Truly Present

“When we focus our energy and connect with our truest selves on the mat, we gain the ability to be truly present.”
I read this quote recently and typed it down quickly without even noting who said it. I just knew that I felt its truth. I come back to it because today marked a huge accomplishment for me, as I completed my final day of a 30 day yoga challenge.
I was the child that could wrap my legs around the back of my head and contort myself into all sorts of crazy positions, before I even knew what the word yoga was. So it seems natural that yoga would be my thing, seeing as though I’ve stayed stretchy all of these years. And maybe that was why I loved it the first time I tried it about 13 years ago. I remember that studio, the owner, Robert (and I’m serious, the man looked exactly as I would picture Jesus), and the impact it had on me. I knew I found a new part of myself when I got on that mat in that place. Hard to describe, but I knew.

The problem was, life got in the way. I didn’t take it seriously enough to integrate a yoga practice into my daily life. Health wasn’t a priority. Work was exhausting and downright miserable at that time. There was just no time, or really no desire to carve out that sort of ‘me’ time. After the kids came, definitely not… I never found my way back to my mat after those first few months at that studio. Robert (aka Jesus), became a distant memory. Yoga was something I put on my dream board. Someday… I even found a picture of that studio and of Robert (oh Google…). Jesus on my dream board. For real.

Fast forward many years later and a new yoga studio opened in my small town outside of Atlanta. It was a ‘HOT’ studio. What? I was intrigued so I tried it. I remember being so confident going in because I was SO good at yoga (um, 10 years prior?). I nearly died that day. The heat and the humidity – no, I was not prepared, not experienced and not patient enough to stick with it again. My work at this time in my life was a home business and although one would think I could carve the time out of my schedule. I didn’t.

Fast forward again a couple of years – Mother’s Day 2015. My husband asked me what I wanted and I contemplated many things, because you know, I really needed more things…. My heart kept going back to that studio. Yes it was hot. But I knew I needed it. I knew I needed change. Peace. Balance. Me. So in May, I made a decision, took in that gift certificate and haven’t looked back.

I fell in love with yoga all over again over these past 6 months. I actually fell in love with the heat. Yes, it’s crazy. I can’t explain it. I fell in love with the Bikram practice of yoga, which is a sequence class of 26 postures. I dug into learning about the healing benefits of this type of practice. In October, I saw signs about the studio’s ’30 Day Challenge’. Should I? Could I? Taking it to another level – I knew it would. And I totally knew I could. So I did.

One to two hours every day for the past 30 days have transformed me in many ways. Bikram yoga is a moving meditative practice. Along with that, in 90 minutes, Bikram yoga works every single muscle, tendon, joint, ligament & bone in the human body. There are over 600 muscles in the body and Bikram works every single one. That is absolute craziness to me! Along with all of that physical work, there is so much mental work being done. Being present. Being still. Finding peace in the discomfort. Breathing. Learning that you are so much more capable than you think you are.

Yes, there were days I was so tired that I napped (which is unheard of for me). There was one evening class that I had such a stomach ache that I laid flat most of the hour until I finally couldn’t take another second and left the room (by the way, the ONE goal is to stay in the room!). And we won’t talk about the day they got new humidifiers and the instructor shoved towels under every door crack. No… we won’t talk about the heat and sweat that day. But we can talk about the 28 other days that left me feeling limitless.

“When we focus our energy and connect with our truest selves on the mat, we gain the ability to be truly present.” 

Being truly present is a gift. I would have never guessed that this gift would come as a result of standing on a yoga mat, staring into a mirror at my own reflection. But I feel so blessed that it did. I reflect on my dream board and I feel thankful that I never dropped that picture from my mind. So the studio looks different, feels different, smells different. No Robert. But I’ve found Alice and Cleve and Kim and Jeff and others… And I’ve honored something in me that I knew I was passionate about. God pressed for me to get back on the mat. I know why. I pressed my 30th star sticker down on the challenge board today and breathed a sigh. Gave myself a pat on the back. Hey, I earned this one! But it doesn’t end here because there’s still so much work to do on me. Onward to day 31….

I urge you to find a mat. A studio. The time. The sequence. The strength. The stillness. The balance. The peace. All of it exists, I promise.

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