Our Monthly Yoga Project explores the benefits of yoga for the body and mind, while giving me an outlet to share the growth and awesomeness of my personal practice. While I am not a doctor or a yoga instructor, I hope to share the knowledge of others who are, in supporting the evidence that yoga creates wellness. I encourage you to share your yoga journey, write in with questions, and practice daily as a way to celebrate the vitality of yoga.
My year of discovery
In 2013, I had a fitness goal, which was to try something new. To add to my routine tendencies of Zumba, strength training, walking, and biking. To explore exercise in ways I never had before, hoping to learn about my capabilities and interests.
It was February in Chicago. I longed for sunshine and sweat, as, with exception to the brutal winter months we face in the cold midwest, I normally work-out alfresco. I needed motivation to get my body moving, even more so, I really wished for a release.
My days started early and ended late. And like most busy working moms, I was pooped after work and somehow had to keep it together to run the household routine of dinner, bath, and bed before I had time to myself for exercise. I was having totally stress-induced, full-time, commuting, career-mommy moments like clockwork. Every hour, on the hour, I felt panicked, sleep deprived, and pulled in every direction possible. Literally, I drove constantly for work- from Roseland to Rogers Park, Oak Park to South Shore, and everywhere in between. That’s when I got the text.
Lauren: Meet up for Bikram tomorrow?
Holly: What time? I have a late meeting. But I do have a sitter though. So, maybe.
Lauren: 7pm Bikram Yoga River North. Easy metered parking. Come. You’ll love it.
Although I had occasionally enjoyed my share of yoga videos and cameoed at a couple of live classes, I was a little bit nervous about my debut Bikram yoga class. A 90 minute yoga class in 100 degree heat? Was I ready for that? I wasn’t confident in my ability to keep up with the class, but sticking to my goal for 2013, with a fitness explorer spirit, why not give it a shot? Open-mindedly, I did no online research. I wanted to go in without intention and hoped to be surprised. And Lauren was right. I did find parking easily…and I did fall in love.
After my first class, I returned within 24 hours, head over heals with Bikram- the heat, the sweat, the personal discipline, the loss of anxiety, the connection to others, the waxiness of my drenched skin, the purity, the moment to find myself, the relief.
Let your goal lead you
Because of my general fitness goal last year, to try something new, I am able to set my very specific yoga goals for 2014. Discovering my niche in yoga was sparked by a goal I set, a challenge for myself. I didn’t know where I would end up when I set out to find a fitness interest. I hadn’t thought about the people I would come into contact with, like the yoga instructors who have guided the development of my mind/body strength. I hadn’t imagined that I would be blogging about yoga. I couldn’t predict that daily practice would be something I crave and look forward to. I never knew I had the power to release it all just by meeting myself on my mat.
It simply started with a goal. And I let the goal lead me.
Set your intentions
If you are new to yoga, if you consider yourself a beginner, start with setting an intention for your practice. Its something I’ve heard time and time at the beginning of classes. What do you intend? What do you hope for your body and your mind? As a beginner, I intended to learn the basics. To work through Sun Salutations, to understand the flow of movements, to build muscle memory, to feel good form. And for my mind, I intended to find quiet moments.
Intermediate in my practice, I set intentions both on and off the mat, intentions for feeling the current moment, to letting it all go in vinyasa. Intentions to control the ego, to submit myself to the air around me, and learning that is all I ever really am. Intentions to let out positive energy, intentions to take some back in, too.
New Year Yoga Goals
Did you set a goal for your personal yoga practice this year? I did, and would like to share.
For 2014, I would like to:
- hold a handstand
- stabilize in side crow with legs extended
- balance a head stand for 10 minutes
- remember that reconnecting on my mat will help me chill out
- try a couple of studios and classes that I’ve never been before
- connectwith my yoga community
Please share your goals and intentions for the new year. Spread your positive energy, let your goal lead you. Namaste.
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