Strength & Weakness

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Its interesting as humans how a lot of the times we feel weakness while only seeing others’ strength.  We compare ourselves and tear ourselves down for what we cannot do.  I was making a video for this week’s “10 Days of Gratitude Challenge” which was supposed to include a flow with crow, headstand, back to crow, jumpback, lower down to chaturanga, up-dog, then down dog.  By the time I was ready to film I had been through almost two hours of yoga and was just… tired.  Trying to make the video I ended up having to switch my flow to exclude the headstand because my body just wasn’t there anymore in the strength department.

 

I was disappointed because I’ve never felt better in headstand than I have lately, but you really can’t fake a yoga flow video.  Then I thought about it more and realized I needed to appreciate the strength that I had put out already that day, even if it wasn’t recorded to show and inspire other people.  Over the course of my time with yoga I have felt the ideas of strength and weakness trade places for me in moments like these.  I could feel my mind and body leveling out to find quiet strength, but I’m now more aware of other’s weaknesses.  That would have used to make me feel stronger- that little vindictive part of me that felt better about myself because I could do something someone else couldn’t.  Yoga has showed me the truth in becoming humble.  Knowing each day is different and strength is a journey, not something defined in a pose or video.  Now instead of one-upping myself off someone’s weakness, I’m aware of it but want to help them find their own strength too.  I want to share my yoga journey with others and I know they will help me in my moments of weakness too.

 

Namaste, Angela

10 Days of Gratitude

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Today is day 5 of our 10 Days of Gratitude Challenge at Backwards Yoga.  Each year I participate in this challenge I feel like it genuinely changes me as a yogi and a person.  Every day we’re prompted to think deeply on a topic that we may give little attention to on a normal day.  Yesterday we reflected on other people supporting us… which led me to send out a number of texts to people that may not even know how much I’ve needed them… but prompting me to think about it made me want to reach out and tell them how much they mean to me.  I think that’s pretty normal in our everyday lives to walk around and take so much for granted.  Challenges like this 10 Days of Gratitude really help us all to slow down.

 

Sometimes this slowing down can mean that the days are dragging by… how many classes do I have to stay for today to make up for the fact I don’t want to get here at 5:30am when its cold out and my bed is warm?  But mostly this slowing down just gives a good time to reflect on our lives.  The last 5 days have also opened up seeing how other people interpret their world.  Its easy to come to class and not even interact with anyone- I prefer a quiet practice most of the time anyway.  But the Gratitude Challenge gives us a chance to know each other better and connect on a level that we may not get to even if we spoke every time we all came to class.  I’ve gained so much appreciation for each and every yogi at the studio through watching what they post throughout these 10 Days.

 

Its fun to see cute kids and pets- all of us getting out of our comfort zones- even beautiful selfies when we don’t have anyone to take the photo for us… but these 10 Days are short in the grand scheme of things.. I wish everyone would take advantage of it!  Good luck on the next 5 days fellow challenge-goers.  If you have not yet signed up to be a part of the challenge I highly encourage you to do so.  You definitely put yourself out there, but the love and embrace you feel back from our little family is so worth it!

 

Namaste, Angela

Kino MacGregor- my guided Ashtanga experience

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On Thursday, November 2nd I had the privilege of attending a workshop with Ashtanga teacher Kino MacGregor.  She’s the youngest person ever to be certified in Ashtanga (at 26) and is a total social media queen.  If you don’t know who Kino is but you like looking at yoga posts on Instagram.. I’m sure you’ve seen her at some point.  For those of you who don’t know what Ashtanga is… let me tell you, it is intense. The practice takes place is an unheated room for the purpose of “building the fire within”.  For this same reason, the first direction Kino gave us was to put our water at the edge of the room and we could have it when we were done.  SCARY.

I was nervous going into the practice having very little prior experience with Ashtanga and knowing there would be a lot of people there with more flexibility and strength than me.  My worries were quickly put aside when Kino started giving her talk before we started practicing and her cough drop fell out of her mouth.  It was at that point I remembered we are indeed all human and to get the most out of the experience as I could. We flowed through sun salutations, triangle, warrior, wide folds, and seated postures with limitless amounts of jump-backs like we were as boss as Kino herself.  Her energy radiated throughout the room and brought out the best in every yogi that attended.

Moving forward from the experience, Ashtanga is something I will definitely be incorporating into my own practice around the full moon/new moon times as is tradition.  I have been wanting something cleansing to work in routinely and I think Ashtanga will be the perfect form of yoga for that purpose.  I’m grateful for our time spent with Kino and would definitely take another one of her classes or workshops again in the future.  For any of you out there who are curious about workshops but have been nervous to give one a try- DO IT.  It is so worth the time and money to get closer to the teacher and learn the little tips and tricks that make the flow- flow.

HINT: keep an eye on your MINDBODY app for our own studio’s upcoming workshops as well!  They’re a great way to break into workshops while still in a comfortable environment.  Still nervous?  Bring a friend!  But I guarantee every person there has insecurities about your practice- or they wouldn’t be there to improve!

 

Namaste, Angela

There’s this girl in my yoga class…

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Every time I go to class I notice the girl in front of me. Some days she’s wearing a t-shirt because facing me is too much to do in a tank top. Other times she has the confidence I could only dream of, and it has nothing to do with what she ate or didn’t.   There are windy yoga classes where her tree is spent swaying, her half moon crumbling, and her butterfly looking more like a flying squirrel. There are days she has the grace of the ballerina that she used to be, and a mind as grounded as all four corners of her feet to our mats.

 

Two years ago she didn’t know a foot had four corners. She went through life without ever self-reflecting. Only looking in the mirror that stays between us to paint a face on- who ever she needed to be that day. Now here we are- she faces me bravely, knowing the only way to be proud of a better version of me is to be a better version of her. She will never truly see herself- when the first light of the day hits her face, when she laughs uncontrollably, how wonderful other people can find her… she only sees me to see her.

 

We are identical. When she moves to the right, I am moving to the left. Her long blonde hair in the same sloppy bun. Same name, same face, same intention. She is all that matters. All I strive to be and all I strive to be better than. I vow to never be concerned with what’s going on beside me, but rather within me. Within all of us.

 

Namaste, Angela.

Lessons from a health fair..

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This week I had the privilege of representing Backwards Yoga during Arconic’s Health Fair.  I spoke with many individuals about their experiences with yoga in hopes to get them to try our studio.  For some the drive was just too far, for others it was a flat no, but for the majority- they were open to trying it.  Maybe not our hot classes, maybe not out on the paddle boards, but something about doing yoga seemed like the right thing to do.  What’s cool about sharing our passions is we never know who needs to hear what we’re saying and for what purpose.  Some individuals excused their size, “Do I look like I do yoga?!” but really, all that’s required to have a yoga body is… a body.

We all know how intimidating it is to try new things, especially in front of a mirror in a room full of people who more than likely have a better idea of what they are doing than us.  I think one of our goals at Backwards Yoga should be to stay humble in our practice to be able to share a passion for self-improvement– no matter the point at which we’ll each be starting.  Some of us started yoga for weight loss, maybe to get some time away from the kids, maybe we have some mental struggles we need to work out, or maybe we just needed to tone down the crazy… whatever our “why” is, its important to get to a point where we can be open about our struggles with other people.

I’m not saying go around flaunting our biggest fears and demons as if its no big deal, but I think there is a point you get to in evolving as a person that you have to let go of what’s no longer allowing you to grow.  I am a person battled anxiety my whole life.  I do not go around talking about it, but I’m now at a point in my life that I am no longer ashamed to have it.  Experiencing this “mental illness” does not make me less of a person, and it does not define who I am.  I have chosen to not be silenced by it, but instead live louder to shine my light for others going through the same struggle.

Its easy sometimes to feel so alone in whatever we’re going through, and I think we forget that we’re put in each other’s lives for a reason.  I’m sure I spoke with individuals the other night from all walks of life that are going through trials whether that be spiritual, emotional, or physical.  They may even start their yoga journey for a different reason then why they choose to continue, that was certainly the case for me.

Don’t let yoga be your secret hobby that other people don’t understand.  Share your passion with someone else and let them discover their why.  The holidays are right around the corner and we all know some family member or friend that maybe needs to tone down the crazy… or maybe they complain about health problems without doing anything about it… find a time that they can try a class with you.  Even if its just one experience, its sure to change their life forever.  Let go of insecurities or pride and put yourself right back in a beginner’s shoes.  Give someone hope with the gift of yoga.  Those are some of my life lessons from a health fair…

Namaste, Angela.

Stumbling across a 4,000 year old stone circle..

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“Everything happens for a reason” seems like a cliché quote we all have pinned to a board buried deep within our Pinterest archives.  This weekend I was reminded just how meaningful some of life’s “coincidences” can feel.  You know, those moments where it feels like you lucked out to be in the right place at the right time and leave feeling a little bit lighter.  I was feeling overwhelmed last week at balancing my workload and getting ready for a Folk Alliance conference this weekend in Iowa City.  As a musician, my jobs range from not only performer; but website creator, booking agent, makeup artist, LLC manager, accountant, stagehand, sound guy, and so much more.  Being a one-woman show is exhausting and I know many of us know the struggle of wearing many hats in our lives.

One of my goals lately coinciding with my teacher training, has been making the effort to do something to work towards being 1% better every day.  Being so busy this weekend, I was so concerned about being prepared for my conference that my yoga goals seemed to once again slipped to the back burner.  While in Iowa City, I met up with my friend Emily to shoot some photos for my social media.  We made a plan to go to a state park near Cedar Rapids and be back in time for my evening showcase.  As we started towards the park we quickly decided to detour to a beautiful barn on the Harvest Preserve just outside the downtown area.  Once we arrived on the property, we met the man who owned it so got his permission to shoot our photos there before getting to work.

Shortly into the photoshoot, the property owner drove back up to us and asked if we could follow him out to a special place that he thought we would really enjoy.  Figuring we would either be murdered or in for a neat adventure, we hopped in the car and followed our new friend.  Little did we know he was about to unlock the gates to a secret haven tucked within prairie grass and trees, a 4,000 year old stone circle.

We were blown away walking up to this circle of pillars- I off the cuff made a comment to my friend that it felt like we were in Indonesia or something (a culture I know nothing about).  As we read the plaque talking about the history of the stones- I got chills reading that these stones came to Iowa in 2002 from their original home, the Island of Flores—in the Indonesian Archipelago.   My photographer friend and I are not super close, but we shared a special experience there among the stone pillars.  Walking up to them she made a comment about being able to just feel the energy, and quickly the photoshoot went from a country musician vibe- to yoga.  The shots we got are truly amazing and I can’t wait to share them with you all.  I hope if you visit Iowa City you make a special trip out to see the Harvest Reserve.  Sit quietly with the stones and follow the meditation guide on the plaque.  It was a sure sign to me that no matter how busy we are, the opportunity for yoga in our lives is still very much needed and can be found in unique ways.  Like “coincidently” finding an ancient stone circle right here in our own backyards.  

Angela

Want some Yoga Bucks?

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So you’ve been going to yoga, learning the poses, learning to really love the sweat dripping off your skin, buying the Manduka mat and really feeling the yogi lifestyle. You love it and want everyone else to love it. So you start telling your family members and friends how great you have been feeling and hey look I can touch my toes now!  Well, we want to reward you for telling everyone how much you love yoga and Backwards Yoga!

For the month of March, we are running a referral program that gives back to YOU. For every NEW student you refer to Backwards Yoga, YOU will receive $5 in Backwards Yoga Bucks! The new student has to be new to the studio and attend at least one class. At the end of the month, we will add all of your earned Yoga Bucks and give you one gift card with the total amount of Yoga Bucks on it. You can use the Yoga Bucks on classes, passes, or merchandise. They cannot be used on special events or workshops. (Sorry!) You also need to use the Yoga Bucks in the month of April (Spring colors? yeah!)

The even more awesome thing about this referral program is that there is no limit to how many Yoga Bucks you can earn or use! If you have had your eye on a yoga towel or mat, now is your chance to earn rewards for it!

Contact any of our instructors for more details!

Namaste!

All You Need is Love Challenge

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What is this challenge? It is a 5 day challenge to connect with the yogis around you! We will be working on partner poses that embrace heart-opening and trusting poses. Why are we focusing on partner poses? Well, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner so we thought what a better way to connect? You can connect with your lover, friend or yogi in class! (Try with a complete stranger and you will trust them in the end – I promise!) Partner yoga is fabulous for building stronger communication and intimacy in just about any type of relationship – friendship, family member, significant other. Certain postures/poses and sequences are designed to create and nurture trust, strengthen communication and create a sense of laughter. These poses are supposed to be fun!

Do you ever walk into a yoga class and quickly search the room for a familiar face? Maybe you smile at the other, or lay your mat down next to that familiar face. We do these things because we want to surround ourselves with people we are familiar with, and also those with positive energy. We tend to have a more positive experience with a someone full of energy!

Day 1 Pose: Wheel Pose

Start with bridge with the knees facing each other. Maybe try lifting one leg at a time (each partner would be lifting the opposite leg) and try to connect the foot in the air. Tricky huh? This is all about balancing ourselves out and finding the connection with others.

If you feel comfortable with bridge, move to wheel. Start the same way, but lifting the heart to the sky. Once you are in wheel, try to connect the foot. This is even trickier (especially if you are short and your partner is tall). But once you find the comfort of the other person, you can relax the mind, knowing that your partner is there ready to stay with you until the end.

 

We can’t wait to see your poses and have you try new things!

*Namaste*