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.

Wellness Wednesday #9 – Stages of Change

Some things never change and some things around us always seem to be changing. For example: I have always been a feminist. I played basketball in a co-ed summer league as a pre-teen and constantly competed against the boys to show them that girls were just as good. As a teenager I sported my Rosie the Riveter t-shirt with pride and discounted any guy who referred to me as a “chick” (I’m not a little yellow fluffy bird). Yet, I grow older and the world around me seems to change and I with it.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the three phases of creating Health Habits. This week I’m delving more into Behavior Change to talk about the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (TTM). Why is this important to Wellness? Learning the stages of change may help you understand a few more things about why you are or are not making changes that you set out to make. Continue reading “Wellness Wednesday #9 – Stages of Change”

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.

2019

I haven’t written on the blog since October 20, 2018, but that doesn’t mean that I have lost my love for writing or my intention to keep this going. With each new year I learn a little more about myself and I learned A LOT last year. This year will be different (as each one also is) and I decided to wait until today to write. I am not making resolutions this year or setting outright goals. I am trying to be as “yogic” as I can and kind of just let life be. If anything, I am hoping to be more well-rounded this year. I hope to find more time for everything that I want to do and to stop doing the things that I don’t. So, while I still had 19 minutes until my planned run for the day….I wrote to you.

And, in usual OGB fashion, I will leave you with a question:

What will 2019 be for you?

The Daily 10

So, remember way back when I did the Sun Salutation Challenge? I wondered what would happen to my yoga after it ended….and I found out.

Well, I stopped doing my yoga and it has cost me dearly! Last summer I killed it at running for A LOT of the summer. This summer, not so much….what’s the difference? Well, firstly is that last summer I was coming off of a great semester of teaching yoga, I was teaching yoga twice a week in the early mornings, and I was teaching Summer I and Summer II yoga. I was mad about yoga at the time and I knew that the fall semester would change my activities. Continue reading “The Daily 10”

Meditation Monday #52 – My 108 Sun Salutations

Welcome to March!

I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile now….unsure of what all to write and which day to post it under. I’ve got a lot to write about this week and so I thought I’d start here with some yoga. Last fall I started building up to performing 108 consecutive Sun Salutations. Don’t know what a Sun Salutation is? Check out my post about how I do mine here. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #52 – My 108 Sun Salutations”

Distractions

Do you use distractions properly? In her book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin suggests that distractions are a great strategy for staying on track with habit formation and maintenance. Wow! Was I educated in this section….

Things that distract me from finishing a task:

  • Kids
  • Friends
  • News
  • Internet
  • TV
  • Books
  • Other unfinished tasks
  • Work
  • Boredom
  • Family
  • Kids
  • Kids
  • Kids

But these are distractions and not a distraction strategy. A distraction strategy is meant to keep you from doing bad habits. Rubin gives herself a 15 minute rule….do something else for 15 minutes and usually that’s enough to forget what it was that was going to reinforce a bad habit.

Another distraction technique that she applies is to chew on stirring sticks instead of putting other things in her mouth (food, gum, coffee). I am not sure if I use distraction techniques at all. I’m definitely a fan of the Pomodoro Technique and I use it as often as I can, but I’m pretty sure that if something is a distraction….it’s a distraction from my good habits.

What are your distractions? Do they help or harm?

Word of the Day for Friday: LOVE!

And because it’s being posted on Saturday (see here) – Word of the Day for Saturday: KISS!