Burnout and Stress, Personal Wisdom, yoga

Cow – The Story of a Yoga Pose

Cow – The Story of a Yoga Pose (#1 TriYoga)


I’ve always thought I could do “cow,” or “table top.”  (The yoga name is Bitilasana.)

Today, I learned that I cannot.

I thought I knew and understood how to so this position. In fact, it looks like the simplest yoga pose besides the basic standing pose.  I guess I never actually thought about it. It seemed so simple.  I “just did it.”

Like many things, most things…everything, it bears thinking about.  Like many ‘simple’ things – it is simple, but it is not EASY!

The pose does have different versions, I learned, and differs slightly with which yoga system you are training under.  You may argue which one is correct, but as a student, I won’t join you. Different systems, different teachers teach the same thing in different ways.  That’s just life.  It is a table top type of pose, on your hands and knees.  Today, I was told that my knees should be behind my hips, and my hands should still stay under my shoulders, at least in this system. I didn’t know this, nor did I realize I wasn’t doing it correctly.

Now that I am getting some feed back, you would think I, and the room mate in my head, would be happy now.  Embarrassingly, I found the pose done this way extremely challenging. As soon as I got in this corrected position, my arms started to tremble and shake.


We work through as many of the variations and props we could throw at it.   It took a long time to work out what the problem was. Was it my wrists? I went through several blocks and wedges to find the thing that worked best. When I used blocks under my hands, I couldn’t do it at all. When I used fists that was OK. When I use my flat hand, I couldn’t staying in the pose but a few seconds. Even with my knees under my hips, it was hard. If I used a wedge and turned it with the high side towards me that helped my wrists, but it was not comfortable on my arms. This is the way wedges are usually used. When I turn the wedge around, so the high side was pointed away from me, I found it immediately relief. My wrist hurt a little, but it was acceptable.

Rather it being a wrist problem it’s a problem of upper arm strength. How embarrassing. I’m just freaking weak.


However – I consider this good news! I can work on that! I’ll get over my embarrassment.

What I did learn, other than how to correctly do the pose, is how much shame we carry around with our abilities, and disabilities. It’s amazing.  We invest so much in our beliefs about what we can do, our abilities, likes and dislikes, and even our weaknesss and disabilities.  Then we double the impact: we tie our views of self and worth to these abilities. I was acting like my worth is tied up in whether I can do cow asana?

Apparently it is.

It was.

I’m taking that investment back.

Ability is always a moving target. We start out unable – in everything we try. We develop ability through practice and healthy doses of failure. Eventually, over time, we lose our sharp edge of ability.  In the end, we often loose all ability and often even our eternally apparent wisdom. So given the fact all this – all of this – is temporary, I’ve determined to learn from the learning. That is practice. And practice, well that is The Practice.

Yoga is about the process of getting into a pose and out of a pose. It is about the experience. The whole experience.  Even more, it is about how that experience informs us about ourselves and our attachments.  This whole ‘failure of being able to do cow’ was a beautiful success in those terms.

I’ll take that and run with it!


by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA, KSU-CVM Zoo Wildlife Exotic Animal Intern in another life,  Instructor Vicksburg Quest,  Elemental Self Defense supporter,  Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga & Sangha Teacher Training Student, Potter & Poet, Writer & Wire Wrapper, repeat offender – Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, Herbalist, Dog lover, Mother, and sometimes representing aspects of divine loving mother Kali who will cut your head off, all for your own good of course.


Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel

The End of Our Trip

The End of Our Trip

It is our last day before heading home. Today we are sleeping in. This seems like the most important thing to do in London today. It won out over Windsor Palace, Harrod’s, Harry Potter, and the markets. It even beats going to Dover; the last stop on our tentative itinerary. Given the fact that we got up at 3 am yesterday, it makes sense. I think however, it is more than that.

We spent yesterday doing laundry, and eating. That is really all we had on our plates.

That …. is unusual. What I notice is that my life no longer has these gaps of time in which ‘nothing’ is planned. The time in which one might grab a book and read, or rest.

At home, I get to get over jet lag. This time we won’t have done any work to avoid jet lag, as we did on the way over.  A day after I return, I am getting married. (Yay!)  Somehow, I must unpack, write vows, and stay awake past 5 pm! (That will be the hardest part.) I do need to spend some time with my new husband-to-be. Then it will be off on a honeymoon.

In that upcoming trip,  hiking along the Appalachian Trail with my newly wed husband, those down times are required. Of necessity, there are days that one has the important tasks of eating, laundry, and resting. How will it feel, to limit myself, to revisit these times of recharging. I realize I have lost those times. Will I rage against them when imposed upon me? Will they be temporary? Will I bring them back into my daily life?

Through the thin walls of our cottage, I can hear the family next door, with several little children. They have the opposite problem. Days upon days of nothing but eating, laundry and naps. That too is extremely challenging. What does life mean without some sense of ‘doing” something? The question is how do we find, and maintain, that balance point, even through our career development and family emergence? I know many of us struggle with this.

It is interesting for me to experience the extremes of this dichotomy, within such a short period of time. I have gone from not a moment unscheduled, to an extended break from paid work, as well as my hobbies and vocations. I can really feel the challenges in both sides of this: Too Busy/Not Enough challenge.

We have not even dived into the deeper questions of why we do this to ourselves, and why we feel what we do when in these times. Why is it hard to acknowledge that living a good life is no longer enough? Why is it not enough to make it through the day, or through our life, without becoming famous (or at least having someone outside ourselves acknowledged us/our work?)

We use busy-ness to keep us from feeling empty, to keep us distanced from others. The contact might make us feel. Or think. Why is that so uncomfortable? What happens in the stillness / what arises? What is so scary?

See I am doing it now. Here I am blogging on vacation.

In doing so, I am also experiencing, revisiting, some things that were lost and I miss. I am seeing some things that pinch and noting that I would like to change. Inside, I am changing. This is all what I wanted: to change my life, to slow down, to BE more.

It is uncomfortable. I think, however, I am on the right track. I will continue on.

Soon, I will write about food and herbs and yoga adventures. Who knows what else might happen before then! It’s so exciting!



by Tama Cathers

Note below:

img_5706.jpgThis is my favorite art detail.  I can feel the warm slow lick of the comforting dog on the foot of this child, I can hear the thoughts of the dog, and feel the sun, tongue and breeze on the foot.  It makes me laugh and feel warm all at the same time!Details of a Statue

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel




After 3 to 5 hours of hiking, baskets full of silence fill to space between us. Silence filles the sweeping landscape, as well.  I love this time in the hike.   We walk, breathe, appreciate, are together – in silence.  The silences that come before are of different quality. Sometimes they are angry at the hills going up and down.  Sometimes they are filled with daydreams.  Admittedly, sometimes they are filled with panting. However, this time of silence comes with contentment and togetherness.  No just together with each other, but together with everything, the wind, the hills, the grass… All of it.


I am fortunate to have a child that I weaned on grassy silences and miles under her feet.  She will hike 6 hours for the price of a couple of shared scones and a package of blueberries.  Even better, whenever I ask if she wants to go to the road, she asks if that is how the trail goes, and if it doesn’t go to the road, neither does she want to.  I am lucky that way, as sometimes I would definitely go to the road myself, missing some of the beautiful sites!  She amazes me, tolerating hours of rain, hours away from Percy Jackson books. I don’t know why, sometimes. However, I am always grateful.


As we hopped down the rocks of Hadrian’s Wall Trail, I realized that I have an opportunity. Like my daughter, I have the opportunity to create who I am in my next tomorrow.  I was thinking about my foot, the plantar fasciitis I acquired the last year. Stress related. Standing long hours on a hard floor. The running, I believe, was just ancillary.  Today, it is bothering me a bit, but yoga, physical therapy, and destressing have changed it substantially.  Today, I am hopping down rocks, flying towards my next future, just as she is flying towards her first future.  I can choose something thoughtfully, something that allows me health, that is lower in stress.  What a wonderful gift!


Before we set out on this trip, I told my fiance that I was happier, that I could finally feel the lessening of stress.  That is wonderful.  As it this.  This is different.  It’s like the idea is really viscerally dawning on me. I have a new start!


We both have the opportunity to choose a future. I am hopeful for both of us.


Today’s Favorite Food: Sticky Toffee Pudding




Personal Wisdom

Being Brave – Telling our Stories – A Prelude

Being Brave – Telling our Stories – A Prelude

I believe our stories have the ability to connect us, to make us feel that we are not alone, and to heal us. There is healing in our stories.  Knowing that you are not the only one who has felt the way you do, or has gone through the things you are going through – that is the medicine we all need.

Storytelling and story hearing are important tools. When we tell our stories over and over again, we become attached to the story, in a sense we become one with the story. However, when we hear our own stories, or something like our own story, from outside ourselves, then we break that cycle. The stories become just that. A story. Outside yourself. No longer breaking your insides. This is why when we hear others stories, and hear our own stories within them, we sit up and take notice. We nod our heads, and often have a huge sense of relief. This is why I will tell my story.

I believe what I have to say will be important -for someone out there.  Actually, I know it is important.  I have done the research and read the statistics: I know I will strike a chord. It may even save a real life, and living body that goes with it. (My opinion: No one can save their changing metaphorical life – I though I made that clear in a previous blog. Your life is going to die again and again – and you are going to have to recreate it again and again.) Maybe it will just ease some pain, either way – that is what I am after.

We all need connection and normalization. It has saved my life, well…at least my sanity! When I hear someone else’s stories, I feel better. I think: “Oh! I feel that way,” “I felt that way,” “I thought I was the only one in this situation,” “I thought I was crazy!” Whenever this happens for me, I also have a healing that comes with knowing I am not alone. If you made it through, I can.

I want to be brave and tell you what is falling apart. But to be honest, I am still scared. Almost too, scared. Almost.

To actually say what I am going through – out loud – is terrifying. This from the woman who will jump on crocodiles in the dark of the night in foreign continents, capture wild red wolves with a net, hike the Appalachian Trail alone, drink almost any strange beverage, and jump into almost frozen lakes on every continent!

But, but…. What if I change my mind. What if people who I still want to like and respect me, decide that they don’t like or respect my choices? What if I let slip the secret that life is not perfect? That jobs or careers are not perfect? That other people are not perfect?

Not only am I not perfect, but now the whole world is subject to inspection. That is a terrible, terrible thing to do to everyone else, with their perfectly built facades of lives, relationships, careers, health, etc. I dread the feed back. What if I crush your dreams? What if you will no longer love/respect/hire/talk to me, because I told you that it is an imperfect world and I am not happy right now?

I know, those fears seem stupid. I know we all have imperfect lives. I know we all need to be fed stories of others losses, failures, stumbles, and humanity. I know it’s medicine to give and medicine to hear.

As I gear up to be honest with my transitions and struggles, I allow myself the space to prevaricate. (I love that word! It is so uncommon that I get to use it! Definition included below.)

With that as a prelude, I will talk about Sweet Potatoes next week. Then there may be some Jackfruit. Then I will talk to you. Then I will tell you some Stories. I hope you will be better for them.


Prevaricate – pri-var-i-keyt – verb. To speak or act in an elusive way. Synonyms: Equivocate, to be evasive, beat around the bush, to shilly-shally, (now isn’t that a nice term!), to dodge the issue,  to sidestep the issue, to waffle. Example “She seemed to prevaricate when asked pointed questions about what she is talking about.”

by Tama Cathers


Personal Wisdom, yoga




As my life falls apart and reforms itself, I am breathing. I know – it sounds so….

Innocuous. Ineffective. Inactive. Stupid. New-Age-y. Hippy Dippy – like who in the hell is that going to help?


Well – I think it will help me.

Remember started this whole blogging gig because I needed to change my life. Now my life is changing, and it’s really scary. And – really boring. Nothing is happening! Plus – everything is going too quickly. All at the same time.

So first, let’s talk about boredom. I must have a pathological fear of boredom. I hate the idea of just sitting, say waiting for my daughter to get out of school, just….sitting Sitting! Waiting…. for minutes at a time! Not getting some task accomplished! Ugh! I can hardly stand it. This paranoia of having nothing to do is what causes me to bring 3 times more work with me than I would ever think to get to. It also causes me to always be late, as I squeeze one more thing in. Yes, I CAN do a full weeks grocery shopping in 15 minutes – as long as things go perfectly well!


So back to breathing: I am taking this yoga teacher training. It is a wonderful system my long time teacher has been following for decades. As part of the training I got videos for home practice.

About 15 minutes into first video, the earth flow, still in a seated position, I wondered just how long this video was. Geez! I was still on the floor!

Twenty five minutes into it, I was thoroughly bored. I had Things To Do! Now I’d been seated, or on my back in a fetal position for almost a half hours. I rolled my eyes, and tried to breathe. The roommate in my mind, you know the one you can’t get rid of, and who never shuts up – the inner critic Yes! That one said, “How can you breathe, when you are so BORED!!!” “I am trying to be quite, and do my yoga!” I said to my inner critic. “This isn’t how MY teacher does it!” said the room-mate.  “This is the same flow she teaches, and the same training she took,” I said back.  “But it’s too sssslloooowww!” she said and stomped her foot. “OMG. I am going to die!”  Then an all out fight exploded between myself my talkative whiny ass roomate.

Finally, we came to terms. I was the winner, not the room-mate in my mind. We looked over at the clock – twenty seven minutes down……33 minutes left to go! OMG!

I breathed and followed the video. What would it be like, I wondered, if I just DID this? What if I just let this be what I do, for an hour, or however long this video is. What if this is exactly what I need to do: breathe and stretch. I made a commitment to myself – I was going to do the whole video, they whole time.  Yes, I might die –  but I was damn sure I’d die doing this  F ’ing slow yoga video!

I am not sure how I made it through. It was more like 60 of molasses than 60 minutes of yoga.

It was just what I needed. When I got to the end, relaxing in yoga nidra….I didn’t want to stop.

Don’t think this was the end of the battle, however.


Then next time I put on the next video, we were doing a ‘water’ flow. Instead of spending an hour on my back, I spent an hour on my belly. I wanting to walk away, again. I counseled myself to stay. It was so SLOW! It was so boring! Yes, but I would just breathed my way through it. I felt crazy. I felt like crying. Yes, but I reminded myself, of a story of a woman who started meditating. She cried through her first 90 days of meditating.

That is exactly what I felt like. Okay, I might have cried a little, which is when my inner room-mate made fun of me, stuck out her tongue, then left to do something ‘interesting.’ Which obviously wasn’t me!


The third yoga flow – Air. We did endless rounds of a sun salute. 60 minutes of the same 10 moves. SIXTY MINUTES!!! I thought I might die. Instead, I kept doing them, until my talkative room-mate had been pounded senseless with the monotony, lay on the couch of my mind gasping, then blessedly silent. Even my body gave up fighting just being there.


I got out the fourth and final video of the series – Fire. Yes! Action Adventure! This was going to be great! Always save the best for last! We had a real yoga practice here.

It was ssslloooowww. Yes, boring — whatever, but wasn’t it interesting how my body felt? I felt composed of two parts; an outer part shell that moved and felt like armor, over the inner part, which felt like…..soul. It was like wearing a suit of a giant armadillo, look how it moves, so hinged and stiff, all around the soft inner part that it me. A ‘me’ that is almost like ….light. It is so…weird.

I felt like I was meditating. I felt like I was standing up, doing Tai Chi. I felt like I was some hermit monk, of ages past, doing rituals alone, in a deep honorable meditative space.

My inner critic apparently vacated. Curiosity had replaced her. Curiosity said “I know this is slow. Slowing down is what I am here for. I know this is boring….until it is not boring. Until it is fascinating.”


Slow is hard to do however. For one moment, I am doing it. I need that; the rediscovery of being fascinated by what is, not worried about what was or will be.

I know this is not going to make my world go back to rightness.


But maybe it is.

Maybe – it IS making it go back to rightness.


So next, I just repeat the series again.

And again.

And again.


by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA Biology and Sociology, 2nd Degree in ToShinDo, Elemental Self Defense Instructor, Meditation Instructor, Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga Teacher Training Student, Sex Coach Trainee, Mixed Media Artist – Ceramics, Fused Glass, & Wire Wrapping, 2000 miler Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, and Herbalist.

Personal Wisdom

Wisdom – Fear, Certainty, Belief + Life Happening Anyway

Wisdom  –      Fear, Certainty, Belief  +      Life Happening Anyway


My life is falling apart.

I can see it happening.

It is ripping at the seams.

I am okay with that. Sometimes that is for the best.

Once upon a time, I did not know that. When things started to fall apart, when Kali knocked on my door, when I drew the Tower from the Tarot Deck, or when the knuckle bones fell a certain way, I dug in deep and fought the change. I tried – very hard. I Worked. And I suffered a lot. Now I know better.

Just because it’s okay, doesn’t mean that this is not going to hurt. A lot! Great change always does. Decades of life experience have taught me that. However – it’s still going to be okay. Yes, I can hear the metal grinding. Yes, the supports of my world are coming down and are about to crash into me. Yes, I will be crushed, and my metaphorical life, as I know it, will end. That is just how it feels when you go through big life change.

The real thing is this: You can’t stop it. Life will change, even if it breaks you to change. So you might as well go along for the ride, jump off the tower, walk in to the flame. At least don’t run shrieking or try to use your big guns. they won’t work.  You’re not getting off at any of the stops, in one piece anyway. Yes, the roller coaster is heading straight to the ground. Close your eyes if you want, this won’t take but a ‘moment.’ So says Time. but Time figures time in a strange way. This moment has been coming for 4 and a half years now.

That is how divorce is, for example. When I was recently post-divorce, I used to say, you have to be willing to die to get divorced; because your whole life, that which you created with your partner – it’s all going to die. Not that this should stop you – it shouldn’t. But it is true. Do know that 5 years later, say few people ever say they would willingly go back to where they were. Was it hard? Sure. Are they glad? Mostly, yes, most decidedly YES!

(No, I am not getting divorced! Silly! I am not married. And yes, we are good.)

The reality is – you can’t stay where you are anyway. Ever.

You are dying to that bit of life, one way or another – so it’s better to just let it happen and plan for your new life. The one that starts after the destruction. The one that is already sprouting within you. The one you will be much happier in living with.


Let the life sprouting in you grow

and I’ll meet you on the other side.


Good luck. I believe in you!


by Tama Cathers









Food Medicine, herbal medicine, Personal Wisdom

Food Wisdom Herbs and Burnout

Food Wisdom Herbs and Burnout

After years as a professional, okay, decades, I am feeling burned out. I love what I do. Don’t get me wrong. Lately however, I am finding, it is too much. It could be that I am also a mom. Or that I have 16 pots on the stove at any given time. The stresses involved in my life, however, are overwhelming the restorative times.

Regardless, my life won’t wait. Change must happen……Or Else.

I know that. I can hear that. I can FEEL that.

For years, I have lived this busy way. However, for years, my body took it. I didn’t seem to age. I could really do anything I wanted. At midlife, I did not hurt, like so many of my peers complained about. I held a positive outlook and still felt fresh. Too fresh, perhaps. I often felt like a novice.

Much of that has changed. Some of that is expected with life. But something is really off in my life, and it demands change. Change NOW.

The things that I have studied, the tools I have acquired, outside my professional life, along with the wisdom I do actually have, those things are no longer hoping to get out. They, too, are demanding my attention. It is time to give then their space.

It is time to transform my life. But this time, it is also time to give back.

I am writing this blog as a personal journey story. I am sure to fail. Many times. I hope I do, because that means I am still trying. I will persist until I find my way into a new balanced life. Wish me luck. I wish it to you.

by Tama Cathers