Posts Tagged ‘Practice’

Blessed Are The Flexible For They Shall Never Be Bent Out of Shape.

My whole life is based on movement.

I crisscross the country as a sports producer for ESPN,  joining my merry band of tv misfits along the road to creative brilliance.

I also co-own a yoga studio in East Greenwich, RI, a way station for souls who come for the physical  and stay for the spiritual and community acceptance.

So what happens when that movement comes to a grinding halt? When you have to find other ways to be flexible?

In March 2014 I was slowly coming off the road and got sick. Like strep throat and mono sick. Like I’m so sick and tired I can’t move sick. And then I couldn’t raise my left arm.  Countless tests, doctors appointments, PT appointments later and no one could figure out what was wrong with me. Until I went to the neurologist, who diagnosed a brachioplexus injury brought on by the mono. Apparently mono, an autoimmune illness, can attack nerves. Recovery time?  Two years. Two. Years. Try lugging a bag of heavy tapes cross country with the use of one arm. Or try to chattarunga when you have no feeling in your left arm and you collapse on the way down. My best friend is an amazing yogi and my favorite teacher, and she listened and lovingly argued with me as I struggled with not being…enough.

What. The. Freak.

I was mortified when I was asked to be a Lululemon ambassador; crap, I couldn’t do anything; how could I represent!  I hid when I went to the NYC Yoga Journal Conference and took Seane Corn’s class.  I love this woman and was embarrassed by my clumsiness.  I would fall off my bike…ALOT…  because I couldn’t hold onto the handle bars tightly and it would throw off my balance.  I refused to give in to any of it.  I would lie on my mat every Tuesday night in my friend Sharon’s class. I would do some sun salutations and then, exhausted, lay down and silently cry. Rivers of tears. God love my friend who was so encouraging and let me just soak it all in from corpse pose, appropriate because I felt like death most of the time. I did this for months. And over time, I slowly gave in. I put my beloved bike away, rolled out my mat, and leaned into the stiffness, stillness, numbness, the quiet, and the not knowing.

And that’s where the magic began.  The tiredness started to ease, and while my arm remained numb and wouldn’t move, my lower body could. When I realized I didn’t have to be perfect, I could be good. Enough. And it was enough. So I modified. And modified. And modified. My legs got strong and by focusing on the things I could do as opposed to the things I couldn’t, I became more flexible. Also, within the movement, I prayed. Really hard. I dove into my reliable Catholic standards of Hail Mary’s, Our Father’s and Acts of Contritions. And I threw in my favorite Hindu chant for good measure: Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha. Ganesha, my hOMe boy, is the remover of obstacles and the bringer of new beginnings. I used it all. It became a body prayer. I started to peel away the layers and removed those things that no longer served me. And I became me again. I realized it was okay to be vulnerable and to rely on others. And I didn’t always have to live up to the ESPN producer/yoga studio owner/yoga teacher persona.  I became strong again, in different ways.  I didn’t have to be perfect. I could be good. And it was enough.

Almost two years later, I have regained 85% of the movement in my arm, but it’s still numb.  It’s also a reminder of how far I’ve come.

When there is no struggle, there is no strength. Amen.


by Lori Mancini in BreaktherUles with 1 Comment

Our #BreaktherUles campaign is halfway through. How many rules have you broken? Are you breaking rules set for yourself or standards set by someone else?

Strong. Silly. Uncomfortable.

We’ve been offering a word a day and your vision of that word has been absolutely inspiring.  Easy words on paper, sometimes hard to visually and verbally explore and explain.

Grounded. Stiff. Adventurous.

What do these words mean to you? What do they say about you? Who you are? Who do you portray yourself to be versus who you want to be?

Happy. Adventurous. Sexy.

This campaign has gotten people thinking and opening up in a way they haven’t before. We are told the best part is knowing someone actually is listening and seeing through to them.

Grateful. Supported. Smart.

Sometimes the quietest words sneak up on you. They speak to a place in you that you protect, that most people don’t know exists because you’re not sure it’s safe to share.



As we continue on through the month, one day and one word at a time, let’s continue to challenge ourselves and each other.

The Elephant In The Room

Why the Elephant? And why are there elephants all over LEY?

One of our lovely instructors, “Downtown” Coral Brown , threw that at me before she sauntered into class on Wednesday. ‘Write about that’.

She made me laugh. Easy to answer, but not so easy to explain. The easy answer to why the elephant:  Instructor Debbie Valois’ husband Dave threw the idea out there over a night of drinking (thanks Dave). We also love Ganesha, the Hindu God with the elephant head who is the remover of obstacles and the bringer of new beginnings. An informal poll of our students shows that elephants represent wisdom, loyalty, family, quiet strength, and tenacity, and heck, who doesn’t love an elephant?

Why are there elephants displayed all over LEY? They are thoughtful gifts from members of our community. Coral gifted the first elephant picture, a beautifully decorated pachaderm from her trip to India . It hangs over our altar. Our much loved student Cheryl Mcgiveny, who has been with us since day 1, went on a safari in Africa to celebrate a birthday and brought back stunning photos of  elephants at watering holes. And the staggeringly thoughtful painting in our waiting area? An original that faithful student Danielle Donehew had commissioned  for us by a local artist.

As time went on, elephants of all types started appearing. Our community excitedly offered stuffed elephants, stone elephants, glass elephants and an infinite number of Ganeshas.  It absolutely blows my mind that students will be on vacation and think to bring something back for us.

And therein lies the why…

We proudly display these gifts because they quietly hold the energy of the gifter and that energy in turn infuses our studio. They are our own silent Avatars…Avatars are incarnations, embodiments, or manifestations of a person or idea. The Bhavagad Gita talks about avatars or avatara literally meaning descent.  The Lord Krishna incarnated as a charioteer to guide the warrior Arjuna in battle. As the Lord, Krishna explains, he dwells in every being.

So it is with our elephants…They are infused with life, wisdom, memories and the best of our generous community.  The elephants are outward reminders of milestone trips and now they quietly hold our space. Look at the photos; Coral’s elephant kindly stares at you and holds her quiet strength, beauty and talent . That wise elephant watches over us during our practice, willing us through our asanas.  Cheryl’s majestic elephants stand strong together, a reminder  of how tight our community is and how we are better together. And Danielle’s painting of the watering hole? A subtle depiction that this is our meeting place…to play, to learn, to laugh, to just be.

It’s our community’s  energy, their vision, their true essence that hangs on the wall, sits on a ledge or perches on a desk. They are and will always be the elephant in the room and we proudly acknowledge them.