The Yoga of Doing Hard Shit

by Amy on December 17, 2014

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I just got back from a yoga retreat where I did some of the hardest yoga of my life.

Sure reverse triangle is a challenging pose…

But Kundalini Yoga is a whole different kind of hard.

It’s the oldest kind of yoga. The idea is to get energy lying around the base of your spine to spiral up to your crown. And it involves a lot of meditation, chanting and weird breath work. But most of all, it requires an insane amount of endurance.

(I’m sorry, but no human should have to hold their arms in the air for that amount of time.)

There’s this one Kriya that Tommy Rosen called something like “the Kundalini to achieve bliss.”

Going into it, I was pretty psyched. After all, I’ve wanted to achieve bliss for, like, forever…

What he didn’t mention was this Kriya consists of about nine minutes of flailing the arms about – up and down, back and forth, and in little concentric circles in front of the chest — without a second of rest while simultaneously breathing in and out at a pace teetering close to hyperventilation all while squeezing the ass cheeks together in the most excruciating Kegal of one’s existence. I liken it to childbirth.

I cried through the last 4 minutes.

But after it was all said and done, as I sat in quiet meditation with my eyes closed feeling all that Prana coursing through my body, I did feel pretty blissful (and I was also damn impressed with myself).

Not all Kundalini is THAT hard. But most of it (is this okay to say?) is pretty tedious, repetitive and weird.

Most of all, it tested my endurance in ways I could never have imagined.

But here’s what I learned after a week of this kind of yoga.

I can totally DO tedious, repetitive and even weird. AND I have more endurance then I EVER knew.

The first inkling of this was on the way home, waiting in line at the airport in Costa Rica. No air conditioning. No self-check in. An hour-long wait just to check in. Throngs of people standing around in a semi-annoyed state.

As I stood there waiting in line, I had an aha. THIS IS A KRIYA.

I can do this.

When I got home and the yoga buzz faded and my husband got really sick and it was all on me to take care of these 3 very cute but needy children I realized, THIS IS A KRIYA.

I can do this.

And when I woke up at 5:10 am to wipe the frost from the window of my car to join 9 other ladies for one of the hardest bootcamp style workouts of my life, I thought to myself:

THIS IS A KRIYA.

I can do this.

Since I returned from Costa Rica, I do Kundalini Yoga now no matter how boring, how tedious, how weird or how hard.

Because, whether or not the Kundalini energy ever rises to my crown chakra, this kind of yoga shows me who I am underneath every self imposed limitation I put on myself.

It shows me who I really am. And damn, I’m a badass.

When things got boring, tedious, repetitive, weird or hard, I used to feel like a trapped animal. The only way out was to escape. And my escape was always booze.

But now, when things get hard, I know it is yoga. The yoga of doing hard shit. It is my Kriya. And I can do it.

What is YOUR Kriya?

{ 3 comments }

And Now Yoga…

by Amy on December 3, 2014

yoga

I just got back from a week in Costa Rica doing yoga with a bunch of people in recovery from addiction.

Yep. Addiction.

Tommy Rosen, in his new book, “Recovery 2.0,” defines addiction as the habit of doing the same thing over and over again despite negative consequences.

So before you write yourself off… ask yourself: what do you do over and over again despite negative consequences…

Maybe it’s sugar. Too much Facebook? Checking your email at every red light? Those late night shopping sprees after a few glasses of wine?

It’s been almost 13 months since my last drink.

But each day since, I’ve religiously consumed a $6 triple shot latte. On particularly stressful days I eat a large container of dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joes (within 48 hours). I am that obnoxious woman checking her phone at every light. And since the wine went away, I have to tell you my wardrobe has expanded considerably.

When I decided to join Tommy and a bunch of other addicts for a week of yoga in Costa Rica, these were the questions buzzing around in my mind…

If  joy is my natural state then why is it so hard to access?

Why is it so much faster to source from a glass of red, a peanut butter cup, a hit of praise? Nothing against red wine, peanut butter cups or praise, BUT where the fuck is this wellspring of joy that the enlightened ones talk about? [Tweet that!]

What if there was an immediate source of joy that didn’t raise my cable bill or make my face break out or leave me wired?

What would happen if I took away all the quick fixes? Would I find the true source of joy? Is it really possible for me to find this “pharmacy of the soul” that Tommy writes about? What kind of life could I have? What kind of life could I give to my kids? What kind of legacy could I create?

“And now yoga…”

The first line of text in the first book of the Yoga Sutras. Not even a complete sentence. But how could Pantanjali justify a period? So much possibility radiates from that single enigmatic fragment.

When nothing else works… Not the peanut butter cups. Not the wine. Not the new dress or the shoes. No amount of compliments. Not even the five or six figure launch. Not the standing ovation. No amount of uppers or downers, stimulants or barbiturates…
And now yoga…

I was riding in the back of a truck full of tourists last week. We had just spent a day zip lining through the Costa Rican rain forest. Swimming in waterfalls. Gliding 100 feet above the forest canopy.

Sitting in the back of the truck ducking branches, feeling the warm breeze, seeing butterfly after butterfly, someone from another group shouted, “I’m ready for a margarita!” The rest of his group agreed.

And the old me would have loved to end a day of zip lining with a margarita or two or three or four.

But this me, the one dodging branches as she sailed down the hill, sweaty and stinky, in the back of a crowded truck full of tourists, didn’t even remember to think about margaritas.

On the way home now, we were stopped outside a convenience store. Somebody wanted to grab something. I watched them going into the store and thought, “Well we’re here so I might as well go in and grab something too…”

And then I stopped.

Sitting in the van alone with my thoughts, I realized something amazing. A miracle, really:

I didn’t want for a thing.

In that moment I knew the truth about me:

I have enough.
This moment is enough.
I am enough.

And then I felt it.

JOY.

Click here to learn more about Tommy Rosen and Recovery 2.0.

{ 6 comments }

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