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Proud Bostinno Nominee! – by Zara Bielkus

Health Yoga Life is happy when people choose healthy. Health is priceless wealth and with all the choices out there, no one should feel it is out of their reach. A BostInno writer did just that when they attended a heated yoga class in Boston, our Power’n’Flow, in place of a happy hour – read their impressions here. Through perhaps this and other unknown means, Health Yoga Life has been nominated by Bostinno as a #50onFire Sports & Fitness Nominee! We are THRILLED.

BostInno is the ‘next gen of Boston News’ and is an exciting provider of information to all us loyal Bostonians; it has the inside scoop on things to do, where to be and what is going on. Boston is a tight community, perhaps punching above its weight when compared to other cities in the States, and Health Yoga Life is happy to call it home. From having a love-hate relationship with the Green Line, to seeing BSO musicians playing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ (‘cos its root, root, root for the Red Sox!), you know you love Boston when ____(fil in the blank)_____.  BostInno is a great place for us to see what we are all up to!

Thanks for the BostInno #50onFire nomination! Fingers crossed for a win; oh, okay and hopefully one for HYL too!

Heels in a Marathon – by Zara Bielkus

Some memories in life are so strong that when we remember them, we feel as though they are happening right there in that moment when we are recalling them. This may happen when you hold your child for the first time, or you are told you passed the BAR exam. Or it can be something more collective, like when you saw the new Dalai Lama for the first time, or seeing George W’s face on the news in that elementary school in 2001.  We all have these moments, some public, some private. Some we share. Some we don’t. Perhaps part of our consciousness remains there, in that moment, for good or for bad, and therefore every time we recall it we can almost live it. My most recent experience of this is from the day of the 2013 Boston Marathon. I imagine it will remain raw for some time for the whole city, and part of our collective consciousness will remain there, cradling the incident with the stronger arms of the present.

A week after the incident I gave my nude-colored stilettos in to my cobbler.

“What did you do in these?” he asked. The leather had been stripped off both heels, the soles cut, and blue spots (Gatorade?) all over one.

“I wore them in the Boston Marathon – ” I replied.

“Heels…in a Marathon? Who…” he scratched his head.

I had meant to say I wore them to the Marathon. In many ways I did not even want to get into it, because most people don’t wear heels at sporting events, even as a spectator.  But in a more comprehensive way I guess I was trying to say, I wore them in the Boston Marathon…bombing.   But I could not. I did not want to. I did not want to have that memory there in a cramped shop, with my head aching from the smell of glue and leather.

And then it happened. It happened anyway. But for the first time the memory was not of the day, or running in heels, or the fallen barricades, police, cattle bells, baseball caps, magnolias, smoke. It was not of the hurt. A totally different aspect of the event surfaced. My mind saw a man in a raincoat with puffy eyes, turning the door knob of my sister’s apartment front door, with my scarf in his hand. Through the night following the attack, I had reported the experience to some news networks. Because of time differences I was asked to report near the crime scene in the middle of the night. Standing at the door, at 3am, to help me was my future brother-in-law.  All things considered, he said, I shouldn’t have to go alone.  When we arrived at the television crews, I realized I had to say something as opposed to just show how I felt. Crying would only say one thing. I needed to say some thing. Shocked from the day and the hour, and the cold spring night, I froze – until my future brother-in-law said, ‘just be you. People just want to hear you.’

Then the memory finished, and all I felt was kindness. The kindness of him keeping me company, the kindness of the reporters sharing stories so compassion could be showered back to Boston. And kindness to myself, allowing everything that unfolded that day and week to follow to be okay as opposed to wanting it, or me, to be feeling or acting differently.  Returning to a place where part of your consciousness sits, you see more of it than before.  You learn more than before. You are more than before.

Me. That is who wears heels as a spectator to the Boston Marathon.

You’ve Got a Friend in You – by Zara Bielkus

Like people and animals, friends, come in all shapes and sizes. Some are strong and always there, some are fuzzy fence sitters who are great when you need to bounce ideas off another person; but often the best thing about friends is that they find you.  This happened to me nearly 15 years ago. Standing in the coat room line, I could see a gentleman struggling to get his arm through a rather elusive sleeve. More than 35 years my senior, I thought to myself that my grandmother would be proud for respecting my elders if I helped him find it.

“It seems your left sleeve is playing hide-and-seek with you,” I said to him, grabbing the shoulder of his coat so he could guide his arm through. When he introduced himself, it turned out that according to the seating plan we were meant to have been sitting next to each other for dinner, but someone had shuffled him to the head table. As a result, I had dinner next to a dull so-and-so, but this chance meeting in the coat room line seemed ever more intriguing. Many years of our friendship elapsed and I was helping my friend collect legal paperwork for his estate. Grasping hundreds of papers, one page slipped from the pile in my hands to my feet – it was his father’s death certificate; it turned out we shared the same birthday.

“Perhaps you and I have been playing hide-and-seek even longer than we thought,” my friend chuckled when I highlighted the coincidence. Well if our spirits had shared a previous life, I, for one, did not remember!  This friend often talks of the divine and all the grandeurs of spiritual understanding. But I most admire his ability to treat strangers and friends with the same level of trusting compassion and I enjoy his wider knowledge base, which generally only the process of aging reveals. One day, after dedicating 10 years to one project, he said he would no longer pursue it. There were many reasons behind his choice, which I accepted, but I could not accept his loss. He felt he lost because now that he decided to stop the project before completion, “everybody will laugh [at me]”, he said. It made me want to cry when his voice trailed on the other end of the phone line. At that moment, I realized his loss was not the loss of the project, but really the feelings of embarrassment from a perceived loss of dignity – measured only against other people’s opinions.

So I said to him boldly: “The greatest loss here is not the project, or the loss of dignity. The greatest loss here is that in the roughly 70 years of your life, you still haven’t found your best friend: yourself.” You are never alone once you have found this true companion. With the hectic life of modern age it is critical to have a relationship with this ‘friend’ because of the high demands expected of individuals.  The yoga mat is a great place to find this friend because the stillness of the room allows you to hear what they need, what they want, what will make them happy. The differences in acts of selfishness and selflessness may be very apparent, but the mental differences between the two are less so.  Sometimes by being a little selfish (like meditating instead of washing the dishes) allows us to act more selfless (like setting aside time to really listen to your partner’s/friend’s day).  Was I being a good or bad friend when I told my dear, old friend to look for himself? Neither. I was being a true friend, because truth holds no judgement.

When you are able to slow down through yoga, meditating, or a quite walk, ask yourself do you have a best friend in you?  If not, why not? What might need to change, what might help you like you as a person more? When you hear a voice criticizing you – which more often than not sounds just like your own – try replacing that voice with one of support, kindness, and appreciation. Look for ways to improve this internal relationship in order to improve relations with others. Having self-awareness will enable you to have better boundaries in your life that support the growth of the true you. Loving yourself unabashedly will ensure the journey of a lifetime.