Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Beginnings

This has been my theme this week! I'm finishing things up with school (well, I'm supposed to be!) and starting to get things in order to move back to Texas. Getting my head wrapped around moving back to Texas has been bittersweet. I mean, I have had a great two years here and I had meant to stay here for a while in the beginning. I really do love it here and I have met some amazing people over the past couple of years and it makes me sad to leave this life I made for myself here. Then again, I have missed my family and my friends from home so much and going back to that will be great as well.

I have definitely had a few moments of serious doubts about this move. Is this what I'm supposed to be doing? Is this what's best for me? Am I leaving Utah too soon? These questions all deserved some serious consideration over the past week and I needed to weigh my options against each other.

I had to examine what it was I really wanted to experience in my near future. I have really set my heart on taking some time off of the stressful things in life and enjoy life instead. What this means to me is that I would like to work on a part-time basis so that I have time to dabble in the many other interests I have. After looking around at possible job options here in Utah, I realized that if I really wanted to only work part-time and have time for myself, living here just wouldn't be financially possible. If I did make it work, I would be constantly stressed out about my money situation. So, in the end, as much as I love it here in Utah, I have decided to follow my heart and definitely move back to Texas. Yay for new beginnings!

Okay, rewind a week.... I defended my thesis last week and.... drumroll..... It went amazingly well! I totally rocked it. I was hardly nervous at all and stayed cool and collected the whole time. I received numerous compliments on my composure and being well spoken, which I have to say is a first! I will be the first one to tell you that I'm not very well spoken. I have a tendency to blurt out things that aren't what I mean, don't make sense, or have the potential to be taken the wrong way. During presentations especially, I typically talk in circles and like lots of "umm, like, you know." NOT THIS TIME :) Heck yes.

Honestly, I give all the credit for my calm composure, non-nervousness, and well-spokeness (yes, I have made up a few words here) to.... my Bikram practice! (I'm sure everyone saw that coming). My mind was just so clutter free that all the right words were rolling off my tongue! And I just had this confidence going into the presentation that surprised even me. I knew I was going to be awesome, and I just was! (Law of attraction, anyone?)

Speaking of yoga! I'm sad to report that I did not finish my 30 day challenge. However, I do not view this as a failure in the least bit. Honestly, I got really super close! 23 classes in 24 days with 3 doubles in there. I did a fantastic job!

But, after my defense I was incredibly drained, both physically and mentally. And that's when I ended my challenge. If I have learned anything over this last semester, it's that self care is super important. In addition, my recent yoga practice has really taught me to listen to my body. So I listened to my body and did exactly what it told me it needed. I took the rest of the week off from everything, including yoga. Like I said, this was not a failure for me. Yoga teaches you to roll with the punches and accept what life gives you, and that's exactly what happened here. Life happens (e.g. defense) and that's ok. My defense was an important event in my life and I deserved time to recover from doing such an awesome job! After my move to Texas I definitely plan on beginning another 30 day challenge! Hopefully I can get my mom into it too :) Mwahaha.

I have gone back to yoga this week and I have to tell you, that first class was sooo hard! I got through the whole class thinking "don't throw up!" Good news is that I didn't throw up, and I'm going back today. I know each day it will be a little easier.

Now to get back to wrapping up all my loose ends at school and in my apartment! 


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How many mid-life crises will have I before I am even reach mid-life??

Yesterday, I did a double (a 4:30 pm class and an 8:00 pm class!) and have now completed 18 Bikram classes in 18 days! :)  Hooray! I feel amazing. My recent yoga practice has been stirring all kinds of thoughts and feelings inside of me. Most prominently..... this:

So, for those of you who don't know (which I am assuming is the majority of you out there!), I'm weeks away from finishing my masters degree in genetic counseling. By weeks away, I mean I have to defend my thesis/research project in less than a week (eek!), then write a journal-publishable article before the beginning of August (double eek!) and.... drum roll..... I'm done! Great, right?

Well, sort of. You see, during the past two weeks I have been having another mid-life crisis (perhaps more appropriately named a quarter-life crisis considering I'm 24.5 yrs old). I had one of these my junior year of undergrad when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to choose for a "career". At that point I jumped from veterinarian, pediatrician, and kindergarten teacher before finally settling on genetic counseling.

And now, I'm not sure what I want do to anymore! It's not that I don't want to be a genetic counselor. It is still a career that I love and I think it is an important service that should be provided. I'm just not so sure I want a "career" right now. I'm 24 yrs old and I hardly know myself.

I feel like I've been on this arrow straight path all my life (high school --> college --> graduate school --> career) and I never got the chance to explore myself or the world around me. To use my new-found knowledge of yoga philosophy, I haven't been living in the present but always thinking about the future. As a result, I haven't been able to really enjoy my environment.

My recent yoga practice has really brought to the surface how unhappy this path, what most people would call the prescription of a perfect and successful life, has made me. Once again, it's not that I am unhappy with my choice of career, I just don't know if I really want a career. It never occurred to me in the past that I don't have to have a "career", but that I can do whatever I want to do.  Being me can be my career.

The other day, I stopped at Barnes and Noble and was walking through the Career/Job section (ironic, huh?) when I picked up a copy of this book: 

In the introduction, Timothy Ferriss talks about how much he hates when people ask him what he does. And I thought to myself, "OMG, I know what you mean! I always hate it when the second or third question out of someone's mouth after you meet them is always 'So, what do you do?' Why is that so important?" So many people define themselves by what they do, and I don't want to be one of those people! (I didn't get the book, but it is definitely on my to-read list!!).

So, I have decided to stop applying for genetic counseling jobs (for now!). My plan now is to.... have no plans! After I finish up my degree, I am heading back home to Texas to live with my parents (no rent) and take some time to explore myself and figure out what will make me happy. Some ideas I have been playing around with are Bikram Teacher Training (I definitely want to do it one day!) or maybe starting a life coaching business. Or maybe both! Most of the people close to me are pretty skeptical about my change of plans, but hopefully they'll stick around and be supportive.

I don't regret going to grad school to get my masters in genetic counseling. Like I said, its a great career and I may decide to pursue it as a career one day. But right now, I don't feel ready for a career (will I ever??). Having a masters degree in itself will help me to get jobs in the future. Plus, I feel like my graduate training has taught me a lot of life skills. In fact, I feel like starting a life coaching business would be a way for me to incorporate many of the skills I learned in grad school and my new yoga addiction to help other people to become successful in their lives.

Anyways, I have many other things that need my attention right now.... like my thesis!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Feel the burn....

Yesterday was officially my 16th day of Bikram in a row! Yay, past the half point mark! It has definitely been an amazing experience so far.

Yesterday was one of my roughest classes so far. Let just say.... I don't recommend Bikram when sunburned! I was feeling extra hot because the burned areas of my skin were way hotter than usual. My sweat was not cooling me down as well as it usually does. And worst of all, any of the poses that involved applying pressure to the burned areas of my skin were quite painful. (Think: I'm burned on my upper/inner thighs since that area hardly sees sun. Tree stand was so painful that I sat out for toe stand!) 

And yes, I am more burned on one side of my face than the other.... And yes, I have a tan line from my sunglasses... attractive, right??

Trust me, the pictures don't do it justice! I couldn't figure out a way to tactfully take a picture of my legs, so you will just have to trust me on that one. It is definitely the most painful area to be sunburned because it hurts every time I bend at the hips.

How did I get so burned you ask? Well, I went swimming before class. I was actually pretty worried about hydration, but that turned out not to be the issue. I should have been more worried about sun protection! I am contemplating skipping today and doing a double tomorrow in hopes that the burn will be drastically better tomorrow... Or maybe not...

I am going to a different yoga class today. I have been reading a lot about different types of yoga and I have heard from other Bikram enthusiasts that flow/power yoga is rather satisfying, so I'm going to try out an Atma Flow Yoga class. I'll let you know what I think!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Life is full of Distractions...

Successfully made it through my 12 class! I once again braved the front row. and it felt great! My favorite quote of the class was (that's right, if my teacher says something inspiring, I'm going to write it down!):
"Everything is yoga, nothing is a distraction."
 This really resonated with me for two reasons.

1) I have really begun noticing how yoga is affecting other areas of my life. The best way to describe it is that I just feel zen, all the time. Things that in the past would have stressed me out don't anymore. I look at any obstacles in my path more as opportunities to challenge myself rather than obstacles, and I know that everything will work out.

2) Boy was a feeling distracted in this class! Every time I tried to clear my mind, thoughts just kept popping up! And I couldn't stop fidgeting (which you should try to keep to a minimum, since it can distract you...which is exactly what was going on!) I was getting really frustrated with myself for my lack of concentration, until my teacher said this. I was like "Wait, what? Nothing is a distraction? So, all these thoughts I'm having.... they're all yoga? They sure do feel like distractions..."

And then I had one of those AHA! moments. These unbidden thoughts were rising from my subconscious during my yoga class because they were things that I need to think about (mostly my future-related, more on that in posts to come...). My mind was saying "Hey dummy! Your future requires some thought right now!"

So I spent a good part of the rest of the day doing just that, even though I had some other things that were needing to be done (there's always something else, right?). And I think I made some progress on decisions that I feel good about. Like I said, more on that to come!

Now, back to the present (that's what yoga is all about right? Be here! Be now!). Before I can get to my future, I need to close the current chapter in my life: grad school! Almost there....


P.S. I think yesterday I was also starting to suffer from some electrolyte imbalance... I tried the sea salt in your water thing and it was really gross! I think I'm going to pick up some Gatorade today, even though I know it has a lot of sugar in it.... I happen to prefer sugar in my drinks over salt, is that crazy?? Ha.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

11 days into my 30 day challenge

I did not get the chance yesterday to talk about about my 30-day challenge so far.

I have always read and heard that "the 30 day challenge will change your life!" but have always been pretty skeptical. I mean, 30 days is a rather short amount of time to have your life change significantly. Still, I had always wanted to try a 30 day challenge but had always told myself that I didn't have the time to commit to it. Well, the past couple months that I had payed for my Bikram membership, I had (as usual) had a difficult time being consistent in my practice. So, 12 days ago I decided that I couldn't just wait to have the time for a 30 day challenge, I had to make the time or it would never happen. It was a relatively spur of the moment decision, but I have been to 11 classes so far and have loved every minute of it!

It was definitely a rough start though. The first four classes/days were hard. For the first week, I woke up every morning feeling like I had been run over by a truck. I was so incredibly sore. Everywhere. Like, in places I didn't even know I had muscles! Still, I made it to every class and always felt amazing on the way out, no matter how hard it was to get there.

The main difference I have noticed is how my body is reacting to the heat. I am hardly sweating anymore. Even when I do sweat, I don't feel so hot that I am nauseous (which has always been a big battle for me). I know some people really like it when they get really hot, but I don't think I'm one of those people. I find lately that the room is definitely hot enough that I'm very stretchy and pliable, but not so hot that I feel like I'm dying (not an exaggeration! it happens!). In fact, there have been have been some really cool moments when I have gotten goosebumps while in savasana (dead body pose).

This is how it happens: I am lying there, focusing on relaxing every muscle in my body. I can feel beads of sweat slowly sliding down my body, on my stomach, legs, arms, forehead, even off and into my ears. And then I get goosebumps! And I feel cold on the outside but still very warm on the inside. I mentioned this to my mother the other day and she said it reminded her of how some people can meditate to walk on coals. This makes me wonder if the goosebumps are some sort of sign of my level of meditation. Hmmm....

Not feeling so sick and hot during the class has definitely enabled me to really focus on my postures and my meditation. It is sooooo much easier to clear your mind when you are not thinking, "Don't throw up, don't throw up.... God, its hot in here!" In the past, it felt like I really tortured myself for 90 minutes to feel amazing the rest of the day (which was well worth it!). Now, I find myself really enjoying each class. I occasionally smile at myself in the mirror and I laugh when the teachers make corny jokes, things I could never do before because I was so uncomfortable.

Another thing I have noticed is that classes are flying by now. I used to count down the minutes and watch the clock starting halfway through class. Now, class seems much shorter than the 90 minutes it is. I attribute a lot of this to my deeper meditation during class, especially since I am able to ignore the heat more than before. It has been an amazing feeling to turn my brain off for those 90 minutes and let the instructor "drive" my body, so to speak. I don't think about anything and listen to the dialogue, and my body follows the instruction like a robot. This mental checking out helps me to meditate as well because I am thinking about nothing, versus thinking about what my body is going to do next.

Yesterday, I took a big step! I ended up in the front row of class. Being in the front row is usually reserved for experienced yogis because they are setting the tone for the rest of the class. Technically, they aren't supposed to sit out any poses, because it often causes a domino effect. If they sit out, other people feel like they have been given "permission" to sit out poses as well. Don't get me wrong, everyone is allowed to sit out if they feel the need, but people on the front row are supposed to set an example. I have always felt like that was a lot of pressure and have avoided the first row like a plague.

Well, I walked into class yesterday and most of the spots were taken but the front row was wide open. I decided to go ahead and take a first row spot. "Why not?" I asked myself. I haven't needed to sit out any postures in about 4 classes, but that did not mean this class was going to be the same. I decided to go for it, and it was a very rewarding experience. Being so close to the mirror, it was easier to focus on myself and not be distracted by the people in between the mirror and myself. At the end of class, the instructor thanked the first row for the wonderful energy we were sharing with the rest of the room. Boy, did that make me feel good! Taking a spot in the first row is something I will definitely be trying again.

This post is getting a little long for my taste, but talking about 1/3 of my 30 day challenge deserves some space! The last thing I want to say is that I was really (really) wrong to think that 30 days was too short of time to experience a change in life. Over just the past week and a half, I have noticed that my mind is much clearer and more calm. I feel more peaceful, less stressed. I agree with how this one yogi put it after her 14th class in her 30 day challenge:
"Yesterday, my friend told me that he had been reading this blog, and that I sounded like I am on a whole different level when writing it. I don’t feel as though this challenge is really changing or altering me, only that it makes day-to-day decisions and interactions more clear and easy. Outside of class, I definitely feel healthier, more fit, and less bogged down by any baggage – mental or physical. I still feel like me, but maybe a bit of change is taking place afterall… "
My thoughts just seem to flow easier and I am thinking clearly. It kind of feels like my brain has been cluttered all my life, and I am finally learning what it is like to have a clear, calm mind. Man, I didn't know what I was missing!

Time to start getting ready for class! Then the rest of the day :) Ciao. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why not?

So, I've decided to take a stab at this blogging thing. That's right, this is my first blog EVER. I never really understood the pull to blog. Yeah, maybe if you were going on a trip and you wanted to document the experience for yourself and others, but just about everyday life? Didn't get it.

Lately I have gotten into the habit of starting off my day reading other people's blogs, usually about topics that I've lately become interested in (so far, polyphasic sleeping schedules and Bikram yoga). As a result of some of the things I have been going through the past few months (more on that later!) I've found that I have a lot of thoughts, many of which I wish I had someone to share them with. So yesterday, I had an epiphany! I should start a blog :) I'm not sure who will be interested in reading my thoughts (other than my best friend!!!) but at least I can put them out there for people to read if they want.

So, I'm going to try to not to make this first post too long (which is difficult since I've been saving up thoughts for at least a week!) but I would like to give everyone a quick run down on what things in my life have led me to starting this blog.

In a nutshell, I'm a graduate student well on my way to being done with school (personal triumph!). Unfortunately, this last year, mostly last semester, has been a rather rough patch for me. I was dealing with a bout of depression, rather worse than the episode I had experienced in undergrad. To top it all off, my wonderful boyfriend got a job offer out of state, one that we both felt we could not pass up. So, now we are doing long distance, which didn't seem like a big deal at first. We have been together for quite a while and done long distance in the past. What made this different was that we had now been living together for a while before his move out of state. I definitely had not realized how intertwined our lives had become and his leaving was quite the disruption, a disruption which made my depression quite a but worse. My symptoms were actually quite tolerable before he left.

As I have clawed my way out of this last depressive episode, I have learned a lot about who I am and what makes me happy. What has really kick started this blogging desire has been my recent Bikram yoga practice. As I mentioned earlier, I have been reading other Bikram yoga blogs lately and have been amazed at some of the experiences I have read about. I was first introduced to Bikram about two years ago and instantly fell in love. As amazing as it made me feel, I never had the determination or the funds to have a consistent practice. Well, this summer, towards the end of my depression, I decided "Screw time and money! I think Bikram yoga is just what I need right now!" Even though money was tight, and I had a million other things that needed to be done (like my thesis!) I was very lucky to be able to "screw time and money." I know that is not something that is available to everyone.

In the beginning, I still had difficulty with a regular practice. I practiced roughly for two weeks then stopped for about a month. Well, 11 days ago I decided that if I was going to have a regular practice, I needed to make some sort of commitment, or else it was never going to happen! So, I started a 30 day challenge. I have successfully been doing it for 10 days (a third of the way through!) and have already begun to notice changes in body and mind.

This post is beginning to get a little long, so I think I will stop here for now. Basically, what I want this blog to be about is my journey out of my depression and how I am slowly starting to love my life. I want to talk about the things that make this journey possible, and at this moment that has a lot to do with my Bikram practice.