Tales of Yoga – Guest Post

Today I present another story from one of my students who took Yoga II over the summer. She is a wonderful soul with a passion for reading. I have loved seeing her grow in her yoga practice throughout this year and truly enjoyed the day that we were able to chat and practice together, even if those balance poses tried to get the best of us.

I choose to sign up for yoga because I was taking 5 other classes and need a gym and thought “well this takes care of my gym and with be relaxing and fun.” I was right it was very fun and enjoyable.

I’m supper shy until I get comfortable around someone and I have social anxiety. If I never had to leave my house I wouldn’t. And going to a class where I didn’t know anyone was tough at first until I started to relax with everyone else in class. I also have self-image issues and I know I’m overweight and I thought throughout my first couple of classes that everyone was going to stare because I know that I’m not the most flexible person in the world and wouldn’t be able to do most poses. Turns out I was wrong there where a lot of people who could do some poses and everyone was very nice and welcoming.

Yoga has also helped in my everyday life, for example with my insomnia. Every night when I find myself tossing and turning I stop and put myself in a comfortable position and do some meditation and deep breathing which puts me right to sleep and I really love sleeping. Trying to live a more yoga life is hard because I LOVE LOVE meat! I am a meat eater and I’m not apologetic about it. But I understand why people choose to cut out meat or dairy products when choosing to live a more yoga life (kudos to you, I wouldn’t be able to survive.). I also have tried to be kinder and more understanding when something upsets me or I get frustrated I stop and take a deep breath and say “don’t let this get to you. It’s just a small thing and it won’t make you mad.” I then count to ten and I have noticed that this helps me not get into as many bickering matches with my sister and mother, which help me improve those relationship.

So over all I really like yoga and I believe that I will continue to practice it and try to have it in my everyday life. Thank you Mrs. P.

Thank You to Amanda for the Think Out Loud Thursday space to tell these stories.

12 Years of Yoga: NETA Yoga

A quick thank you to Amanda for hosting a platform on which I can tell part of my story!

When I started teaching NETA Yoga it was a course written by Linda Christy Weiler. It was a different type of yoga exposure for me as some of the material was more “Mind” than the “Body” portion I’d originally been trained with and had previously worked with. During this time I kept practicing the way I always had and thought still little about the impact of the other parts of yoga.

I started teaching for a ballet studio early in the mornings and about two months after that first workshop I was pregnant with my second. I do believe that my yoga practice and the way I look at life since becoming a mom has helped me to get pregnant and to stay healthier than I ever have been. I eventually left the ballet studio after a few months and continued to teach online for ECU and travel for NETA through the end of my pregnancy. I remember going to a workshop when I was a few months pregnant and running off of the plane and into a bathroom to vomit. It didn’t help that there was a seafood restaurant right near the gate.

I was a little less cautious with the second baby and traveled by air, ate a little more seafood (but not more than recommended), ate at restaurants more, and didn’t nap constantly when I felt tired. I also walked almost every day with friends around the neighborhood and tried to stay as mobile as possible with my toddler in tow. I even did gymnastics with him (including trampoline) for awhile longer than most. I was lucky again to not really show much during my pregnancy until the end.

I used my yoga a lot this pregnancy in practicing how I wanted to deliver. I also used a lot of cow/cat at the direction of my midwife to turn the baby around because he was sunny side up. My delivery again didn’t go anything as planned and after my baby was here I was left without work to do.

The wonderful people at NETA that I work for were nice enough to let me do some curriculum work for them and as I did such a good job in that area, I got a new and even more exciting task to do with a newborn…..write a yoga manual. NETA wanted a revamp on the course that we had and they wanted it to be their own. So, starting in September of 2013, I started writing….and researching….and writing more. I was still mostly unemployed as I’d left ECU and only taken on a very limited part-time gig with a kid’s gym teaching kids yoga. So, my two boys and I spent our days as most stay at home moms do….playing, cleaning, and attempting to learn everything about yoga.

I remember having tons of books spread out across the floor and having my almost 3 year old looking at pictures and saying: “I can do that!” and then attempting to get into poses. I was learning so much more about the postures of yoga and all of their many benefits than I ever knew. This was the easy part of NETA Yoga…..the hard part came when I was asked to write other sections of the manual. Writing about teaching techniques too was easy, but about how to do meditation?

I had practiced what I now like to call “fake mediation” before. You know…when you sit quietly with your eyes closed and pretend to meditate, but really you just think about a million different things and try to figure out what you’re going to do after this meditation session. Yeah, even as an instructor I was still doing a lot of that! How about Affirmations? Well, I have a personal mantra, but I’d never instructed anyone else in how to write one.

Okay, now for the really hard part….tell us about the history of yoga, the 8 limb path of Raja yoga, and Sanskrit and Chakras and everything else that you have always brushed to the side and considered a different “type” of yoga….

It took 9 months of research, phone calls, reading books, emails, writing drafts, consulting, practicing, and edits to finish this project. During which time I started the blog, moved, and was hired on at CFCC.

Because I will keep getting better with age….chair pose when I’m older!

I feel like I never really LIVED my yoga until I took on this project and I haven’t stopped growing in yoga since. No one other moment in my yoga journey has impacted my practice as much as this project in such a profound way as to make me truly identify as a Yogini. It has improved the way I live, the way I work, and the way I teach and yet, I have continued to learn, research, and grow over the past two years since its completion. It’s probably the project I am most proud of completing.

What is the one project you are most proud of accomplishing?

12 Years of Yoga: The First Pregnancy

CAUTIOUS

That’s the best word I can use to describe the way I approached my first pregnancy. I wanted to stay active, but I was scared. I had been told that I had miscarried once before when I was younger and I hadn’t been able to get pregnant since that point, so I was terrified that any wrong choice and I’d be S.O.L. again.

7 1/2 weeks. Fishing away the summer with no nausea during the first pregnancy. All smiles and glow!
7 1/2 weeks. Fishing away the summer with no nausea during the first pregnancy. All smiles and glow!

When I first found out I was pregnant I started eating a little better and continued my exercise routines. I had been teaching 4 classes a day 2x/week and so I kept up with that over the summer by running…..until I started having headaches and fainting spells. So, I dropped the runs. This was mostly due to the high temps we were experiencing in NC early that summer. I taught both yoga and fitness walking over the summer while I helped develop a new LPAF course for the fall that would include many different types of activities. I was so nervous about the yoga teaching and all of the rules that I wouldn’t do anything that was in a supine position, even in my first trimester. I wasn’t taking any chances at all!

At the end of the summer I made a trip home to Iowa to celebrate my engagement, my pregnancy, to give up my Great Danes, and (unexpectedly) to say goodbye to my grandfather. I had called him when I was pregnant and told him that I was making him a birthday present (I was due the day after his birthday), but that he’d have to wait until January for it be done. He immediately knew I was pregnant and asked what I would name “him”. We never found out we were having a boy, but I had my heart set on one, so I think my grandpa made that happen for me. I was nervous about the long travel and I did what I could to not stress about sitting for long periods of time.

I had planned to be super active while at home and do lots of yoga to keep up with everything, but the turn of events kept me pretty low key with maybe a few walks here and there. When I got back to NC again it was time to start training Graduate Teaching Assistants in all of the different forms of exercise that we’d be teaching that fall, working on my research project, continuing with my internship, and getting through my second year of grad school while planning a wedding and for a baby. I tried not to think about the baby as much because it was the one thing I couldn’t really control. I kept trying to stay in tune with my body throughout the whole process. I ate a lot of spinach and drank a lot of OJ and water. Twice a week I met Rebecca at the pool to water walk and do yoga in the deep end. I tried riding my bike until the belly started to get in the way and just in general tried to stay active.

I taught two classes a day twice a week this time around and it was always something different. I remember teaching one step aerobics class to a class of about 17 college guys one day. We were doing some fun over the top and around the world moves and some rear lunges and one of the guys asked me, “Can you do that with that baby in there?” YES! You can do a lot with a baby in there! My baby loved me being active and quietly slept as I taught ultimate frisbee, step aerobics, interval training, jogging/fitness walking, weight lifting, yoga and a host of other classes.

13 - 8 months 10 days
8 months 10 days in and still a ways to go. About 2 weeks after I stopped teaching for the semester.

Yoga was my savior throughout all of it. I was stiff when I didn’t move and the baby didn’t like it either. I spent so much time in Pigeon Pose that I should have taken flight myself. The body awareness I had from my practice kept me from having the duck waddle and the severe sway back. Listening to my actual body cues for hunger and thirst and rest kept me healthy and happy and whole throughout. The two things I regret not spending more time on before the big day were more meditation to help me with my mindset during delivery and more hip opening/squatting poses like Garland (Malasana) as I had planned to deliver in that position. You know that saying, “Perfect practice makes perfect”? Well, I should have lived it a little more.

I was done teaching about 6 weeks before I had my baby. I kept walking and doing yoga at home during that time. The last two weeks I bounced and rolled on a physio ball almost all day trying to get the baby to come out. And the day it finally happened was a surprise.

I’ll spare you the long story of it all, but the condensed version sounds a little like this. My labor started out easy, but didn’t go anywhere. And despite my preference against it all, I ended up with a pitocin drip that made me violently ill and have multiple contractions at once. Without a break, my energy and focus waned and I was told to push way too early. Using the birthing bar in that squatting position was ineffective and I exhausted myself before it was time for the baby to come out. I had a struggle with the medical staff (my midwife could not be there to practice at that hospital) and was eventually allowed to push my own way (not laying flat on my back). With a little help (a suction) my baby boy was out and I was a mom.

Yoga and walking were where I started again when I was allowed to go back to exercise. And eventually running and other body weight training became the norm. I met a group of ladies that fall whom I walked with on the regular and tried to lead them in a little yoga. I was graduated, married, and being a stay at home mom. Life was far different than I expected, but I started to feel more centered and connected to the world because of this little man in my life. Becoming a mom has probably been one of the most yoga things I’ve ever done. It’s that moment of universal and true love for one being in which you look into their eyes and see yourself wholly….all of your good….all of your love….reflected back at you. Yoga is more than just a physical practice and now my heart and head both knew that.

12 Years of Yoga: Dating as a Yoga Instructor

After Elon I spent a summer trying to find a job and waiting for the answer to my last question because I had applied to three different graduate schools. I figured that was where I would go if I couldn’t get a job. I had enough money, or so I thought, to make it to August. I lined up a nanny gig to start that fall and started hearing back from schools.

UNC – I applied too late

High Point – You’re in (but we’re a private school, so no real financial aid)

ECU ….. ECU?…… ECU! I wouldn’t hear back from them until close to the end of the summer. Somehow my application had been misplaced along the way and they didn’t find it until late. I got in there and opted for ECU which is the next part of my story. Continue reading “12 Years of Yoga: Dating as a Yoga Instructor”

12 Years of Yoga: The Football Team

First a little health update: Wednesday morning I went out for a run thinking that I was feeling alright. However, my time proved to me that I wasn’t yet 100% and still faced 6 hours of teaching ahead. I missed breakfast that morning, taught four hours, and then had to survive on snacks available in the office for lunch. My performance was less than stellar by the time I got to my afternoon class and my voice had pretty much disappeared. I finished the day at CFCC, went home, got groceries, and was quickly out the door again to CPR/First Aid/AED training to keep up with my certs and stay pro. I finally got home around 10pm and had dinner around 1030 and crashed hard. I had to teach again early Thursday morning and again I could tell my body just couldn’t hack it. My voice was a scratchy squeak and I have skipped my Friday run and will probably skip tomorrow’s too. Mileage is not as important as health. Your bodies need rest when they are ill, no matter who you are. TAKE IT!

On with the story….

I left Colorado in August of 2008 for two reasons. The first was that I was getting a divorce and couldn’t realistically live in my soon to be ex-husband’s house forever. The second was that my job at UCCS had ended and I had a new one lined up at Elon University in Elon, NC….so I packed up and headed East.

At Elon I was in charge of the fitness floor, group fitness classes, personal trainers, and the pool. It was a lot to take on and I spent the first few weeks living in our Administrative Assistant’s guest bedroom. I moved out and in with a girl who was subletting a furnished condo. It was awkward and didn’t feel like home. It all didn’t feel like home and I desperately wanted to be home, but couldn’t go there. I started teaching classes and especially the noon time yoga for faculty and staff members. I tried coordinating some things with the wellness programs and I tried to make friends. I was trying to get to know my student staff and yet, keeping a professional boundary, but I was just plain lost there in Elon. Continue reading “12 Years of Yoga: The Football Team”

12 Years of Yoga: Julie

Through each of these posts in my 12 Years of Yoga series I have found a little more of myself and understood a little more about how much I need yoga each day. It is also helping me achieve one of my goals for this year, to write more. But today’s post also involves one of my other resolutions.

Earlier this year I wrote about letting go of a friendship. That was with Julie. Continue reading “12 Years of Yoga: Julie”

12 Years of Yoga: That Time Before I Became a Yoga Teacher

After leaving Texas and moving to Colorado in 2006 I found myself again without a job. I applied many places and got shot down for not having a graduate degree. Who knew that the world of fitness had become so competitive?! So, I first started thinking about going back to school and had my then MIL help me apply to a program at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. While I waited to hear back I was hired on at a local swim club, CMA as an assistant coach for the Junior and Senior teams and also as a dryland training coach.

Yay! My world had purpose again! I took my job, as I do all of my jobs, very seriously. This has been a hard part of being me for most of my life. I take things too seriously at times and have found myself to be very rigid in the structure of life, work, etc. I am more type A than most who associate as type A….I probably should be labeled type A+++.

Here I was in Colorado Springs, the place I’d dreamed about living since I had visited there on a high school youth group mission trip in the mid90’s. But, I wasn’t really living the experience there I had hoped for. I muddled through life trying to grasp it all and failing miserably. My husband and I had bought a house, but I couldn’t keep up with what that meant. He had a great job, but I was unhappy for him because my career was going nowhere. We had a beautiful dog, but I wanted another because we didn’t have a baby. I was headed back to school, but I still wanted to work. I couldn’t figure it out, but what I really needed more than anything was yoga and a friend.

The yoga came first in a sense. As part of the dryland training I was doing with the kids, I started teaching them some yoga. I was using my knowledge about biomechanics etc to help them come up with new exercises to strengthen their specific strokes and then the yoga to improve their flexibility. One of the swim team parents was a regular yoga practitioner (and in my competitive mind I had to be better), so I figured I would incorporate the practice so that the kids could reap the benefits she always spoke of. I felt a real connection to those kids for the first year I was with them, but also secretly hated working with them because they didn’t always follow the rules nor do what I asked of them.

That fall I started back to grad school and things went okay. I had never really learned how to study in high school or college, but got through both easily enough. Grad school was a different story. Somehow, I’d never learned how to write a scholarly paper either. Things were spiraling downward slowly until I contacted the “Recreation Department” and looked for a job as a trainer. I wanted something more to do (although I was characteristically already overloaded). This was a blessing in disguise.

I started on with the department as their ONLY personal trainer and then worked my way in a little deeper. They were getting ready to boom! UCCS was building a new Recreation Center to open in Fall 2007 and they were going to go from 1 professional staff member and 1 graduate assistant to 4 professional staff members and 3 graduate assistants. The staff would go from 7 students to over 70 students in just over a year from when I joined on. There would even be a real group fitness room and a need for personal trainers. I saw an opening and I took it!

I made myself the unofficial second GA for the department and got permission to run a training program for future PT’s in spring semester. My work at the swim team stayed steady and I continued taking classes and trying to keep up with grad school. I made a friend in Chelsey, the real GA, and we started to grow closer with our similar ambitious nature and desire to take 2 of the coveted professional staff positions at the new rec. We took on even more between the two of us, outlining the requirements and responsibilities of each job and program area, coming up with hiring procedures, planning staff training, listing equipment needs, doing budgets. You name it; we were on it!

The 4 pro staffers and 3 GA's 2007-2008
The 4 pro staffers and 3 GA’s 2007-2008

I didn’t get the job as a pro staffer, but settled into my role as GA in the new facility. Due to poor grades and work at the rec, I left the swim team in Fall 2007 to focus on other things. It’s one of my greatest regrets. I haven’t coached swimming since and I miss it constantly. But now I was “in charge” of a group fitness program that had one yoga teacher: ME.

I offered a yoga class that fall and I can’t remember if it was only one per day or more. I don’t know if it even ran every day or not. I feel like there was an early morning class and a noon time one and maybe even an evening one…..doesn’t really matter. All I know was that I was only teaching (over and over again) what I had learned in that one workshop two years earlier. That, and whatever I could find in Fitness Magazine. I wasn’t a yogi and didn’t have a regular practice myself. But teaching yoga gave me a little more sense of zen….sense of release….and was bringing me closer to my toes.

I had a friend by now, a few actually, and yoga was becoming more a part of my life. I again needed continuing education credits to re-certify my PT, so this time I went the yoga route and enrolled in a YogaFit Teacher Training Level 1 course in Denver.

Silent Strength – Guest Post by Serenity Shaw

I have finally reached the end of all of my yoga stories from my students. This will be the last one unless others decide to share. I hope you have enjoyed this series and I hope to be back next week with my own new yoga story…..It’s been a lot more than 12 years now.

Silent Strength by Serenity Shaw

Me and yoga have been in an on and off relationship for years, I took my first yoga class when I was training on Naval Air Station Pensacola. Whenever a base gym had a class I would drop in, and when I was stationed in Cherry Point near Atlantic Beach I found some really cool studios nearby that I attended frequently. I loved the flexibility aspect but could never get balance poses because of my lack of strength. As my love for lifting increased, I had the strength but tended away from yoga. Some of my mental health struggles turned me away from practicing, sitting in silence meditating in my own thoughts seemed like the worst thing possible. That was a reason I enrolled in this class, I knew I couldn’t miss it and would have to practice and actually meditate. 

I love the movement and being able to get more in tune with your body from a fitness aspect, but also all the different kinds of meditation really helped with keeping my focus on something positive. I wasn’t afraid to sit in silence anymore and I even  started journaling again. On a physical side, yoga has shown me to listen to my body more and not go full throttle in the gym all the time which resulted in constantly injuring myself. I also have been able to finally do a handstand in my own practice and have been able to hold crow longer then before. I plan to keep a yoga flow as a cool down in the gym, to keep flexibility and as an activity for active rest days in my workout plan. I truly enjoyed the class and the positive environment all the students provided.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

May You Bloom and Grow…..Forever – Guest Post by Lauralaine Thiers

 

Through this class I have gained skills that I will carry on with me long after I leave Cape Fear. I think I’ve learned a lot about my physical capabilities like balance and strength as well as opening my mind and exploring things like patience and compassion. I believe I’ve grown since beginning this class in that I notice myself more often being mindful of my words and actions and how they affect others as well as being mindful of my place in the universe and continuously trying to only put out good energy and good karma. I’ve learned that yoga goes beyond stretching and posing on a mat. Yoga is a way of life and practicing yoga only paves the way to manifest a more peaceful lifestyle. 

I plan to continue to practice yoga on my own in a self-taught manor and push my boundaries as I explore new poses and meditations. Hand-in-hand with yoga, I have found meditating incredibly useful especially in stressful times to collect myself and stay grounded. A combination of continuous yoga practice and meditation will only continue to move me closer to true enlightenment, the ultimate goal. Although at the moment I have no set destination, yoga has proved to be a practice that has rightfully gained a spot in my life indefinitely. I plan on utilizing yoga as I do now, and hope to blossom through practice just as I hope to blossom as an individual.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

What Was, Is Again – Guest Post

I especially identify with students who are coming to yoga for the first time in their twenties. That’s when I was first exposed to it. I wasn’t the kid whose parents did yoga or who did it through gymnastics or dance. It’s something that I needed back then, but didn’t know a thing about. I like when students who have had it once can find their way back onto the yoga path….

At the beginning of the semester, I was kind of skeptical about taking a yoga course. It wasn’t needed for any credentials, but I had taken yoga classes years ago out of high school, and remembered just how therapeutic they could be. The difference now of course, is about 50 lbs and 17 years!

That being said, I am so glad I went through with this class. It has helped me focus on my breathing, which is huge because I am an asthmatic. This class has helped me to be able to relax to the point of meditation, which was really surprising to me. It didn’t come right away, but I got there. I’m thankful that Mrs. P is so patient with us, because one of the fears that I had going in was that the pacing would be too fast, but that wasn’t the case. I was able to keep up and I actually learned about myself in the process. I surprised myself at how flexible (and NOT flexible) I actually was.

Being encouraged to do yoga, at least a few moments a day, has had a positive impact on me. I find myself taking opportunities to do more stretches throughout the day and since we also covered different breathing techniques, I’ve learned how deal with stress a little better as well.

All in all I enjoyed my time in this class, and I have definitely been given tools that I will continue to practice. Thanks for a great experience!

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.