’ve done since taking it up again. And it was hard and near the end there was a moment when I just wanted it to be over, but then it was…good. Excellent, even. I felt that…thing. That deep-muscle, touching-your-soul, breath-connect yoga mind-body-soul stretch thing that is so beautiful and lovely.

I’m going to do this. I am doing this. I am tired of feeling like my life just happens to me, as though I have no control over anything. I do. I can decide, each day, to unroll my beautiful mat and breathe and connect and flow. I’m the only one who can decide, and I’m just going to. Because I deserve more. I deserve more than I’ve been giving to myself. And it’s time.