Adios 2014! Aloha to a 30 for 30 Challenge @YI_Mag : What One month of Yoga is teaching the DiversityNerd

2015 arrived with a whimper.  My December felt so jammed-packed, all I did for the last few days of 2014 was try to sleep in and watch movies with my daughter.  In November, I ran the Las Vegas Rock N Roll Half Marathon and suddenly, Thanksgiving arrived.  With Thanksgiving happening so late in November, I felt as if I had a lot less time to rest or prep for all the activities leading up to Christmas. And before the big introductions would happen, the halau was a whirlwind of activity.

400 pounds of kalua pork needed to be bought, prepped, cooked, shredded and distributed for our annual Winter fundraiser.

I jumped on a plane for an overnight business trip to Plano, TX, the first of many because the company who I have been employed with for over 16 years is moving all HQ locations there.  We will be neighbors with Dr. Pepper/Snapple, Frito Lay and FedEx.

Months filled with countess hours of singing and dancing rehearsals led up to the Christmas show “Mele Kalikimaka ‘Ia Oe”.

The halau also danced in a Daniel Ho concert that turned out to be a huge collaboration with about eight other halau.

When we got back to LA, my daughter spent the weekend with her dad and his family, as a late Christmas celebration. i sipped on a library wine from Leal, their 2006 Carnaval Meritage.  The website description makes me giggle:  “This masterful meritage of Bordeaux varietals is based on very deep and classic Léal merlot. While enjoying this wine, you will find nuances of baked raspberries, leather and just right measure of oak. The Merlot marries perfectly with the Cabernet Franc and Malbec to give the wine a plump and polished palatal feel. The finish shows perfectly integrated tannins balanced with fruit.”  This winery became one my favorites several years back, when the local grocer at Star Market introduced me to Leal Vineyards.  He said their red blends were divine and at the time, they were priced at about $20/bottle.  Also, they don’t do wide distribution or mass production and their motto is something like “phat wines. low pretense.”

When my daughter came home, we had two short days left to play tourist in So Cal.  What else could we do except hit the La Brea Tar Pits, LACMA and Disneyland?  We got some culture and saw Mickey Mouse, that’s a mighty fine way to spend the holidays together.

A few days before New Year’s, my cousin sent me a link for the “30 for 30 Challenge” by Yoga International.  She is a yoga instructor and practices daily.  I have taken three classes and have not gotten serious about my yoga practice.  However, as I turn my attention and focus back to martial arts, I see that yoga will allow me to increase my physical flexibility and mental patience.  I kicked off 2015 by spending 30 days practicing 30 minutes of yoga.

Day Five focused on the Root Chakra – Muladhara Chakra and the element “Earth”

Today’s yoga practice was about discovering where I had holding patterns (tension) and asymmetries in my body created by unregulated emotions such as the need for control, or fear.  It helped me see where I have “holding patterns and asymmetries” or, as I interpreted that statement, “tension”. For example, I felt my jaw remain tense even as I tried to relax into the simple “easy pose” called “sukhasana”. I had to consciously release the tension in my jaw and allow my mouth to relax. I felt like an ass but I kept breathing through it. No one is with me as I practice so I shouldn’t worry about being perfect for what I look like. That’s an important part of yoga, right?  This can also be caused by any repetitive motions: sitting at a desk, assembling a vehicle, pulling pints, or any other job task that is repeated over and over.

Given what upheaval is happening at work, it did not shock me to discover that my body is all kinds of asymmetrical right now.  These 30 minutes allowed me to see how I hold my body asymmetrically, usually because of emotions or stress. Emotions are not a negative thing but I know that not expressing my emotions causes physical pain or sleeplessness for me.  That is something I have been working on and “Jim” has played a huge part in helping me feel safe enough to do so.  No longer do I hold things in and run or punch them out.  Now I can actually talk to “Jim” about my feelings about anything and everything.  He helps me process the millions of thoughts and emotions that run through my head every day.

What am I learning?
30 minutes feels HELLA long
Yoga teachers work my nerves if their voices grate on me or they touch their students too much or if they sound monotone and boring.

Even as of Day Four, I can feel my muscles being stretched and worked in different ways from my usual exercise routines. My karate stances feel stronger already. My shoulders and triceps feel leaner.  As I develop more patience, I think the yoga will make me a better martial artist and allow me to breathe through the frenetic pace of change at work.  This year will be turbulent and filled with turmoil and tears.  But I am prepared for you, 2015.  Bring it.

Humility is crucial to this study. Patience is important. Breathing is key.

Just like in karate, as my late Sensei always said, the basics are everything.

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