With such excitement of the wedding, I haven’t written a blog in so long! I have been itching to share my latest yoga thoughts.
I was laughing with a teacher the other day that you just never know what you are going to get when you walk into the yoga room. Never know! Some days you may feel like a rockstar when you walk in there, and then you just truly struggle through. Other days, you think “man this is going to suck” and then you have the best class you could ever imagine. We were joking that everything factors into how your practice turns out – even what you ate 3 days ago!
It has been interesting how my practice has changed from before graduate school graduation and the wedding. I graduated with my Master of Physiology in May, and 3 short weeks later I married the man of my dreams. I graduated with a 3.8 GPA in a rigorous masters program designed for students interested in professional school (medical, dental, vet, etc), and then I had the MOST beautiful day imaginable spent with closest family members and best friends while Glen and I were married. The excitement of marriage and the stress of successfully completing my degree played a great role in my practice. It was tough! It was tough getting to yoga 5 days a week when I knew I had studying to do or wedding things to plan. I studied about 40-50 hours a week on top of wedding planning and teaching genetics. I found it extremely difficult to BE in the present moment during class, and I would often find my mind wandering – either trying to recite a mechanism in my head like the different physiological aspects of the QRS wave in an electrocardiogram or day dreaming about my supportive and loving fiancé. I would often hear the teacher say, “Christina, get out of your head.” Amazing how they know! I found myself taking a knee, or just taking a moment to try to focus my intention for the class. It was difficult.
We got married on a beautiful sunny day at the beginning of June, and then we honeymooned in California for 2 weeks. I had the opportunity to practice one time while I was out in CA (and my husband came, too!), and it was such a different experience from my home studio. I instantly missed my home studio and the discipline that is found there. I made up my mind then and there to come home and truly, honestly refocus myself. School was over (for now, at least), and there were no more wedding plans to be made. With this break in school, which I anticipate to be about 2 years, I wanted to commit myself to two things 1) refocus, rededicate my yoga practice, and 2) refocus, rededicate my intentions for medical school. It is very strange how similar I have found these two journeys – yoga practice and my efforts to apply/prepare for medical school – ironically, both of which started circa 2008.
And since we returned from our honeymoon, I have done just that. I started shadowing an orthopedic surgeon, which has given me great confidence and even more ambition to prepare my medical school application. The physician is an excellent leader in his field, is eager to teach me, and has great relationships with his patients. I will really enjoy learning in this type of environment.
And for on the yoga mat? I personally believe I have made great and strong improvements in troublesome postures. For example, I can actually hold balancing stick for the whole “ten seconds” from class to class. I’ve also started to consistently kick out in standing-head-knee, partial thanks to this being posture of the month at my studio. My hips are sore, my hamstrings are sore, but I’ve been making my best effort to lock the knee! All of my postures, truly all of them, feel consistently stronger. Besides physical improvements, I feel mentally stronger in class. No matter what bitterness seems to come my way, how tired or sore I am, or how anxious I am about the future, it hasn’t seemed to affect my practice too much. I have practiced in “the swamp” several times. This is what we call the part of the room that is hottest in our studio, mostly because there is not air circulation back there and the hotness just stays there and festers haha. This is HUGE for me! I have always struggled with the heat, but I feel like my yoga practice is now getting to the point where I am truly embracing the heat. I feel like I am working with the heat rather than against it. It really is a beautiful thing!
My personal challenge for the month of July was to not drink water in class. I have found that water really hinders my progress. It is distracting, and I’m just like “omg I am dying I need to chug my water.” WRONG. I feel sick when I do that! It’s totally mental too. I think to myself that if I drink the water I will feel better. I don’t. I feel worse. But then, I can’t stop drinking it! It’s a vicious cycle. I thought that instead of battling my damn water bottle every class, I would just stop drinking. My mom and her friend were my biggest inspiration for this, because they don’t drink water in class whatsoever. They even cheers their water bottles after class and then take a mighty big sip. I like to call this an “aqua-tini”. There have only been 2 classes this month where I actually drank my water in class. And to no surprise, it made me feel yucky! YES I have given up my “baby bottle”! I don’t feel nauseous in class, and instead of questioning in my head, “okay now should I drink water?”, I can just stand there and practice being in my present moment. It really has been a fabulous change in my practice.
So at the end of the day, I decided that all those classes I have ever struggled in or have not felt great about my practice are not wasted energy or anything to feel sorry for. Rather those are the classes that have inspired and encouraged me to form the practice I have this very day.