“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”
A few hours ago I finished a yoga class with Greg Marzullo. Greg is also one of my favorite instructors and it was interesting to go to his class after my 30 day challenge with Mimi. Unbeknownst to me the class was a level 1. I really enjoyed it. It gave me a chance to slow down and marinate in the poses. Above all, it showed me just how much progress I have made in the last month. There was absolutely no struggle. I was comfortable and able to push and find my own edge in a different way. I am so glad I took the class because I would never have been able to fully appreciate the vast difference in my practice before and after the challenge. All of Mimi’s classes are challenging for me and even though I could see incremental progress in her class it was more difficult to appreciate because every class is so demanding and pushes you to your physical edge.
This is my last blog about the yoga journey. I waited a few days to write it because I wanted to see how I felt. Overall, the experience was incredible. I stretched myself in ways I never imagined, both physically and mentally. My perspective has shifted about so many things– the most important of which is my attitude toward things being convenient. The 30 days was by no means convenient. Once it was over and the flexibility returned to my evening and weekend schedules, it was hard for me to believe I did it. But I made the commitment and now I know I am capable of planning and sticking to the plan. The convenience didn’t matter because I had a goal. Now I realize convenience is a perception constructed by my inflexibility. I should be grateful that I have the freedom to change my lifestyle to accommodate a challenge like this. Those are the big things. Along the way, I learned and achieved a lot of little things the sum of which have made me a better person. Here are the ones I can think of right now:
1. Just show up. Something good will happen
2. Slow down. I slowed myself down, stopped multi-tasking and rushing around. It only creates anxiety and stress and is unnecessary. The world doesn’t end and no one gets hurt if you eliminate something from your schedule to maintain balance.
3. Plan when necessary. Planning is a good thing. And it helps achieve #2. Spontaneity is good too but planning is not an enemy.
4. Do your best and that’s enough
5. Listen to your body and go at your pace. Yoga isn’t a competition. I knew this before but in so many of these classes, I had to retreat within and figure out what my body was asking for and what its limit were in that moment. One of my biggest fears when I began was an injury. I avoided it because I listened to what my body was saying to me no matter how subtle. There is a phrase in “Desiderata”, don’t compare yourself to others, there will always be [yogis who can do more than you and those who can do less than you].
6. It’s ok to let yourself feel. I was not expecting the emotional rollercoaster the yoga sent me on. But I let it happen without resistance. Opening up and honestly facing emotion and pain is really the only way to heal and let go. Some days I was happy, others I was cranky, some I was agitated and others I was just there. Whatever the emotion was I just let it happen. They pass. I was very happy on day 30 but the minute it was over and Mimi hugged me, the emotions bubbled up and I cried. They were tears of joy, relief, accomplishment and gratitude.
7. The breath is the anchor of life. I knew this already but it really got me through some tough times on the mat. And it can get me through tough times in life. Deep breathing has healing and calming powers. It is a severely underappreciated resource.
Other changes were abundant.
a. My back doesn’t hurt…ever.
b. My hips are more open.
c. I can bind on the right side and the left isn’t far behind.
d. My upper body strength has vastly improved.
e. I feel taller and my posture has improved.
f. I feel more alert, present and at peace. I am still working on traffic though. But over the last month, I studied why I get so vexed in traffic. The singular reason is because people are being rude. It one of my pet peeves and that will likely never change. Knowing this, I need to change my reaction to people’s behavior since I can not control it.
g. I floss daily. This is related to the elimination of rushing. I am never in a hurry anymore. It’s amazing to me that such a profound change could happen to me in just 30 days. Of all the changes, I hope this one sticks the most because it impacts nearly everything else in life.
h. My measurements. I lost 3 pounds and 1 inch off each my bust, waist and hips. Modest but impressive because it’s pretty much from just adding yoga everyday.
So, what now? This was the jumpstart I needed. Once I started to feel better the motivation began to build. Once one door opens, you are presented with another, then another, then another. And I am profoundly grateful for my teacher. I could not have done it without her. She was there inspiring me, pushing when I needed it and looking for me when the universe sent signals about my doubts. Once I expressed to her my reservations about my ability to adhere to the rigorous schedule. She told me I HAD to finish—not just for me but for her. And I did. We finished together. It took commitment and courage. Life expanded and I am changed. Onward.