Get Zen Before 10 A.M.

Get Zen Before 10 A.M.

The last week I decided to challenge myself to go to yoga every morning before I started my work day.

Leah Richards

Wake up with the alarm from hell blaring in my ears, make my cup of coffee, toast a gluten free bagel, eat said bagel, stay awake as best as my narcoleptic abilities allow me to, re-wake up from cell phone alarm, make sure I shower, pre-order my Starbucks (yes I am basic I know), hop into my car, get coffee, and make sure that you are not late to class. From Monday to Friday of this week I challenged myself to take a 6:30 a.m. yoga class every day of this past week (well Monday through Friday).

Before I get into how this week went, here is a little background on myself and yoga. I am a yoga instructor; I have been teaching for almost four years. I have been taking yoga or practicing yoga for about 8 years to help with stress level and recently to help manage my fibromyalgia (chronic pain in all of the muscles and joints of the body; also causing my muscles to contract and never relax, so essentially they lock up).

I also have some nerve damage in my left leg from surgery a few years ago. I also have no thyroid, Hashimoto's Disease, and Narcolepsy (which I will go into detail another day and at another time). So Yoga, is the only thing that I can do for exercise. So, becoming a yoga instructor was just a natural fit I guess, but let's get back to the article.

Let's just say I completed my challenge; I made it to yoga every day this week. It's extremely convient to have a yoga studio 15 minutes away from my house. What yoga studio do I go to? Well, I am glad you ask! I practice yoga at the Aurora Yoga Center in Aurora, IL. The Aurora Yoga Center owner and main yoga teacher is Jeff Manning.

Jeff specializes in Iyengar Yoga, which is an alignment based practice. In this practice you break down the pose and trust me you feel every muscle in the pose. It's hard, but I know it's good for me. Each week Jeff picks a part of the body to work on; be it core, or standing poses, legs, or twisting to help with lower back, and restorative yoga (which is my favorite). So to help me get through this week of yoga I decided to go to every class during restorative week. Even though it was the easier week, it was still mentally and physically challenging.

The physical part was the lesser of two evils due to it was just getting into the pose forgetting about the pose and staying there for 5-10 minutes. The mental part of a restorative practice, let along a Jeff Manning restorative practice is rough. To stay in a postion that your brain is telling you to not be in, but you try and combat what your brain is telling you. The brain also saying how much pain you are in and the body just trying to relax when the stupid pain signals are screaming at you to get the hell out of the pose, but you don't.

This practice teaches you patience beyond belief and you learn quickly that you can't dissociate yourself from the pose. You just need to be present and relaxed as much as you can as you allow your mind to go on a vacation, but stay very still in the pose. It's a crazy balancing act of not knowing if what your doing is right! But, eventually you find that peaceful part of the pose that you will know is the perfect balance between the mental and physical you get that sense of peace without the pose being the center of attention in your mind. That is what all yogis try to find throughout the idea of the yoga practice.

So what did I learn this week? I learned that even with all of my struggles and challenges throughout my life; if I still put my mind to something I can do it. I can still be me in a sense and I can continue to challenge myself with different task like this; and that I will still feel of sense of awesomeness when I achieve and win. Because to me when I win a little bit of my health back and I win a little bit of my life back. I win a little bit of me back.

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