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, Travel, yoga

Traveling Cross-Country

Traveling Cross-Country to Yoga Teacher Training  (#1- TriYoga)


I vow to be open to the spontaneity of life. I vow to let what happens happen. I vow to keep my heart and mind open on this trip.

I wish I’d thought about these vows eight hours ago, before my seven hour trip turned into a 9 hour trip, before my Airbnb accommodations for the night canceled on me, and no one respond to my Couchsurfing requests. I wish I had thought of these before I got frustrated by not being able to check for accommodations due to traveling through heavy traffic and construction.  That would’ve been a great time to start this practice. Regardless, I’m starting it now; on the small curvy Pennsylvania roads, leading to a very small town, with a very old-school, and a yoga teacher training which I have been looking forward to attending for several months.

When I signed up, it sounded like a great idea. As the time is gotten closer, I’ve doubted that initial enthusiasm. My mind argues: What the hell am I doing signing up for a yoga teacher training anyway?!  Whose bright idea was that? Plus, there’s just too much to do at home. I have a big trip coming up. I have a business to start. I just need some time to myself.

My response: I’m going anyway

I’m going to try to be present. To be here and now. To breathe. No matter how slow the practices. I hope it slow. I hope it’s boring. I hope I’m forced to let go of my crazy mind, with all it’s plan making and all the ways that I try to control my life, because my life is a full catastrophe on wheels.

This is what I wanted – after all. Isn’t it?

I’m rather nervous – but not really. I’ve done enough new and exciting bold and weird off-the-wall things, that I know how to do it. Inside I feel a small seed an ember of excitement. I’m going to found that ember. I’m going to keep it safe I’m going to blow on it and feed it and see what it grows into.


by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA Biology and Sociology, 2nd Degree in ToShinDo, Elemental Self Defense,  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.



Yoga – A Beginning….or Two Beginnings

Yoga – A Beginning….or Two Beginnings

Up next is a series of articles from yoga teacher training. This needs a little explaining. I enrolled in two yoga teacher training courses. I enrolled in “TriYoga”, the yoga I have practiced and loved the best for the last 10 years. It is a 100 hour teacher training course meant to lead to TriYoga certification, but does not meet all the Yoga Alliance requirements. Due to this fact, and that training is over 8 hours away, I then signed up for a local yoga teacher training, “ParaYoga.”

I start this series with my first teacher training in TriYoga. After my first set of articles, from this first TriYoga training, I will post some more recipes. After that will come articles on my “first” local teacher training, in ParaYoga. Then more Recipes. More on life. Some on Herbs, etc…

I think these blogs are important to include.  I want a story which can be followed, which includes real struggle, and hopefully growth.

Having been through the first TriYoga teacher training, the first ParaYoga teacher training and now the second TriYoga teacher training, I can now say divine intervention lead me to both. I could not have chosen two more complimentary practices. They are so different, yet so alike. In their philosophy, they are like to brothers which essentially different constitutions, but that look so alike that are barely not twins. Their values are the same, though not their pacing. They are delightful, and I am divinely blessed.

Don’t fret about which is which. Don’t worry. I am driving. Just enjoy the ride.

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.