My Yoga Journey

For the last four years I have started each January by doing a 30 Day Yoga challenge. There’s just something about the start of the new year that gets me motivated to try new things and incorporate movement into my everyday routine.

While I have been no stranger to the art and practice of yoga, my relationship with my own daily practice has blossomed this year like never before. I rediscovered a love for yoga in January and, as cliche as it might sound, I’d say that it has changed my life in so many ways for the better.

Nice to Meet You, Yoga!

I first dipped my toes into the world of yoga when I was about 18 years-old. I had just finished my first year of college and was feeling weighed down by some unhealthy habits that I picked up while living on campus. I was feeling frustrated in my own body and was not happy with the way I felt — overweight, sluggish, and stuck. I knew I needed to make some changes in my diet and my relationship with exercise.

So, that summer I started doing at-home pilates regularly and I threw in a couple of yoga poses here and there. I had recently switched to a vegetarian diet and was enjoying those changes in my food choices as well.

At that point in my life, I was still trying to discover who I was (who am I kidding, I still am!) and I liked the whole idea and vibe of living a more down-to-earth hippie/hipster lifestyle.

I think in a sense I was trying to fit myself into this stereotypical white washed version of a more healthful lifestyle. In my head I wanted to be like these happy, care-free people I saw online or around campus that seemed to be into healthy eating and doing yoga outside on a regular basis.

While I did find that I genuinely enjoyed yoga and being vegetarian, I think I was really trying to jump into something that made me stand out a little bit. Growing up with four other siblings, this is something I constantly found myself striving for, something that only I was good at or interested in, something to call my very own.

Anyway, that was 2012. My interest in yoga didn’t go any further than getting a yoga mat and doing a few stretches on it. It wasn’t until 2016 that I really picked up my yoga mat again.

It’s Not About the Shape

By the beginning of 2016 I had finished college and earned my undergraduate degree, I was working my first part-time job in my field of journalism for a local magazine as the editorial assistant for a short stint of a couple months, and I was also deep into planning my wedding which would be taking place at the end of May.

Since I was done with school and had more free time on my hands, I really wanted to put some healthy exercise habits into place so that I could be strong, fit, and healthy by the time my wedding rolled around.

In March I came across a week long yoga challenge that my local yoga studio was holding. The challenge consisted of posting a picture of yourself doing the yoga pose of the day on your instagram account and tagging all of the sponsors for the challenge. The winner would win a couple of passes for free yoga classes at the studio and a gift card to a local taco food truck.

I thought this sounded like fun and knew it would help me jump back into yoga.

I ended up winning that Instagram contest and that further motivated me to continue practicing yoga.

I found myself looking forward to doing the daily yoga poses and finding just the right location to take a photo. I was surprised at how well my body was able to fold into these shapes. Granted, these were easy poses for beginners, but I was feeling motivated to try and stretch myself into more challenging shapes. I remember the first time I did a tripod egg inversion, I got such a rush of excitement.

The two months leading up to my wedding day I practiced yoga frequently in my bedroom in my grandmother’s basement where I lived at the time. I didn’t have a fancy space set up and I really wasn’t doing any flows or yoga videos. What yoga looked like for me then was rolling out my mat in a little corner of my room, in front of my cheap floor length mirror, and twisting my body into certain shapes that I wanted to get “good at doing”. The tv would be on the in the background as I practiced posing in these shapes. There was no mindfulness involved and I really wasn’t feeling more connected to my body.

Yoga Challenges

Fast forward a few months to after my wedding and moving to a new city with my husband. I didn’t really do anything yoga related until the month of August.

I came across an instagram account called “DoYouYoga” where they would post monthly yoga challenges. These challenges were very similar to that first one I did back in March, where you have a certain pose for the day and you post a picture of yourself in that pose.

I quickly jumped into a few of these challenges toward the end of 2016 and really enjoyed participating. While I liked the challenge of trying to get my body into certain postures, it sometimes felt forced, like my body wasn’t really ready for it. There was no gradually stretching my body, building strength, or learning the foundations of the pose. I wanted to rush into being a yogi, without actually taking the time put the work in and cultivate my own daily practice.

My First Yoga Class

In 2017 I started to get more comfortable and familiar with our city and knew that I wanted to go to my first yoga class at my local yoga studio. I kept putting it off because going new places by myself always makes me nervous, but I didn’t really have any close friends at the time to ask to accompany me. But I had a feeling that it would be a freeing experience to go to my very first class solo.

This was kind of the extent of my experience with yoga for a couple years. In all honesty, I loved the idea of being a yogi and carving out daily time for it. But my relationship with yoga never went deeper than the photos I posted on Instagram.

I went on to take a few yoga classes that spring/summer. There was one time I went with a friend who invited me to a yoga class that was held at the rock climbing gym she was a part of. We went on the evening of that Summer Solstice and it was a beautiful evening. While I enjoyed flying solo to most of the classes I took, it felt great to have a friend who was also interested in yoga and willing to go with me.

It became clear to me after those classes that there was something much deeper to be found in yoga than simply contorting my body into cool postures. These regular goers of the yoga studio seemed to have a deeper knowing about them, a wise intelligence, and they seemed to be at peace and so connected to their bodies. I knew that I hadn’t found that side of yoga yet, and didn’t know if I had the time or dedication within me to go looking for it then.

Find What Feels Good

Throughout the remainder of 2017 I did a few more yoga challenges. But it wasn’t until January of 2018 that I discovered the Yoga With Adriene community. At that point I think I had heard of Adriene Mishler and had probably even done a couple of her yoga videos when I searched for yoga videos on YouTube, but I had never heard of her 30 Day Yoga Journeys that she does every January.

So, in January of 2018 I decided to join in on the True 30 Day Yoga Journey with Adriene and thousands of others around the world. It felt like a big commitment, especially because I had just found out I was pregnant a couple of weeks prior, but I was determined to see it through.

There were definitely some mornings where I had to begrudgingly drag myself out of bed to do my yoga practice before work, and there were some days where the early pregnancy nausea and fatigue had me wanting to nap on the couch instead of getting on the mat and moving my body, but I did the 30 days and was proud of myself for showing up.

I wish I could say that after that month I was hooked and started consistently practicing yoga, but that wasn’t the case at all. For the next couple of years I went on to do those 30 Day Yoga challenges in January, and then simply let my practice fall by the wayside and let my yoga mat sit in the corner collecting dust.

It wasn’t until January of this year, 2021, that I felt a huge shift in my perspective and my desire to search for healing in many areas of my life. One way I have found healing is in how I move and take care of my body. I spent a lot of time at the gym last year, essentially physically and mentally beating myself into shape, and I knew I couldn’t keep doing that to myself.

I plan on writing a separate blog post about my yoga experience this year soon. But I really felt like sharing my beginnings with yoga and how far I’ve come! I know this is a long post, so if you’ve made it this far I just want to say thank you for being here. Namaste!

A New Year

2021. A new year, a fresh start.

I’ve been taking things slow recently, enjoying the stillness and calm that the winter brings. I wanted to share a little bit about my January and the word I have chosen for 2021. I might ramble on a bit, but that’s okay. I’m giving myself permission to freely share my thoughts today.

I’m trying to keep my expectations modest, my feet grounded, and my heart open this year. I’ve taken half the month of January to focus on the intentions I want to set for myself for 2021. In the past I would have been stressed to have a perfect list written out with my goals by January 1st, but this year hurrying things along didn’t feel right, sitting in stillness resonated with me more.

I always take time to write out both my intentions for the year as a whole, and then my intentions for each month. This year I felt like I wanted to pick a word that I could hold onto as my theme for 2021, and I also found a color to go along with my word. So first, let me share a bit about the color I chose.

My Color for 2021

Since the beginning of January, I have found myself attracted to the light blue color of the winter sky. Green has been my favorite color for years, but I have noticed that at different stages of my life I am pulled towards certain colors. I’m always curious to learn about colors and their meanings, so I did a quick Google search to learn a bit about this particular shade of blue.

Blue is typically known as the color of Trust and Loyalty. Like the ocean and sky, Blue is calm and constant. Other words associated with Blue are relaxation, peaceful, support, honesty, reliability, confidence, and security.

Every time I look up at the sky my eyes follow along the ombre shades of blue, going from dark to light. I see the white puffy clouds floating along, so light as if they carry no worries or burdens. I trace the outlines of the bare branches of trees against the sky, and feel a connection and a bond with those lonely branches.

My eyes are able to rest on the gentle color and soak in its peace, the airy clouds remind me to I N H A L E , E X H A L E and not take my breath for granted, and the trees remind me of how I have been stripped down to the bone and am left standing in full transparency, ready for new growth. I love this color because it reminds me that every day is a chance to start fresh.

My Word for 2021

2020 was a hard year. The last few months of 2020 were the hardest months of my life. There have been times I find myself longing for things to have gone differently and wondering if I could have avoided some deep wounds. But ultimately I believe that good can be found in any situation and I know that God is in control and can use what I have walked through for my growth.

A couple of words I considered for my word of the year were Growth and Self-Care. While these are beautiful words that I’d still like incorporate into my life this year, the word that has felt right to me is H E A L I N G.

heal•ing: the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.

This word resonates with me because I have put myself on the back burner for too long and I have some deep hurts, both physically and mentally, that I need to tend to. I’ve gone through a lot of shifts and changes over the last 2 1/2 years and haven’t allowed myself to really work through what I’ve been feeling. I won’t go into detail about that here, but I just wanted to share what “healing” has looked like for me in the month of January.

I finally made myself an appointment for the chiropractor after putting it off since Ellis was born. I have accepted the fact that I’m still very much going through Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. I am going to counseling to seek professional help. I am letting others in and asking for help when I need it. I’m carving out time for myself everyday to do yoga. I have gone back to eating plant-based.

It feels good to be taking these small but significant steps toward bettering my health.

I’m looking forward to doing a 10 day fast with my church starting Wednesday, which I believe will be so good for me mentally and spiritually. I will be giving up social media and Starbucks (yes, its a problem) and focusing on spending more time with my family and reading God’s word.

I want to know, what are some of your intentions for the month of January? Do you have a word for 2021? What color have you been drawn to recently?

Finding Light in the Darkness 

This afternoon I’m feeling angry. Angry at our government, angry at ignorant people, and angry at the situation we all find ourselves in today. I know there are some things I can do, but for the most part nearly everything is out of my control. 

I don’t want to make light of the situation and what is happening in the world and in our country, because honestly I feel that there is a lot of evil and deception that is going on and a lot of people either are oblivious to it or are turning a blind eye toward it, but I have had to stop myself from going down these rabbit trails. I find that I get so caught up in everything thats circulating and my mind starts swimming in a sea of anger and despair. And that’s right where Satan wants me, but it’s absolutely not where God wants me to dwell. 

In the late afternoons when I usually get some time to myself, the gears in my mind start to turn and I have to be careful what I choose to focus my attention on. I can either reach for my phone and be brainwashed and consumed by what I read on social media (whichever side its coming from), or I can pick up my Bible or a mind nourishing book and spend my time there. I don’t always succeed in choosing the latter, but when I do I find that my evenings are filled with more hope and peace. 

The afternoons that I have chosen to nourish my mind and soul rather than give in to letting my mind and spirits decay, I have walked out of my room feeling like there is some hope left in this world and that I have a lot of fight left in me. It’s easy to let other people fill me with doubt and fear, but I find that it really helps me to choose getting to know what God has to say about life and the world and understanding what He wants me to do during this confusing time. 

All of that to say, I’ve always been the type of person to believe that we can look into a horrible situation, find the good in it, and extract something positive. I’ll admit I’ve let myself sit in the anger, the fear, and the complaining for too long. But I’ve been trying to mindfully think about all of the good that I see playing out in my life that may not have happened if it weren’t for this pandemic.

So here are some things I’ve observed in my life and the world around me that are positives during all of this chaos. God is teaching me a lot!

  • Due to schools being shut down and continuing classes online, my sister moved out of her dorm and came to live with us for the rest of the semester. 
  • Since all of this “lockdown” stuff started happening right as we were moving into our new house, it’s given me the time to get settled into our new home and get to know this house. 
  • I used to go out most afternoons, either to aimlessly shop around and kill time or go on a drive while Ellis napped, but since we moved I’ve been staying home more often and getting into a comfortable rhythm with Ellis. And we’ve finally established a pretty good (flexible) nap time routine.
  • I have been trying my best to be less wasteful and use what food we have and eat all of our leftovers to save money and trips to the grocery store (it’s a madhouse out there!).
  • I’m finally getting the opportunity to plant my very own garden. This mess we’re living in has really pushed and motivated me to start wanting to be more self sustainable.
  • I truly feel that God is giving us this opportunity to pause, rest, think about what is important, and determine whether or not we are on His side. 
  • I haven’t been able to see my grandma in over a month, but I’ve had some great conversations over the phone with her that have really been special to me. 
  • I’ve also had some great talks with my dad about life, politics, gardening, end times, the Bible,  and house projects. Those kind of talks don’t happen very often, but I’m so grateful that these topics have surfaced for discussion. 

And here are a few things that I think are positives amidst all of this chaos (not everyone will agree). 

  • People are staying in and treating more minor illnesses at home rather than running to the doctor for every little sniffle. I hope that this time at home gives parents more time to research and practice more natural forms of medicine when pharmaceuticals are not needed.
  • Families are receiving a very rare opportunity to reconnect and spend time together. Not out running errands, taking children to museums, birthday parties or fields trips, but nestling in T O G E T H E R at home. 
  • A lot of people are getting the chance to slow down and think about what’s really important in life. 
  • Children are spending more time playing outside in the fresh air in the sunshine!
  • More women are realizing that home birth is a viable option (when woman are not considered high-risk) when it comes to birth. A hospital is not the safest place to give birth, especially during a pandemic. 

I really do hope that people are using this time of uncertainty as an opportunity to reconnect with their family and loved ones, ask the hard questions about life and this situation we find ourselves in, research and learn to think for themselves when it comes to important issues, and become more self-sustainable. 

What are some of the positives that you have found during this lockdown? 

J a n u a r y 2 0 2 0

Wow, what a month!

I stepped into 2020 with the intention of leaving a lot of baggage behind and inviting newness into my life.

As I sat meditating on what the past year had taught me and what I wanted to see come to fruition in this new sparkling decade, three words kept coming to mind: Abundance, Brave, and Change

Once these words came to me, I sat and thought about what each one meant and how they could weave their way into my story this year.

I believed that I would see a lot of change in 2020, I felt that I would need to be brave and find courage to adapt to this newness, and as a result of trusting and believing things to work out for my good I believed that I would witness abundance of all kinds flowing freely into my life.

So, with this in mind I decided to place all of my hopes and dreams into God’s hands and asked that He would use me this year in ways He hadn’t before.

And just like that, on January 1st, 2020, an abundance of life, love, and happiness washed over me. It was then that I knew that this year was/is going to be a turning point in my life.

J a n u a r y  B r e a k d o w n

I started this dazzling new decade by attending a beautiful home birth as a doula. I will never forget the love, power, and raw strength I witnessed in that room as new life made its way into the world. I was reminded that day that I am, without a doubt, on the right path. My fire and passion for birth was reignited in that birth room.

That birth paved the way for what the rest of my January would look like. Just like in birth, I found myself doing a lot of surrendering, praying, and stepping out of the way to let things unfold as they were meant to.

O p p o r t u n i t i e s

There have been so many moments when I have felt like my head was reeling and I was spiraling out of control this past month.

On January 10th, during a beautiful full moon, a possible job opportunity was placed before me and left me in deep thought and contemplation for the next couple weeks.

This opportunity hadn’t been on my radar, yet I couldn’t help but feel a strong pull towards it. It would be a huge shift for me and my family, and I was afraid of it.

But I kept feeling like this was something that was bigger than me and that God really wanted me to place this opportunity in His hands and surrender it.

(I might share more about this some other time.)

2 1  D a y  F a s t

Right around the same time our church started a 21 day fast. I decided that I would give up social media (Facebook and Instagram) for the fast.

I know that I spend too many hours mindlessly scrolling through social media every day. It’s a waste of precious time really. I knew that this was just what I needed, but I was not thrilled about it.

After a few days of the fast, I started realizing that I didn’t miss social media that much. And it became painfully obvious that every time there was the slightest lull in my day, I would reach for my phone. Not a good sign.

I started reaching for my phone and opening up the Bible app to read — instead of mindlessly scrolling social media, I was mindfully reading God’s word. I also started reaching for a book or my journal in the evenings rather than just vegging out on the couch staring at a screen.

And most importantly, I started spending more uninterrupted time with my husband and my son. And that was so good for us!

B e a u t i f u l  B e g i n n i n g s 

January was an amazing month and the most beautiful start to the year! I have more I want to share that happened towards the end of the month, but that will have to wait for another blog post.

So I want to know, what are some of your goals and intentions for the year 2020? Did anything exciting happen to you in January? Let me know in the comments.