How Yoga Saved Me

It’s international yoga day, and I shall celebrate by writing about my yoga journey because it has been on my mind a lot lately. I found yoga after graduating college at a local 24 hour fitness after moving home. I believe this was my first experience to yoga and I would go pretty frequently. I loved the mind-body connection that I found in the practice. However, the classes no longer challenged me, so I took a little bit of a break.

Then, I got my second introduction to yoga when I was working near Santa Monica because my coworker and I decided to join a nearby studio off groupon. It was an awesome way to beat traffic and reinvigorated my desire to practice. This studio was filled with some pretty serious practitioners and I remember the first class I went to was packed mat to mat. I was apprehensive because it felt like we were in somebody’s attic, but as we got to flow breath to movement, I felt better. This studio did not have mirrors and it helped tremendously with tuning into our own bodies without comparing ourselves to others. To this day, this is still one of my favorite studios, but I had long since quit that job. The studio ended up moving a city over and I would still go once a week on the weekends, but life hit and my momentum stopped.

In tandem with my experience at the windowless studio, my boyfriend (now husband) knew I enjoyed yoga, so he asked if I wanted to join him for a free class at a studio his friend taught at. Thus, began my serious love for heated power yoga and yoga sculpt. I used up that free week like candy and at my second sculpt class was seriously considering getting into teacher training. I enjoyed it so much so, that I am actually doing it at three years later! But in between I’ve dabbled in Bikram and Ashtanga. Not enough to become an expert, but just enough to understand the basic postures.

I went on a tangent just now to explain how I got into yoga, but my point is: Yoga has meant a lot to me these past few years. In my teacher credential program, we had a class that asked us to share five things about ourselves in a paper bag and one of the things I made was a miniature yoga mat, to which I said “Yoga saved my life”.  It literally shifted my mindset and helped me get by when I had to move home after college. After years of very negative mental conditioning, yoga became a tool to battle that with positive affirmations. I still have days where I get very down on myself and my friends anxiety and depression come up to challenge me. However, yoga puts all of that in check by making sure I tune into myself and find ways to arise through the challenges.

I used to drive and yell at every car, yoga has helped me keep my mind at peace and allowed me to focus on the present. I used to feel badly if I couldn’t do something and give up, yoga has given me the power of growth mindset and to push through without judging myself or others. I used to compare myself to others in a way that pushed myself further away from my goals, now I am inspired by other people’s accomplishments as I work individually on my own goals. It has saved me from perpetuating a pattern and cycle of anger, narcissism, and negativity that surrounded my childhood.

I am humbled by yoga constantly and in awe of it all at the same time. I have cried during Savasana and laughed out of joy in my Down Dogs. I have days where I drag my feet on the mat and days where I feel like I’m light as a feather. I know for a fact that after 8 years of on and off practicing and even just a few days break in between consistent practice, I have SO much room to grow and to stretch. I no longer feel “unchallenged” like I did when I began and I’m finding new depths within my body as well as my mind. I have many goals that I want to work towards with my practice, but once I get on my mat, most days that goal is to bring my head closer to my shins in forward fold. I have always been that child that needs to practice things a ton of times before I feel confident enough to go further, and so I nurture that inner child. Yoga helps me to absorb my feelings and digest them as slowly or quickly as my mind and body allow. It’s really a beautiful thing and I am so grateful to be able to do it as often as I do.

That is all. Namaste :).

 

Holy Yogi

This post is a little long overdue, but I’ve been so much enjoying the process, that I haven’t had the time to share it with the anonymous cyberworld. I started Yoga teacher training on May 12th and since then have attended 22 Yoga Classes (sometimes twice/ day). I started out slowly, by doing a few HIIT workouts and incorporating yoga, but now I am going to class almost everyday and because the changes I’m feeling mentally and physically are incredible and familiar (to when I used to go consistently).

Now, this yoga training would be considered by most serious yogis, probably not yoga at all. But the good thing about yoga, is that judgment is discouraged (or at least that is what I believe to be true). I have been wanting to learn to teach this format of a class ever since I discovered it in 2014. But, the timing was never right. Even now, the timing isn’t exactly, perfect, but something that I’ve learned about life is that there is no perfect timing. As long as there is a crack in the door, it’s prime time to walk through it. Yes, I’ve struggled with a schedule change, closing out the school year paperwork, marital issues, general life stuff. However, I am incredibly happy that I decided to do this because I love the yogi mindset.

The reasons why this is appealing to me varies on so many different personal levels, but here are two:

1. I wanted to be an expert in something I have a hobby in. Because I love so many things, I tend to only touch the surface of many things. Yoga is something that always humbles me and at the same time allows me to grow.

2. Embraces a quiet mind. I have lots of thoughts and have a hard time quieting my mind. Yoga is like a brain massage for me that I need to definitely keep stable and happy. As I go through the practice regularly, I feel more willing to take healthy risks. I also am less negative about myself and others.

I started out uncertain if I want to teach it, but I definitely want to stay as involved in the community I’ve found as much as I can. Working on this new skill has been a powerful experience because it pushes me to step out of my shell. I have a hard time feeling confident when I am speaking to a group of adults. Doing this definitely pushes me to become more comfortable with my personality. I love encouraging other people, but am always scared I will come off as condescending, so this overall is creating more comfort in my overall self. I’ve already noticed a change even in how I treat my students and my daily mentality. The positive people I’ve met have definitely inspired me to continue to cultivate a positive mindset and kick out the negative white noise. Additionally, it’s made me more weary of competitiveness in other people and has given me more space to embrace others. I feel like, back to my social media post, it also makes me want to focus on my present world as opposed to the exterior world. But, this is a struggle I go between with wanting to connect through sharing things I see and seeing negative posts where people complain about trivial things. I guess as long as the intention is positive, I can focus on whatever I want as long as I’m present.

Lastly, I restarted my Whole30 a week ago….I have a sugar demon and I guess it’s hard to tame.

Compassion and Friendships

Recently, I started to go back to meditation classes from my wedding planning frenzy hiatus. The topic last week was about compassion and extending compassion to strangers and enemies. Of course it is easy to be compassionate towards our friends and loved ones, but in this class our teacher shed light on treating everyone like a friend. This idea of opening up friendships and not creating tiers for people in our lives has been at the forefront of my mind for a while now. I have been thinking a lot about friendships over the years and how the older I get, the more my friendships evolve. I think when I was younger, I would tier my friends out, now I really genuinely feel like I can have strong feelings of kinship towards people I just met. In addition to these thoughts, for the past year I have been asking myself, “How do I create more meaningful connections to people?” in conjunction with “How do I distance myself from toxic people?”

I’ve learned, the answer to that question is to treat everyone with compassion and an openness that you normally would a friend. It’s obvious that by treating strangers or even coworkers with a little extra kindness will give everyone feel-good feelings. This week, I’ve been working on asking other people about themselves and sharing more about myself to create an openness that I am normally too shy to.

So, how does that help me with toxic people? Well, I’ve learned toxic people react to people’s kindness in two ways. Most toxic people do not like other people’s’ happiness and generally like to complain about other people. So, the more I treat these individuals with the hopes that they reach a sense of contentedness and inner peace (happiness), the more they distance themselves from any real progress from that happiness. The second way they respond (which is ideal), is they see the light and make small changes towards happiness. So, either way I am fighting negativity with positivity and in a sense, positivity wins in both situations.

I find the more time I create opportunities to create a meaningful relationship with myself, the more meaningful my relationships with others has become. I’ll keep updating as meditation class thoughts come up. I also should post about my trip to Bali soon.