December Yoga Experience: Day 15

Tonight, my friend Angelina and I went to Kimberly’s class at Inner Bliss. The studio was buzzing with conversations–a good sign of the friendly atmosphere and shared passions. Kimberly had us begin on our stomachs and asked us to quiet the chatter in our minds. I really enjoy taking some time to meditate before beginning movement. It’s a nice way to transition from the outside world to the inside.

As we flowed, I started to notice the difference in my body. After doing many of the same poses for two weeks, they started to feel easier, stronger, lighter, and brighter. Then, we came into Goddess pose. Ouch! Hips, screaming. Knees, begging. Heart, struggling to see the light. I wanted to back out but I stayed in it, and as we stretched up, folded down and came back into Goddess again, it didn’t feel as bad. And by the third time, it started to feel good. It’s all about the journey…

When Kimberly suggested we move into Frog pose, Angelina and I laughed. I was just telling her how I practiced Frog earlier and it took every ounce of energy to pull myself out of that pose. I am learning to love this pose that takes all my breath and all my inner strength because once I come out of it, my hips feel like they could do the hula!

As tight as my hips may be, I realized tonight that they didn’t get like that overnight, so I can’t expect it to go away after one, two or even 15 yoga classes. But at least I have started the process to slowly melt the stickyness away, one breath at a time.

#funnythingsmyhusbandsays

My husband is a funny man. So much so that I have thought about starting the Twitter hash tag #funnythingsmyhusbandsays to share his one-liners with the rest of the world.

Here’s an example:

My 6’2″ husband gives me (5’4″) a hug and says, “Did you stand on your head?”

Me: Yes. I did a headstand today at yoga. Why do you ask?

Him: Your hair smells like floor.

Me: (Laughing) Does it smell like…rubber?

Him: Yes!

Me: Yeah, that’s from the yoga mat.

I would Tweet this as: Your hair smells like floor. #funnythingsmyhusbandsays

For more hilarity, follow me on Twitter @JessicaMcKeown

December Yoga Experience: Day 14

The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there.  ~George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932

In practice tonight, Tammy asked us to plant a seed inside of us. We would then cultivate it and watch it grow. My seed was to love and accept myself exactly as I am. Seems like an easy thing for some, but for me, it’s a struggle. Though people tell me I am pretty, even beautiful, I don’t see it. Or rather, I can’t see past so many “ugly” things.

I want to create a positive environment to grow my seed, so out with the negative thoughts. I want to love myself in every yoga pose, in every breath, in every thing I do. I kept coming back to this thought as I flowed from pose to pose, riding the breath like it was the only thing I knew.

Sweat dripped down my forehead as the heat I created inside warmed me up.  My body felt supple and open like never before. I really enjoy the hot classes at Inner Bliss—especially in the winter—because you don’t get many opportunities to really sweat it out.

At the end of class, I had definitely tilled the soil and planted my seed. What a great way to celebrate my two week mark of doing yoga every day. If I can commit to that, I can commit to growing a garden filled with beauty and love.

December Yoga Experience: Day 13

“Fall with awareness and acceptance.” ~ Brian Kest

I braced myself against the cold wind as I walked from my car to the warm Inner Bliss studio. My boots chilled out with the other pairs on the gray mat; my puffy jacket snuggled in to the coat rack. *Sigh* I made it. One of the most wonderful feelings is arriving for yoga.

Now it was time to arrive on the mat. Tammy began her 5:45 class with a nice breathing meditation, which was a great opportunity to go from “unconscious breathing to conscious breathing.” I inhaled for a count of four then exhaled for a count of four, sitting in both the fullness and emptiness. I love feeling “full,” and I notice how I can sneak in just a little more breath; the emptiness, though, is not as pleasant. I am squeezing out the air, there’s a feeling of wanting to inhale, and impatience to get there. I notice this. I see the emptiness for what it is–not good, not bad, just empty.

As we filled ourselves up with warmth, we began to flow beautifully. My fellow yogis were so grounded, solid, and anchored in practice today, even though some of us fell. I toppled left, then right in half moon–swinging my hips open to quickly sent me over. In another pose, I tried too hard to hold one leg up just…a…bit…higher, and I lost my form and, eventually, my balance. And in all of this falling, where was the breath?:)

The breath was definitely with me in pigeon, that’s for sure. In fact, it’s essential for me to focus on the breath in this pose or I will lose. my. mind. The sensations start immediately, and they only grow stronger. The ego talks of escape, the leg begs for freedom, and the tears well up. We took it a step further today: Pigeon on the left side with the left arm and ear down and the right arm stretched up and away and eventually curved down the back to open the shoulder. Try this, and you will feel it right on the side of your left thigh. My body didn’t even know how to react to this; it wanted to cry. Pigeon, I will learn to love you.

After class, I asked Tammy for some assistance with the expanded dancer pose. When I do it, my balancing arm shakes, my shoulder doesn’t want to open, my hips sink, and my feet struggle to offer support. I entered the pose, and Tammy put her hand on my upper back, and said to lift from here. Ahhhh, now I get it. Something for me to try next time.

It feels good to write this post right after the yoga class, too. It’s nice to write my thoughts down and soak up all that this practice has done for me. I am pleased with myself that I have practiced yoga for 13 days in a row, and I am starting to see that practice only leads to more practice. 🙂

December Yoga Experience: Day 12

Corpse pose restores life.  Dead parts of your being fall away, the ghosts are released.  ~Terri Guillemets

I set an alarm this morning to make sure I was up for a morning yoga class. 🙂 Outside, the rain melted the newly fallen snow. Inside, I set the intention for my yoga practice to just melt it all away today. Just let it go, release it into the earth.

Kimberly’s Sunday 11:15 a.m. class is like heaven on earth. She takes you on a journey of self discovery that leaves you feeling light and ready to face the world. And Lori offered her assistance–her hands are like magic. One adjustment from her, and you feel the full expression of the pose…your body wants to linger there and soak it all up.

We flowed into pigeon today, and I felt the resistance immediately, but also the willingness to soften right away. It takes me a few breaths to get into a pose, and I am ok with that because I am being kind to myself, the most wonderful feeling of all. When we revisited the pose later one, I noticed that I could go into the pose a lot easier, settle in, and just breathe. I am in so much discomfort in that pose that the only thing that gets me through it is the breath. Once I break past that plane of “can’t take it,” everything just sinks down, the ego stops, the breath wins out.

We had an extra long rest today, which I appreciated. I was so relaxed that it became difficult to move at all, even if I tried. So many things floated away, on the breath, the breath…

December Yoga Experience: Day 11


“Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.”  ~Patanjali, translated from Sanskri

I missed all the morning yoga classes today because we slept in–waaaaay in. But, oh, how good it felt to do just that! Well, I thought to myself, I can miss yoga today. I’ve done it for 10 days in a row already, that’s quite an accomplishment. Check.

And then I find myself at Kyle’s Saturday afternoon class at 4:30. The same time I was here on Friday. Kyle and I have a special kindredship like Laura and I do. Kyle and I were partners during an exercise in a workshop. We had just written our biggest dreams, and now we had to share them with a complete stranger! I will always remember hers: She and her husband were trying to get pregnant. What a magical experience to be a part of–and now she is the wonderful mother she set out to be.

This was my first class with Kyle, and I greeted her with a big hug and a sense of excitement! Well, now this class is going to be awesome because Kyle is teaching and it’s a new teacher for me and…yes, all those expectations flooded in.

And then I hit the mat. And I wanted to run out at every corner. No, this isn’t supposed to be like this. Ok, just a few more breaths and then I can get out of this pose. I was reeling from all these thoughts, and then I heard Kyle ask me to stay in it; that this is where the yoga practice really starts.

Yeah, Yeah, I’ve heard that before. Let me just hold on to knowing it’s almost over. And then I remembered my intention. After having a few practices in a row with challenging thoughts, I decided to find the good in every pose I did. So as we stretched out hips, I felt the tightness, and I said to myself, Oh, I am so glad I am doing this for my hips! It was a little forced, but a step in the right direction. A better judgment to have, until I have no judgment at all.

Quieting the mind is not easy to do, but no one ever said it would be.

December Yoga Experience: Day 10

“A photographer gets people to pose for him.  A yoga instructor gets people to pose for themselves.”  ~Terri Guillemets

Today is Dan’s birthday, and we started off our morning with a luxurious massage. After a wonderful afternoon, I went to Laura’s class at 4:30 in the afternoon–a perfect time right now at Inner Bliss as the sun sets while you’re practicing. The combination of a massage plus yoga made me a wonderful present for my husband. 🙂

Laura is very special to me because she led my maid of honor and I in a lovely yoga flow on the morning of my wedding. I really wanted to start that day at peace and filled with love, and Laura’s practice was magnificent!

Her classes are so sensual, and we all melted open during the warm practice. Twisting our bodies and breathing into them was so wonderful. She guided us to stay strong, to see through the uncomfortableness, to just keep breathing.

When my husband came to pick me up, I was in a state of bliss. I was so calm and relaxed, and so amazed at how wonderful I felt. I was excited to cherish Dan and celebrate his birthday, and thankful that I had the gift of being present for him on his special day.

December Yoga Experience: Day 9

“The goal is not to tie ourselves in knots …
we’re already tied in knots.
The aim is to untie the knots in our hearts.
The aim is to unite with the ultimate, loving, and peaceful power in the universe.” ~ Max Strom

Thursday. My week is done as I am taking off Friday for Dan’s birthday. I look forward to Tammy’s class like good medicine. I am hoping to sweat out the week, and get energized for the weekend ahead!

Instead, I am distracted again. It takes me a while to figure out what’s going on. So I decide to focus on the breath and feel every inhale and every exhale. And as I do, I see the thoughts, the expectations, the pressure I put on myself. But I keep filling up with the breath, more and more until I can no longer hear anything but my ocean breath.

When we begin our back bends, I am really feeling it. I enjoy the opportunity to revisit a pose multiple times, as each time I get to try something different, building on all the previous sensations. My spine is so supple and happy, feeling totally supported by the breath.

I try to invite more and force less. If I am questioning my forcefulness, I am probably forcing. I am accepting the gentle opening–it’s much more inviting to return there. I see now that the heart will open when I invite it to open, and my mind is so much more at peace when it’s breathing instead of thinking, “look how open my heart is!”

I see the change; I feel it; All around me…

December Yoga Experience: Day 8

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~ Lao Tzu

The first snow is falling on this Wednesday night. It’s oh so pretty. The trees glisten, every branch still reaching. I take it slow getting to Kimberley’s 5:45 class–because it’s snowing, because it’s nearing winter, and nature is telling me to slow down. I move too fast in this word sometimes…

The yoga studio is dark and warm, the heat generated by Laura’s 4:30 class is still hugging the air. I am near my friend Angelina, and a new friend, Erin. We settle in and begin to practice.

Kimberly sets a course of flowing and opening up. Her voice is soothing and gentle, encouraging me to speak to myself like that. She says we all come to the mat for different reasons, and for me, it’s feeling the commitment to myself.

I have struggled to eat like I did during the Experience. I think it’s the support I miss the most–and also, knowing that it will be over, and I just have to do this for a little bit longer. Like in yoga, I hear that voice–only a few more breaths, and then…

The struggle stems to my yoga mat, where I have difficulty focusing, finding the breath, grounding down. I am all over the place. So I keep coming back–I start over and over and over again. I am aware of it all.

Settling down to the floor, we practice frog. I have not seen this pose in so long, and now twice in one week! I accept the slow opening; I’m in it. I notice the difference. My body was just here, and it’s willing to go back, to soften some more.

In savasana, I let everything not serving me melt away. I rise new, light, clean, like freshly fallen snow.

December Yoga Experience: Day 7

You can search the whole universe

and not find a single being more worthy of love than yourself.

Since each and every person is so precious to themselves,

Let the self-respecting harm no other being.

Buddha

After being a beginner on Monday night with Tammy, for my seventh class, I took Tammy’s HOT Powerful flow on Tuesday night. I find myself at this class a lot because I want the mix of Tammy’s words with hot, sweaty heat with a community that really breathes and flows.

What I have really been enjoying is that Tammy is slowing things down without losing the intensity and energy. Or at least, that’s how it seems to me. We are holding poses longer; digging in deeper. I love it!

As I practice more and more, I realize that the breath truly is the essence of the practice. The breath–my breath–can fill me up so much, it’s quite amazing. When I just breath and flow, I feel like my true self. There is nothing more fulfilling than being me.

And “being me” includes facing things that release themselves during yoga. One pose that really brought the tears was frog. At first, I felt fine–though far from the ground, my hips were already giving me feedback. But as we continued to hold the pose, the thoughts of escaping came in, the desire to run and not let this continue a second longer. But I have been replacing these thoughts with ones like, “You are opening your hip and getting a little bit more length.” I am starting to accept small, even tiny, even unseen amounts of progress.

After a week’s worth of yoga, I can already tell that I want to do yoga every day. It’s like a massage, a glass of wine, and a therapy session all in one. Ahhhh….