So, I will start with the physical. That is always easier (for me at least) to talk about. The physical changes to my body during 30 days at the perfect Anamaya Resort are visible. Below are some fun side by side images. I also wish I took some at the halfway point, but I was too busy enjoying the sun, my new friends, and my new and improved body. Oh yeah, and learning tons!
One of my biggest fears was slipping back into old habits once returning to my old environment, full of my old triggers. I'll save this for another post, but let us just say, it's been six days, and minus one "low"and I'm feeling really strong about honoring the promises I made, including maintaining how I look and feel physically.
I'll write a post soon about the specific differences in my diet, activity, level, sleep, stress, etc, that I believe contributed to such a change. The biggest surprise was how different my face looks! Its amazing how diet and lifestyle really does show up on every part of our body and soul. I didn't weight myself, or take measurements, but I think the photos (not to mention how I feel) are enough evidence. But for now, back to the subject at hand.
I knew I would have to fork over some cash for quality yoga in the city, but I knew it was part of this investment and part of honoring my journey and growth. I felt really drawn to Laughing Lotus, and when I saw they were offering *free* restorative sessions, I was convinced. I attended an amazing event hosted by their inspiring founder, Dana Trixie Flynn, at Chelsea Piers last year, but this was my first time in their studio. I've walked by it a million times, which is the beauty of New York, and never noticed it was there. The doorman was a doll, and I made my way to the 3rd floor. I was instantly enchanted by the divine graffiti and overall vibe. It felt good. It felt right.
I shed a few layers (its November! But I love it), found a spot for my mat, and sat cross legged upon a block. This felt like home! I've noticed how since being back, how much I missed sitting on the floor. Mr. Foodie might be disappointed if I were to move the computer to the floor after he bought such a beautiful desk and chair for us! So, I will simply take more time to have sit bones on the ground - I've got to keep my hips open and back strong.
I chanted my mantra on my beads and was simply open for whatever this experience held. I was homesick for my yoginis but community and shared space felt really nice. Just to not be alone in my apartment was a relief.
Sheri was perfect. I loved her wisdom, and her lightness; just the right amount of play and instruction. Hearing a resounding OM again! So many moments of synchronicity and joy. A one hour flow felt crazy fast after a month of 2 hour long practices (and then some), but I generated a lot of heat and prana was flowin. It felt great to feel my hip externally rotate and my thighs internally rotate in Warrior 1. To feel the smaller movements of the body in a whole new way, with a whole new appreciation for my body, and for the training that Banyan instilled in us. I loved that my Chaturanga was higher than my neighbor's, which then led me to recognize that I had to check my ego and honor her practice as her own. I held my most solid Crow pose - twice. I stayed with myself, and listened to my body, taking the time it wanted to take in each moment. I had a whole new appreciation for each and every subtle movement. I had the knowledge to keep my spine safe. It was like the first yoga class of the rest of my life. It was also so wonderful to still see more waistband, and less belly. I deserve to always feel this way. We all do. It's why I love Health Coaching, I love helping people find what makes them feel proud!
I had a couple of great adjustments while in standing balancing poses, and it made me appreciate the touch and guidance of the assistant so much more, now that I am on the other side of teacher training. I made sure to give her lots of positive feedback post class; "Your timing was perfect. You stayed with me long enough and exited smoothly. You're beautiful..." There is a #yogacamp joke in their for my loves, but you get the idea.
This idea then brought on a serious savasana, or the savasana turned this idea into a feeling that started on my back, and moved up and out through my chest, and tears filled my eyes. "What if I am like that little star? What if I am a fairy godmother of sorts? What if I am too much love for one person? What if I am meant to spend my life touching and loving and supporting as many people in as many places as possible? Maybe this is why I am drawn to Health Coaching, and Yoga Teacher, and Doula Training, Ayurvedic Healing, Spin Instructing, etc, etc. What if this is my purpose? To go and learn and do and just experience."
And I tried to breathe a little deeper, exhale a little longer. And I came back to this vivid memory of my 21 year old self telling a former colleague how I never saw my future self with a consistent life or a traditional nuclear family. How I was going to have "many lovers in many places" (for reference, I had never been in a relationship and hadn't experienced a "lover", so this was all really hypothetical and romantic sounding). While I was engaged, this memory/idea came to me often as well, but I digress. I so often wonder, how do we separate predictions and internal truth or intuition of the known, from self-fulfilling prophecies and living our stories? I took another deep breath, found comfort in the blankets, in the weight of the sandbags, in the bolster under my knees and I exhaled gratitude and trust.
I spent hours after class sharing with my amazing soul sister. She was loving the visible and energetic changes in "JJ". It felt so good to see how me being more me was more supportive and reassuring to her. This is all such powerful stuff! As I want to make sure I don't shrink and I don't fall back into old constructs, I also want to make sure I don't try and shelter "JJ" from the world. I want her to know it is safe to be "JJ" outside the safety and support of Anamaya. I already felt different after class last night. The Jen of pre-YTT would have made excuses, would have stayed home, maybe tried a yoga video, or gone for a run, and probably would have eaten to keep herself company and feeling "full". But not JJ. She seeks out community (and thrives in it), she lives big, she makes eye contact, she offers compassion, not judgement, and she relaxes into each moment. She Faces Everything And Rises.
Tonight, I'll be out at it again; Shambala is having a big birthday celebration and I cannot wait to play and share and create.