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! "

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