Writing immediately after yoga and art class, Saturday morning:
I take a yoga art class from Liza Toft every Saturday. I’ve talked about her here before. Its nice to only have around 5 students. I guess you could call us students or student seekers. We’re all seeking something.
For me, the biggest challenge in yoga is not the actual asanas/poses or the Zoom class. Yoga for me is about the challenge of speech and action, with speech being an action. Thoughts are not in our control most of the time. With yoga, we can work on speech and making conscious choices, just like the DBT class I took for 36 weeks teaches.
On these quarantine Saturdays, it’s the beginning of the class that’s chaotic and could use the Yoga of Speech and Action. I had time to relax when I woke up. Then right before class, we decided I’d do the class in my kid’s room, but she was sleeping. Then I woke her up and she was annoyed. I got into angry mode about not having a place for yoga in the house. I rushed towards the kitchen and started setting it up there, while my partner was trying to help while remarking that I was having a “Tantrum” which I sometimes have; I’m working on it.
Then I went into the place near our closet in the bedroom, and he was telling me I had no room and not to hit the mirror, then he again told me to go to her room. So I went back to her room.
If you imagine the scene it’s actually funny-me picking up my yoga mat, my water, my computer, my coffee and I had a block and glasses case I couldn’t cary and scurrying to a place, laying out the mat and computer quickly, then rushing to another place while spewing negative energy.
This went on during the class, the beggining part that is important , when Liza lays out the concepts of the whole class. We’re on mute, but I could hear Liza calmly talking in my headphones about something profound I can’t now remember. (I don’t remember the words usually anyway, ADHD). I finally got situated in my kid’s room with my computer on her little fridge for her face stuff with the mat out. Liza was still talking about Ayengar’s daughter’s wisdom about something to do with faith and. acceptance or something else. Another student was taking notes which was a Smart Idea; I might do next time.
The first minutes, I just sat on the pillow and listened. Luckily you can turn your screen anyway you want so you might not show your head. Nobody cares, as they’re obvioulsly in their own head having their own experience and process.
I cried on and off during this time of works of wisdom, some of it was reaction to whatever she was saying. Obviously releasing pent up emotions from the whole week. What I also do at the beginning of class is text “people” in my house who have been “assaulted” metaphorically by my ngativity and anger. This time it only took one text to get a calming forgiving answer in just one word. I got my reasurance so I could focus on the class.
What I noticed about how powerful yoga is, is that while in Emotion and Rational Mind, I was in turmoil and didn’t believe anything would feel different; the normal thing the people in my DBT class would relate to, an emotion feeling like it’s going to be there forever, there is always a transition, as though she provides a rope bridge between two craggy places, and I end up feeling ok at some point on the bridge and do end up at the other side of the bridge.
I think we are on the focus on Fire and some air, the chakra system. Last week was earth which I was late for. At the end we make art about our experience. I had also taken an anxiety pill during the class at the beginning so that probably helped. .
Of course the hatha yoga portion matters too and is very important but I think transitions are interesting and challenging. (From what I understand people think Hatha yoga is a kind of yoga, but I read Hatha Yoga just means any physical type of yoga, as opposed to the other more esoteric branches.
It felt good to be reaching my arms out a lot and doing a lot of standing grounding poses. I’m sure they contributed to the restoration of sanity and calmness.There’s one I hated that I finally understood and now find it interesting, so I will not put it in my own yoga class instead of avoiding it. It’s the one where you’re in warrior 2 stance but you stretch your back arm over your head.
Liza does some kind of magic with the yoga; most of it is alighment with some good metaphors and wisdom that is actually wise. The alighment part makes sense because she explains why you are putting your body in these positions and what it cause inside and outside; that is the main link between the physical and connection to the unconscious, to the emotional body and to the spiritual or creative body.
In DBT we call the minds Emotion Mind, Rational mind, and Wise Mind. By the end I was in Wise Mind. I could tell because I was aware of taking my time to put my yoga stuff aside and come to my tiny office to make art. Usually, I would rush to do something and do it in my altered book and feel impatient and wanting to do more art and have more time. This time I took out a big peice of paper and calmly started a collage painting. I had an image of drawing a tree person while in the corpse pose. I’ve drawn tree persons before. Now it seems very metaphorical, like a lot of my old drawings with mushrooms and people in jars. A cry for trees which “have no tongue”- which right now is consoling rather than the Lorax feeling.
I was calmer and slower about the art, and not as attached to “finishing” it and having time to finish.
There’s a Marsha Linehan story where she said she was at the monastery doing the usual thing: cleaning a floor with a toothbrush and really cleaning thoroughly and doing what seemed like Meditation in Action. The bell rang for some other thing (transition) and she became aware of how attached she was to continuing to clean the floor and “finish” it. By stopping and moving to the next action, she learned to let go of this clinging to things, whether they are actions or actual things or people or whatever. It’s why I encourage clients to use timers for tasks and do it myself. For example this is not 13 minutes of writing, my usual limit. Since it’s Saturday I’m letting myself go over my time.
I even used crushed dry cilantro and some eggshell in my art.
Then the transition to the end of class, which is people sharing their art and experience if they want. It’s a familiar challenge and involves acceptance and letting go of clinging to a lot of things. Liza mentioned Freedom at the beginning of class and I remember thinking while in tears, I will never be free. So the end of the class for me was a form of experiencing freedom through one of the “Seven Laws of Spirituality”, the path of least effort. When you get on that path, you are in freedom. The last two classes, I’ve felt quiet and halfway focused on what other people were saying, which is completely unlike me This time I tried to focus more and listen to the other people. I didn’t feel like talking about mine. I thought I was on mute and so I texted a zoom chat thing asking if we could share art and experiece later. I also realized texting the chat thing where Liza reads out my words was really helpful for me as I don’t like talking and getting into ADHD mode. I don’t want to rile myself up when I’ve finally had a great moment in a week full of personal suffering and mental challenges.
I also while noticing slowing down noticed old behavior where I would want to talk and want ot hear everyone and see their art and this time I just let it be. Someone left because it went overtime. I noticed it going overtime, and some of me likes things to be in the time alloted because it also helps feel less chaotic/ADHD overwhelmed to have a schedule etc.
Then I noticed Wise Mind saying, Oh well. This is a Zoom class and it took a while to start and get everyone here so it’s natural it went overtime and I’m not in a rush so I don’t mind. I also had compassion for Liza, as I know from experince doing these small Zoom classes is difficult.
I will post my picture. I was thinking of finishing it but I understand the concept of leaving it alone and making it just be about htis Saturday’s experience, another kind of acceptance I’m not used to.
Now I would want to look at the picture over the week and notice things. I used to churn out art like I was in the toothpaste factory or whatever it was my dad worked in at one point. There’s one in the Series of Unfortuante Events, a gum factory.
In closing, I will say that Liza’s yoga class on Saturday morning is magical. If it can transform me from angry, frustrated, childish, annoyed, impulsively reactive and not nice– to feeling calm compassionate and accepting of myself and my situation, that is very powerful, and extra necessary in this quarantine..