My Practice, My Blog, My Life: Cycles and Phases

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If you’ve been following Lila since the early days (remember when this blog was called “athayoganusasanam“?) perhaps you might have noticed that the number of yoga-centric posts has decreased. Of course I do still write about my personal yoga practice occasionally, or share meditation techniques etc., but in the majority of recent posts, “yoga” is not the center point of focus.

This doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring or practicing for that matter, but it does reflect certain changes in my life and my relationship with yoga. When I began writing this blog, it was mostly an outlet for self-expression. I didn’t really care if people read it or not, I just enjoyed the process of writing. I never expected it to grow quite like it has (although in the grand scheme of bloggy things, Lila is merely an itty bitty speck of dust).

But, as it has grown, I’ve really come to cherish the opportunity it has given to me to connect with other practitioners, other creative folks, other women, wives and mothers, people from all around the world. I love seeing my readership grow. It makes my heart all tingly to receive comments and emails from readers. Knowing that, in someway or another, my blog has provided even a moment of inspiration, comfort or happiness to a reader brings me incredible joy.

But, to get back to the point, right now I’m feeling like it’s just better for me to practice yoga than to write about it.

I have very few earth-shattering or brilliant things to say about yoga. Mostly, I just pull myself out of bed and do the grunt work of moving and breathing through my Ashtanga sequence. Sometimes it’s fun, other days it’s boring. Somedays it hurts, other days it feels delightful. A serious daily yoga practice requires persistence and patience. It’s not all heart-opening, illuminating genius and powerful realizations; it’s really about putting in the time and effort, in hopes that a single drop of nectar will by chance fall upon you and you will gain some snippet of understanding about what the hell is going on. So perhaps this is why I am writing less about yoga? It’s because I know absolutely nothing, and so why bore you with the details of my asana practice, my challenges and my (infrequent) breakthroughs? It’s all quite a snore really.

In addition, to be perfectly blunt, I’ve been just kind of holding my breath waiting for the whole yoga scene to implode. I’m over the popularity and commercialization of yoga. I’m over the identification of being a “yogi.” I’m over the asana selfies and the cheesy lingo. I’m over the feeling that if I don’t dedicate every waking minute of my attention to my practice, than I am not fully “committing” to it. I’m even over getting new poses.

I’m just plodding along, digging my little practice as it is – Ashtanga in the am, Kundalini in the pm. I go to the temple with my husband occasionally, I pray, I sing, sometimes I even sit down at my harmonium and pound out a few bhajans. But I’m loving living my life beyond the yoga studio. I’m loving hanging out with fun non-yoga girls. I’m loving having a job that doesn’t require me to wear spandex and be inspiring to people. I’m loving exploring my new town, without feeling a need to be part of the yoga “scene.”

The origin of this blog came about right when I was initially falling head over heels in love with the practice of Ashtanga yoga. At this time, my whole world – my social life, my career, my lifestyle, my diet, my intellectual life – was intimately intertwined with my yoga practice and our local shala.

Personally, I needed to dive straight into Ashtanga. I needed that 2 year period of intense immersion into the world of all-things Mysore. I read the books, the blogs, watched the videos, learned about the different teachers and went to so many workshops. I was teaching 6 to 8 yoga classes a week, on top of my long morning personal practice. I stopped eating past 4pm no matter what, I shunned normal social engagements, I stopped running or doing any other activity that could potentially be disruptive to my practice. I lived, breathed, ate, slept, obsessed over Ashtanga – and it was fantastic! I came into a new relationship with my body and it was incredibly empowering. I felt light, strong and capable.

But, inevitably, times change. After we were more or less kicked out of that shala community, we moved away and at this time, thanks to my own wedding, I reconnected with my earlier passions – creativity, style, design, nature, beauty – and I discovered a new outlet for them. This is what I’m currently investigating in my new line of work in the floral and event industries.

I truly believe that in order to get to a place of moderation and understanding of the practice of Ashtanga, I needed to go whole-hog at first. I have so much more respect for the practice because of my initial immersion in it. I needed that regimented discipline of 6 days a week, no ifs, ands, or buts. Now, with that under my belt, I feel more in touch with my body and I feel less guilt around those times when doing a full practice at the studio isn’t an option or what’s best for me that morning. This is similar to how I relate to my diet as well. I’ve gone through phases of extreme restriction, but now I appreciate the flexibility I have around food to give myself a little extra indulgence here and there and to be more relaxed about the foods I used to vilify. I’m happier now that I can give myself the permission to have a snack at 7pm on a practice night and not think two seconds about it. I guess this all boils down to the old adage, “Out of bondage comes freedom.”

So, my dear dear readers, I hope you will stay with me throughout these changes. I hope that as I grow, my blog continues to blossom and evolve in a way that is true to who I am, and meaningful to you. Who knows what the future holds for Lila, for me or for any of us really. But I’m excited to find out.

I am truly grateful for your loving support and friendship. 

Thanks for being on board with this crazy little ride I call my life.

Blessings,

Frances

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9 thoughts on “My Practice, My Blog, My Life: Cycles and Phases

  1. A, I’m with you. B, you inspire me with my body stuff. I’m having trouble with diet and practice. Help?

    Kindly,

    Lilli Black Owner, Bella Calla 303.995.2867

    Sent while mobile… please forgive any typos.

    • Thanks dear Lilli. You’re so sweet. Diet is such a personal topic, I don’t think there’s one perfect way for everyone since all bodies and personalities are different. For me, I’ve found that I feel best if I keep some strict guidelines, but in order to feel happy and appreciate the fun, sweet freedom of life and food, I like to allow myself a little wiggle room. Think of a target – the bulls eye is the “ideal food”, for me that is whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts and seeds. I try to stick to the center, but then sometimes move into the outer circles for variety and tastiness – tofu, cheese, natural sweeteners, chocolate, etc…..In general, keeping a diverse and flavorful plant based diet is my MO – I feel healthy but I don’t feel like I’m too restrictive because I will occasionally eat a little cheese or butter or wheat bread and truly enjoy it, you know? Anyways, that’s where I am in my diet these days.
      Regarding practice and exercise: I try to do something first thing in the morning before breakfast, that is normally Ashtanga yoga, or maybe barre on a non-yoga day and then I like to take a 30 min walk in the evening. Getting into a routine is the best way to stay in shape and feel good. Doing a little something everyday works way better for me than doing a super intense long workout just a few times a week, personally. Anyways, hope that helps some. Happy to chat with you in more detail about it sometime.
      xo
      F

  2. It’s so inspiring to read about how you keep up with your Ashtanga practice even after the initial excitement faded. I’m new to the practice, and I’m so afraid that I if the excitement wears off, I’ll give up and let go. I have a terrible habit of doing that. Do you have any advice? How do you keep with it?

    • Hi Danialle. Thanks!
      For me, Ashtanga is a habit that I’m kind of addicted to! It’s hard for me not to practice honestly. My body and mind craves it. When I take short breaks from asana practice, like when I’m sick or on my moon, I am itching to get back on my mat after a few days. But even so, somedays it feels like a lot of work, so it helps that I have a partner who practices too on those days when I would rather lie in bed than get up to practice.
      One thing that has been helpful for me is that I have a studio space in which I can practice with good teachers who run a consistent Mysore program.
      During the months when I only practiced at home, I noticed I often felt less motivated to do all my poses and instead would shorten my practice even if I felt fine and strong that day.
      The more you practice, the more your body will want to practice and it will get you out of bed and onto the mat 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by Lila.
      Blessings,
      Frances

  3. Pingback: Ashtanga Practice Thoughts: Having It Work For You | Lila

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