Enhancing your challenge

Hi there fellow yogis!! As our 100 days continue, I’ve been trying to add other elements into the challenge. For example, setting particular goals with my practice (holding a particular inversion, getting into your head/hand stand for more than just a fleeting moment), making sure I sleep at least 6 hours a night, or making sure I do core everyday. It can be whatever you might need to work on, something as basic as remembering to floss your teeth twice a day.

I’ve personally tried to tie these extra goals into my practice, but they can be anything… I’ve found this challenge to give me an overall perspective aimed at change, positive growth, and healthy happy living. Why not harness this energy and try to make other positive, habit forming changes in your life? I’ve made sure to eat a balanced breakfast every day since we’ve begun, something that I never prioritized… work always beat out eating a solid first meal of the day. 

I also have a horrible habit of watching TV before bed, which further stimulates me rather than letting my brain settle. Over the past week or so I’ve been replacing TV with music and reading and/or journaling. Even in the past couple of days, I’ve felt a difference in my rest. I fall asleep sooner, sleep deeper, and wake up feeling more refreshed. While this definitely has to do with my yoga practice itself, the change of pre-bedtime routine has done wonders. 

Undoubtedly, yoga makes life more fulfilled, balanced, and purpose driven. Try to take ten minutes sometime in the next day or two to find something else in your life that you can change with the hope of being more successful towards the end of fulfillment, balance, purpose, and contentment. 

Image

Flashback Friday to my mom and I during our session with our lovely island yogi, Ariel. Outside and in the sun, enjoying 75 degree weather… Hawaii does yoga right. Chicago weather is really making me miss home and my outdoor practice! 

Three weeks in …

Namaste Yogi Warriors.

Yes, warriors. For three weeks you have battled and endured Chicago’s coldest weather in 20 years and come out victorious. And you’ve have probably enjoyed Warrior poses in 100 degree studios more than ever.  Actually see below for proof of some of those poses over last ten or so days. Keep up the epic work!

Namaskar!

 

—-

Linnea defying gravity!

!Linnea

Nolan doing Ninja Yoga

Nolan doing flips

Yasemin posted about her love for yoga!

Photo from Yasemin

Lilly posting a photo of Dancer’s pose

Lilly

Ashley J with friends

Ashley J with friends

Danielle and Bobby on a vacation in the sun

Danielle and Bobby

Hector on Day 8 or 9.

Hector

Dominika doing art!

Dominika

Lauren doing what she does best (having fun with Yogis!)

lauren singer making magic

Andrea in another pose

Andrea

An empty yoga studio at 6AM.  Hmmmmm

Studio

Someone creeping on Jeremy (and his cool dragon yoga pants) while doing a armstand

JCW

 

Reflections of day 19

Until last night, the 100 days of yoga hadn’t meant much to me. In fact, until last night, I haven’t had to change my routine at all. I usually practice every day. This year I have had so much fun exploring different studios and practicing under the tutelage of unfamiliar teachers and styles. During the first twenty days I enjoyed instruction in vinyasa, c-yoga and Acro yoga at Urban Lotus, Nature Yoga, Moksha, Corepower and Yoga Lab. I’ve been lucky to have friends to practice alongside most days and to find the stillness and motivation within myself on the days when I am alone. I knew there would be days that I wouldnt feel like practicing, but I hadn’t had one of them yet.

Until last night. My roommate and I are lounging in the living room binge watching the last episode of Season Two of House of Cards. I had a 14 hour day, including working a 9-5 and teaching a class immediately before and after my day job. I taught both of the classes I would have usually taken. It’s 8:00pm. I just missed HPF. My last chance is the 9:15pm C2 at Lincoln Park (thank god for late classes). I am watching the time tick-tock by. I contemplate practicing at home, but know that I will half -ass everything until House of Cards is over. I teach again at 6am. I really just want to have a beer and fall asleep on the couch.

Instead, my roommate and I decide to go to yoga. Although I didn’t mention my motivation to her, and she didn’t question it since I practice daily, the only reason I think I got myself off the couch last night was because I didn’t want to bail on a commitment that I made to myself-not so early on in the game, not without a better reason. I told myself that inhad full permission to lounge. That I could take it easy with the physical asana and focus on my breath and creating a meditative mindset with which to end my night.

So, I end up practicing. As soon as I gave myself permission to take it easy, to acknowledge that I was tired, that I didn’t have to have the most physically impressive practice of my life, it became delicious. As soon as I walked into the studio and started listening to the lovely Emily A guide me through practice, I started wanting to practice. I ended up having a very good practice. My breath was long and deep and my physical asana attentive and strong. I felt so good. I cannot believe that I might have missed such a beautiful practice.

 

Thanks, hundred days of yoga.

-halle

 

 

 

Practice everyday. Shun the non-believers

Isn’t CrossFit a better workout? Why do you like that Teacher X? Why would you do yoga for 100 days straight?

skeptics

Since starting the 100 Day Challenge, I’ve run into people who asked me those questions, including just yesterday which prompted this post.  People skeptical about the idea of 100 days … as though I only do yoga for the physical workout.  And little did they know that Teacher X happens to be one of my favorites (and a Yogi 1oo participant).

At first thought, I almost became a little defensive forgetting that patience has been one important lesson I’ve continued to learn my practice.  But since starting, it’s become more obvious than ever that a regular practice is critical.

Every time I get on my mat, the results of how I treated my body the previous day are right there for me to witness.  I get immediate feedback on how hard I practiced last week, how much food I ate the night before, and how present I am at the onset of class. The more I practice these things, the easier the asanas are, the stronger I get, the more I start to see change right in front of me, and the less surprised I am when I flow into poses that once seemed impossible.  (Just yesterday I floated into two new awesome handstand poses! … and forearm stands have never been easier)

In short, the repetition and commitment to the practice makes you feel better, become stronger and shine brighter.

Shun the non-believers.

Day 11-17

Daily practice continues without interruptions. I went to Deepak Chopra’s speech a while ago, and he said something that stuck with me “when you don’t have time to meditate, meditate twice.” When I think I can only squeeze in 15 min of practice, I do it twice and the second time around it ends up being AMAZING.

I am happy to report my home practice is flourishing, and I am feverish with excitement about the trip to Europe. Already explored some yoga studios online. Stay tuned, as I will be sending updates shortly.

In love and light,
नमस्ते

20140217-221550.jpg

The two ways I go to yoga classes

Studio

A few days ago, I took a 6:30 A.M. class and arrived about 30 minutes early.  Not only did I get to warm up and meditate before class but I also had one of my best classes in a while.  The whole process got me thinking that this probably wasn’t a coincidence.

There are two ways I tend to go to a yoga class.

The first (probably the most common) is to leave my place right on time, do my best to take the shortest route possible, repeatedly look at the clock, and then start moving faster and faster to be sure I make. By the time I get to the front door, I realize that I am breathing hard and barely going to make it.

The second way is to leave for the studio 20 minutes earlier. Create buffer time for the walk over and get 20 minutes of time to relax, warm up and meditate in class.

When I travel the first way, I’m sure to get stressed out. Sure, I maximize my time but I also maximize chances of missing class, sweating by the time I get to my mat and not having enough space or focused energy to start practice well.

On the other hand, when I travel the second way, there’s no chance of missing class. I also have time to meditate, stretch and relax before class.  When I travel this way, the class goes better every single time.

In most cases, option #1 is more tempting but option #2 is always far better. And that change only costs 20 minutes.

Perhaps an idea worth considering outside of yoga as well.

Namaste!

Day 9 & 10

The simplest poses can be the most challenging. One of my students and a good friend told me that you know you are practicing yoga when Adho Mukha Svanasana becomes the most difficult pose.

I took a class last night that was beautiful in its simplicity yet very physically challenging . This morning’s practice was a spin on a beginner’s vinyasa flow. The “easy” poses became a struggle not only because of the long and strenuous holds, but also because of the mental exertion.

In love and light,
नमस्ते

*practicing with friends in South Loop
*yoga in Oak Park

Today and yesterday Adho Mukha Svanasana was difficult, and I consider this a successful practice.

20140210-143418.jpg

20140210-143433.jpg

Acro yoga!

Acro yoga!

My acro practice is in it’s infancy… I’ve only just started a couple months ago, and given the small size of the community here in Chicago (at least to my knowledge), I only get to play about once a week or so. I have basically zero knowledge of my own, except for your basic poses, like bird and folded leaf, etc.

Would love to know if any other 100yogis are into acro… I thought I saw a couple pictures in Jeremy’s post!

I hope the first 8 days of your 100 are unfolding peacefully and with an open mind and heart!

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha

Happenings from Week 1

Namaste Yogis and Yoginis! Great seeing so much energy this week.  From those making use of home practice, to others drudging through the snow, to one of our Yogis practicing in Canada and another practicing on the road at the airporpt!

Here are some photos from the week, most of which are posted because they didn’t make the blog!

Lisa (and her puppy) practicing in the light!

Lisa in the Light

Liz doing Acroyoga at home

Liz Home Practice

Dominika (our most prolific blogger so far) showing that the snow cannot stop her!

Dpminika in the Snow

Christine’s Home Space Away from Home

Christine Home Practice

Darrah practicing with a few friends

Darrah

Andrea excited to get started on Day 1.

Andrea on Day 1

Michelle practicing at DFW. Very nice!

Michelle from DFW

Leigh, Hector and Vivian having some acro-fun on Day 7

Leigh on Day 7

Carla practicing on Day 1.  We found you!

Carla on Day 1

Maggie defying gravity

20140205-223159.jpg

Kim doing yoga … or flying.

Kim Maybe Doing Yoga

Mariel showing us what is possible on day 101. Well maybe for you.

Mariel

More to come later! Namaste friends!

Yoga 100

Day 8

Yoga is trust. Trust that your practice will take you to the places you thought were impossible. It’s not just about the handstand, but about the connections you make along the way; with yourself and those around you.
At one point you realize that we are all breathing the same air, feeling the same snow and seeing the same sun.

The below picture is of my husband and best friend in their savasana after our trial practice for Valentines yoga class.

In love and light,
नमस्ते

20140208-235020.jpg

Day 7

It was a challenge to roll out of bed this morning; but the effort paid off.

In yoga classes I always hear teachers say that we hold tension in our hips, yet I never really connected with this message. Let me tell you…when I got into Gomukhasana this morning, my world started spinning. All the anger, frustration and self doubt started coming out. I began comparing myself to others in the class and judging . And then I closed my eyes and started breathing transforming all the negativity to joy. I was happy I woke up, I got to practice, see my friends and deepen my asanas.

When filled with uncertainty and self doubt, take a child’s pose, close your eyes and listen to the flow of your breath. Sometimes all you need is this flow, and all will begin to transform.

In love and light,
नमस्ते

20140208-000316.jpg

Day seven on this journey

I’ve begun many challenges in my life time. Some of these challenges I have finished and some of them I have not. I’m really focused on not just completing this challenge but making new habits so that yoga everyday becomes my reality. On day 7 I had many reasons and excuses not to make a yoga class today. I planned to make a 4:45 class but then a work emergency happened at 3:15. So then I decided to take a 6pm class, my work emergency took longer then I expected but I I trekked my way through the city to get to this class, the teacher and manager said it was ok for me to arrive slightly late. Well needless to say I arrived later than I was comfortable entering a class. My friend Angela was meeting me there and she was already in class. What’s a girl to do? I took the next class that was starting in 5 minutes. It wasn’t the class that I wanted to take but it was great and my hips really appreciated it. Needless to say sometimes you might not get what you want but you will get what you need.

Acknowledge, Accept & Release Emotions … Even the Sad Ones.

Recently experiencing a loss in my life, a friend advised that I should stop denying myself of feeling sadness (I was doing so to seem strong). Instead, she told me to meditate on the sadness – understand and confront it and eventually it will slip away. Today, it finally did.

The experience of witnessing an emotion ‘pass’ is something that is very hard to describe, I realize as I write this post. However, I encourage you all to acknowledge, accept, and release emotions through your meditation practices rather than thinking that your meditation has to be a time of thoughtlessness or forcing your emotions to standstill or subside.

With time and practice, we all can and will return to our ‘default’ state … which is one of pure and abundant happiness. Sending joy across the airwaves to all of my fellow yogis 🙂

Day 6

I taught a Manipura (3rd chakra) flow class today. In my personal practice I decided to apply the principles I asked my students to follow.

Manipura chakra awakens our inner warrior. It allows us to discover who we are, and empowers us to embrace our whole being.

In your practice be loving, proud, and fierce. Move through asanas with a brave heart and confidence. Allow yourself to shine.

In love and light,
नमस्ते

20140206-220204.jpg