MINDFULNESS IN 2015: LOOKING BACK AND LOOKING FORWARD

By Brooke Asbury

This is the last post of our series, Mindfulness in 2015 but the mindfulness won’t stop here. We’ve had some Mindful triumphs over the year… who can forget the truly mind-stirring (i.e. crazy-making) sensations of the Spring Juice Cleanse? That was a good exercise in mindfulness! And there were many others as well. We are just coming to the completion of our 3rd annual Strive for Five challenge during the busy holiday months, and one can only imagine the state of mind we’d have been in over these last few weeks had we not given ourselves the opportunity for mindfulness, the solace of peace and stillness we find on our mats. We have succeeded at being more mindful of mindfulness in 2015. However, I, for one, could stand to continue this theme into 2016 and likely every year after. I guess that’s the point of mindfulness. It’s a lifestyle, a habit, a way of living in the present and staying aware of the things we have around us.

In particular, this next year I’d like to strive for mindfulness in marriage. Well, in all relationships really but I happen to be new at the marriage relationship and am excited to learn the craft of being mindfully married. Like yoga, I know it will be a daily practice. The final expression of each day will hopefully be a little deeper than the day prior. I’m sure to fall out of the pose at some point, many points, and I’ll have to practice getting back in without wasting time sulking or self-berating. Grace and discipline, love and hard work. Just like Triangle posture – the perfect “marriage” between the heart and the lungs.

It took me 35 years to find “the one.” Or more likely, it took 35 years for God and life to form me into the woman I’ll need to be for Clay (my “old man” ;)), and 30 years for Clay to become the man I love and will need him to be for the rest of my life. But either way, there were times that it seemed like a long wait. Though it’s easy to forget now that I’ve found him (like forgetting the pains of childbirth upon holding one’s newborn baby, or so I’ve heard) and seems perhaps irrelevant in light of the blessings I have and had along the way. Still, I like to reflect on those 35 years and spend a moment in homage to the single gal’s life. The spirit of a woman who spends a good part of her adult life on her own has undoubtedly withstood many a test. Whether it be buying a wrench and fixing that dad-gommed leaking faucet on her own or showing up at a dinner party as the only unmarried guest and engaging in “we” talk the whole damn night, it ain’t always easy. Worse, the undeniable, all-too-familiar feeling of disappointment that comes after each lost cause of a potential partner that comes and goes. The utter loss-of-faith-in-goodness-and-love that sweeps in after risking your heart (yet again) only to find that it landed in the hands of someone who didn’t see its story, its worth, clearly at all and never appreciated its spirit anyway. Thankfully, many of us are blessed with incredible friends who support us along the way and let us know that we’re not really alone. They help us to keep our hearts open, when we would rather close up shop and resign ourselves to a life of cats and Netflix. Some wait 25 years, while others wait 45 years to find their person. Our journeys are all unique but I tend to believe, the longer the wait, the sweeter the reward.

On my first morning of marriage, I woke up next to my husband and my heart immediately welled up with joy and thanksgiving. Without a moment’s hesitation, without forcing it or conjuring it up, I looked up to the heavens in my mind’s eye and said THANK YOU!!! It was a moment of true mindfulness, of being present, of allowing my spirit to be free and express what it felt without holding back. And it came effortlessly. I told myself that I better be sure to do the same thing each and every morning, as long as I awake to this gift that I have been given. I guess I’ll call that step one of mindfulness in marriage. Though I am yet to learn many more intentional steps towards being mindful in marriage, I know that I can never be too thankful. And if I start each day looking at my husband as a gift to be cherished, one that came to me after 35 years of hoping and praying, then I may be less likely to be dismissive, short of temper, unforgiving or otherwise lacking mindfulness. In some cases, looking back at your journey, your history, how you got here and seeing it – all at once – from that broad perspective, will help one in that moment to practice mindfulness. Because the path we’ve walked does create the person we are in each present moment. In this case, I want to remember my story as a single woman to make me a better married woman in this next chapter.

Two months into marriage, I still wake up thankful. As someone once told me (and for some reason, they don’t tell you this until after you’re married), being married is the fun part! Deciding to get married is the more difficult task. Though it would appear that I decided to get married quickly (after 4 months of dating), I did not make the decision quickly or take it lightly. Need I remind you of the previous 35 years of life experience and twenty-some years of dating experience? Truly, one can contemplate this decision from a hundred different angles, with the gravity of “the rest of your life” and Mother’s warning of “the most important decision you’ll ever make” and find themselves in a state of decision-making paralysis. But once you are able to move forward, with your person (“the very best one” as Grandma advised), everything really falls into place. Life seems better and easier as a team. Relinquishing your identity as a single lady is really not as scary as it seemed. It’s actually one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done.

Realizing this truth and the fact that we are always most free when we are living authentically, on God’s path and openheartedly, I am excited for mindfulness in marriage and in 2016. I may have 35 years of stubbornness, independence, and hard-assness to break but this cantankerous ol’ mare is ready to be broken. They say being married is like having a mirror held in front of you… Well, my eyes are open.

YOU’VE GOT TO GO THERE TO GET THERE

By Eleanor Self

My yoga story is still mostly ahead of me, but this is the story of just getting to that first class.

A wise woman once said, “You’ve gotta go there to get there.” Actually, the wise woman was Hannah, and if you’ve been in her class, you know she’s said that WAY more than once. But it’s true. If where you want to be is not where you are, then the only way to get to where you want to be is to go. Go there – the place you want to be. That applies to life in general as well as yoga. You’ve gotta go there to get there.

But on the way to going there and getting there, you will encounter obstacles. There will be detours and there will be some points along the journey where you just can’t seem to get there from here. Sometimes those points are in your own head.

That’s where I was in November of 2013, stuck at a point at which I just couldn’t get there, stuck in my own head. I wanted to start a yoga practice, but it was way too scary for me – just walking into a yoga class with no idea what to expect. I was sure everyone would resent my presence, and I was more than sure that the anxiety I would endure would be more miserable, more tormenting than anything thing that could happen on the mat.

Just to try to get some familiarity, I booked a private lesson with Brooke. My plan was to start going to group classes right away. But that “right away” turned into a year and a half.

The road to starting a regular practice was a lot more twisted than the few blocks straight up Gallatin Pike. Many times I tried to go back for a class but was overwhelmed by the feelings that I didn’t deserve to do it, that I clearly didn’t belong there, and I would ruin it for everyone else by just being there. You name it, I thought it, and over and over, I let it shut me down.

Here are some of the road closures I found in my own head and the detours I took to get around:

“You know how you get lost – even places you’ve been before. If you try to go you won’t even find it.” I started driving the route home from work that takes me by the studio. I would make a point to look at the building to prove to myself I knew where it was. I pulled into the parking lot from time to time to prove to myself I could find it consistently.

“You’re too scared. If you do go, you’ll just have a crippling stomachache and you won’t be able to do anything.” I started visiting the HYEN website. I posted questions on a local listserve to see if anyone had been there and what they had to say about it. I Googled Hot Yoga of East Nashville and just looked at reviews and anything I could in an attempt to reduce the strangeness and curb the jitters. The web perusing didn’t help a lot, but I did find that awesome unlimited 30-day Groupon.

“You will be so conspicuous walking across that parking lot. You don’t even know how to carry your stuff.” I made it my business to find out how to carry my stuff. I Googled “celebrities going to yoga” just in case there were pictures of famous people walking into yoga class. There are. Starlets and reality notables seem to favor holding a rolled mat or towel in the crook of one arm with a water bottle in that same hand and then keys or phone in the opposite hand. I did a trial run in the kitchen to see if I could do that. I could.

“The other customers will hate you. Thin, healthy people don’t even want to look at someone who is out of shape and overweight. If you go, they will all be mad at you for ruining their day.” Through this whole time, the same quote seemed to pop up everywhere “What other people think of you is none of your business.” Over the course of that year and half, life peppered me with that quote. If I turned on the TV someone said it. If I checked Facebook it was posted in a cute little frame. I overheard it in conversations, saw it printed everywhere. Eventually, I believed it. I stopped trying to be responsible for the happiness of people who don’t even know me, but might be more content if I don’t cross their sightline.

“Maybe someday.” By June of 2015, the expiration on the Groupon was still far in the distance, but I joined a weight loss and fitness challenge which required 30 minutes a day of physical activity. I tried going for walks around the neighborhood, but I was just too scared to keep it up. Inside the yoga studio was the only place that seemed safe enough, and offered the accountability of the challenge, which meant I had to do it now.

I gathered up my stuff to go to yoga, but a couple of steps from the door I was overwhelmed by the negative thoughts and just lost all energy. I kept repeating this attempt for a few days. I started feeling like I needed to give my son some sort of explanation for the behavior he was seeing. I told him, “ I want to go to yoga but some days I feel too afraid and some days I feel too depressed.” He did what was probably the best thing he could have: he gave me a pleasant but puzzled, “why are you telling me this?” look as if what he was seeing wasn’t actually even crazy.

I decided I would keep making this attempt over and over. I would keep going to the door, or to the car, or a block down the road, as far towards a yoga class as I could, as many times as it took because, surely, this would not go on forever. Through the end of 2013, all of 2014 and the first half of 2015, small pieces had fallen into place and I really felt like any minute there would be some great positive inspiration that would boost me out the door. Unexpectedly, it was one really bad day that finally did it.

June 16, 2015 was a really horrible day at work – upsetting and just miserable. I felt depressed and hopeless as I began my commute. I went through my routine of attempting to go to yoga with no expectation that this day would net any more progress than usual. I headed for the front door, bracing for the wave of negativity to hit and shut me down. It didn’t happen. I already felt about as bad as I could, and in a strange way that protected me from feeling any worse. I reached the door, went through it and kept on going until I made it inside a yoga class.

Yes, I did feel just as conspicuous crossing the parking lot and in the class as I expected to, but I had finally made it there! And it was worth it. I made it through the 90 minutes of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. I noted feeling a sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t easy, but it felt good to conquer my fears, cancel out the worries, and cross all of the obstacles to get there. And I kept coming back.

The physical changes I’ve experienced have been remarkable. By the time my Groupon was used up I was hooked. I had started the month exhausted and in pain from my forehead to my feet. Now, all my aches and pains were resolving and I felt strength and energy building.

Turns out my worries of not being accepted were unfounded; people were either friendly, or engrossed in their own practice, mostly friendly. After a few classes I began to understand what “group energy” meant and to feel like I was a valuable contribution to the whole.

I’m finding the yoga practice itself not to be unlike the process it took to get here. The growth happens in the repeated failures, which afford me the opportunity to show myself grace and start again… over and over until the failures don’t feel like failures at all. They’re just opportunities to practice. Sometimes the process feels really good, sometimes it really doesn’t. Often the things that don’t feel good, mentally and physically, are what move me forward.

I’ve heard so many great quotes from all the yoga teachers, too many to list them all, but I started with one of the first things I heard Hannah say and I’ll end with a recent one from Adam, “Don’t let your final expression be you bailing on the pose!”

The reward is not really in the final success, but in the stubborn, continual trying.

By |December 10th, 2015|Yoga Story|0 Comments

MY YOGA STORY OF TEACHER TRAINING

By Brooke Asbury

Embarking on on Yoga Teacher Training is, for me, like the feeling of going on a huge adventure by yourself. Like hittin’ the open road, singing out loud at the top of your lungs, with windows and heart open wide. Doing something for you. Having the courage to pursue a dream. Taking a risk. Making sacrifices for something you believe in. Liberation.

It’s true that not every minute of training feels this high, but I personally experience a flood of happy nostalgia when I think of mine. Some folks attend a teacher training at their home studio; others travel to India and spend time at an ashram, others travel to LA to spend 9 weeks in a hotel, practicing the 90-minute Bikram series twice daily and attending lectures the other 10 to 14 hours of the day. My teacher-training experience was also unique: I lived in Seattle and commuted to Nashville two weekends a month. Each of these weekends, I left my other life behind. Aboard the airplane, I began my “me” time. Of course, I had my homework with me – anatomy studies, required yoga readings, and the teaching dialogue but it was still time invested in myself because it was what I wanted, not what someone else wanted me to study, as had been the case the prior 32 years of my life. I would get all nestled in my window seat with my reading, a celebratory glass of wine, and a pre-packaged, airplane “cheese plate,” and give a cheers to the start of the adventure once again. As the plane took off, and I waved goodbye to my rainy SeattIe Space Needle, and watched the Pacific Northwest timbers disappear as we flew off to Tennessee.

By studying and immersing myself in the practice (7 classes a week required to be exact), I learned about yoga, the postures, and myself. The greatest gain was the lifelong friends I made during training. Of course, that’s just how Nashville is. You can’t go anywhere without meeting a genuinely friendly and helpful person. Because I had no place to stay in Nashville, I made friends from Day 1 who opened up their homes and lives and invited me right in.

My enrollment in yoga teacher training was the first classroom setting I’d been in since grad school, almost a decade prior. It wasn’t easy sitting still for several hours at a time, concentrating on lectures, taking notes. It wasn’t easy submitting to another adult. Having eight years of consistent practice at a prominent Bikram studio under my belt, I wasn’t too keen on taking liberal input from this new teacher. “Liberal” in the sense that she had a more open or sinuous interpretation of the original Bikram dialogue (watered down if you were to ask me, but nobody did ask me). She would literally take me out of my postures, tell me NOT to sit any lower in Awkward posture, tell me to come up out of Eagle, tell me to stay on the floor for the rest of class when I had simply laid down to take a break. I was outraged to say the least. Still, I stayed.

I’ll never forget the feeling as I fought the hot, stinging tears and trembling lip as I laid in a forced Savasana that day. I didn’t need her or her dumb certificate, I told myself. Well, maybe I didn’t but that certainly wasn’t the point. The lesson was the same one I learn every day that I come to the mat – to surrender, to stop fighting, to let go of anything not serving me. My anger and frustration would not serve me. Instead of fighting, I practiced yoga just like I do in my class – the quiet surrender to the heat, the discipline and dedication to show up every day, the perseverance to get up and start the posture again – every moment that we fall out, we give ourselves grace start again. My next move was not to head back to Seattle and teach her a lesson but to submit and surrender. We ended up forming a strong friendship, and I never held it against her that she made my Awkward posture less extreme than it could have been.

The truth is that you never know where someone else is coming from, and my job was to be a student. Period. Graduation time came as soon as the leaves changed and fell to the ground. It was a flurry of reciting dialogue, taking final exams and celebrating our victory of becoming yoga teachers. I flew home. There were no more trips to Nashville on my calendar. That realization was the moment I knew the adventure could not end there. I couldn’t go back to “normal” life after that. I knew that I had to teach and that I had to teach in Nashville.

What is learned or discovered during Teacher Training cannot always be anticipated. You may get what you came for but most likely, you’ll get a lot more than that. One thing’s for sure, your practice will never be the same again, and you probably won’t be either. It was an exciting time that I’ll never forget but the truth is, that the learning never stops and the story keeps unfolding

MY YOGA STORY – WENDY WESTMORELAND

From my previous entry, Breath is Life: My first Bikram yoga class was in Feb. 2002, and I became certified by Bikram to teach in June 2006. Yoga teaches me daily (on and off the mat) concepts like discipline, determination, concentration, faith, patience, strength, flexibility, balance … really, all just other words for “awareness.” For me, the most important lesson is to breathe. Yoga teaches me to breathe in what I need and breathe out what I don’t.

Breath Is Life part 2

For me, yoga just kind of “showed up.” During the same week in 2002, I had three different friends on three separate occasions tell me about a “new” yoga they discovered. It was called “Bikram.” A 90-minute class, it was practiced in a HOT room, with humidity. It was the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, done in the same order every time. I had never been to a yoga class. I was curious about the yoga, but mostly intrigued by the coincidence.

My first class was like so many others’ – I was hot, I sweat more than I thought humanly possible, I was nauseous, I was exhausted, I was overwhelmed. Despite all of that, I distinctly remember looking around and feeling, rather than seeing, that the other people in class knew something that I didn’t know. I wanted to know what they knew. So, I went back. By my third class, I was hooked. I went another 3 times the next week, then 4 times the next week, 5 times the week after that. By the end of my first month, I had signed up for the 60-day challenge; 6 days a week for 10 weeks. Holy cow, what a challenge! The deep detoxification process revealed something I was not previously aware of. It was anger, massive amounts of anger. I would twitch, and itch and scratch, and toss and turn. I would do anything I could to avoid feeling what I was feeling. I had never felt so much anger and it scared me. I worried. What if I scream? What if I explode? What if I yell AT someone?! I would panic and hold my breath. Fortunately, I had very patient, kind, observant AND firm teachers. They would tell me “Wendy, breathe”. They would remind me, “you have a choice; you can panic and head down the road of emotion or you can breathe and let that energy go.” E-motion is literally energy in motion, after all.

Fast-forward to July 10, 2005. I was rounding out three years of solid practice. I was averaging 5 classes a week. I’d completed two additional 60-day challenges during that time. I’d attended 3 posture clinics and even spent a weekend in L.A. with Bikram and 1,500 other crazy yogis at the Yoga Expo. The practice had changed my life, cleaned me out, and I had my sights on teacher training.

Then came a day that I will never forget. I was in my home office, working on a project. I heard a loud buzzing sound. I thought it was coming from my computer. When I stood up to look behind the monitor, I was hit with a wave of vertigo. I felt dizziness so intense that I fell to the floor immediately. This is where my memory gets spotty. I know I felt exceptionally disoriented, but also felt a strong need to get to my bedroom. I tried getting up, but my body wouldn’t work. I couldn’t get my arms or my legs to move. Somehow, I managed to stumble and fumble and crawl to my bedroom. When I reached my bedroom, I collapsed, thinking “this is good enough.” My roommate was home at the time. I heard him come out of his bedroom and I tried to yell for him. My mouth wouldn’t work. No words would come out. No sound would come out. I couldn’t use my tongue. I kept trying to make noise but all I could produce was a quiet little buzzing breath, not even “haaaaaa.” I laid there, basically immobile. I listened to him walk down the stairs, pick up his keys, walk out the door, start his car and drive away. I still had no idea what was happening to/with me but I also knew it wasn’t good. All I could think was “I’m alone.” I could feel panic rising in my chest, up through my throat. A voice came to me “breathe” and I inhaled. “Breathe” and I exhaled. “Breathe” and I remembered my yoga classes. “Breathe” and I remembered all that anger. “Breathe” and I remembered all the panic. “Breathe” and I remembered I had a choice. “Breathe” and I chose to breathe. And then I passed out or fell asleep – I’ll never know.

I don’t know how long I was out, but when I woke up, I couldn’t see. My eyes were crossed and blurry. Half of my face was numb and limp. Most of my limbs were like boneless chickens – flimsy. Long story a little shorter: I managed to knock my phone off my side table. I called my friend using my nose. I made vague words and strange grunting noises curious enough that she decided to come over. After medical attention, I found out I had a stroke. After extensive testing, I found out it was the likely result of a birth defect. I had a hole in my heart. Days went by and I had limited control of the left side of my body. I lost a significant portion of peripheral vision on my left side as well.

At the time, I could not explain why but I felt that an integral part of my healing would happen in the hot room. I insisted that I go there. I called in favors, asking friends to drop me off and take me home. The lack of balance and mobility did not stop me. There was little that I could actually do. I was convinced, however, that I needed to get blood to my head as soon, as often, and as much as possible. Not just any ol’ blood either. I wanted fresh, oxygenated blood. I knew the most effective way to do that was with that series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. I became particularly aware of any and all postures that gave me the benefit of head-below-the-heart. I focused most of my attention on those postures. I was diligent, making sure I was breathing before, during and after each posture. My brain depended on it.

Over time, moving at my own pace but with consistent practice, my coordination returned. I was also able to reduce the size of the blind spot on my left side. I had a talk with my neurologist and told her the story of that day. She later commented that it was highly likely that my choice to breathe in those critical moments saved my life. Hearing her say that convinced me that I had to find a way to get to teacher training, sooner or later. I remain convinced that part of the reason I am still on this planet is to pass along the message of how important it is to learn the power of your own breath.

The hole in my heart is fixed. I now have titanium plugging it up. That’s another story for another day/blog/post. It’s a good thing I live in Nashville – Music City. Eventually, I will write a song about a titanium heart.

By |October 12th, 2015|Yoga Story|2 Comments

MY YOGA STORY – LESLIE HINSON

One of the most consistent themes throughout my arts education was Creation from Chaos. Out of the debris left over from trauma or turmoil or pain rises the universally desired phoenix: art. Art is a response to the suffering related with the human condition. Once all of our problems are solved, we will be so comfortable on our fluffy pillows and piles of money that we’ll lose that friction that strikes the match of inspiration. Right?

In college, as I began to grow into my adult personality, I struggled with a strange dichotomy: a naturally Type-B personality coupled with a newfound perfectionism. I have always been a person who could easily become obsessed with a subject or activity, such as listening to the same song 40 times in a row or reading the same book every few months, but my obsessions had never manifested into diligence. Somehow I became addicted to making 100% on every assignment. Not A’s. 100% specifically. That takes many, many hours of memorization. So I became obsessively diligent about my schoolwork, and a whole mess of issues ensued. I worried. I didn’t sleep. I became extremely anxious and thought I had every disease I ever heard about. At the same time, I was more creatively inspired than ever before.

I had heard of yoga before, but resources were limited in central Alabama. The only experience I had with it was doing a beginner’s yoga DVD with my dad when I was in high school. I remember the instructor (Rodney Yee) saying, “Relax your eyes…” in a very chill voice, which sent us both into a fit of giggles. How could you relax your eyes?!

One day during my sophomore year of college, my music theory professor announced that his wife would start leading a twice-a-week yoga class that would be free to students. It sounded like something I needed, so I went. It was literally right next to the pool in the gym. I was surrounded by the sounds of gasping, arms and legs slapping the water surface, my mat was peppered with droplets from a rogue kick and all I could do was make to-do lists in my head, but somehow, I felt better after 45 minutes of just being on my mat. I started allotting myself two hours a week for yoga. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a teacher, and before doing any other yoga besides the poolside class, I began to offer short yoga classes to my fellow theatre students. I would work at the coffee shop from 5:30-8:30 AM, then go to the theatre building to teach yoga on stage from 9:00-9:30 before our classes started. I loved teaching and looked forward to it constantly, even though it only happened once a week or so.

As the benefits began to emerge, I worried. What if finding peace from my snowballing thoughts kept me from being struck with the lightning bolt of inspiration? Some of my best writing happened when I was pacing my apartment at 3 AM.

I pocketed that fear and went on to graduate and moved to Chicago the very next day. The city was cold and grinding, so naturally, my artistic life was thriving. I immediately started doing improv at The Second City, joined a comedy team, and started playing keyboards in a band. Life was as hectic as I thought it should be, and yoga was a tiny memory by then.

I noticed a consistent steeling of myself against other people. Maybe it was the North frosting me over or maybe it was the fact that I was still slinging coffee for a living, but I began resisting having meaningful interactions with most people. I became paranoid and hyper-vigilant, even to the point of thinking that coworkers were conspiring against me. My insomnia increased. Having anxiety or panic attacks was part of a normal week. I threw myself into ridiculously strict diet patterns. I worked, went to rehearsal, went to band practice, and watched a lot of movies on Netflix instead of sleeping. That was the way life was supposed to be. It pretty much sucks, and then you create something.

Erika (my bandmate and now roommate) called one day and invited me to take a free week of yoga with her at a studio in the South Loop. I went. Long story short, we were both hooked. We did a work/trade to keep going to yoga after our free weeks ended. I was not strong or flexible at all, so the flow classes proved to be a huge disappointment for me. I started with Hot 26, which was difficult yet attainable. I remember the first time I found my own eyes in the mirror during Tree and saw that my face was hardened. I softened my jaw and relaxed my eyes. Ah ha, then. Thanks for planting that seed, Mr. Yee, even though it took me 7 years to understand you.

I started sleeping better (i.e. actually sleeping). I started softening towards other people. I began to hear between the lines when someone spoke to me. This was the first thing that made me realize I was becoming a better artist. I noticed more. I was able to see bigger pictures. My writing seemed more cohesive and infinitely more relatable. I really felt like I was moving back into my childhood home in a good way. I was returning to a sense of self that had been gone from me for a long time. By losing my me-against-the-world mindset, I was allowing myself to truly experience unbridled joy and honest gratitude once again.

Later, I would come to understand my problem as being an imbalance of the ayurvedic dosha vata. When someone has too much vata, he or she becomes cold and anxious, is prone to insomnia and paranoia, and is very scattered.

I took Abnormal Psychology this summer to fulfill a prerequisite requirement for the graduate school program I will soon be applying to. Basically, there is a widespread notion that artists are crazy, and that the craziest people make the most brilliant art. However, that is not actually the case. To sum it up, while a person who has a psychological or emotional disorder may create more artistic output when in a state of disturbance, the quality of the output is inferior to the work that same artist does when he or she is stable.

Now I see the importance of balance. I see the importance of what we refer to as “your edge.” Recognizing your edge and staying close to it is an important concept to growing in your yoga practice on the mat, but off the mat it translates into the choices you make. Living close to your edge means that you are constantly reassessing what works and what doesn’t work. You are changing, growing, strengthening, welcoming challenge, and thereby welcoming change. Diligence, while certainly a virtue, is also a part of balance. You can overdo diligence to a point of just setting fancy rules and not really listening to yourself.

Now, I am very much looking forward to reentering the world of academia with a little more self-awareness and a few more tools under my belt. The thought of taking a giant leap deeper into my understanding in my field of study is exciting, not daunting. I have a loose plan for the future, but I don’t really know what it will hold. What I do know is that I will forever be a student of yoga.

By |October 5th, 2015|Yoga Story|0 Comments

MY YOGA STORY – BROOKE ASBURY

How did I get here?

It was a rainy, grey morning, as usual come mid-November in Seattle. I was looking out the window from the warmth of my blanket cocoon on the couch, contemplating the 9-mile run I had planned for the morning. I was training for some-such marathon or half marathon, and I had just about reached the end of my self-motivation rope. My “no excuses” policy for my running schedule was just wanting to be broken so badly that morning. Meanwhile, my roommate Amber bounced down the hallway in her yoga gear. “Wanna come to Hot, Steamy Yoga?” She never called it just “Hot Yoga.” Always, “Hot, Steamy Yoga.” Well, the answer in my head was “No,” I had never once in my life even considered that hot yoga thing. It sounded like torture. I could torture myself with running but not heat. She then said, “My aunt did hot, steamy yoga for a month, and she had such a bangin’ bod afterwards. It burns like a thousand calories each class.” SOLD! She said the magic words. Burns calories… approximately equivalent to what I would have burned running 9 miles. It was settled, I would trade in my run for the hot, sweaty yoga class, avoid the rain, and come out even.

I don’t remember that much of the class. I don’t remember it being that difficult or even that hot. I remember the teacher. He was a gentle giant. Robert – salt and pepper hair, tiny spandex shorts and a hairy chest. I still take Robert’s class whenever I’m in Seattle. He has the kindest eyes, the calmest voice, and you just know that he wants you to be at ease – in his studio, in your body, in life. He always knows the new student’s name and always encourages them throughout their first class. Well, anyhow, I made it to final savasana. The heat didn’t do me in, and I didn’t feel that different after class but what left a strong impression on me was the teacher and the other students. I’ll never forget their unwavering focus for 90 minutes of energy and sweat, their forearm veins in final expression of Standing Forehead to Knee, their quiet reverence for the practice as they entered and exited the room. I thought about it later that day, and the day after that, and so on… I found myself back in that unique-smelling, carpeted room the following week. I just HAD to try it again. Maybe someday I could be like those other people.

Ten years later, it still has me. There is just nothing else like it. Like an old friend inviting you in for some tea and a chat. Nothing else like this series can transform my mind from chaos to calm in just 90 minutes. To change my outlook on a problem from frustration to patience. To broaden my perspective. To forgive someone. To see the answer I needed to find. I’ve said this before but I think that all of the important decisions in my life, I’ve made during a Bikram yoga class. Well, that or while running. Sure, my body has been transformed too. For the first year that I practiced, I could not bring my foot up any higher than my calf for tree pose. I can’t really even remember who I was, how I looked before this yoga but I think I can safely say that it has refined every bit of my being “inside out, bones to skin,” and especially my mind and heart.

My teachers at Bikram Yoga Seattle were a constant inspiration. Their practices – so elegant, their teaching – so brilliant, their presence – strong and calm. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be one of them. If I was lucky enough to get to the studio early and have their attention before other students showed up, I would ask them about their Teacher Training. One of them said, “After training, I felt like I could do anything.” I was inspired. Maybe a bit covetous to have that feeling. I would go to the internet and explore the Bikram website and dream of applying for the training. It didn’t seem feasible though. When would I fit it in? How could I afford it? I couldn’t leave my boyfriend for 2 months. Ridiculous thoughts like that.

Well, a boyfriend less later, and a Christmas bonus richer, I found myself applying to a teacher training. It wasn’t the Bikram training that I’d always wanted to do, but it happened to be in this place, Nashville, which I had an irrational dream of moving to.

The training was uneventfully completed (I kept it a secret from my work so there was no announcing of things on Facebook during that time), and I had been slowly dreaming up the idea to open a studio in East Nashville. Though it made no sense to leave a perfectly great life in Seattle, a friend one day told me, “If anyone can do it, you can.” I knew it was true. My yoga had taught me that already. So, here I am.

  • Buti yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga,  Hot yoga,  East Nashville
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    TUNING OUT THE NOISE – MINDFULNESS IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

TUNING OUT THE NOISE – MINDFULNESS IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

By Bradley S. Handley

Admit it. You’re addicted. It started innocently enough. Maybe just once at dinner. Sometimes twice, depending on company. Then you lost control. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. It never really mattered, as long as it kept you busy. Even for that extra 30 second wait behind some philistine who somehow had never been to 5 Points Pizza.

I’ll come clean, I’m addicted too. Probably worse than you and have been for a long time. Back in my day, you used to actually open the app to figure out what’s going on. Unthinkable, I realize. Nowadays, apps come to you with whatever trivial minutiae their people think you’ll want to hear about. And we eat it up.

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg announced that, for the first time ever, one billion people used Facebook in a single day. That is to say that about 14% of the world’s population checked in to ol Zuck’s website to do whatever people do on Facebook (in my case, posting a picture of me and my goofy dog on National Dog Day. See above).

In these weird, connected times, we have allowed ourselves to become grossly enamoured in the things happening to other people and wanting those same people to think that interesting things are happening to us. We have forgotten how to enjoy who and what is happening around us. Many of us even routinely endanger ourselves and those around us by using our phones while driving.

I tried a few things to cure myself. I put my phone on silent, and turned off most app notifications. I even locked the infernal distractor in my desk drawer at work. I would relapse, again and again.

A careful perusal of the Yoga Etiquette portion of this website will reveal a crucial element to my ongoing rehabilitation. Specifically, I’m referring to the section that reads, “Do not bring personal items (such as cell phones, purses, keys) into the yoga room other than your mat, towel, and water bottle.” This notion was honestly off-putting to me at first blush. What if work called? What if mom got in an accident? What if a million other things happened that I couldn’t be aware of and respond to at that very moment?

It’s silly, I know, but for the first time since the advent of the smartphone, I was disallowed to bring my digital companion along with me. This separation was a lot different than locking it away in my desk. It is the difference between a mandatory and voluntary surrender.

My digital disconnection, however, has only been the beginning. In yoga, we are taught to not think about our performance in past postures, and to not worry about postures that are forthcoming. This was a difficult proposition and did not come naturally. In addition to those concerns, my brain also enjoys reminding me of everything worrisome in my life.

The trouble is, these things all distract you from concentrating on your breathing. Your breath quickly becomes the most important factor in your practice, and can mean the difference between staying on your feet for the entire session and feeling amazing or spending most of your time in the floor and being miserable.

Once I discovered how to let these unhelpful thoughts fall away, my practice instantly improved. Sure, the occasional looming work deadline or other personal matter sometimes force their way through, but the more I attend class, the better I become at ignoring them.

This focus has begun to trickle into other parts of my life as well. I am able to concentrate at work for longer periods without feeling the need to check whatever phone jiggle or alert is constantly vying for my attention. I have also started turning my phone face-down in social situations (which handily ignores all notifications), allowing me to give my full attention.

It’s an ongoing process, and I still need a lot of work, but the focus I have gained from my practice at Hot Yoga of East Nashville has been amazing and I’m excited to see what other surprising benefits are just around the corner.

By |September 16th, 2015|Uncategorized|1 Comment

MINDFULNESS IN TEACHING

by Brooke Asbury

As teachers of yoga, we have a great responsibility to the lineage, our teachers, our students, and to ourselves. We can never stop learning. We are stewards of a gift, a key that unlocks a treasure much greater than burning calories, gaining flexibility, or posing. Somewhere along our way, in the middle of a yoga class or at the end, in savasana, we developed a fire. We had such a passion for our yoga practice, our lives were so tangibly changed by it, that we wanted to share this experience. So we practiced, studied and gained enough knowledge to teach it to others – a set of physical postures, a breath technique or two, a discipline, a headspace, a body awareness, a worldview. Someone created a space – a yoga studio – and now we show up. To continue our journey and to show this journey to others. Therefore, our studentship is our impact. It was our beginning, it is our present, and it is our future.

The important point here is that we teachers are moving too. We are still growing, still learning, still practicing as students. This yoga journey eventually pervades all areas of our lives, as we become calmer under stress, unwavering when bombarded by distractions, and fiercely determined in the face of obstacles. But at the start (and every day we start again), we just show up. We simply come to our mat and breathe, and move through the postures. Teachers and students together. This is what a yoga community means to us.

It may be our names listed as the teachers for classes, but classes never belong to us. They belong to our students. The yoga studio is not a community without active involvement of both students and teachers. We teachers cannot make it a “good class” without the energy of the students. Likewise, the students will not feel a teacher is present and a part of the same body if the teacher is not also a student. Both students and teachers, alike, inspire one another. Whether it is the day a new student struggles through their first class, or the moment a devoted student conquers that one pose they have been trying to master, they are an inspiration to their teachers, and they make our job worthwhile. The ways they see their life change outside of the classroom is the true reason we do what we do. As teachers, whether we are demonstrating a beautiful dancer’s pose, an intimidating inversion or rather simply resting in child’s pose when we are on our mats, we are an inspiration to students of both the potential for the body and also the foundation of humility and surrender. It is also when we teachers return to our mats, stay through the heat and struggle, are brought to tears again during our camel posture, imagine the cool air on the other side of that door, and then make it through once again, that we remember the real challenge. We sympathize with the day-to-day struggles and breakthroughs on the journey because we were there on our mats, in the exact same place, not last month or last year but just yesterday.

It is very simple. If we are not on the path with our students, why should they listen to our words or follow our light? Why should we listen to, or trust ourselves to show a light we are not using?

So our commitment to this community, as teachers at Hot Yoga of East Nashville, is to be students. To be in the room with our students. To never stop practicing. To be curious. To be inspired. To be a part of the body, moving together. Walking together. Growing together.

By |September 3rd, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

MINDFUL LIVING & MAKING BABIES

by Tara Smith

January, 2014 was the time during which I poured myself in my yoga practice again. One day at a time, what I thought might be 30 days, led me to practice daily for almost 4 months. It also led to me getting pregnant after 5 years of trying both natural and hormonal fertility treatments. I don’t know if it was a coincidence, but it was after I allowed myself to return to yoga that my body agreed to what my heart and mind had been wanting for so long.

My husband and I had just finished our last round of fertility treatment the month prior, and we we decided to take a break before proceeding to the next phase of our treatment. Since I would be on a break from the treatments, I decided that what I really wanted to do at that time was a 30-day challenge. This ended up turning into 60 days and then 90 days. I then started my fourth month. After 105 days of yoga, I found out that we had conceived naturally. I was elated and nervous all at the same time. How could this be? After years of trying, when we had finally stopped treatment and I immersed myself in yoga, it happened!

I’m not the first. In fact, I think it happens quite frequently.

But in my mind, I allowed myself that precious time on my mat every day, which allowed my mind and body to relax… and then boom!!

Per my doctors orders, I took the rest of the first trimester off of teaching and taking class to let crucial development take place. However, the moment I got the doctor’s OK to get back into the hot room, that’s exactly what I did, and I can’t tell you what a difference it made in every aspect of my pregnancy and delivery.

Hot yoga has been amazing for me for all the reasons it’s amazing for everyone – pregnant or not. The heat promoting circulatory benefits, reducing, rather eliminating completely, swelling in my wrists and ankles, and literally combating any negative side effects typically associated with pregnancy, as I kept up a practice of 3-4 times per week.

I was more noticeably relaxed, by maintaining a low blood pressure and keeping stress and anxiety at bay. Overall, I feel really good.

The breathing techniques – pranayama – that I practice in the Hot 26 series gave me even that much more power and control when delivery day arrived! Indeed, my son Lenon was born naturally and healthy, and I recovered as quickly as I could imagine.

My advice to any mother-to-be is this: as long as it feels good, do it! Your body will let you know what is right or wrong for you. Many women stay away from hot yoga when they are pregnant, but I don’t know what I would have done without it. As long as you have a regular practice and have approval from your doctor, you will be better off for the dedication you give to yourself during a time in which much of your energy is given to growing someone else. It is always important to take the time for yourself on your mat.