Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mind, body and soul

I have been a bad blogger, but a good yogi. To be honest, it's becoming more and more difficult for me to focus on the Internet and even TV. I am ten days away from completing the yoga challenge and my mind is much clearer. I cannot spend countless hours scrolling through twitter, reading events from strangers' days in 140 characters or less. Instead, I have been immersing myself in books, challenging my imagination and concentration. I am back on a healthy sleep schedule, something I have not allowed myself since before high school. Likewise, my body is stronger, slimmer and feels better than ever. I've learned to love and appreciate the feeling of sweat , something I used to dread when I played volleyball and hockey. I feel little parts of my body I never before knew existed. I am making progress, and I love it.
Not every day is easy. I still get frustrated in certain poses and lose my connection to my breath. I still get frustrated in certain situations and suffer from paralyzing anxiety. Some mornings I don't want to wake up for yoga, and sometimes I regret accepting the challenge. These are fleeting regrets, however. I am working extremely hard to find peace within myself, and at the end of the day I'm proud of what I'm doing and how far I've come already. I may be ten days away from the end of this challenge, but I'm far from the end of my yoga journey. In fact, I don't believe it will ever come to an end. There is another challenge starting two weeks after this one ends, and I intend on signing up. Afterwards, I am looking into yoga retreats and finally I hope to go to yoga teacher training so one day I can help change others for the better, as my teachers have helped guide me.
Yoga is an empowerment of the mind, body and soul. I'm just working my way there.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happier Place

Today I completed day four of the yoga challenge. So far I have attended two advanced classes, a moderate class, and a beginner class (I brought my boyfriend and didn't want to scare him away from yoga). I can already feel differences in my body, my mind and my practice. My mind is a much more welcoming place. I'm seeing things more positively. In previous classes, I have struggled with savasana, the end of the class dedicated to meditation. Often my mind is racing and I spend the time thinking about what I'm doing after class. Savasana is an essential piece of the practice of yoga. By practicing everyday, I am having much deeper savasana experiences.
At class yesterday, my savasana took me back to the Sunday after St Patrick's day last march. It was a beautiful, sunny day and my family had a barbecue. It was also the last time many of us saw my sisters best friend, who took his own life a week later. Instead of this being a painful memory, I found myself remembering little details and being thankful that I was able to revisit this happy day. This day was in a lot of ways the last good day my family had. By fully committing to savasana, I was able to take myself away from my present body and enjoy a far-away experience. Today, similarly, I was able to enter savasana fully. I found myself in the rainforest, a place I have always wanted to go. After class I felt more awake, more alive, and more ready for the rest of my day.
Before I started the challenge, I was a night class kind of girl. I liked slowing my day down with yoga and sleeping peacefully after. However, now that I must fit in a class everyday, I've been going to morning classes. I'm finding it much more fulfilling, a divine way to begin my day. Challenging my body is one oft best depression-inhibitors. I find myself in the darkest places during times when I'm not moving my body. By waking up early for yoga I am re-regulating my sleep schedule, which had been pretty terrible, even for a college student. I've been taking more time to play with my dogs, to converse with my family, and to connect with others in the smallest ways. It's incredible how being friendly to a cashier at the coffee house can change their whole facial expression. I do believe that if more people did yoga the world would be a happier place.
I was afraid I would wear my body down too early in the challenge and give up. But the exact opposite is happening. I'm more energized and motivated. I look forward to trying a harder class each day. I'm already stronger and can feel my body becoming more and more tone each day. I will complete this challenge.

P.S. I tried an extra belly dancing class tonight. I'm definitely more of a yoga girl;)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Accepting the Challenge

  For the past few weeks, I have been toying with the idea of doing a 28-day yoga challenge that my studio is running.  The challenge entails that you must attend a yoga class every day for the entire month of February and will receive a gift card upon completion.  I have been hetisant about signing up because I spend a lot of weekends 2 hours away at my boyfriend's house.  I was also nervous I wouldn't want to wake up at 7 AM on days I have to work until 1 AM.  I was worried I could pull a muscle in the first few days and be in pain the remainder of the month.  Honestly, I was afraid I would be too lazy some days and skip class.
  I was making excuses.  I have a chronic fear of committing.  Not necessarily in relationships, but in everything else.  I was committed to an expensive private college for months before freaking out about student loans and decided to commute to a local state university instead.  I have a terrible love of tanning, but I rarely go because I fear that I will buy a month's package and not use it enough.  I have a similar fear of gym memberships. 
  Last night, I attended my most advanced yoga class yet.  I was so challenged, but I loved every second.  The other students in the class ranged from teens to 50 year olds.  And they were good.  I would back out of a tough pose only to see that the 40-something man who looked like he was in a motorcycle gang was executing the pose perfectly.  I have advanced greatly since September, sure, but if I want to be a yoga master attending a couple classes a week isn't going to cut it anymore.  So, when I got home from class and curled up to watch the Boston Bruins hockey game, I e-mailed the yoga studio's owner and signed up for the challenge. 
  I'm still nervous about it.  Sending the e-mail was not a momentous action.  But now I'm a different nervous.  I'm anxious to get to work, and to see how much I advance in these 28 days.  I'm excited to see how this yogathon will affect my everyday life. I feel so incredible after a class that I can't imagine how good I'll feel when I'm attending a class everyday.  I believe (and desperately hope) that this will be the best combatant to my seasonal depression and anxiety.  I'm happy to have a renewed sense of structure, as I have been out of class for 6 weeks now and have an inconsistant work schedule. 
  My transformation is not as easy as it sounds.  I cannot just say I'm going to do it and POOF it's done.  It will take an incredible amount of work on and off my mat.  But I am ready to accept the challenge.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


   I went to my first yoga class in September 2012.  Being a freshman in college while working full-time as a waitress didn't leave a lot of spare time to join a sports team, and I tend to look for any and all excuses to skip going to the gym.  I thought yoga would be a good work out and give me a break from the daily clutter in my mind.  The class was a vinyasa class, and the room was heated.  I was surprised by how challenged I was, and the resistance of muscles I believed to be strong and limber.  I quickly realized that yoga was not as easy as I had expected.  My surroundings were also very exotic to me.  Instead of the cold mirrors-and-concrete-walls look of typical fitness classes, the lights were dimmed, the walls painted a deep red, there were beautiful statues and flowers at the front of the room, and gentle music was playing.  Everyone was preparing for class in their own way: stretching arms, sitting cross-legged with impeccable posture, some were even laying down.  Some were quietly chatting and I noticed how out of my element I felt.  A man sitting to my right introduced himself to me with a big smile, and I confessed that it was my first class and I wasn't sure what to do.  The man assured me that most students were new to the practice, and that there were be no judgement passed.  When class began it became clear that yoga (for me, at least) was not just a work out for my body.  It was something more.  Much more.  Yoga connects me with myself, a deeper self, one that is not present in everyday hustle-and-bustle.  That very first class opened my mind, my soul, and my heart, and I was hooked. 
  As the fall progressed and I continued to attend yoga classes, I found myself falling in love with the practice.  The quietness, the relaxation, the stretching and challeneging of my body was dramatically different than the sports I played in high school.  All throughout my life I was involved in high-intensity sports like basketball, volleyball, and finally, hockey.  While I love playing competitive sports and miss them very much, I had never felt this sensation that I feel at and after yoga.  I see things differently, I look for beauty in strange places and I appreciate small things.  From watching my instructors at yoga I saw that they were different than most people you meet.  They were kind, completely and honestly kind.  They did not smile and welcome me because I was a client, but because they treated others with utter kindness and respect.  With so much going on around us we often forget to treat others as well as we should, we forget to take time for ourselves, we forget to love ourselves and others.  We cloud our minds and build walls around our hearts.  We worry that we may be seen as different, and hide away our souls.  These masters of yoga that I have come to know these past six months are open, kind, happy, and natural.  I watched them in awe, and a little bit of jealousy.  I want to live like that.  I want to be in touch with my soul, and be kind to others.  I want to learn to forgive others for their flaws and instead work on my own flaws. 
  I decided to take this semester off from college due to finances and find myself often quite bitter.  Bitter about my friends whose parent's pay for their tuition.  Bitter about the fact that I had to turn down my dream school's offer of admission simply because of money.  Bitterness and envy are poisonous.  They clutter my mind and surpress my soul.  I have been spending my days sleeping late and trudging off to work the night shift.  This is not me.  I want to have a zest for life, spend every day enjoying the small things and appreciating my loved ones.  The version of me I want to be takes practice.  It is not easy to be welcoming and kind to everyone I meet.  It is incredibly difficult to refrain from judegment and self-pity.  And so I have decided to make this gap semester count.  I am going to use my spare time to deepend my yoga practice and explore my soul.  I am a mere caterpillar, but I will transform into the butterfly I so desperately need to be.