This post is a little different than usual. It was inspired by a quote on a friend’s facebook, and a conversation I had with a cousin of mine. I think it is so important that we take time in our lives to care for ourselves. It is easy to get caught up in other people, and assign value to ourselves based on others’ reactions to us. It is so valuable to remember that at the end of the day, we have to be our own personal advocates. In every area of life we have to advocate and care for ourselves.

One of the things one learns during the practice of yoga, is that with every moment comes a clean slate. Each second of your practice, and each second of your life, awards you the opportunity to start anew. The opportunity is always there, and it is within each of our power to grasp it whenever we so choose.

It’s easy to let decisions be made for you, it’s easy in life to be passive, but the truth is, if you want something you have to decide that you want it and then work for it. There is a quote that says something like “getting what you want is easy once you decide what that is.” Like deciding to hold a posture through to the end before you start it, you can’t do something unless you decide to do it.

Deciding to make a change in life is never easy, but it is important not to let others hold you back. Every moment is an opportunity to change your life for the better. The moment I decided to start doing Bikram Yoga I changed my life for the better. The moment I made the decision to attend UBC I made my life better. The moment of my initiation into Delta Gamma changed my life for the better. There are, of course, moments I regret, but ultimately I’ve made myself my priority in my life. If you aren’t your own priority, how can you expect to be anyone else’s?

Don’t make someone your priority, when you are only an option. Yoga is how I take care of myself, how do you make yourself a priority in your life?

-C

The short answer is yes.

I was inspired to write this after looking at the stats on my blog, and finding that a lot of the search terms people were using to find this blog were things like:

“yoga too hard on lower back”

“Triangle pose with hip pain”

“Can you do yoga with sore knees?”

etc.

The truth is, that yoga will fix all of these things.  One of the wonderful things about this practice is that you can completely tailor it to your own personal needs.  One of the things the instructors like to remind us is that yoga is non-competitive.  A person who is coming on their first day is getting the same amount of benefit as a person coming on their 400th day.  It is all about how much effort you put into it.  In the midst of the pain and the struggle is where you get the benefit, and whether that struggle happens just trying to lock your standing knee in standing head to knee pose, or in actually touching your forehead to your knee, you’re getting the same amount of benefit.

Yoga’s job is to reform your body.  Sometimes in yoga my lower back does still hurt, but I can work around the pain by working really hard in the spine strengthening series, and skipping the sit ups.  Eventually that pain will heal, and I will be stronger for it.  I know I write about pain that I am struggling with a lot, but please don’t let that scare you away.  My favourite instructor, Julia, told me that when you begin practicing yoga sometimes old injuries you thought had healed flare up again.  Not because what you are doing is bad, but because they are finally after all this time getting healed.  It does hurt sometimes, but you have to trust your body.  Working through the difficulties is part of the discipline you learn practicing yoga.  And keep in mind, that while I may be a little bit obsessed with Bikrams, I am only a beginner really.  I am two weeks in to my 30 day challenge so of course I am going through the worst part right now.  My body is struggling to relearn and rediscover itself.  I am reopening old wounds, and finally allowing them to heal.  My body and my mind are learning to reinterpret each other.  So when I talk about experiencing pain or discomfort, I think it is a good thing.  It’s part of the process.

We live in an over medicated society.   If you have lower back pain, hip pain, knee pain, headaches… whatever, ignoring it will not make it better, taking an ibuprofen does not cure anything.  The only way to fix anything (your health or anything else) is to work really really hard at it.

Bikram says better to be in pain for 90 minutes than 90 years.

Use yoga as a tool to strengthen your body and reform those areas which are causing you pain.  Mental areas, physical areas, they will be fixed.  The hardest, most uncomfortable postures are the most important to work 120% harder at because that is where you need it most.  So just do it already.  I promise you will thank me when you are 90 and still fit as a fiddle and, as Katie said, you die of old age while skiing down a mountain.  Doing what you love forever.

Class today:

went really well.  I have been having balancing problems lately.  I just can’t seem to stay upright in the standing series, but in other areas I feel like I’m making lots of improvement.  I’m definitely feeling like I have more endurance, I’ve been breathing really well, and keeping my stomach contracted.  I feel like I am getting much stronger.  I do need to start focusing on my balance more though, I think learning how to balance is part of the meditation part of yoga, and it really teaches you to communicate with your body.  I have experienced this every day in toe stand.  This has been a very difficult posture for me to be able to balance in.  I can’t remember which teacher said this, but she said while we were in toe stand to just focus on our bodies and figure out what needed to change in order for us to get our balance.  Since then, I have just really focused on my body during that posture.  Trying to tease out what needs to be contracted, where my weight needs to shift.  I haven’t been able to be perfect in this posture, but I have made a lot of improvement in it and I can balance a bit now.

I think now that my body knows the series so well, it is time to focus on my mind, because I know (and I’ve written it before) that is where the practice really starts.  I know that any improvement I make from here until day 30 and beyond, will be because of my mental endurance.  If I really work on that the rest of the practice will follow.  I have the series totally memorized, and I have to stop counting down the postures to the end of class.  It just takes me out of it.  One thing that seems to help me do this, is making myself stay in the room and relax and meditate for a while before I leave.  If I know I will be doing that it helps me stay more focused.  I guess because it makes me feel in less of a rush to run out and do the next thing on my agenda.

Seeing the improvement in my circulation has really make me motivated to begin another challenge.  I’ve decided to take eight blood sugars a day for the last 15 days of my challenge.  Partly because I’m curious what the yoga is doing to my body.  Mostly because I feel so good right now, that I want to know how much better it can get.  I’m being greedy now I know… but I want this so badly.  I have come to realize in the past two weeks how precious my body is, and how important it is to take care of it.  When I take care of my body, it takes care of me.  I want to be taken care of.

Amazing that two weeks straight of yoga did what two years of therapy never could.

Go to a class today.  Do it for yourself… don’t even wait just go.  You will be so happy.

So today was not a good class for me, but I will still start off with a couple positive notes.  In standing bow I saw my toes in the mirror above my head!  I was super excited about that.  I am having to think a lot less about keeping my standing leg locked, and so I can focus more on other parts of the posture which is nice.  In standing head to knee pose I am kind of worried about kicking out because I don’t think I can have the flexibility, but I think I am really ready to try.  My hamstring flexibility has improved so much that I think I should stop worrying about whether or not I can do it perfectly and just try.  Two sayings to think of while trying out this posture:  My teacher today said “this is yoga practice not yoga perfect.”  It doesn’t have to be perfect  just have to try.  And of course Danny’s “one millimeter today one millimeter tomorrow” saying, which helps immensely.

Today I was really tired and really stressed.  I’m glad Jessica came because I would have had a lot more trouble making myself get there if I didn’t know she was coming.  I had to cook for holiday dinner, I was supposed to go to a soccer game which I skipped, I knew after I would have to finish my sweet potatoes, get dressed, put on my makeup etc., and I also knew that 45 minutes probably wouldn’t be enough.  So basically today it was hard to fit yoga into my schedule.  On top of that I’m feeling a little burned out and just exhausted.  I stayed up way too late last night and I really need to start going to bed earlier.  It is a quarter to nine now and I’m going to bed after I finish writing this.

So anyway I did go and I worked really hard during the standing series, but I decided that during the floor series I was going to focus more on relaxation than taking it to my edge and working it.  I’m glad I did that because I spent most of the series feeling really sick and just so fatigued.  Like it was very difficult to make my muscles do what I wanted them to.  I sweat a lot more again today than the last two days, but that was probably due to the fact that I was in the hottest area of the room.

My knees are still sore but I think they are getting better.  I’m just being careful in one legged postures and I haven’t been doing toe stand I’ve just been staying in tree and working on balance and concentration.

I’m going to write a private post about some other difficulties that are a bit more personal.  If you are dying to see it just let me know!

So all in all I didn’t feel great about today’s class but I think it definitely had some moments of success as well.  I’m hoping that I’ll get a good nights sleep and tomorrow will be better.  I’ll be going with Kristine and Brittany VZ which is super exciting.  I really enjoy taking this class with my sisters.

Here’s hoping tomorrow is the best class ever!  Day 9!

-Claire