I have now done 60 days straight of yoga every single morning and every single evening. Without fail. I have impressed myself as this sticking with it thing has been challenging sometimes. Some days I have barely any oomph. Some nights hubby and I stay out late with our friends. Sometimes I just don’t really wanna. Yet, I know how good my body and mind feel after and that it’s worth it-that *I* am worth it.
My “guru” is Adriene from Yoga with Adriene on You-Tube. Her and her blue healer dog-Bengi-show my dog-Dexter-and I how to yoga. Dexter is fantastic at downward-facing dog btw. I think dogs (I can’t speak on any other type of pet) find it relaxing when their humans do yoga. The calming energy that their humans radiate absolutely effects them and I think they like it.
Anyways, the barrier to entry of “getting into” yoga is low. You don’t actually *need* very much.
The biggest hurdle I think is showing up. Once you have done that? You got this!
What about what you may like to have to get started? Well, yeah there are some things that are simply nice to have. Props that make the practice easier or feel better. For example, I have my regular mat, a travel mat and travel bag, a yoga block, and yoga gloves that help me grip my mat a bit better. I also have silicone rings that replace my actual 3 rings I wear daily that I know for some yoga sessions will be beneficial and more comfortable.
There are also times when you can use a pillow or throw blanket, but again these things are not necessities. They add to and help augment the experience. Some people may find they need a chair due to their own mobility. I like that Adriene offers variants of many of the poses so that you can find what feels good for yourself at any given moment.
As for me? I started out doing what I have referred to as “intuitive yoga”.
After almost dying, my mobility was low and so was my vibration in the world. Very shallow, low, small. Not a strong life force if you will.
I selected yoga that focused on the neck and shoulders, the head, and the upper back. All the parts that were most connected directly with what I was having the worst issues with at the time. Slowly, but surely, I began to feel small incremental releases. I built the muscles back up again and before I knew it I was challenging myself to go a little further. Push a little bit more. Not only meeting my appropriate edge, but rather peeking over it and tip-toeing closer and closer to it until eventually I flew off the edge altogether for some of it.
Let me unpack that metaphor a bit.
The mind will give up before the body does. This was something that I learned as I went.
If I can allow myself to tune into where I am at any given moment, focus on my breath, and realize that I don’t have to react the same way to things as I used to, I can begin to not only witness those reactions, but I can work to control and even change them to a certain extent. This was revolutionary for me.
My biggest release happened during a vinyasa. (Vinyasa is a method of yoga in which movements form a flowing sequence in coordination with the breath.) I was doing a sequence in which I was rising up from cobra to plank, to down dog that then extended up to warrior. From the down dog into warrior I felt a literal break occur. My stiff/tight neck and shoulder released and I felt a surge of blood flow, energy, and wave of relief. I was healing and I knew it. I felt it. I celebrated. I cried with joy. I was on my way to my path of healing!
It felt so good.
My outer self also began to change. The way I present myself to the world changed. I switched from glasses to contacts. I am not saying that everyone that wears glasses is trying to hide, but I know for myself that I was.
I have also added white clothes to my wardrobe. This coming from a woman that used to have a wardrobe that consisted of all dark colors with maybe a splash of pink for fun. Like, I did not *do* bright colors and especially not white. Not when dark colors blend into the surroundings more.
“You can hide better. People won’t notice you as much this way,” I used to think.
Again, what was true for me is probably not true for you.
Heck, I even purchased a belly dance costume from the Renaissance Faire and showed off what is well known to be the most vulnerable area of the body that people instinctively hide and protect!
To heck with that, I am proud of my tummy! That is where deep breathing happens, digestion, your gut instincts…not to mention, but I will anyway, that 70% of your serotonin comes from your gut and that effects your mood! We shouldn’t be ashamed of our stomachs!
I began to tune into what my body was trying to tell me. If I woke up with a stiff lower back? Yoga that focused on helping the lower back was what I chose to do. I tuned in more to my body focusing on reconnecting my mind, body, heart, and soul.
All of these elements were put into place and beginning to come back together. I allowed myself to observe my thoughts as they came. I worked *with* my body instead of against it. I was finding a deeper spiritual connection to God as I was practicing.
The ironic thing to me is that I used to intermittently practice yoga and meditation when I was Buddhist. HOWEVER, I didn’t feel as deep of a spiritual connection. Life is funny that way! Having already practiced with both yoga and mediation that I had established throughout my life already, I was now solidifying and rooting that foundation in to create a deeper and more authentic experience for myself. I was becoming connected into the ultimate Source. I was thriving on the vine if you will.
I also noticed small changes in my personal life from this twice daily practice. Entirely too many to include all here, but I will touch upon a few that may resonate or help someone else reading this.
I healed emotionally. I became tuned into my emotions and realized that I can take up space. Emotions are total assets. I don’t need be afraid to feel and even show any emotions that are “bad”. I don’t need to hide the way I am feeling, worried that someone may interpret them incorrectly. Now of course there is a vast difference between speaking your truth and being unkind to someone. The point here is that I realized that I am worth showing up for. I am worth taking care of. My vibration got stronger. I have become much more empowered and have found my voice…which I will not use to hurt people, but rather to relate to them. I don’t need to conceal my feelings and repress them just because someone may not be happy that I’m sad for instance.I can sit with that feeling and uncover okay why am I feeling this way? Then I can sit with that feeling and not try to rush myself out of it.
A huge part of this for me is being naturally emphatic. Too much to the point of it not being healthy. I have only begun to learn how to feel out my own personal feelings over taking in and internalizing the feelings of those around me. It’s a long road to self-discovery friends!
I have also always been an introvert. I always will be, that’s how I recharge. The bad or negative thing in my own thoughts about this has always been that I had a difficult time expressing myself to others. Early on in life I was shown by several people that my words could and would be used against me. So much so that I learned to become more quiet. To not give an opinion. To keep my mouth shut. They can’t use my words against me if I don’t say anything. They can’t use my emotions against me if I have a poker face and they don’t see how I am being affected by what is going on around me. While this was effective and helped at the time, it became an ineffective pattern I hadn’t fully registered that I was repeating consistently as an adult that was no longer serving me and was instead hindering me. I needed to change up my pattern.
I don’t know that I would have come to realize that if not for my yoga practice. If not for God showing me that I was ready and receptive to knowing this about myself. It was a profound truth that once I saw that tendency in myself I was able to begin to work through.
Yoga teaches you to listen more than anything else.
You connect in deeper to your true self. Your essence.
I feel that some people may not be ready for that. It is a practice and it can be hard to do if you have repressed your emotions or have certain blockages built up over time that you don’t actually *want* to work through yet…or ever.
Yoga works if you are willing to.
I found myself able to take in and receive love on a different level. I radiated love out more and actively tried to convey this to others. This is not something that was always easy for me. My vibration changed. I could feel it.
While my nickname has been Sunshine for years, I think we are always hardest on ourselves. It isn’t always easy to *be* Sunshine all the time. Now if that isn’t a statement of self-awareness, I sure don’t know what is!
People are mirrors and reflect one another in many different ways. Tuning into this has also been something that came from my practice. I began to notice certain types of “archetypes” that have shown up in my life repeatedly over time and only just now have begun to unravel why. What am I not learning that I should have? Why do I draw this type of person to me? Why am I staying in this pattern? How can I break out? Some deep questions truly.
Being able to hit a challenging pose and actually stay with it and breathe through it and realize that “Hey I am doing it! I am stronger than I give myself credit for!” has been such a huge personal boost. When I was first able to hold crow pose? I was absolutely giddy! I couldn’t believe it!
Still, yoga isn’t really about the poses in and of themselves. It is about that connection, that challenge, that observation of the way in which you respond to change. The poses move you into a deeper connection with yourself and who you are…and who you are becoming.
Very recently, I completed a 30 day yoga challenge series called “Dedicate” which I had been doing in the morning, with intuitive yoga still my evening choice for the most part.
New muscles have developed recently for me from this practice. In my leg muscles especially, but also in my upper back and abs too. Does yoga help you gain muscle? Yes, it can! Is that my focus? No. That is just a fringe benefit to me.
The way I communicate I have found has also changed. Mostly I am noticing this with my husband, but also with my friends. I am filtering myself less and showcasing more of who I am as a person. It’s interesting. It is like in a lot of ways I am meeting my actual self for the first time. It is like I finally have allowed myself to be human. I let go of the idea of perfectionism many many years ago, yet I don’t think up until this year I actually allowed myself to be truly *me*. To be myself fully and apologetically. I am weird. I embrace that. I can be pretty normal sometimes. I embrace that too.
My husband has stated that I have been using a lot of “I” statements lately.
I know and I know exactly why!
It’s because I used to always default to what other people wanted. I didn’t let myself take up space. I didn’t voice my thoughts out loud, instead consciously or subconsciously choosing to internalize them; thus not allowing myself to be fully present with people. It was like I was trying to blend into the surroundings. A sort of “if you don’t really notice me then you can’t say anything against me” way of being which never actually worked out that way because I have had more than one friend tell me that when we first met they had thought I hated them. Many times not the case. I just wasn’t done becoming myself yet.
It’s sad to think that it took me almost dying to begin to LIVE my actual life and become awakened, but I needed that catalyst to push me into making a radical change in the way I was living.
Yoga not only helped to heal me; it helped to save me in pretty much all aspects of my life.
Mind, body, heart, and soul.