June 19

You Want me to Bend Like How?!

I thought I had done a pretty good job over the past while of getting to know and love myself on a deeper level. It’s always something that is a continuous process, but it was a few months ago that my journey of the self reached a new level.

A friend of mine suggested I try a Hot Yoga class. I had been going to the gym for a number of months, but I needed to break up my routine a little bit and find some kind of balance. Crunches, weight training, and cardio are one thing…

But yoga?! Really? Doesn’t that require me to be all bendy and shit in front of other people?

I’ll admit, I was feeling more confident with myself as a result of reaching some of my fitness goals… but when I stepped foot into that first class, I felt a wee bit vulnerable all over again.

It’s going to be full of super flexible people.
I can barely even touch my toes.

Downward dog? Vinyasa? WTF is that?
Balancing poses? I can barely stand on two feet, let alone one. 

Not to mention… Hot Yoga… where practice takes place in a room heated between 40 and 44 degrees. This should be interesting… considering I’ve been so lucky with inheriting my father’s sweat glands (seriously, the man sweats sitting still).

That wasn’t how it was at all.

Nevermind… it was… all that and more. But there were several things that I ‘thought’ it was about, and wasn’t at all…

It’s not a competition. It’s not about who can go all the way into a full Camel Pose (———–>) without feeling nauseous (not gonna lie, I almost puked the first time… and I didn’t even get a quarter of the way into it). It’s not about how flexible you are. And it’s certainly not about the veteran at the front of the class, or the newbie in the back corner. It’s not about the girl who’s LuLu Lemon shorts look better than my Walmart shorts. And it’s not about the dude with the hairy chest, either.

It’s about YOU.

It is one continuous flow of energy of individuals who are there for the exact same reason – self acceptance and self betterment.

When I first started practicing yoga, I had a number of ailments. Stress pain was one of them. Some days it was so prominent in my neck that my only solace was sleep. My wrists and hands were in chronic pain for months from working at a computer. Let’s not forget about anxiety. Some days I would feel so overwhelmed with everything I wanted to get done in a week, that I would end up only worrying and doing nothing at all.

The health benefits are one thing… but the lessons that derive from it, I’ve learned, are fundamental to every single aspect of life.

When you practice yoga, it becomes literally impossible to think about anything else but yourself. You become acutely aware of every single feeling taking place in your body… and you have no choice but to examine your own self.

I remember in once instance I arrived late, and one of the few spots left was one closest to the mirror.

Crap.

I had been coming long enough that I’ve gotten better at the poses… but in front of the mirror? Shit, now I am really going to have to ‘see’ myself. For the next 90 minutes, I had no choice but to stare into my own eyes. And I had no choice but to embrace every aspect of myself at that very moment.

When I saw myself falter, I had no choice but to stare it down, and improve upon it.

Not only does it teach self acceptance… but acceptance of the present moment. There is no past and there is no future. You do not think about the last pose you just did, or the next one coming up. Each one requires so much attention and focus that there is nothing but the present moment.

Then there is the balance, the patience, and the focus. I have never not had any of these… but only to a degree. Practicing yoga has brought them to another level… which have relayed into both my personal and professional life.  And yes, now I can stand on one foot, too.

There are also lessons in determination and persistence. Often times, you find yourself in a position where you think you can’t possibly reach any higher or go any further. But you do. It’s about embracing challenge.

And quite possibly one of my favorites… is the loss of all negativity… and an increasing ability to just ‘be’.  I’m not really sure how to explain this one… but I have found that any negative energy I’ve harbored in the past is gone. Yoga is a self awakening… and with that comes the ability to love, and the inability to judge.

The ‘single’ journey has been pretty rewarding for me… but adding this element has added to it more than words can explain. In fact, I think for the first time I’m lost for words… and that doesn’t happen often.

On that note… it’s true that everything must first come from within… but sometimes it takes more than just your own self to do so…

Huge thank you to the crew Hot Yoga on 20th.

 

 

June 10

Say Good Bye to the Yo-Yo

Part of being single for an extended period of time is the journey through self awareness and the analysis of the self that comes along with it. Some people do not focus on this, some do, and some go through a period of complete enlightenment.

I’ve always had a pretty good awareness of my own self – because really, I’ve hung out with that person a lot over the last few years.

It wasn’t so long ago, however, that despite my best efforts – I was uncomfortable with my physical self. I have always had battles with weight my entire life, yoyo-ing back and forth between the ‘skinny pants’ and the ‘fat pants’ .  I’ve never been excessively ‘large’, but I’ve also never been that super skinny chick at the beach, either. I don’t really want to be.

There was a point last year, however, where I found myself hitting an all time low (kind of an oxymoron I guess… more like an all time high)… and even my ‘fat pants’ didn’t fit. I had tipped the scale at 200lbs.. hitting a size 12-14 – which wasn’t much, but for me, my frame, height, and my own personal self – it was downright uncomfortable.

The number on the scale though is besides the point. I was not the best I could be and I wasn’t fully happy with myself. I was only happy ‘enough’. And what’s the fun in happy enough – when there can be more?

Someone once told me, that before you can begin to make changes you need to positively accept that which you currently have.

So I did.

I sat naked in front of the mirror and stared into my own eyes day after day until I could come to a place of acceptance. That being said, there is a difference between acceptance and being content. Contentment keeps you in the same place.

I had been so consumed with my outside surroundings and ‘things’ that we perceive as ‘home’ that I had forgotten about my real home. My own body.

When you really pay attention to it, it’s a pretty amazing thing. I decided that I would stop focusing on what I didn’t have in a negative fashion, and improve on what I did.

Dad’s legs? No problem. At least I have legs. If I didn’t, the treadmill might be tricky.  Too much belly? Nothing some cardio and crunches can’t fix.

Point is – at that very moment, I decided to make some permanent changes… as well as some attitude changes.

Screw this back and forth shit. If I am going to do something – I am going to do away with the excuses and JUST DO IT – and keep doing it. No matter how many different dwellings I find myself in over the course of my lifetime – my body is really the only one I’ll ever have, and if I am going to be living in it- I best be happy with it.

I found it disconcerting how many people forget about their bodies and spend tireless hours fixing their house or their car. Material things that really have no baring on whether or not you have life.

I adopted a pretty vigorous fitness schedule. Not quite drill-sergeant-ish, but enough to make some of my friends question what it would take for me to skip a fitness class.  I also never once called it a diet. Diet, to me, sounds like a chore.

The moment I decided to think differently about myself is when I started to notice change taking place. Over the course of a few months I dropped 3 sizes and soon enough found myself at a healthy size 8. That wasn’t a number I had seen in a few years.

The physical changes were nice, but it was what happened on the inside that got a make over. I had more energy, more determination, and pushing through the challenges and the discomfort allowed me to relay that to my personal life. Every work out started to feel better than the last and never felt like a chore –  I knew even though I was going to be able to fit that dress I wanted – I was changing what was on the inside.

Change begins in the mind, followed by action and commitment.

I would probably say yes to that second date… as long as it doesn’t interrupt with my Spin class.