The Right Ingredients

I am not sure where the time has gone, but here we are- in the midst of week four of A Life\In Yoga 30-Day Immersion.  Last week I received some of the most beautiful, honest responses as to how the first half of the program has influenced participant’s lives.  I was not expecting the depth to which people shared, so I apologize for my tardiness in revealing this beautifully, real wisdom with everyone.  Mostly, I have thought about simply re-posting what each person has shared so as to not take away from each being’s unique experience and their raw authenticity.  Instead, I will do my best to sum it up in one piece.  If you can imagine more feeling behind the words, more personal history between lines, and more illuminating growth within the whitespace, you will have a better idea imagining the original scripts.

It is interesting to see how timing is the biggest factor when it comes to new endeavors, meaningful choices, and the chance for growth.  We are all in different places in our lives and A Life\In Yoga is bringing about change specific to where each person is physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Some students have been experiencing profound changes within one capacity, and some have gained insight dabbled across all three. 

Regardless of whether participants have noticed primarily mental or physical changes, mindfulness seems to be floating into everyone’s lives like a beautiful melody.  While reading Mark’s review of his first two weeks, one of my favorite parts was about slowing his daily rush and finding peace amidst a hectic workday.  In doing so, he has begun to experience the world around him down to the minutest details, like the wind against his skin.  When mindfulness creeps in, we are reminded how powerful our senses are and how stunning the world around us really is.  Going unrecognized, life looks more like a paint-by-number void of color; yet with mindfulness, our senses seem to splash the world with vivid hues.

I was thinking about everyone’s stories of mindfulness the other morning as I trekked up the hill to the studio just before seven.  As I walked, I stared at the impressive sunrise that lingered in front of me.  It was absolutely stunning in all its vibrancy.  Just before I neared the top of the hill I realized being seduced by vibrancy is my go-to habit.  I am always drawn to exhilaration over leisure, yang over yin, and since we are well into single degree weather, even summer over winter (the ultimate Pita).  However, as I continue reaching for balance in my own life, I have learned what can be equally beautiful is the opposite of everything I am drawn to.  In that moment, I decided to turn around and see what the other side of the earth looked like on that Monday morning.

As I stopped and turned, I let out a squeal of excitement.  A full rainbow stretched across the sky and its edges blurred softly into the surrounding blue.  With my back to the vivid orange sunrise that held my gaze captive before, I took a moment to appreciate the rainbow, along with its softness and subtlety.  It started to rain seconds later, but I did not mind.  Without it, my morning would have been void of such a show.  Balance comes to us in all forms. 

It is amazing how sitting on a bolster and breathing can bring so much awareness into the outside world.  When we tune into ourselves, we seem to gain all-access passes to everything life has to offer.  However, within our busy lives, mindfulness can be difficult to remember and incredibly easy to forget.  Constant reminders are vital: stop, take a deep breath, and look up.

Graeme was kind enough to share about how he has been gravitating toward the mindfulness, meditation, and breathing workshops offered through the 30-Day Immersion.  Reason being, he has been looking for ways to take hold of the “big black dog” that has been living in his head for quite a while now.  I love his canine metaphor mainly because of his ability to make light of this large mutt’s presence that has been giving both mental highs and lows. 

Graeme’s endeavors have revolved around seeking ways to “train the mongrel”.  At only two weeks in, he was already well on his way.  Through the aforementioned workshops and a hefty dose of classes, it sounds like he has taken this mutt to puppy school and picked up some great tools to rein his mind back into presence.  With a stronger practice, new meditation rituals, a calmer attitude, and the ability to maintain mindfulness without losing thoughtfulness, Graeme’s house is becoming less and less doggie friendly.  I guess it is out to the doghouse for that pooch.

Coming into the studio five days per week is no easy feat.  However, from a few student reports, the physical benefits are paying off big time. Emily informed me downward-facing dog is finally a resting pose!  That moment in time is definitely celebration-worthy, if you ask me.  Several students mentioned a shift in their asana practice immediately following Nicole’s Vinyasa Foundation Workshop.  I loved Jarmila’s description about how her practice has evolved since that session: “I have implemented the learnings into my practice this week and I feel like my body has responded in a very interesting way.  My breathing is a lot deeper, I feel I pay more attention to the correct breath and movement combination, and I am able to get deeper into the postures with an equal amount of ease.”  I had the chance to witness Jarmila’s lovely practice on a Sunday afternoon and would have never known her regular practice started this February!  It is always a beautiful sight to see a student right in the moment, with each pose lingering on the next breath. 

As physical successes continue to blossom, injury rehabilitation has also been a widely popular topic.  Jarmila has fully healed reoccurring hip and lower back pain and states her only “treatment” has been a regular yoga practice and meditation (talk about a holistic prescription!).  Nell is in the midst of rehabilitating from surgery and shared her positive thoughts on the process: “I found that even though my physical practice was limited due to my recovery, it brought me to focus on the fact that I was still able to practice and how wonderful that is! I have much more respect for my body and the ups and downs that our bodies go through as a part of life, and how yoga keeps us connected to how we are inside as well as out.”  Honest phrases like these remind us it is never about perfection, but instead, it’s about the practice: the practice of being mindful, staying connected, and honoring the mind and body in that very moment.

There were so many wonderful revelations, affirmations, and flashes of acceptance within each piece of writing I had the pleasure of reading.  For those of you who do not often pick up a pen (or open up Word in your MacBook Pro), you may have found the writing process revealing.  You may have been surprised at the amount of information you were able to disclose, whether you had previously thought about it or not.  For me personally, writing often illuminates the subconscious and brings it conscious.  What I am looking to say is generally buried deep within all the extra jargon I thought I wanted to say.  I find it to be one of the best forms of therapy (along with spontaneous dance parties, hikes in the bush, and yoga, of course).   That being said, for those of you reading this, I challenge you to pick up a pen (or open up that laptop) and empty your thoughts onto the page.  I will wager you will be surprised at how this simple exercise will unlock stuck doors, bring clarity to your purpose, and enhance your journey.

Mark’s words of being open to possibility sum up our collective experiences perfectly: “I think it takes the right attitude to embrace the 30-Day yoga program and to reap the benefits. I don’t think three months ago I would have been ready for it.  But right now, with the right attitude, the 30-Day A Life\In Yoga has been the key to my motivation and tapping into the life in my mind and body that has always been there but has been difficult to access.  The thirty days in yoga has given me the ingredients for my life betterment.”  I could not have put it better myself.  As we travel through these last few days of the immersion together, send yourself some gratitude for starting this journey and being open to the unknown.  With gratitude in hand, take a deep breath, feel the wind against your skin, and take solace in the fact that you are exactly where you need to be.