Today marks my 60th class in my yoga teacher training. While there is a year deadline to complete all 60 classes, I wanted to witness what it was like to do the yoga thing, live the yoga life, so I committed my schedule with all things yoga, to see what doing the yoga thing would be like, and how it might change my mind, my body, and my spirit.
You would think that heated yoga in the summer would be the last place you would want to be, but for some reason, throughout this yoga journey, my body began craving that heated yoga room; there is something comforting and familiar about the enveloping heat that I found myself seeking (like, even if I didn’t make an actual yoga class, I somehow ended up at the steam room in the gym just so I can be wrapped in the heat). Physically, I never noticed how strong yoga made my body until I was taking 10 classes a week and went on a 4 mile backpacking trip and did not wake up with any sore muscles (I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to move). One thing I love about CorePower’s style is the dedication to building strength and flexibility at the same time. When you really do a pose correctly, you are not only tapping into your flexibility, but also building strength; something like a crescent lunge might stretch your hip flexors, but when done correctly, is also building strength in your thigh, your hamstrings, your arms; when holding Extended Side Angle, you are not only elongating your torso, but also strengthening your legs; a yoga body is lean, but a yoga body is strong. So, even though I was doing two plus yoga classes a day, my body never quite felt fatigued as I expected it to (I did learn, however, that if I was going to do three classes back to back, I would need to make sure I had a snack in between!)
In adopting the yoga lifestyle outside of class, I spent less time on my electronics, more time being conscious about the food I fueled my body with (thanks to The Elimination Cleanse), more time allowing myself to sleep. I think one of the draws of our electronics is fear of missing out–if I don’t catch that status update or read that article, I am going to be left out. I maybe turned on my computer five times this summer, and I can’t say that I felt I really missed out on anything; those e-mails, those status updates, and those articles were there for me when I was ready for them. This meant that I could spend more time reading, more time going to coffee with friends, more time in the great outdoors, and I found myself quite detached from my electronics in a refreshing way.
Yoga teacher training came at an interesting point in my life; for the last five years, I’ve been working full-time, coaching full-time, going to grad school full-time, watching my friends get married (which also feels full-time), on top of all the things it takes to be human. Around April, when I accepted my new job, I knew the Universe was calling me to stop being busy (and don’t worry–I tried to over extend myself and miraculously, for various reasons, everything fell through). When I tell people, “I’m not working this summer”, I sense a bit of judgement from them—that here they are, working hard all day, and here I am, just doing the yoga thing–laying around, watching Netflix and eating Oreos all day. At first, I was a little nervous that “doing nothing all summer” would inspire boredom, and that boredom would bring up some painful memories. But, the truth of the matter is, this time off has allowed me to recenter, to be available to others to watch their young ones while they have an appointment, to take the dog to the vet, to pick up extra tasks, spend more time with my family–and I have really tried to appreciate this time, because I know it won’t be like that forever.
In “my previous life”, because busyness often resulted in me getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night–which I thought was acceptable. At first, when there was no urgent place I had to be at, and I allowed myself to sleep a couple more hours, I felt unproductive and guilty–as if I should be doing something else with those extra hours of sleep, because I was so used to always being low on time. But, then I started noticing how much more alert my body was. My joints no longer ached, because they were able to fully decompress and recover at night. I no longer fell asleep the minute I sat on the couch, which allowed me to be more alert and spend more quality time with my loved ones. Books that I once shelved because they were “too confusing” to read suddenly now were enjoyable and readable. I no longer felt the need to scramble from one event to another, and was able to leave a little bit earlier for engagements, so I could sit a little more “peacefully” in traffic, because I was afforded extra time to get there.
As far as yoga philosophy, the one I’ve focused on during this journey has been self-awareness. One teacher once made the comment that, as yogi’s, we are so hyper aware of our bodies that we feel one little tinge in our toe, and we automatically think something must not be right–its so true. While one of the major principles of yoga is teaching self-awareness, I think the larger purpose behind self-awareness is to extend that self-awareness into the larger world, and to be conscious of how our energy and choices impacts those around us. In part because of the dismission of climate change and the Paris Deal, but also in adapting to this yoga philosophy, I’ve been finding myself paying attention, materially, to how my existence impacts the world–I’ve been trying to buy less stuff, recycle more, decline bags at the store. When I’m driving in traffic, I’ve been more conscious of how cutting into that lane might cause those behind me to slam on their brakes, thus causing more congestion to the traffic jam. As I’m hearing about all those harboring issues people face–divorce, health issues, relationship conflicts–I’m asking myself what the purpose of sharing that with others is (because, if it’s just to make myself feel better or to gossip, then that is extending negative energy into the world). In a world where so much of our happiness is dumped into material items, our attention is brought to negative rhetoric, our innate human traits broken, judgmental, competitive, I’ve been trying to figure out how I can release just a little more love from myself into the world.
And now, as I think about going back to work, I know the chaos will soon ensue, I’m grateful that I was allowed the opportunity to glimpse at what it would be like to do the yogi thing.