The End of an Adventure; Beginning a New Practice

Portland sunrise

Last Thursday, I completed my Yoga Teacher Training by teaching a 60 minute yoga class.  We stretched, stood strong, balanced, and I led the class back to the floor for our final resting pose; after dimming the lights and allowing time for some silence, I sang to the room of resting yogis.  My relief for completing the training, delight at how well this class went (despite my sleepless night, music hiccups, and nervousness), and gratitude for all the great teachers, classmates, and wonderful people I met on this journey brought so much emotion, that tears fell from my eyes as I bowed my head with the word Namaste”. 

A week and a half later, I am still unsure if I will use this knowledge to teach full classes at a studio or gym.  I am now a certified yoga instructor, yet the debate swirls in my mind; knowing that my intention for this journey was to find some personal growth – and I certainly have – I find I have learned so much, acquiring a new sense of appreciation for all things Yoga, and feel a sense of need or responsibility to somehow share this new-found knowledge.

My body has not felt this strong in many years.  And I can release stress with so much ease; a simple inhale through the nose and exhale open mouth does the trick.  (This is not necessarily recommended at one’s corporate job while in a meeting because you may draw unwanted attention to yourself, but is entirely acceptable at one’s desk).

I find myself at a kind of impasse.  The road forward is more clear now, and I know many of the steps I need to take to get where I need to be (more details to come soon), yet I know that there are a few personal tasks I must accomplish before I can ever be successful starting these new adventures.

For many years, I have had the desire to have a morning practice.  When training for running races, especially the 50k, I felt pretty good about getting outside to run before work as my practice, but it was only 4-5 times per week. This desire to take time for myself to exercise, focus, and be present to start the day has morphed into a need through this yoga journey, and yet I am still avoiding just beginning.  I think that I fear the changes that will come when I allow myself to truly be present – to get comfortable in my own skin, in my home, in my mind, right NOW – because (more!) changes will be needed.

Despite this angst, change is not something I fear, and this change, adding a daily practice (spiritual and physical), does not take a great deal of time nor does it change who I am.  So I wonder now: why do I fear taking one step closer to who I really am and what my heart desires?

Perhaps I am simply afraid to learn what I have been missing for the past thirty-two years. No … I do not believe that is not the reason.  I am afraid that starting these practices will draw my attention inward.  Away from friends, family, and a life outside myself because I have so much to explore. 

I recognize that much of my 32 years on Earth has been spent doing what was expected of me. Doing what I could to fit in as best as I could.  Making myself available to please friends.  And finally, what I need to do is discover myself, find out what makes me tick, what feels right as my place in this world.  And it is a little scary taking those steps toward understanding.

So here on this page, I make a promise to myself, and state it out loud to you all to help hold myself accountable.  December 1st, 2014, I am beginning a Daily Practice.  I will start with 20 min of asana practice, 5 minutes of Pranayama ( Ujjayi breath), and starting small, explore 5 minutes of meditation – unfamiliar territory – and study how these practices affect me.  My intention is also to add running back into my life (oh, how I have missed this view of the city!), which is a little frustrating because I know I must begin slowly after taking a couple of months away from pounding the pavement (the 6 miles I ran yesterday has left my legs quite sore).  I am interested to see what this new practice reveals to me, and how it might affect my mood and the unfolding of each day.

Tell me:
Do you have a daily practice?
How does your practice serve you in your day?

As always, I encourage you to find joy in all that you do.
~Alaina

An Explanation of the Long Absence: New Directions

Beautiful sunset on Cape Kiwanda.

Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t posted for a while, and I am here today to share with you.

Before I flew South to run the Siskiyou Outback 50k, I received an email from my favorite yoga studio.  They announced their next Teacher Training event would be starting in September… and I decided to reach out to these lovely people (because I did not meet all of the specified requirements) to ask if I would be able to be considered for the program.  Fortunately, based on my commitment to running, and the athleticism therefore gained, they enthusiastically said yes!  I gleefully paid the deposit to hold my spot in the class and went about my summer of the big run and the many, many weddings.

After I returned from Ashland and the Siskiyou mountains, I started attending weekly social events; I attended four weddings and a funeral this August (one wedding was in September), kind of ironic.  Each event was lovely, and time flew by!  Before I knew it, weeks had passed without a blog post, and I was starting yoga teacher training!

I have now completed my first week of training.  And Oh.My.Goodness.  I am simply exhausted!  When you decide to go through teacher training, yes my fellow yogi – you, I highly recommend that you fully mentally prepare yourself for not having much of a social life.  20 hours of class and study and then some on top of a 40+ hour work week is a lot.  Not to mention the fact that I also have hired a coach to help me figure out my next steps in life, which is a lot more personal research, growth, and homework of activities and planning.

Sometimes I find myself wondering: “Why am I doing all of this now?”

Each time, my answer remains the same – there have been some major catalysts for change in my life over the last two years, and finally I made the decision to jump in head first – dive in to all the things I have wanted and neglected.  My patience had run out, and it was time to just go for it.

I cannot remember when I decided I wanted to go through yoga teacher training.  My first ever class was a PE credit in college.  And I loved it! That class was such a stress reliever.  I felt amazing after yoga (and SOOOO relaxed!).  I remember getting breakfast and then taking a nap before my next class.  Ah… those were the days… But there is something about yoga that has always had a strange and wonderful pull on my heart.  I feel lighter, happier, and more … complete, at peace, and open to be in a joyful state.  I am always prepared after a yoga class to get out and interact with other human beings, as I know that my mind is in a much better state to receive and impart information.  Here I am, finally taking initiative in my own life to achieve what my heart has desired for so long!  Wow!

I am following my heart’s desire!!!

For the first time in my life, I am making choices to move toward purposeful living.  Currently, I am on a cleansing diet – no sugar, caffeine, gluten-filled grains – and this, too makes each day challenging. I spent the late evening hours Friday baking, and Saturday morning I was cooking up a storm making future dinner or lunch dishes.  I am learning to cook and eat in a very different manner, and although this diet is recommended for 14 days, I think I am on my way to a significant change in the way I eat post-cleanse.  I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who eats odd, healthy foods, and now here I am, due to current ailments and a doctor’s recommendation, learning how to be who I have admired for so long.  (More dreams into reality).

What I have learned over the first week of yoga classes is that I need a lot more alone time while I am working and learning.  I can feel my body getting stronger already, and my mind is processing so much information, surely growing as well, and just needs more rest.

On that note, please forgive me if I am not posting about running as much, as you may see the content of this page change a little to discuss yoga and the personal transformative process that comes out of this training.  I have so much to learn in the next ten weeks, and it is hard to believe I it is possible to learn all that is needed in this short time, let alone the fact that my final exam is teaching a full 60 minute class!

I saw this on my way to the first day of yoga training. The Universe leaves us messages in the funniest places.

Until next week, happy running everyone, and if you get a chance pop into a yoga class (especially Yin!).  It is so great to stretch those tight muscles!

with love, light, and delight!
~Alaina