Doing anything continuously has some magic to it.
Those were the words a friend of mine used when I told him about my 21 days of yoga adventure.
On Saturday June 22, at 2pm I walked into Matt’s Summer Solstice two-hour Yin Class at Greenville Yoga and something inside of me woke up. Hard to explain, but it felt like I had been sleep walking prior to that class. I went back the next day, chasing that feeling. Again, Matt’s Sunday afternoon yin yoga class. At the end of that class I made a decision. I was going to do 21 straight days of yoga. I decided to write about my lessons learned doing yoga for 21 days straight.
So here we go:
1. You can do whatever you decide to do. Really, deciding is half the battle. I’m a big believer in setting little goals, tiny bets, to help create a life that fills me with joy. I can remember the first time I set foot in a yoga studio over nine years ago. It was time of transition and growth and ok, hurt and pain for me. That’s the gift of hurt and pain, they drive meaningful change. I remember lying in baby pose during those early days of yoga, most likely weeping to myself and saying, “If you do this for a year, something will change.” And boy did it. During that year and most of the next nine years, I grew in mental and physical strength. I did yoga about three times each week before work. But never for more than two days straight. I wanted to see how a daily practice would change me.
2. Knowing what you want in life is half the success. Did you know that when people are asked what they want out of their lives, the number one answer is, “I don’t know.” So, know what you know. Seriously, take a moment and ask yourself what do I want. Personally, I know I want to feel good every single day of my life and that’s going to take effort on my part. In that two-hour yoga class, I felt a calmness that I knew I had to have in my life! Period. What are you longing for? What feelings do you chase?
3. Showing up is all that matters. I love the little bowl of hair ties on the desk of Greenville Yoga. Makes me smile every single time I sign in. There’s actually research that says the number one reason women don’t work out or do yoga or take time to be active in any way is so simple; they don’t have a hair tie. So, don’t allow yourself to make excuses.
About day 15, my body is staring hurting a wee bit. Protesting really. But the lessons just kept coming:
4. When a goal becomes desire things really change. The other day when I was slipping into my yoga clothes and walking out the door I realized I didn’t “need” or “have to” go to class, I wanted to go. When desire drives you, the shift is magic.
5. When you find a way to quiet your mind from all thoughts, you realize who you really are. You see everything with a different lens. Compassion, all compassion lives in our quiet and still mind. About day 16, my emotions started bubbling up to the surface. This is hard to put into words. But I cried. A lot. For no reason. Liz told me that grief is stored in the joints of the body. When I cried it felt like my whole body was crying. And that letting go of grief and guilt and shame and whatever it was is what was really beginning to quiet my mind.
6. There are days you will not want to go. And that’s okay too. It’s not about perfection. It never has been. Letting go of perfection is hard for me. I’m wired to push myself. The gift of truly learning how to let go is perhaps the biggest lesson I learned in my 21 days of yoga. In fact, when I was traveling for two days during those three weeks, I simply made a little mound of pillows and set myself up in a restorative pose and rested for twenty minutes. It was perfect.
7. Lately I’ve been thinking about things I find astonishingly beautiful, like my love of flowers. All flowers are slightly imperfect and it’s that imperfection that makes them so lovely. Be kinder to others. No one is perfect. Everyone has a story. Be kinder to everyone you meet. Especially to yourself.
My friend was so right, “Doing anything continuously has magic to it.” What have you learned from doing anything continuously? What magic have you found?
With Joy and Love, Robbin
After moving to Greenville from out west, I finally found a yoga home. A place where breathing and being IS the yoga. There is nothing fancy or showy here. Just good people and a practice that withstands the test of time. I am so happy I walked through this door and found this community. I’m not sure what I would do without it.– E.L., mother of two & business owner
After three full months of practicing yoga eight times per week; I find I have patience, clarity, and confidence. I no longer am ‘braced for impact’, but am able to feel exactly what is going on each moment. I have let go of the pressures and stress of work and school and I can operate with a clear mind. Even my husband notices that I can listen better and communicate more clearly. I feel as though I am aligning my body and my life. Now I am comfortable in my own skin and in my own life. My life is beginning again at 42!– Lorraine Matheny, security manager turned Yoga Teacher
I have been practicing yoga since 2000, but never got beyond 1-2 times per week. When we moved to Greenville I wanted to practice more often, so one of the first things I did was look for a yoga studio. Greenville Yoga was the nearest one, so I thought I’d start there. The first time I walked into the studio, I knew I had found my yoga home. The non-competitive atmosphere, the caring instructors, and the heartfelt and authentic “You belong here” message all create a calm and welcoming energy that I had been looking for in a yoga studio.
I took only 1-2 classes per week at first. I had started with Kimmie’s flow class and loved her energy so much that I didn’t try other classes or instructors. The class time worked well for me, too, so I stuck with that for about a year until Kimmie moved out of state.
Just after Kimmie left, I joined a gym to work on strength and aerobic conditioning. Since the gym also offered yoga classes, I reasoned that I could take them there and save money. It was a beautiful, state of the art gym, but I didn’t enjoy going. It took enormous energy and willpower just to drag myself there 2-3 times per week. I would endure my workouts and leave without that sense of satisfaction and emotional “high” that usually comes from physical exertion and the knowledge that you’ve done something good for your body. The yoga class times didn’t really suit my schedule, so my attendance at those was spotty. When I did take a class, my body felt better, but I wasn’t emotionally connected.
I finally realized that both my body and mind were craving a regular yoga practice. I came back to Greenville Yoga and purchased a monthly unlimited pass so that I could sample different classes and instructors and to motivate myself to practice more regularly.
At first I stuck with the Level 1 & 2 classes, thinking I wasn’t quite ready for more. When I finally tried a Level 2/3 class, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was easily able to keep up. I also enjoyed experiencing classes with different instructors, which for some reason had made me nervous at first.
When the Limitless class was offered, I asked Liz if she thought I was ready for it, and her response was a resounding “Yes!” I took the class the first day it was offered, and I have not looked back. I love pushing my body harder and trying poses that I once thought were unattainable for me. I’m not always successful (looking at you, headstands!), but I’m no longer afraid to try.
I now take classes 6 times a week, and I look forward to each and every one. I love and celebrate the unique qualities of each of the instructors and the various classes offered, although I do have a particular fondness for Yin. When my schedule and energy level allow it, I take 2 classes in a day. My goal is to do that on a more regular basis.
The biggest change that both my husband and I have noticed is that I am much calmer. I used to have a pretty short temper, but now can let things roll off my back much more easily without letting them affect me. I also have no need for the drama that used to dictate so much of my life.
On a physical level, I have not had a fibromyalgia flare-up or a migraine in nearly a year, and the anxiety attacks that used to occur several times a week have all but disappeared. In addition, it appears that the thyroid autoimmune disorder that I have dealt with for over 20 years is abating, as my thyroid medication has recently been cut in half. Even my nerdy, strictly by-the-science-book MD admitted that, “Since it is an autoimmune disorder, and contemplative practice can boost the immune system, it’s entirely possible that yoga is responsible for the improvement.” Well, duh!
I also have more physical strength and endurance and am able to hike and bike longer than before without tiring as easily.
The instructors, the community, the way I feel after a class, and the incredible improvements I have seen in my physical and emotional wellbeing have all made me a Greenville Yoga “addict”! I can’t NOT show up!
I want to be the kind of person that makes other feel the way you made me feel on Saturday- seen, valuable, cared for. Already what I have learned so far is effecting change in my spirit…Thank you so much.– anonymous
I knew that something was missing in my physical life. I was beginning to have aches and pains, and even getting up and down from the floor was difficult and I could barely touch my toes. Yoga seemed like the logical answer. I had heard so much about Liz, and Greenville Yoga was convenient. I walked in originally around 5 or 6 years ago. Little did I know at the time that the holes in myself were much more than physical!
My participation in the beginning was sporadic, at best. I would go when I was at rock bottom, looking for external comfort. Maybe once or twice a month. I now attend class 2-4 times a week, every week. And I miss it so much on days that I can’t go.
I think the difference between my first experiences and my current experience is that years ago, I just was not at a place in my life where I valued quiet. Or valued myself. I was afraid of being with myself – afraid of what I would find if I looked too closely at myself. I would not (could not?) truly disconnect long enough to feed my spirit even for an hour or two a week. I was a wreck. And the constant noise and activity and busyness that I was surrounding myself with was making things worse.
Do I look physically different after becoming a yoga regular? Probably not. But I feel totally transformed. My love and devotion to a practice has touched every single aspect of my life. Being kinder to myself has increased my capacity for kindness to others. Everything in my life experience is shifting towards compassion, peace and strength. Greenville Yoga is an incredibly safe and loving place. There is no judgment or competition. It is a place of growth. It is where I belong.
I have been attending Greenville Yoga since April of 2007. I found it on a whim, realizing I needed something in my life to counteract the stress of work, but I had no idea of the amazing community I was walking into. Greenville Yoga truly is just that – a community. You are welcomed from the moment you walk in. It seems impossible in this day and age, but this truly is a safe place with no judgment. Bring yourself just as you are – you will be taken care of. The teachers are all top-notch and extremely well-trained. They know how to offer modifications to suit your body or your needs for each particular class. They also truly care about their students – they are more friends than teachers. I know I used a lot of adjectives, but I cannot recommend this yoga studio highly enough. I have been going every Tuesday night for 8 years, and it’s made a world of difference in my life.– Emily Stevenson, Writer
Jessie is an art teacher and local artist in Greenville. Her words say it best here: I have struggled with pain and anxiety on and off for 10 years having every test and treatment under the sun with no lasting positive results. The pain has been almost unbearable this year until I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 2 weeks ago. I know that this difficult time will lead me to a deeper and more authentic whole hearted life if I trust in the healing process. I was terrified to try yoga again but felt really drawn to your studio and am so glad I did. I did some yoga years ago before the pain began and really loved it. It’s funny how I thought to myself that I would go back to yoga one day when I “got myself together” and one of my many amazing features could include being a “cool yoga chick” with all the answers. HA! I realized Monday that yoga can be a safe place to be a complete mess and serve as path to healing and growing….by simply showing up and accepting where I am at any given moment.
I just wanted to say that the class touched my heart deeply. Thank you for holding such a beautiful and safe place for healing and growth in our community.
I appreciate this quiet place to practice yoga and the non-judgmental style of classes resonates well with me. I can’t believe this is not more popular. Everyone needs to be doing this.– Hank Czubek, database administration manager/system architect & avid hiker
Julie is one of those people that just makes you smile. I am not sure how she is at work or at home, but when she walks into the studio she is full of life. She is one of our students who was coming pretty frequently and decided to “up her game” two months ago and show up a little more. I started seeing her in every class I attended and taught. Her dedication intrigued me… when I asked her if she could send me some thoughts, her return subject line was “Happy to help…because I want other people to feel like I’m feeling!!” Her words are below.
“This past summer, in the 8th year of being “almost 50”, the niggling thought that yoga might be good for me, and that I might like it, was on my heart. The yoga I had done prior to this past summer was terms, poses, and concepts I learned through continuing education as a pediatric OT. I have run marathons and earned a black belt in Tang Soo Do, but my “almost 50” body has been asking for a different challenge and more stretching! Over the summer, with much trepidation
I started attending Greenville Yoga because either I was going to like it or not, and I wasn’t going to find out until I walked through the door. After my week of any classes I wanted to attend I settled into about 2 a week. When the school year started my attendance decreased as work and family demands increased. And I missed it! I missed taking my deepest breaths of the day. I missed slowing down but feeling strong. I missed the decrease in neck and back pain that yoga had brought me. So maybe 6 months after I first walked in the door I decided to make a 4 month commitment (my time line) to my health- physical, spiritual, mental.
When I have only been to yoga 1-2 times a week my husband and daughter (without knowing my actual attendance) will ask when I have a class. They can tell when I am taking care of myself because it reflects at home. My core strength is improving. I am doing better letting go of thoughts and emotions that are not helpful during my day-to-day life and attending to thoughts and emotions that help me be the best version of me.
It has helped me to have a yoga “buddy”- someone else I know who goes to yoga to help me stay accountable. We don’t necessarily attend together, though its great when we can. For me having a friend who asks what class or classes I’ve been to, or if I can meet them for a class has helped me stay on track.
I will add that trying a variety of classes has helped me work on stepping outside of my comfort zone- which is helpful in all areas of life! The support and encouragement from the instructors I’ve been to- you, Matt, Susan, Caroline…- all add pieces to my growing understanding, knowledge, and hunger to learn more!”
Thank you for your school. It has provided a peaceful place for us in an often crazy world. We are so happy to be here.– Lindsay Branum, mom and marketing team member & Brad Branum, business development representative
Linda is fairly quiet and unassuming. She always looks you in the eye and smiles when she checks in. She sneaks in under the radar and leaves with a gentle thank you. I started noticing Linda was here more and more. Then when looking at the sign in sheets, I noticed some days she was here at 6am, 10:45am and 7:15pm! Now that is some crazy commitment. I knew I needed to learn more about this kind person who clearly loves this place as much as we do.
Linda recently moved to Greenville and when her daughter (an avid yogini) was visiting, they found us. When her daughter left, Linda kept coming. Linda recently completed double masters in Divinity and Theology. During these studies Linda found a passion for understanding how faith connects with a responsibility for caring for the environment and all of its inhabitants.
When I asked her if she minded sharing her WHY, she shared that she came to delve more into the body, mind, spirit / soul connection. “When I come here I enjoy slowing down, breathing and feeling the floor beneath me. I want to be inspired. This is a place where my body, mind and soul connect and remind me everything in this world is connected.” When I asked Linda if there was anything she thought you should know, this is what came (and I love this so much), “The more you show up, the more you will benefit. Different people are at different stages in life and sometimes can’t show up more. Because I can show up, I do.”
Through yoga I learned about self-care and its importance. I have stayed with yoga the longest of any physical activity. I realized from the very first time that I can do this the rest of my life. Physically, I feel better all around.– Maureen Nery, preschool director
Pete is a regular Tuesday and Thursday night and has been since 2009. Soon he will be one of our yoga teachers here… This was written a while back, in Pete’s own words: As 2016 begins I am writing this to express my gratitude. 2015 was a challenging year for me at work. Several people left and I spent months doing my job and parts of theirs while hiring new staff. Just as all the positions were filled the one experienced person went on maternity leave and we got a new grant that required hiring another person. I spent the next few months training 4 new people while trying to keep getting all the work done and get the new grant started.
In the past I have responded to this kind of stress by becoming irritable, frustrated, testy—a very difficult person to be around. In 2015, with a few exceptions, this did not happen. I handled the stress with much more calm and good humor than ever before. The reason is the change in my life from regular yoga practice, meditation, breathing, and mindfulness (at least a little). I learned these things at Greenville Yoga so I’d like to begin 2016 with the following thanks:
- Thanks to Liz for creating such a wonderful place in our community and for being such an excellent teacher. Your open, welcoming, joyful spirit sets the tone for everything at Greenville Yoga.
- Thanks to Kelly for the wonderful Saturday morning classes. What a great way to start a weekend.
- Thanks to Heather and Walt and Jessica and Kimmie and all the other teachers who have subbed for Liz. I learned something from each of you.
- Thanks to Sarah for the nice new Sunday meditation class.
- Thanks to Emily and Pauline and Rick and Amanda and Joan and Bruce and Wilma and so many other students who’s names I either forgot or don’t know. Your presence, your practice and your breathing helps make each class special.
- Thanks to Victor and Susan and all the other Ashtangis who greet me with a smile as we pass each other between classes.
- Thanks to my wife, Donna, for encouraging me to start a yoga practice in the first place and for everything else!
For me life continues to pave the way to new challenges everyday, but yoga helps me embrace them with grace and compassion.– J.R.
Andy is our lovely spirit from England who shows up in the best tie dyes you’ve ever seen. He arrived here maybe a year ago and has felt like family since the first day he walked in. He has a story that is rich beyond imagination (when googling him for a photo, I discovered he’s even a published author and may have a noble title in England). You should ask him some time. I overheard Andy one day saying he reworked his schedule and will sometimes come to the studio two times per day to ensure his three times per week intention for the Inspired Path. His words are below.
“We are often told that we should make more time for ourselves, but life is a busy event and one full of distractions. When we do find time, the sofa becomes a common and perhaps all too easy choice. And then what? A book? Some television? Social media? In reality these are all distractions too. To create time for the self and perhaps find that inner peace that makes us whole, requires discipline, and a place to practice it. For me, committing to the aptly named ‘Inspired Path’ three times a week is that discipline, and Greenville Yoga is that place in which to practice it.
The regularity of coming to yoga that has made the changes within me far more significant than they would otherwise have been. In body, old injuries have begun to repair themselves in ways that have not occurred before… and my core strength has never been this good. I will be 59 in April… In mind, there is still the ever present trauma of losing the one I loved so very much, but I have begun to have a better understanding of my emotions, and how to find peace in something that was, is, and will forever be beyond my control. In spirit, I am who I am, or so I thought. Yoga is teaching me more about myself than I knew existed. I am on a journey of discovery.
I believe we all walk our own path through life and that it is only when fate decides to give us an option to change direction that we determine which path to take. Thus when people say life is what you make it, I believe this is only partially true. If we are to determine which path will offer the best chance to make life what we wish it to be, then I believe we must first understand ourselves ~ our limitations, our inner strength, and how indomitable our spirit truly is when faced with the challenges that might lie on that chosen path. There is nowhere better to do this than with others on the same journey. Namo Vah.