Living Life Upside Down

yoga

Last February a new yoga studio opened up in town. I followed them on Facebook, admired the cuteness of their website, commented on how inviting the building looked, and I thought to myself, “I really need to give that a try!”

But I didn’t make the effort to actually go.

A few weeks later a group of friends invited me to try out a free class at the studio, so I figured “Why not?” If nothing else, it would be a fun morning with friends followed by a chatty lunch and lots of smiles and conversation with people I adore.

That free trial class changed my life!

Yes, that sounds hokey and dramatic, but it is true, and there is simply no other way to say it. I had been right about the studio; it was inviting! I was right about the staff; they are too cute and so welcoming and kind and non-judmental that I felt a connection there from that very first day. I have to tell you, though, the most impactful part of that first day, the most relevant bit of that free trial class in which I had absolutely nothing invested, was the emotional and spiritual and physical effects of my first practice. If I was better with words I might be able to fully convey how freeing it was to go through that practice, to fully let go of the myriad of thoughts and responsibilities that hover above me at all times, to really be in the present moment.  It was a peace that I had only ever noticed many years before as I can only remember feeling that serenity when holding my infant babies in my arms as they slept or cuddled.

At the end of that class, I knew that I had to return, and regularly, so I purchased a 1-month pass to attend classes as often as possible. I fell deeper in love with yoga that month as I learned about poses and flows and breathing and me. I was astonished at poses I could do and energized by poses that I could not. For me, a person who is very, very competitive personally (as in, I like to be the best…the highest grade in class, the first to get done, the prettiest project, the teacher’s pet, and so on and so on), for maybe the first time ever I was okay being a beginner, I didn’t feel like a failure watching others go way beyond my skill level, and I was okay with the fact that I could not do everything that was presented. That was a life-changing moment within itself!

When that pass expired, I purchased a full 6-month pass, and my yoga addiction was fully rooted in my soul.  As I learned more, I craved more.  I found a phenomenal yoga community on InstaGram, and I started following some incredibly amazing yogis from all around the world.  In May, I even jumped out of my comfort zone and participated in an InstaGram challenge to post a photo once a day throughout the month:

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Here are a few of my favorite poses from that first yoga challenge: #mayibeginyoga.  (If you are on InstaGram, check out my entire month on my account: MeAndCoach.)

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One-Legged Bound King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

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Bound Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

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Camel (Ustrasana)

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Mountain (Tadasana)

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Eight-Angle (Astavakrasana)

The next month, my sweet teachers at The Yoga Bar, named me their Student of the Month – what???  I was finally at a point in my life that I didn’t need affirmation or praise, and yet, there it was.  I was so honored that I actually teared up when I told Coach about it, simply because the studio, the new friends, and the peace-inflicting practice was helping me love myself.  If that’s not tear- worthy, nothing is! Loving ourselves is not easy, but it is vital.

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It’s hard to put that out there, hard to put myself out there!  Every time I think I should keep my adventures to myself, just delete the account, someone says that they want to try yoga after seeing my pictures, or they say that they read something inspiring that they needed to hear in my posts, and in those moments I feel like I have accomplished a goal in conveying love to the world around me, so I get re-motivated to keep sharing.

The last IG challenge that I participated in online was #7daysupsidedown and consisted of all inversions – I LOVE INVERSIONS!!  I have a blast living life upside down! In honor of the adorable yoga bird above, here are few of my favorite inversion pics, too:

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Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II)

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Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)

Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)...on a Stand Up Paddleboard ;)

Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)…on a Stand Up Paddleboard 😉

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Shoulder Stand (Niralamba)

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Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

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Wild Thing (Camatkarasana)

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Three-Legged Downward Dog (Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)

That is quite a few poses to digest at once.  Sorry…once I start picking my faves, I can’t ever seem to stop.  If you are interested in reading more about them, I recommend the A-Z Pose Finder on Yoga Journal’s website.  It is one of a gazillion great yoga resources online, and I especially like it because it gives steps for getting into and out of the pose, tells the specific benefits of the pose, and provides health warnings for any potential problems with the pose.

Well, if you’ve made it this far into this marathon blogpost, give yourself a pat on the back (Gomukhasana)!!  I never would have guessed that I could achieve these poses, nor could I have ever imagined the impact that learning, practicing, and sharing them would have on my sense of peace and my sense of self-worth.  Thank you for letting me share!

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Don’t let YOU stop you from trying whatever is in your heart to do.  Give it a try!!

Lastly, here are my results from yesterday, Day 2 of my 10 day challenge to lose 10 pounds before Thanksgiving:

Come back tomorrow for more results…

With hugs and love

Ashli  🙂

 

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