“I wasn’t ever very comfortable in my own skin, so when I started yoga in college, I’d go in and compete with everyone because it was what I knew and what I was comfortable doing. I was stuck in a total athlete’s mindset.
Michael Plasha was the first instructor who really got me excited about my practice. He was such a jolly man. He was so full of life and happiness and energy. He kept the classes informative, but not so stern that it was serious. He set an amazing setting for all people to come and practice, whether they were brand new or returning. Michael was the first one who described yoga as preparation for meditation to me, and he explained that we were all taking part in class so our bodies can relax enough to get into a meditative state.
In addition to taking Michael’s classes, his wife, Allison, was my life coach, and together, they created such a beautiful space for me to learn and grow in. He’s still one of the best instructors that I’ve ever had, and Allison not only helped me to transform my life, but encouraged me to become a life coach. I am so grateful for their presence in my life and the wonderful energy and wisdom they share with the world. The work I did with them sparked a transformation in me… Now, I can just be authentically me without effort or worry, which is incredibly freeing.
Before I started going to yoga I had a crazy monkey mind! As I started to learn more about myself, and as I became comfortable in my own skin, I was able to go further into my yoga practice, and ultimately receive the benefits I find vital today. I stopped just showing up with the intention of, ‘I’m going to get a workout’, and began to focus on clearing my mind and getting in touch with my body. That mindset shift has created an incredibly powerful experience for me.
Yoga quickly began to transform my life as a whole. As I continued to get deeper in my own self, I became more comfortable with who I was. Getting more in touch with my body and my breathing has allowed me to feel more awake and aware of myself, and the world in general. My calmness of mind and ability to sleep greatly improved, which are things I’ve struggled with so badly. Before, I couldn’t shut off my mind. I’ve found this is where a lot of the ‘yoga tactics’ have helped me so much: turning to mindfulness; breathing; letting thoughts go – it’s all huge. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle today, but my brain isn’t moving quite as fast anymore.
Over the past decade, I’ve learned not to dwell on things that don’t propel me forward, or serve me in a positive way. All of these mindfulness tools have helped reduce my anxiety, and my depression. It’s rather funny because people often link anxiety and depression together, and, they’re actually wildly different. Depression is rooted in the past and anxiety is rooted in the future. Yoga makes you realize how little we actually exist in the present space and each moment that we’re in.
Although my yoga practice has varied in frequency throughout the years, by bringing mindfulness into my life, I’m able to show up as a better version of myself throughout each part of my day. It’s helped shape my morning routine, which includes journaling, some morning pages from the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron a little reflection, and then ends with 5-10 minutes of yoga. Even if I just do 10 sun salutations, movement is so important. It gets my body and my mind ready for the day, and I get to start it on my own terms.
Once I do get going, if I find my wheels just won’t stop spinning, I’ll write down everything in my head: any of the to-do’s I have or any random thought – I just write it all down. Then, I move on to do some breathing exercises. When I’d try and go into meditation or breathing without clearing my head before, my experience wouldn’t be as powerful. My mind would wander every three seconds. This practice helps me to enter into my day with clarity, renewed purpose, a sense of calm, and a feeling of, ‘I got this’.
In a lot of meditations I do now, I’ll put a song on repeat, light candles, or have something specific to focus on. That’s helped me a lot, and it allows me to not feel so attached to my thoughts. Sometimes it’s the ‘letting go’ piece that’s really tough. Other times it’s slowing the mind down.
The mindfulness piece of yoga is probably the most helpful aspect for me. It’s amazing how just a few simple breaths can bring me back to the present, to help me stop and reset – and what big a difference that can make, even if it’s just a second to quiet the internal chatter and connect with my body.
For me, yoga means tapping into myself. It has helped me to slow down, become grounded in who I am, reflect on how I am showing up, and discover how I could show up to make an ever greater impact.”
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