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?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

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?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

Meditation Monday #51 – Impromptu Meditations

Last Thursday my youngest didn’t want to go to school….it’s preschool and to some people that doesn’t “really” matter. However, I have to go to work on the days that he goes to school. I specifically scheduled work while he was in school so that I don’t have to have childcare any more. I also pay for his preschool and it’s not cheap. At preschool he’s learning A LOT of important lessons and by making him go to school (even when he doesn’t want to), I’m trying to teach him another lesson: sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do.

On Thursdays I usually workout after I am done teaching. Sun salutations or swimming are the norm, but this Thursday I had another matter to deal with: parking ticket. I went to the parking office and appealed my ticket. I won. It was a good day. This left me some extra time before the little guy was done with school. Because he hadn’t wanted to go in the first place I had promised I would pick him up early. Once I arrived at his school I thought about the importance of two things: keeping my promise and his need to be in school the full time. I opted to pick him up only slightly early (I’m usually one of the last parents to arrive for pick-up) to meet both.

So, I took a seat on the bench outside the school. It was a nice day and no one was around. I sat in Sukhasana (easy pose), closed my eyes, turned my face up to the sun, and started an impromptu meditation. I haven’t spent enough time meditating lately. I’ve done a lot of journal writing, which has been good for my soul, but is not the same thing as meditating. I decided that day that I needed to just listen to the world around me and within me.

In general I recommend that you have a focus for meditation before beginning. However, I know the need for impromptu meditation is strong; especially in the world we live in today. So, I encourage you to take the time today to be in the moment. Give yourself the present of impromptu meditation…..maybe even this minute. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and listen. Listen to the sounds around you (or lack there of) and be aware of your present surroundings. Listen to the voices in your head (don’t think about them, but hear them passing through). Listen to your body and all the things you ignore that are both good and bad. And, if like me, allow yourself to smile or cry or both.

Life is tough for me these days….hence the reason I stepped away from the blog mostly. However, life is also life and being alive is good. Impromptu meditation reminded me that warm sun, the sound of garbage trucks/traffic flowing by, and the ability to breathe freely are all great things in life because it’s life itself.

Happy Monday! You’re alive!

Please feel free to share your impromptu meditation moments or any other thoughts in the comments section below.

Days 3-6: Aparigraha

For Saturday-Monday of the long holiday weekend I chose to turn back to the Gates book and spend some time in meditation for my 30 Days of Yoga challenge. I gave myself at least 5 minutes each day to reflect upon the ideas at hand and I picked up where I left off the last time I attempted to finish this book. I was in the section of the book still on the Yamas and Aparigraha or the precept of non-hoarding. I’ve written about this concept many times and about the idea of letting go in yoga before. It’s one of the main things I preach about in practice. Be here. Be present. Let Go…..

However, this weekend I felt a little deeper. Continue reading “Days 3-6: Aparigraha”

Release….or maybe NOT!

*Intended post for Wednesday, September 10th*
In yoga we practice a lot of letting go. Letting go of tension, stress, judgement, preconceived notions about ourselves and others, etc etc etc. Letting go and learning how to immediately set your body at ease are some of the goals of meditation and final relaxation in a yoga class. Sometimes we work with mantras, chants, readings, or other forms of mental cueing to allow the body to let go both physically and mentally. My yoga training has allowed me to be a less angry person in life by teaching me to exhale and let go of what was building inside of me. This allows me many times to avoid unnecessary confrontations and arguments over trivial matters.

The idea of releasing has also helped with tensions that build in my body physically. I’ve been doing a lot more running in the past ten days. A lot more than I did in August that is. And while I run, I often find little things that aren’t going so well. I may be breathing too hard or my stride may be off; I may find that there’s a twinge of discomfort in my shoulder or I’m just not mentally in the game at the moment. No matter what is going on, I’m using my mantras to help align my running pattern to produce the best results possible. Lately my right shoulder has been the one with that pesky twinge. I don’t know if I’ve been pushing the double jogger too much with my right arm or if I’m pulling it up as I run and allowing my shoulder to creep toward my ear? I remember back in my days of high school cross country often finishing an event with one arm that was numb because of the way I held it as I ran. I was pinching a nerve because my upper body was being carried too tightly.

When I feel this issue creeping in, I often say to myself….. RELEASE! I do this during difficult yoga poses, when I’m stressed and need my breath to actually leave my body, and when I feel like I’m about to grind my teeth. Teaching your body to release, no matter how you get there, is of great advantage when you’re running. If I can let go of the tension when it starts to build and let my body fall loosely into it’s natural and free movement patterns, I find that every other aspect of the training then falls into place for the day. My mind clears, my breathing eases, my strides lengthen and turn over more quickly. And then there is the one negative effect to all of this releasing…..my body doesn’t know how to let go of some muscles while holding on to others.

You know what I mean. That moment when you’re flying down hill at top speeds feeling your legs stretch out to their fullest and all of your muscles are relaxed yet working and then it hits you….

You have just released all of your muscles…even the ones that you don’t want letting go at that moment! Then you have a choice to make….do I keep going and let nature take its course?

Or do you do “The Walk”? You know the one I’m talking about right? The one where you clench your lady parts as tightly as you can and curse yourself for skipping your Kegels that week while you also attempt to take as long of strides as you can to get to the nearest facility as quickly as possible.Yeah, I always opt for the latter of the two…ALWAYS!

This has made me feel like many of my training runs are ruined because I have to walk it off or walk it home. But I need to start focusing on all of the reasons that walking during my run or at the end of a run are okay and good for me. I need to let go of that judgement of myself and my workout and accept it for what it is on those days.

Today I ran with a friend who was getting back into running. We did long intervals (~1 mile each) of walking and running. It was slower than my usual pace, but thankfully not interrupted by bathroom breaks for either of us (kids…yes, and of course it was mine). I didn’t judge my performance on the run or hers, we just did it and it was fun. Sometimes letting go is more than just the physical or the mental tension, but it’s also allowing yourself to enjoy an experience.