New Year, New Goals! Using Yoga As My ‘Tool’

New Year, New Goals! Using Yoga As My ‘Tool’

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I received many amazing presents for my birthday this year! I love them and can’t wait to use or wear all of them!

There seemed to be a certain element which everyone touched upon during my birthday… my birthday ‘theme’, if you will.

YOGA!

haha!! How funny are these ecards?!
haha!! How funny are these ecards?!

New yoga block.

New yoga strap – which is also a sling to carry my mat!

New yoga clothes.

And I get to pick out a yoga or meditation course that I want to take 🙂

Side note: I’m thinking a subscription to getsomeheadspace.com – I did the Take 10 series last December and LOVED it. Whenever I can’t fall asleep at night I turn it on and it helps calm me down. BUT if you have any suggestions let me know! I know there are many yoga sites out there that offer subscriptions – so let me know!!!!!

happinessToday as I’m attempting to draft goals to achieve before next September 21st, I can’t help but use the theme of yoga! I love to think of yoga as a universal tool for exploring the deeper aspects of body, mind & spirit. I read that description in a book before and it’s something that’s always stuck with me! Facing my 29th year of life I believe this is an excellent tool to help me continue on my path to health and wellness on ALL levels.

Back earlier in the year I wasn’t in the best place. I really had no motivation to change that either. I couldn’t put any weight on my leg so I got extremely tired using my crutches (still do!), my anxiety was off the charts, my relationships outside of my house were going downhill… fast. I can’t remember if it was my bone & joint doctor or if it was my psychiatrist who suggested ‘chair yoga’, but I really feel like that was a turning point for me.

Prior to my injuries I was working in Chattanooga, TN. Every Tuesday my friend Prerana and I would attend the $5 Community Class at Clearspring Yoga. Afterwards we always went across the parking lot and ate dinner at our favorite mexican place, Taco Mamacita’s. (mmmm Prerana! I’m totallllllly craving mexican chopped salad and chicken tortilla soup yummmmmmmmm)

Anyways, this yoga class was ah.maz.ing. The studio is adorable. Our teacher, Maggie, was so inspiring, insightful and motivating. I’ve never had a yoga teacher quite like her. She always had a well thought out class that left you wanting more… the kind of teacher that made me want to wake up early before work and complete my own asana practice. Whenever we had too much work to complete and couldn’t make it we’d be so upset. It really was our chance to unwind and get back in touch with ourselves during the week. There are many lessons I’ve taken from her classes and have incorporated into my own practice.

Yoga on the beach at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas August 2010
Yoga on the beach at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas August 2010

During this time Brad and I were on an excercise/health kick as well. Every week we’d weigh in and whoever was the loser (aka didn’t lose weight or gained weight) had to pay $50 into our ‘travel fund’. Saturday mornings we’d wake up, head to the gym and go out for a nice, healthy brunch. Sundays we’d try to make it to the gym, but it would just depend on what we did the night before. I loved our routine. We were both feeling great, we both pushed each other and we both supported each other.

After having such an active routine in place it was hard to go to a completely sedentary lifestyle. From June to November 2012 I was in physical therapy 2-3 times a week so I had some semblance of a physical routine… but after December that completely changed. Just lying in bed was so depressing to me. I missed my routine and my hobbies! I felt all my hard work flying out the window. Ice cream and chocolate became comfort to me. Longing for the days when I practiced yoga, I’d spend all day moving very minimally.

When I heard the term ‘chair yoga’ it took me a second to figure out what they were talking about. Of course! Why hadn’t I ever thought of it? It was an easy way to start to rebuild my leg muscles and to rebuild myself!

I didn’t know where to begin. My only experience had been with my mat. I wasn’t a yoga teacher – hell I was/am a yoga novice! The year before I fell in love (workout love <3) with Cassey Ho and her Blogilates videos. I figured there must be chair yoga videos on youtube. So after searching for them I put together a ‘Gentle Yoga’ playlist that I used to start my yoga practice back up.

I started with yoga sequences in my chair, then I moved to seated floor sequences and slowly I tested the waters with standing sequences. It took me about 2-3 months until I was able to move completely away from the chair/seated yoga, but it got me into a routine! One of the greatest props I found were pads that strapped below my knees and took the pressure when I knelt. This opened up even more poses for me! I purchased them at Dicks, but you can order them here on amazon! Stick-e Knee and Wrist Saver (Blue)

 

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A sneaky picture my mom took of me during one of my practices! Ahhh that’s a great stretch right there- laying on a bolster and opening up your chest. I can feel my heart opening up just thinking about it!

When I started it was still pretty cold out so I would practice in my basement. Then as the weather began to warm up I turned under our deck into my yoga studio. I’d wake up everyday and practice. If I didn’t get my yoga in I felt thrown off for the whole day. The mind body connection really began to help my spirits and it began to get me thinking of doing other things! I found out about a yogafest that would be going on at the end of July in Pittsburgh and I wanted to go and participate so badly! My fear was that I wouldn’t be able to keep up in a big yoga class. In my own practice I could take my time and readjust to what I could do. I decided to make it a goal to participate and be able to keep up at Yogafest. Over the next few weeks I worked and worked, trying to build my muscles up, clearing my mind and building up my confidence. I wish I could say that I made it to that Yogafest and kicked butt, but truth is I didn’t end up going. The weeks prior my knee swelled and I had to back down a bit on my yoga practice. I was bummed out that I didn’t get to attend, but I was NOT taking the chance of heading backwards just to attend a yoga class.

I haven’t been able to practice since I got back from my vacation in August and I really have the yoga itch! In August I had to have a patch of skin removed because it was the beginning stage of melanoma. Because it’s in an area that could split open easily, my doctor told me I had to wait 6 weeks before I could practice again. Even though it’s feeling really good I’d rather play it safe then have the wound open up. If that were the case I’d have to go back off all my arthritis meds again and start over from square one. No thanks.

I’m planning a big return to yoga. After I get back into the groove I want to start exploring studios in the area to find teachers and studios that I align with. I’ve been renting yoga books from the library and I’d love to take a teacher training to learn all the ins and outs. There are so many valuable lessons that yoga can teach and I know I’ve just scratched the tip of the ice burg. I’m so excited to continue my yoga knowledge journey!

Yoga isn’t just about the physical practice (Asana), but also yama, niyama, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi… but I’m sure you knew that- right? 😉

My goals will include physical practice of yoga, but I also want to include goals related to self-control, compassion and love (examples of Yama), positive personal views (example of Niyama), breathing control, focus and concentration (Pranayama, Dharana and Dhyana) and definitely working towards ecstasy and pure bliss (Samadhi).

Any yogi’s out there? I’m having a hard time putting pratyahara into practice in my life. Any advice??

Using yoga as my roadmap for my 29th year there’s no way it won’t be an amazing year!

Know of a great yoga website? Have an awesome yoga playlist that you’d like to share? Spread your yoga insights and leave some comments or info on the forum!!

Wishing you a pain free day!

Namaste 🙂

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