spiritual self-exploration through health, fitness, and nutrition

Posts tagged ‘yoga’

Attitude in My Practice and Daily Life

Happy-Positive-Thinking-Day-Quotes-014-491x491-300x300

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 🙂

Image

A visual image for the heart and/or calm mind

A visual image for the heart and/or calm mind

I don’t usually draw but I was especially inspired last night. Plus I am behind on my journal entries! One a day from here on out, through the end of November 🙂

Detox Days 2 and 3

Day 2 was MUCH easier than the first day, mainly because I knew what to expect regarding my emotions and energy levels. I continued to keep it low key with physical activity, but increased my water intake which helped prevent headaches. I also cooked myself some delicious oven roasted chicken breast for my protein dinner (only meal of the day), which I chopped up and ate over a bed of lettuce. I rarely pray before eating, but this was definitely one of those times I spent at least a couple minutes in prayer and gratitude. Honoring one’s own body can sometimes be a difficult task, but yield excellent and rewarding results. My one annoying pimple cleared up overnight. I somehow felt more radiant. I even kept my willpower (and energy) up after being talked into going to a beautiful rooftop lounge in downtown San Diego with 3 girlfriends, stuck to soda water with lemon/lime…and had a blast 🙂

The last day was easiest of the three (but by no means easy), and found myself needing a protein bar midway through the day while I was in teacher training workshop. The juice was hard to down hourly, mostly because the only “flavor” I could really relate with was the lime. I finished the day with some chicken and a huge smile.

This weekend’s workshop was by far one of my favorites. Friday was Meditation I, Saturday was Anatomy I and Sequencing I, and Sunday was Philosophy I and II. On Sunday, I had a personal breakthrough in meditation where I learned to really connect with my inner, true self and put all my focus on one object/feeling. During lecture, I learned a lot about the Upanishads and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras which brought me much inspiration and I found myself reading a lot about non-attachment through the teachings of Pema Chodron. It’s now time for me to be thinking about the level and theme for my final class. Came up with a few initial ideas last night that I need to meditate on. Also saw this incredible TED Talk last night on body language and how it shapes who we are. It helped me realize that all this self-talk about how I’m not sure if I can be a good teacher…is just talk. I do belong in this program and I know I will succeed. Just need to “fake it til I make it” 🙂

Day 2 Detox Dinner

Out with the girls Friday night
Out with the girls Friday night

 

Weekend 2: Standing, Restorative, Pranayama

I know I’m a bit late on this one, but better late than never..! We’ve been on a 2-weekend hiatus that I mostly spent celebrating my birthday week with my incredible boyfriend who flew all the way from MD to spend time with me on our gorgeous oceanfront hotel room in Pacific Beach. We did everything from attending a Padres game, to hiking at Torrey Pines, to visiting the San Diego Zoo…not to mention ate at some delicious, exotic restaurants! Bonus: he attending yoga classes with me every morning. I’m a lucky lady 🙂

The second workshop weekend, while less physically intensive, was no less challenging than Weekend 1. We spent Saturday learning the first set of standing postures, and Sunday was restorative and Pranayama (breathing). The restorative class further affirmed my love for that style, and I am thrilled that my mentor, Jackie, specializes in restorative. Because we only had time to learn 3 restorative postures, I am inclined to get further training in this specific area after I’m done at Pilgrimage. Something for the future, perhaps? Restorative poses are a place of rest and inner calm, grounding, cooling and rejuvenation. These poses promote deep relaxation and letting go. They calm the mind/body/spirit, helping to relieve stress and fatigue. They also help relieve anxiety, depression, insomnia and headaches. 

On another note, who knew breathing technique would be so (for lack of a better word) complicatedUjjayi Pranayama is the foundation of proper yogic breathing. Ujjayi helps improve life force energy. It is said that life is measured by the number of breaths we take; thus, lengthening the breath will lengthen our life span. Ujjayi improves concentration and instills a meditative quality that maintains the rhythm of our personal practice. During our teacher-led Ujjayi exercises, I felt a bit of anxiety as a result of timing my inhales and exhales, but found this anxiety to quickly dissolve when I learned that half the class was experiencing the same thing! We were advised to stay in Stage 1 and practice that for up to 3 months until we were fully comfortable to progress to Stages 2 through 4.

Outside of workshops, I found myself embarking on a 14-day challenge (which I think I completed..? more on this later) and I FINALLY attended “yoga church” this past Sunday with Jen P. What an experience yoga church was! I was surrounded by some seasoned professionals, and while I found this to be inspiring, it was one of the most challenging classes I’ve ever taken. Even moreso than Bikram. I could try and explain what was involved–from drumming to chanting to writing our intentions down to add to an ‘altar’–but I could not do justice for what the actual experience was like. You just have to try it at least once 🙂

Headed to a meditation class in an hour, need it more than ever! Namaste ❤

 

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 ❤

Tag Cloud