Learning How To Find Stillness

Dancer PoseThis pose has always given me a sense of euphoria , and of flying.  This, unlike so many poses, I loved from the start of my yoga journey.  This pose makes me feel confident, capable, and ambitious.  It gives me the feeling that hard work will have amazing results.

Reverse Prayer Pose   When I first started my yoga journey my hands could not make complete contact in this pose, from palm to fingertip.

Classical Bound Headstand  Never in my life did I ever think I would be in a headstand, or any other inversion.  I reached classical bound headstand seven months into my yoga journey, blowing my own mind.  I take this pose just to enjoy the childhood glee it brings, or when I’m feeling anxious, or I’m looking to feel grounded.  This pose brings me calmness and returns me to a sense of myself.

Headstand Play  Lately I’ve started to play around some in the pose, and it’s been fun and frightening (in a good way!) all at once.

Bow Pose  This pose has always been, and still is, a challenge for me.  Both physically and mentally this pose brings up resistance for me.  I currently need to take a few calming breaths before kicking up into it, searching for the will, searching for the strength.  Me and this pose still have a lot of work to do together.

Side Plank  The first six months or so of my yoga journey found me hating this pose.  It was hard for my body at first and seemed very unavailable to me.  I wobbled a lot and constantly came out of it before grudgingly sliding back into it again.  That is no longer the case, and I’ve come to enjoy this pose and the sense of strength and control it gives me.

Upward Bow  Just like dancer pose, I’ve always enjoyed this pose.  I feel that this pose is a “yoga nemesis” for a lot of yoga-doers, but it’s never been for me.  I feel a sense of rush, joy, and excitement every time I push up into it.  It makes me feel happy, playful, free, and it gives me a lot of space in my imagination, as well as between my shoulder blades.

Sugar Cane  I’ve got a lot of work to do in this pose.  My hips are entirely in the wrong place, but this is a pose that I enjoy.  It makes me feel light, friendly, and playful.

Bird of Paradise  I got lazy with my shoulders when this was taken, but when I started my yoga journey I did not have a full bind.  My fingertips on each hand merely grazed each other, but over time they got closer and closer…until my hands clasped! A few months later I began being able to ground my back leg and swing up into this pose.  It still needs a lot of work, but even just being here is improvement, and this pose gives me a sense of joy and grace whenever I find it.

Standing Leg Raise

I did ballet for 13 years, yet I was never able to grab my foot and straighten my legs.  17 months of yoga has given me flexibility and strength I was convinced my body didn’t have in it.

Gorilla PoseWhen I first started my yoga journey my fingertips only just touched the ground on a forward fold. Now they can flatten all the way to the Earth, and I can even stand on my hands.  Forward folds are one of my very favorite asana practices in yoga.   They give me a sense of unloading, like a weight is dropping.  Off of my body, off of my mind, off of everything in my entire being.  When I take a forward fold, anxiety immediately quiets.  Depression starts to lift, the planet starts to feel more aligned.

Falling Out  Yoga is practice.  There are so many times I fall out of poses, and it’s okay.  In fact, it’s amazing every time.  We’ve got to fall and stumble until we get it right.  In our yoga practice, just like in life.

Bikram Yoga, Brunch, and A Bunch of Amazing Gifts

Yesterday my friend Elliot and I took a bikram yoga class and it kicked both our butts.  This was only my 5th or 6th bikram yoga class in 17 months that I’ve been doing yoga, but I have to say that I’m not a huge fan.  The 105 degrees is just so hot, and I just feel so drained and empty for the rest of the day.  Elliot and I were feeling quite drained when we left class so we stopped at a really cute place to grab brunch.

We talked about his love life, and his recent trip to Mexico, and all my adventures and journeys of wedding planning.  We caught up, and laughed, and had a grand time.  When we got back to his place he gave me an incredible gift.

He gave me a barely used massage table, all the accessories for it, a huge tub of lotion, two small lotion bottles, and a holster….completely free of charge! I tried to offer him money a few times, but he just wouldn’t take it.  All of these things he gave me are such an enormous gift.

He gave me tools to go out into the world with and make money with.  He’s given me opportunity and a way to do something I’ve wanted to do since I got my massage license.  (Three and a half years ago, so this is long overdue!)

Elliot, who reads this blog, thank you so much! You’ve made my weekend, and I’m so grateful and thankful for both your presence in my life and your generous heart.

I’ve Finally Decided To Stop a Habit That Is No Longer Serving Me

I haven’t written in a while, but things have mostly been going extremely well.  Everything except one thing in my life has been close to perfect since October turned into November, and the weather has gotten colder.

This one thing has kind of been a “thing” for a while.  But I’ve been ignoring it, and coming up with excuses as to why I don’t need to change it.  It’s a habit, and something that I’ve done daily for some time now.  And, something that has no longer been serving me for a while, even though it use to bring me happiness in my past and serve me greatly.

So I decided yesterday that I was going to slow down/cut out this habit completely, so that I could feel good about everything in my life, and not just almost everything.

This morning was a little rough for me.  My body was sweating.  My mind was growing more and more anxious.  I didn’t feel good, and it was hard, and challenging, and I needed to throw myself into something.

So I got onto YouTube and watched yoga tutorial videos of how to get into crow pose, and then I went to my living room and proceeded to practice crow pose.  And then I started practicing tripod headstands, and then went onto practice my handstands and forearm balances.

For the first time ever today I took a tripod headstand.  I took several of them, and held them for long lengths of time.  I didn’t even know that I could do this pose.  Before today, I’ve only done classical bound headstand.

For the first time ever today I also held a few crow poses! I’ve never really been in that pose, not like I was today!

And it just all blew my mind! What I was capable of, and what my body was capable of, when I stopped a habit that was no longer serving me and threw myself into something that serves me greatly (my yoga practice.)

After close to an hour of practicing these inversions my body was no longer sweating and shaking.  My head felt clearer.  My heart was pumping, and I felt great.  Ecstatic.  Proud.  More confident

So I decided to continue this trend and head to a yoga class that I’ve been putting off going to for over a month because I’ve been too busy lazing around at home and feeding my habit.

I invited a yogi friend to go with me, and I’m so glad that I did.  I told him in the car about my addiction, about my weening, and about how it’s no longer serving me.  Sometimes just talking with someone, and getting the words out, and getting it all out into the universe helps.  It definitely helped tonight, and taking that yoga class tonight cleared my head even further.

Now I can say that I’m finally working with crow pose.  Now I can say that I can do two types of headstands instead of one. Now I’ve just spent a day doing great things with my body and my mind, instead of curled up on my couch in the fetal position crying, sweating, and shaking.

Wow.   What a beautiful day this turned out to be.

Thank you for reading if you read to the end, but I needed to get that all out.  I need to get this habit, this dependency, out of my system, but I’ve got a strong headstart on it by making some good choices today.

What Happens When I Go A Week Or Longer Without Taking a Yoga Class

I haven’t taken a yoga class in ten days.  I’m going to take one tomorrow morning before work,  and it can’t come soon enough.

My yoga journey started thirteen months ago, and within those thirteen months I’ve definitely noticed patterns.  One of the biggest patters I’ve noticed is how terrible I start to feel on the rare occasions when I go a week or longer without taking a yoga class.

So I’m going to use this blog and write out a list of just how unbalanced and icky I start to feel when I’ve gone a week without breathing through my thighs, bending, and twisting.

  When I go a week or longer without taking a yoga class:

  1.  I start to lose the huge sense of gratefulness and thankfulness that yoga teaches and gives to me.  I’m not saying that I become completely ungrateful, but the level of gratitude and overall thankfulness that I have for my life, my friends, my car, etc, starts to diminish.  Because of this, the mundanity of life starts to become more apparent.  The reality of things like constantly paying bills and working for forty to fifty years starts to cave in more.
  2.   I start to feel more sluggish, more sleepy, and my digestion slows down.    Yoga wakes me up, it wakes my mind up.  I feel the most rested, energetic, and high-spirited on the weeks that I take two or more yoga classes.  Yoga improves my sleep, and the constant twisting and rinsing of the digestive muscles allows for optimal digestion.  My practice gives me a sense of euphoria and accomplishment, giving me the feeling of a “natural high”, and chasing away both fatigue and sleepiness from my mind and body.
  3. I start to become less honest with myself.  My yoga practice gives me myself.  I can’t hide from myself in certain yoga poses.  My practice inspires me to be honest with myself, and to recognize the negative feelings, thoughts, and emotions tucked away into the crevices of my mind.  When I go a week or longer without taking a yoga class I’ve noticed that I’m less likely to admit to myself when I’m feeling negative, undesirable emotions such as fear, jealousy, frustration, and bitterness.   I lie to myself, I make excuses to and for myself.  I feel less genuine, less authentic, and this shows up everywhere, such as in my work, in my thoughts, and in my reactions to things and people.
  4. I don’t feel as calm, cool, and collected.  I become frustrated more easily.  I’m more likely to get into tiffs or arguments.  I second guess myself more, and I start to become more aware of others judgements of me.  I sometimes feel less connected to the people around me.  I become more impatient with ordinary things, such as traffic and long lines.  I stay upset about things longer, and I’m not able to “let go” and move on from a frustrating situation or annoyance as quickly.
  5. I don’t feel as plugged into the Earth, as present, and as grounded.  I start lose the ache of ab muscle or the feeling of tight hamstrings and quads being stretched out through asana.  I’m less aware of the breath in my lungs, and the aches and cues that my body gives me to signal when it’s in want or need of something.  I type on my phone more and listen to the conversation around me less.  I lose the amazing anatomically corrected-ness feeling that yoga gives me, of my tailbone being tucked and my shoulders sitting perfectly on top of my hips.  I’m more likely to withdraw and to not reach out to people.  I start to think about myself and my problems more, and less of (the problems of) the world around me.

All of this being said, when my alarm goes off at 7:00 tomorrow morning I’m making a straight beeline for the shower.  I’m ready to unroll my mat.  I’m ready to spread my toes and plug my hands into the Earth.

I shudder to think about where my life would be if I hadn’t found yoga thirteen months ago.  I know that both my life and I would be in a very different place right now.

Namaste.

I Am Now Officially A Certified Yoga Instructor!

  Alright, guys.  It’s happened.  It’s come.  My hours have been complete and my yoga teacher certificate arrived this past weekend in the mail!

  To say that I’m thrilled is an understatement.  It was a really long Fall, Winter, and Spring as I trekked through eight months of yoga teacher training.  It was one of the most profound experiences of my life, but it came with a lot of work.  And I don’t mean the constant study of asanas, and breaths, and learning how to sequence yoga poses.  I mean the delving into myself, the work I had to do when ego, fear, and anything dark came up.  If starting yoga set me on a path to truly start discovering myself, than starting yoga teacher training set me on a path to mastering myself.  

  I’m proud of myself.  This is the third holistic trade certification that I’ve gotten in three years, adding on to my Reiki Master certificate and my massage license.  I’m excited to see what I’ll do from here.  And where I’ll go with these three trades under my belt.  

  Only the future can tell, yeah? 

  Namaste.

Tales of Inversions, Lost Car Keys, and Long Distance Friendships

This week has felt like an absolute dream.  It seemed like a piece of cake, and it passed by so calmly.  It’s like I barely felt the work days, the hours upon hours of labor, and the wishing of it all to just be over.

Having Monday off all day with the love of my life helped, I’m sure.  Tuesday was fun and joyous.  Wednesday morning, on my day off, I decided to practice forearm stands and handstands.  I almost never practice any yoga at home.  97% of my practice happens in a yoga studio, and only about 3% at home.  I especially never work on my inversions or challenging poses that I’m trying to master.

So I was extremely surprised and bewildered to find that I was able to hold both a forearm stand and a handstand…for several moments at at time!  It was a first for both, and I felt elated and strong.  My body, going into them, felt like a different body from the one I had this past winter when I was practicing my headstands at home.  Both of these inversions were just so much more….available to me.  It wasn’t hard to find the strength.  Because of this it was easy to trust myself to hold my body upside down while playing around with finding that balance…that precious balance where your body is perfectly aligned, hips over shoulders, belly engaged, head below heart, mind free and wild.

This experience showed me that I need to practice at home this Fall.  My body has changed over the Summer with all the yoga classes I’ve attended weekly, and its time to get playful.  And to set new goals for myself.

Afterwards I trekked over to Ayanna’s and we exchanged massages.  I haven’t seen her since she went on maternity leave in March (and never came back to work!) Her baby is beautiful, just like her older son.  We hadn’t traded massages in probably a year, and it was nice to catch up and laugh while we rubbed out each others knots.

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Afterwards I traveled far North to have dinner with one of my very best friends, Jesse, who is in town from Georgia for a wedding.  She only comes to town 2-3 times a year, and so it’s only then that we get to see each other.  She’s going to be our second bridesmaid when we get married next Fall, and her daughter is going to be one of our flower girls. We had dinner with a few of her other friends, and we all ordered drinks and laughed and stuffed ourselves silly.   It was an amazing evening to an already amazing day.

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I lost my car keys for the second time in two weeks at work last night, and at first I was upset, and panicked, and frustrated.  But, Alana picked me up from work last night and dropped me back off again this morning (I keep a spare key at home).  My car didn’t get stolen, broken into, or ticketed.  Everything ended up okay, and now the weekend is here.

Alana and I have plans to start it out with a restorative yoga class tomorrow morning before celebrating the birthdays of three of our family members this weekend!  All these birthday festivities are going to require lots of money and lots of driving, but it’ll come with family, love, and laughter.  I’m feeling grateful for friends, especially long distance ones.  Or ones that I haven’t seen since there was snow on the ground.

I’m feeling grateful for the strength of my body, and for it’s healthiness and it’s progress.  As I am every week, I’m grateful that I found yoga last Fall.

I’m grateful for my fiancé, and for her willingness to pick me up from/drop me off at my job when my scatter-brained self lost my keys once again.

I’m grateful for both our families.  I’m grateful that it’s the weekend.

I’m grateful that I survived another week, and for my ability to find bliss in the small, everyday things.

Namaste.