Back on the mat

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I need to talk about my yoga experience last night. It was quite unique to any other I’ve ever had and being that I was introducing a new style into my practice, I expected it to be. I’d done a little research on Kundalini yoga after I’d already signed up for the workshop. I needed something to get my foot back in the door of yoga after having not practiced for about two months. In reading the description for the class, I came across words like “chakra”, “emotional blockage”, “meditation”, and “igniting” which are all things I am desperately trying to work on. Then I started reading more about Kundalini and I realized I’d stumbled across a blessing in disguise. Lululemon offers a great description of Kundalini here.

Waking up on a Wednesday morning used to be particularly exciting for me. A few months ago, I’d found a teacher that I really liked at a studio in Rittenhouse. I wasn’t clear on my feelings of the studio as a whole, but I found one particular teacher’s classes challenging. She had a really good energy about her as well. So Wednesday mornings, I’d pack my mat and yoga clothes and after work I’d sit in the park, have tea, and then go to class. It was a routine I’d come to love, but as I dug deeper into my rut, my depression, it became harder for me to enjoy that experience. So I stopped.

Preparing for the Kundalini workshop yesterday brought back that anticipation. I spent the rest of my day mentally preparing myself for something new. After work was going to be a different commute, a new section of the city, a new studio, and a new practice.

The workshop began with the teacher giving an introduction to Kundalini. She went into it’s history, her history with the practice, what she’s gotten out of it, and what we should prepare ourselves to get out of it. She did an excellent job further explaining chakras and how the practice contributes to connecting and balancing within our bodies. Then we hit the mat.

My impression of Kundalini yoga is that it’s about releasing control. When you release control, you are free. When you are free, you can be authentic with yourself about your wants and needs in all aspects of your life. When you release that judgment of yourself and others, along with your expectations, you will be free. The entire practice was done with our eyes closed. With every movement we were told to trust our bodies, follow the flow, and let go. At one point I stopped to think of how ridiculous I probably looked wailing my arms around but I didn’t care. I felt amazing and really connected to my body. I couldn’t have stopped if I tried. I just kept telling myself to surrender. Follow my breathe and surrender.

I recall this one difficult moment during the class where I had to hold my arms over my head for a long period of time. I honestly can’t even recall the purpose now, only the pain. I fought so hard with myself. I was so damn uncomfortable and I just wanted the pain to stop. Sweat was pouring from the top of my head and stinging my eyes. I wanted to scream. I held it. I didn’t let go because I knew the end result would produce something powerful. When you really want something, you see it through. The Universe is going to test you and you’re going to have to prove you want it by welcoming situations and feelings that aren’t comfortable. If it’s worth it, you do whatever it takes. Last night, my experience was certainly worth it.

~D~

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Be: Inspired

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Wednesdays are a perfect time in the week to seek and spread inspiration. We’re all trying to get over the “hump” in the week. So let’s push through those daunting tasks, navigate our week day routines, put the finishing touches on a project before it’s deadline, and get to the end of the week with a smile on our face. 

And if that amazing picture via Free People’s instagram isn’t inspiration enough, I’ve got more after the jump (or should I say hump?).

Some inspirational words for a yogi like me working on your ROOT CHAKRA this week:

“Once your foundation is improved, it’s much easier to put the rest of your house in order.”– via Yoga Anatomy

~D~

Free to be…me?

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Have you ever sat down and asked yourself what you really want in life. Like, money-is-no-object, the-world-is-completely-at-your-disposal wants. Can you do it? Cause I can’t. Even scarier than making such declarations for my life (due to fear of failure) is the fact that I have limited myself so much that I just can’t do it.

It’s not going to happen. I don’t have the resources. I’m getting too old. Money?! All these damn limitations! How disheartening to be approaching 30 years on this planet and all I have to show for it is self doubt and no sign of reassurance.

Can I just be her for a little while?

Over the weekend I had an “aha!” moment.  I was trying to manifest a positive event by thinking negative thoughts. My first instinct has always been to plan for the worst case scenario, that way when everything turns out fine I’m pleasantly surprised instead of disappointed. Opposites attract over law of attraction.

All of a sudden, it just stopped making sense. I seek positive energy on the mat, when practicing yoga or during meditation, but when I’m no longer present in that space, that moment of karmic exchange with the Universe, I seem to just leave it all behind and slowly gather up all the negative energy I intended to leave behind. What’s the point of letting it all go when I basically ask for it all back? I’ll tell you why. It’s because being negative, not wishing, abandoning expectation (at times), and lowering my standards are all places of comfort. I am not comfortable when I can’t control outcomes, when doubt is present, or when things are just going too good (calm before the storm anyone?).

I’ve been wanting to do some chakra work for quite some time. I am in need of some serious healing and balancing. My first step will be Wednesday when I venture to University City for a Kundalini Yoga & Chakra workshop at Dhyana Yoga. I’ve taken classes at other Dhyana locations (Center City and Haddonfield, NJ) and I really like the teaching styles and instructors. I’ve been doing some yoga home research for the past six months and I’m thinking Dhyana may be my happy yogi place (non Bikram that is).

Along with the theme of being able to start anew, which I really seem to be taking advantage of as of late, I’m ready to put in the time and devotion and do things right. I’m not looking to heal superficially and settle for quick fixes, I’m on a quest to find my strength physically, metaphysically, and emotionally. Chakras ignite!

~D~

RESET buttons were created for a reason

Sometimes I can visualize mine. Well, actually, I have two. One on my heart and one in my mind. They say everyday presents a chance to start over, and BOY have i taken advantage of the art of reinvention almost every day of my 20 something year old life. I wrote this rut post, which turned into a slump, which manifested into a complete halt. I didn’t run the Broad St. run (in fact, I had a severe panic attack the morning of the race). I’ve stopped doing yoga. I completely defaulted on my spring bucket list (with the exception of my visit to one Good Karma location and Village Whiskey). I’ve even gone as far as to syke myself out of all my one year goals. I’ve just let a lot of things remain in limbo because of FEAR.

So what’s different now? Why should you follow me on a journey I seem destined to sabatoge?

The RESET has been hit. The desire to “get off the couch” has been ignited. The planning process is in the works. The willingness to conquer all the bullshit aka FEAR has been affirmed.

I am 4 days into YogaJournal’s Mediation Revolution and feeling somewhat revived already. I think it helps that I am no stranger to meditation, I just kind of fell off the wagon. I’m starting on one thing, focusing on one goal, while forming a strategy on how to navigate through others. Some goals are old (and being revamped), some borrowed, and some new. I may have paused for too long at the STOP sign, but my engine is revved and I’m ready to go again.

A little bit of Good Karma

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Yesterday was a difficult day emotionally. I’ve been in a fog. A fog of feelings and the need to emotionally eat all the wrong things. The one thing that was kind of keeping me afloat, was knowing I had scheduled myself for a much needed yoga class. I did suspect, however, that I could possibly be cutting it really close on time. To my disappointment, I was right, and I missed out on my chance to bend and twist my way to Zen. I could have gotten really down in the dumps. I could have added more fuel to my fog fire, and blamed myself on mismanaged time and bad luck. But, I didn’t do those things. Instead, I decided to do something productive. For the record, simply rising above negativity is productive in my book.

A huge goal of mine is to make Philadelphia my city. I’ve been known to diss this place, hard, but I’m coming to the realization that I may have made some harsh judgments before actually taking the time to do any actual exploring and seeking out of my interest. Every city has something to offer. A flavor. A flare. I’m determined to find my niche in this city.

Beginning this past winter, I decided to make seasonal bucket lists. Not only is this an excuse to put all my Yelp.com review stalking to good use, but also it’s a great way to challenge myself to seek new venues. My friends and I have come so used to frequenting the same places and seeing the same faces, eventually you need a new scene to peak your interest. Philadelphia needs to peak my interest, because I may be committing to the area for a few more years. I need these mini seasonal challenges to get me more proactive in the community.

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I made a small, temporary home in Good Karma

It took a missed yoga class to kick things off, but last night I went to my first venue. The place is called Good Karma Café. I’m not going to lie, the name alone was enough of a reason for me to add it to my list. I love a good café atmosphere and I love coffee, rave reviews on both officially had me sold. Another great selling point: two locations in the city, double the coffee and pastry? Yes, please.

My first location: Rittenhouse area. I really did not realize Rittenhouse expanded as far as it does. Thank you Groupon and Raja Yoga for opening my eyes!  I was already in love with what little I had already discovered, but my explorations as of late have been wonderful.  So many new places to eat, that’s all I’ve really noticed actually, and I’m ok with that. I LOVE FOOD.

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The Yum Factor.

Speaking of which, the crumb cake I chose to nibble on was amazing. Crumb cake and café au lait, yoga who…where? Oh yea, that was what I came into the city for. My drink was delicious as well.  If I’m in an independent coffee place, and the espresso drinks make me happier than Starbucks (and I’m not going to lie, I love me some Starbucks) then I am sold. You’d be surprised how many independent shops can’t hold a candle to Starbucks, unless you are laughing at me because Starbucks is my Holy Grail o’ coffee.  I also had a bowl of vegan, gluten free three-bean chili that hit the spot. Good Karma is passed the test and that wasn’t even the best location. I’m pumped for my next visit.

Things I feel bad about, but not really.

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Dear Running, I’m just NOT that into you. 

This may be an overall over-it feeling in general to intense cardio. At times, I love running…loved? To be honest, since I’ve started devoting more time and energy into yoga, I don’t feel the need to explore many other types of fitness. I’ve always had a general disdain for weight training. In exploring the many forms that yoga has to offer, I notice I receive the benefits of cardio through practicing Bikram and toning seems to be happening on it’s own while practicing hatha, ashtanga, or vinyasa. 

Here’s my dilemma: I’ve paid to run a 10 miler in May. I signed up for the Broad St. run in Philadelphia, which is scheduled to happen in less than 5 weeks. My sudden non interest in running is certainly not an excuse to drop out of the race. Let me make this clear: I WILL BE RUNNING. In my intermittent attempts at training, I have been able to do up to  6 miles quite easily. I am confident that come race day, even without fulfilling the requirements of my training, I will be able to complete the full 10 miles. My goal has always been to go out there and finish, nothing has changed about that. 

I just can’t get it up for running. I don’t get the same vibes from it anymore. Yoga is my medicine for all things stress and I’ve come to embrace that. Our bodies need different things, at different times. I’m learning to listen to mine and supply it with what it needs. Right now, that happens to be yoga, good bread, good cheese, and pasta. And I’m ok with that. 

-D-

Stability

Having stability in my life has always been a struggle. I’m not one to keep up with things (as you may notice from my lack of blogging). Novelty seems to have more of an effect on me than I’d like to believe. I’m all about new places, new places, new foods, and new activities and I like that about myself. Variety is the spice of life, indeed. However, as I’m getting older, I’m noticing I need a little more discipline and regularity in order to keep myself on track. Doing so would certainly help me save money. The lifestyle of a novelty chaser is proving ti be an expensive one. I hesitate to “lock myself down”. There’s a hint of fear there.

I’m afraid of being ordinary. I’m afraid of losing my curiosity. I’m afraid of missing out on something really cool because I didn’t know about it. I’m afraid of getting “stuck” in one place. All of these factors add to my definition of failure. I feel as though I will have failed myself and my spirit by settling.

Yoga, big cities, culture, being active, food, and travel are all the things that come to mind when I think of what makes me happy. These are the things that keep me curious about life. I feel they all aide me in my personal growth. When I have a vision or make goals, the products are usually based around these concepts. If I’m so firm in that, why am I so afraid of losing it? And now that I am goal setting and planning along the way, shouldn’t that make me even more secure about what it is exactly that I want?

I’ve identified lack of follow through as one of my problems. I feel like I haven’t exactly accomplished a lot because I get ADD and become anxious to move on to the next. Anything less than instant gratification is simply unacceptable…or shall i say, was. Simply put, it takes time, effort, and patience to get what you really want out of life. I can’t just shut my eyes, wrinkle my nose, and open them and have what I want. I’m learning that. And, if it’s something I really want, not getting it right away will not cause me to lose the desire to have it or obtain it.

A big part of it, too, is letting go of the past. Though I have made HUGE strides in that department (thanks to 6 months of therapy), I still let past failures…ahem experiences, hinder what I am attempting to manifest in my future. The one thing I do hold onto, no matter what, is that I’m still standing and most importantly growing. Scraps, bumps, and bruises (seen and unseen) aside, I’m still growing.

-D-

I’m in a rut

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For over a month now, I have not been getting what I want out of diet and exercise.

I’ve been traveling, dining out, and overindulging and all of these activities have aided me in not keeping up with my goals. Establishing an eating lifestyle is important for me because I have ulcerative colitis. I’d also like to break free of my sugar addiction and cut gluten from my diet. Sounds strict and impossibly restrictive when I actually put it on paper…uhhh Internet? Text? Whatever.

Here’s the deal. I’ve been trying to teach myself moderations for YEARS. It worked for me last summer. I was at my local fitness studio 5-6 days a week and following the Paleo lifestyle 85% of the time. Three solid months. 20 pounds lighter. Losing weight wasn’t exactly the objective but it just so happens that with the type of food I was eating and the amount of calories I was burning the weight was just falling off.

So I’m on this “I did it once, and I can do again” mentality, yet I haven’t been able to do it again. Mismanagement of money and late night drinking carb loading are just some of the things that have held me back. I love food. I love healthy food, with an occasional dietary splurge here or there (I just have to wrap my mind around that concept). I love to cook and love to grocery shop. My challenges are lack of willpower, see-food-eat-food syndrome, and poor meal planning. Seriously, I read Yelp.com reviews of restaurants at work for fun. Clearly I have a problem. Food and travel are passions of mine and can honestly become quite thought-consuming.

Now it’s time to get serious. As I am preparing to whip myself into shape financially, I am also trying to get back on track with diet and fitness. I’ve affirmed that I’d like to be on track with the Paleo eating lifestyle by 9/12 and overall this year I just want to lead a more active lifestyle. I’ve got a beginning (admitting the problem) and an end (see affirmations), so now it’s onto forming an action plan and setting mini goals. I think I’m really coming around to this whole goal setting thing.

-D-

Abundance: The Karmic Exchange

I have intimacy issues. I am, more times than none, emotionally unavailable. This goes for love interests, friendships, and family ties alike. I am a total receiver and an occasionally giver.

The breakthrough starts with acceptance right?

My interest in yoga and meditation developed as a quest to bring out the love I know I am capable of. When I “show up”, I’m a good friend, lover, daughter, cousin, coworker, confidant, and shoulder to cry on. Here comes the part where I don’t sound amazing. It’s exhausting. I give so much of myself and do selflessly to the point that I become exhausted in my interactions with people. As human beings we are programmed to be self absorbed. There is a motive in every conversation we seek and action we make, usually a self motivation.

As much as I give, I expect to receive. Not only that, but I expect to receive in the same capacity that I give. Here lies the problem. A lot of meditation materials will advise against attachment to people and inanimate objects, as well as, expectation. Pressure to match an expectation often leads to disappointment. Soooo right! So how do you go about dropping expectations.

The answer (for me atleast) is you don’t. Constantly being disappointed by the same set of expectations means it’s time for a reframing of the mind. This is the part where I get past my ramblings and get to the point.

There should be no cap on what you are willing to give. Rarely do we tell others, “you’re giving too much” but we often stop ourselves from giving because we think we aren’t receiving enough. Things aren’t going to come full circle that way. Maybe that person is giving all they can give and the universe will supplement what’s missing through some other source (it’s the little things, people!). Its all so simple. Give as abundantly as you receive.

-D-