spiritual self-exploration through health, fitness, and nutrition

Archive for the ‘yoga’ Category

Attitude in My Practice and Daily Life

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I have been wanting to write on this topic for a few days now, but I couldn’t find the inspiration. Rule of thumb: want to be inspired? Go to a hot flow class. In San Diego. At Pilgrimage of the Heart. With Rachel Lubich 🙂

Rachel shared with us a story from her training immersion, and how the entire group was asked to give up one thing from midway through their training until completion. She chose “letting go of negative thoughts.” Then she welcomed us to set our intention to approaching our practice with a sense of curiosity and adventure, while leaving behind any negative thoughts.

This instantly put a smile on my face because I related to it instantly. Coming out to San Diego for teacher training was not just some spontaneous idea that I came up with one day. It was a process of wanting to go deeper within myself to explore or learn a part of myself that I didn’t know about before. I ventured to find what was within, and discovered way more than I expected–the kindness of complete strangers, and my own empathy and sensitivity to the suffering in others. I began to see more of the positive…in everything. Even through my darker hours and tears, I emerged more vibrant than a lotus flower at dawn.

My attitude has shifted drastically within a matter of six months. I’ve learned to accept selfless love and let go of selfish love. I’ve chosen to see the positive in all things and detoxify the negative. I attribute most (if not all) of this attitude shift to my increased frequency of practicing yoga and meditation, as well as the encouragement/support from my friends and family. I’m less critical of myself on and off the mat, and find myself finding inspiration all around me.

That said, I still have my “bad” days (we all do), but along with my improved attitude…I can view those days from a different perspective and not let them knock me over!

And for all of this…I am grateful 🙂

How Can I Teach Yoga Starting Today?

Throughout my years of growing up and education, I never pictured myself becoming a teacher. I didn’t think I had the right qualities. But this past year, I had an epiphany. I recognized my love for yoga deepen during a tough time in my life…and this inspiration was enough to lead me to the teacher training program in San Diego. With each workshop, class observation, class participation, I delve deeper into my inner self and my confidence to share this passion grows substantially.

I’ve found that it starts with baby steps. Teaching aloud as I do my home practice. Practice teaching with my fellow students and my mentor. Even visualizing myself teaching without actually saying anything aloud. These small scale practice teaches build a foundation of confidence that will help prepare me for my first full class (teacher training final) which I’ll teach on December 7th. I’ve also found myself offering some informal advice to friends and family with physical ailments…e.g. exercises to help strengthen the muscles around the knee or ankle joints. These small words of wisdom that I’ve learned through teacher training are already resonating within me, and I’m already sharing that wisdom with others.

So, it’s not really the question of “how” I can teach today. I’ve already explored methods without even realizing.

It’s the question of: what more can I do to inspire others? And that evolves each and every day 🙂

Weekend 1: Reflection and Reason

After completion of the first weekend of workshops, all I can say is…WOW 🙂

Inspiring. Intense. Informative. These are the words that come to my head when someone asks me how the first weekend went. I love Nikole’s style of teaching, allowing her students to learn by doing. With the huge volume of reading assignments, we can only learn so much from what text can offer. Actually seeing each pose, applying what we read, practicing teaching cues to one another, and learning how to make proper adjustments — that’s where the real learning takes place. By the end of each workshop, I was so mentally exhausted, I was asleep by 9PM! Monday was my off day where I didn’t do any studying or physical exercise…just watched some good ol’ Monday Night Football (GO EAGLES!).

Mentor selections are due this Friday. I’ve been taking as many classes as possible to meet the 13 available instructors and explore the various styles. I’m most drawn to the more advanced, athletic/heated styles with the occasional gentle class here and there. I really hope I get paired with one of the mentors I’ve selected (so far, I’ve connected with 2 incredible yoginis). Only time will tell, but I’m sure whoever I’m paired with will be an excellent match.

In my last post, I explored the reason I do yoga. So…why do I want to teach yoga? I want to share the benefits that yoga has shown me, and share that with others. Ideally, I’d want to help professional women of all ages escape from the stresses of their daily jobs, and help them seek relief from symptoms of anxiety and depression. That said…I’m really open to teaching any and everyone the joys that yoga can bring. My biggest challenge is getting over the mental barrier that I’m not a natural teacher. I’ve tried private tutoring English to foreign students, and casual swim/piano lessons to young kids here and there. But for some reason I never really got into it. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t passionate about what I was teaching. After six years of personal yoga practice, I can honestly say that I’m passionate about it and ready to share that enthusiasm with others.

On a final note, I studied underneath a beautiful tree in Balboa Park this afternoon. I periodically would look up from my book to absorb the material, to breathe deeply, and to take in the utter beauty of the world around me. With each breeze that swept through my hair, I felt more and more gratitude radiate throughout my entire being. Looking up for a moment, I noticed the branches of the tree dancing above me and snapped a quick picture. This summed up how I felt at that very moment, and thought I would share it with you.

Tree in Balboa Park, San Diego

Tree in Balboa Park, San Diego

Namaste ❤

 

The Beginning of an Era

This past year has been filled with many ups and downs. With the inevitable downs, I’ve consistently stepped out of my body to evaluate myself and what I want. Since 2005, the answers to my own questions have been the same — I want to travel and explore new places, perhaps living in a new area at some point and inviting new experiences. So with the many signs pointing to moving out of my comfort zone (including numerous failed short-term relationships and getting laid off at my job), I took the leap last week and crossed across the country to do my passion: YOGA.

Yoga has been a spiritually healing tool for me for the past 6 years, originally with the purpose of coping with a bout of depression and severe anxiety. With yoga, I found peace by letting go of the past, and I learned to love myself more and more each day. Many years of experimenting with various styles brought me back to the core practice of Hatha and flow yoga.

I found the most amazing studio and teacher training program, Pilgrimage of the Heart, located in the North Park and Normal Heights areas of sunny San Diego, California. From the moment I stepped foot in the studio, I immediately knew this was where I needed to be. After some meditation, I followed my heart and put down the deposit for Fall 2013 Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) led by the beautiful Nikole. One week later, I found myself sitting in a room surrounded by 3 teachers, 2 admins and 16 other students chanting the cosmic sound “Ohm”.

But this wasn’t just any “Ohm”. With the direction of the studio’s founder, we were all gazing with half open eyelids into the center of the room and I witnessed the circle of beautiful souls around me undulating…almost vibrating…to the voices and radiant energy around me. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life and so many emotions came up as a result: excitement, nervousness, hesitation, fear, ambition, calmness. The next day consisted of a 6-hour workshop where we broke down in meticulous detail the first half of Sun Salutation. Although the volume of information was overwhelming at first, I was constantly brought back to feelings of awe for the positive, supportive, non-judgmental energy around me. In fact, I kept stopping to reflect and count my blessings for this incredible opportunity!

So with the intro class and first full workshop day complete, I continue to bring myself back to my intention (which may or may not change while I embark on this  transformative journey):

Let go of the past, and make way for new and positive experiences.

Namaste ❤

Gaining Perspective

This has been a very interesting week. On Monday, I celebrated one year of maintaining my pescetarian diet! This was a huge milestone for me considering I’ve been a carnivore most of my life  (although I did go 6 years without red meat). I feel healthier, weigh less, and am at more peace with myself knowing that I’m doing my part in helping the environment and animal welfare. It was much easier than I thought it would be. I guess the only annoying part was having to explain to people what it meant to be a pescetarian. I usually kept my answers short and to the point, and moved on. I plan on continuing the diet going forward, perhaps with a little more leniancy.

Speaking of moving on, Monday was also a day I faced some serious personal issues when a HUGE road block came my way. I found myself reacting and defending myself at first, but slowly accepted that the road block was there and there was nothing I could do to change that. Tuesday, I evaluated the block and how I could get around it. By Wednesday, I retracted and found myself reacting again, so I went straight back to being present, loving myself, and accepting the situation on the best note I could leave it on. By Thursday – and after much reading of inspirational quotes and watching hilarious YouTube videos & late night TV(laughter really IS the best medicine!) – I was already seeing so much progress. This goes to show that PERSPECTIVE, OPTIMISM, and ACCEPTANCE can be such powerful tools. I’ve been blessed to have a solid head on my shoulders and while my emotions may get the best of me sometimes, my resilience always come through at the end of the day.  Yoga, great friends, a sense of humor, and my loving family helped me along the way, in their own individual ways. Today, I open myself up to new experiences and thank God for blessing me with another day to live.

How do you cope with the major road blocks in your life?

Adventure Runs and P90X

Adventure Mud Run

Adventure Runs are Gaining a Lot of Popularity in 2011!

Seems like a big fad for 2011 are these “adventure runs” which is basically like a running race with a twist. I completed the Warrior Dash a couple months ago; a 5k run including about a dozen obstacles, half of which involves gooey, sticky, smelly MUD. It was some of the most fun I’ve had in my life! Despite a sprained foot.

Last weekend, I tried Metro Dash which I honestly have to say was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life (apart from running 2 full marathons). It came down to me just not being prepared enough…but I’m also convinced that I wouldn’t have been able to finish it without my lovely team “Dash Divas” – 3 of my best, most athletic girlfriends! Although we started at a later wave time (5:30-6pm), the heat + 30 intense obstacles + hot parkign lot pavement really took a toll on my body and I experienced my first exercised-induced asthma episode. Literally could not breathe after I finished and had to take a seat and regain my composure. Nevertheless, I was happy to finish it and swore to myself I wouldn’t try anything like THAT again! (Note: mud runs are an exception. 😉 )

My jiu jitsu expert / hairdresser / great friend Chanel proposed that we try P90x together a couple weeks ago, and I hesitantly agreed. So she’s been coming over to my house every day at 7am so we can do the videos. The first few days were hard since I wasn’t in tip top shape… but I’m starting to really see results! Already shaved off an easy 4 lbs. She took some before pictures, which I’ll post along with my 30-day pictures in a few weeks. I already have a love/hate relationship with Tony 🙂 My goal is to look toned and feel amazing by the time I go to Dominican Republic for my 30th birthday in September.

In addition to all of this, finally found my motivation to get back to Bikram Yoga after a couple month hiatus. So, replacing the P90x yoga video with 90 minutes in the hot room, plus a few more times in the evenings the rest of the week.

Will give an update very, very soon!

Honoring a Legend with Ashtanga

Yesterday, I decided to try an Ashtanga yoga class at my gym for the first time. In fact, this was my first time ever stepping foot in Lifetime Fitness’ yoga studio and was pleasantly surprised by the tranquility and simplicity of the room. Our teacher, Jaime, started off the class on a sad note. With tears in her eyes, she shared with us that her yoga teacher, Larry Schultz, had just passed away. I felt her pain even though I did not know him (but have heard of him before). He was the founder of It’s Yoga and created Rocket Yoga, amongst other accomplishments. This is a great loss in the yoga community. We dedicated our practice to him last night.

Ashtanga was way more intense than I anticipated! Lots of holding difficult postures and breathing into them. Same principles as I had learned in Vinyasa and Bikram, but taking it to the next level. We started with a chant, followed by 3 om’s. The practice included many sun salutations to warm up (although it seemed a bit different than what I’m used to)…and much more fast-paced. I found it hard to keep up at times. After 90 minutes of balancing postures, twisting postures, and seating postures…I was thoroughly spent. Still feeling it in my abs, hips, and shoulders today! I will likely try this again if I’m looking for a challenge but don’t really see myself doing this style regularly.

10 days until my first race of the season!

Next in line: athletic yoga.  Stay tuned…

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