Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 34

It's been a fantastic couple weeks since I wrote in here. I haven't been reflecting as much as just doing yoga lately and a bit more emphasis has been placed on the physical practice recently. I think it may be time to step back and ground myself with reminders of why I am enjoying this practice so much and how it is becoming a vital part of my life. I think an eye opener to this was last week when work wasn't going too well and I had a minor stress break down. I thought to myself what have I learned and how can I apply this here. Using simple meditations I've read I did take some time to breathe and was able to recognize my emotions. I still felt them out and tried to deal with them the best I can. I still don't have a full handle on my emotions and this is where my yoga comes into play. In the meditation book i have been reading by Thich Nhat Hanh he states that we should only feel and acknowledge strong emotions such as anger and frustration for 5 min before moving on and approaching our tough situations with a smile. He says that eventually we should all be looking at these situations with a sense of readiness to take on the challenge and embrace it rather than dreading it.

I have also been reading about the chakras and how they can be blocked sometimes. I would like to get some energy work done in the near future to see where I can work to try and give my life a bit more balance. I find the yoga classes I enjoy the most are the ones that focus on letting our energy flow and sending it to places where it is needed. Internal and external energy has always been fascinating to me and I am thankful that I have finally found an outlet to explore these things.

This week has been a good reminder of all the things I have been learning over the past 34 days. On Monday I signed up for a hot flow with Robyn which Nena ended up teaching since Robyn had someone to attend to. This was a good reminder that things in life do change unexpectedly and that is not always a bad thing. The classes Nena taught were great! She really works you physically but still tries to bring in mindfulness to the practice at the same time. I learned a new arm balance to practice and after the hatha class I felt like a little puddle of yoga heaven as I headed home for the evening. Tuesday night I went to Robyn's hot flow where she introduced February with focus on heart opening throughout the month. Robyn stated that we are all precious and we need to show compassion for one another. I will try to work this into my life. I feel like I am often fairly compassionate towards others but, not as much when it comes to myself. I often beat myself up for things I feel I could have done better or when I make mistakes. I am working on becoming more aware of these times when I am too hard on myself and letting that go a bit. Working towards standing up for my beliefs and speaking up for myself is another means of compassion I need give myself. When I don't speak up I am really devaluing my opinions and showing little respect for myself.

I also would like to send lots of love and compassion out to my friends and family who have been such inspirations in my life. I think I am very fortunate to have such great people around who I respect and love. Everyone one in my life has something great to offer and I should be thankful for that everyday.

....Well I guess that's enough sentiments for today.....

"When you hold your heart with the energy of mindfulness, your heart is comforted. You have neglected your heart for a long time. You think only of other things. You run after these things that you believe to be the true conditions of your happiness while you forget your heart"
- Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 23- This challenge is flying by!

I can believe how fast the time has gone. Incorporating an hour or two of yoga into my day everyday has not been as hard as I had suspected. I think for the last few weeks of this challenge my real challenge will be not to check my phone until I leave the studio I am at. Learning to let go. My phone is one thing I really want to let go.

The passed week has been really amazing. I have been reading my borrowed book on chakras and kundilini which is very fascinating. I am trying to incorporate some of these thoughts into my practice and set an intention to work on my energy when I can. I still have a lot to learn and may actually get reiki done at some point. I enjoyed a variety of practices this week. I'd say this has been the most diverse week I've had. I went to astanga at the yoga center, blue moon, a couple moksha classes, flow 2 (1st time), and an open flow at source. My greatest accomplishment this week in my practice was doing camel for the first time!! In flow 2 Robyn got us to go into partners to do our back bends and work on opening up our chest. The visual she gave of shining energy out of us really helped to get my energy flowing and such a nice focus for the practice. Being with a partner (Lisa) definitely boosted my confidence to try and accomplish a deeper expression of camel pose than I usually do. I felt safe to reach for my ankles and knew that someone would be there for support if needed. Small confession (I've been doing camel at home when I can.. just to make sure I can do it on my own.. so far I've done it every time... ha ) The class at source on Friday was a nice completion to this. We did a lot of core and spine strengthening as well. Leanne has a very fluid way of practice. She got us to finish off the practice with the incredible chest stretch. (Ironically I was just asking Robyn the night before about a good chest stretch). We used bolsters behind heads and blocks to prop up our backs so we could really stretch out our front side. Carolyn and I were both in the class and we felt like we were on a completely different planet afterwards. Meeting our friend for Spicy Noodle House soup after the class was quite the experience. ha ha.

We all need people to help accomplish goals in our life. It's really interesting to think how we let the ego of being an 'independent adult' get in the way of asking for help and support at times till we are able to do it on our own. This experience I had this week reminded me of being a kid learning to ride a bicycle. Your parents hold onto the side of the bike while you go than all of a sudden they let go. You are doing it on your own! The impossible thing that you were so scared to do're actually doing it! We all just need a bit of support at times from our friends, family and community.

I am really enjoying being a part of this yoga challenge, sharing with my good friends and meeting lots of great new people.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 18!


I've had a lack of computer access recently at home which has prevented me from updating my blog here. I won't recap every day for the last 10 days but I do have to say that I have really been learning so much as I travel through this challenge. I am not bored or sick of it yet as every class I enter has something to offer and every day I get a mini vacation from my life which I didn't realize how important that was till now. I am learning to live my practice off the mat and have found myself approaching life with a clearer head and being able to keep calm in stressful situations. My appreciation for everything and everyone in my life conintues to grow. I still have days of swearing when I stub my toe or complaining about the annoying driver is front of me who is going 40km in a 60km zone but, I will say that I am more aware of those times and realizing that it is okay to feel than let it go. Move on. I have found things that I like and don't like about studios, teachers and styles of practice. One of my close friends read this blog the other day and commented on how good she thought this was for me and how I seem more grounded and focused recently. Coming from a non-yogi or I'd almost say an anti-yogi.. ha.. this was quite the compliment!

Again I won't bore anyone with the minute details of my practice.. That is what my written journal is for. I will share abit about the last few days though.

On Saturday I went for a skate instead of yoga.. I showed up for the noon moksha class not really feeling up to it but forced myself. I arrived and the donald studio was a bit overwhelming. It was busy and the class was full. Than I started to venture over to the waverly studio but halfway there thought.. I really am not feeling up for this, maybe the full class was a sign... I also told myself that I wouldn't feel guilty missing a day. I would like to try my best to complete the 100 DAY yoga challenge and not 100 CLASS challenge but a break is always nice. The skate was great and with the weather so nice I felt like I made a good choice. There were alot of people out at the Forks but, skating on the river was very peaceful.

Sunday was the Ted Grand Posture workshop at Moksha. It was really good to get feedback on postures. The classes are often so large that as a student I don't get adjustments as much as I'd like so it was a good way to learn how the postures are broken down. Ted started by giving the three main elements to the Moksha practice: Breathe, Containment and Expression. Thinking of these things will help me work through my postures. He also spent alot of time focusing on the importance of broadening your shoulders and not pulling them back (which I'm sure I do). One of my favorite poses is eagle pose and I'm so glad we went through this one as well. I realized that I was often tucking my tailbone under instead of just extending my spine down. Ted also mentioned how important it is to come back to a beginner's mind which I remember Ryann stating in one of her classes and this idea has stuck with me. I think this is extremely important in all facets of life and not just yoga. If I did not start from the beginning when I make a mistake, start a new task, or just look at something old with fresh eyes how would I complete or change anything?

This morning I went to Blue Moon. Amanda's focus for her class was on prana (energy). We did our sun salutations and was very aware of where our energy was flowing and where it was not throughout the practice. I definitely find my lower back to need alot more energy than other parts of my body. It will get sore and my curvature does not help. I have to continue to work on building up the core to help alleviate some of the stress on it. At the end of the class we went through the chakras and bringing our energy from the practice through all of them. I spoke with Amanda at the end of the class and borrowed a book from her on Kudilini and Chakras which I am thrilled to start reading. Energy is so important and I want to learn more about how I can work with mine effectively. I felt really satisfied when I got home. I started to read some of the book that was lent to me. With this challenge everyday I learn something new and discover how much yoga can be utilized as an outlet to ones well being overall.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 6 and 7- Day 6 since i started EE at Moksha I started to attend more classes but I still wanted to keep up with my other exercise routines. Wednesdays have been a great day for me to get a run in, in the morning and than a hatha class at the end of the day to restore my body. My work day was much better than yesterday and my mind was alot calmer when I got into the Moksha studio. It was a very slow relaxing class. Such a nice way to end my day. I stopped for a tea on the way home and read some of the book Colette leant me Living Your Yoga which is helping me to engage my yoga practice off the mat. I have been finding that having yoga regularly in my life is promoting healthier choices all around. In the last few weeks I've pretty quit smoking (I only smoked roughly 3 a day) and really am trying to engage in some healthier eating habits.
For day 7 I decided to go to another hot flow right after work. It was a very energizing class. I felt a lot calmer with this flow as I arrived half an hour early from work and had time to relax and lay in savasana for a solid 15 min or so before the class. In this class we did the full splits. Well..... we being not me.... but I tried... ha ha. This is definately not one of my favorite poses nor do I feel inclined to work towards a better split. This may just be because I am so far from reaching this position in it's full expression that I really have no interest. I still felt great afterwards and was ready for my evening. I had a great Korean dinner with my friend Phil who was glad that I was doing yoga and that it's been helping me make healthy choices but a bit dissaproving of my choice to quit smoking. Ha ha... what's that 'saying misery loves company...'

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 5- I woke up today pretty stoked for another class. I registered for the hot flow at 5:30 pm online. I've done one or two hot flows before and found them to be challenging and almost frustrating at times but the only way to learn is to practice. I am bound and determined to do crow pose and hold it for at least 3 breathes.

My day at work went by without any major issues until the last hour of the day. For whatever reason one of the guys I support decided to give me a bit of a rough time. I was pretty frustrated by the end of my shift. I had stayed roughly an extra15min and at this point I was ready to run from the house as fast as I could. Barely making it to the studio on time I was convinced that I could vinyasa my frustration out. The class flew by and with every vinyasa I really was breathing out my day. I felt a little more aggressive than I normally do in class. I almost wanted to do another practice afterwards, as the hot flow served strictly as a release and I felt ready to do a more mindful practice when it was over.

I did learn in class that crow pose comes more from ab strength than arm strength (this I'm sure is common knowledge to most but please keep in mind my newness to the practice) and with that in mind I managed to stay up for hmmm... maybe... a quarter of a sec... which was amazing! Being able to pause for a slight moment did make my day! Thanks Jill!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sally's 100 Day Yoga Challenge in More Than 100 Words

This challenge will be my first yoga challenge and I am pretty ecstatic about it! Some of my closest friends are joining me on the journey and I'm sure I'll meet some pretty great new people as well. I am still fairly new to yoga. I took my first class a couple years ago and have not made the time till now to completely submerge myself in it. I manage a group home for adults with disabilities which can be a stressful and an emotionally taxing job. In the last year I found I was often letting work outweigh time for myself. Starting to energy exchange at Moksha was the first step towards doing things for myself and working on enriching my own life as it gives me the freedom and motivation to practice more regularly. Once Colette told me about the 100 day challenge some of the staff and EE's were setting up I thought what a great way to really get involved and work towards a healthier lifestyle for the new year. On the mat, I find yoga gives me my own time and place to be freed of life's stresses while strengthening my body and to be honest I am just beginning to learn what it means to take my yoga off the mat. One of my own personal goals from this challenge is to embrace my practice off the mat.

Day 1- Source Yoga offered an open house and figured I'd check it out. I'd spent the day with a couple friends and we all went to the class together. It was an 'Open Flow'. The instructor was energetic and inspiring! For the New Year he asked 'What are you saying yes to?" as we dove into a warrior 3 pose. Which I couldn't resist responding with "a100 day yoga challenge!"

Day 2- No class. Car troubles and an EE shift at Donald. I felt a little bummed that it was only day 2 and i had already missed a day.

Day 3- I went back to Source in the morning to enjoy one of the last open house classes. 'Dancing Warrior.' It was a very free flowing class, lots of movement. The music was fantastic! who doesn't love mixing up a little James Brown or Xavier Rudd into a yoga class?

With all this energy from the warrior poses in the morning I decided to go to Moksha for the music class and the Hatha in the evening. There's something inherently beautiful about practicing yoga to live music. The energy in the room really seems to flow back and forth from the musicians to the yogi's. Presently I realize that I would like to work on my alignment. I put a block underneath me today in pigeon pose to see if that will help my hips from falling to one side as they tend to do.

The Hatha class was a nice finish to the day and special guests from Kendra's family was a wonderful surprise and absolutely adorable. Ryann speaking of that double edge sword today really hit home as I did feel a little at loss for missing day two's class.

Day 4- Today I almost went to Moksha's 9:30am class but thought the heat may be a little intense after yesterday's classes. So I went to Blue Moon's All Levels instead. Ironically the intention of the class was to find an equlibrium in your practice and in your life. Be kind to your body and don't push yourself too hard. The instructor got us to envision what that goal will look like and we used some warrior poses to gives us the energy to work towards our goal. The more I thought of balancing life the more I thought of how much searching I have done in the past while. Searching and searching for something to fulfill or satisfy my life. Even in Yoga I often find myself searching for the next position of the pose and always wanting to take it further. Striving for a goal is good but, it is also important to work within your parameters and master them first before you can move on to something new. People always say to 'think out of the box' it seems that we must be able to take ourselves fully out of the box first instead of just trying to grasp outside of it for something beyond our means. This will be something I need to practice doing.

Day 5-