The Cheeky Yogi ‘Practice What You Preach’ Project

Yogi Integrity

Have you ever wondered what happens to your day? You plan to do something and by the end of the day, you’ve done something entirely different. How does that happen? I had dedicated the afternoon to a simple task – to write this blog. That was pretty straight forward, wasn’t it? Just sit and write, but before I did that, I thought ‘just do one little thing first’.

Time 13:02

Ate a boiled egg whilst heating up lunch.
Stuffed the washing machine.
Got hoover out, but realised my newsletter was overdue. Left the hoover in middle of the room.
Started writing my newsletter. Opened a new tab on the computer as I had forgotten to complete the register from my work.
This reminded me to prepare for a yoga Nidra class. I hunted out the Nidra file from the study. I tripped over hoover and cussed at the idiot who had left it there.
The dogs ran over and kissed my left ear, their way of checking my vital status after me catapulting to the floor. This jogged my memory, as faceplants tend to, to buy dog food. Stepping over the hoover (I am not stupid enough to make the same mistake twice) I opened a new tab on the computer.

Some time later

The cat popped his head through the cat flap, reminding me they need to be de-flead. I need a prescription to buy the de-fleaing meds, hence I called vet. I briefly pondered life’s mysteries. Why the prescription? Is there really an underground market for pushing Advantix for large cats at house parties?
The pan pipe version of YMCA played whilst I am on hold with the vets, reminding me of a friend’s birthday. The hunt for a decent birthday card began. I tripped over hoover again, this is followed by a double-barrelled expletive. The dogs wiggled over, kissed my right ear and once again checked I was still alive.

Crawling back to the computer with a throbbing toe, squished face and wet ear, the smoke alarm sounded (lunch was burning) both dogs barked (at this point they’re worried about the likelihood of survival), the vet answered the phone and my doorbell chimed.

Some time later still

By the time I sat at the computer to write this, which had been the original plan all along, I saw that I had 14 different tabs open on the computer and 6 on the mobile, the washing machine hadn’t been turned on, the hoover sat like still life in the middle of the floor and nothing, but nothing had been achieved.

Do as I say and not as I do

When eventually I did get around to writing my newsletter, it was all about not multi-tasking, the importance of the breathing and being in the moment. I focus on ‘Ekagrata’ – the intent pursuit of one object, one pointed focus with undisturbed attention. Isn’t ‘undisturbed attention’ an oxymoron in this day and age?

The expression ‘kettle and pot’ comes to mind. What right have I to preach to others? 14 tabs and the Apocalypse hardly feels like undisturbed attention. I ring 6 other yoga teachers. Phew! We all are in the same boat. Everyone juggles along, often forgetting to practice what they preach. We fall off the yoga wagon. We are great at nurturing other people, devising practices that will bring calm, inner reflection, or whatever is needed in that moment. But when it comes to us, there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

Project practice what you preach: Phase 1

I decide that a major overhaul is required. Now lockdown has closed gyms, my crack of dawn classes have been suspended. I buy a new, sexy leather journal which oozes determination and resolve. With my old-school ink pen and in my special joined-up handwriting reserved for birthday cards and condolence letters, I write “Phase 1: stabilise my circadian cycle”. I feel yogic. That sounds much more journal-worthy than “have a bit of a lie-in” or “sleep more”.

I research how this natural internal process is affected by light and dark which in turn affects physical, mental and behavioural changes in a 24 hour cycle. The more I discover, the more I toy with the notion that Thomas Edison may have been the devil in disguise, inventing the incandescent light bulb. He changed our sleeping patterns forever and ever. It was the beginning of the end, and now with our lust for electronic devices, we have become masters at putting our bodies out of kilter.  Phase 1 of ‘project practice what you preach’ was about sleeping for longer and better.

Dissonance in the family

It seems that my four-legged family were not very impressed with my new way of life. At the crack of dawn, they felt the urge to remind me that the early bird catches the worm. It began with the dogs tap dancing outside the bedroom on the parquet, then flinging themselves repeatedly onto the floor with reverberating thuds. Eventually Shakespeare (the Persian cat) recites an ode. This inspires the dogs to accidentally-on-purpose lean on the bedroom door, forcing it open, and finally Gandhi-Gadaffi (the world’s stockiest tabby) leads in the others and begins to scratch the furnishings in time to cat meows and dog huffs and howls. It seems animals too have a circadian cycle, which obviously is not in sync with us mere humans.

Project practice what you preach: Phase 2

Phase 2 is all about re-balancing my digestive system. If you read the last blog then you will understand why a little overhaul felt like a good idea.  It has been all too easy to grab the first enticing food item on the go and mindlessly devour that whilst doing a million other things. Instead, the plan is cut out certain foods and slowly reintroduce them to see the effect they have on the body. This requires a period of eating simply.

For someone who genuinely wiggles with delight when it is time to eat, the notion of small and simple eating is not very enticing. I spent a fortune exploring undiscovered vegetables from different parts of the world. I chopped, diced, sliced, minced, cut, spiralized the living daylight out of every vegetable on this planet, whilst avoiding all those other food items that you might write a song about. (Let’s face it ‘Red, red wine’ is much more of a hit than ‘Red, red beetroot’ could ever be).

The cheese burger vaccine

But nothing prepared me for the cravings. Nightly dreams of Chippendale dancers made of dark chocolate gyrating their chocolate chip torsos and marshmallow buttocks to Kylie Minogue’s ‘I should be so lucky’. Daydreams of the BBC announcing “Coronavirus vaccine confirmed: a glass of Barolo, and a double cheese burger in a bun with chips and dessert as often as possible, to be provided by the NHS.”

I had anticipated that my will might waiver, and I knew that meditation alone was not going to keep me on the straight and narrow. I had removed all possible temptations from the kitchen, the garage and the secret hiding places. However, after 14 days of having sauerkraut and Kombucha to keep the creepy crawlies that live in my gut happy, I was being pushed over the edge. The ‘chitta vritti’ that Patanjali warns about, the mind chatter, began exploding until a little voice in my head began to get louder and louder and ‘reason the unreasonable’.

The advent calendar

If I went to the shop to buy the prohibited item(s) I was craving, then I was definitely breaking the rules. However, if I could already find them in the house, then I was just doing housekeeping. I found nothing. Nothing, except for a chocolate advent calendar wrapped up for my little niece…

If I opened the 1st of December and ate that small little Rudolf, not only would I satisfy my need, but I could tell her that I had ‘started her off’. Just like I had done when I started her knitting for her. It was an act of kindness, an Auntie’s job.

The 2nd December was a little Christmas tree. To be honest, it was a misshapen tree and that just wasn’t good enough for my niece. I did her a favour.

The 3rd December was a Christmas bauble, I figured I could replace that with a clementine segment. That is Christmassy after all and far more healthy than all that chocolate.

I was a little disappointed in both 24th & 25th I really felt the manufactures should have made more of an effort. Perhaps the chocolate should have shown the entire nativity, a plump post-partum Mary, Joseph, the three wise men with gifts, the animals and the stable. That would have been be far a better choice. Though I am not sure eating a chocolate baby Jesus would go down well.

I am sure my niece will be thrilled with her nut and cotton wool advent calendar, though my sister in-law may be a little less impressed.

I am still working away at my Practice what you Preach project. This week it’s mastering the art of mindful eating, but chomping on a raison for 3 minutes seems rather like chewing the cud. I am not sure I am getting very far, but my next newsletter will be about accepting where you are, and rejoicing with what you’ve got, even if it is a cacophony of animals and a miffed sister-in-law.

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