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Health

Goodbye 2020

By Covid-19, Goal Setting, Health, Mindfulness, Transition, Values, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

I struggled to write an End of 2020 blog this month. What could I possibly say about this past year that hasn’t already been said? 2020 was over and I was over it. Not wanting to spend any more time or energy on the year that seemed to crush us all, I was thankful for the inspiration of Jennifer Aniston.

I love Jennifer Aniston. I’ve been a fan for years and still root for her to reunite with Brad. Scrolling through social media, I came across an article about Aniston. It featured a recent photo of Jen, kissing herself in the bathroom mirror, reminding us to give ourselves a little love. The article described how amazing Jen looks at age 51, attributing her beauty and wellbeing to her strict diet and fitness routine, her early morning lemon water and meditation regimen, and her collagen protein line. I found myself going down an all too familiar spiral of self-worthlessness: I am not enough. My downward spirals typically follow a sustained period of eating Hershey’s Kisses filled with Cherry Cordial Crème washed down with wine.

Maybe I should set my alarm for 4:15am to allow time for meditation before I teach. I could buy Jen’s organic collagen peptides, add spirulina to every meal, increase my cardio output, and ensure eight hours of quality sleep every night. I’m cracking the code to Jen’s secret!

My anxious spiral crashes into an epiphany: Jen doesn’t have two teenagers to raise and get off to college, a husband with a demanding and erratic work schedule, a small business to run in a remote alpine town, and goats to feed in -14F. Plus, LA’s climate is so much more forgiving on the skin, right?

Because Jen’s life is totally different from mine, there’s no reason I should hold myself up to her standards. I removed these out-of-place expectations and enjoyed a wonderful moment of real reflection and true contentment. I don’t need to change my life around to be like Jen or anyone else. I can keep meditating in the afternoons because that works for me. I can come to work with alfalfa stuck to my leggings—I love my messy, crazy life! And I’m grateful for my health! Knowing this euphoric feeling of confident self-love will likely be mercilessly fleeting, I decided to create one intention for this new year: contentment.

I will practice being content with where I am each and every day, even while I continue to grow, learn, and evolve. I’m not going to devise a detailed plan calculating the value of skinning up Mt. Werner, eating homegrown Fenugreek microgreens, climbing 1,000 vertical feet, drinking 18 ounces of freshly juiced celery, reading a New York Times Bestseller about personal development, or weighing the right amount by summertime.

As I reflect on this year at Rakta, I can honestly say I feel content. It has been a wild ride, but we have learned and grown so much. Offering online classes had always seemed like a good idea, but it wasn’t something I was inclined to add before 2020 forced my hand. Private and small group yoga also seemed like great ideas, but I was too busy establishing a perfectly cultivated variety of daily classes to pursue privates and small groups.

We had our moments though! When the mandatory mask rule was implemented this summer, class participation tanked. When the public health code decreased class size to 10% capacity, I wasn’t sure we would survive. Any time I began to question our ability to persevere, someone would inevitably express gratitude for the studio and our yoga community. People kept telling me Rakta was making a difference in their lives, and I found myself re-energized and ready to go again the next day.

The Rakta community has been amazing. The support (showing up on your mat), the trust (hanging in there with our virtual technical difficulties), and the dedication (continuing to practice yoga with us) have been such gifts. Our core community has become so connected. Although I used to miss the energy of a full room, there is a beautiful energy of practicing with our tight knit yoga family. I am content. And I am hopeful for a vibrant, healthy 2021 for all of us.

To those I haven’t seen since March, many blessings for a wonderful 2021. You are missed and I hope our paths will cross again soon. I want to end with the finishing quote from our final Fire Hot Series class of 2020.

“May Light always surround you; Hope kindle and rebound you. May your Hurts turn to Healing; Your Heart embrace Feeling. May Wounds become Wisdom; Every Kindness a Prism. May Laughter infect you; Your Passion resurrect you. May Goodness inspire your Deepest Desires. Through all that you Reach For, May your arms Never Tire. ” ~ D. Simone

In light and love, Sandy

Grace

By Ayurveda, Breathing, Covid-19, Energy, Health, Mindfulness, Seasons, Values, Vulnerability, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

Last month, the concept for my blog focused on my observation that we act differently around others while wearing a mask. When we are anonymous, our moral codes are disguised and we are not accountable. It seemed like we were losing kindness, connection, common courtesy, and politeness as we interacted or avoided interaction with each other. Over the past month, I have personally witnessed and heard others relay stories of aggressive, hurtful, and rude behavior in our town. It feels like we have hit an energetic low in this community.

There are so many possible reasons or a combination of reasons for this. Steamboat is super crowded right now. It has become more challenging to get outside and enjoy the feeling of getting away from it all. There are more people on the trails, at the lakes, and in open spaces. There are ongoing economic concerns as well as uncertainty around COVID-19 and its future impact on our lifestyles, businesses, physical and mental health, children, parents, and politics.

One thing to remember is to take a breath and realize that we are in the middle of pitta season. Wait, what? Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, is the traditional medicine system of India. It is based on the idea of creating balance throughout the body’s systems via diet, herbs, yoga, and pranayama. Things that affect the body’s balance include the seasons and the associated temperature, characteristics, and elements.

Pitta, or fire, season runs from late spring to early fall. In this season of fire energy, we can get out of balance from living at a high elevation, being closer to the sun, enjoying outdoor activities in the heat, lack of air conditioning, and even the foods we choose to eat. Too much pitta may manifest as becoming impatient, quick to anger, confrontational, or grumpy. It can also manifest as skin rashes, joint pain, or gastrointestinal symptoms such as reflux or diarrhea. The bottom line is: it’s hot, crowded, and we are losing our cool!

The one word that keeps coming to mind as I begin my asana practice on my mat these days is grace. It is one of my favorite words. I love its simplicity and elegance when spoken aloud. The word has several different definitions and uses. It can mean smoothness of action or beauty of form. It can indicate a pleasing or attractive quality. It can refer to kindness, forgiveness, or reverence.

When I practice grace on my mat, I am meeting myself right where my body is with honesty and kindness. Through the lens of an observer, I honor myself. When I practice grace with others, I accept them where they are in their journey and I extend kindness and compassion. I honor them. Grace is ending class with Namaste, which means the light, spirit, and divine in me bows to the light, spirit, and divine in you. I honor myself and I honor you.

It is easy to practice grace. And it is easy to be full of grace, until you aren’t anymore. I can be full of grace until I walk into the grocery store and spot someone walking down the aisle the wrong way with their mask below their nose. Incredulity, righteousness, and rage flash through my system. And I am instantly reminded that grace is a practice, and I am committed to it. My righteousness recedes, and so does my judgment.

Grace means we acknowledge that we are all shipwrecked in this boundless and unforgiving ocean right now. And we acknowledge, too, that we are all in our own, unique boats. I cannot assume I know and understand the kind of stress someone else is experiencing, just as others cannot truly know and understand mine. Just as it is important to balance pitta by selecting or avoiding certain foods and activities, it is also important to find ways to cultivate grace with yourself and others around you.

In light and love,

Sandy

Seeing Behind the Mask

By Health, Mindfulness, Values, Vulnerability, Wellness No Comments

Last summer, my daughter and I rode a crowded subway in New York City. I wondered about the people packed onto the subway with me. Where do they live? What do they do for work? Are they happy? Who are the people in their lives? I assumed everyone contemplated the lives of people with whom they shared public transportation, but my daughter’s skeptical facial expression gave me doubt.

I’ve always been curious about other people. Passing by houses, I imagine who the families inside are. What’s their story? How did they land there? When I travel, I poke around neighborhoods trying to catch a glimpse of locals’ lives.

As a PA, I speculated about patients’ lives a lot. Without knowing very much about our patients, I had to make judgments about their capabilities. Will they be able to take the medication as I’m directing? Will they be able to get to a pharmacy? Do they understand when they need to be seen again? If I could have one super power, I wanted it to be the ability to feel patients’ symptoms (very briefly) so I could understand what they were experiencing. I think this curiosity—and this desire for connection—is why I liked medicine and why I’m drawn to teaching. Practicing medicine is teaching—well over half of what we do is educate those we treat as well as those with whom we work.

Before moving to Steamboat, I had the incredible opportunity to work with a good friend. Dr. Chris Colwell was the head of Denver Health Emergency Department. One evening while attending a soup kitchen just blocks from Denver Health, he recognized the need for a free medical clinic for the homeless. His goal was to triage and provide care for those who were getting lost in the system but didn’t need to be in the emergency department.

It wasn’t long before we were seeing more than 50 patients in two hours. The success of Dr. Colwell’s clinic wasn’t innovative technology, advanced equipment, or potent medication. In fact, most medication we offered was over the counter. The success of the clinic was based on the connections we made and the care we provided. For once, our patients had someone to check in with each week. We knew their names and where they lived or camped. We cared deeply about their physical and mental health. We laughed and joked together. We grieved together when some patients never returned. We saw our patients and they felt seen. To be seen is so important in this world.

As soon as face masks were recommended or required for us to wear in March, I noticed people looking past each other. Maybe in part it was our adaptation to the new social distancing, but we started not seeing other people—even when we were out. Often times, eye contact was avoided. If eye contact was made, I sensed fear behind it. And of course, wearing a mask makes some of us feel less conspicuous or more anonymous. Our personal dynamics changed dramatically.

Not being seen has so many social ramifications that are not beneficial for society. I’ve noticed anger and aggression rearing up in many places but especially on social media where inherently we are not seen. In isolation, people can hide behind a computer screen, appear as a cursor, and leave hurtful comments with no real time or direct consequence. Without seeing others and without being seen, are we different people?

As we navigate this pandemic and the waves, resurgences, and phases of new normal, we really need to see each other again. We need to be open, curious, and respectful of each other. We need to step away from the defensive and over-protective; we need to nurture connection to other humans.

The focus of my classes the past few weeks has been on being that one—that one person who forgives, who looks past insults, who maneuvers the awkward situation and finds the authentic individual behind the overwhelming negativity and stark division. Be that one—that one person who extends kindness to all (starting with the self!). Can we see people, make eye contact, smile behind our masks, and say hello? Can we remember that we’re all connected? Can we stay curious about each other so we can keep learning, experiencing, and moving forward together? Can we imagine what others are feeling? Can we care what it’s like to be the person just six feet away?

In light and love,

Sandy

The Gift of Time & Yellowjackets

By Health, Mindfulness, Values, Vulnerability, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

I feel like I’m in a sci-fi movie right now. Empty streets, empty supermarket shelves, and toilet paper panic. The past few days have been difficult trying to make the right decision to close Rakta when, as a small business owner, I feel uncertain and anxious. I’ve been concerned about my teachers and concerned about taking away a place people can come to breathe, ground, and find peace.

But, I believe in my heart that closing is the right thing to do. Social distancing helps flatten the curve and reduce the impact on our healthcare system. Please remember that real people with families are working in hospitals and clinics. They are risking their health to take care of us. We owe it to them to be responsible and look out for society as a whole.

Remember, too, that we have been preparing for this kind of experience. Every yoga class, posture, meditation, and quote is designed to help you feel great when life is good and to feel stable, ready, and equipped when life is uncertain, unprecedented, or unfamiliar.

This is a time to grow and experiment. This may be your first opportunity to practice at home. It might feel awkward or empty at first, but lean in. Be present. Know that you are the source of your own calm. The pause between stimulus and response is your breath, and this is where growth occurs. Use your yoga tools.

Last fall, we had a bizarre infestation of yellowjackets in my house. It nearly unglued me. I have a real fear of all mean stinging vespids (not honeybees—they’re sweet and I love them). In the summertime, I jump away from yellowjackets when they land on my meal, hover, and dare me to proceed to eat and practice proper social etiquette.

The infestation in our house was like living in a horror movie. We wore shoes because dying yellowjackets fell from ceiling lights and blended into the carpet as they crawled around using their last measure of life. They fell on my son’s pillow at night. They dropped into my morning coffee while their counterparts buzzed overhead.

We called exterminators and set traps outside. “It seems this winter may be unusual and we’re seeing some bizarre behavior,” professionals explained. “Just wait it out and it will pass.”

About six weeks ago, I started feeling a shift in the energy around Steamboat. People seemed stressed and busier than ever. When I asked, the common response was: “I just have so much going on.” People stopped having time for social gatherings, meeting up to ski, and making phone calls. I thought back to my yellowjacket friends from the fall (yes, I’m overcoming my aversion) and I thought to myself: is something looming?

Here we are on March 14th, 2020. The COVID-19 situation means things are changing rapidly. It’s day-by-day, hour-by-hour with regard to policy implementations, cancellations, and closings. This is uncharted territory for the entire world.

But we are all in this together. Our over-scheduled lives have just been completely opened up. It may feel daunting, you may feel lost. But you have the power to make the most of this gift of time.

Get outside and walk, run, or bike. Listen to the sounds of nature and feel the springtime ground beneath you. Look through your pantry and finally use the dried beans and quinoa you intended to use last winter. Read a book. Catch up on sleep. Hang out with your family. Sit, meditate, and evaluate how much of your busyness is necessary versus optional.

Following the news nonstop will not help. Refer to one or two trusted sources for updates and information. Don’t fall victim to panic and the sneaky, dangerous every-man-for-himself mentality. You’ve been training for this moment on your mats for years. Continue the yoga without your mat. Continue the yoga.

In light and love,

Sandy

Every Little Bit Counts

By Fundraiser, Health, Mindfulness, Values, Yoga No Comments

Sometimes the news in the world—and even in our small community—can be so sad, upsetting, and daunting that it’s easy to feel helpless. It’s easy to doubt whether we can even make a difference. It’s mind boggling for me to think of the one billion animals killed in Australia’s fires. With so much death, destruction, and devastation, how can we make a difference? The truth is: every single animal we can help counts. Our support makes a huge difference in each animal’s life.

Expand this concept to the people within our community. We all know someone who has overwhelming medical bills. We know there are kids who need court advocates. People are fighting addiction, chronic pain, and social inequities. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how great the need is. But we have to remember that we can make a difference every day in little ways.

How we treat each other matters. Integrity, respect, and gratitude are big concepts most of us use to guide us through our daily lives. But even the small stuff has a big impact. How do we treat each other at busy intersections or when we zipper merge? How do we interact when we meet in the aisle at the grocery store? Do we make the effort to move our yoga mats over for the person who just walked into class? Do we make eye contact, or do we consciously avoid it? Do we take the extra two seconds to hold the door for someone behind us when it’s cold and we’re pressed for time? And if we do, are we smiling?

Think about what happens to your own mood when someone shows kindness and compassion. Little things we may not think about can make a big difference.

Years ago, I listened to a guest speaker at my kids’ school in Denver. This man had climbed the highest mountains on every continent. He told us that on each trek he had one thought: just one more step. When he felt weak and tired, he thought: just one more step. When he felt hungry and depleted: just one more step. When he was shuffling in pain: just one more step.

To this day, when I take on a project that’s big and challenging, I think of those words. Breaking things down into little pieces makes them more achievable. Just one more step.

The animals that suffered or perished in Australia’s wildfires really devastated me. As much as I wanted to board a plane and volunteer in an animal hospital, I knew that wasn’t realistic. Instead, we broke it down into a smaller, achievable course of action and decided to fundraise. I couldn’t fly to Australia, but we could help with ongoing costs of care and supplies. I was blown away by the generosity of the Rakta community and the love and concern expressed by so many. One little yoga studio in a small mountain town can send over two thousand dollars to help—that seemed pretty amazing.

While there are so many distressing issues in our world right now, we also have real, poignant needs in our own community. Horizons Specialized Services Early Intervention and Family Support programs help families who face overwhelming medical bills and other expenses associated with providing the best care for their children. As a Physician Assistant and parent, this hits home.

Throughout the month of February, proceeds of several classes will go to Horizons to help families facing challenges we can’t all comprehend. In the words of Judith Lasater, “Eventually our practice evolves from something we do into a truth we become.” Our yoga becomes more than open hips and cool inversions. We take the presence, calmness, and openness we create on the mat off the mat and weave it into our interactions with others. Every act of kindness and compassion matters.

In light and love,

Sandy

Don’t be a fruit fly

By Health, Values, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

I was happy and relieved to learn that I passed my Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) earlier this month. I’ve been a certified PA since 1995, and every six years I’m required to take a 4.5 hour exam covering all of medicine. It doesn’t matter if I practice cosmetic dermatology or forensic pathology, as a PA I have to test on the comprehensive entirety of medicine.

More to the point (you may be thinking), is that I haven’t been practicing medicine at all for the last six years. And I’ve noticed, as a result, that I have the attention span of a fruit fly. Not a goldfish—did you know the myth of their three second memory has been scientifically debunked? The most recent research puts the goldfish at nine seconds, which is actually longer than the human’s attention span since the mobile revolution. (Eight seconds. Google it. On your smartphone.)

The most common response I received when I told people I was studying for my boards was a whimsically confused and nonjudgmental: “why bother?” Comments came in along the lines of: Are you planning on practicing any time soon? Won’t that be hard to squeeze in between your morning flow and midday sculpt? Do you know if I left my mat here yesterday?

Studying certainly took a lot of effort, especially considering it was for something that wasn’t going to directly affect my daily life. But I had two reasons for spending eight weeks buried in books and answering 1,578 prep questions.

Before owning a yoga studio, medicine was my life. I spent years in hospitals—in the OR, ED, and ICU. I read journal articles for fun, I attended amazing conferences, and I wore cool dog scrubs.

One of my favorite Christmas memories was being on call at Denver Health Pediatrics. Santa delivered gifts and my Christmas morning rounds were much more enjoyable seeing kids happy that they weren’t forgotten. For one morning, the floor was filled with innocence and joy instead of pain and sickness. It felt magical. Even though it was a while ago, I’m still not ready to close that chapter of my life.

The second reason for digging in and studying was that I really enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of reviewing things I hadn’t thought about for several years. Ruptured pancreatic pseudocyst? Endoscopic retrograde basket extraction? I’m listening! With this kind of content, mindlessly opting out and scrolling through Instagram didn’t stand a chance.

In the last few years, I’ve challenged myself physically with yoga through poses, technique, philosophy, workshops, trainings, and seasonal challenges. I’ve tried some new Steamboaty sports and acquired new athletic aspirations. I’ve worked on my spiritual growth with meditation and incisive attention to my own personal beliefs. I’ve endured emotional challenges associated with raising two teenagers and running a business in a remote ski town. But I hadn’t challenged myself intellectually, and I can’t tell you how surprised I was to enjoy it!

Living in such a beautiful area with abundant alpine activities, it’s easy to focus on our physical bodies and commit to exploring all the different ways to create strength and develop new skills or hobbies related to the outdoors. But don’t forget the power of stimulating your brain.

Learn to speak Turkish or play the oboe. Study astrobiology or auctioneering. Assemble an 18,000 piece puzzle of the Sistine Chapel. Tackle your teen’s trigonometry homework. Okay, maybe start with a scatterplot, but challenge your brain in 2020!

In light and love,

Sandy

Be the goat

By Goal Setting, Health, Mindfulness, Seasons, Values, Yoga No Comments

Recently while teaching class, I realized I wasn’t aware of any yoga posture named after a goat. How could this be? We have a cobra and scorpion, cat and dog, camel and cow, pigeon and eagle, butterfly and peacock pose. How could such a fun, spirited animal like a goat be omitted. What was Buddha thinking?!

No goat asana? No problem! I started analyzing postures and concluded the closest semblance of goat is a variation of horse stance (vatayanasana). In horse pose, grasp your ankles with your hands and align your back so it’s parallel to the earth. It’s the perfect platform for a goat to jump on, and off, and on again.

So, maybe we don’t need an actual goat pose after all. But, I believe we have a lot we can learn from these quirky little creatures. And if we channeled just one or two of their many great qualities into our lives, what would that look like?

Goats are curious. They explore every single thing there is to explore. They live in the present moment. They don’t fret over their numerous epic fails—even though they’re broadcast all over social media. They think outside the box to unlock every gate. They persevere.

Goats rely on their herd for protection and companionship. If there’s noticeable irritation between herd members, they still band together. They settle disagreements immediately: let’s butt heads and move on. They don’t hold grudges.

Goats are open and excited to greet people they don’t know. They embrace a fiber rich diet (a healthy goat is never constipated) and chew their food thoroughly, twice. They cherish a good nap.

As we step into a new decade, where can we find more playfulness in our lives? Can we take a leap even though we may fall flat? Can we greet the day with more curiosity? Can we let go of an old grudge? Can we live in the now? Can we persevere ridiculously?

Moving into 2020, my hope for our Rakta yoga community is that we support each other’s different needs. Let’s look out for our herd. Let’s be aware of those around us. Make space for someone to put down his mat. Whisper when the woman beside you is peacefully meditating. Extend kindness and consideration on and off your mat as you navigate through the studio, into traffic, or down a shopping aisle.

Be kind with your words to yourself and others. Strive to improve one thing about yourself every day. Enjoy each day for exactly what it is. Try not to wish away the present for the future or dwell in the past. As we approach December’s winter solstice, find time to be quiet and still. Find the beauty and magic in this season. Take care of those around you.

In light and love,

Sandy

Balance

By Energy, Health, Mindfulness, Seasons, Transition, Wellness, Wellness Challenge, Yoga No Comments

I’m currently finishing off a bag of Unreal Chocolate Crispy Gems and talking myself into running back to Natural Grocers for something nutritionally important… and maybe if I think of it, I can grab another bag of these delicious dark chocolate quinoa vegetable coloring hard candies. Veggies, chocolate, and quinoa: that’s three superfoods in one!

But it’s all about balance right now. A number of people have approached me over the last few weeks asking for another challenge to get back on track, or commenting on just how out of balance they feel right now. I don’t usually eat bags of delicious candies especially while writing a blog on wellness—so what’s up?

We’re in transition right now. Families are shifting back into school routines and the day/night cycle is coming into balance.  But it’s confusing when we have flirty 80 degree days full of summer and sunshine, sunglasses and flip-flops. Many folks in Steamboat played hard after the prolonged winter weather in June, doing everything possible to squeeze four months of expected recreation into two. The end result for some of us was feeling way out of balance or even getting injured.

In my world, summertime is carefree. I love the sounds of birds, and I even love the sound of a sprinkler coming on at 4am. I feel light and I’m more apt to be spontaneous, or lazy, or kick routine and scheduling to the curb. From May through September, one of my favorite evening rituals is the date I make with my front porch. I sit with my dog, taking in beautiful valley views, listening to summer sounds, and feeling the breeze on my skin.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll slowly feel this time slipping away as schedules get busier, darkness arrives earlier, and temperatures becomes cooler. Soon I’ll store my coveted chair away for the winter. As school settles in to the new normal, things just feel different.

I’ve polled adults without kids and fully grown kids. Everyone I’ve talked to notices a change as soon as school is back in session. The contagious carefree spirit of summer leaves, replaced with a heavier feeling related to routine and regimen.

Our yoga practice begins to change at this time of year as well. We incorporate more balancing postures and our breathwork focuses on balance in the body. We add more grounding postures to reconnect with our center. Embrace this shift. Use this time of year to be more introspective.

Add in some forward folds and child’s pose connecting the center of your brows to the ground (or a prop) and breathe. You don’t need an established home yoga practice or a fancy space for child’s pose. Take a restorative yoga or wall yoga class and just slow down. With cooler temperatures, baked or steamed apples with ginger, cinnamon, and clove is a great food to eat.

Carve out some time every day just to observe. Observe the beauty of the green we have now and the hint of gorgeous colors to come. Feel the breeze on your skin. Drag a stick along a fence. Be aware of your breathing. Come back to your center.

The focus of our next challenge from October 21st through November 22nd is balance, ground, and connect. It’s never too early to start making little steps towards balancing, grounding, and connecting.

In light and Love,

Sandy

Pushing Through Fear

By Goal Setting, Health, Yoga No Comments
Becky Kuhl
Becky Kuhl: strong and perfectly imperfect.

I love fitness. And now, I can officially call myself a fitness professional. I decided to change my career in my 40s which was super scary, but that’s not what I want to focus on right now. I eat, breathe, and dream about different exercises, programs, and playlists. I wake up in the morning and put on workout clothes. I’m 100% passionate about teaching Yoga Sculpt and training people one-on-one. What I do is important to me, and helping people through whatever they may be going through is where I want to be in life.

For continuing education credits for my personal training certificate, I decided (with encouragement from a good friend) to take the Level 1 CrossFit Trainer course. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but it’s expensive and quite honestly I was nervous and scared. I saved my pennies and mustered up the courage to do it.

I showed up the first day nervous but ready to go. The coaches were absolutely amazing and inspirational. We broke out into small groups to practice movements and fine tune them. Very quickly I realized that my ability to perform certain movements to perfection was extremely challenging, if not almost impossible. Now what I’m about to say is not an excuse, but rather a reality. I have mobility issues in my shoulders and thoracic spine. I also have a pronounced lumbar curve. I even have a partial knee replacement, but that wasn’t causing my issues in these particular movements.

I went through the day trying my best to achieve perfection, but to no avail. It just wasn’t happening. That evening I went back to my parents’ house where I was staying and bawled. How can I coach and instruct others to do movements that I can’t achieve to perfection? My confidence was shattered, and what I eat, breathe, and dream (my passion) was being challenged.

After I got all my tears out, I was able to think more sensibly. First I thought about body mechanics, and how achieving the perfect position in a few of the movements was not ideal for me. I decided that those positions are good goals to work toward by working on my mobility issues, but knowing in the end, although I may improve, it may not be the perfect standard. Then I thought about what is safe. My lower back was aching that evening, so I knew that something was out of whack. I realized that forcing myself into a few different positions was not necessarily good for my body. I believe that body mechanics and technique are very important for injury prevention, but that may look a little different for different people and different bodies.

My last thought was: how great is it that I can have a different perspective? Ultimately, it will make me a better coach and instructor because I understand that everyone has different issues to work on and not everyone has the perfect athletic body, including myself! So, by the second day I had my confidence back along with a new perspective. Sometimes it takes a few tears to be able to overcome difficulty.

My point of sharing this is to hopefully build up your confidence. When you walk into yoga class, whatever modality, remember that you’re on your own journey. It doesn’t matter what the yogi next to you is doing or looks like. What matters is that you showed up because you want to improve, whether physically or spiritually. You have strengths and weaknesses. So does that person next to you who looks absolutely perfect. So stop judging yourself. And definitely stop comparing yourself. It’s been said that, “The enemy of contentment is comparison.” Give yourself some grace and high five the yogi next to you because everyone has their stuff that they may be hiding. Physically and emotionally. Even in that person who looks perfect. Encourage each other, love extremely, and have confidence that you’re right where you’re suppose to be.

Although my weekend started off rough, I was able to turn it around and become more empowered. I’m so happy I pushed past my fear. You never know what you may miss if fear holds you back.

Stay strong.

Love, Becky