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“Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you.” ~~ Denis Waitley

Let’s face it. We’ve ALL have roadblocks put in our way at some point in our lives. If you haven’t, then I truly believe you’re in denial. Maybe some of you out there in blog land haven’t had super major ones thrown at you (a big “Woo Hoo” if that’s the case), but somewhere along the road of life, something hasn’t gone quite as you expected. These roadblocks can be simple or complex.

If you’re going to a restaurant and you planned out beforehand EXACTLY what you were going to order, only to discover they’re out of it once you get there, that’s simple…you just need to check over the menu again and pick something else. Nothing earth shattering is going to happen if you eat something different than planned.

A more complex roadblock might be something like getting hit with an unexpected but significant expense (i.e., medical bills, car repair). You may find yourself suddenly having to decide what to do with money that was earmarked for something else. Deciding which way to go requires more thought and care in a situation like this.

In our yoga practice, roadblocks are presented to us along our journey as well. Over the 13 years I have been practicing, I can’t tell you how many obstacles I’ve overcome in order to progress along my path. One roadblock I’ve never been able to knock down is my ability to achieve Lotus Pose. Over and over, I tried this pose in the beginning years of my practice. Then one weekend, I attended a Hip Opener workshop – 3 hours of nothing but opening my super tight hips. It was the first time I’d ever worked on my hips for that long, so when the instructor said Lotus was next, I thought to myself, “Hmm…maybe THIS time, I’ll be able to do it!” So I decided to try.

Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out so well…as soon as I attempted the pose, I felt a huge pop in my left knee, and I’ve had intermittent knee issues ever since. Turns out, I’ll never be able to achieve Lotus, due to the structure of my hips. I’m simply not built in such a way that Lotus Pose can be done safely. You may be wondering why I chose to share this example with you…an example where I attempted to knock down a roadblock and couldn’t. Glad you asked!

The point of my story is that I didn’t give up. I was determined to open up my tight hips. I found out along the way that Lotus just isn’t for me, and there’s nothing I can do about that…I can’t change the structure of my bones and joints, after all. BUT…I can do other poses to open my hips. Why does it have to be Lotus? It doesn’t! And that’s the point. In my mind, I told myself it had to be Lotus Pose, because that’s the “pose of all poses” when you think of hip openers in yoga, right? Well, maybe that’s the pose for others, but not for me. So I tackled that roadblock by picking other hip openers, and all is well with the world.

This week, think about your own roadblocks…both in your life and in your yoga practice. How do you tackle them? Do you just accept them and give in to defeat? Or do you muster up your determination and take charge of the situation?

One last thing I’d like to share before I close. I’ve been back into my running routine now for about 3 weeks. I pretty much had to start from scratch, because I’d taken so much time off due to health stuff. Up until this past weekend, I’ve been walking all the hills because I thought I wasn’t ready for them yet. But on Sunday as I started my run with my friend, Megan, I let her know that I probably would have to walk the hills, and that she should just go on without me if I stopped to walk. She said, “You can’t do the hills because you THINK you can’t. If you want it, then just do it.” Maybe that’s not a direct quote, but it’s pretty much what she said. And I have to say, I stopped to think about what she said…Hmmm…was she right? COULD I actually conquer these hills on this route that I hadn’t been able to before? I was determined to try. And try I did. My legs were screaming at me on the last hill, but damn if I didn’t make it up every single hill on that 5 mile route we did! I was ecstatic…very tired, but the sense of accomplishment I felt was amazing! And this morning, my friend Sandra did the same thing to me on our run…she encouraged me by telling me I could do the hills after she saw me slack and walk two of them. So, I mustered up my determination and tackled the last two successfully.

Find your determination…dig deep if you need to, but find it, grab onto it, and run with it. Take charge of your life and your yoga practice by getting rid of the things standing in your way. You’re only limited by the limitations you place on yourself.

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“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” –Ray Bradbury

heart cup
(I got this pic from here)

In our yoga practice, we are constantly learning. We learn how to do new things with our bodies, we learn how to control our breathing, we learn how to quiet the mind. It’s a never-ending process. Once we master one thing, it’s time to move on to the next level and step it up a notch.

My yoga journey has been going on since 1999. Many of you have already heard my story, so I won’t bore you with the details here (you can review earlier blog entries if you want to read all about it). Even though I’ve been practicing for about 13 years, I still find that I learn something new about myself and my practice each and every time I step onto my mat. Sometimes, it’s as simple as noticing that a tight spot I’ve been dealing with has suddenly loosened up. Other times, it’s more profound, and I find that I am able to view a situation I’ve been dealing with in a completely new light. And sometimes…well, sometimes I’m reminded that what I thought I knew, I don’t.

When we learn something in our yoga practice, it is meant to be shared. After all, if you’ve just learned something profound, had some sort of “A-ha!” moment, why would you want to keep it all to yourself? When I first started practicing yoga, I would have these moments and would keep them to myself. I felt like people would think I was weird if I just started telling them about the things I was discovering. However, people noticed that SOMETHING was going on with me. They could see it in my face and in my attitude. And they started asking questions, wanting to know what it was I was doing that was making me so much happier. So I started sharing what I was learning, and eventually decided that I liked it so much, I would teach others. And the rest is history, as they say.

I won’t lie to you. Sometimes, I feel “exposed” when I share certain things. I worry about the reaction I’ll get, or that I’ve shared too much. But I’ll tell you something…every single time I’ve taken the chance and put it out there, I always get a private message from at least one of you to tell me how that particular message struck a chord with you. Now, whenever I feel that sense of trepidation, I know that means I’m supposed to share it. And so I do.

In honor of Ray Bradbury, who is one of my favorite authors that died recently, I am using this week’s entry to share one of his quotes that I have always loved. In relation to yoga, he couldn’t have said it better. Yoga constantly fills us with new revelations, helping us along our journey to find the things that are the most meaningful. When you come across these revelations, don’t keep them to yourself…tip yourself over and let out all the beautiful things you’ve learned. You never know who you might help along the way.

My challenge to you this week is to find one thing that yoga has taught you. Just one thing. And then find one person to share it with. If this falls outside your comfort zone, then go with something simple (like, “Wow! Yoga showed me that I am super tight in my outer calf, and if I position my foot in the proper way, I can really focus in on my trouble spot.”). Maybe you’re comfortable sharing something more profound. Whatever you are comfortable with. In my opinion, anything you’re willing to share is worth it. Anything.

In class this week, we’ll be taking the time in our poses to dig in with our brains and see if we can find something new in the poses we frequently do. Enjoy the process of letting your cup be filled with new discoveries!

“Postures strengthen and develop will and body – physical and mental development  are intertwined.” -Bishnu Ghosh

( I got this image from http://www.yogawell.org)

Some of you have been practicing yoga for quite some time, either with me or another instructor. Have you ever noticed that when you practice, it’s not just your body that walks away stronger and more flexible? You mind comes along for the ride as well. I mean, think about it….when you practice on your mat, you have to be REALLY focused on what you’re doing. If you’re not focused on what your body is doing, then you risk injuring yourself, especially if you’re attempting one of the more challenging poses.

Focusing on what your body is doing — how it feels in each pose, which muscles are stretching and which are strengthening — forces your mind to let go of all the emotional “junk” you might have brought along with you to class. You HAVE to let it go, or else there is no chance you’ll obtain the focus you need. And when your mind is able to let go, even for just the time you’re in a class, it gets stronger. Suddenly, you may find you’re able to get stop worrying about the little things, and instead focus on the more important things in your life. Sometimes we get so caught up in worry over things that don’t really matter, and it just sucks the energy right out of us.

This week in class, find one thing in each pose to focus on — maybe you pick a muscle to focus on, or maybe the breath — and see what happens. After class, notice how you feel for the rest of the day or even the rest of the week. My hope is that you’ll find more clarity, which could help you if you’ve been struggling with something tough in your life or you’re confused about which direction to go in. My challenge to you is to try and get on your mat and practice at least three times this week, so you can really start to refine this skill. You don’t have to necessarily go to a formal class to do this — roll out your mat at home and try, even it’s just for 15 minutes. Any time you can devote is beneficial.

Good luck! I know that it’s hard for me to spend the time I need to with my yoga practice, so I totally get that it may be very hard for you as well. But I have seen it —  when I am diligent and practice my yoga the way I know I should, it’s amazing how my whole life improves. You deserve the same for yourself…let me know how you fare, and don’t hesitate to ask me for help if you need it. We are in this journey together!

Namaste,

Melanie

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