Remember when I posted about practicing yoga for twelve straight days? Today I hit Day 100.
Let me just say, wow. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t really think of one single thing, “good” or “bad”, that I do consistently each and every day (other than “basic” things, like breathing). I don’t drive my car every day. I don’t use a computer every day. I don’t get out of bed early every day. I don’t read every day. I don’t eat three meals every day. I don’t remember to take my vitamins every day. And the list goes on.
This has been so great for me.
Since pressing play on that Day 1 back in March, I’ve:
– become more aware of my breath and breathing
– lost weight
– become more aware of what I’m eating and when
– been more mindful about my thoughts
– welcomed more grace into my day to day life
– completed 30 Days of Yoga (and am currently on my second pass)
– completed Yoga Revolution
– completed Yoga Camp
– managed to do my first crow pose!
– participated in the live Project OM event
Breath & Breathing
I hate hearing other people breathing. So over the years, I’ve become a very quiet breather. If we were playing Hide & Seek, my breathing isn’t going to give away my hiding spot! So being a vocal breather during practice has been difficult for me. Being alone in my own home has allowed me to be open to trying to deepen my breath though. And it’s brought me new awareness. Partnering my movements, on and off a yoga mat, with my breath allows for more fluidity. I realized at one point while unloading the dishwasher that I was holding my breath, and almost wasn’t breathing at all! So now I’m trying to exhale as I bend over to open the bottom drawer of the cabinet and inhale as I rise up from that bend. Such a simple change, but a huge impact in the new ease of my movements! I still appreciate being a quiet breather, and I don’t think I’ll ever get to a place where heavy breathing all the time is a comfortable norm for me; but I am taking more deep breaths more often just to get some additional oxygen into my system 🙂
Let me just say that yoga alone is not enough for any meaningful weight loss. I continued to ignore my diet for a good two or so weeks before I woke up and realized I needed to look at more than just my activity level. Yes, I was practicing every day, but yoga is not intense, and not a high-calorie-burning activity. It wasn’t until I looked at my diet that I started dropping pounds.
I’ve used MyFitnessPal on and off for years, so when I wanted to look at the food side of things, I redownloaded this app. I eventually renamed the categories from the basic “breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks” to timeframes – before 8a, 8a-11a, 11a-2p, 2p-5p, 5p-8p, and after 8p. Making sure I’m looking at the nutritional values of everything I eat has DRASTICALLY changed how I eat. In a “normal” day, I was easily consuming 3,500+ calories on things that didn’t “seem” like high calorie foods. It was eye opening. Now I have a “base level” of calories my body will burn off just with my normal day to day activity, and it will also look at your additional activities and adjust accordingly.
I didn’t have a lot of negative thoughts when I started practicing yoga. I had long ago moved away from looking at myself and others and immediately going into toxic thoughts. But I hadn’t really shifted into positive thoughts yet. It was pretty neutral. I’d look in the mirror and wouldn’t berate myself, but I wouldn’t look and say “you can do this” either. As time went on, I tried to have more positive thoughts.
Changing my thoughts changed my behavior.
Once I begin using it [grace]—on me and on others—I stop counting my transgressions at night. It’s easier to sleep when Cam has exhausted you, when you’re emptied of your grace and in the morning another dose waits for you both, like the sun. I used to confuse the words grace and goodwill. I would read the front page of CNN.com and wonder how grace abounds for the killers, the gunmen, the liars, the thieves. These people do not warrant goodwill. Their actions are not justifiable. When judged, their sins far outweigh their good behavior, tip the scale far in the direction of undeserving. So I’d try to give them a free pass. I’d try to envision their lives as difficult, as broken. I’d remind myself that hurt people hurt people, that we’re all in this together, doing our best, fighting hard battles, winning some and losing most. And I’d wish them goodwill. I’d offer them what I thought was grace. Hurt people do hurt people. We’re all fighting hard battles. These are worthy perspectives. This is not grace. Grace is not giving someone else a free pass because they’ve had a hard day. Grace is not giving yourself a free pass because you’ve had a hard day. Grace is not explaining away our bad behavior, then shrugging our shoulders and saying, “Hey, what’re you gonna do? It is what it is. Who wants ice cream?” Sure, I want the free pass. But this is me justifying an action—someone else’s or my own—by offering goodwill. This is me searching for an explanation that I can understand instead of accepting the one I will never be able to understand. That we have already been forgiven. That we have already been set free. Still, I offer my version of grace: You did this wrong, but look, you did that right. Don’t beat yourself up. Here, have a fig leaf. Would you like some tea? Can I get you anything? God’s version of grace is this: You did this wrong, but look, I did this right. You have everything you need now. Follow me in peace. Go now in freedom. Walk now in abundance. Grace is giving yourself a free pass and realizing that it isn’t free at all. Grace is giving someone else a free pass and realizing God has already passed his along. To all of us.
Loechner, Erin. Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path (pp. 217-218).
While I don’t identify 100% with these words, the concept is intriguing. It’s not MY JOB to forgive the transgressions of the day, and if it isn’t my job, then I don’t have to spend the time analyzing them to DECIDE if they should be forgiven.
So if someone cuts me off in traffic, yes, it’s upsetting. But I’m not going to spend the rest of the car ride (or day!) analyzing the action and coming up with my own assumptions about the driver in order to get myself to a place of forgiveness for the now-very-built-up transgression. Instead, yes, I was cut off. But it doesn’t affect me behind that. It’s someone else’s job to analyze the situation and react accordingly (karma?). So much more peaceful. Maybe that driver was in a rush; maybe that driver had an emergency; maybe that driver had mad poops and was driving wildly to a nearby toilet; maybe none of that matters to me personally. We all have our own battles. What I can do is simply understand that.
Find What Feels Good, Yoga with Adriene, and Project OM
I’ve already raved about Yoga with Adriene. What I didn’t mention was that I connected with her FIND WHAT FEELS GOOD philosophy. There are many facets to Yoga, like many other things, and Adriene reminds you (gently and subtly) that you need to do you. Yes, Yoga is a bunch of “poses,” but it isn’t about nailing them. I think maybe in Western society, we’ve moved Yoga towards solely a physical practice, and abandoned a lot of the spiritual sides of it. There are layers.
It dawned on me what Yoga was doing for me when I tried to do a Beachbody video one day (I won’t name it). That day, during my entire workout, I was flustered. It felt like a lot of barking poses and fumbling and choppiness. “WHEN DO I BREATH!?!?!” It was solely about kicking my muscles’ butts and nothing to do with doing so mindfully. At that moment I realized how much I need mindfulness. I need time to be aware of what’s happening with my body. I need to pay attention to what each piece feels like every day, because it’s constantly changing!
I need to FIND WHAT FEELS GOOD.
I love that Adriene was able to introduce Yoga to me in a way that didn’t send me running, that made me stop and think about my intentions, and in a way that offered me the space to approach Yoga how I needed to. “No Yoga Robots.”
When Adriene did a live practice with Project OM, I put it on my calendar. It was amazing to participate with, I think, 5,000 other people from around the world and raise awareness at the same time. As an introvert who is currently very personally opposed to a group Yoga class, this was perfect for me. Maybe it was the first step for me in working towards practicing Yoga in a public space 😉
In the end, I think I can safely say that Yoga, for me, is here to stay. ♥