I apologize right of the bat - this is a long entry.
Today was the first day of my 365 day yoga challenge - basically, I've promised myself that I am going to practice yoga every day, for at least 30 minutes to one hour, for one whole year.
I feel like I might need to explain this decision a little bit - 30-60 minutes of yoga a day isn't really that big of a deal. It's not like I'm trying to run a marathon or anything, but it seemed like an appropriate goal for the coming year, and it's part of a larger goal for my life to have this be my year of getting to know myself.
I just got engaged this spring, and my fiancee is finishing the last year of his masters in Ohio, while I'm finishing mine here in Minneapolis. Ben is truly my other half - I don't feel quite complete without him, and last year (the first year we were separated), we missed each other a ton. I feel like we spent the entire school year waiting for summer so we could be together... and after we got engaged, I knew this year would be much the same if not worse.
The other night after Ben and I had gone to bed, I had trouble sleeping, and while I was staring up at my ceiling fan I found myself having mixed feelings about the fact that this year will be my last time on my own. My current apartment, which I love, will be the last place I live in that's really just mine - my last chance to have solitary mornings and evenings on the couch with a movie by myself. Even though those things can sometimes be lonely, giving them up is going to be a bittersweet transition.
So I decided that instead of spending the whole year wishing the months away, I would make this my year of self-exploration. I started practicing yoga a little over a year ago and started seeing the benefits right away - I am much more even-keel, focused and accepting of myself and the world around me. For this year, I want to spend every day exploring yoga, and therefore myself, more deeply, making sure to think carefully and set a meaningful intention for each practice instead of going through the motions. I ordered a book on the yoga sutras from Amazon (still hasn't gotten here...what's up with that, Amazon??) and bought a couple of DVDs (Rodney Yee and Sadie Nardini) and downloaded some free podcasts to help me out when I can't get to a class, but one of my other goals is to make it through the entire Ashtanga primary series by myself at least once a month.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Here are my goals for this year:
1) Practice yoga for at least 30-60 minutes every day, with a specific goal for my practice.
2) Read from the sutras each day and study how they can inform my practice.
3) Learn some new asanas... I need to get more specific about this, but I haven't had time to think through it yet.
4) Cook at least one meal from scratch every day... I'm already pretty good about it but I'm trying to cut processed foods from my life almost entirely (except peanut m&m's and gummy worms... I'll never be able to give those up haha)
5) Spend less time goofing around on Facebook, and instead spend that time doing something that will enrich my day - read a book or the Economist, go for a walk or listen to new music.
I'm sure I'll think of more...but those are the main ones. Yoga teaches us to live in the present moment, so that is exactly what I'm going to do - make the most of my present situation :)
Today, my goal was to get to one of Marta's classes. Marta is a fellow St. Olaf graduate, but we were never there at the same time - she would have graduated the year before I started. She friended me on facebook a few months ago, I realized that we have some friends in common and have been meaning to get to a class of hers for a while. This morning she taught at One Yoga at 8:30, and I thought it was the perfect class for my first day of the year (OK so today was completely arbitrary... I just made this the deadline in my head because it's the day that Ben left, but it really could have been tomorrow or yesterday, whatever. I work better with deadlines alright?)
I am so glad I went - the class was fun, the asanas weren't that difficult but the flow was good and I was definitely sweating! I love the studio at One Yoga - I really need to go there more often, it's so calm and peaceful. Marta also helped me get better hang time on my float from down dog into forward fold, so I've been practicing that at home a bit.
Afterwards, we had a really nice chat about life, work, the corporate world (she used to be a bond trader!) and how Olaf's nurturing, loving environment is wonderful when you're there, but does not necessarily prepare you for life after college. Totally agree... although the experience I had at Olaf prepared me for life in so many other ways, but that's another story for another time.
In a crazy random happenstance, she graduated the same year as the woman who owns the shop I bought my wedding dress from (also an Ole) and they know each other. Funny world...which reminds me of the Desikachar quote: "Yoga exists in the world because everything is linked."
Back tomorrow with more :)