A Yogi Does Lent ~ Lynn Hancock

I grew up Southern Baptist so Lent wasn’t an Easter ritual we really participated in.  And I never really thought of participating in it until I got older and then it was by picking something pretty easy to give up.  Often times, it lasted about a week or so and I pretty much quit after that. 
 
Here’s why this year was different.  Warning, I’m about to be transparent (gasp).  #authentic.  My husband thinks I am too transparent at times – that I need to be more guarded.  But personally, I think that’s where people get in trouble.  When they hide or put on a good face on the outside when things are not going well in the inside.  Now this doesn’t mean that you need to share every single feeling with everyone, but I’m not the type of person to act like I’m okay if I’m not.  So this brings me to the transparent part.  After purchasing the studio in October, my life changed & change often brings extra stress into a person’s life.  I slipped into a habit of having a few beers or glasses of wine at night to help me unwind and de-stress.  No big deal, you say?  The big deal was that this was the main thing what I was relying on to help me manage my stress.  Except that it wasn’t.  I wasn’t sleeping well, I was gaining weight, I was over eating when I drank because it dehydrates you and that can lead to sodium cravings, resulting in eating foods higher in sodium, and making you feel more thirsty, and on and on.  It’s why bars offer pretzels and other salty foods.  So you’ll drink more. 
 
One day, while I was teaching class, I was really encouraging students to focus on their drishti, to not try and escape an intense pose and retrain your brain to breathe through the intensity and maintain their focus.  And that’s when I realized.  I was being a big, fat, boozy hypocrite.  Was I not using alcohol to help me escape the extra intensity and stress my life change had introduced into my life?  Using it to help me fall asleep (only to be woken up around 2 or 3 a.m. once my blood sugar went down and my liver was processing the alcohol).  Here I was telling my students to “just breathe” and I couldn’t do that myself. 

Julie, our account manager, wrote a blog a few months ago called Dry January and I thought well, if Julie can do it (and has been maintaining it, claiming she feels great), then why can’t I?  So I set off on my own dry month…Dry March.  It just so happened to coincide with Lent, so I stretched out Dry March into a spiritual focus.  After all, isn’t that what yoga is about?  Helping us clear out our own mental, emotional and physical baggage so we can have a better spiritual connection to the Divine?

I kept a calendar because I like data.  And I like checking things off.  The first week was hard.  It was about breaking habits more than really wanting a beer or a glass of wine.  It was trying to tell my body that it shouldn’t do something it was used to doing.  But I discovered something.  I really liked carbonation vs. really liking the taste of beer.  So several cases of La Croix replaced cases of beer.  I slept better.  I didn’t stay up as late and I didn’t wake up as frequently.  I recovered better between runs (I am marathon training).  I drank more water.  We saved more money (alcohol is expensive yo!).  Each week got a little bit easier but some were harder than others.  I felt lighter, did my yogi nidra more often to help me fall asleep easier vs. having a drink.  I prayed a bit more often, though not as often as I should have. 

Lent came to a close this past Saturday and so did my fasting.  I had some mimosas at Easter brunch.  But that was it.  Nothing at bedtime and I don’t plan on it for tonight either.  I don’t plan on going back to where I was before.  I know that I have tools in my toolbox that I can use outside of my yoga practice and I plan on using them.  I didn’t experience any breakthroughs or having any spiritual epiphanies but I recognize that life change doesn’t happen in big thunderous claps of change.  Instead in happens in small concentrated breaths.  And in one prayer at a time.  

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Yogi of the Month ~ George Spear

How long have been practicing?

I have been practicing since approximately December of 2013

What’s your favorite pose and why?

I like “Chair” pose and variations of it like “revolved” when we twist left or twist right while in chair.  o Chair pose makes me feel “grounded” and I can truly feel the impact of stretching to places that are not typically reached in a more cardio based regimen.

In 10 words or less describe why you love yoga.

I love Yoga because its peaceful, calming, challenging, reduces stress, and provides flexibility and strength.

How does your yoga practice benefit your other passions & hobbies?

My Yoga practice benefits my other passions and hobbies because it complements
yet reinforces those passions. My other interests and hobbies include family time & events, running, music, singing, and other types of exercise like biking. I have found that the physical and mental balance that yoga provides helps me with those activities by reducing stress and keeping me strong.

Why did you start practicing yoga?

I started practicing Yoga because after 13-14 years of running (9 marathons, many half marathons, and some back surgery, too), I had to find better balance, core strength, and flexibility. I also needed to find even more life balance.  I found Yoga Story because my two oldest daughters had danced ballet for over a decade and had been to Yoga Story and encouraged me to try it.

How does yoga impact your everyday life?

Yoga impacts my everyday life because 1st I have met great people at YS and that’s affected me in a positive way each day. Then, in addition, my everyday life has been impacted because the Yoga classes and workshops have help shaped a completely new regimen for me to build core strength and flexibility, both mentally and physically.

What misconceptions about yoga, if any, were changed after you started practicing?

I don’t think the general population, especially people who have recreationally played traditional sports like football, basketball, & baseball, truly understand how physically strenuous Yoga is. I still remember the 1st few months of being in Lynn’s classes and because of my lack of flexibility and core strength, I thought I’d never make it through the 1st 15 minutes of class, let alone be able to pull off the Bow pose.

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Teacher Feature ~ Judy Moss

Judy teaches Hot Flow every Friday 6 am.

Favorite pose and why?   Savasana at the end of practice.  It's a chance for my body to absorb the practice I just did and allows my mind to settle and become centered. 

First introduced to yoga?  I went to a Bikram yoga class in San Francisco with a friend because I was looking for a good cross training program. It was only after moving back to AR that I went to a vinyasa class and fell in love with the practice of yoga and all that it is.  

10 words or less on why I love yoga?  It's a constant living, breathing practice of balancing the mind and body.

How does my practice make me stronger?  It makes me stronger by keeping me grounded in my center.

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio?  Meditation is a big part of my life along with taking time to care for myself.  My family also keeps my feet on the ground and we spend most of our time together. 

Advice to beginner yogi?  There is absolutely NO such thing as being bad at yoga.  The only thing that yoga requires is that you show up for yourself. Yoga is for EVERYbody. That's it...there is no "type" and you don't have to be flexible to begin yoga. 

Mantra or intention?  Be here in this moment and honor the body

Biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor?  How much goes into bringing a class together.  It's a balance to make the class both accessible and challenging while holding space for the practitioners. 

One healthy food I swear by and why?  Smoothies.  It's easy to throw in fruit/vegetables and protein without having a heavy meal.

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