Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Yoga and me - a flawed love story



I was going to share part 2 of my Paris-story (and I will, no worries!), but then I felt the overwhelming urge to talk about something else that's close to my heart: Being kind to yourself

Like many of you, I haven't always been kind to myself. In fact, for about 2 decades (!!) I was absolutely vicious to myself. My self-loathing was so strong, I did everything in my power to avoid being alone with my thoughts, because my inner mean girl would smash me into a million pieces. 
For example, when walking my family's dog, I would always listen to an audiobook, to drown out the unrelenting self-loathing that was happening in my mind. One time, to my absolute horror, the batteries of my disc-player ran out, and I was so panicked, I ran the last 2 kilometres home (and I am not a runner). Anything to avoid my own, terrible thoughts.  

Time, my husband's love, medication for my depression, and a slowly developing mindfulness helped me tremendously in becoming kinder towards myself. Forgiveness and grace were the important cornerstones of my first, hesitant steps on the road of getting to like myself. 
But the most important, most life-altering change in my life was when I re-discovered yoga in March of 2015. I had a brief relationship with yoga a few years earlier, but since it was for all the wrong reasons (I saw it purely as exercise to get skinny and toned), it fizzled out. 

  
But in 2015, being more comfortable with my body and mind, I was open to the real purpose of yoga: To discover my own inner world. Not only was I prepared to give the whole breathing-stuff a chance (a part of yoga I found endlessly boring before), but I also thought I could face my ultimate demon: Being alone with myself, without distractions.

Well. 
To be completely honest, that first year, it was all about taking photos for Instagram challenges and posting them online. Not only did I find an online community that was amazingly supportive, I also gained a bunch of new followers and the admiration of people IRL. They were all immensely impressed about my swift progress in yoga, and their praise was all I needed to get on my mat and do #yogaeverydamnday. 

  
It was great. Not only did I gain some handy party tricks, I also got leaner and stronger. I never felt better about my body!

But. 
The noise and bustle of participating in challenges kept me from facing what I tried to face: My fear of dealing with my inner thoughts and insecurities. 
I would attempt to practice without my phone or camera, and I had to acknowledge an uncomfortable truth: Without the public validation, yoga was damn hard
Being confronted with myself may not be as horrifying as it once was, but it was still hard AF.   


After the high of the first year, I have tried to find my personal yoga-balance ever since. While I still believe that challenges are an absolutely amazing way to stay accountable (without them I would never have found a consistent practice), they are also really time-consuming, and it's tempting to cheat and snap a quick picture of the pose of the day, instead of doing a real practice.


So, despite my absolute, unwavering love for the practice, I struggle to get on the mat on a regular basis. Facing your inner demons is no joke! It's much more difficult than sore muscles and exhaustion.

But here's the thing: Despite my momentary struggle, yoga has become a part of my life. All I have to do is ignore the demons inside me that are quick to wag their poisonous little tongues, gleefully pointing out that "you're not a real yogi if you don't practice daily ... don't do it for the right reasons ... find excuses not to get on your mat ... let life interfere with your dedication ... don't do it #everydamnday ..."

Screw the voices. 
love yoga.
Yet, I sometimes struggle to do it.
Because as good as exercise feels, it's damn hard sometimes.
And doing something that forces you to look at yourself all the time? It's fucking impossible some days.


Yoga and I, we are in it for the long haul.
But it's a flawed love story.
It isn't always easy.
Some days, it will involve swearing, or running away, or doing it for the 'gram.

But if my marriage is anything to go by, it only gets better over time.
And we have the rest of our lives to figure this relationship out.

Neither of us is going anywhere. 

How is your relationship with yoga/fitness/your inner peace?

xoxo Miriam

P.S. I'm exploring how saying "yes" more often changed my life for the better in my next newsletter. Don't miss it! Sign up here.



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5 comments

  1. I have yoga challenges to thank for keeping me accountable and making my practice consistent. But I started to find myself doing 3-5 a month. That became way to time consuming ( WAY to many people to tag ) and I got burned out. I took last December off because I needed a break. Now I can't seem to commit to them at all. I have not joined another one since. I feel that my practice has grown so much in the past seven months. Since you introduced me to The Journey Junkie, I have submerged myself into that community. I finally have a yoga teacher that keeps me motivated to push myself further then any of the challenges have ever done. I am finding yogis in my area that I want to meet up with at some point. Doing so will definitely push me further out of my comfort zone. But that is what growth is all about right?
    BTW - whatever pose you are doing in the one picture above the headstand is crazy cool! That is the type of stuff I want to learn more about.

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    1. That pose was part of a challenge, funnily enough! Here's the video of how to get into it: https://www.instagram.com/p/BSjA9ntA5le/?taken-by=_balance_in_life_ I think they made the pose up, it's a variation on grasshopper pose.

      You are SO right, yoga is a journey. We are always evolving and growing! The amount of time it took to make a post (all the tagging takes forever) started to turn me off. I'm still tempted once in a while to join a challenge, but I haven't been able to complete one in over a year.
      I'm so happy that The Journey Junkie has become your community! I haven't found my way into it yet, I'm right now searching. Kino MacGregor still is my teacher and motivates me like none other, and I'm starting to get more into the first series of Ashtanga yoga. I bought her book, and I'm using that most of the time now. The journey is the goal, and it's a beautiful one, despite the ups and downs!

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  2. I always wanted to try yoga, because, like you I also struggle with my inner thoughts about myself. It is more about being present and mindful, but that's also difficult sometimes and something you have to learn over time. I never really knew how to start with yoga though, because we don't have yoga classes near my house and I often move places. How did you start? Because sometimes I find all those youtube videos quite overwhelming.

    xxx Anne

    Lifeasarollingstone.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. I hear ya! It's a confusing world when you look at it from the outside, but once you're in, it's a lot easier :-)

      I started out with Instagram challenges. My first one was hosted by 2 world-renowned yogis, Kino MacGregor and Kerri Verna (their IG-handles are @kinoyoga and @beachyogagirl). In case you don't know what a yoga challenge is (I didn't!), it's simply a yoga pose every day for you to copy. They share a photo of the pose and explain how to get into it, you do it and share it on Instagram. Sounds silly, but it really works! The support and positive feedback I received was enough to keep me going daily for a year. If the explanation wasn't enough, I would look for tutorials on YouTube. That way, I slowly learnt about specific poses.

      From there, I started to include YouTube videos from Kino, whom I consider to be "my" teacher. I love her teaching style and her positive attitude, and she keeps me motivated.

      My advice is to try out a few videos on YouTube and see whom you like.
      The first one is Allie, aka The Journey Junkie.
      She has created an online community that's incredibly supportive. She sends out weekly newsletters packed with encouragement and great resources, and has a ton of workouts on her YouTube channel.
      Here is a 5-day beginner series that's great:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTTp8rGRigk

      Another YouTube yogi that's popular, especially when starting out, is Adriene. I did a few of her videos in the beginning, before I started doing almost exclusively Kino's videos.
      Try this 5-minute practice to ease yourself into it:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C-gxOE0j7s

      Of course, I have to show you my favourite, Kino MacGregor.
      She has a HUGE YouTube channel with literally 100s of videos. I really like her short (usually under 10 min) videos that explain a pose in detail.
      Here's a one-month beginner challenge that's amazing:
      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUOsmAhu6av_5IJ5TuDH62FaY6uyq_ei_

      I hope this helps! Give it a try, and don't be too hard on yourself! The journey is the goal. Have fun!

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    2. Thank you so much for these tips! :)

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