January Yoga Challenge with Practitioner: Daniel Wallen Week 1

Bristol Yogi, Daniel Wallen has committed to 30 classes in 31 days for the month of January. He is diving into the practice of Yoga in preparation for his Yoga Teacher Training at Bristol Yoga this Spring. As a health coach and wellness advocate he understands the importance of daily movement and stress management. Yoga is fairly new to Daniel and he is curious about all hype. Why is Yoga a predicted top ten fitness trend in 2015? As Daniel reveals in excerpts from his daily yoga journal, it is evident that Yoga is not just some fitness trend. It is an ancient tradition of bringing balance to the mind, body and spirit.

Daniel's New Year started off a little rocky with a serious family medical issue. He could have let this stop him from continuing with his commitment to a daily practice. Instead he found that Yoga and breathing exercises (pranayama) kept him steady through the stressful situation.

Read about Daniel's experience, maybe something rings true for you too!

"01/01/15: 2pm Hot Yoga Detox

I didn't write down much today, because my mom has been very sick and that is all that has been on my mind. However, I can say this class was a very welcome escape from all of that. I have an addictive personality, which has produced some pretty nasty habits in the past.

It's been a while since I've been addicted to anything (except coffee)... but it had also been a while since I've faced something so upsetting as my mother being so sick, that it could make me regress (stress and upset feelings were my biggest triggers). I'm pleasantly surprised that I didn't even feel the urge to smoke a cigarette or anything like that. I just wanted to lift weights, go to yoga class, and walk my dog. Exercise is a really good emotional outlet. I look at it like something that refuels me, not something that drains me.

01/02/15: 6am Sunrise Class

Victoria said something that made me chuckle today. She told me to “space out my long gorgeous legs” while I was in Warrior II. I was able to add some distance between them without much of a problem. It felt weird at first, as I'm not used to such a wide stance, but then it felt normal after a few seconds. Maybe my body has adapted to that pose (remember: there was a time that I didn't have anything resembling balance) and now I need to make it a bit harder to get the full benefit?

Also, the fear of looking dumb is a limiting factor for me. This comes out in full force on day #1 of any new class. I gradually get over it past that point, though – patience is a virtue as they say. We practiced crow pose and head-stands, which are not exercises that I'm good at, and it was crazy how noisy my thoughts got when I started to worry about that. I have gotten pretty good at being able to laugh at myself, which is helpful, but sometimes I lose that skill in situations that are stressful or unusual. 

01/03/15:  10am Yoga for Every Body

I can never go straight into down-dog correctly and it used to really frustrate me. One day Shelley told me I should be able to transition straight from plank to down-dog and that made all the difference. My brain might automatically remember flawlessly one day, but until then I am using plank (or the push-up position) as a “reference point” which I always go to before transitioning to down-dog.

Maybe it would be possible to use a similar approach with other poses that are difficult? I'll be looking for more ways to use a reference point to transition into tricky poses." -Daniel Wallen

REMEMBER: The most important thing in our own lives, is our OWN LIFE! Without our life, nothing else exists. We must take care of ourselves: our mind, body & spirit in order to care for those around us. Finding time for your Yoga practice, whether at the studio or at home is a way of bringing balance to this crazy ride called life. 

Stay tuned for more insights from Daniel on his January Yoga Journey