Thursday, April 30, 2015

Take care of your self. Be willing to be uncomfortable.

I have been learning what each of these mean for myself for years.  I find that every day, each may have a different meaning.  For example, during week one of our studio's Springtime Weekly Adventure, to take a class or several throughout the week without drinking water during class, I took all but one class without water.  The first day was uncomfortable, not because I was thirsty, but because I found myself wanting water when I would usually drink it.  I didn't know what to do at party time when others were drinking and I was not.  Do I look around, do I stretch out a bit, or do I stand still?  On the day I chose to bring in water and drink throughout class, I did so because I was feeling a little run down from the day before and with not sleeping well, I felt I needed to support myself during my yoga practice and give my body some extra water to help with my recovery.  The first day without water was uncomfortable, but it was not a lack of taking care of myself self.  In fact, I found it to be a better way of taking care of myself by giving myself this mental challenge to work through. 

Week two of our Springtime Weekly Adventure encouraged students to wear a little less in the room. Shorts instead of capris.  Crop tops instead of tanks.  Form fitting clothing.  For the guys, we suggested no t-shirts. This gave an opportunity to once again go against our comfort level.  When we can see more, we can hold our selves more accountable.  When we can see our belly, we are more apt to" suck it in, hold it in and tighten it up."  We can also look at ourselves and see what we are avoiding, consider why we are avoiding and making an effort to change. 

During my high school years, when not in school or working at my dad's store as a cashier, I could be found in a bikini basking in the sun in late spring and all of the summer.  These days, I wear only what will cover my belly and I knew I must take the plunge and wear a crop top in the hot room.  I pulled one out of a secret stash I had of what I would wear one day, but hadn't yet.  I quietly walked into the room and took my place on my mat.  I looked at myself standing in front of those mirrors.  To my surprise, one of my first thoughts was, "Wow, look how strong I've become."  I could see in the mirror the strength of my core muscles and it was a delightful measurement of some of the physical benefits I have gained through my practice.  I then started thinking about all of the internal benefits that I have received that couldn't be seen as well as mental and emotional.  I reflected on how I had handled a situation earlier in the week with more grace than I would have in earlier days.  I smiled at myself and gave myself a mental pat on the back. 

And then it happened.  I bent forward for standing head to knee and saw my loose belly, even with it sucked in and the stretch marks.  The feeling that washed over me took me by surprise, as thoughts that started to fill my head sounded pretty harsh.  I started to panic, wondering if I was going to beat myself up throughout the entire class.  I asked myself,  "How am I going to encourage people to step out of their comfort and learn to take care of themselves if I am going to beat myself up when out of my comfort."  I decided instead that there was no way I was going to go through this class feeling defeated.  Second set standing head to knee pose, I bent forward, looked at my belly and this time I thought of why I had the stretch marks.  Because I have two kids that I adore.  They make me a better person, they help me to want better for myself so I can give more of that better person to them.  They make me laugh every day.  They recognize my accomplishments as I do theirs.  They frustrate me plenty of times as I do them.  They take their hard day out on me sometimes.  And I do on them.  We laugh a lot, say sorry often and learn much from each other. 

Coming out of standing head to knee, I look again at myself in the mirror. I move my glance down to my belly and realize I am not perfect, in the sense that everything is sculpted and controlled as sometimes I wish.  Instead I realize I am perfect in this moment because I have just learned how to make a choice in my thinking.  By putting myself in an uncomfortable situation, things showed up where I made the decision to take care of myself, to be real with myself and to treat myself in a way that I would expect to treat any other person. 

I am over 50 days into my 100 days of yoga.  Overall, it has been enjoyable and somewhat easy.  It has been great to share in these weekly adventures with so many of you during this time.  This week, I practiced at the 6 am class on Monday morning, something I do not often get to do.  By the end of the day, I had hit a wall with my attitude about my yoga practice.  Instead of feeling like I am still gaining, I felt as if I am starting to have to give up too much.   I am unsure, in this moment, which is true. But at the end of my practice tonight, I felt amazing.  I came home in a great mood, sat down to finish writing my note to you and am thinking I will continue to take care of myself by continuing on with my 100 days of yoga. 

Thank You for showing up and for working hard for your selves and will all of us in that room. 

We have some great things happening this month at the studio.  Mark your calendars and be sure to join us!!! You are what makes our studio the best!!! 


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Celebrating 11 Years

This March marked the celebration of 11 years as a Bikram Yoga teacher. I was reflecting on what brought me into the hot room for my first Bikram class that eventually led me to where I am today. 
Most Bikram Yoga practitioners can recall their very first class, with great detail: who the teacher was, where they had their mat, how they felt before, during and after class.  I remember nothing about my first class.  What I do remember about my first days is what brought me into the yoga room and what I received from my practice. 

 I picked up running during college, after putting on the infamous freshman fifteen.  I continued running throughout my adult years and after having my children, I started racing locally, including a few half marathons and two full marathons.  I found running to be an easy out the door and onto the street exercise that also relieved stress for me.  Often I would run with a double baby jogger.   Eventually, this caused an overuse injury to my knee and I was unable to run even a block.  A colleague of my husbands suggested Bikram Yoga to help with my injury and I thought,  "Why not."  I found positive results almost immediately.  It was not long before I was running my regular miles with yoga filling in the gaps to keep my knee strong.  But after a few months, my yoga became regular and the running was filling in the gaps.  I was finding my body to feel better and also I was handling my stress much better. 

My decision to go to teacher training had no logic to it.  In fact, it didn't make sense to me at all at the time, for many reasons.  But, I just had the desire to go and everything lined up beautifully for that to happen. Most people at training had been practicing for years and on a daily basis.  I had been practicing only five months and just few times a week.  It was what I was willing to commit to at the time with having two young children and I felt that I was getting the benefits I needed.  Once back from training, I maintained a three times a week practice and added teaching to my schedule.  I did do challenges every now and again, but always found that going back afterwards to three times a week worked best for my schedule and the balance in my life. 

 There have been times when I had taken a few weeks off for my practice.  There have been times when I practiced 4-5 times a week for an extended period of time. There have been times when I have practiced while on vacation and others times not.  But, after 11 ½ years of practice, it is still remarkable to me the benefits I still receive from the time I spend in that room.  I can see the long term effects that this practice has served me.  I have become a person I like a lot. 

I am now into my forth week of 100 days of yoga.  I went into this thinking much like I did when I considered going to training; that it was crazy and how do I have the time for it and can my body actually do it.  But I feel amazing.  I feel incredible.  My body feels strong, my mind is very clear. I am finding that outside of the yoga room, I am making decisions that promote better health as well.  I have been a lover of sugar for as long as I can remember.  I can easily fill my day with more sweets than nutritional food.  I cut that back considerably a couple weeks in to my 100 days and it seems to contributing to the benefits of my daily yoga practice.  I am excited to see my progress over the next sixty plus days and where this particular commitment takes me.