TOLT #82 – A Call to Open

I hope that this post finds you well and safe wherever you are. I have taken a serious backseat in the last couple of months. I didn’t want to write about my coronavirus day to day or my negative opinions on how our country is acting around this international pandemic. I didn’t want to turn my blog political or have it just be a journal of the monotony that is quarantine life.

Instead, I put my head down and focused on the two main objectives I have had these past two months:

  • Finish the semester for my students
  • Keep homeschooling and life at home as normal as possible for my kids

I have not succeeded at the level I had hoped for either, but this week is finals week, so objective one is coming to an end. Other things in my life are coming to an end as well, but I’m not ready to write about that at this moment.

This morning I didn’t have to grade at 6am. I still got up at 6am and did my normal, go to the bathroom, check my phone, head upstairs. I spent a few minutes with my oldest who always wakes up early. I snuggled with my youngest when he found his way upstairs. I didn’t open the computer or respond to emails. We had breakfast and then I did something I haven’t done in FOREVER! I went upstairs and did yoga and meditated.

A few times over this at home period I have done yoga to film videos for my class. At one point I was trying to do some simple poses each day for gut health because my whole body is off at this moment. But, to be honest, I have abandoned a lot of my training. Life has taken many different turns for me and I have sacrificed some of the things that keep me most centered.

Today I chose differently. I did this video from Erin Motz at Bad Yogi:

As I was doing pigeon pose on the right side I noticed something unusual…..I couldn’t lay forward in the pose. I didn’t hurt, but felt trapped when I closed my body forward. It was as if I couldn’t breathe. So, I opened up the body and pushed it toward a backbend….not much of one, but one all the same. As I was doing it I realized that it was helping my heart chakra immensely. I was feeling open and free for the first time in a long time. So, when pigeon came up on the left side, I was surprised that I could do some of the fold, but also how great it felt to backbend and be open for a few breaths there. I usually ONLY love to fold forward in pigeon.

Later in my practice, as we were doing seated forward fold, Erin said something profound to me. She said to focus today on the feeling of the pose and not necessarily on how it looks. Right now I am in the process of making my life feel good; no matter how that’s going to look to the rest of the world…..

Namaste

Meditation Monday #55 – Valuable Reprogramming

I decided to go back to reading Gates today. It’s been on my “to do list” for quite some time, but always seems to be pushed to the side for other Monday activities. Today I did the Day 90 reading about Svadhyaya and asked myself the question:

What are my own limiting beliefs?

My husband is always saying that I have a problem with “men”. I don’t believe it to be true. I work with male students, colleagues, have two sons, and used to be almost exclusively friends with “men”. I see most “men” not as “men”, but as people just as I see “women” as people. It’s only upon interacting with people do I then make judgements about who/how they are.

How very anti-yoga of me to make judgements?! But, also, how completely yoga of me to admit that, to be truthful, honest, and self-aware.

I have written a few posts about judgement (prejudice) and self-study (svadhyaya). I think that learning where we fall short is important for growth in our lives. However, Gates mentions the way that we’re programmed to think based on what we’re told by tv, newspaper, or (now) social media. He writes:

The world is not safe, you are not safe, you need X-Y-or-Z to be safe. Your life is not enough, you are not enough, you need X-Y-or-Z to be enough. p.120

In the past few years we’ve been bombarded with ways in which people (mostly men and some women) are acting in ways that we (as a society) no longer feel comfortable with. I have always stood by these values that people should be treated equally and with kindness and compassion. I don’t always succeed at this, but I keep trying.

Last week a woman came up to me in a parking lot at the beach. She told me that she was homeless and asked if I could help her out because she hadn’t eaten all day. I told her, honestly that I didn’t have any cash. She asked if I would go to McDonald’s across the street and buy her a burger. I told her no, that I couldn’t do that either. This too was the truth. I had my children with me, we were out of time on our parking meter and they were tired and wet from having been at the beach. We had somewhere else to be soon. And my summer money is tightly budgeted as I don’t often work over the summer. But ….those are all justifications. Part of the truth was that I had watched several news reports in our area about people who were pretending to be homeless! People who went on camera (with their faces blurred and their voices altered) and admitted that they sat on a corner for a few hours each day to make money instead of going to a job. They also went to food pantries and other handouts and were letting others pay for their rent and food and utility expenses by pretending to be homeless. So, my instinct in this situation was not to give her the money.

This all made me wonder:

How much of the media influence makes me weary of being open, trusting, and sharing with people?

How much of our culture is making me seem like I have a problem with men when I speak up for equality?

How are my judgements limiting me and am I in need of some valuable reprogramming?

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?

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.

Wellness Wednesday #7 – Changing My Mind

I haven’t been as successful as I had hoped with posting weekly Wellness Wednesday posts, but I feel like I have been better about reflecting upon these elements of wellness. When last we “talked” we were discussing Feelings. Today I chose to combat some of my negative attitudes and emotions toward chiropractors and I went to one to have my shoulder evaluated. If you follow my training on Map My Run you will have seen many posts this past week about my shoulder clicking and popping. I may have an injury, but… Continue reading “Wellness Wednesday #7 – Changing My Mind”

Wellness Wednesday #6 – Under Pressure!

It’s been 15 days since my last post. However, I’m not too bummed about it. I’m still being far more regular than I was last fall and that is an improvement by anyone’s measure. The last Wellness Wednesday post was about Eating. That can cause a lot of stress for anyone to handle in the best cases. For me, my eating of late has been all over the place. I find myself choosing and wanting to choose more things that I consider “healthy”….although I hate using that word.

Recently I read a post on Fit is a Feminist Issue about tracking the variety of foods you eat. We are kind of in a rut at our house with meals and produce and other plant based foods. Tonight will be one of our favorites….burrito bowls. This usually consists of rice and beans and avocados and salsa and whatever else we dream to put into the bowl. I know, I know….the last post was about EATING, so why am I still talking about it? Well, because Eating tends to lead to stress for some people and stress is one of our FEELINGS, and that’s the main focus of our discussion today… Continue reading “Wellness Wednesday #6 – Under Pressure!”

Fave Reads Friday #14 – May I Be Happy

The last time I wrote a Fave Reads Friday post was in August 2018…..it’s been awhile. And now I just finished reading a book (another one about happiness, but oddly not Gretchen Rubin). This time the book was called May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga and Changing My Mind by Cyndi Lee who also wrote Yoga Body, Buddha Mind (something else I think I might want to read).

In the book there is a story of Buddha. The story talks of Buddha’s ascetic practices and how he eventually learns that

…torturing the body wasn’t the way to relieve suffering, after all. (p.63)

Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #14 – May I Be Happy”

Fave Reads Friday #13 – Defining Yourself

I’m reading a lot this summer. I find it easier to encourage the kids to complete their summer reading if I’m also doing my own. One book that I needed to read this summer was Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. If you’ve read my blog over the last few years you’ve probably heard all about many of her books by now (just click her tag at the bottom of this post), but reading Happier at Home was like a refresher from The Happiness Project.

The big take-away for me in this summer of turmoil is that I need to just be me to be happy. It’s okay that I’m different from a lot of my friends and definitely my family. I have to stop letting the way others label me define how I feel about myself. I need to just go back to doing my thing in order to be my best me. Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #13 – Defining Yourself”

TOLT # 73 – Happy Holidays…..See you next year!

This year, like many of them past, has been a challenge of self-study.

In yoga we call this Svadhyaya and I’ve written about it more times than I can count.

In the past I’ve focused on certain areas of study….yoga, fitness, eating, habits, happiness, etc. and it’s all brought me closer to enlightenment about myself.

It has been great doing this study of the self and it continues to help me grow as a yoga teacher, a college professor, a fitness professional, a mom, and as a human being.

In pursuing a deeper understanding of ourselves we become the best version of ourselves because we’re freed from thoughts of who we should be and, instead, find ourselves resting in who we are.

I like living in this place of who I am….of being me.

In 2018 the blog is going to change direction slightly, as it does from time to time.

I’ve chosen to make 2018 a Wellness Journey and I’m inviting you along.

My students do this wellness journey each semester and cover 12 dimensions of wellness. I’m expanding mine to journey over the course of 2018….one dimension a month.

Instead of committing to a schedule of posting, it will be more free form as it was in the beginning. That doesn’t mean that there won’t still be Meditation Monday posts that pop up from time to time, Fave Reads Fridays, and Workout Wednesday. It’ll all be here.

I write this blog so that people know two things:

  1. There is good and reliable information out there from reputable sources on fitness, wellness, eating, etc. I am one of those people. I am certified and have a Master’s degree. I am not here to lead you astray.
  2. It’s not easy for any of us. This is the area I wish to stress the most through my blog. I may have years and years and years of experience with fitness, sport, etc, but it’s never easy to stick with it. It’s not easy to eat well all of the time. It’s not easy to be yogi zen all of the time. Life is hard for us all, but in that sense I hope to build a community with you.

And that’s my last sentiment for you in 2017. This blog is a place of community for you to come, learn about yoga, learn about books and food and exercises, learn about yourself. But, it’s also a place for you to share with me, to share with us (your fellow readers) your experience.

In 2018 I hope that I receive more comments on the material I post. It’s here for you, it’s here for me, it’s here for us all. I want to write more about what you want to read about, but I need your input. I want you as part of my community and part of my wellness journey.

My journey officially kicks off January 2….enjoy your holidays and I’ll see you back here then.

Namaste

Thanks to Amanda and her Spoons Community for sharing this TOLT space!