The wisdom of rental cars
When I was in Spain a few weeks ago we rented a car that apparently had a really cool feature that I was totally unaware of. My son let me know about it just around the time we were returning the car. Apparently there was an indicator that told you what gear you should have the car in based on the speed you were going. I thought he was referring to what we called in the old fashioned days a tachometer, but no, there was actually a readout on the dashboard that said it was time to shift to 3,4 5 etc. gear. I have been thinking about that indicator since I got home from two different angles. On the one hand, I was surprised that I didn’t notice the indicator. Because the car was so quiet, I did find myself in 3rd gear driving 100 k/hr a few times and thought, wow, I better shift! I realized I had been so focused on driving correctly in a foreign country in a foreign car that I ignored a feature that would have actually helped me drive better. We are like that, aren’t we? We are so desperate to get things done that we don’t always see the thing that will help us do the thing we are trying so desperately to do. Then I started thinking about how, in the old fashioned days, you would know when to shift a car by the sound of the engine or the feel of the ride. My 1965 Harley does not have a tachometer OR a speedometer, and the only way to know when to shift is to listen and feel.
We have gotten far away from knowing what to do by feel and by trusting our senses in so many ways. Yesterday I went to see Toy Story 4 with my kids (I totally recommend it and I don’t think I am giving away any spoilers here) and there was a running theme about listening to your inner voice. Woody tells Buzz he knows what to do because he listens to his inner voice (meaning his conscience) and for much of the movie Buzz Lightyear would push one of the buttons on his space suit and a pre-programmed message would play and he would follow that course of action, without any hesitation, believing he was listening to his “inner voice”.
I know for me sometimes my inner voice is pretty loud, and it does seem like it projects out of an amplifier (except it doesn’t sound like Tim Allen usually) and I move forward without hesitation. Mostly though it’s really quiet and I have to listen deeply to realize it is talking to me and to understand what it is saying. It is a long time practice indeed to trust what you hear.
We touched upon this idea this month when we talked about rajas, sattva and tamas. Listening to the inner voice can help us to know if we need to act more, less, or not at all and just be. Hopefully it was helpful to get a feel for this while doing asana. Our asana practice is designed to lead us to stillness. If we find that as we are moving through a vinyasa (more rajasic) or holding a pose (more tamasic) and we fall into a deep stillness, our work is done! We can just stay there and enjoy that place that we have worked so diligently to get to.
It is important in the heat of the summer especially to trust our inner voice and know it’s time to take it down a few notches if we are being too rajasic. Rajas, tamas and sattva are not meant to be used to define us as a personality type, they are to guide us in our action. So even if you consider yourself to be the most rajasic person on your block, looking to see when you can add more tamas to your life style could result in making it through the summer with energy and clarity.
One of the things I realized being in Europe during the heatwave is that staying in the heat 24/7 is very draining. It was very different than going in and out of air conditioned houses, stores, and cars. (We were tempted to stay in one particular metro in Barcelona for the entire line when we realized it was air conditioned!) But even with the AC you are going in and out of, respect for the heat is still needed. So we have added (one so far!) a pop-up restorative class with Deb Kline on August 16t at 5:30 pm. Stay tuned for more to be added. Maybe you can also consider attending some of the gentle classes and SSR classes coming up if you are finding yourself deeply exhausted. Remember that yoga works with your energy as much as your body, so practicing yoga is different than napping. Sleeping is fine, but charging the pranic body is longer lasting.
Click here to register for the Summertime Cool Down sessions
Listen to your indicator, your inner voice, your tachometer. It is telling you something!
Last week I wrote about how sitting is the new smoking. I wanted to expand on that a bit this week. One of the reasons is that I have been noticing my own declining mobility. I know that people think since I am a yoga teacher I am constantly doing yoga asana. Truth be told, if when I have an available hour or two in my day I am more inclined to sit in meditation. This is a dramatic change from 10 and 20 years ago, when I would prefer to jump up into several handstands with a few hundred vinyasas in between. But preferences change as we move into different stages in our lives and we get older. Unfortunately as we age and we move less, the lack of movement has more of an impact on us.
I believe it is imperative to find the kind of movement that is both enjoyable and beneficial. My experience working with many people has helped me to understand people don't always choose the best type of movement for their structure and their needs. We may remember an exercise we did in high school and think we should still do that. Guess what? No. I am going to say stressing your system with the wrong movement is worse than not moving at all. You might as well smoke. It is why it is so important to work with a teacher, therapist or fitness professional to help guide you. We can't know everything, and there are people trained to observe your body and they have studied movement and can guide you. So consider that if you find you are just not sure what is the best way to stay fit is for you, your task is simply to find the person that you vibe with best. Let them do the rest. If you want more education, ask ask ask questions. If they can't or won't answer your questions, find someone else.
I can remember as a young girl my mother feared being confined to a wheelchair, as do many disabled people who are ambulatory. A few weeks ago I was helping her unpack some things and found a sheet of paper that has exercises that a PT worked on with her. I asked if she wanted to keep it. She said no. She is now in a wheelchair and has lost much of her mobility including her ability to transfer from her chair to the car, which does not make either of us happy. It is so easy to forget what our priorities are. It is true sometimes they change, and sometimes we just lose motivation for so many different reasons.
To help you stay motivated and find your best way of keeping mobile I developed a short course in September called "Reclaiming Your Body" . You can find out more details here:
We have a lot of subs coming up in the next few weeks with me, John and David being on retreat. Take advantage of taking classes with new teachers. Everyone has a different approach to movement and a different way of saying it, and I can guarantee that you will discover something quite new about yourself, and a new way of moving.