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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Connections – Guest Post

I finished teaching at CFCC this past month, but I still have several yoga stories to share from my students. I hope to post them each Monday for the weeks to come. This particular student reminded me that yoga is about community and that sharing our stories is an important part of that unity. I am glad that this class helped the student to join together her mind and body as well as herself to her yoga community and ultimately lead to connecting her yoga life into every day life.

Coming into the semester, I thought that I was entering a class that was just an easy ‘A’, however, I think I needed this class more than I had realized. This class has had a positive impact on my mindset. There have even been some things said in the sessions that I would recall back to during the day or even week. This included the sharing of personal stories or other tips for different topics. When personal stories were shared, it made the class become more relatable and it showed me how yoga can impact everyday life like stories about family, driving, events, and more. When we were given tips on yoga stretches at home, or different eating methods, I brought those tips home with me and practiced them. As a result, I learned to really listened to my body more and understood how it worked. At the beginning of yoga, it was hard for me to sit down and really focus on not thinking about anything. However, as the semester went on, I realized it was not about “silencing” the thoughts but to reflect on them instead.

In my other classes, I have struggled with sitting down in one spot for a longer amount of time, and paying attention to the topic that is being covered. Having a physical education class that deals on meditation and focusing has helped me immensely. This class keeps my attention by being hands on and interactive, so I found myself enjoying the class more and more each week. Yoga has taught me how to not only find out my limits physically, but mentally as well. I faced some hardships throughout the semester but having this yoga class during the day, helped me to have a sort of mental “break” and I could just focus on the class, instead of what was going on. I have really enjoyed this class and I would definitely recommend it to every student.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

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Little Surprises – Guest Post

I wish I had found yoga sooner in my life. I think that I would have been a better person for longer. I would have been far more grounded. I would have been happier and made different choices. However, part of the practice of yoga and self-discovery is not to look back and wish that things were different….they are to take what you have and what you learn and turn it into something good.

Because of where I find myself in life I am teaching yoga and have two amazing children. I am happy with what I do and who I am now. I am trying to be a good person and trying to give that same gift to my students. I always want them to walk away from these sessions feeling like they know who they are and what they need to do…..just as this student “unexpectedly” did.

During the course of Yoga 1 I have learned a lot about Yoga and myself. I first realized I was completely tensed up. I could feel it after the first few classes, at first I thought about it being soreness but then it hit me that all the stress or things piling up in my life were just sitting in a different place in my body instead of my head. I wanted to get more into yoga to help relieve that stress but halfway through the semester, my car broke down, that was the point were I wanted to give up. Unfortunately, I did give up for a bit. I’m not so sure I’ve managed to pull myself completely out but I’ll get there. What this in overall aspects has taught me about my self is that I need better personal reflection; I need to create my own space and schedule. No more pushing things off till the last minute (except this paper).

What I intend to do is take these Yoga skills and use them more and more in my daily life. I really did enjoy this class, especially for a 9am class. It helped me wake up and be ready for the day. I would like to take Yoga 2 in the fall but if not I will take it again at UNCW when I transfer. I hope to use the breathing exercises and the restorative poses the most because I do need to find a way to calm down and I enjoyed the many different ways we could breathe. Woman doing lion pose (simhasana)However the Lion pose happens to be my favorite in general. Its quite hard to be in a bad mood and force yourself to cross your eyes and make a growling/breathing sounds. Although my attendance may not reflect it, I did feel as if this class helped me get through this semester. Yoga isn’t easy but while feeling that sense of vulnerability I felt safe. I felt as if I had any issues or anything I needed to express I could. The affirmation card assignment to remind ourselves of something was a great one. It forced me to break through a few walls of my own to discover what I know, what I need and now I don’t have to mindlessly search in hopes I’ll find it. It feels good to have a sense of direction come from a class you wouldn’t have expected.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

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Finding Strength – Guest Post

Yoga is not a religion and it’s a common misconception that it is. I fight that struggle on the regular….letting people know that they can find a way to practice yoga and still keep their chosen faith. When living in Texas a woman told me that yoga breathing was the way the Devil entered your body.

Living in North Carolina for the past 10 years has taught me that there is a lot of faith here. Sometimes that faith is misguided and sometimes it is misunderstood. My students are always expressing their faith in ways that surprise me. What hasn’t changed for me is the fact that yoga can be a perfect way to integrate your faith into every day action. And there’s no better example of that than determination and the strength that regular practice builds.

Taking a yoga class in college has been such a fun experience. It was definitely out of my comfort zone to take a class like this but I am glad that I did. At the beginning of the class I was really nervous, and worried that I would not be strong enough to complete some of the poses.

By the end of the semester I realized that yoga is not about doing the hardest poses, or doing perfect, but that it is about trying your best and challenging yourself. I have definitely challenged myself by taking this class, and trying something I never thought I would try. This class helped me realize that I am stronger than I think, and that perfection should not be my main goal. Yoga pushed me to try new things and have fun.

     Moving forward I would like to continue doing yoga for exercise and to build my strength. I would like to start doing some strengthening poses at home at least once a week to continue my practice. If I had the chance to take another yoga class I think I would, especially if I convinced friends to do it with me. I would definitely recommend yoga to anyone who wants to get stronger but does not know where to start. This class was great to take as a beginner, because it physically challenged me, but I did not feel like it was too advanced to where I was falling behind. Overall, this class was a great experience. It helped me to grow stronger and challenge myself by doing poses out of my comfort zone.

 

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

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Open to Options by Demiya Long – Guest Post

I love asking students at the beginning of the semester why they signed up for my class. Lots of times it is because it fit their schedule or it seemed like it would be easy. No matter the answer, all are welcome in my class and I approach the semester with the enthusiasm that I want to share the gift of yoga with them all.

At the end of the semester, those who stick with it are often surprised by how hard it was to learn yoga. Whether it be the mental aspect or the physical aspect. For many students it’s the only time they do yoga…in my class for 1 hour and 50 minutes a week. For others it’s a lifelong journey. And, for some, they’re still not sure when the semester ends…..

Taking yoga for the first time I I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I figured it would be a lot easier than the cycling or walking classes. I was assuming it would be a lot less work. To my surprise it was a lot more challenging than I’d thought. During the semester I’ve learned that yoga is not only physical but mental as well. A lot of mind and body connections are made through yoga. From the first class until now I’ve grown to appreciate yoga and understand that I can have multiple purposes and it’s not just a physical practice.

Although yoga was a bit more tedious than I would have liked it still taught me quite a few things. Yoga taught me how to breathe into different parts of my body. Yoga also taught me how to relax and meditate. Yoga has taught me how to focus on the important things and push out the extras. In the future I’m not sure if I will utilize yoga. it’s not my favorite form of exercise but it’s not the worst either.  I do work at the YMCA and I get to take any Fitness classes for free so I think I should try it a few more times before I give up.

 

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A Long and Patient Practice by Calssidy Matthews – Guest Post

Quite often my students are so much younger than me that they can bend and twist and hold postures in ways that I cannot. Some of this is because I cannot devote my total fitness practice to yoga due to the many other classes I teach and my own fitness goals. Some of this is because of youth and natural talent that I lack. Some of it is because of pure desire to be able to do something so amazing that students surprise even themselves in their abilities. This past spring I had a student who was also a parent; who had also suffered from physical injuries throughout a long and active lifestyle. Though he was strong and fit, yoga still had more to give him.

Calssidy in hand stand at the beach with his daughter.

In my journey through this semester, there have been times where stress was abundant and stress relievers were not. Taking yoga has been one of those stress relievers needed. I have been working out heavily as well as training for competitions throughout the semester, so needing something that will allow my body to grow maturely as a good commodity. Also, stress from the classes I was taking needed attention too.

During the yoga practices this semester, there were some moves that were difficult to execute and even harder to hold for an extended periods of time. So learning how my body can cope with something new like that was pretty neat. There were some moves that I had already known from the past, and it was great to relive those moves and see how my body maintained the memory of them. Overall I enjoyed the class and would like to continue my yoga journey over the course of my life.

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

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Training Plan Tuesday #10 – August 2019

Writing about my monthly training is helping me to stay focused on it. However, I was in Iowa last week where the weather was beautiful and I didn’t have access to internet, so no post then. And now it’s Wednesday and not Tuesday, so I’m not sure it’s keeping me consistent on the blog. Take a look at what I did and what happens next… Continue reading “Training Plan Tuesday #10 – August 2019”

A Unifying Practice by Ayerland Baker – Guest Post

One of the unique things about teaching where I do is that I have both a community college setting and a university setting in the same town. Many of my community college students are working on their gen ed classes before transferring over to the university. Occasionally that means that I get a student twice or their roommate or friend will be in my class at the opposing location. Sometimes they even have a different yoga instructor at the same time and the yoga becomes a shared experience. Here’s one such story from a student of mine:

 

When first signing up for yoga class at Cape Fear Community College, my initial viewpoint of yoga, before ever taking a yoga class, was that it was all simple stretching and positions that helped you relax. Though yoga does include these assumptions, I soon realized that yoga can be a sufficient workout as well. Not only did yoga begin to stretch my ligaments and muscles in a positive manner, but it created a workout that didn’t necessarily feel like a workout while participating. I would find myself forming sweat as we ran through flows and noticing tenderness and soreness in the days following my yoga class. I realized quickly that I enjoyed the process of yoga much better than I had enjoyed going to the gym or working out in the past. 

As the semester continued I noticed myself getting better at the positions we were practicing in class, able to stretch further, and enjoying myself more and more. While I attended a yoga class at my college, my roommate also was attending a yoga class at her college as well. We were able to use our own experiences in our own practices at home, as well as at local yoga studios where we both fell in love with hot yoga. I found that I could meditate and clear my mind a lot better in a professional yoga studio versus a classroom and that I enjoyed it even better than the class I was already attending and enjoying. Though the semester is coming to an end, I can now take the knowledge I’ve learned from this class and bring it into future classes and my future yoga practice in general.

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

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