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

The One Month Feat; and Noticeably Different Feet

A couple of days ago I glanced down, looking at my feet.

And it was like I was gazing down at a stranger’s.  They looked… grown up.  Strong.  Beautiful.  …And yet, so alien.

I have arches.

Look at the lift at the inside of those feet!
Flat-footed pre-Yoga Teacher Training (and dirty speckled, post Siskiyou Outback 50K race)

Throughout my entire life, I have had the flattest feet of anyone I have ever known.  And now, after completing five weeks of nearly daily physical yoga practice, my feet are strong! It’s incredible how quickly the body adapts to the changing physical demands we ask it to accept and work through.

I used to think that running strengthened my core quite a bit – breathing is hard work when you are running 20 miles over the course of three and a half hours.  Certainly it takes some strength to accomplish this task!  Yet, now, not only is my core tremendously stronger, and I feel shy saying this, …I actually have some definition in my abs…!

Part of the changes I am noticing is due to the fact that I did a cleanse (no sugar/starch) for nearly one month.  AMAZING transformations happen when you eliminate sugar and anything with more than 5 ingredients or containing any preservatives or unpronounceable compounds.  I have never felt so good.

But.  (Did you know that was coming?)
Everything is not all hunky-dory.  Nope.

About two weeks ago, my thighs started going numb.

Weird, right?  The tops of my thighs, and the skin covering them, all going numb.  This is something I have noticed for years if I found myself laying on my back when waking up in the morning.  I would just roll to my side and all would be well, feeling returning to my upper legs.

Now, I found myself in a lunge pose in a yoga class – and the top of my back leg went numb.

A couple of days later, at a standing meeting around a desk at work, both legs went numb on the thigh.  And over the past week, it has become a daily occurrence of sleeping/waking legs.  So frustrating. I finally went for some body work – and apparently I had some tight muscles, and even after releasing the fascia from the muscle tissue and detaching things that had adhered together and become stuck, I am still experiencing the same darn numbness.  At this point, I am pretty sure the cause is a ligament in my hip crease area stretching over a nerve and cutting off feeling.  Now, I simply need to locate the point and figure out how to bring more flexibility and release the tension on this ligament so it stops pressing on the nerve…

I knew this yoga journey would teach me new things about myself, stamina, strength, and health of the mind, body, and soul.  I did not think I would be given incentive to learn about nerve paths in the body.  A somewhat uncomfortable, and totally interesting experience.  (My legs are feeling numb less often, now; I am paying close attention to any changes, please do not worry about me!)

This journey is helping me to look at my life – practices, choices, ways of living and consuming in this world – and make conscious decisions about how I choose to live.  I had no idea that my mind would be challenged to change.  Nor did I know that my body would change so much – my feet starting to look like a yogi’s.

This will be an interesting journey, indeed.  

Have you ever started a new activity to be faced with unforeseen challenges?  Was it something totally off your radar?
How did you approach that roadblock?

I would love to hear your story!

as always, with joy,
~Alaina