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Namaste, Bitches :: My Yoga Adventure, Part II

Namaste, Bitches :: My Yoga Adventure, Part II - via The Entertaining House. Image, Tumblr

Namaste, Bitches :: My Yoga Adventure, Part II - via The Entertaining House. Image, Tumblr

What's right for one person isn't right for another. This can be said for absolutely everything in life. I may give advice and suggestions and share my opinions but they simply may not be applicable to you and your lifestyle. And that's okay. It's okay as long as you've given it a try - as long as you don't simply say no to something without knowing anything about it all. Then, that's not okay, because you could potentially be missing out on a great opportunity. Sometimes you have to try something new, take a chance, step outside your comfort zone.

I am a creature of habit. I like my safety net to be nearby at all times. Although many see me as a Type A, I need my downtime, my alone time. I'm happy at home on the couch with a great book or a good movie. I'm equally as happy traveling, wandering around unfamiliar streets and paths, aimlessly - with or without purpose. I love to see new sights, meet new people, hear new music and taste new food. I find nothing more satisfying or fulfilling. This is why I love my profession. I love being a writer because it takes me places and has me meeting new people and trying new things. It complements the social side of me. And I love to go home and write quietly in the solitude of my own home, it nurtures my independent, soulful side. Only recently have I started to travel alone. I personally think everyone should. But many people don't or won't. My guess is that most people are afraid to. I was. I was until I got divorced. And I started to go places by myself. I was never alone though, because on every journey that started alone, the most amazing connections and friendships were made.  And so traveling to the Cape was one such journey where traveling alone brought me close to others I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet. 

 A group of 11 women got together with their mats for morning and afternoon yoga sessions, and got together again for breakfast and dinner where many of us, complete strangers, bonded over stories of parenting and careers and life and a few of us shared dating stories. We ranged in age from late 30s to early 60s and our backgrounds were as diverse as our ages. Some of the women knew each other, but no one knew everyone. 

Friday afternoon we arrived as strangers and by Sunday morning there was a bond. The dinners we shared nurtured those connections. Saturday we got up early for a 7:30 yoga session then proceeded to have breakfast together afterwards. We had the day to spend to do whatever we wished. Some took off by bicycle, others hopped the ferry to Martha's Vineyard and a few of us decided to stroll around downtown Falmouth and Wood's Hole. We returned to the hotel for a wonderfully meditative walk on the beach. (I'm not to sure how meditative I was as I was constantly taking pictures!) We were to pay attention to how the sand felt beneath our feet, how the air felt, smelled and what we saw and heard... the bright sun casting a spell on the water, ocean breezes whipping through my hair. I walked to the water's edge and tested the ocean one toe at a time. It was remarkably warm. I rolled my pants up over my knees and waded in the warm October water. At that moment the world stood still and there was nothing but quiet and calm all around me. 15 minutes later we headed back to our makeshift studio in the grand ballroom where we stretched and meditated. Our breaths grew slower and deeper, our pulses slowed, as did our thoughts. Miraculous as it seemed for me, my thoughts didn't venture near anything remotely stressful. I was away on a yoga retreat and my thoughts stayed far away from home base. 

The mind is a powerful thing. I know this. But I learned first-hand how much control our minds can have over our thoughts, our bodies and pain. And when we focus on something - whether it's holding a pose or a stretch or even simply to stay quiet - it's truly formidable. And when we focus, truly focus, we have the power to eliminate our pain, to eliminate our stress and to eliminate all the white noise that circles around like an annoying fly at bedtime. And with this focus our mind becomes stronger and calmer and our bodies become stronger and calmer. And with all this calm comes a remarkable clarity - a clarity that can help solve issues or fix problems. A clarity that can help find answers. I don't think I've ever had that kind of clarity before.

According to WebMd yoga reduces stress, anxiety and depression. It's been used to treat PTSD and used to treat a multitude of physical injuries including those of the joints, neck and back. Many use yoga in their training and practices but don't refer to it as such. It's being recommended more and more by mainstream doctors and becoming as commonplace as acupuncture, massage and other alternative therapies. 

My weekend was life-changing. My personal experience with yoga was an intense one. I stepped outside of my own box and I liked it. I tried something new and I liked it. I learned something about myself. In fact, I learned a lot about myself.  I'm best when I push myself - though I don't always do it. I'm best when I try new things and like them. When you find that thing that clicks, that thing that might just be that missing piece you've been looking for all along, you'll get excited. It's natural. You'll want to sing its praises and shout from the rooftops and you'll want everyone to try it and to love it as you do. And that may or may not happen. In all likelihood some will like it and others will not. But if you can possibly share something that may improve or alter someone else's life, you will. And that's what I'm doing. 

I see my weekend away by the sea as a gift. A gift of hope and promise. A chance to try something new, something that I had wanted to. And more than learning that I was stronger than I had imagined or more flexible than I had ever imagined, but that I could stay focused in a way I have never been able to before. And most importantly I found within myself the ability to find calm - a mental, long-lasting, stress-free calm - a calm that I have never experienced before. Like everything else, finding this calm took a bit of work. After just a few days I can find it a bit more easily now, and I can stay focused longer and haven't felt this at ease or relaxed for as long as I can remember. I've learned how to meditate and to use it to my benefit. No, I don't sit on my mat crossed leg, sit up straight and chat OM, (though perhaps I should) instead I lie down flat, hands resting by my side or on my stomach and play one of the mediation apps that I've downloaded on my phone. I concentrate on clearing my thoughts and feeling the weight of my body on the bed, and the sounds of my own slow, deep breaths while the guided mediation gently plays on the phone. (There are many meditation apps from which to choose, and many of them are free.) 

Below are some links about yoga and it's benefits for mind and body"
How Yoga changes your body the day you begin    
Relaxing Yoga poses you can try at home   
5 types of Yoga and their benefits     
5 ways to balance your 5 elements   
23 Yoga styles every Yoga lover should know   
20 Reasons to do yoga    
Bedtime Yoga

Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.
— Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati

And who doesn't want a quiet mind and a strong body?

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Monday Inspiration:: What happens when you don't get what you want?

Yoga isn't for Sissies :: A Newbie goes on a yoga retreat