Appreciating Thy Self – Guest Post

I’ll say it again and again….the greatest gift yoga can give someone is not necessarily a more flexible body, but a more flexible mind. It’s always great to hear when a student has learned more about themselves through the practice of yoga. It’s a daily discovery!

 

I first started yoga a few years ago when my brother asked me to try it with him. We set up yoga mats in our living room and followed along with a DVD. Little did I know that my yoga practice had just begun and it would be become a very influential part of my life. From that day on, I would try to do yoga regularly. However, I was inconsistent with my practice, which is why I was very excited to see that CFCC offered a yoga class. I thought it would be a perfect fit in my schedule for my first semester of college. It would help me become consistent in my practice and I was very excited to learn more poses. What I was not expecting is how much I would learn about myself through the process.

Since starting this yoga class, I have rediscovered my old love of yoga, and found a new one along the way. I did not realize how personal this class would be, but it has helped me search inside myself and work on problems I am facing. Yoga has helped me grow by discovering self love and self acceptance. It has also helped me stop thinking so negatively about myself, and instead, replace negative thinking with positive affirmations. What yoga has helped me learn about myself is that I am a good person, and that I do not give myself enough credit for that. Yoga has helped, and is still helping me, appreciate myself. What I learned about yoga is that it is a very difficult practice that takes a lot of time to advance in. I can not become a yogi overnight, and that is okay. It is a life long journey. I also learned that meditation is a big part of the practice and that should be the main focus of my journey. I intend to use yoga every day in future. Even if I do not use my mat every day, I plan on using meditation throughout my day to be more aware, connected, and mindful. I am so thankful CFCC offers this class and I am excited to see where yoga takes me in the future.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

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Perseverance – Guest Post

Last Fall Wilmington suffered the effects of a slow moving hurricane – Florence. My students were displaced and kept out of school for over a month. They lost weeks of instructional time and had to push through all of the same knowledge in a shortened semester. They were amazing troopers through it all and we were able to put our yoga into practice in so many applicable ways….

 

My personal journey into yoga was a little less successful than I intended. After the hurricane and multiple tragedies in my personal life I was unable to focus as much as I wanted to on my practice. I did successfully develop a knowledge of basic poses and the benefits they have on the body. So I am happy to say I did achieve the main goal I had when signing up for the Fall yoga class. When looking back at the beginning of the semester I assumed this class would be easy in the physical performance half. Now since we have reached the end of the class I have found that correctly practicing poses is much more difficult than it appears. Many different aspects of my practice have improved from the beginning, such as my posture, balance, and breathing. I have learned when it comes to yoga the little details make all the difference, things such as foot placement, continuously breathing, and raising my chest when curving my back, are all things that help that can help prevent injuries. I also learned that there are a few poses that I am unable to perform due to my back, knee, and ankle injuries, but there are also many poses that improve them. This knowledge is good for me in the long run, I am hoping to further physical improvement. I feel as if I grew mentally from this class when we reviewed the Yamas and the Niyamas. I feel as if for the most part I follow the Yamas, but the Niyamas are the ones I struggle with, mainly in the discipline and the surrendering areas. I have found myself now continuously using disciplines in my life, in addition to an attempt at more acceptance, thus surrendering my own opinions to accept others. I feel as if I have grown a fair amount since challenging myself with theses Niyamas.

I highly enjoyed the class, it was unfortunate how we were unable to fully attend due to weather disturbances, but for the time we did receive it was a fun time and was quite informational. I only wish that the class happened more than once a week. I do plan to continue my practice, not only have I signed up for yoga II, but I also plan to find regular yoga classes at my gym to get into more of a routine. I want to incorporate my yoga practice into my life by attending a class at least twice a week. This will not only add to the stretching portion of my workouts, but also will improve my flexibility and balance, both of which are constant restriction on my physical abilities. I intend to move forward and use my practice to improve my back pain, it  is a battle I have been facing my whole life, and with yoga I now have another weapon to use against it. I am thankful for my growth, and the knowledge I gained from this class, I cannot wait to continue my journey.

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

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Awakening to Life – Guest Post

Some of my favorite yoga stories from my students are when they just become more aware of their own existence and power in life….as in this beautiful story.

The past couple of years I’ve thought of yoga to be more of a trend rather than a therapy. I would see posts on Instagram of friends doing difficult poses and thought it was cool, but I never really saw myself getting into yoga. Well, I am two years out of high school which means two years without sports or any physical training really. Because I was refusing to workout, this past year I started to notice my body changing into my “adult body” and I was hating it. So, this summer I decided to investigate healthy living. I read of different ways to live healthy with diets and different types of exercising. The one healthy living style that stuck out to me the most was yoga. As I read, I was shocked to read all the benefits. Toning and flexibility were the two benefits that urged me to start going to classes. Though I was interested, because of my work schedule this summer I never had time to go to classes. So, when I learned that CFCC offered a yoga class I had to sign up.

 

Throughout this Fall semester I have learned so much. I have learned of ways to relax, how to improve my understanding of others, and lastly, I learned how to truly appreciate my surroundings. Almost all my life I have let stress overcome me, whether it was because of something small or big, I would over think a situation until I was stressed. Yoga has helped me cope with stress through breathing exercises and different yoga poses. I never realized that stretching was so healthy, and that breathing a certain way could help with different emotions. Alternate-nostril breathing and sound of breath breathing are two types of breathing exercises that I use on a daily basis to ease my mind. The supine spinal twist and child’s pose also help me when I am feeling stressed. Taking this yoga class has helped me understand others through a statement that Mrs. P. said one day in class. She said, “a truth is not a truth but an opinion”. This is something I will always remember because it has opened my eyes to why there is so much hate in this world today. Now when I hear others talk about certain topics, I am not judgmental to their opinion as I was before, but more open to why they feel the way they feel. Lastly, in this class I learned the importance of tuning into your five senses. Since I started to do so, I have gained an appreciation for so many things in my life. From cooking and smelling the aroma of my food, to walking downtown and noticing how beautiful the history of Wilmington is. I now have a different appreciation to my surroundings.

Yoga has been a blessing in my life. I am thankful for this course this Fall semester because I have overall grown as a person throughout this semester. Learning different ways to make myself better not only physically, but mentally is the best kind of healthy living I could ask for.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

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Peace with the Past, Present, and Future – Guest Post

Sometimes the best yoga stories are the simplest to share. This beautifully short story on the peace that a student last Fall found in yoga shows the impact of yoga in all areas of our life….past, present, and future.

Taking yoga this past Fall I have learned not only how to better myself physically, but mentally as well. Ever since I was young, I was obsessed with my weight. This stemmed from my childhood, and how my mother started putting me on diets when I was about seven or eight. With the help of meditation that I learned in yoga, I learned how to ease some of the worries I have about my weight, and how to accept myself as a person despite having a few extra pounds. I plan on using meditation in the future and whenever I need to find peace.

I also learned some great ways to deal with stress and anger. I have always had a short temper; however, with the help of some breathing techniques that I have learned from this yoga course, I can practice healthy ways of dealing with it. I also use yoga breathing for when I am babysitting my nephews. The calming nature of Ocean Breathing lulls them to sleep and lets them rest easy. I plan on using these breathing techniques in the future all throughout my daily life.

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

Hannah’s Total Body Sync – Guest Post

Last fall was the semester of the Hannahs for me. I had a Hannah in almost every class I taught. Each Hannah was unique in her own way and I enjoyed learning about each of their own personalities. This Hannah was quiet in voice, but expressive in many other ways. I was always delighted when it all came together for her. Here is another great student guest post:

I took this yoga course to start being more in tune with my body. I have struggled with my health most of my life and I have been told yoga would help me live a more healthy and full lifestyle, physically and mentally. In this course I hoped to learn how to better understand and be in tune with my body. I also hoped to learn how to use yoga as a de-stress-er and to decrease anxiety.

 During the first lesson we learned how to regulate and control breathing. We controlled where the air flowed into our bodies and became aware of aspects we do not often acknowledge. In our second lesson we worked with awakening poses, which I have learned help back pain throughout the day and help me focus before work. I have also started to be aware of what I fuel my body with. Fitness yoga was hard at first and would hurt for days after, but I would feel better after class; as if my body was completely in sync.

 After a semester of yoga I am starting to live a healthier lifestyle. I pay attention to how my body feels and understanding that every feeling has a reason and trying to fix the bad feelings in a healthy manner. I took a class at Salty Dog Yoga with my boyfriend and we both wish to continue exploring yoga and improving our well being. Yoga is more than physical, it is also spiritual.

 

Thank you Hannah and I hope you’re still exploring!

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

Intentionality – Guest Post

Here is another great student guest post!

Fall semester 2018 was the single most progressive few months of my entire life in terms of personal growth. I enrolled in the 9am Monday morning yoga class because I have always loved practicing yoga and I thought it would be a great start to my week. The semester began calmly and was wholly unsuspecting to the entire upturn my life was going to take starting in September. The practice of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation helped me cope with losing my house, my belongings, my relationship, my car, and coming to terms with some unexpected medical diagnoses all within 4 weeks. Not only was I able to take away at least 2 hours of required self-care a week, I learned valuable skills that helped me take my practice with me back home.

I have, since beginning that class, practiced yoga at least twice a week every week and I even branched out to the yoga studio next to where I work and found a perfect fit in a twice-weekly class that I absolutely adore. My goal at the beginning of the semester was to become more flexible, and although I’m not sure if I’ve noticeably achieved that yet, I have gained back upper body strength that I haven’t had since before I had cancer. I can do push-ups now! Thanks to sun salutations! And one of the biggest personal growths I’ve experienced is practicing intentionality. If I haven’t been mindful of taking initiative and being proactive this semester I would have had to move back in with my parents 4 hours away and recovery after Florence etc. would not have been possible. I genuinely adored this class and every time I had to be absent was really devastating to me. I truly look forward to continuing my practice for the rest of my life taking with me with the knowledge I’ve gained in how and why we practice.

Thank you for your strength and wisdom!

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

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Positive Growth by Becca – Guest Post

Do you know what this blog has been missing? More yoga! I’m going to need more yoga! That’s why today’s post is another student guest post.

Enjoy this journey shared by Becca!

I began my yoga journey in 2014 after finding a Groupon deal online for a month of Bikram yoga.  I told myself that for forty bucks I could improve my body and spirit.  Well, who knew that Bikram yoga was hotter than the surface of the sun? The guy in front of me sweat so much that it became a constant stream and, of course, it became my motivation to give more effort. In that first month I attended class only twice; with my first class more successful than the second. I only say this because I became nauseous and overheated in the second class and have now learned my limits and weak points.

Fast forward to Fall 2018; this is my first official weekly yoga class. My last physical activity class was archery several years ago.  It has been so long since I had an intense cardio workout. Recently I have developed lower joint issues, but first injured my back in high school. It has been a slow downhill trend with my joints and my whole body seems to be effected; from my finger knuckles to my low back, hips, and knees. Taking yoga during Fall semester has introduced the proper, gentle motions to encourage healing of my weak joints.

Although I bought my own yoga mat to practice at home, I have done so less than a dozen times. However,  I view my new knowledge of the poses as priceless. I will continue to use the OGB yoga videos to guide me through my future practices as I leave Yoga 1. My yoga teacher’s peace and love for the practice has promoted positive growth in my mind, body, and spirit.

Thank you Becca!

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

Zeelie’s Take on Yoga – Guest Post

Today I present the fourth and final story from my students who took Yoga II over the summer. Zeelie has been my youngest student at the college level of teaching. I have been so proud of how disciplined she is in her yoga and in life decisions. She is a strong woman and I’m proud to have known her at this stage in her life!

Honestly, I don’t really know where to begin. As a kid I did some yoga, but it was never really yoga. At least it wasn’t the yoga that I know now. I had always seen it as something that women do. I always felt that when I got older I was going to wake up at sunrise and do it everyday on my front porch. To me, that’s what it was. It was something that mothers do to stay in shape. I never knew anything about it passed the physical practice.

When I took yoga one last semester, some of my main reasons for taking it were because I needed an elective, and because it would help get me into shape a little bit. I had known that there was going to be a little bit more to it than that, but never thought I would really get into it. But I did. I haven’t picked up the whole lifestyle, and I don’t think that I will, but there are a lot of little things that I have incorporated into my daily life.

One of the biggest things that I do now is different breathing techniques. Going through PT for the Marines, I am constantly battling with myself in my head. But I can remind myself to Just Breathe. Focusing on my breathing, and using different techniques that I learned in yoga one, have helped me to push myself further in PT. It’s taking my mind off of my physical activity, and focusing it and on one small thing.

Yoga has given me more discipline. I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy when I took the class. An easy A, sure, but not physically.  I didn’t expected to be hard, but I did know that I was going to have to push myself a little bit. I ended up having to push myself a lot more mentally than physically. While I knew that I had the physical capabilities of doing a lot of these poses, mentally I battled with being able to hold them.

Meditation, as well as the breathing techniques, has helped me to be able to push myself to hold them longer. That further has helped me in my day-to-day life with getting upset. I have a very short temper, so me learning to discipline myself in one area, has helped and others. I really enjoyed my first actual yoga class, and so I decided to take yoga two.

I wasn’t expecting to jump further into the yoga life, and I didn’t, but the longer and more profound meditation points have helped me realize a lot. Practicing yoga has helped me a lot as an individual. Not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally. I have a memory of one day a few weeks into my first yoga class, we were in the middle of a meditation, and I just started crying. I don’t think that anyone noticed it, but I had just become overwhelmed with emotion. I don’t remember what we were meditating on, or what realization or thought that I had, but I will always remember that moment. I had just become intensely happy.

Since that moment I have had more like it. Driving in my car I will be deep in thought and just become really happy. And I always think back to that moment. I would like to think that I will continue to practice yoga, and I currently do intend to. For me practicing yoga is more mental than it is physical or spiritual or anything else. It is probably the best way for me to de-stress, and to think. Even if at some point in my life I get too busy to find the time to physically practice yoga as often as I would like, I know that I’m definitely going to still take a lot of the principles and ideals into my day-to-day life.  Even if at some point I completely fall out of the physical practice, the personal practice will always stay with me.

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

Kat’s Lion of a Yoga Tale – Guest Post

Today I present the third story from one of my students who took Yoga II over the summer. She found me at my race last year and (I am grateful she did this) tracked me down in yoga at CFCC. I have had the great pleasure of getting to know her and hope her LION strength will always fill her Kat heart!

My first introduction to yoga was like many others. I joined a Shapes Fitness, women only gym, and being daunted by the countless machines and weights, decided to start with group fitness. I saw a yoga class on the schedule and thought to myself “let me just ease into gym life by trying out yoga.” So, I came in all prepared in my new Adidas yoga pants and mat that I had bought the weekend before, not really knowing what to expect. I was really nervous so I parked my mat next to the back, the best location to make a speedy exit. Around me were all women of different shapes and sizes which made me feel somewhat more confident. As the class started I quickly realized that it was not the “ease” I was looking for but my stubborn nature kept me from fleeing the scene. The gentle lilt of the instructor telling the class to focus on our breath as it fills our lungs all the way up to our chest cavity was a stark contrast to the personal struggle happening over at my mat. My limbs were trembling as I strained to hold this pose and tried to contort my body in ways it has not experienced in quite some time, if ever, and somehow I was supposed to BREATHE while doing all this? I tried to slow my rapid, shallow breaths with only slight success. At long last, we entered into final relaxation a wave of peace and tranquility came over me. From that moment on, I was hooked and I knew I had to come back for more. Yoga made me feel relaxed and less stressed over situations beyond my control. I felt good mentally and exercising was making me feel good physically. Fast forward a year and I took a detour from my yoga journey. I had started to work 3 jobs and tried to balance that with school which meant yoga got placed on the back burner. Just as quickly as it started, it was forgotten.

Four years, a heartbreak, a new home, and a few states further, I finally reconnected with yoga. At the time, I felt like I was pretty close to rock bottom. The heartbreak felt like the most devastating moment in my life. I had been dating this guy for 3 years and I was happily living with him and the relationship started to feel like something was not right. I eventually found out he was cheating on me with a 16-year-old that was still in high school. The future I envisioned with the two of us collapsed as well as my happiness. I turned to that dark head space where I questioned what I did wrong, was I not pretty enough, and how could he do this to me- to us? So, I called my Dad and asked him if he had room for me at his place, and he did. I quit my 3 jobs and packed anything that would fit in my car and left the rest behind. I went from having my own apartment in Florida to living with my step-mom and dad in North Carolina. Living with my parents after having my own place was a tough transition. Between that, my break up, and having no friends in this new environment caused me to be an emotional wreck. My dad didn’t raise a quitter so I started to go back to school here. When I had the opportunity to take Yoga I at an institutional level a seized the moment. I had felt my emotional best when doing yoga before and I recognized the need to get back to that healthier place.

The great thing about yoga, is even when you haven’t done it in a while, it’s like meeting with an old friend, eagerly awaiting with open arms. I’m really not sure what I was expecting by taking yoga at a college but the class far exceeded what I could possibly imagine. I think to take the class for the semester ended up costing me roughly $150 but it was worth every penny. I looked forward to going into class every day. The poses were great but even better than that was the philosophies behind yoga. This class is so therapeutic and truly allowed me to heal.

Every discussion expanded my perspective on the topic. I felt challenged to think outside the box and loved contributing my view points. The mental work was difficult, but also, extremely rewarding. If you want the answers to the age-old question who you are and what you are supposed to be doing with your life, this course really will help you with that. Now don’t get me wrong potential naysayer, it wasn’t like all of the sudden I had an epiphany and had all the answers. I had to work hard and think over the questions Mrs. P asked and meditate over them and I felt significantly more confident about who I am and what I want to do. I even changed my major after this course to something that would make me happy to do rather than worrying about playing it safe and studying a degree that I was not that enthusiastic about. The answers were inside of me all along and Mrs. Pappas helped me find them buried deep down, like the hidden treasures that they were.

I felt forlorn as Yoga I came to a close; I was not ready retire my yoga mat. I could do fitness yoga, which is great, but it doesn’t have the philosophical aspect that yoga I offered me. I took the plunge and signed up for yoga II. I was not disappointed. I enjoyed the more complex physical aspects of yoga II and trying out yoga fusions kept class fun. I went further down the rabbit hole in the philosophies of yoga and meditation. Learning about Buddhism and Hindu deepened both my understanding of where yoga came from and also my meditative practices. Now that yoga II is over I will have to find another outlet to continue my practice.

For now, the plans are to continue the Perfect Body Yoga Challenge created by Bad Yogi. It is all about self-love and being content in the present moment. I would like to eventually do yoga teaching training to deepen my practice and continue to learn more about yoga both on and off the mat.

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