Scrambled eggs, toast and butter and a cup of coffee. For me, this is a meal of satisfaction.
Simple tastes, I know, but this is truly my most satisfying meal and, for me, it can serve as breakfast, lunch or dinner. The other night, this was the meal on my mind as I landed in my first Downward Facing Dog at my six o’clock yoga class. In my inverted “V”, I was looking at the back of my mat, staring at my toes and realizing I had not eaten enough that day for the 90 minute practice.
Far from being in a state of satisfaction, I was in what I call a state of “shaky hungry”, and I get in trouble with those who know me for being so.
Yoga has helped me to be a more mindful eater, making sure I indulge in proteins and complex carbs, vegetables and the like. I even stopped eating meat. Generally, I try to eat well, which takes some planning, especially a few hours before a class, and I try to drink lots of water in the day.
So, here I was at the beginning of class, with the instructor urging us to let the day go, to clear our minds, to let everything dissolve on our mats. She was preparing to take us through a practice that would lead to satisfaction. All the while, though, I was setting my imaginary table with an extensive mental menu.
We flowed through our first Vinyasa, moving from our inverted “V” into a plank, down to a low push up and through to an Upward Facing Dog before landing back in our Downward Facing Dog. We were instructed to breathe so that, together with the breath and the flow, the mind clears.
But, my mind was full because my stomach was not!
I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when her house is flying through the tornado, and she looks out the window to see various images of her life go by. But, instead of laying on a bed in a flying house, I was on my mat in a baking hot studio. And, instead of seeing Auntie Em go by, I saw a cheeseburger which is not even part of my diet! Instead of the nasty neighbor pedaling past on her bike, I saw a piece of chocolate cake, the kind with the fudge icing from The Palm. There went my sashimi platter that I usually pick up after yoga, not to mention the hot and satisfying eggplant empanada to which I also treat myself right next to the studio after class.
Next thing I knew, I was thinking about the times when I was little, and the evenings my sister and brother and I got to watch the Wizard of Oz. An all time favorite of mine, it aired only one night a year. It would be a school night, a night we were not allowed to watch television. But, my folks would make an exception, and we would rush home from an afternoon of Hebrew school, plant ourselves in front of the TV and get to have dinner in the TV room, topped off by popcorn. Big excitement!
Needless to say, I was not having a mindful practice. How The Wizard of Oz became part of it, I am not sure. My poor preparation for practice included my scrambled egg breakfast, a light lunch of the same, and a cookie and coffee, all before 1 p.m. I wondered if I would leave the class early to go grocery shopping. At home, the cupboard was as bare as the contents of my belly.
Recently, the Equinox website featured an article titled, Body and Brains, which cited studies identifying the importance of tapping into the mind in order to work one’s body to the best potential during exercise. It explained, “… science shows that the more engaged you are mentally during exercise, the greater the body, brain and all-over health payoffs.”
The article explains how to maximize a workout by mentally engaging in the following four ways: 1) encouraging yourself with internal dialogue; 2) paying attention to verbal cues from the instructor; 3) trying your hardest so that you cannot really think of anything else, and 4) mixing up your exercise routine so it takes concentration to follow.
Needless to say, shrimp and broccoli and sushi rolls did not make the list of what to think about to maximize one’s workout.
Somehow, someway, I made it through the practice, albeit a bit more wobbly than usual. I left the practice without my usual feeling of satisfaction; instead, I just felt relief for having made it through.
I went straight to the nearby Japanese restaurant where I am a regular after yoga. The sushi chef made what he calls the Pretty Girl Special, a beautiful platter of salmon sashimi with vegetables.
This, I followed with a trip to the grocery store, eating Ben and Jerry’s out of the pint on the way home.
Not very lady like. Not very yogic. But, very satisfying all the same.
A collection of Anne's posts can be found at http://YogaSpeak.blogspot.com