Yoga, Yoga, Yoga! I am so excited for this weekend. My first yoga retreat! I am not allowed to bring any electronic devices, so my Sunday Agglomeration post will show up late Sunday evening, or Monday morning. But I hope to have many photos and drawings to share!
Okay, back to my story. For as long as I can remember, I have always been a runner. I mean, my parents' favorite story to tell is about how I was 4 or 5 and started jogging 1 mile on Sunday mornings with my dad. Their favorite and most detailed part of the story is about my blue jogging suit and my running shoes. Running has been an on and off again form of exercise for me. I was never a fast runner, but I have great endurance. In high school, I ran long distance track and cross country. I had stopped running for a long time. Somewhere in my life I found myself in a relationship that encouraged laziness. There were also some events that had happened which caused me to become unhappy with myself and I just didn't care. Actually, I never realized that I stopped caring until I left that relationship. I was at my heaviest weight and felt insecure in my own body. As part of my personal journey to rediscover myself, I needed to feel healthy and happy again. I began by taking a fitness kickboxing class. I took this class for a little over 2 years. I loved it. But I started running again. Things were going great until I did one of the moves in fitness kickboxing and pulled a muscle in my lower back. This put me out of commission for a month and when I slowly tried to go back to my routine, I would re-injure myself. I was miserable. I began walking. Then, I received an email from Livingsocial.com about an offer for yoga classes at Freeman Yoga (http://www.freemanyoga.com/). Now, I was one of those people who did think yoga would feel like workout, or made the typical "om ..." meditation jokes that are made by people who only know yoga as how it is portrayed onTV. But at this point, I thought yoga would be great to help strengthen my back muscles. My goal was to strengthen my back muscles so I could return to running. I admit my first yoga class was awkward. I felt so out of place. People are grabbing blocks, blankets, and belts. People were stretching in silence. There was a small group of people who were talking, but it was extremely quiet. And as a notorious people watcher, I felt so on the spot because it was completely obvious I was people watching! But something amazing happened, I left class feeling relaxed and encouraged in a way I have never felt before. Also, I never realized how I clenched my shoulders when doing various activities. When I began, I had this small bulge that stuck out of my sports bra around the back of my neck. It was more noticeable when I wore my bikini. After a few months, it disappeared. I noticed I would pay more attention to how I held my posture while standing, sitting, and walking. With every class, I became more flexible and often times would surprise myself when I attempted a more challenging pose. My body had changed so much. I am stronger than I have been in a long time. I can run again, too! I haven't been running every day as I did before, but I have been participating in 5k's and I ran one 8k. People notice and mention the changes they see in me. I see the physical changes, but I think the emotional ones are the most important. I love the way I feel!
At Freeman Yoga, there are different instructors and they each have their own style. They are all great, but there are only a few that I absolutely love. I think it is the energy they bring to the class. My favorite instructors are Jennie, Denise, Samantha, and Glen. Of those, I enjoy Samantha's classes the most. I think it is because of her personality. She is like an artist with her medium. She likes to play and explore with her poses. I truly respect this being and artist. I also understand it. She is encouraging, but she also encourages you to laugh and have fun...especially when you fall out of a pose. This makes it very non-threatening for a beginner. I have learned quickly to trust her. She guides you through each pose giving you great detail verbally how to move, and what the pose should feel like. Usually by the end of our practice, I feel like superwoman because of the many challenging poses she guides us through. Last week, we did the splits. I have never in my life been able to do the splits, but I trusted Samantha would guide me into it successfully. I was pleasantly surprised how close I was to doing the full splits. My favorite part of her practice is the reading. She reads a passage or quote from a book at the beginning and end of the practice. She somehow always picks a theme that has been on my mind that day or week. It resonates deeply with me, which creates a further calm in me because it is like the universe is reminding me that everything is going to work itself out. If you ever get a chance to take her class, I high recommend it. Here are a few of her websites:
This weekend she is hosting a yoga retreat. It presented itself at a time where I needed to do something for myself. Three days in Santa Barbara doing yoga with one of my closest friends ,one of my favorite yoga instructors, and new friends. I'm so excited! I have a feeling I'm going to be refreshed and inspired in a much needed way! I am taking sketchbooks, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, glue sticks, scissors... my usual creative kit. I might take a Mizzle with me...or buy socks there to make a Mizzle from this trip.