Wellness Wednesday #13 – Loving What You Do

I just spent the last 30 minutes sending emails to students. I had to let them know what’s going to happen in class tomorrow so that they come prepared. I had to remind some of them to complete the work they were supposed to do in class on Tuesday. I had to welcome some of them who added my class late. I had to ask students to delete themselves from the online platform of the course if they have dropped my section. Emails are a tricky thing to write, but they’re a perfect topic for today’s Dimension of Wellness: Communication! Continue reading “Wellness Wednesday #13 – Loving What You Do”

A Peaceful Place in the Mind by Melissa – Guest Post

Students come in to my class from all different walks of life. Today I will start a new yoga class, not at CFCC. I will meet 30 new faces with stories I’ve yet to hear. Each student brings something different to the yoga experience and each student is touched in a different way by yoga. Thankfully most of them are positive and yoga brings them relief from back pain, a mental break, or even lifts a little of their grief.

Previous to this semester, I had only ever taken a few yoga classes, mostly just basic classes through the YMCA near where I worked. To be completely honest, I had always thought of yoga as a sort of soft exercise and somehow not as worthy of my time as more obviously physically-intensive practices such as Pilates, cardio, or lifting. Three years ago this week, I went through an immense emotional trauma when my boyfriend of eight months passed away suddenly and without much explanation. To say the least, the loss and the lack of closure messed me up, and I had trouble finding peace in my thoughts when I was by myself. After several months of therapy and dabbling with occasional yoga classes at the YMCA, I felt soothed. Despite the fact that the instructor mostly just guided us through the poses and didn’t really teach us much about breathing, the best part about these classes was the rest that it gave my mind to just focus on moving my body and nothing else, to simply relax in the nothingness when we spent the last few minutes of class in a relaxation pose.

Since moving to Wilmington, I have felt that I have been caught in an endless cycle of a full course load at school, a 35-hour work week, and trying to find sleep in between. I didn’t have the time to devote to exercise and I certainly didn’t have the money to join a yoga studio, so I just gave up on working out. Stuck in what seemed to be an endless cycle of stress and mounting cynicism and frustration, I decided that this semester I should take yoga and get back to that quiet place in my mind that I loved so much when I was healing. What surprised me the most about this class was what I learned about how to breathe in different ways and how the breath is supposed to properly line up with your physical movements during your yoga poses.

I had hoped to come to some sort of self-revelation this semester, but I found it more difficult than ever to free my mind of the stress and frustration and quiet the noise. When discussing the Eight-Limb path and focusing on not having violent thoughts towards others or to oneself, I had to be introspective and I realized that my mind was an angrier place than it used to be. I am still working through this part of my yoga practice, and I think an important part of freeing myself of these dark frustrations will be distancing myself from as many people who are sources of negativity as possible. Physically, I have loved learning the restorative poses and different ways to stretch my back out, I feel that these movements will continue to be useful when my body is feeling the strain from waitressing and bartending in the coming months.

I hope that I will have the time and the money to join some sort of yoga practice in the near future, mostly because I like the structure of someone leading me through the poses. Because of this class, however, I feel more confident in practicing the poses specific to my body’s immediate needs and the breathing and meditation techniques that will help me find that peaceful place in my mind once again.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

Connections – Guest Post

I finished teaching at CFCC this past month, but I still have several yoga stories to share from my students. I hope to post them each Monday for the weeks to come. This particular student reminded me that yoga is about community and that sharing our stories is an important part of that unity. I am glad that this class helped the student to join together her mind and body as well as herself to her yoga community and ultimately lead to connecting her yoga life into every day life.

Coming into the semester, I thought that I was entering a class that was just an easy ‘A’, however, I think I needed this class more than I had realized. This class has had a positive impact on my mindset. There have even been some things said in the sessions that I would recall back to during the day or even week. This included the sharing of personal stories or other tips for different topics. When personal stories were shared, it made the class become more relatable and it showed me how yoga can impact everyday life like stories about family, driving, events, and more. When we were given tips on yoga stretches at home, or different eating methods, I brought those tips home with me and practiced them. As a result, I learned to really listened to my body more and understood how it worked. At the beginning of yoga, it was hard for me to sit down and really focus on not thinking about anything. However, as the semester went on, I realized it was not about “silencing” the thoughts but to reflect on them instead.

In my other classes, I have struggled with sitting down in one spot for a longer amount of time, and paying attention to the topic that is being covered. Having a physical education class that deals on meditation and focusing has helped me immensely. This class keeps my attention by being hands on and interactive, so I found myself enjoying the class more and more each week. Yoga has taught me how to not only find out my limits physically, but mentally as well. I faced some hardships throughout the semester but having this yoga class during the day, helped me to have a sort of mental “break” and I could just focus on the class, instead of what was going on. I have really enjoyed this class and I would definitely recommend it to every student.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

Little Surprises – Guest Post

I wish I had found yoga sooner in my life. I think that I would have been a better person for longer. I would have been far more grounded. I would have been happier and made different choices. However, part of the practice of yoga and self-discovery is not to look back and wish that things were different….they are to take what you have and what you learn and turn it into something good.

Because of where I find myself in life I am teaching yoga and have two amazing children. I am happy with what I do and who I am now. I am trying to be a good person and trying to give that same gift to my students. I always want them to walk away from these sessions feeling like they know who they are and what they need to do…..just as this student “unexpectedly” did.

During the course of Yoga 1 I have learned a lot about Yoga and myself. I first realized I was completely tensed up. I could feel it after the first few classes, at first I thought about it being soreness but then it hit me that all the stress or things piling up in my life were just sitting in a different place in my body instead of my head. I wanted to get more into yoga to help relieve that stress but halfway through the semester, my car broke down, that was the point were I wanted to give up. Unfortunately, I did give up for a bit. I’m not so sure I’ve managed to pull myself completely out but I’ll get there. What this in overall aspects has taught me about my self is that I need better personal reflection; I need to create my own space and schedule. No more pushing things off till the last minute (except this paper).

What I intend to do is take these Yoga skills and use them more and more in my daily life. I really did enjoy this class, especially for a 9am class. It helped me wake up and be ready for the day. I would like to take Yoga 2 in the fall but if not I will take it again at UNCW when I transfer. I hope to use the breathing exercises and the restorative poses the most because I do need to find a way to calm down and I enjoyed the many different ways we could breathe. Woman doing lion pose (simhasana)However the Lion pose happens to be my favorite in general. Its quite hard to be in a bad mood and force yourself to cross your eyes and make a growling/breathing sounds. Although my attendance may not reflect it, I did feel as if this class helped me get through this semester. Yoga isn’t easy but while feeling that sense of vulnerability I felt safe. I felt as if I had any issues or anything I needed to express I could. The affirmation card assignment to remind ourselves of something was a great one. It forced me to break through a few walls of my own to discover what I know, what I need and now I don’t have to mindlessly search in hopes I’ll find it. It feels good to have a sense of direction come from a class you wouldn’t have expected.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

TOLT #? – End of Another Semester

Another semester is over and done. Each time one ends I wonder how I could have done better and what I will change the next time around. When the next semester starts I have high hopes and ambitions and nerves like crazy! There’s always a little bit of….what if they don’t like me? In that same moment I think, it doesn’t matter if they like me or not.

For me, my self-esteem is not caught up in my image of how I teach. I know that I am a good teacher. To some I am a great teacher. For myself I am satisfied in my work and my work makes me happy. Every semester I get both bad and good reviews. This semester was no exception.

However, in grading one student’s paper I read something that has really struck me as wise and something I want to remember. She wrote:

My goal is consistency, not perfection.

It couldn’t be more simple than that. Life, for me, is about consistently being in a place where I can be content. I want to know I’m doing a good job and that someone is benefiting from my existence. I won’t be able to make all of my students happy. I won’t be able to get to everything I want to do. I will miss workouts and kill workouts; not send some emails on time and send too many emails sometimes; be tired and cranky some days and overly perky some days; let the laundry pile up and have a completely spotless home; spend hours grading or skip grading to be with my kids; eat too many snacks and forget to eat lunch; write on my blog and then abandon my blog for work or a nap or a workout or to read……I am not perfect and my life is not perfection. But, really, that’s what makes it kind of perfect for me.

At every point in my life I am consistently where I need to be….striving for my best, but accepting that each day is what it is. I am content and balanced.

What does consistency look like for you?

 

Finding Strength – Guest Post

Yoga is not a religion and it’s a common misconception that it is. I fight that struggle on the regular….letting people know that they can find a way to practice yoga and still keep their chosen faith. When living in Texas a woman told me that yoga breathing was the way the Devil entered your body.

Living in North Carolina for the past 10 years has taught me that there is a lot of faith here. Sometimes that faith is misguided and sometimes it is misunderstood. My students are always expressing their faith in ways that surprise me. What hasn’t changed for me is the fact that yoga can be a perfect way to integrate your faith into every day action. And there’s no better example of that than determination and the strength that regular practice builds.

Taking a yoga class in college has been such a fun experience. It was definitely out of my comfort zone to take a class like this but I am glad that I did. At the beginning of the class I was really nervous, and worried that I would not be strong enough to complete some of the poses.

By the end of the semester I realized that yoga is not about doing the hardest poses, or doing perfect, but that it is about trying your best and challenging yourself. I have definitely challenged myself by taking this class, and trying something I never thought I would try. This class helped me realize that I am stronger than I think, and that perfection should not be my main goal. Yoga pushed me to try new things and have fun.

     Moving forward I would like to continue doing yoga for exercise and to build my strength. I would like to start doing some strengthening poses at home at least once a week to continue my practice. If I had the chance to take another yoga class I think I would, especially if I convinced friends to do it with me. I would definitely recommend yoga to anyone who wants to get stronger but does not know where to start. This class was great to take as a beginner, because it physically challenged me, but I did not feel like it was too advanced to where I was falling behind. Overall, this class was a great experience. It helped me to grow stronger and challenge myself by doing poses out of my comfort zone.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.