Confession: I live life at 2895702384 mph. I struggle with always responding yes to people when my body is begging me to say no.
I was 6 pages into this book and already started to wonder why I didn’t find this book last year when I was truly exhausted and struggling. Better late than never though, right? During every yoga practice and meditation session I constantly work on being in the present moment. It sounds so incredibly simple but it’s the hardest thing for me. If I’m busy and constantly running around I feel like it takes my mind off of all life stressors. I quickly learned how much I was actually harming myself instead of helping.
I started meditating after I had my first 2 panic attacks. The first one that I had I honestly had no idea what it was. It didn’t last long and it was absolutely horrible, but I just put it off as something weird happening and moved on. I had my second attack less than a week later and decided to give meditation a try. It’s something I will always have to work on, but I have gotten to where I can sit and be present for about 10 minutes. When I first started I couldn’t even go 7 seconds. My brain is constantly thinking of things that either happened weeks/months/years ago that I just can’t seem to let go of, or either it’s weeks/months/years into the future creating situations that aren’t even real. I constantly think of things I have to get done and things I should get done. Shauna Niequist helped me realize the importance of rest and me time.
Society really seems to glorify exhaustion and set this standard that we should be this individual who is always there for people, can get anything done in a reasonable amount of time while smiling, keeping the house clean, bills paid up, laundry done, seeing everyone in your life, and doing everything everyone asks you to do. BLAH! I’m tired even typing that. That was my life last year, and to be honest it’s still my life. I have slowed down a little but not as much as I need to. Slowing down and being present doesn’t happen overnight (unfortunately). We don’t have to be perfect, we don’t even have to portray to be perfect. We don’t have to care what other people think of us or what their opinions are.
Who cares that you aren’t perfect. There is no need to try and rule the world and be superwoman/superman just so others will see it. More importantly, your body and mind don’t need to go through it. This book is incredible, and it really helped me because I don’t feel like I’m the only one struggling with this anymore. It’s important to honor your body when it’s telling you it needs rest. Instead of being at some social gathering you felt you had to be at because you couldn’t say no, stay at home with your significant other or by yourself wearing some sweats and drink a glass of wine. Be mindful, be present, be blessed, and be proud that you aren’t perfect.
Some days are just so busy I don’t have time to do an hour long yoga flow. I love quick poses that force me to concentrate while I’m struggling to get to that 5th or 7th breath because I know I’m building my strength. Some days I also feel very off balance and like it’s my first time ever on the mat–and that’s OKAY! Everyone has off days and always will. Embrace it. Below are a few poses I like to hold for 5-7 breaths and usually go through twice. The most important thing when doing these poses, or any pose, is to stay with your breath. Focus and stay with your breath. Easier said than done, I know. If you can’t hold a certain pose for 5-7 breaths, drop it down to 3 breaths. You will work your way to holding them longer the more you practice! I am no expert at yoga, but that’s what I love about it. I love the no judgement (of yourself + others) and the always learning aspect of this practice. One day I will be teaching to other people, but I will ALWAYS be a student.
I know everyone has heard of high plank and probably hates it, but the benefits are amazing. Try to hold for 3 breaths, and if you feel you can do more hold for 5-7 breaths.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Chair pose is great for building strength in your lower back and leg muscles. Hold for 3 breaths, or 5-7 breaths
Crow Pose (Bakasana)
First, let me tell you I have been constantly working on this pose. It took a lot of baby steps to fly, but the more I practiced the more my strength and confidence grew. This can be a scary one because you feel like you’re going to face plant (and I have…more than once). I had a bolster in front of me the first 48579285 times I practiced Crow. The key is to look about 3 feet ahead of you–it will help your balance tremendously! Also this pose is not all about your arm strength, it’s about core strength. I love this pose because it improves balance and body coordination while strengthening the upper arms, core, and stretches the upper back.
I decided to show a progress picture for this pose, the top is from December 2016 and the bottom is from April 2017. It always feels like I’m not getting stronger until I compare pictures. I record every practice I do at home, not only to see my progress but to see my form and technique. Sometimes I think I’m doing great until I look at the video, and I am so far from great!! It’s a little weird watching yourself on camera, but it honestly helps so much for when you can’t make it to the studio and have a teacher help correct you. Practice makes progress!!!
I went to a yoga workshop a few weeks ago about managing anxiety, something a lot of us are too familiar with. I have struggled with anxiety for years, which is what originally brought me to practice yoga. I have only been practicing for a little over a year and have learned so much already. It’s not about being in a pretzel shaped pose and being able to balance like a pro, I can barely touch my toes to this day and still see amazing results from this practice.
Being able to calm my anxious mind is something I have always had a hard time with. I have constant worries running through my head all day and sometimes don’t even realize it. Even thinking 5 minutes into the future can cause anxiety, and it’s so important to live in the present moment. When people ask what the hardest practice for me is, I always answer with Restorative Yoga. I get crazy looks because it’s literally an hour long practice where you hold only a handful of resting poses. It’s the hardest practice for me because when I’m laying down comfortably in a quiet environment my mind starts to go a million miles a minute. Relaxing and quieting my mind is not an easy task for me. I always try to focus on my breath during this incredibly beneficial practice–I count to 10 and then start over.
It’s something I’ll always struggle with but will always continue to work on. Restorative is very necessary for our busy lives. I use props for a lot of restorative poses, but you can always do them without props. Below are a few of my favorites:
Legs Up the Wall [Viparita Karani]
-Regulates blood flow
-Calming to nervous system
-Relieves mild backache
-Relief for headaches & migraines
Child’s Pose [Balasana]
-Quiets the mind
-Releases lower back tension
-Gently stretches hips
Reclining Bound Angle Pose [Supta Baddha Konasana]
-Stretches knees and inner thighs
Shavasana [Savasana or Corpse Pose]
Everyone’s favorite, right?!
-Calms the mind
-Good time to connect with your breath
This book is hands down a must read for every single person. Elizabeth Gilbert has always been an inspiration, but this book will help push you right over that mountain of fear or doubt. I love how she goes into her personal struggles and isn’t afraid to talk about them. I actually started reading this book when I was in the middle of going back and forth to start a blog and being frustrated with my lack of technology skills. I can honestly say this book is the main reason I decided to actually go through with this.
I was chatting with my sweet Mama on the phone (I call her about 83 times a day) about how I couldn’t believe how fast life is actually going. I can’t believe I moved to a city knowing hardly anyone, fell in love with my best friend, graduated college, married him, adopted 2 dogs, bought a car, and currently in the process of buying a house. Who am I?! I’m still 11 years old inside. I pray everyday that God leads me down the path I’m supposed to take. I believe there will come a day where I’m excited to get up in the morning and take on whatever it is I’m doing. My career will be something I love, I just haven’t quite figured it out yet (and that’s okay).
Big Magic is a great read for people who want to live creative lives, and start something new and scary. Failing is apart of the journey and we have to embrace that. Her story of becoming a successful writer is so encouraging. We look at successful people who have jobs we could only dream of having and think it just happened for them. This book is encouraging to take that first leap of faith and see where it takes you. I highly recommend this book to everyone, even if you’re already happy with what you’re doing. Life is so short, and I refuse to do something for 40+ years that doesn’t truly make me happy. Fill your life with positive/supportive people, prayer, and have a mindset just as big and strong as your heart….and we will all find that happiness.