Goal #8: Yoga Teacher Training

This week, I start my yoga teacher training journey! (Below is my first day of school excited face.)

First Day of Yoga Training

I started practicing yoga about five years ago, when I first moved to Chicago and needed a bit of an exercise change. My roommate and I attended the yoga classes at XSport Fitness, right down the road from our apartment in Lakeview, and sometimes when I felt fancy and had the money, I would attend a class at CorePower Yoga downtown after work amongst all the yuppie stay at home moms. (Yes, I was judge-y about that.) Yoga felt like a great workout, particularly hot yoga, but over the next several years it became a bit of a lifesaver as I dealt with the stress, anxiety and depression associated with significant personal conflict, major life changes and a toxic relationship.

Yoga class is often where I take my first big, real deep breath of the day, which always amazes me--I mean, my body makes sure I breathe all day long, thankfully, but yoga reminds me that I don't actually breathe. Yoga class is where I discover my edges and limitations, where I don't have to be perfect, where the rest of the world slips away for an hour, where the only thing I can control is my focus, where I can shut off my yapping mind, where I realize that I am stronger than I think, both mentally and physically. I've never left a yoga class feeling worse than when I showed up, even if my hips are tight, I lose my balance or I'm just not feeling the 'om. You would not believe how many days I think, I don't have time for yoga or Ugh, I'm too stressed for yoga. That's when I tell myself, Just get there. You don't have to be great. You just have to show up.

Life motto, right? Just show up. You don't have to be great.

But when the possibility of yoga teacher training came up here in Des Moines, my mind raced to uncover all the Reasons It Was Not a Good Idea: it's too expensive, I'm not good enough yet, I won't know anybody, it'll take up too much time, I already have a job, etc. Even though it's been on my bucket list for years. Seriously, it's kind of amazing how quickly our fear of the unknown shuts us down even before we begin! Luckily, one of the training leaders asked me pretty much every week when I was going to sign up. So I took the plunge.

Last night marked the beginning of my 200-hour yoga certification and training program. Imagine 30 or so students of all ages crammed into a small studio looking at each other like, Here we go . . . None of us really knew what to expect, but here's what I quickly realized:

1. Wow. I'm going to be practicing a LOT. No shit, I immediately thought, it's YOGA TRAINING, what did you expect? But these next several weeks will totally change my perspective on what "a lot" of yoga means. I'm used to hitting up a class twice a week and feeling proud of myself. Aside from 11-12 hours of group class time, we still need to fit in 5 classes. Per week.

2. There's going to be a lot of touchy-feeling personal sharing. Even though I love that sort of thing with close friends and family members, it's harder for me to open up with large groups and I generally feel overwhelmed when people share a lot of deep stuff right from the get go. (Like Brene Brown says, relationships need to be able to sustain the weight of vulnerability.) But I guess it'll be an opportunity for growth and I'll probably make some great friends.

3. I need more yoga attire. Because I don't want to do laundry every day. Hello, Tar-Jay instead of Lululemon.

Along the way, I hope to share weekly recaps of training--what I'm learning about various poses, teaching skills and whatever else comes up!

Namaste, all.

Deciding to Blog

I started reading blogs in 2006, a little before they became as mainstream as they are today. I stumbled upon Eat, Live, Run and Healthy Tipping Point one slow day during my law firm internship, and was immediately hooked. Reading blogs became one of my favorite things to do. I loved the wide variety of topics and general sense of community. And I constantly thought, I could start a blog. Then the reasons came:

No, other people would think that is weird.

What would I write about? I'm not an expert on anything.

I don't have anything to say that hasn't been said before.

I'm not a writer yet.

Blogs are a fad.

The Internet is forever.

What if I post something people don't like? People can be so mean online.

I'm too much of a private person to share things on a blog.

And so on.

Yet, I did work up the nerve to start a blog while in graduate school. I don't even remember the name of it, but I do remember throwing something together on WordPress, writing a post about how much I loved the fall, and then showing it to my then-boyfriend proudly. I'll never forget his reaction: "It's too long. You write too much. People won't read it." I crumbled with embarrassment, feeling rejected like a little kid, and never wrote another post.

Fast forward three years. I still read blogs. I even attended the Healthy Living Summit in Chicago. I still thought about starting a blog. My current, wonderful boyfriend, my sister, my mom and my friends all said, "I'd read your blog!" But I still procrastinated because I was afraid.

It will take up too much time.

People are seriously mean on the Internet sometimes. Also, privacy!

I'm not a writer yet.

You can see where I'm going with this. All those thoughts? Excuses, big-time. I could feel myself trying to convince myself that this wasn't a good idea. Because one person three years ago shut me down when I tried. Because I was still afraid. Because my perfectionist tendencies try to avoid all possibilities of not being "good" or messing up somehow. But finally (thankfully), I got over myself.

I was over my own excuses because I simply wanted to write. Despite the critic in my head, I knew I am and always will be a writer. As Glennon Melton puts it, "Reading is my inhale and writing is my exhale." Of course it would take up time, but I certainly find time to do all sorts of things I love, like yoga and cooking and reading and happy hour. I knew I wouldn't post anything I wouldn't share with family and friends, and I know my limits in terms of privacy. Yes, people on the Internet can be cruel. So can people in real life. I wasn't interested in letting other people stop me from doing something I wanted to do anymore. And what I wanted, and needed, was some sort of creative space in order to write and share and grow, and truly, a blog is an excellent opportunity and tool to do so. I was the only person holding myself back.

I'm sure there will still be days ahead when I think I shouldn't blog, and on those days, I'm going to return to this post as a reminder of why I should.

Creating a Patio Garden

For the longest time, I've envied people with a backyard deck or patio. The concept of having a nice place of one's own, outdoors, with a little table and chairs, some flowers, various herbs, a grill and a nice umbrella has always appealed to me. Dream Backyard

My parents worked for years on their backyard oasis, taking each summer to check a mini-goal off their list. Their backyard nicely runs into the edge of the woods, with a little valley. First, they added gravel and bricks to make a path. Then came a retaining wall, filled with flowers, strawberries and tomatoes. Then patio furniture. Then, finally a hot tub. When I'm home, I can see how much they enjoy their backyard space and how proud they are to have done it themselves.

I'd love to do that sort of thing nowadays; however, I'm still in apartment-land (a great place to be, of course)! Every time I look at our wrought iron balcony, I think, We need to . . . and then promptly discard it as a later task.

But today! We ventured to the farmer's market and returned with cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches, and a strawberry-rhubarb pie (which sums up my eating approach in life: 2 parts healthy and 1 part whatever you want).

Farmers Market Loot

And then decided TODAY WAS THE DAY. Garden time.

We went to Lowe's. And felt very grown-up perusing the aisles. Entering the garden section, I approached a store employee with my best Help Me smile. "Hi, I have a question!" "Is it easy?" He responded with a wink at J's shirt. "Oh wait, you're a Cardinals fan? Then no." We laughed. "Basically we want to make a little patio garden and need some help." Off we went, collecting potting soil, rocks, a wooden box and hanging tools. Success! Then, because Lowe's is like Target in that you end up purchasing much more than planned, we grabbed items for the grill that had been lurking in storage.

I had seen a million little potted plants and herbs around town, but surprisingly, they weren't at Lowe's. I think their center was much more "real" garden-focused. After two more stops, we ended up with 5 plants: bright orange zinnias, magenta celosia, rosemary, basil and cilantro.

Now, here is one very important fact about me: I do not have a green thumb. Like, at all. I'll purchase fresh cut flowers because I really just have to check the water level now and again, and then they die because they are supposed to, not because I killed them. The plant in my office is continually yellow because I ignore it completely (and the receptionist is continually annoyed because she ends up watering it). I just don't really do plants. However, I'd like to! I want to have a massive garden in my backyard someday just like my grandparents. Plus I think I read that gardening is a stress-reducing activity, and I mean, the more of those the better.

So the fact that I put together this box, poured the rocks, set the plants and flowers, surrounded them with dirt and watered them with minimal help is EXCELLENT. Except that I forgot to pack the dirt so soil was everywhere. And I hadn't used a watering can in 15 years so I splashed it all over. And then I realized I wasn't quite sure when to cut or water or do anything for these plants (Thanks, Google).


Patio Garden


Also, J put together the grill table and cleaned the grill and figured out all the tools. He also recognized that I had a set vision for our patio getaway space and let me dictate all the things. He's very helpful.

*Disclaimer: I realize that this is not technically a patio garden, because there is no patio. It's one small box of plants on a balcony. I'll take my small victories nonetheless.