It Comes from Within

by Ashley on May 9, 2013

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Hello! I hope it as beautiful where you are as it is where I am. Nothing makes me happier than this incredible weather. I hope summer really is here!

As I mentioned a few days ago, at the Alive Expo I talked with the people from Dahn Yoga and signed up to do an individual session to explore yoga a little deeper. I have been practicing yoga for about seven years now, even teaching it one of those years, but I still feel like there is so much to learn. I love yoga because of the balance it brings into my life. It is the perfect calm for all of the weight lifting, running, sprinting, and even the day to day life things I do. The more I practice, the better I feel. Right now, however, I have been practicing very little. During my internship in Jacksonville, I was much better at setting and keeping my yoga dates. Yoga pulled me through the week, allowing me to clear my mind and refocus my thoughts. Now that I’m hardly on a schedule and rarely even stay in one city for more than three days at a time, my yoga practice has become an after thought.

Yesterday I attended my one-on-one session with an incredible yogi who was perplexed that I “only practice about once per week,” recommending that increase my practice to at least three times per week, preferably once per day. Wow. I’ve got a long way to go. To him, yoga is a way of life, not just a form of exercise. After talking to and spending time with him, I remembered why I love yoga so much. He’s right. It’s not just about bending, stretching and remaining flexible, rather it’s about balance, peace, calmness, and purpose.

He first walked me through the warm up, creating heat throughout my entire body. He explained that it is important to feel heat and energy all throughout the body in order to ensure our circulation is working properly, this is the Water/Fire principal practiced in Korean styled yoga (I am more familiar with Indian styled yoga). We aimed at pushing the heat down toward the feet (fire) and bringing the cold (water) up toward the head and chest to cool off. It was definitely an interesting concept. Talk about mental control.

The main thing that I took away from yesterdays session had to do with balance. (You can try this at home too.)

The instructor had me stand on my left leg, while bringing my right leg up to my knee and balancing for 10 seconds.

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I repeated on the right, and then repeated on each side again, however, that time with my eyes closed, again for ten seconds.

With my eyes open, I held it with ease. Once he had me clsoe my eyes I fell out both times.

He then asked my why I think I can’t do it with my eyes closed.

Easy answer, or at least I thought. “I can’t do it with my eyes closed because I have nothing to spot, nothing to focus on,” the dancer in me confidently said.

His response truly opened my eyes.

He said that balance has nothing to do with focusing on anything in the outside world, balance comes from within. He suggested that I was possibly focusing too much of my attention on the outside world and not enough on the inside, taking care of me. That made so much sense to me.  I don’t think that’s anything that any of us do intentionally. There are so many distractions in the world and our society has trained us to stay focused on everything except for ourselves. “Don’t be selfish,” we’ve been taught our entire lives. How can we ever find a balance of giving to others while taking care of ourselves?

I certainly don’t have that answer, but it is something that I am going to try to work on. If 99% of all illness really is related to stress like I’ve been told, avoiding or at least finding ways to manage stress and maintain balanced lives is crucial. Taking care of ourselves first, or filling our own cup up first, so that we can then take care and have enough to give to others is actually important and not selfish. For the past three years, I thought I had been taking care of myself, exercising and eating well, but after yesterday, I learned that those two components are only that, components. Taking care of ourselves mentally and allowing ourselves to rest and maintain balance are also huge factors in health and wellness.

With school, my internship and my exam all behind me, I am excited to spend these next few weeks focusing on my own balance: allowing myself to relax, rest, enjoy life and take a break. I hope to learn more about balance so that I can take it with me into my next chapter of life, whatever and wherever that may be!

How do you find balance? Or do you, like me, struggle with it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Good health!

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