Tag Archives: Journey

On Being Your True Self

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One of my favorite parts of yoga is that through breath and movement we find our true self while on the mat.  We find that person deep inside ourselves, the person we are at our core without any influence from the outside world, or others.  Sometimes you find it while you are moving through a vigorous sequence and other times it comes when you are resting in savasana.  To me, it’s a moment of complete acceptance and complete release.  A moment in time where there is no judgement from the world or ourselves.    Yoga teachers often encourage you to bring that version of yourself into your life off the mat, or maybe you just connect back to that feeling in a moment of stress or uneasiness.

I really love this philosophy and that feeling of being completely accepted is incredible.  I try to bring this version of myself into my everyday life and try to live as my authentic self.  It’s not always easy…actually it’s never easy.  It’s hard to rise above those who judge you for whatever reason it may be.  It’s hard to make choices that will uphold this and allow me to truly be myself.  Sometimes it means I have to let certain things go, because I know it’s just not who I am.  Occasionally it means I have to make the choice to end a relationship that doesn’t support me and that’s never easy.  And sometimes it means I need to tune out the noise and advice of the world, and do things my way.  And admittedly, my way isn’t always the easiest or best way but it is what works for me and lets me be this person I love.

Source: facebook.com via Whitney on Pinterest

Being your true self is not easy.  BUT it is absolutely worth it.  It’s worth living with less to have more.  I know I make less money to do what I love, and that I often surround myself with fewer friends but when I look at it I see a world filled with a career and job I love and some incredible friends and family who support me unconditionally.  My job, yoga and my family all allow me to be myself…goofy and silly but determined to accomplish my goals.  Sometimes I feel judged, open and ripped raw by the challenges of the world but I’m able to react as myself and know I have a support system who loves me and isn’t judgmental.   It makes this life worth living and for that I’m grateful.

If you ask me, life is too short to try to be someone else.  It’s too short to try to be the person everyone else wants you to be.  It’s so much easier to just be who you are.  Being who you are and surrounding yourself with family, friends, coworkers and life that supports that makes life happier, more fun and much more fulfilling!

“Do It Anyway” by Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable,
illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Are you living a life where you are true to yourself?

Pushing Past the Comfort Zone to Make 2013 Incredible

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This blog post has been floating around in my head for days…the words just can’t seem to flow on out like they normally do…thus the lack of posting in the last few days, oh and I’ve been busy.  But I’m ready to take a stab at this one so hang with me here...

I’ve been thinking a lot about living outside your comfort zone, pushing the limits and venturing into uncharted territory.  I guess I’ve been kind of doing that for the last year or so.  Since this time last year I ran Boston Marathon, became an NASM certified personal trainer, moved out of the only home I’ve ever known in Boston, moved in with Michael (love that decision), got a new job…ok changed careers in a big way, took yoga teacher training, became a certified yoga instructor and put this little old blog out there in more ways than I can count.  That feeling of pushing your limits, feeling uncomfortable, nervous, anxious even because everything is so new and you have no idea what comes next? Yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel everyday…except those glorious days where I get to be home relaxing.  

So when I started thinking about 2013 and what I’d like to accomplish all I could really think about was how tired I was and how I was ready for some normalcy.  I had visions of movie days, comfort food, sleeping in and downtime dancing through my head.  So I decided to leave 2013 open to fate.  I’d see where life would take me…a year of no goals if you will.  The problem is, that’s not really me.  I have one speed…GO and when you GO that fast you kind of need to have directions.

Everyone around me was setting goals, looking to the future and planning out their year…running races, marathons, half marathons, certifications and everything else.  Part of me was ready to dive in, sign up for a fall marathon and start training.  That I could do and I’ve had my eye on the Marine Corp Marathon for years now.  But then Michael reminded me of the shiny new yoga certification I worked so hard for and the Athleta Sponsored Athlete title I was so excited about and all the other opportunities coming my way.  And then he said, “Don’t you think you should focus on building your yoga business and you name?”

And there it was.  The truth.  Running a marathon is easy (I take that back, they are never easy) comfortable.  I’ve done it before, and I could do it again.  This time, I could probably do it better.  But the truth is, I WANT to build my business as a yoga instructor and I’d like to build this blog.  And there certainly is not enough time in the day to do it all.  There was a choice…run another marathon or focus on yoga and this little business?

So for the last few weeks I’ve been tossing this around.  Some days I was telling myself, I can’t keep chasing my dreams or that I deserve a break…a year or normal if you will.  Other days I was giving myself the pep talk I really needed.  Then the other day I was out running, rolling these ideas around again and it hit me, like it always does on a good run in the pitch black at 5:30am on a cold winter morning.  If chasing down your hopes and dreams was easy and comfortable everyone would do it but it’s not and that’s part of the journey and the challenge.

If I had given up on my crazy idea to leave Chemistry I’d never have the job I love now, if I’d skipped out on yoga teacher training because it made me nervous and uncomfortable I would have never learned that cranial facial massage is incredible and that 15 complete strangers can show each other more love than I ever thought possible.  I’ve learned too many times to stick with it and make your dreams a reality.

So what’s up for 2013…I’m not completely sure yet but I’m going to keep chasing down my dream of being a yoga instructor and building this little business of mine.  Lucky for me, it starts on Wednesday with my very own yoga class that I get to teach each and every week.  And if you think I’m not going outside my comfort zone with that, think again…I’ve been nervous for weeks! This year I want to teach a yoga workshop, be the best sponsored athlete I can be, maybe become a certified running coach and start combining my love of running with my love of yoga in a big way and maybe just maybe PR the half marathon distance. I don’t think 2013 has another marathon in store for me, there probably isn’t enough time for that and I know I can run a marathon.  Building a successful yoga business and taking my dreams to the next level, that’s pushing my limits and exactly where my time and energy needs to be spent.  I’m curious to see what life has in store for me…lately it’s just too unpredictable in the best ways possible. I only hope 2013 is filled with as much love, adventure and success as 2012.

Are you pushing your limits and going outside of your comfort zone to make your dreams come true in 2013?

Yoga Teacher Training…The Final Weekend!

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Last week I was counting down the days until the weekend.  I was so excited about this final weekend of teacher training!  I knew it would be celebratory and fun and most importantly the beginning of a new chapter.

Saturday when we arrived to the studio we were all buzzing, smiling and excited.  We started by assisting Jojo’s 9am class which was packed thanks to the new year and a group of Lululemon employees.  Adjusting classes is a unique way to be intimately involved with the students and their practice.  I love going around, helping students deepen poses, align better and relax into those juicy poses like reclined twist, janushirasana and pigeon.  Assisting students in savasana is always my favorite.  I love when teachers assist me, it helps me to relax and release any final tensions.  I try to give each student plenty of time and focus when adjusting in this pose so they too can enjoy savasana.

After Jojo’s class we had circle time.  Today was a little bit different. We each took a piece of paper, wrote our name on the top and passed it to the person to our right.  Each of us wrote one sentence on the paper.  The idea was to write down our thoughts, and impressions of the person on the paper.  We continued to pass the papers around, writing our thoughts and sharing what we admired in that person.  In the end we received our papers back.  They were filled with 13 notes from our fellow trainees with kind words, thoughts and opinions…words to lift us up and inspire us.  We then wrote our own words in response to those negative statements we have heard from those closest to us our whole lives. Then we read the notes from our peers and David asked us to write an affirmation about the person we have become…

I have the courage and presence of mind to say what others are thinking.  The intimacy and knowledge of my own practice take me to a place where I can teach and inspire others.

We broke for lunch and started to prepare for the afternoon community class.  It was truly a team effort to make the class a success. Those who were teaching walked through their class with the microphone and those how weren’t teaching prepared the studio.  That meant we were on vacuum, bathroom and prop duty…making sure everything was neat and clean and the studio was looking it’s best for those coming for the class.  While some of the trainees greeted people and helped them find what they’d need for a successful class I worked the front desk, signing people in and collecting waivers.  Once everyone arrived and was settled I headed in to take the class.

My Teacher Training Group!

My Teacher Training Group!

My fellow trainees literally rocked their class.  It felt like one giant party.  Everyone was great spirits and all smiles, the playlist was awesome and the class was challenging.  The room was packed with everyone’s friends and family there to support them.

After the class we broke for the day, my group quickly met to rehearse our class that we’d be teaching on Sunday.  I headed out to meet Michael.  We were staying in the city to go to dinner and see Savion Glover at the Boston Opera House.  Michael had gotten me tickets for Christmas and I was really excited for the night!  I showered and got ready for the night and wore a sparkly black dress.  Right before we headed out I quickly went to the bathroom.  As I was standing outside the door putting my jacket on to go I heard the sound of water…lots of water.  I turned the light on and saw the toilet over flowing.  Rapidly over flowing.  I quickly yelled for Michael and grabbed a towel and threw it on the floor.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.  All dressed up for a night on the town dealing with an over flowing toilet.  But somehow it didn’t ruin my night.  It made it just that much better.

Sunday morning we took David’s public class.  As he said, it was his final gift to us.  David was in a great mood, full of smiles and laughter and had an awesome playlist to remind us the journey we’d been on.  We all laughed and enjoyed the class.  It felt good to sweat and flow next to my fellow teacher trainees.

Adjusting the Public Class

Adjusting the Public Class

We closed out the morning by having one final circle.  It was an opportunity to say whatever we wanted to the group.  We each went around sharing our story of the journey, and thanking each other.  For me it all seemed so surreal, to be sitting there on the final day of teacher training.  It was something I dreamed about and talked about for so long. We reminisced back to-day 1 when we had to hug everyone…and most of us agreed we had the same thought…hell no.  As for me, it was an opportunity to thank my teacher trainees and David for showing me that I actually don’t have my shit together, that I have walls just like everyone else and that I don’t need to be perfect all the time and really that’s the only way to live.  I told them the story about the overflowing toilet.  For me to laugh in that moment and know that I would still have a great night is truly a testament for how far I’ve come.  There were a lot of tears of happiness, joy and love.  In some way we all fell in love with each other throughout this journey.  And much like we started the journey we closed it by hugging each and everyone, but this time there was love and smiles shared with each hug.

Teacher Trainees

We broke for lunch and then prepared for another community class.  Sunday was my day to teach and I was so excited.  We mocked through our class with the microphone and set the mats up so we could demo as necessary.  Michael came to support me and soon enough the room was full.  We had a packed house! The class went so well.  I couldn’t have been happier! It was amazing to see more than 50 people follow our directions!

Teacher Trainees

After the class, everyone participated in our graduation ceremony! David showed a slide show with photos from our photo shoot.  They handed out our certificates and roses and before we knew it the day had come to an end.  It’s official…I’m a certified yoga instructor!

It's Official!

It’s Official!

Yoga Teacher Training Weekend #8

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I spent the final days of 2012 in the yoga studio.  It is hard to believe that only one weekend remains and this journey is coming to an end.  This past weekend involved a lot of work.  We had both our anatomy exam and our philosophy exam and practiced teaching our community classes.

Saturday morning started promptly with our anatomy exam.  I should mention that these so-called tests are not really hard and fast tests.  We can ask as many questions as we want and by the end it’s more of a group test.  We review them as a group and “grade” each other’s papers.  It’s an opportunity to see how much we’ve learned and create a quick reference guide to yoga and anatomy.  I’d casually studied over the last month, 20 minutes or half an hour here or there.  To say I was prepared for anatomy would be an understatement but considering it has every muscle and bone of the body on it I wasn’t really going for 100 on this test.  I was surprised how much I knew and how much of the muscles and their functions I understood.  I think we were all pretty happy when the test was over.

After our test we took class.  David had to sub for one of the instructors so we took that public class which was a level 2/3  class.  It took about 25 minutes for me to feel the burn, I was definitely feeling my lack of workouts over the holiday week but it felt good to stretch and work my body.  When we finally came down to the mat for savasana I was so happy to rest my body and mind.

After lunch we practiced teaching our community classes.  The group of trainees is divided into two groups, one will teach on Saturday and the other on Sunday.  I’m in the Sunday group and was off the hook to teach on Saturday.  We flowed through another class.  After spending another hour and half on the mat my body was sore and tired. We gave the Saturday group feedback on the flow of their class, playlist and teaching.  It’s truly incredible to see how talented my fellow trainees are!

We wrapped up for the day and headed out in anticipation of the snow storm moving into Boston that night.  By Sunday morning we had gotten about 6 inches and it finally felt like winter.  As I rolled out my mat for David’s class on Sunday morning I looked up at the sky lights covered in snow with the sun glinting through.  As I thought, David had an awesome class.  I was sore and tight from all of the yoga on Saturday but as I warmed up my muscles loosened and the soreness from a good workout in my body felt so good.

After David’s class we took our philosophy test.  I loved this test, seriously.  It was so much easier than the anatomy and I was really excited to see how much I knew about yoga and teaching.  I truly learned and absorbed so much about yoga in the last 6 months.

While we were taking the test David called us forward to take our challenge pose photos.  I haven’t mastered my challenge poses yet but I am definitely much closer than I was before.  Before and after photos to come!

Sunday afternoon we practiced teaching our public class.  It was the first time we had run through it as a group I was grateful for the opportunity.  I think we were able to work out a lot of the kinks and I definitely feel more confident in my flow and the class I’m teaching.  My body was happy to be done practicing yoga for the weekend, I was so sore and tired!

We closed out the weekend with something we had all been looking forward to…truffle making!!  We made organic, sugar-free truffles.  The truffles were amazing and it was so much fun to try the different toppings and combinations!! I loved socializing with my peers and relaxing a bit as a way to end the weekend. It was the perfect was to close out a weekend with a lot of work involved.

Truffles

For those in the Boston area, I’ll be teaching a community class on Sunday January 13th from 2 to 3:30pm!  It is a beginner flow with an awesome playlist.  We are asking for a $5 donation which will go to buildOn, an organization whose after school youth service programs mobilize urban teens to lift up their communities and change the world through intensive local community service and by building schools in some of the poorest countries on the planet. buildOn has built over 500 schools in Africa, Asia, and Central America. In addition, 95% of students who attend buildOn after school programs go to college.  I’d love to see you all there!

FSFC_FINAL

Can you believe this journey is coming to an end? Will you be attending my community class?

Yoga…From the Beginning

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It’s no secret we are in the final stages of yoga teacher training.  We have exams coming up right after Christmas and then we teach our public classes before graduation.  In less than a month I’ll be a certified yoga instructor! I’ve been busy studying, reviewing and trying struggling to remember all of the bones in the body…please don’t even ask me about the muscles of the body!  One of our assignments was to write an essay describing our journey into yoga.  I’ve been sharing my journey of yoga teacher training for months now, and it only seems fitting to share my journey from the beginning…

Yoga first came in to my life late one night, just a few days after I had been laid-off from my very first job.  I was struggling to understand how someone who worked so hard, studied hard in college and by all accounts done everything right could lose their job just 8 months after starting.  It didn’t seem fair and I took it personally (and later learned that business is not personal).  I was reading Eat, Pray, Love and was engrossed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk of ashrams and how they healed her.  The next day, with all my newfound time, I set out to find a yoga studio and more books on yoga.  At the time, the only yoga classes that were offered were at the YMCA.   I signed up for a membership that day and took the class.  I went everyday at 8am for 2 months.  It was mainly myself; a few stay at home moms and a couple retired women.  The instructor worked with me to modify the poses so they’d be more of a challenge for me and I loved how I felt physically and how clear my mind felt when I’d left.

Two months later I got a job in Boston, packed up my stuff and moved into a studio in the Back Bay.  I knew no one and nothing about the city except that the few times I’d been there I’d loved it. The very same day I moved to Boston I found out I had gotten a spot in the New York City Marathon.  On the top of my to-do list was to find a good gym.  I knew no one, didn’t have a ton of extra money but knew that the gym might be the best place to meet people or at least get me out of my apartment.  Plus when you are training for a marathon, treadmills are nice.

One of the very first classes I took at Healthworks was a slow flow yoga class on a Tuesday night.  The studio was packed and I remember asking the girl next to me if the instructor was nice and what other classes she could recommend.  I started going to yoga almost everyday and loved how much harder and more challenging it was than the class at the YMCA.  I tried every class and style they offered, Iyengar, Forest, Slow Flow, Vinyasa, Power and Restorative.  For many months I loved the slow flow, it was perfect class while I learned the poses and built up strength.  I started to transition to the Vinyasa and Power classes and fell in love with yoga in a whole new way.  I loved to sweat, the challenging poses and new flows, and the music played in class.  I could let go, relax and unwind.  I felt a new sense of calm in those classes.

Yoga Teacher Training 2012

Yoga Teacher Training 2012

While I was exploring all of the new-to-me yoga classes I was also training hard and putting in a lot of miles so I’d be prepared to run the NYC Marathon.  The summer flew by with long runs and lots of yoga.  I’d head home from work, squeeze in a run and then quickly head up to the gym for a yoga class.  Then in late September my knee started bothering me and it was painful to walk let alone run.  I knew something was wrong.  I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Iliotibial band syndrome.  In the final months leading up to the marathon I spent many days in PT, running what I could before pain set in and going to yoga.  I was able to run the marathon and finished in 4:03.57.  After the marathon I could hardly walk, I had bone spurs in my feet and all but tore by IT band.  I swore off running for the winter and dove head first into my yoga practice.

That winter I deepened my practice, learned challenging poses like headstand and arm balances.  I started noticing that I felt calmer in the car when I was stuck in traffic, I didn’t feel such stress to run from one place to the next but took care to enjoy what was happening in each moment of my life.  I found myself taking part of my practice with me into life and was seeing the positive effects.  I always stayed late after class, asking questions and getting help with poses.  After a few months one instructor asked me if I’d ever considered yoga teacher training.  She’d told me she thought I had what it would take to be a good instructor and suggested I look into it.  She had finally said out loud what I had been thinking for months, that maybe I wanted to be a yoga instructor.  I asked all of my instructors how and where they’d gone through their certification.  Some had gone to India, others to New York City.  Some did it in 6 months and others in a year.  And then my favorite instructor told me about South Boston Yoga.

By the time I had discovered South Boston Yoga yoga had already changed my life.  I knew I wanted to be a yoga instructor, was taking as many classes as I could fit in to my schedule and even started my blog, LiveRunLoveYoga, as a place to talk about yoga.  I was saving every penny I could to pay for the training and knew it would happen when the time was right.  I finally took my first class at South Boston Yoga; a Sunday morning class with live music and my life was transformed forever.  The lessons and wisdom shared in each practice, with the chanting and singing took me to a place I’d never been.  Just 7 months after my first class at South Boston Yoga, in the midst of training for my third marathon I signed up for yoga teacher training.

Physically, yoga changed my entire body.  As a collegiate athlete I was very muscular and strong but yoga helped me to find a leaner, stronger version of myself.  I shed much of the muscle I no longer needed and learned how to use my strength in an entirely new way.  The idea of zipping up my core to find strength in balance was an entirely new concept to me.  Yoga helped to heal my body after my IT band injury during my first marathon.  It evened out my muscle imbalances and stretched my incredibly tight hips.  After years of working to open my hips and stretch my hamstrings and quads, I no longer run with the knee brace I once needed.  After 4 years of a regular yoga practice my running has completely changed.   My core is stronger, and the drive in my knees and hips is so much more powerful.  When I take a misstep I hardly notice it as my body is already correcting itself.  Beyond my running my posture is much more aligned and I walk taller than ever before.

Yoga Photo and quote

Mentally, and emotionally yoga has taught me more than I could ever imagine.  One of the first things yoga taught me was to stop worrying and to control those emotions.  It also taught me patience, it’s taught me that not everything needs to happen RIGHT NOW and that the best things in life come with time.  As I’ve gone through teacher training I’ve learned how to let go of the person I didn’t want to be.  I’ve learned to free myself from the parts of my personality and past that were holding me back from enjoying the best parts of life and being the person I know deep down.  I’ve learned to be vulnerable, and open.  And I’ve learned that imperfection is beautiful.  The list of what I’ve learned emotionally and mentally from yoga could go on and on but it has changed my life in more ways than I can count.

I’ve come so far on my journey into yoga, and honestly don’t know where my path will lead me.  Yoga has healed my body and my soul.  It’s given me something to share with my significant other, to experience together and separately as a couple.  Yoga has given me friendships, the most significant being that with myself.   It’s given me an understanding of the body, and the mind.  It’s helped me to have compassion with everyone around me.  Most significantly, it has given me a gift to share with the world.  Yoga has given me the tools to help others much like it has helped me.