Where I’m At and A Moon Salutation Routine

NOTE: There’s a lot here and this might be one of my most random posts yet, but there’s so much on my mind lately I decided I just need to get it out. I’ve decide that rather than trying to make this into separate more well written posts or waiting till my thoughts were clearer or more coherent I would just put it out there and let you take from it what you will.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a Yoga routine post here on the blog. In fact I think the last one was this one.

Honestly, it’s been a while since I shared anything on the blog (nearly a month). Most of you who have been around this space for a while, know that not writing it one of my warning signs. When I don’t write, something is wrong. There’s no need to worry yet, friends, but let me just say it’s been a tough few weeks for me.

For the first time in years life has been really busy. Like 15 things on my to-do list each day busy. And I haven’t handled it well. I’ve felt lost in it. A lot of it has been good things, really good, fulfilling things – like starting to teach yoga again. But, a lot of it has also been difficult for me. I never realized how much work would come with Sage turning three and having all of her services and therapys  change. Large portions of my day have been devoted to administrative tasks – making phone calls, filling out paperwork, scheduling appointments.

If you know me at all, you know that administrative tasks and me just don’t jive well together. It’s not that I can’t do them, it’s just that I hate doing them. I’m forgetful. I’m disorganized. And I have a hard time keeping all the balls in the air. Right now, though, dropping a ball and missing a step has some very personal consequences for my little girl.

So, I have been wrestling with my own failures, my own inadequacies to face this task, as administrator and advocate, that I was thrown into when given the title special needs mom.

But, most of all I’ve been trying to figure out how to translate the posture of openhanded surrender that I’ve fought so hard to obtain into this season of busy-ness. How do I surrender, and trust, and openhandedly let God be sovereign and do his work, when I have a mile long to-do list of things that won’t get done if I don’t do them?

How do I practically find my strength in God when I am running on empty, but can’t stop because there’s still one more call to make, or one more email to send, or one more thing to arrange? How do I find balance between the exciting things that I want to do, that fill me up, and the not so exciting things that I have to do? How do I find “white space” and “margin”? How do I listen to God’s spirit and follow his prompting when there is no space for flexibility?

I don’t have answers. I’m just asking questions.

For so long God and I related in this wrestling match over whether or not I would trust. REALLY truly deeply trust.

Recently I found a prayer journal where I had listed my biggest fears way back in college. I laughed reading the list, because in the past few years I have had to face nearly every single one of them head on. The biggest one being losing my husband. Bryan is thankfully still here, but this time last year the doctors gave him four months to live. And that hit hard. When Bryan’s cancer started growing again just a few months ago that hit hard too. But, I think I can finally say, sincerely, that I trust God. My hands are open. Whatever happens with Bryan I know that God loves us and is with us and is GOOD. Those aren’t just platitudes anymore. I know them. Not just in my mind, but deep in my soul.

I have been relating to God in seasons of big epic struggle for so long, though, that I suddenly find I am unsure how to relate to him in the mundane. In the details. In the busy-ness of day-to-day living.

I continually try to live day-to-day in my own strength, in my own power, by my own hand. And truth be told, I’m really not sure how NOT to live that way.

In the midst of these thoughts and questions and this busy-ness I keep hearing God whisper: “Am I enough. Do you want me more than you want sleep? More than you want yoga? More than all the things on your to-do list? More than you want your daughter to have the best equipment possible? More than you want your husband to live? More than you want to succeed at  your dreams? Am I enough?”

My only honest answer is no. No.

But, I wish it wasn’t. I hope that will change. And maybe there’s some key there to finding my strength in him? Maybe strength follows desire?

I don’t have answers. I’m just asking questions.

For now though, I’m sitting in it. Staying in the questions. Staying in my honest answer. Staying in this place of awkward busy-ness. This place where I feel weak, constantly doing things that are out of my comfort zone and not within my natural skill set.

Last week I went to a yoga class where the teacher had us hold these strong standing poses for long periods of time. Every muscle in my body was shaking and trembling. It didn’t hurt, my alignment was good. I could hold it. But, I didn’t want to. I was weak and trembling and I wanted to just move into the next pose already! But, I didn’t. I stayed with it. I stuck with it. I sunk a little deeper into it. And I shook. I felt embarrassed by my shaking, but then I was reminded. This is how you build strength. You don’t build it in your comfort zone, moving only through poses that are natural for you. You build it by doing those poses that are more challenging, those poses that you don’t want to do. You do it, by staying with it and not giving up.

This season I’ve found myself in. It’s caused a lot of trembling and shaking in my heart. I want to move past it. I want to outsource my to-do list. I want to get out of the pose. But, I don’t think that’s how I will learn to live from God’s strength. I think I need to stay in it, even if I shake and tremble and possibly fall. Even if my weakness causes embarrassment and I sometimes drop the ball. Because this pose, this season, this won’t last forever. And staying in it, that’s where I’m going to build and learn and absorb strength.

But, this staying in the pose, this is different than “pulling yourself up by your boot straps”. It’s different than trying to force yourself into a pose that your body isn’t ready for yet. It’s different than trying to do something in your own strength. This actually isn’t really doing much of anything. When I hold warrior II I’m not trying to force anything, all I’m doing is not giving myself an easy out.

A few weeks ago I felt like I was wound up tight like a clock, unable to calm down, unable to cool down. Often flitting and floating in a state of ungrounded stress. I even had to start keeping a small fan by the side of my bed to help with all the hot flashes I was having when I was up with insomnia. Not good, right? But, it wasn’t surprising considering the circumstances of my life right now. I may be able to trust God with the outcome of Bryan’s cancer, but it doesn’t make the reality of cancer go away. I may be able to trust God with my daughter and her needs, but it doesn’t make the reality of her needs disappear. I am still, and will be for quite some time, a care giver and trying to add my own work and dreams into that role has proved to be overwhelming at best.

I was trying to force so many things. I was working hard to make things happen. I wasn’t trusting the process. I wasn’t sinking deeper into the pose I was already in. Instead I was pulling on my own strength. It didn’t work well. I hit a wall. Big time. I had tried to push myself too hard. I tried to push into poses I wasn’t suppose to be in yet, and I didn’t want to just come back to the pose I was suppose to be in, I wanted to revert. To sink back down into child’s pose and just stay there.

The lesson in trembling and staying spoke specifically to this in my heart. It reminded me that all I really needed to do was stay in this place, in this pose. I didn’t need to try to take the momentum from this pose and push myself into a harder one. And I also didn’t need to fall back into something more comfortable and easy. What I needed to do was simply stay where I was, in the place God had me.

I wanted to stop the busy-ness altogether, but that was impossible so I felt frustrated. But, what I really needed to do, wasn’t to stop altogether, it was just to stay. To slow down and hold each pose as it came.

As I’ve thought of all this I’ve been reminded a lot of moon salutations.

Most practitioners of yoga are familiar with sun salutations, even if they haven’t been practicing for very long. The sun salutation is a series of poses which builds heat in the body. It’s often done at the beginning of yoga classes, and it’s not uncommon to find whole classes built around sun salutations. It’s a wonderful way to warm up and a great way to start the day.

Moon salutations, on the other hand, are much less common. It’s something that I only recently became familiar with and I’ve been practicing yoga off and on for nearly ten years.

The moon salutation series is a more cooling, meditative, grounding series. The emphasis is on flow and gentle movement, rather than the sharp jumps and strong movements of sun salutation. Poses are held for longer, with an emphasis on sinking more deeply into the postures.

The most common variation of moon salutation is a series created in the 1980’s.  Shiva Rea also has a lovely variation that is based on a moon salutation from the 1960’s.  A friend just sent me this version this morning, which I also particularly like.

After looking over a number of moon salutations I decided to attempt to build my own moon salutation variation and I’m loving it.

I love how it echoes the phases of the moon, which also seems to echo how our lives cycle through phases. Moon salutations remind me that no season lasts forever. Even if this season is hard and causes trembling and lasts longer than I want, it won’t last forever.

This sequence starts out strong and full with goddess pose and then moves slowly through these arching poses until it comes to a grounding quiet squat, only to then move back through arching poses into the fullness of goddess pose again. That cycle, that rhythm, feels so natural to me. So right.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Mountain Pose

Side stretch (right side)

Side stretch (left side)

Goddess pose

High lung (right foot forward)

Down dog

Falling heart pose

Low lunge (left foot forward)

Triangle (left foot forward)

Spontaneous Flowing Half Squat (or Monkey pose)

Squat

Spontaneous Flowing Half Squat (or Monkey pose)

Triangle

Low lunge (right foot forward)

Melting heart pose

Down dog

High lunge (left food forward)

Goddess pose

Side stretch (left side)

Side stretch (right side)

Mountain

I had planned on sharing a little video of this routine, but, well, it felt overwhelming, so I opted not to. Sorry, friends! Maybe I’ll post a little of it on Instagram since that’s easy, so if you’re over there come find me.

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

2 thoughts on “Where I’m At and A Moon Salutation Routine

  1. Hi. So I’ve been up all night in agony with a gallbladder attack. I googled if kefir could help (because I usually take it daily) and I came across your post from four years ago. Which led me to google your blog. And this is why I’m now crying at 3am! Thank you for sharing your raw struggles. My health has been so bad and I’m juggling full time uni with four primary age kids and an adult. It’s two weeks til exams and I don’t want to hold this pose either! I want to lay in child’s pose and not get up. But after reading your words, I know God is speaking to me. Of all the links I couldn’ve followed, I clicked on yours. So thanks. 🙂 God is faithful, even when we don’t understand.

  2. I read through Exodus this summer and something that has continued to pop up over and over in my mind is the whole phenomenon of manna, and how the Israelites were to gather for that day only, returning each day to gather more. Then I read a blog post about it – and linking it to the Lord’s Prayer – “give us this day our daily bread”. It’s really helped me focus on the task or day or hour ahead of me. With all that’s happened in the past few months in my family, I’ve realized sometimes I’m only able thru God’s power, to make it to the next day. And then his power is new again for the next day. Or even it’s as short as making it thru the morning at work. And then the afternoon. Or whatever it may be. I know you aren’t looking for a solution and sharing your thoughts but this reminded me of all this so I thought I’d share. 🙂 Love you.

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