Before I begin telling you about my yoga journey this past month, let's take a moment. This year has been so hard on almost everyone in so many different ways. So much change is happening in the world, both good and bad. And whether you agree with it or not, we ALL must adapt. If you are struggling during this time - pandemic, #BLM, anxiety, depression- whatever it is.. I am with you and I am praying for YOU. You are not alone. Remember you are loved.
I've always wanted to do a yoga challenge. My home studio does them frequently but because my schedule is typically full during popular workout times, i've never been able to complete one. Over the COVID-19 quarantine time, i've been a different kind of "busy". I am able to create my own schedule full of clients from Equinox and clients I have through my own business. With this ~flexibility~ I've been able to have long workouts, long runs, and long walks! The only thing truly missing was my yoga. I simply could not get in to the at-home streaming yoga. I could not focus and I lacked the space both physically and in my head.
So at the end of June, my home studio along with many other studios began offering outdoor classes. I went to a few and to my surprise, I actually feel I became a better yogi. My flexibility, my balance, and my strength were on fire and I felt so powerful with every breath. This is when I decided I wanted to challenge myself to feel this way every day for an entire month.
So July 1 was the day! I bought VIMEO CITIZEN classes (20$/ month of tons of videos online that you can take anytime) as well as a 20 class pack.
To describe my journey, I am going to break it down into 4 parts: A) My Body, B) My Mind, C) Class and Instructor Review, and D) Conclusion.
A) My Body
The first week, my body truly felt amazing. Each class was so exciting to me because it had been so long since I allowed myself to flow. I was flexible and very balanced. My core felt more alive in every posture, most likely due to me training core every day. I was also able to hop right into each inversion with no problem.
The second week, I began to feel a bit sore. Specifically I was feeling tight in my hips and hamstrings. My left side has always had "problems" wether its due to running or stretching, none the less it has never been quite the same as my right side. So this week, I made sure to mix in at-home vimeo workouts.
The third week, we went to San Diego so I was able to mix up the style of yoga. Instead of doing Blend daily (essentially is vinyasa), I was able to do Ariel yoga and more slow burn. Doing yoga daily but differentiating the style was a game changer for the soreness and I felt much better.
My last week of yoga was a whirlwind of tired-ness and energy. I have no idea why, but there were about 2 classes I was absolutely exhausted and really turned down the notch. Then, polar opposite, I had two classes that my body was ready to sweat and flow. I did every class this week in person, which was my probably another reason my body was tired.
B) My Mind
This sounds so cliche' but I looked forward to yoga every single day. I looked forward to it because my mind craved it. During the past few months, I've had a lot of time to "dwell" on issues that before I just didn't have time to think about. When I started taking yoga classes daily, it allowed me to silence the noise in my head and fully embrace the instructors words and my own actions. I took all of my classes outside so I was able to listen to the birds and feel the suns rays on my skin.
Clarity: After every class, my head just felt more clear. Things that confused me or created anxiety just weren't an issue anymore. I feel like this clarity was a mix of the practice but also being outside.
Memory: In savasana, my absolute favorite thing is to let my mind drift to whatever it wants. Sometimes its to dissect a memory. I allow my mind to remember something, and then I really break down the memory into senses. What it smelled like, what it tasted liked, what it looked like, how I felt. Other times in savasana, I will remember someone who has passed and their message to me. Countless times now, I have thought about my Grandpa or a dear friend who passed too soon. I feel it is their way of saying they are with me.
Deep: My passions are rooted so deep. After my yoga classes, I'd find myself coming home to practice the poses or show Mike what I learned. My deep love for moving my body and flowing like a dance is something I cant quite describe but I love doing. Another "deepness" was in my breath. Every class, I practiced deep belly breathing. Instead of breathing and holding it in my chest, I allowed the oxygen to fill up my lower belly and my back and feeeeeeeel so much expansion. This kind of breathing makes the shorter breath just feel artificial.
Lastly, I wanted to touch on the three studio experiences I had during this challenge.
1) Citizen: My home studio. The place I spend all of my free time at. Citizen offers countless ways to take classes. Outdoors, Vimeo pre-recorded, and live streaming. My favorite way to take class was of course, outdoors. The Royal Oak studio took over the ally beside it and holds many morning and evening classes- keeping everyone at least 6ft apart. Since I started doing yoga daily, I got to know more amazing Citizens in classes and through passing. The community there is unlike any other. Citizens greet me with smiles and questions about my day, instructors always remember my name, and most of them end up following my instagram just to keep up with what I am doing. **I feel as though they do this with a lot of their students... not just me! :P.* The classes kept up to their original vibe, challenging, opening, but also "meeting me where I am that day" vibe. For instance, just because things have changed..... expect Paul's class to still be hard. Expect Soojin to take you on a mind and body journey, and don't underestimate Kayla's voice against the wind. These instructors have totally transformed my love for yoga and taken it even deeper and I thank them (virtually) and in person for the magic they provide in each class. I hope to never stop coming to Citizen because it has been one of the best parts of my Michigan experience.
2) Trilogy Sanctuary: This studio is located in San Diego- La Jolla. I have been a few times before when I've visited the area so I knew exactly what to expect. During COVID times, they moved all classes outdoors and masks must be worn until you get to your place on your mat. I felt extremely comfortable as both classes I took were very small in size. The first class I took with Mike was a blend on the roof. I brought my own mat and we went through many flows but took things a bit slow. Honestly I was fine with this type of class because I had been running outside each morning and walked to yoga. I also did an Ariel class two days later which is just pure fun; also not as strenuous. I am low key obsessed with this studio. It is a complete VIBE. From the moment you walk in through the shop to putting your mat down, then buying a green smoothie after.... your body just thanks you. I feel like 1,00000 bucks walking out of there and I am always looking forward to the next time I can return.
3) NC White Water Center: Okay, okay.... not a yoga studio. BUT. This AMAZING outdoor wonderland offers 1-2 FREE YOGA CLASSES DAILY! YES, FREE!!! To get to the yoga spot, you walk through the white water center and gaze at all the amazing fun adventures you want to go on ( i think that's the trick!), but once you finally get to the spot, the walk was well worth it. The classes take place under tons of pine trees and strung lights. The wooden deck is large enough to fit many, and there are some shaded/ covered areas. The 2 classes I did were both amazing and not as easy as I would expect, given they were free. The instructors knew you were there for a workout, so they brought the heat! Or, maybe it was just July in North Carolina :).
To conclude my experience, it was incredible. I've said this so many times, but my heart and my head just feel light. On August 1st, I told Mike.... I don't really want to stop? I love making this routine and making this something I look forward to everyday. Hearing the instructors message and moving my body in different ways; challenging my body and mind. Realistically, I wont be doing yoga every day. But I'd like to do it more often than I was, enough to make it routine, enough to feel this lightness throughout my week, all the time.
Want to try a studio? Questions about how to get involved in yoga or start practicing? Please email me! I will share my experience and tips with how I got started.