Today marked one month of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga at The Studio Cleveland. In that month I have attended ten classes and fallen into a schedule of twice a week: the Tuesday 6am and the Saturday 10am, all with the same instructor, whom I absolutely adore. While it would, of course, be cheaper to attend just once a week, the energies at the two classes are different and I don't want to lose either one.
After the various yoga classes I have tried over the years, I do believe that there is one practice for everyone. It might take some experimentation, but it's just a matter of finding the right practice and the right instructor. What I like about Ashtanga is that it's a set series. Each class we do the same poses from start to finish and while that might sound tedious, it's actually fabulous because you can physically mark your progress. Little by little, my heels are getting closer to the ground during Downward Facing Dog and in just a few classes I know I'll have it. My reach is elongating and while I still need a strap for some of the binds around the body, my fingers are closing in on each other.
I still can't do Wheel or a Headstand, nor am I able to do anything that requires shoulder support, like Plow. But the beauty of Ashtanga is it doesn't matter. I do what I can. I go as far as I can go or I modify. It's called a practice for a reason. It's all just a matter of continuing to work, continuing to challenge yourself. And some days you'll have it, some you won't. You might hit a pose one day and the next class not be able to. And that's all okay. Just have to keep going, and with enough time it'll happen eventually.
After class today I was talking to my instructor, J., and she told me that I have definitely started to lose weight since I started a month ago. While I haven't lost weight (hello holidays), I have lost inches. Just in getting dressed this morning I noticed a much slimmer silhouette in the mirror (then again, aside from the neon-pink sports bra, I wear all black). While the number on the scale is important enough for me to post my progress on the blog's sidebar, inches are equally important. I'm wearing clothes in sizes I shouldn't yet and I know that's because of the inches lost.
But more than the external changes, there are internal ones, too. More self-awareness and self-confidence. The belief that I can do anything. Pride when I achieve it, forgiveness when I can't. I come out of yoga feeling like I can take over the world and it makes me want to respect and honor my body. To treat it well. To get enough sleep, to not push it past its breaking point but not rely on old crutches of doubt either and hold it back. It's changed how I view food and what I put into my body. I mean, I already watch what I eat but now I really pay close attention and am more aware of the food choices I make. Let's face it: I spent most of my life not taking care, not paying attention. Now, at 30, I need to start.
Of course, considering yoga is done barefoot, it is perhaps unsurprising that I have also developed a deeper awareness of my pedicure. Or, specifically, lack-there-of. Good thing I bought some new OPI colors a few weeks ago. We can consider that respecting the feet, right?
Love from the ashes,