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.

 

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Wherever My Yoga Takes Me – Guest Post by Marica Jordan

Throughout my 19 years of life, I have been participating in Yoga on and off. When I was younger I participated in Yoga once a week with my aunt for the summers I was out of school. I enjoyed it but I never realized how much of an effect on my body Yoga could have 12 years down the road. Once high school came around I started to participate in Hot Yoga, I thoroughly enjoy this, it helped me relieve stress, and I even got my boyfriend to participate in it. I started school at East Carolina University last year, and they offered Yoga classes weekly, I attended them when my schedule permitted and it was a wonderful stress reliever and helped me to push through my anxiety and depression at the time. When it came time to sign up for classes this year I saw Yoga as a class I was able to take for my elective classes in my Nursing Curriculum. 

Yoga for me this semester has been more beneficial than I had ever thought it would be. My Husband left for basic training a little less than a month before the new semester had started, and I was already dealing with my anxiety and depression. The first day of class I knew that I would enjoy this class. As time went on I started to notice the affects that Yoga was having on my physical and mental health. I was pushing myself to do Yoga everyday outside of class, to use it as a way to relieve my anxiety, and stress of my Husband being gone. Yoga has made me truly love myself more than I ever thought I could. I have learned that Yoga is more than just a practice, it is a lifestyle, it takes dedication to pursue it, and it takes learning about the history to understand it. 

In the next couple months my life is going to be changing dramatically, I am going to be moving with my Husband as he pursues his career in the Army, and I fully plan on using Yoga as a technique to get myself through these life changing events. Yoga will be my way of coping with being away from my family, and starting a new life in possibly a new state. I plan on using Yoga in my daily life from now on. I plan on Yoga being a way to relieve my stress and anxiety, and to learn more about myself and love myself. I have thoroughly enjoyed this class, and am so glad I had to opportunity to take it. 

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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What is Yoga? – Guest Post

I truly never know what a student will write about when I give them the opportunity to reflect on a semester of yoga. Sometimes they tell about how little they connected with the practice of yoga. Other times they tell about how much they get out of it. It’s really only discovered when one delves deeply into their own honesty about what the practice really means….

Taking yoga for the first time, I was not sure what to expect at first because I have no experience in yoga. Ever since I was a little kid, I always had a general idea of what yoga was supposed to look like, and whenever I tried learning yoga, it never worked out in the end. In all honesty, I thought yoga would be a lot easier than having to take walking for fitness or health class. I assumed yoga would be less work to do, but I was wrong. To my surprise, yoga is very challenging. It takes hard work to learn, especially for me, because you must put a lot of physical and mental energy into recreating all the different types of yoga poses.

During this semester, I have learned that yoga is physical but mental as well. Also, when practicing yoga, you must remember that your mind and body must stay connected with the movements to keep yourself balanced. In taking this course, I have grown a lot more physically and mentally by trying my best to learn the yoga poses and getting myself out of my comfort zone. After this class is over, I intend to use yoga by teaching my close friends and family at home. I plan to keep yoga alive by regular attending yoga classes around the Wilmington area. Overall, I had an enjoyable experience while taking this course. I want to say a big thanks to Mrs. P. for being a yoga instructor at Cape Fear and for being able to teach us life lessons through this enjoyable experience. Thanks to her, I have learned lots of new things in this class, and I hope to continue practicing yoga.

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Letting Go – Guest Post

Sometimes a student is so quiet that you’re not sure that they’re engaged in learning what you’re presenting. But for many of my students they experience the same themes. I think that we need yoga more than ever in the world. We need to get rid of the anxiety and stress that comes with every day life and get back to letting go of the things we cannot control…..

I am glad I choose to take Yoga my first year of college. Yoga has helped me deal with my stress. I have anxiety and depression and can get stressed over things that are not in my control.Yoga has taught me to live more in the moment. I understand now that things take time, it’s a process and the process/development can be a beautiful journey. My favorite discussion topic was the Yamas and Niyamas. My top three were Ahimsa, Asteya and Isvara Pranidhana. When learning about the Yamas and Niyamas, it made me question myself a lot like asking myself “Am I happy?” “Am I satisfed?” “What’s next?”. All things we ask ourselves when we get older.  

My overall Yoga experience was a good one. I will continue to practice Yoga more at home. Before starting Yoga I thought it would be just sitting in silence for a long time and clearing your mind and thoughts but it’s more than that. I was not expecting to do deep stretches that began to really test my body, but I liked it. My favorite part of Yoga is the spiritual side of it. I love the feeling I have after I do Yoga, it’s the same feeling I have when I leave the gym. The feeling of letting go and taking your mind off things that stress you. I really enjoyed taking Yoga this semester. 

 

 

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Opening the Bottle – Guest Post

Have you been there? Were you the type of person who was too tough for yoga? I was. Sometimes my students resist yoga because they believe that it’s too easy. Others come to the practice hoping for that ease and learn a lot more about their strength. Sometimes the strength is not in the body itself….

Starting off in the class, I thought that it was just going to be easy and something that I could easily breeze through. I believed that coming to this class would relax my inner mind and calm my soul. But oh was I wrong. I found out that yoga connects your mind and soul and it kinda made me take a deeper look into my life and into the things I needed to change. It helped me grow with not only my flexibility but as a person that is now in touch with the outside world. I thought that yoga would just have helped me with being able to touch my toes but it did more than that when it showed me another part of the world. I have learned multiple things about myself in yoga. One of the largest things is that I need to listen to myself. So many times I have pushed through pain and suffering mentally and physically and that made me in a worse state than I already was. Yoga really showed me that it’s okay to hurt and it’s okay to let those feelings free. It taught me not to keep things so bottled up and on my chest.

In the future I will probably not practice yoga on a daily basis. Mostly because it makes my joint hurt. But I think I am going to keep in my mind the practices that I learned about connecting with my inner body. I have become more aware of myself and the people around me. The most important thing to me is that I have become more happier with myself and learned not to be so upset all time. Yoga has made me grow and taught me new things that I would have never imagined. I am so forever grateful for the experience I got to have with my friends of feeling the opening and connection of the heart and soul but also seeing them perform ridiculous poses. Until next time, Namaste.

 

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Yoga is Fun by Thomas Hill – Guest Post

Not all parts of yoga are for everyone. But some of my favorite students are male students and athletes and when I can get one that’s both it’s even better! This student was a challenge in more ways than one. His background and mine were very different and I think he was coaxed into taking this class by a group of friends. He was also a joy to have in class each day as he lightened the somewhat serious mood of teaching yoga from time to time.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this yoga class.  I set a goal at the beginning of the semester to be able to easily touch my toes and still for some reason cannot do it.  However, I have learned a lot about yoga and about my body during this class.  Practicing yoga throughout the semester helped me push my body to the limit and see how much I could do.  I learned that there are some poses in yoga I can do with ease and some are a little bit more difficult.  It was fun to learn something new and a little about where the practice of yoga came from. 

 

The dreaded crow pose!

The thing I enjoyed the most was the strength and balance poses.  I liked how they pushed my body to another level and I could feel the muscles burning.  I think crow pose is interesting and I had fun attempting that one.  One thing I did not like doing was meditating.  I’ve never really been a fan of that kind of stuff and it’s hard for me to just sit there and breathe for long periods of time without getting sidetracked.  All in all, I really enjoyed this class.  Thank you for making yoga fun.

 

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Walk in the Clouds by Rebekah Johnson – Guest Post

Testimonials are all that it takes for some people to jump on a bandwagon. What’s your excuse for not trying yoga this year? If this account of the effects of practicing aren’t enough for you to at least consider it…..I don’t know what would be.

I was really excited to get into this class and am leaving the class with so much more knowledge about yoga than what I had entering. Every Monday after leaving class, I walked out feeling like I was walking on clouds. There is a lightness that comes with my steps after a good practice and that lightness continues on with me throughout my days.

The practices we have learned in class are now incorporated into my daily routine. Although I have a very busy life and schedule, I make time for yoga whether it be 30 minutes or an hour plus. The meditation practices, particularly yoga nidra, have also been brought into my routine every other day if not daily. Taking the time to practice and learn has impacted me far more than just physically. The spiritual up lifting I have been experiencing is incredible. This class has truly changed my life for the better and i am excited to continue on with my yoga journey.

 

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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.

 

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