Saying Goodbye

Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.

Daphne Rose Kingma

It seems like the older I get, the more I find myself saying goodbye. This includes to people, things, and places. I am realizing that in this stage of my life the goodbyes outnumber the hellos. It makes sense that this is happening, I have less life ahead of me than ever before. Yet it still comes as a surprise.

Recently, I was given the news that my long-time Illinois studio, Prairie Yoga, is closing. I had already said my goodbyes on one level, having left Illinois four years ago. When COVID hit, I was asked to teach my class online and have been doing so for almost three years now. It’s been a real gift to continue to connect with students from this community.

However, the actual closing of the studio feels different. When I left I knew that I could always come back to visit. I would be greeted with open arms by my long time yoga community. I would see my beloved teacher and take her class in person. I would lunch with some delightful peers and friends and that sense of connection would remain. Now it feels as if a very important part of my yoga life has come to an end.

The business of yoga has changed post-COVID. There are now so many options online that allow students to practice at home. I, myself, have been taking and teaching classes exclusively online. While there are times that I miss the in-person connection, the convenience of being at home cannot be denied. So it makes sense to me that to run an in-person studio has become more of a burden than a joy.

So now comes the letting go. Not easy to do. I have felt blessed by the opportunity to not only deepen my knowledge of yoga through Prairie Yoga, but have made wonderful life-long friends. The community of Prairie Yoga is large and deep and spans the midwest. It’s a tribute to Lori Gaspar, owner and teacher, that her wisdom and love of yoga has spread across the country. She is warm hearted, intelligent and inclusive. She is a wonderful cheerleader to all fledgling teachers and lifts up those around her. Her semi-retirement is well-earned after many years of mentoring and supporting not only her teacher training students, but also the students of the studio. Lori is truly a gift to all who know her.

There is a connection that is difficult to describe when one talks about a yoga community. Those that have never taken a yoga class will certainly have trouble understanding what I will attempt to write about here. To those unfamiliar with yoga, it is a form of physical exercise that often makes people bend into pretzel-like shapes, called poses. But yoga is so much more than poses. Yes, there is the great library of positions and their multiple levels of variations. But there is also the accompanying philosophy, the breath work, the meditation, and mindfulness that could be a part of any given class. When people come together and are open to all of these aspects of yoga, there is a communion that arises. Students share not only the physical benefits of yoga poses, but also the connection with the spiritual aspects of the practice. To be in one room and share the air, the space and the beauty of yoga is indeed special.

So now, this sense of communion and community is coming to an end. Years and years of shared poses, breath work, meditation and laughs. It cannot be replaced. It was perfect and complete. It can however be remembered in the mind, and hold space in the heart as well. The friendships will remain, maybe taking on a different form. We can take what Prairie and Lori gave us and carry it’s torch forward. It may never look the same, but it can continue to be felt and cherished. As the wise Dr. Suess said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Inverting in the New Year

My New Year/Birthday resolution is to take the year 2023 and turn it upside down. Well, maybe not the year, but myself! I have been thinking of a new way to bring more inversions into my yoga practice and am now committing to doing some kind of inversion everyday of my 59th year. I am making a list that I will place in a “spin the wheel’ app on my phone and do the pose the wheel lands on each day.

There are many proven benefits to inversions, including; an increase in blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, reduced fatigue, better uptake of oxygen into the bloodstream, reduction of swelling, and lowering of the heart rate. Inversions can also increase alertness, build strength, endurance, flexibility, and confidence, as well as bring a sense of humility, patience and perseverance into your daily life.

Inversions can be done by most people. If you would like to join me in this commitment, I would be happy to suggest inversions that will match where you are in your practice. There are more poses that count as an inversion than you might think. It’s basically any pose where your head is lower than your heart. However, those with high blood pressure or injuries in the low back, neck or lower limbs should probably wait until your symptoms have eased before practicing.

Whatever your intentions and resolutions might be in the new year, know that I support you. Adding something new, or eliminating something old is not easy. I plan to share how it’s going for me throughout the year. True change takes time and patience with yourself. It is my hope that you face the new year with enough resolve that your resolutions become a part of you the whole year through. Happy New Year to you and yours!

Gratitude for…

Gratitude for...

This physical body that houses my unique spirit.
This life force energy that propels me through the day.
This mind that has thoughts both spacious and focused.
These senses that absorb the world around me.
These hands that work with dexterity.
These feet that feel solid underneath me.
This heart that has felt the spectrum of emotions, from complete desolation to boundless joy.
For this life, I am grateful. I am complete.

A Good Scare

Photo by Pixabay on

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. ~ Joseph Campbell

Fear was once our primal survival technique. The good news is that we don’t live in a time where our very existence is threatened on a daily basis. I have two older siblings, and I am pretty certain that they helped introduce me to the idea of fear. I can remember stories about the creepy house on our street. The giant bug waiting to bite me in a certain bush. The secret pathway that might have ghosts. All of it childhood play, but also a starting point to fearing the unknown.

This time of year we often explore what it feels like to be afraid. Halloween has become one of our biggest holidays. I think it’s become so popular because it gives us a way of coping with our inner fears in a safe way. We watch scary movies that have us on the edge of our seats, or in my case, pacing the room. We visit haunted houses to allow others to scare and threaten us in a safe way.

What happens when we are in this frightened state? Heart rate increases, there is a sense of heightened awareness, palms sweat, and every nerve seems to tingle. In some ways, we are never more fully alive than when we are in a state of fear. Maybe that’s why so many teens enjoy a scary movie, novel or haunted house.

Teens love to push the boundaries of what it feels like to be fully alive. As we get older, we often let go of this need. Life itself can often become scary enough. Deep fears can manifest into anxiety and phobias, which can lead to the need for professional help. But for less serious fears it can actually be fun to visit this dark side. To visit that heightened sense, in a safe way, can often give us a boost in confidence once we are on the other side. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, ” Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Let Go

“Holding on is believing that there’s only a past, letting go is knowing there’s a future.”
~ Daphne Rise Kingma

This simple phrase is loaded with meaning. I am of a certain age, with an empty nest, and I have done quite a bit of letting go. I have written before about selling most of our household items and moving to an apartment in a new state. I continue to enjoy my minimalist lifestyle, and letting go of those items helps me feel light and unencumbered.

As we get older, I realize how much of life involves letting go. As we watch our daughter’s new family grow, I am reminded of our time as new parents. Infants are completely dependent on their caretakers. Yet with each new milestone, that baby is making his way to independence, and so begins the process of letting them go. The reward is seeing our children become independent adults. Now our role is supporter and cheerleader. We do our best to only offer advice when asked (easier said than done).

I have also been thinking lately about being too emotionally attached to “things.” For example, when we lose someone close to us, it’s obviously heartbreaking. But as the grieving eases, we sometimes find ourselves clinging to items they have left behind. There is true comfort in treasures from a loved one. They can be touchstones in the grieving process. But clinging to them can be unhealthy. I have small remembrances from my great grandmother, my grandparents, my dad, my brother, and my mother. These tokens do not bring back their love for me. That is stored in my heart and never, ever leaves me. Do I need every sweater, every piece of jewelry, every item that reminds me of them? No. I choose to let go instead.

So let’s let go:

  • Let go of the story of your past. Let the present moment define who you are.
  • Let go of material items that no longer serve you. Less clutter, less to dust.
  • Let go of people that are too much work. You will know who they are if they deplete your energy rather than bring you joy.
  • Let go of habits that have become ingrained simply because of repetition, not because they actually make you better.
  • Let go of lingering hurt and hostilities. Holding on to these feelings only causes you harm.
  • Let go of long held grief. Some losses are too big to ever get over, but consider trying to pivot to a place of gratitude for what that person brought to your life.
  • Let go of the idea that you can control your future. Worrying about the future is the root cause of anxiety. When has worry every changed an outcome? Life does not happen in a predictable way. Never has and never will.

The heart yearns to feel light. Let go to make room for whatever is coming next. Most likely it is bigger and better than you can even imagine.

“You can’t reach what’s in from of you until you let go of what’s behind you.” ~Unknown