Bali Yoga Video: Day 22: graduation

It’s been an emotional day! Amazingly good, difficult, hard work, fun, celebratory, inspirational, and encouraging are all words I would use to describe today. This yoga teacher training is like a boot camp for the soul and the body!

Today we had our morning meditation and it was revelatory for me. I read an email before meditation from a customer of my online store (www.LaSaludOrganics.com) asking about the whereabouts of her order. To make a long story short, I couldn’t be of much help to her because of the time difference and I couldn’t find out anything for her until Monday. I did what I could, emailed her back, but was still stressed about it and felt a burden to do something else. I came to meditation really needing to chill out. This was the perfect way for me to see the value and power of it! One of our instructors here said that we should not be slaves to our minds but we should instead be in control of thoughts and actions and know that we have power and choice. This morning’s email was a perfect opportunity to put this into practice and what a difference I saw and felt after 20 minutes of meditation! I’m thinking I will be continuing some form of meditation once I leave, tomorrow! Ahhh! Which leads me to this video: me graduating!

I am now an official Yoga Alliance 200 Hour Yoga Teacher! Along with graduation, to wrap up the training, our facilitators had us write words to describe what was the biggest thing we learned (I wrote that I am perfect, regardless of what “changes” need to still yet be made. I am God’s wonderful, beautiful, magnificent creation just. Like. I. Am.), we shared as a group what we would want everyone to know as parting last words, so-to-speak, we had a 2 hour “tell the person what you love about them” party, and then we ended the day with an incredible dinner out with dancing, a live band, then DJ, and Christmas trees! It’s the first big Christmas tree I’ve seen this year!

Overall this has been an incredible day: one of many tears, lots of encouragement, positivity, and hope. I am happy to say that not only am I stronger in my yoga asana practice, but I am also stronger in my spirit and mind as well. I’m looking forward to some assimilation over the next few days before I fly back to the U.S.

Until next time, Namaste! Xoxo

Bali Yoga Training: Day 18: health

This video is a little wordy, but if you stay through to the end you’ll hear the point. I really like yoga, in case you didn’t already know that. I love moving to my breath, I love challenging myself, I love the mind, body, spirit connection, I love the people that practice, I love the clothes, the sweat, the ecstasy like state you get while you move and breathe and feel and be. It’s a state of being that is so alive!

This teacher training is an intensive, comprehensive, 200 hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training within 3 weeks time. That’s a lot of info and work to do in a short amount of time. We start at 6:30am and end usually at 7pm but have homework and group projects and teaching in between it all. Yes, we have breaks during the day for breakfast and lunch, and we have half days off but as you have probably seen from pictures and past videos, I want to get off the property to explore, not just because I’m in an amazing foreign land, but also for sanity’s sake! All this to say, that sometimes a person, me, can get blinded to the obvious.

I am thankful for people in my life to help me see clearly. I hope this video, these blog posts, and my life helps you become awakened, as I am becoming each and everyday.

We have a half day off tomorrow! Yeehaw! I haven’t decided what adventures I will partake in outside the yoga and group teaching project work, but I’m sure I will tell you about it. Good night! Until tomorrow, Namaste!

Bali Yoga training: Day 17: peak

This is the final week of my yoga teacher training! I can hardly believe it, yet it does feel like it’s been a long time. I’m very, very happy to be here, in hot, humid, sweltering Bali while there is SNOW in Redding! God is so perfect. I am not opposed to snow, at all, but it does present a challenge to leading/teaching a stand up paddleboard yoga class with On Water Yoga when the lake is frozen. I actually hope that it begins to warm up for when I return! I would love to be able to take my new skills to the water, but one step at a time, which leads me to this video.

I am scheduled to teach an active Vinyasa Yoga class this Thursday morning with my group of 7 (8 total including me). We will be the last group to teach and so far we’ve seen 2 groups go already. It’s been really nice to slowly take our time, practicing, gaining insight via what other groups have done, continue to learn adjusting techniques, sequencing, alignment, etc. I am really happy with my group, our choice of poses, intention, meditation and opening, and the peak pose I picked and am leading. Each of in the group teaches 15 minutes of the 2 hour class.

A Vinyasa Yoga class is designed around a “peak” pose so that the warm up and middle of the class is designed to prepare one’s body to be ready for the most difficult, or the peak pose. I picked one we haven’t done yet here in Bali and one I have introduced to my land yoga classes in Redding, but would like more guidance and skill at teaching, particularly the modifications. When I asked my yoga instructor Gabrielle about the pose and it’s name she said, “Wow, you’re not messing around! Going straight into it!” Well, yes! Yes I am! It’s been a good challenge for me and the group to think how to structure for something we haven’t done in class and which no one in my group has ever done before, yet, it’s been easy at the same time. I am really happy with the way my group is working together, being supportive, open, and up for the challenge. There was really no questions asked, just an ok, let’s do it attitude!

There has been an overall sense of things starting to wind down and come to an end, along side the energy around us teaching classes. Today Chris, one of the co-founders of the Awakened Life School of Yoga, talked about meditation after our training is over and suggestions for how to integrate it in to our everyday lives. I have to admit that when we first started I wasn’t that interested in the meditation component as was presented in our pre-work assignments, but I can really see and feel how meditation can be used to tame the wildness of the mind and let our spirit be our guides. Before this yoga training, I had only done contemplative prayer meditation (choosing a verse, some words, or other such inspirational teaching and turning the mind repeatedly back towards it for a set amount of time) but now I’ve done several different types of meditation here, maybe 5 or 6 different ones. I’ll probably write more about this in another entry. It’s late now and I’m starting to fade, but to touch on it briefly, I am beginning to think about how I can incorporate more meditation into my life back in Redding.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for supporting me. Thanks for praying for me! I pray that you are encouraged, enlightened, and that you experience more freedom and happiness in your life from reading this.

Until next time, namaste!

Bali Yoga Training: Day 16: perfect

This has been day 2 of sitting out of asana practice. ☹ My arms have been tingly and somewhat numb for a little over a week, progressively getting more so as the days have gone by. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had an acupuncture treatment because my wrists hurt and that it relieved some of that pain, but it has slowly crept back on.

It’s an interesting place to be: at a yoga teacher training where we are doing yoga daily, sometimes twice a day, and not able to participate physically. I was pretty upset about it yesterday, but it was a powerful moment. One of the many things Awakened Life School of Yoga is good at is cultivating a space to let one sit with and work through stuff. Chris, one of the co-founders, let me cry, laugh, cry, and process these feelings of disappointment, frustration, awareness, pity, realization, and then enlightenment. He did such an incredible job of lovingly sitting beside me, but not stopping the process. “Getting a tissue” as we have jokingly yet realistically called it. I saw, yesterday, that it’s not a big deal if I don’t complete every single yoga asana class! I realized that it’s not normal for people to have tingling and numb arms. I realized that I had been pushing through this just for the falsity that I “needed to keep up and be like or be more advanced” than the other students in the class. When I realized that, I laughed and laughed, and then cried some more. I told Christ though, that I wanted to create a new normal. His response: “You will.”

Today I had a 1.5 hour “healing massage.” I’m giving myself some more time to determine how much help this has been, but there has definitely been some shifting. He did some good work with pressure points, muscle, myofacial tissue, tendons; it was intense, yet relaxing! My body is settling into this new alignment. We will see how things are in the morning. I’m hoping, and expectant, for a miracle. One of the yoga instructors told me yesterday that I need to take a break from yoga asana practice until I don’t feel pain, then slowly ease back into it, determining which poses are bothersome. I think it all stemmed from shoulders stands, which I am pretty sure I was actually doing as neck stands; however, as I was sharing with both Chris and the yoga instructor yesterday, I have been through a LOT of trauma, surgeries, near death experiences, chemotherapy, organs removed, chemo, broken bones, falls, etc. And as the yoga instructor so eloquently stated, things are all interconnected. With my abdomen having a lot of scar tissue, it can create a pulling forward of my spine and tension on my neck.

In tonight’s Restorative Yoga class, we ended the class with some chanting and contemplative silence. As I was sitting there, I began asking myself the question “when will I be fixed? When will I be healthy?” What immediately came to me, almost audibly, was: “you are perfect just as you are.” It rocked me. It was so freeing! I am absolutely perfect, right now, right here! There is no “fixing” that needs to happen! I am free to be me.

Enjoy this video. I hope it’s not too shaky. I obviously took it while walking.

Thanks for reading. I hope you are inspired to keep on moving forward, regardless of your past traumas, pains, hurts, and to stop, be vulnerable, be real, honest, and open, and realize that you are perfect: right now, without changing a single thing. You are loved.

Namaste!

Bali Yoga Training Video: Day 11

On one of the first days Liz, one of the co-founders, had us write Day 1 and Day 22 on a card. She then had us close our eyes, put our pen under the words Day 1 and with fluidity and movement up and down and around, we drew a line from Day 1 to Day 22. Most everyone’s were pretty squiggly with highs and lows. She went on to say that this was a representation of what our experience would be with our yoga teacher-training program and to expect this over the next few weeks. She stressed the normality of such an experience and that there was nothing wrong with us experiencing great highs and even difficult lows. There has been a strong emphasis to be ok with what is, to not judge, but to acknowledge what we are really and truly feeling, to not fluff over reality, all so that we can honestly evaluate and see clearly how to move forward, only after we have allowed ourselves to come to terms or recognize the right now. For me, today was a bit of a low day. There wasn’t anything in particular that was bad that happened today. I even took our asana practice off today to assist in class, so I can’t say that I was exhausted from yoga practice, but what I can say is that we are learning a lot, I have been meeting lots of new people, settling in to a new schedule, new food, new culture, new yoga styles and teachers, sitting for long periods of time, experiencing a bit of pain in my neck, shoulders, and wrists, and then applying all that we are learning, not only in front of the class in active assists, teaching, presenting, asking questions, etc., but also in conversations, in interactions with people, in meditation, and in this blog. I have really appreciated the emphasis on being ok with what raises up within ourselves, whatever the feelings are and that there is no “bad” or “good.” I think I have had a pretty good grasp of not judging, categorizing, fixing, or skipping over my feelings of the moment and blowing into “good” behavior, but there is ALWAYS more to learn! There was a moment today where I saw within myself stubbornness, a recognition, and then confusion as to how I could have responded better to the situation. I felt isolated and lonely after this small interaction but within a short amount of time, I saw that it was one of the moments to recognize what is/was, and know that I have the power to choose how I respond again and throughout the rest of the day. Coincidentally, (I think not!), Liz talked about reactiveness and responsiveness in relationships and our own self talk in this afternoon’s class session, confirming my grace for myself and my ability to choose. The day ended well with group work, restorative yoga, group hugs, a send off for our Vinyasa Flow yoga teacher Basil Jones, and a few of us practicing assists and teaching. Tomorrow is a half break day and the majority of the group is traveling to 2 hours to Ubud together. I am really looking forward to getting off site and traveling around a bit, buying little gifts for people, and seeing life in a larger city.

My acupuncture treatment today was great, by the way. My arms have been going numb/tingly when I have been reaching my arms up overhead in asana practice and that’s stopped since my acupuncture treatment. I’m SO glad! I have regular chiropractic and Heller Work (myofacial tissue release) massage work done at home, but here, that isn’t an option. If necessary, I am glad to know that acupuncture can be of help if I need it!

I need to get some sleep but I hope this is inspiring and encouraging! Thanks for reading, until tomorrow, Namaste!

Why I practice yoga

I practice yoga because it brings me life, it brings me joy, it brings me peace, and it brings me healing. I practice yoga because it brings freedom.

I often come across naysayers to yoga, for a whole host of reasons, you can probably think of some right now, but the spiritual aspect of yoga is really what makes the whole exercise or practice so alluring for me. I am a Christian and in a world of Buddha and Hindi Goddess statues, I can get a lot of push back from what I am beginning to really understand are my own insecurities, fears, and lies. This is what I love about yoga: it embodies growth not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. Yoga allures and provides an opportunity to reach and obtain heaven on earth, a higher place, and an ecstasy if-you-will, in peace, love, and joy through all three aspects of ourselves: spirit, body, and soul (mind, will, and emotions). It is unlike any other form of exercise or even learning opportunity.

 I began my yoga practice 13 years ago and admittedly have been a weekend warrior for most of that time. I grew up doing gymnastics, cheerleading, and dance, but it was just after college that a friend invited me to a yoga class. That first instructor was so empowering and encouraging, she embodied what I now know yoga, and God, to be about: she planted a seed of hope and exploration that has shaped my practice, and life ever since. I see how my childhood activities prepared me for the physical asanas or poses of yoga, but those can come with regular practice.  We are all born with an innate hunger for the Divine and yoga allows us to explore Him, however inflexible we may be, IF we so choose. The seemingly paradoxical safe-challenge of yoga is unlike any other. It allows for our whole self to explore together thus creating a synergy found nowhere else. For me, yoga has become a transcendental way of growth in the Divine as I explore and now teach others the physical asanas, breathe, mental, and spiritual awareness that is inside a yoga class. Yoga has become a gift, which like God, is never ending and fully good. As with all things the depths of your personal practice is a choice. I like that and it is one more reason I practice yoga.