Find out what a daily yoga practice brought to this Bristol Yogi!

I have struggled with stress, addiction, and depression during my life. Exercise is a form of therapy for me. I love to lift weights and walk my dog, but I have to say yoga calms me more than any other physical training. That's probably due to its focus on mindfulness and conscious breathing, which can reduce the symptoms of stress significantly over time.

 

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Yoga Challenge Complete: We are blown AWAY!

All of us at Bristol Yoga are proud of the dedicated Yogis making their way to class during the month of January. Some of you we see every day, some almost everyday and others at least every week.  Those of you that entered our challenge our headbands are off to you. We are BLOWN AWAY by your dedication! You set a goal, you made time for yourself and you allowed us to be apart of it. Whatever your goal was, whether you completed 10 classes, 20 classes or 30 classes, it is not the amount but the journey you took each day. Making your way to class, unrolling your mat and committing to the practice takes dedication. We THANK YOU, for sharing your time and your YOGA with us. Our January Challenge has come to a close but we are still seeing all of you come to class, taking a place on your mat and sharing in the Yoga. Whatever your yoga needs to be for you, whether we are in a quiet, restorative practice or a funky, up tempo flow, it is all Yoga with a purpose. It is where we find refuge, quietude, healing and community. 

Yoga at its origin means to "yoke", bring together or unite. This practice of yoking as it applies to the ancient science of yoga brings the emotional and physical bodies together to achieve a clarity or bliss. In our Bristol Yoga space we have found this yoking to include a growing community. We feel honored and grateful you have chosen us as your community. Thank you for allowing us to share in your journey.

The light in us thinks the light in each and every one of you is AWESOME!

~Namaste~

Shelly & The Bristol Yoga Tribe

Check out the insights from Bristol Yogi: Daniel Wallen, he completed 31 classes in January. This included a Monday through Friday 6 am Sunrise Class. He committed himself to the routine and the practice, making his goal a reality. We think his insights ring pretty true for most new Yogi's beginning a consistent practice. Including all the ups and the downs he gives us a honest view. Maybe something rings true for you? Feel free to read back through his journey in previous posts. On a side note: The Sunrise Class is growing and we are having so much fun at 6 am it is criminal, Come see for yourself! 

"01/26 Sunrise w/ Marcy

Cues are a key ingredient of any yoga practice. Put simply, cues are the words teachers use to guide students into a yoga pose.

You might have noticed most teachers only use a small number of cues at a time. That's because using too many in a row would overwhelm most people.

Don't get upset if a particular cue doesn't make sense. Some of them still make me scratch my head if I'm being honest. It's nothing to worry about, though. There are a lot of ways to describe every movement.

As you practice, you will start to realize some cues resonate with you more than others. Be mindful of the ones that click most. You might even want to modify a cue by putting in your own words. That will make it easier to remember. Remind yourself of that cue every time you encounter a pose to improve your form.

01/27 Sunrise w/ Victoria

 It's interesting how some people struggle to be still during corpse pose at the end of class. I used to be one of them, but have learned to appreciate the silence, because it rejuvenates me. 

Victoria did something at the end of class that I'm definitely going to remember. She read a section out of a book called “Buddha's Brain.” This seemed to help the people who get distracted  in corpse pose. 

That section discussed a concept called Equanimity. The goal is to reduce stress by minimizing your emotional reactions. If someone cuts you off or skips you in line at the grocery store, you don't have to react to it. You could just shrug it off like it didn't happen. Reacting to every little thing that happens will steal energy that could be directed to a more productive purpose. If you can't change it, try not to react to it.  

01/28 Sunrise w/ Shelly

I'm starting to understand how a teacher could select a small number of poses and combine them in different ways to create a unique class experience.

For example, the Warrior poses could be held for a long time (more than 30 seconds) to create a strong foundation and improve your posture. Those same Warrior poses could be held for 5-10 seconds and combined with a couple of other poses like down-dog and cobra to create a flow style that trains the cardiovascular system. And you could throw in some core movements to make things more interesting.

I used to be overwhelmed by the idea of having to make a bunch of different classes so people wouldn't get bored. It's funny how things can seem so complicated in your head. Now I know I could just change-up things like the order of the poses, how many seconds you hold each pose, and the cues (what to focus on during a pose) to keep things interesting. I am so glad I wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel.

01/29 Sunrise w/ Victoria

This was a difficult class for me. There were a couple of poses that I couldn't do at all, so I caught my mind drifting to a negative place. If nothing else, I am more mindful of this tendency now, so I'm usually able to prevent a full-blown case of self-loathing (a feeling I used to know very well). That might seem blunt, but I think it's good to be vulnerable, because another person could relate with the situation and be comforted in the knowledge that they are not alone.

01/30 Sunrise w/ Marcy  

Whoa, I just made it through 30 classes in a row! The funny thing is everybody else seemed to be way more excited about it than me. That's probably because I just focused on going to one class at a time to make my goal look less intimidating... which totally worked, so I recommend giving it a try – small steps can add up to massive changes over time as long as you can be patient.  

Speaking of small steps, I've noticed that changing one tiny thing can make transitions from one pose to another feel more fluid. Marcy suggested placing our hands on our knees while moving from low lunge to warrior, which made that transition feel less awkward than normal. Don't get in the habit of assuming you need to make a BIG change for things like this. Sometimes a little one will do the trick.

01/31 Yoga for Every Body w/ Marcy 

Have I shared that I'm a very introverted person? I think so, but maybe it wouldn't hurt to remind you. It's nice to meet people, but large crowds freak me out.  

I mention that, because the parking lot was FULL today. I'm kinda proud of myself for not pulling a U-turn and going back home! The yoga studio was so packed that Marcy didn't even have enough space to use her yoga mat, so she just stood up and moved around the room the whole time.  

That was fine by me, because it can be hard to know if you're doing a pose correctly without feedback. Individual adjustments can help you improve your posture and get deeper into a pose. I also feel safe in classes with mobile instructors, because it seems like the teacher is completely aware of his or her surroundings. That's something I definitely want to provide when I start to teach.

 Check this blog in a few days, because I'm working on an introspection post about what yoga means to me. I'll reveal some of the major lessons I learned during my daily challenge. Namaste! "

Create Your Routine in 2015: Daily Yoga Challenge with Daniel Wallen

The New Year is a wonderful time to pause and reflect. What are your priorities? What needs to change? What do you want to accomplish and how can you make it happen? All of this reflection can be super exciting for self-improvement junkies like me.

I have bad news, though. While an estimated 40% of Americans make New Year's Resolutions, only 8% of them actually succeed. Most people get so intoxicated by the idea of transformation that they forget to make a plan. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” as Benjamin Franklin put it.

Indeed, most people try to force an exercise routine on themselves without stopping to consider how they can make it convenient for their schedule and lifestyle. Or, even worse, they tell themselves they will go to yoga class “whenever they feel like it” (Spoiler Alert: that will probably end up being never).

This would be a good place to introduce myself. Hi, my name is Daniel. I am a yoga enthusiast, personal trainer, freelance writer, and self-published author from Bristol. You can find my writings on popular blogs such as Lifehack, Livestrong, and the Personal Trainer Development Center.

I've been practicing yoga for a few years now, and I still have a lot to learn. I will be getting certified at Bristol Yoga's teacher training program, which is very exciting. I like to be ahead of the curve, so I am beginning my preparation process right now. That means going to a class every morning and writing a short journal entry about what I learned in each one.

Every week, I will compile these journal entries and send them to Shelly of Bristol Yoga. She will pick out the most revealing sections and offer some advice that will help you. In other words, you will get to benefit by having a bird's eye view of my experience. These posts will be published twice a week. If you'd like to be notified when they are available, subscribe to Bristol Yoga blog. Want to join me? Email bristolyogacenter@gmail.com and let them know you are wanting to be on this journey in 2015! You can find details of the challenge in the previous blog post. You have options to make this challenge work for you!

Let's bring this chat back to you and your New Year's Resolution. Most people will inevitably sabotage their success by rushing into 2015 without a plan. I'd like to help you avoid that common mistake by sharing how I am preparing for my daily yoga challenge.

First, I considered my learning style. Some people might like to take lots of different classes to keep things interesting, but I'm not one of them. I thrive with a consistent class schedule. I believe it takes practice and patience to become excellent at anything.

Second, I analyzed my daily schedule. It's impossible to commit to something that isn't convenient for your lifestyle.  Afternoons and evenings tend to be busy, so that eliminated a lot of class offerings. Bristol Yoga offers a sunrise class at 6 a.m. every weekday morning, though, so I signed up for those. 

Third, I solidified my commitment. I did so by sharing my goal in a Facebook status and writing this blog post. Nothing lights a fire under your butt like making your goal public knowledge. You don't have to take it that far if you don't want to. Simply tell a friend about your goal. They will check up on your progress every now and then, which should encourage you to stay accountable.

If you'd like to learn about more ways people sabotage their success, click here to check out my recent Lifehack post on the subject. Don't be afraid to say “hi” if we cross paths in yoga class, okay? It's fun to make new friends. If you found this post helpful, please share it in a thoughtful email or Facebook share.