Getting back in.

Since the end of my mala, I've been on a yoga vacation of sorts. Like I said, I had to go to extremes to find middle ground, but I'm not sure that I've quite figured out what that means. In some ways, I think I went too far. I may have been too intense. I may have taken on too much too fast.

My yoga practice was very young when I entered into this 108 days, and I definitely didn't understand what an extended practice of this nature would mean for me. I wasn't to a place where I was solidly in my own head while in class, and I don't think I burned out on yoga so much as I grew weary of everything that was going on around me. I have only been to two or three classes since finishing on April 29th, and it's been very difficult for me to be away from my mat, and away from the energy of a packed, sweaty class. I miss the community and at the same time, I need a new one.

On monday, I met a friend in Chapel Hill for a class at Franklin Street Yoga - she was the only person I knew in the room and we didn't end up next to each other. The class was mat-to-mat (which I love) and I ended up between two men who were definitely 'in it.' There was something about being in a new place, anonymous and free to explore my practice in a new way. I had zero self-consciousness around belting out my Ommmmmms and the few times I glanced up, there was some beautiful yoga being done in that room, and no tension as a result of the nearness generated by a full class.

I struggled, I succeeded, I definitely fed on the solid practices of the two yogis next to me. There was a new energy and a renewed focus to my practice.

To keep things fresh, we have to move around. It is important to have a solid home base, but it is imperative that we go out into the world and experience things to bring new life to our old routines.

My acupuncture practice in Raleigh is continuing to grow, but I get out of town quite frequently, try to learn new things and add new services so that I keep work exciting. My yoga practice is still developing, and my studio has been an amazing home base, but I think it is also important that I try new teachers and styles to keep it flowing.

So, I am on a search for the next thing, and excited to see what I find.

The Wrap Up

My long overdue Day 108 post. Whew. Here's the thing. I went through a lot over the course of this 108 days. I finished. With a lot of classes, not 108, but enough to get the point. I went through phases with my yoga - there were days, weeks even, when I was hittin' it. Hard. Powering through two or three level 2s, a power flow and a juicy class in a week. That's a lot of REALLY hard yoga. And that kind of a schedule isn't sustainable in the context of a balanced life.

I was lucky to discover yoga at a point when I didn't have a lot of time constraints. I could check out new classes, sometimes two or three in a day. I had the luxury of getting to class super early, staying late to chat with friends and teachers, time to get home and ponder what I had experienced over the course of my class, time to write it down.

Everything about yoga, from getting dressed to downing water afterwards, was part of my process, and I experienced it in all it's glory. Unfortunately, toward the end of my 108 days, I found myself sprinting into the studio, five minutes before class, throwing my mat down and changing in the bathroom as class was starting, hitting the floor still out of breath from my day.

There were days I knew I had to sacrifice my work / health / calorie intake / relationship with my dog to make time for my yoga. And I did. I went there. Other parts of my life suffered to make room for yoga. Counterintuitive, no?

I rebelled. I said eff it. There were days I didn't go just on principle. I needed time. Time to just be. To be where I was in my day, in my life. Time to sit on my porch and talk to my friends. Time to sit in my bed and talk to my dog. Time to watch crappy tv and decompress from my day in a very passive way.

So, through all of this, I've struck a balance.

We go to extremes to find middle ground. I did no yoga. I did lots of yoga. Now, it's a part of my life, a part of who I am. I take it as I need it, I put more into it when I have more to give. And it gives back. My practice is there for me when things are tough. My mat is my shelter from the storms that inevitably find their way into my life. It is also a place to revel in the good times. To let those experiences wash over me.

There are nights that I go to the studio to sweat out a bad day, mornings when I get my groove on before a big day, warm afternoons when I skip class to have drinks outside with my friends.

Balance.

We have to push our boundaries to find the edge - in yoga, at work, in relationships. We have to go to the edge to know how much we can take, to know when to pull it back. If we don't know how far we can go, how can we know where the middle is?

I know how far I went, and looking at it now, I know that I could have gone farther, which gives me even more faith in myself as I move forward. The mat is such an amazing metaphor for the rest of our lives - we see ourselves try and succeed, try and fail, quit and walk out, pick ourselves back up. Yoga is an amazing opportunity to learn on a very personal level, and yet it's lessons are universal. When we fail in tree pose, when we fail in a work endeavor, do we get up and jump back in, or hang out and wait for the next thing?

I'm so thankful to have had this opportunity to get to know myself, and begin to learn what I am capable of. The lessons are already serving me well (as is this hot new bod I acquired somewhere along the way).

Keep Calm and Carry On.

one love,

Catie

Day 94: Vice Versa

Things are.... however they are, but in every moment lay possibilities of something else. Things that could be. Things that you can make happen. I've been feeling stuck recently, in my practice, in my town, in my job, in my life (which, don't get me wrong, I enjoy very much). But I've been wondering at how things are, doing things out of habit, without the same fire that I put into them 6 months ago.

Tonight, I went to class mostly out of obligation - I told myself I would, I have a responsibility to take care of myself, physically and mentally. My teacher had returned from a month long adventure through points far flung, and I assumed we'd pick up where we left off. Things would resume as they had been.

But everything was different.

The class was made up of the same people in the same room, with our same teacher and a series that wasn't too far off of what we normally do, and yet, different.

The life I put into my poses, the commitment and dedication to my practice that I've been cultivating for the last six months, even the sweat that seemed to fling itself from my pores with new life was different. Exciting.

On a day when I woke up expecting things to be as they have been, I was presented with new opportunities everywhere I looked.

My massage this week was an invitation to live without pain. My patients presented opportunities for me to reinvent how I do things. My family opened a door to an entirely different idea of what my work can, and hopefully will, be. My yoga teachers have given me the gift of what my practice has become.

It is very possible that things could stay as they are, but they could just as easily be the exact opposite.

Day 69: Day 1

There is something to be said for leaving the past, in the past. We bring with us the lessons and the wisdom, of course, but everything else? Mmmmm, no thanks. It's nice to be able to wake up every day to a fresh start, a clean slate. It's nice to just let things go, to let the experience of our days wash over us, and carry our former selves away, letting us live in a permanent state of rebirth. This afternoon, I did my sec0nd seasonal Mala - 108 sun salutations to celebrate the vernal equinox. There was a lot going on for me today - it is Spring - of course - everything coming to life after the winter; it is also a chance for me to see how far I've come. I did my first mala one month after I started back to yoga. I did my second 5 months after, and there were some significant differences.

There's the fact that I can do a push up, that I can hop from a forward fold into plank, that I don't have to modify any of the poses. Obviously, those things have come with time and practice. But there is a different kind of focus, a different purpose in what I did today versus what I did four months ago. Today I didn't count how many salutations we had done, how many we had left. I didn't wonder what I looked like, or what anyone else was doing. Today there was my breath, and the feeling of each pose moving through my body, and the sense that I was leaving something behind, and facing something entirely new.

With each repetition, there was the chance to tweak it, to make the next one better, to change how it felt, and how I felt about what I was doing. Between each set (of 27 x 4 sets = 108) we took a little break to stretch, shake it out, start anew. There was always a second chance. In the Fall, I would slack a little in the middle of a set, knowing how many I had left to get it right, and then bust it out for the last few. Without counting down, I had to make each one beautiful, make it feel amazing. I was never catching up, just moving forward.

This is how I'd like to live my life: always striving to live each moment in its own right, not as something to be suffered through until the next big thing. I'd also like to be able to let go of the ones that I don't get right. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be progress.

I've struggled with the transitions that I've experienced over the course of the last year, and having come through all of them, relatively unscathed and significantly better for having done so, I can safely say that I've left the fear behind. Every moment brings with it an opportunity for us to experience something new, and in shying away from whatever we're in, we miss those opportunities, choosing instead to skip to the parts we know. If I only ever listened to the first cd I ever bought, because I didn't want to take the risk of listening to something that I didn't like, I'd still have Color Me Badd on the headphones. Needless to say, my musical tastes have grown considerably because I've taken risks, chances on bands I didn't know, quite a few of which totally sucked.

I use music as an example only because it's been such a part of my life and of my yoga practice, as something that I cherish and love to share with others. Hit songs come and go and one hit wonders abound, but we enjoy them in the moment and let them go as time passes. Granted, there are those albums that stay with us a little longer, some for months, some for years, some forever. Those are the 'ones' that we carry with us, like the lessons that allow us to keep growing, those moments that change everything and give us that second chance to be someone new. Everything else is just... Chumbawumba. Hopefully we can let it go.

And just in case you want to know what I listen to now: Spring iMix

Namaste.