Tender

April 6, 2018

Today is the anniversary of my father’s death. Six years ago. How long will I hold onto this day as a day of remembering him? Many ask. When should I switch to his birthday? Never. I will forever have both. I do for my mother who died ten days after my father, and three days after her birthday. I do for my brother who has been dead for what seems like a lifetime, over 20 years. It’s not like I need a calendar to remember. The seasons tell me. Spring is here. Cherry blossoms are celebrated. My parents are dead. My body knows. I believe this. I feel sluggish with an undercurrent of sad. Sure, I am not getting enough sleep. Sure, I likely have slight allergies appearing. But it feels more.

Every year at this time, I feel tender. It’s the word I have chosen that makes the most sense to me. It has multiple definitions, but here are mine: not hardy, not prepared or able to endure difficulties or hardship; having a (temporary) sensitive constitution; especially sensitive to touch, insult, injury; needing careful and sensitive handling.

I would add that I am feeling private, in spite of the blogging. I don’t really want attention around this at all, because….well, because I am tender. I don’t want to respond to people responding to this, which almost keeps me from telling anyone about it. But I am writing because writing helps me stay in it, this life and all of its messiness. I am sharing because it feels important, even though I don’t want to. I am sharing, because this is mostly who I am, a sharer, often an oversharer. I am also sharing because I know I am not alone. I will never presume to know what others are feeling about loss and grief, but I can say what I am feeling and hope that in doing so, I give someone else company with their feelings.

The year after my parents died, during what was a much more tender period, and when I had a blog I did more regularly (Finding Pause), I wrote a piece about this day, this month. I pulled it out last night to see how it compared to now, and am sharing it again here, in part because it is more articulate than I am at the moment. Today, I would say, I feel the same way, just less. Not so much. The intensity of those feelings, their palpability (although I would prefer to say palpableness, even though that isn’t a word), the catch of them, and the loss is just simply less. And if I think, write, and let myself feel, they are all still right here….

April 6, 2013

A year ago my father died. It was dusk on Good Friday. A full moon rose as they carried his body to the white undertaker van. Ten days later, my mother died at dawn, as the birds started to sing, just three days after her birthday, and four days after my father’s funeral, which she was too sick to attend.

Morphine took them before their deaths, and we sat near them. Enrapt observers. Making strange decisions about care and dosages, as they slipped away. I watched both of them take their last breaths. It was intimate. And scary. And beautiful.

Today, as I sit here sandwiched between these first morbid anniversaries, I am tender. I feel hazy, disoriented, heavy, and unmotivated. Unproductive. Unable to make a plan. When I let myself, I feel weepy. Secretly weepy. I feel sad, and slightly hollow. Aching. Amiss.

I haven’t been sharing these feelings much. I haven’t really talked about it outside of my immediate family. I have had opportunities. But I don’t want to talk about any of it. I am avoiding it, yes, I know. I just don’t want to receive sympathy, and have to respond again to sympathy. Not because I am ungrateful. Friends have been beautiful and gracious and kind. I just don’t want to get into it again, in that way, to go back through all of the stories, the trauma, and the lives that preceded these deaths.

Some of this is fear. I don’t want to fall back down into that gully of grief. I am partly afraid it will swallow me, not forever, but for a time. There is so much to remember. So much loss. And recovery, of memories, of what? What remains? What is lost? What could have been? What was? What wasn’t? What is now?

It feels overwhelming at moments. I want to be vague and allow myself this period of tenderness. To cry with myself, and wallow in this quiet little vacant sulk alone. I am enjoying the secretness of it. The truth is, I don’t want sympathy.

I want the comfort of my parents. I want to feel their parental love and care, at its highest. I want to feel them. I want to feel my father holding my hand, to feel my hand in his beautiful hand, and that little squeeze he would give that said so many things. I want to hear my father’s voice say my name. Or hear him say anything. I want to feel my mother’s little pat pat. The slightly awkward pat pat, not quite a hug. On back or sweetly on my head, and hear her say: Oh, Daisy, there there, now, there there. Hush hush, now, hush hush.

I want to feel the comfort I think only they can offer, the comfort they taught, even with its painful limitations. I want them to comfort me through this tender time, through their deaths, even a year later. I want them to comfort me, if only by listening to me. I want to tell them, not anyone else, everything I have been feeling and doing and wanting and needing. I want to tell them that I miss them, at this moment, and all of the other moments, when I am making chicken in a pot, or read something in the New Yorker. I want to tell them it is the anniversary of their deaths, and how hard and strange it feels to be in this world without them. I want to tell them I feel more grown up now, just as my mom said I would feel when she died. I want to tell them they were right about so many things. And also wrong. So wrong.

I want to tell them how much I hated the way they left together, and, damnit, how unparental it felt, yet again. I want to tell them I survived their deaths, even though I wasn’t sure I would. I want to tell them they didn’t prepare me for this. I want to tell them their comfort, and the way they loved me, was never really enough. I want to tell them I wish there was so much more. And yet, on some days, when I feel less tender, I understand why there was not. I want to tell them all about me, their daughter, a grown up orphan for a year. And I want them to see me as they never really could.

What a litany falls from my fingers, my body. It is too much. I know. But I could keep going, even though it feels self-indulgent, slightly selfish, spun from neediness, nearing the demands of a brat.

I want. I want. I want.

I still want so much from my now dead parents. Clarity appears at the end of a list. This tenderness I feel now precedes their deaths. Much of it has always been here. Unseen. Unspoken. Uncomforted. Grief and remembrance are its amplifiers. Avoidance is merely a temporary mute. A button I have been pushing repeatedly for years. I see forgiveness written on the volume knob but don’t want to touch it. I want to retreat to my quiet sulk alone. I want to run to my room and slam the door on all of it. I want to little girl sob into my pillow, recklessly, and then wonder if anyone will come in after me. As I always did.

The forsythia are dancing their wild spring swagger (except those hacked into obedient clumps), the daffodils are partying on lawns throughout town, the peonies are poking up their red heads to see what all of the ruckus is about, and the landscape around me is full with life, with celebration and revelry. I am quieter. I am alone. I feel slightly awkward, clumsy, trundling along to the irregular beat of grief and understanding. I rest. I pause in the corner, adjusting. I remember them. I remember me. I am learning how to carry the weight of ancient tenderness, how to coexist with this tenderness within me, how to exist in the vivid scene that is life, that is spring. I am remembering my last one, the trollop of it, the floundering in end of life and death decisions, not once but twice, the slam of both parents lost. In a row. Bam bam.

I am tender. To the touch. To the bone. There there, now, there there. Hush hush, everyone, hush hush. I am tender. To the touch. To the bone. April is the cruelest month.

 

peonies

WTF — Why has Yoga Nag stopped nagging?

As most of my loyal nagged yogis know, it’s true. My days of daily yoga nags, of a “NagADay” are over … for a myriad of reasons, including one big one (go to bullet 4 if you want to skip the rest):

  • I am too busy. This is true, but aren’t we all? This is never a good reason to stop doing anything that feels important.
  • I have another job writing for a restaurant company, which I love. I am still doing and teaching yoga, but I have had to adjust how I spend my time, and how I use my writing and creative brain, and honestly, nagging takes more than it seems.
  • I lost my Instagram @YogaNag handle (another long story for another time), and it was at first distressing, and then seemed like an important and needed shift. You can still find me on Insta, but now just as myself, @DaisyWhittemore.
  • I NO LONGER BELIEVE YOGA EVERY DAMN DAY IS A GOOD CHOICE FOR MANY PEOPLE, at least how I once practiced it, taught it, and nagged about it. And, given this, I haven’t figured out what to do now on these pages and elsewhere. Right?

Seriously, what does a Yoga Nag do if she isn’t nagging everyone to do yoga?

How do I integrate my new thinking into this existing framework?

How do I share what I know to be useful and wonderful, and even wise, movement practices that I am learning and adopting, within the container of yoga and the persona of Yoga Nag?

This is B-I-G, folks. I have always talked about and believed in the full eight limbs of yoga, encouraging everyone to look to the full breadth of yoga when creating a daily practice. To consider more than just asana (poses), to consider breath work, meditation, chanting, etc.  BUT if I am honest, mostly what I nagged were poses, and mostly what I practiced was asana. And a lot of it was pretty advanced yoga.

And then I injured myself….fairly suddenly, a crabby, achey hip, sacrum, and low back appeared that just wouldn’t get better and seemed to get worse, especially when I went to a yoga class, but also when I practiced yoga on my own. This was two plus years ago. I started to suspect particular poses were causing trouble, and some underlying weakness from life, babies, and imbalanced activity. I went to docs and PTs, got no definititve answers, but it became very clear that particular parts of yoga were not helping me get better, and in fact, made it worse.

What is a Yoga Nag to do when she has an apparent injury FROM yoga?

Carry on, continue to teach, but with wisdom and she is to STOP demo-ing a lot of poses. Basically, slow the F down in my own practice. Modify. Investigate and learn.

I did all of these things.

I healed up. I felt better. I learned a ton. And I started to approach my practice and movement in general with more care and consideration. This of course started to affect my teaching….  and, my nagging….

Here’s the other thing I need to admit: I have always been a bit of an anatomy avoider, certainly in yoga teacher training and even afterwards. I have a tired old brain that doesn’t want to remember the names of things or where they attach. At the same time, I have always been fascinated with how bodies work and heal. And love more than any other part of teaching,  the most important part for me — in  public classes and with private clients — helping people feel better in their bodies, stronger, smoother, more capable, at ease, happier. I worked hard at this with the tools I had.

But really understanding bodies includes functional anatomy. It is really important to making bodies work well and feel good.

(THIS IS GETTING TOO LONG AND perhaps a bit BLAH BLAH BLAH for some of you if you have made it this far, so let me cut to the chase….sort of….)

After lots of searching and filling in gaps by dabbling in this and that, reading this and that, I signed up for an advanced yoga training where I knew I would get what I wanted, and where I would be forced to learn my anatomy, the functional parts of how we move and breathe that really matter to me:  ThreesPhysiosMethod.

These smart women, who are all PTs (aka, physiotherapists) and yoga teachers, are in it to transform both worlds (or that’s what I see), making yoga teachers smarter about bodies and functional movement, and arming PTs with some of the amazing tools of yoga, like breathing.

After three long weekends in NYC, 100 hours of training, I am now an officially certified ThreesPhysiosMethod teacher. WOOOOOOOOOT. And eeeeeeeks. There aren’t that many of us, so I need to represent well (and it is A LOT of information loaded into my brain, how will I keep it all in there???).

 

My love affair with yoga has been rekindled.

AND it doesn’t feel like a smoke and mirrors show of me avoiding what I don’t know, using fancy arm balances and other yoga tricks and woo woo magic as cover up and diversion. (Although I still love an arm balance and good woo woo yoga.) It feels like exploration and wisdom joining hands. It feels smart. I am feeling smarter. More capable. More able to really help people. And I am growing my body knowledge…the real stuff…to inform the practice, with real movement science and information.

I am psyched (and a little bit scared) to keep learning and sharing what I am learning.

How this will unfold on these pages? I am not sure. I hope to use them more regularly again. At some point…. In the meantime, I am posting often on my new Instagram page, so come on over there if you want to see some of the ways I am working functional movement into yoga. It’s good stuff. It’s strong stuff. It might be practice changing stuff. There is a short example video below  (or linked to this email) of using some of the familiar yoga shapes in slightly different ways, inspired by the amazing Jenni Rawlings.

If you made it this far through, thanks for your time. Really. And send me an email (or comment below) and tell me where you are in your practice. In your body. Or what you are worrying about, frustrated by, wish was different. Or what you think is super cool about bodies and movement that is making your practice and/or your life better. Or a book or teacher you think is changing the movement world. I am all ears, and would love to chat.

Maha Love,

Daisy

FindingPause@gmail.com

 

WHERE O WHERE?

Where have I been? So many places except here….on my sweet YogaNag site. I have stepped away from the constancy of it all, not from my yoga but from blogging and posting on social media as regularly….as many of you know, as I have mentioned. It is such a time suck, sometimes a wonderful one, but not always. For me, it became a bit too mechanical and somewhat compulsive. So, I had to dial back. Moving forward, I am not sure what my plan is, but I did want to re-engage to say Hi! I am still here, I am still practicing my yoga in many ways (and have been nursing an odd back injury), and I am still energetically nagging all of you to practice your yoga, whatever that means, even if I am not doing my previous Nag-A-Day ways.

I am just back from a divine family vacation around the Great Lakes, feeling restored and a bit sad to be back to the regular daily grind, even feeling a small, slightly whiny grief over vacation past and especially missing the freshness and wonder of the amazing state of Michigan. But simultaneously happy to be home, continually delighted by this wonderful life here with family and friends, and yes, super grateful to have a grind to come back to, my yoga teaching, my writing job, and the mom work at home (that is very different from the mom work on vacation). Frankly, I love all of it.

But today, it’s a post-vacation Monday, and hi ho hi ho, it’s back to work I go….a bit begrudgingly, I must admit.

For yoga, what does that mean? Actually there are some great goodies this week in my public classes:

It is community week at Willow Street Yoga Center, which means $10 classes…. so come and check it out if you are so inclined.  I am teaching Wednesday nights, 6:15pm intermediate flow and 7:45pm level 1/2.

Or come on over to extendYoga for my Thursday 9:30am flow or my usual bargain $5 class on Fridays at noon.  That is all for my weekly public classes at the moment…. But this week I am teaching mamas again too, a workshop also at extendYoga. Details are below.

I would love to see you… in person or in cyberspace.

Keep on keeping on, yogi friends. Practice your yoga.

And if you want more nagging, I do post a bit more regularly Instagram…if you belong to that social media world.

xoxo

YogaNag

 

 

MAMA LOVE: PRENATAL YOGA WORKSHOP
THIS SATURDAY, July 22, 2017 1-3 pm
extendYoga, North Bethesda, MD

Pregnancy can be a magical, transformative, and complicated time. It can be wonderful and exciting, and simultaneously difficult. Your body can feel great one day or one month, and then be achy and uncomfortable the next. Your mind can feel anxious and muddled, or delighted. You can feel so tired, or some days, totally energized. Becoming a mama is a complicated business! Yoga has a lot to offer, wherever you are in your pregnancy, and it can help with labor and recovery too. Join Daisy for a workshop focused on yoga postures, breath work, muscle release tools, and relaxation techniques for pregnancy and labor. In this workshop, you will move, breathe, and create sweet connections with yourself, your baby, and other mamas. You will learn some simple self-care pregnancy and labor tools to take home with you. We will also work on a few strategies to help with recovery after your baby is born. For mamas at any stage in their pregnancy.  No yoga experience necessary.

Daily Practice?

People often ask me, especially lately as I have been living more time offline and away from social media, how often I practice yoga, and more specifically, what I practice regularly.

Rarely a day passes without some form of yoga, which usually includes these child’s pose side body stretches, ahhhhh….

I am also pretty addicted to lunges, especially a lunge twist, oh, how I love those. And I usually do at least a few sun salutations, and attempt to get myself upside down in some way or another. Some days have much more than other days. Some days much less. I certainly have had much bigger physical yoga moments than I am currently having, and I am working on this, trying to get back to a bit more. I miss it.  I definitely could do more of these….

In addition, every day I do breath work and breath focus, as part of or in addition to some form of mindfulness, if not a proper meditation.

As many know, including students in my classes, there are a lot of other ways to do yoga other than the physical postures many associate with “yoga,” and very often, those practices are just as important, if not more important than a downward facing dog.

I work hard to have integrity and balance in my practice,  and in my life as it relates to my practice. This is also my yoga. One pose at a time. One breath at a time. One moment at a time.

Videos at yoganag.com

Peace, practice, and pauses,
Daisy, aka Yoga Nag

Support

​I can usually find very good yoga company nearby. For example, at home, this Charlie dog.  Every damn day. (See video with Charlie pup at http://www.YogaNag.com) And in studio. Whether teacher or student, I am awed by the  amazing company in the yoga world. Last week, a beautiful class in a studio I don’t normally frequent and at least 3 friends just happened to be there seeking the wisdom and care of this practice led by a wise and careful teacher. What a gift. Seriously. 

Even when we travel, I can walk into a yoga studio and feel right at home. In my body. On my mat. In the new-to-me space. What a gift. Seriously.

Such amazing support. For me. For my practice. For this life. 

I thank the universe for yoga and yoga community. A shout out and millions of hugs and kisses to ALL of my yoga friends, including students. You are awesome. I am thankful for your yoga and your friendship. 

And even when I can’t find people, there are many other options to support me in this practice. Most know what a prop lover I am. How about a wall?  Nice on the wrists for wheel and helps me play around with other options.   (Another video at http://www.YogaNag.com)

​I share this in collaboration with #gratitudeandgrace. Led by the wise & wonderful @dianazotos, in partnership with @proskoyoga @erica_mather @patricialadis @francescacervero @medicalyogamom @giuliapline @traceyvincel@arianayoga @yoganag

Love,

Daisy, aka YogaNag
http://www.YogaNag.com
#yogapuppy #yogakula #yogacommunity #practice

Move. Breathe. Practice. 

​Less words. More action. More movement. More moving with breath. 

Grateful for ALL OF THIS, slow, juicy fireside flow. (Video at http://www.YogaNag.com)

Sweet warm up for my current pose practice. Also some pretty sweet company.


I share this in collaboration with #gratitudeandgrace. Day 3. Join us. 
Led by the wise & wonderful @dianazotos, in partnership with @proskoyoga @erica_mather @patricialadis @francescacervero @medicalyogamom @giuliapline @traceyvincel@arianayoga @yoganag

Love,
Daisy, aka YogaNag
http://www.YogaNag.com

A not so still life. 


Working at @earthtreks while one kid climbs, another sits nearby and does homework. And this mom stops for her promised daily wheel poses. Gonna get those in if nothing else. Yes, my computer and glasses in the foreground amongst the chalk. 

Grateful for capacity to create shapes with this body anywhere. Grateful for a life in mostly stretchy clothing. Grateful I don’t give a crap what people think of me when i #stopanddropyoga anywhere. Grateful for free wifi in smart, wonderful public spaces. Grateful for work I can do almost anywhere. Grateful for my wonderfully, diverse kids. Grateful for this squishy rock climbing floor @earthtreks. It is a GREAT work space for a yogi/writer!

Grateful to also be seeing what I am missing beyond a better wheel pose: a real practice, a long, sweaty one; a teacher guiding me through a wise and careful practice; less time multitasking; and a biggie, work for others beyond those in my immediate circle. 

I share this in collaboration with #gratitudeandgrace. Day 2. Join us. ‘Tis the season. 

Led by the wise & wonderful @dianazotos, in partnership with @proskoyoga @erica_mather
@patricialadis @francescacervero @medicalyogamom @giuliapline @traceyvincel@arianayoga @yoganag

Love,
Daisy, aka YogaNag
http://www.YogaNag.com

Grace and Gratitude This Year


A Sunday shape.  A pose that requires so much vulnerability and strength. I generally have more of one than the other, in yoga and elsewhere. I bet you can guess which. This is definitely not a yoga glamour shot, my Sunday morning PJ struggle with wheel pose. I feel too exposed. But I am very aware that I must stop avoiding the places where I feel my vulnerability, my instability, even where I feel slightly unsafe in my own body. This feels particularly important in the current times. This pose embodies both strength and vulnerability. I need both. I think we all do. Some of us have more of one inherently than the other, for so many reasons, some of which comes right down to privilege. For me, I can’t look away from the hard stuff, and seek out the stuff that makes me feel strong, good, safe. I am embarrassed by how much I do this (and even advocate for it, saying pick the poses that you love and start there, which can be great, but not all of what we need to do in this practice). I am digging in, getting real. I am grateful for this practice, this body, this cozy space with Charlie’s support, and the inherent indulgence evidenced in this post, that I get to practice these things here in my body on a daily basis. I know this is a privilege. I also know many of us could use a lot more embodiment right now, and maybe like me, embodying some of the stuff you normally avoid. 

It is the time of year where we look to what we have. This year, I am looking more deeply at my list. In looking at what I have, I am also looking for what I don’t, seeing where I could do more work, where I could do less. On my mat. And off.  

What is on your gratitude and lists this year? Can they help you reveal more about you? About your world? Are you avoiding important bits? Are you overdoing something, underdoing something else? It feels like time to get real, friends. Like, really real. Time to dig in. See what is there and what isn’t. What you have and what you have been missing. What we have and what we are missing.

I share this work in collaboration with #gratitudeandgrace, led by the wise and wonderful @dianazotos, in partnership with @proskoyoga @erica_mather @patricialadis @francescacervero @medicalyogamom @giuliapline @traceyvincel@arianayoga @yoganag

Love,
Daisy, aka YogaNag
http://www.YogaNag.com

Manduka Love via the Nag 


Hi beauties!  

I have a great share. Some of the fun perks of being a yoga teacher are discounts on yoga clothes and yoga gear from a variety of places. My FAVORITE by far is Manduka–like these comfy leggings and this awesome mat. As an “ambassador” for Manduka, they are extending a discount to my students and friends between now and Halloween. 

Use the coupon code DWHITTEMORE9 to receive a 25% discount on an order from http://www.manduka.com. Nice! Right? Fun! Leggings leggings leggings. Or whatever suits YOUR fancy.

Maha love,
Daisy, aka Yoga Nag
http://www.YogaNag.com