Posts Tagged ‘Daily Something



08
Apr
11

One breath at a time

One breath at a time.

If there is one thing I’ve been trying to gain out of a daily yoga practice aside from the physical benefits, it’s been the reminder to take things as they come.

With yoga, one performs poses to the rhythm of the breath (or at least tries) and in doing so can be “present,” with the experience.  Or put another way, the mind helps push the body to extend itself to its best place — and through regular practice the possibility of great flexibility and strength, not to mention a more focused mental attitude and the *chance* for some clear moments free of mind-movies!

The practice, however, doesn’t always guarantee the focus or the release of all that mental junk that clogs the thinking which can hamper one’s ability to perform at one’s best.  Focus being another whole facet of every discipline and whether it’s yoga or boxing it requires a lot of inner strength to maintain.

That’s where in my estimation the emphasis on the breath in yogic practice can help in priming the mind towards focus:  a great way of tricking your mind into paying attention.  Kind of like Lennox Blackmore’s pop to my head as he yell’s “wake-up, wake-up,” when I make a truly fundamental blunder during our workout. It’s also a reminder to slow down racing thoughts that are extraneous to the task at hand.

This morning was a case in point for me.  Doing yoga, my mind wandering, I lost an entire pose, meaning, I *did* the pose, but lost to a mind-movie I “woke-up” somewhere at the end of it, not really remembering how I got there and in a teeter-totter not to fall down.  So yes, I did yoga, but I really didn’t because I lost the stream of what I was doing and without that, can I truly say that I practiced?

Try that in boxing, and one ends up in a face-plant on the mat, and frankly in yoga too, because so many of the poses not only require balance, but mental “presence” to truly gain mastery of the practice.  And it is that presence, that “be here now” concept that see’s one through so much of the daily struggles of life.

So, full-circle to the breath … take a few moments out of your busy day and remember to breathe and in so doing, slow down enough to be where you are one step at a time.

17
Mar
11

Yoga mama shadow boxing around my living room

Yoga mama shadow boxing around my living room

Having fallen “off the wagon” so to speak, I’m on day two of my renewed daily yoga routine what with being a bit hit and miss over the last two weeks — with an every 3rd morning routine.

What can I say — my arms are straining from plank pose, my hamstrings from downward facing dog, and my whole body from the Warrior 1, 2 & 3 sequences, but hey, I’m sitting taller while breathing nice and deep and full.  Even the kitty is excited, finding in my unfurled yoga mat a fun toy she’d apparently, really missed.

Next up, three rounds of shadow boxing around the living room to James Brown’s “Funky Good Time” before prancing my way around the kitchen to make some breakfast for the family.

It’s good to be back.

 

 

 

16
Mar
11

Slipping and sliding

Slipping and sliding

My little black cloud has returned.  The one my mother used to say followed me everywhere as a constant reminder of all the doom and gloom in the world.  I felt it coming on as a bad fever dream over the past couple of weeks when I started eschewing morning yoga in favor of reading Google “Top News” headlines.  Next came my compulsive news-watching — and now I’m in full-blown “chicken-little” mode what with four disabled nuclear reactors in Japan spewing radiation and reactors five and six on the way.

I guess it was the earthquake-tsunami combo that really put me over the edge and saw me blow-off a perfectly good weekend of work in favor of the intricacies of nuclear power plants.  Did you know, for instance that after the diesel engines failed, the workers jerry-rigged fire hoses to pour water into the reactors?

Having been to Japan both as a traveler and for work, there has been an immediacy to the events that hit home — not to mention that I not only grew up in the era of “duck and cover,” but having had parents who were active in the Ban-the-Bomb pacifist movement of the late 50’s & 60’s knew rather more than I needed to know about nuclear bombs.

So meanwhile, I have work piling up for grad school, a body that is no longer a supple as a pretzel, and am struggling to find my way into the sunshine again when really — well, you get the point, I’m under my little black cloud!

Talk about a slip and slide.

Well, its time to take my own medicine and get out of my own way so to speak.

Yep.  It’s first-you-cry, wash-my-face time.   I could quote from Casablanca to myself … you know the one, “I’m not good at being noble, but it’s clear to me that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

And yeah, I’d be right.  Part of the all the stuff that happens in “this crazy world” is our own obligation to make it a better place.  So while I can’t do much to help in Japan other than sending on a few bucks, (nope, I didn’t major in nuclear engineering), what I can do is get out of my funk to live a better day and save the black cloud for where it belongs, in the sky to provide rain for all of those pretty May flowers.

So in the spirit of sunshine, born-again Pollyanna says, “have a great day!”

06
Mar
11

Tied up in knots…

Tied up in knots…

It’s one of those rainy days when the chores have felt as a never-ending stew of this and that — and every time I looked up for a bit of sunshine, the weather conspired with the list to keep me bound to it, no matter how miserable it felt.  Least ways, around here with laundry done, paper garbage bound and disposed of, second round of dish washing underway and most of the homework completed — the tasks still seem unrelenting.  There’s my daughter’s book report with a page to go — and hence her misery and for me, flash cards for her Social Studies test, the bathroom, third round on the kitchen and the reading I never got to.

Oh well.  In my estimation that means milk and cookies time — and the chance to break frame before returning to the “have-to-get-this-stuff-done” pile.  Oh … and the yoga I never got to this morning, but enough of the poor-me … suffice to say, if that kind of mood hits the only thing to do is to listen to a little Patsy Cline and succumb before washing my face and beginning again!

01
Mar
11

It’s raining dogs and cats

It’s raining dogs and cats

Sometimes when you are working really hard at something, say writing a conference paper, training for your next fight or hitting your 47th non-stop morning at twisting your body in a pose, the goal still seems a million miles away from getting you anywhere.  More to the point, and not exactly a marathoner’s wall, your world will feel upside down and a bit backwards, because no matter the effort that sense of achievement feels illusive.

I think of it having run into a friend at Gleason’s on Saturday who is in the midst of training for a fight.  She looked strong, fit, and truly ready — and yet she also had that look that said, “wow, this is hard.” And is if her verbal constructions had hit into reverse, her far away gaze revealed the doubts that all of us feel when we are on the cusp of something.  I’d have given her a hug if I could, but it wasn’t one of those moments. Rather what she needed was a pause to acknowledge her efforts and struggle; something akin to a moment of breath, where she could intake slowly allowing for the catch in the throat before forcing it all out to begin anew.

And that is how it is sometimes. We work with tremendous effort on our goals, but feel caught in a backwards swirl of mind movies that have us see our world upside down before we can shake the tree enough to right ourselves again.

Call it a raining dogs and cats moment and then move on — because when you are working that hard, you really, really know it, and should trust that you’re doing what you need to do to achieve your that goal.

23
Feb
11

Your moment, your time.

Your moment, your time.

This is as good an early morning as any to admit that getting up before dawn to breathe deeply as I contort myself into poses my body has no way of holding is just plain silly.  Okay, well maybe not silly, but given that my eyes are at half mast and I’m drifting as I write there is the question as to whether I am hitting diminishing returns here.  Yes, I got the junk out of my bones as I stretched and released — with the added benefit of giving the cat a place to scratch as I attempted the right hand on my outstretched left foot pose (that’s the donuty looking one — great on the tape, ridiculous on me!).

The gripes aside — it being Wednesday after all when these sorts of doubts hit my consciousness — I got to thinking that it is still my little bit of quiet including all this baby-bitching. Yep, let’s face it, sometimes we need some time to complain. We need that arrrghhh growl. That “damn-it nobody changed the toilet paper” grumble. Or my favorite, the loud as I can be empty out the kitchen sink plate slamming session where the object is to make as much noise as possible with nary a scratch to any of the pots, pans, dishes or cutlery. Where I draw the line is with the mucked up sponge which in my world just gets tossed out with a few under the breath curses to the moron who left it there to soak in the overnight potpourri of bacteria languishing in their special stew.

The point is the moments that are yours don’t always have to be pretty. Let’s face it, why else would you want to hit things?  Punching a heavy bag does have its attractions after all. As does beating down a huge mound of clay, digging in the dirt to plant bulbs or running till your heart feels as if it is going to burst. And that’s okay. Release is not always a slowly modulated intake and outtake of breath kind of thing. Sometimes its messy and full of rage, and sometimes its plain old complaint city when for the 116th time in a week you plead, cajole and beg one of your loved ones to pahleasssseee open the hamper lid before stacking their dirty laundry.

16
Feb
11

Sometimes you win …

Sometimes you win …

BroBrooklyn Bridge at Night, 1948 Gelatin Silver, by Andreas Feininger

Brooklyn Bridge at Night, 1948 Gelatin Silver, by Andreas Feininger

 

 

I managed to crawl out of bed at my usual ridiculous weekday hour in the morning today.  My head is still spinning a bit from being tired and I’ve been fighting off waves of didn’t-get-enough-sleep headaches — not to complain, which I’m not, but to state that the inconveniences of those feelings are out-weighed by the suppleness my limbs feel after my third downward dog pose and all the other stretches these creaky bones held this morning.

While I may or may not get to four rounds of shadow boxing when I finish this piece, the hiss of the steam, wanderings of the kitty and the sounds of the house as it reverberates with the slow morning echoes from the street below gives me something else.  A kind of serenity as I greet the day before the stresses and hustle and bustle of all the have-to’s begin to settle on it.

When one has a busy life with a tons of constituent parts that demand time, attention and thought, it’s so very nice to have the gift of a few minutes that aren’t in competition.  Rather, they’re just for oneself.  A little piece of the world one can own — if not quite the room Virginia Wolfe envisioned where one could state, “I am,” this place has more to do with a gift of quiet.  And sure, predawn self-ministrations get “old” by Thursday morning when the accumulated hours of missed sleep are wearying, however, the idea of finding a part of the day for quiet doesn’t.  I’ve been keeping to this schedule for six weeks now and have to say that occasional grumpiness aside these moments of quiet have truly given me something I didn’t expect:  a place of peace that’s a little of my own.

 




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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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