Archives for January 2022

Disher and “Top Doc” Carrie Terrell on Going vs. Not Going to Yoga

When I went to yoga versus when I skipped yoga

Jan 13, 2022

 

Ok, I admit I’m a yoga convert and dedicant. It’s been 22 years since I went to my first community class in a random Minneapolis abandoned school gym thinking I would be told I was too fat to join. Yes, it changed my life, my brain, my outlook. I’m still fat, but healthily so, and
my tendency towards personality disorder essentially obliterated. But I still fall off my ownwagon. And there’s no need – now that my teachers have youtube videos or zoom options there are really no excuses. As my classes reopen to in-person I remember the great joy of sharing the practice with others but still — sometimes I don’t go.

When I do yoga, regularly, my life is concentrically brighter. I look and feel better in my clothes. I stand straighter. My neck is longer. My low back doesn’t hurt. I can easily squat and bend down to pick up the bobby pin under the radiator, the drifting ziplock baggie, the escaping dust bunny. I feel strong. I am strong – I can do the things strong people do. If I do sit in front of a screen I am mindful of my body. I sit in poses rather than slouching. I don’t nibble incessantly. I choose how I am spending my time rather than letting time slip away. The stress of my frontline healthcare worker job doesn’t erode my desire to work and serve. I sleep better. I can meditate and sit quietly and feel safe and secure. I remember I don’t have to do in order to be. I know that
nothing is permanent, finished, perfect, nor complete and that is ok. Not just ok, but I become joyfully content with the impermanence/imperfection.

When I skip yoga – it compounds like bad interest on a credit card. I beat myself up (not yogic), I eat to console (not yogic), I pretend to compensate with a walk (ok, not horrible), I get the laundry/cleaning/emails/projects done (maybe). I ache, I cannot bend in the ways I’ve become accustomed, it feels like a stretch when I turn to check the lane beside me, I sleep poorly with my
shoulders jammed up into my ears, I feel frumpy. I am restless, discontent, malcontent, and “just want things to be done/clean/perfect/up to par.” My work makes me depressed, burned out, and seek retirement. I’m disagreeable, irritated (ok, sometimes downright mean), judgmental. I forget to stay on my own mat. I don’t even try to meditate.

In our house, we are fond of saying, “I want to have gone to yoga,” when we are debating going or not – even if going means heading into the yoga room with the ipad. Yes, I have many other things to do. Yes, I work a lot of hours and that does limit when and how I can go. Yes, I cannot turn off my brain reminding me of all these things. Yet, I know, deep inside if I go I will be happy I went. In gratitude to my teachers who are there, waiting, expecting, knowing I’ll come.
Carrie Ann Terrell, MD, FACOG

 

2022: Year of the Water Tiger

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Dishers! 

 

Forgive me for jumping ahead a month to the Chinese Lunar New Year, but it’s quite a horoscope read! Starting February, we’ll be officially in the Year of the Water Tiger. I am posting a photo of the endangered Malaysian Tiger from the zoo in Naples, who unfortunately didn’t make it to “his year.”  Death by curiosity–not his own–indeed. 

When I was visibly pregnant in Singapore w/ my daughter, I had the usual conversations w/ strangers in passing, such as “When’s your due date,” “How are you feeling?” Levity took a turn though, as she was to be born in the Year of the Tiger. In Asian culture, Tiger Girls are…problematic.  They’re stubborn, outspoken, and make terrible wives.  Hence, in the old days (though not as long ago as we’d like to think) girls were abandoned on orphanage steps in droves, the families fearing they couldn’t make a good martial match, and thus have to support the girl throughout her life. There are parts of the world where this is still the case.

The first reaction of many Singaporeans was, “Tiger girl? That’s difficult, lah.” I learned to delight in responding, “America is perfect for Tiger Girls–it’s the best sign you can be.” I would also share that, in the US, girl babies are more in demand for adoption than boys.  Good-hearted debates ensued and we all learned a little something about each other in between subway stops.

So, ready to hear what the Year of the Water Tiger holds? It’s juicy…

First, it is marked by determinism, spontaneity, and novelty– already signed up!  If you come to class, you know that novelty is an essential part of learning, keeps our brains young.  Same ol’ same ol’ dulls our brains and worse… makes us dull at parties!

In the Year of the Water Tiger, we can draw resilience from “dynamism and enthusiasm.”  I propose a new mantra, one that sounds straight outta Ted Lasso: “Too Enthusiastic to Fail.” If you know what I’ve gone through with our “cloak and daggar”  Homeowners’ Association Board, you know that this mantra has already been road-tested.  So far so good:  we barely missed a beat, wound up at a better venue aptly named “Peace United” –no false advertising there! Truth be told, if the Association would’ve just been upfront about the situation, the same outcome would’ve likely ensued, minus the drama–Jerry Mcquire meets Mean Girls (AARP Edition)? 

Now that I think about it, enthusiasm and dynamism are powerful antidotes to toxicity and stagnation. Please, if you haven’t yet watched Ted Lasso (Apple TV) it’s worth the subscription. 

But wait, just when you thought the horoscope couldn’t get any more relevant, the year brings, “unforeseen change, surprising developments” including “regaining ground on battlefields thought lost.”  In case you didn’t hear, our HOA election results ousted an incumbent and brought in two new yoga-friendly members. 

Swami Kripalu said many times that “Life is a Battlefield.”  This is not one of his widely circulated quotes–no memes as it doesn’t pass the pop-yoga “vibe check.”

We all have battles, large and small. Some we choose, some choose us.  A true yoga practice is about preparing to be our best warrior.  There are rules of engagement, handed down to us in the ancient Yoga Sutras through the yamas and niyamas, often equated with Christianity’s 10 Commandments.  The yamas and niyamas cleverly tell you what you shouldn’t do, but also flip it around as to what you should do.

Yamas
Nonviolence 
Nonlying (Truthfulness)
Nonstealing
Nonexcess
Nonpossessiveness 

Niyamas
Purity
Contentment
Self-discipline
Surrender

I have to admit, I feel like I’ve been in a yama meatgrinder in my own backyard.  It’s still shocking to think how we were disrespected and dismissed as a group of neighbors, all in the name of accomodating a outside high-paying, high-maintenance tenant that was somehow above the rules, not required to share the space in a community building?!  #gobears 

When we chose to exercise good ol’ democratic activism like writing letters, speaking at meetings, the NOHOA Board turned their wrath on me, launching personal and public attacks on my reputation. It was astonishing that, after a 15+ year unblemished run as the most successful adult /senior rec program in North Oaks (outside of the Golf Club), how certain members of the Board (who barely knew me) were so eager to believe the flimsiest of attempts to discredit me. We scratch our heads, wondering where they derrive such power to decimate a popular program: many of them ran uncontested.  

I do want to take a moment here to thank all of you who sensed what I was going through and took a moment to check-in. The acknowledgment meant the world to me.  For those of you offering free legal advice as well as general wisdom–I appreciate you more than I already did! 

If you would like to learn more about the yamas and niyamas, we have a wonderful local author out of Duluth who wrote a short and sweet summary. It’s very practical and easy to read–book club pick, anyone? The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practices. 

Technically, you’re supposed to study the Yamas and Niyamas before asana (postures). I would be happy to host a book club at my house, sometime in maybe the deep dark depths of February if we can get enough interest. Perhaps a Tuesday evening?  It’s so you learn things like ahimsa, (nonviolence) pertains to one’s own body, so you don’t go too aggressively into the physical hatha practice, and don’t “beat yourself up”– physically or mentally. It’s like reading the manual. #RTFM.


In 2022, I will be focusing on surrender, ishvara prandidhana.
If you’re a Christian, this might be akin to the idea that “God has a plan.”  Some of you will make the connection that, when we practice Sivasana (pronounced “shivasana”)  for the last 10 minutes of class, I often use the verb “surrender.”  Essentially, it is a meditation on sitting with The Way Things Are.  

For me personally, surrender in 2022 will mean being OK with not knowing what the future brings on many levels.  I need to “make friends” with not knowing. Many of you do too, be it a difficult medical diagnosis, financial issues, relationship drama, etc.  I have to admit, right now, “not knowing” is more of a “frenemy.”  It seems to be everywhere, following me around, mocking me–desperate to tamp down my enthusiasm. 

While a Fire Tiger would turn around and rip a frenemy head off, a Water Tiger would be more measured, more careful…more meditative? I will set my tiger eyes upon “not knowing,” study it, get to know it, maybe even tame it. The ultimate goal: not letting what I can’t know about the future ruin the present. Any other Tigers out there want to give it a try? You have 10 minutes at the end of every class. 


Feeling Spontaneous in 2022? We still have bunks available for Hilton Head/Savannah/Beaufort South Carolina: April 30 – May 7.