Monthly Archives: March 2010

everyone’s race…

Dear Oprah,

I'm not much of a watcher.
Like you, I like to be 'in' it. To be in something is to be a part of something.
At least, that's what I've always thought.
I was a bit snobbish when moving to LA. Always a runner, people used to ask, are you running the marathon? No, I would say, Boston is my race or NY (1/2 and minis not the full...yet).
I live on the west coast, but for most of my life, the east coast, although that margin of time is getting smaller and smaller.
I asked a friend today, does it sometimes feel strange that we are adults?
It feels strange that I am here, in my 30's, clearly not on the same path as many of my adult friends.
And this week, a change in LA history has occurred. They have changed the 'path' of the traditional 24 years of the LA marathon to end right here at the foot of my block.
How strange.
A race that is just a decade shy of my own age commences where I live.
Paths. They often change when you least expect and mostly, when you don't plan it.
I have not run a race in nearly a decade. I can train people to run races, but why have I stopped my own?
Ahh, I am running an altogether different race in life.
But racing, running, it IS my life.
I woke up early Sunday morning to teach a class at a very la di da hotel here in Santa Monica.
I felt excited at 6AM on a Sunday. Why?
To teach? Maybe?
But as soon as I stepped outside of my apartment I realized that the excitement was not just my own. All around me, people were smiling and preparing for thousands of runners to pass them by. They were getting ready to see, cheer and provide support for more people in a short amount of time then ever before. They were congregating and celebrating. Perhaps they knew people that were crossing the finish line. Perhaps they didn't know anyone and just wanted to be a part of it all. They brought their kids, their parents, their friends.
As I walked to the hotel so early, I saw the first finisher in the handicapped division. The sidelines were slim, but the cheers were robust.
I walked and felt the lightness, the nervous excitement and more than anything, the pure elation and energy and support that was all around me. And I was just walking.
By the time I had finished class, the streets were China packed, Time Square on New Years Eve smooshed with people and I felt so happy I thought I would explode. And I was just walking. Memories flooded of the Boston Marathon...where I would be at hour 2 and 3.
How I would be feeling.
I knew I had things to do so I walked as swiftly as I could through the crowd.
When I got to my block, just three from the actual 'finish line', I paused.
This was the time. For some reason, hour three was the time so many people were passing.
I thought, good time, people. I wouldn't be crossing for close to another hour.
The racer's bibs had their numbers but they also had their names so I stood at the side lines and I screamed. At the top of my lungs I yelled, you're almost home Krista!! This race is yours Brian!!! Four more blocks Jay!!! A gaggle of teens beside me said, do you know these people?
I said, no, but they need us more than ever now! I saw people break in a calf or foot cramp to the side line. People took them by the arm and carried them a block or two towards the finish. A yell from me or someone else would break a runner out of their disorientation and bring them a rush of energy to get them closer to the line.
If a runner heard their name, they would exchange a thumbs up or pick up their pace.
I felt a small bit of jealousy for not having done the race myself but also found myself in a new position, a position that was a. not nearly as tired but b. passive and observing, not common for me but very important as a yoga teacher and a yogi.
I love that LA decided to change the course this year. From Stadium (Dodger) to the Sea. Love it.
I love that I was able to be an observer and not be the one who's always 'in it' to 'win it' even though I was hardly an elite runner, I was always competing with my time and my race.
This time, I was able to see that this race, any 'marathon' is more about being in it together.
Yes, there is a winner. There are people who 'win' races. But marathons, any marathon, from this new point of view, was about being a part of it as a runner and a spectator. To support as a spectator is crucial to the participator. When I ran Boston, I remember feeling the energy of those around me cheering. They had no idea who I was, but they were there to cheer us all on to the finish. I don't think I would have crossed that finish line, no matter how much training I did, had it not been for the people on the sidelines.
In a race, like life, you need to have the balance of both, one that is in it and one that is outside looking at it.
In a race, like life, you need to be at balance within to know that no matter how hard 'your' race might be, there is an equal part of you outside yourself that is calm, still and yelling like hell, supportive and cheering you on to keep going.
To be on the side line, cheering on these complete strangers, I felt as a part of the race as if I was running it myself.
And to that I felt the YOGA.
The Yoga IS the race, but it's also observing the race. It's the support you can give and the support you can receive.
There is something to be said for that exchange. The exchange of energy that is support. Get there. We are there with you. We are here for you.
All of us were there to make the runners feel good, supported and happy to run, to accomplish and to finish. I felt just as excited cheering and yelling and smiling and jumping and I didn't have to run 26.2 miles.
Competition was replaced with unity in accomplishment. Support and encouragement.
I observed all of these strangers as winners. And I didn't know their time. I didn't know their goal or their personal best. I knew that they were there and that I fueled them and that they fueled me.
And in that exchange, it was everyone's race.
Of course, I will run next year...because I won't have to drive home.
But, more than anything, I am inspired.
As a teacher, it is important to be inspired. If you are not inspired, you can't teach.
The path you are on right now, might change, whether you plan it or it plans you.
You adapt. And you adapt to the path accordingly. And you need the support, of yourself- in it, and yourself- on the sidelines. And you need the support of those around you who love you and those around you that you don't know, but want you to be a winner.
I love that many of my students can take their physical and emotional practice beyond what I can imagine for myself. For some, I am right along side of. And for others, I'm shouting loving gestures of encouragement to push forward. Wherever we are, on whatever path we're on, we will all meet along the way together with a heavy weight of support, love, cheers and a whole lot of carbs.
Yours devotedly, till the finish,
Lady Yoga

angel vs. devil…

Dear Oprah,

Here's the deal, it's all about when you get me or when I get you.
I'm the nicest person ever and then I make a mistake and I'm the most miserable person ever.
The verdict, don't judge in the moment, yourself or others.
Case in point, I'm walking home from yoga class at 8AM. A homeless man asks for help. I tell him I'll buy him a cup of coffee. I get him the coffee and a little something to eat too. He didn't ask for it but I did it.
He thanked me profusely, told me that I was blessed, we both smiled and we were on our way.
I end up being 5 minutes behind my schedule.
I drive on Montana and make a left on Lincoln. I pass a street with no stop sign or cross walk. I drive the limit through the intersection even though I see someone with their dog standing on the sidewalk. In a moment, I don't know if they want to cross or let their dog do their business. I slow down a moment, but continue on. In the rear view I see the woman with both hands up but only two fingers showing if you know what I mean.
We're all quick to react in the moment. It's nature.
I wasn't doing anything wrong, however, I could have paused more or engaged the woman in a look to see if she wanted to cross. Instead, she thrust negative thoughts and fingers at me. I'm an advocate for pedestrians and their little dogs too, but I thought, how interesting...I'm a good person two minutes ago and someone is flipping me off moments later.
How did that happen?
It made me think of all the people who cut me off or continue to drive when I'm standing there ready to cross walk. We are not mind readers and sometimes we F up.
But really, to waste your energy on flipping the bird or thinking negatively, it's all just a waste.
If we all thought of our energy and thoughts as cash in the bank, we'd be a little more wary on how we spend it.
Think again when reacting, because you don't know where the other person is coming from.
Yes, there are A-holes out there, but if we think everyone is an A-hole, they will be - in our mind, heart and energy account. If we think that everyone is really coming from a good place and sometimes don't think or don't mean, we would have a lot more in our energy savings.
Just sayin'.
Unity people.
There are rules out there but way less people out there holding us accountable.
Let's work together to get where we need to go. We are all trying to get somewhere and I support you getting there, even if that means that it makes your day that you are in front of me in your car. Go on with yourself. Be in front. You win. I'm saving my energy for the homeless.
Let's let people into our lane.
Let's let people not use their blinkers even though we all know how dangerous that is not to use our blinkers.
Let's let bad be bad and hope we learn from bad and model what we experience as good.
Let's let be - in it and with it together.
~Lady Yoga
That's my new name. Get used to it.