I’m pleased to welcome back Erin Brennan with another fantastic guest post today. Erin wrote about her yoga challenge in two previous posts on the Monthly Experiments blog. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 . Here’s Part 3 of 3.
“You know you love yourself by the commitments you are willing to make and keep.”
I set out to do 38 days of yoga. I didn’t go to class everyday, but I did do 38 days of yoga.
Yoga isn’t about the awesome arms (which you get) or the cool clothes or the weird lingo. Yoga isn’t even about getting to class.
It is about being present, being intentional, being aware. At least that is what yoga is to me.
When I started this challenge I was militant and then I realized that was the opposite of what I was trying to accomplish. Judgement is the opposite of yoga.
One of the reasons I chose to do yoga was because I knew I couldn’t carve out the space for myself in my busy life. I needed to show up and be locked in a room for 90 minutes with a teacher who would hold me accountable.
There were moments when I wanted to give up, made excuses, tried harder, checked out, surrendered … but regardless of what I was feeling, I showed up anyway.
I have taken a lot of yoga. I have seen a lot of teachers. Libby Murfey was an unexpected surprise and one of San Francisco’s best kept secrets (to be fair she just relocated from Cleveland, so she won’t be a secret for long).
Libby isn’t the typical yoga instructor. She doesn’t OM. She doesn’t talk about your chakras. But that doesn’t mean you don’t leave with an intense spiritual high. In fact, she is one of the most spiritual teachers I have ever taken. Especially because she gives it to me in words I can understand.
Her affirmations and in-class giggles remind you that she is human … she fights her own battles and she encourages you to fight yours. Her insight, encouragement, rocking playlists, and obvious mastery of yoga inspire you to be bigger than you were when you showed up for class.
When I started my yoga challenge my mind was constantly trapped in past pain or future fear. Libby brings you to the present moment and helps you work through whatever is coming up in your life.
I learned how to endure the hard and uncomfortable and just keep breathing. I learned how to find my edge, but not push past it.
I am someone who doesn’t really understand words like “balance” and “moderation” so being able to play on my edge without going over it is somewhat of a miracle.
So many great “aha” moments came out of my classes with Libby. Here are some of my favorites:
- The war within your mind is worse than the sensation in your body
- If you aren’t facing challenges, your goals aren’t big enough
- When things get hard, check in don’t check out
- Force is who you think you are supposed to be, surrender is who you really are
- You will feel moments of intensity followed by rest. Keep going.
Everyone needs a mentor, a coach, an instructor. You can’t do it alone. When left to our own devices, we will hit a wall. We will give up. We will get overwhelmed.
- Find someone who inspires you.
- Find someone who will hold the space for you to try and fail.
- Find someone who believes you are bigger than you think you are.
Accept Where You Are Today
I like to challenge the status quo. To stir the pot. To push: myself, my friends, my clients … even strangers sometimes. This idea of acceptance and compassion was a totally new concept for me.
Too often I had found myself empty, over committed, and not really serving myself or anyone else for that matter.
I wasn’t accepting anything really. I was driving myself into the ground trying to will myself to be better instead of accepting my own limitations.
Yoga was an intentional choice to put me first. To make an effort to take care of my needs so that I can take care of others instead of putting others first.
In life, sometimes sh*t happens. In yoga, sometimes shift happens.
Accept it. Learn from it. Embrace it … don’t resist it.
Finding your limits is no easy feat. Or at least, it wasn’t for me. Your edge is the perfect and delicate balance of being capable and being challenged.
At first glance, finding your edge means pushing yourself. After 38 days of yoga I learned that sometimes finding your edge means backing off.
It isn’t easy to take it down a notch. We get competitive. We have something to prove.
We need to learn to surrender to where we are in the moment. At times that means pushing forward, at others it means pulling back.
I learned that making one decision a day (go to yoga) actually changed how I structured my entire day and even week.
I found myself making time to eat a good lunch so I wasn’t hungry for class. I started to quit overbooking my day because I wouldn’t have time to get home, get my mat and make it to class.
What is interesting is how it changed how other people treated me. By starting to value my time, others started to as well.
Fewer and fewer people were expecting me to rearrange my schedule to fit their needs. Why? Partly because I quit offering. And when they asked anyway, I politely said no.
I learned that keeping a commitment with yourself is much harder than keeping a commitment to someone else.
But in trying to keep my commitment to myself, by showing up for class (almost) everyday, I learned …
- More than anything, it is a mental battle.
- How to make progress, slowly, without judging myself
- That it was different every day because I was different every day
- That some women look good after yoga … and I will never be one of those women (and that is okay)
- To be present and intentional
- When to push myself and when to back off
- When you tell people you are doing 38 days of yoga they think you are crazy
- How to say no to things that were really fun but weren’t serving me (this one was really hard)
Instead of trying to achieve perfection, I chose compassion. I found my edge without going over it.
I didn’t just do yoga everyday. I did a better job at loving myself.
View all posts in this series
- From Burnout to Bakasana: 38 Days of Yoga - June 1, 2012
- Progress Over Perfection: 27 Days of Yoga, And Counting - June 28, 2012
- The Journey of a Reluctant Yogi - July 9, 2012