"Aspire not to have more, but to be more"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Growing through Yoga

I don't know where to begin. I have had two amazing experiences with yoga this week. The first was during Savasana at The Grinning Yogi in Capitol Hill (taught by Jamie Silverstein) and the second was at the Sweatbox in Capitol Hill (taught by Laura).

We all struggle with different things. Some people have bad body image problems, some have low self confidence, others have eating disorders...the list goes on and on.

      For me, I think one of my biggest struggles is accepting that we are all yogis, even me. I always felt like I grew up as that tall and awkward girl. I remember in basketball I was always the tallest girl on my team and couldn't pull off the "cute" that the shorter girls could pull off. I was the middle child growing up, too, so I always tried to be different from my sister, but sometimes that came back and bit me in the butt when I would get in trouble. I think I spent more time in the principal's office in elementary school than I spent in class. I would go home and cry because I had no friends and that I didn't fit in. My parents never pulled the pity party thing that some parents do - they taught me at a pretty young age that when you fall down, you get up, brush yourself off, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward. In middle school I didn't really have that many friends either (I switched from public school to private school in 5th grade, so that transition, along with going to middle school really sucked). I decided in 8th grade that I was tired of not having friends, so I made the switch back to private school (this time an all-girls Catholic school that had been around since the mid-1800s).

     High school is where I learned to not care what others thought of me. I remember running for freshman class president and spending hours on crafting the perfect speech to present to my class of 115 girls; it had all of the talking points for someone running for the President of the United States, but I can tell you now, probably 90% of my class slept through the whole speech. Needless to say, I lost, and was heartbroken. I couldn't believe that my classmates wouldn't elect me. Well, I discovered that it was all about who you knew, and not what you knew. After that one awful experience, I wiped my tears and ran for Student Council 5 more times -- losing every time except for the last time; Senior Class President, I won. I'm pretty sure my campaign was "Vote for Maria, the giraffe". Quite the change from my campaign strategy as a freshman! I must say, I made some of the best friends in high school. I only keep in touch with a handful, but it's so great to know that they are always there for me, no matter what struggles I may have. In high school, I was also very involved with the Youth Group at my church. That's where I really made my closest friends and also found my first love - fair trade.
   College was interesting, too. I learned towards the end of freshman year that if you are close minded, you are going to be miserable. The more I got involved with groups and causes I was passionate about, the more I gained my independence and found true happiness. One winter break I decided to go to Bikram Yoga, and that basically changed the rest of my life.

    Before my first Bikram Yoga (which was at Bikram Yoga Columbia, taught by Kat), I had never had a place in my life where I was 100% calm and at peace. For me, peace had been when I was asleep. If I had even 5 minutes in my day that weren't jam packed with things to do, I would freak out. I had always thought yogis were kind of weird - hippie like, even. They smelled like incense, went to acupuncture, wore stretchy pants, liked to sweat, only used Dr. Bronner's if and when they did decide to shower, had dreadlocks, didn't shave, ate granola every day, and went to crazy small coffee shops (kind of like the one I'm in now...).. you get what I'm saying. Well..... I guess I'm a yogi. Now, if I don't have quiet time each day, I feel out of wack. I enjoy long, peaceful walks, eating granola and locally roasted coffee for breakfast, go to yoga on a pretty regular basis. Yoga has kept me sane. I definitely felt awkward in the first few classes I went to, but now I have gained full confidence and enjoy being in a 107 degree room dripping in sweat for 90 minutes, staring at myself in a mirror as we go through the poses. One day I wouldn't be opposed to going to Bikram Yoga Instructor training, either. If you had asked me when I first started if I would be interested, I would have laughed in your face. With all of the ups and downs over the past few years, yoga, Bikram in particular, has really been one of the consistent things in my life. I love how I can go to any studio anywhere in the world and go to the very, same (but different) class. Thank you Bikram, you really have saved my life.

          Now, here I am, 22 years old, sitting in a local coffee shop in my new home - Seattle. If you asked me a year ago, I would never in a million years have guessed I would have done so much in the past year that I have done. I have worked my butt off and never have gotten paid, moved to a different city and had to move back home, made friends and drifted away from some, gone to yoga and fallen out of poses, run the New York Marathon...the list goes on and on. I am so thankful for everyone that has been so supportive of me and my adventures - it means the world to me. Until next time - Namaste. xo

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