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Five. More. Minutes.

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Working on being 1% better every day… today I set my alarm for five minutes earlier.  I figured since I’m always five minutes late to everything I would start from the beginning of my day and give myself a little more time.  Spoiler alert: I still made it to work at the same time- scooting in a few minutes behind schedule as usual.  BUT before I left home I did get my dishes done, all of my stuff packed for the day (I usually forget at least one important item), let my car warm up so I wasn’t totally shivering while peering through one corner of my frozen windshield… and even left a note telling my boyfriend to have a good day.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like much, but I really feel like it started my day off on the right foot.  Its almost 10am and I haven’t yet missed those 5 extra minutes of sleeping, but I do feel more accomplished than most other mornings.  I think part of it is the intention as well.  I recognized that I don’t feel good about being late all the time so I took a small step towards changing that fact.  What is one thing in your life you could improve on by 1%?  What would give you that little taste of accomplishment towards a bigger goal?

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

Namaste, Angela

One Day.. or Day One?

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We all have goals.  Some of them seem far-fetched and others might just take time.  I think we get into this mindset that one day you’re going to do something… whether it has to do with a fitness journey, a new job, or any other life change… we keep saying to ourselves “one day”.

 

The problem with “one day” is that it isn’t specified as Monday, Tuesday, July, the 1st of the month, 2018… there is no start time for “one day”.  Instead of seeing our goals as something a later version of ourself will care about more than the current version.. let’s set those goals into action.

 

Step 1: Write them down.  Think about what’s important to you and write it on paper.  Put it out into the universe that there is a change you want to make and you have identified what it is.  Make it specific, make it timely, make it important to who you want to become.

Step 2: Every day be 1% better.  When we fail, we give up.  Our lives change one choice at a time, so if our goals aren’t happening 1% at a time- we will fail.  Acknowledge what you’re getting right and put into action a way to change what you don’t like.  This has nothing to do with a time of year, or age in life, or anything else.. it has to do with valuing who you want to be more than the comfortable version of yourself.  Change is hard and it takes time.  The excitement of the possibility will wear off.  Make the goal meaningful to you and know what it is.  Be 1% better every day and with time and consistency… you WILL reach any goal you’re wanting to achieve.

Step 3: Keep up with your consistency and celebrate your results!  Whatever it is you’re working towards- it will happen if you keep chipping away at it.  Surround yourself with people who support you and will hold you accountable.  Give yourself grace and time… you can achieve anything. 🙂

Namaste, Angela

Yoga Teacher Training.. my experience so far

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Summer of last year, I heard about this yoga teacher training that was going on at the studio.  I was all about it but the price really discouraged me- not because it wouldn’t be worth it.. but because we had just bought a house and the timing didn’t seem right.  But really, when would the timing ever be right?  There’s always something else to pay for.. something else to worry about… but I wasn’t going to let the doubts stop me this time.  I jumped in- fears and all- and started the Backwards Yoga teacher training program in October of 2017.  This is not your average weekend training… but 200 hours over the period of 6 months.  Its been many weekends spent with a small group of yogis that are just as passionate as I am for bringing yoga to the lives of others.

As a group I don’t know if we could have any more differences.  We all bring something unique to the table through our jobs, points in life, relationships, experiences, passions, diets, and reasons for entering the YTT program.  Yet we have taken the sometimes dry material of positioning the anatomy of a human.. and made it come to life through laughter, tears, and literally changing lives along the way.

Since being diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis, I’ve known yoga needed to be a big part of my life forever so I wasn’t full of pain from my lower back.  I’ve always had a passion for teaching people, so teaching yoga seemed like a natural part of that, although its a bit nerve-racking to hear your own voice for an hour at a time.  Being a part of such an amazing group of people who I know truly have my back has been life-changing.  Everyone in my teacher training program I didn’t know well to begin with- practiced yoga with but that was about it… and now I would consider them very dear friends.

There’s something about yoga that changes you outside of becoming more “flexible”.  You learn how to let go in other aspects of life too, becoming a more calm person no matter the situation.  I feel more in control even when things are out of my control now.. because I know I am in charge of my thoughts and how I feel.  Exploring the philosophies and knowing where yoga comes from has been fascinating.  Being able to explore different topics like pre-natal yoga, aerial yoga, Ashtanga yoga, sequencing for different ailments, modifications for different bodies, etc. has been amazing.  Being within this group I feel motivated to keep up with my practice, pay attention to what’s going on, and be on top of our classes/homework/etc.  Outside of learning to teach yoga, this has taught me more about myself than probably any other thing I’ve been through in life.

Although its been more intensive at times than earning my bachelor’s degree.. it has truly been so rewarding and FUN.  We’ve had so many cool people teach us their specialties in yoga, and we’ve built our own teacher palettes with what we enjoy learning about as well.  If any of you are considering doing the YTT program (I believe another one is coming up in the fall) PLEASE talk to me or anybody else from our group if you need any encouragement or have questions.  It has been beyond amazing and whether you intend to teach or not, its something you should really consider doing!

Namaste, Angela

My first class as a teacher!

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So, I’ve been doing the whole teacher training thing since October.  Of course we’ve taken turns “teaching” to each other and I perform enough that I’m past the whole “my voice sounds weird” stage of public speaking and now I’m more concerned about the content falling out of my mouth.  Tuesday night I taught my first official class.. as in people paid good money to be here type class.  I was super nervous- at first I thought no one would come, then a whole bunch of people showed up, then I had five brand new yogis, then I felt like running out of the studio!  But for real.. it was amazing.

Most everything I had written on my notes I either forgot or didn’t apply to the people that were in the room.. I wasn’t going to throw them into half moon during their first class!  Plus my mom and dad came.. they were already “concerned” about the 105 degree room… let alone trying any pose that was too intimidating.  We all got through it together and much like when I’m taking a class- my favorite part was feeling the energy in the room become new again.

There were 12 of us in there including me and its amazing to think of all the life experiences that we shared and had unique to each one of us.  We all have different bodies, different needs, different pasts, and wanted to get something different out of class.  I think that will continue to be one of the most difficult parts of teaching- giving so many different people enough of what they need that they feel fulfillment from coming to my class.  By the end we were all sweating- but not dying- which is always a good balance to find.  We breathed together in child’s pose and it really felt like we were all one.  Sounds a bit far-fetched, but this is yoga after-all.

After handling that first class and hearing that everyone enjoyed it- I feel ready for anything.  I don’t think I’ll be afraid to ask “any requests?” like I need to keep my eyes glued to my notes.  I hope to keep expanding my knowledge so that when someone has something specific- like say a piriformis muscle that’s acting up… I feel confident on building a sequence to help them.  Even if that means figuring it out on the fly.  That being said, come try it out with me folks!  I’ll be teaching every Monday 6:30-7:30pm, Tuesdays 7:00-8:00pm, and rotating through some other times as well (like this Friday 5:30-6:15am).  I also need some teaching hours outside of the studio for my teacher training (8 more to be exact) so I’ll be accepting some small group sessions given to you in your home for FREE!  Feel free to talk to me at the studio or message me through Facebook if you’d be interested in having me teach an hour for you and friends all for free- we can work on anything you need!

Namaste, Angela

 

Turbokick!

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I have to tell you guys I was a little nervous going into my first Turbokick class the other night at Backwards.  I didn’t know the instructor and I also didn’t know what “turbokick” entailed.  Walking into the studio it was FILLED with energy and a bunch of women who also didn’t know what they were doing… *sigh of relief*.  Our instructor Jess walked in who was all smiles and had so much energy- we were ready.  The class started with some pop music and basic punches, hits, and kicks… there were some skiing arms movements, running man move, and jumping jacks for good measure.

 

There’s not much I can say about the class other than it was totally out of my comfort zone and it rocked!  I didn’t know what I was doing but it was just as much fun (and a workout!) fumbling through as it was if I was a seasoned vet.  We’ve got some more of Jess’ classes coming up at the studio- like Buti Yoga (like tribal dance… it sounds amazing) and I can’t wait to let her take me from my safe comfort zone again!  Its a huge change from the calm of a yoga class, but sometimes you’ve got to let your wild side take over- where better to do that on a Friday night than Backwards Yoga?!

 

Namaste, Angela

New Years Resolutions *eye roll

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Well folks, its January 3rd and I’ve been accomplishing my “New Year’s Resolution” for a whopping 48 hours now.  I’m not usually one to post ahead of time what my goals are… maybe an internal fear of not being able to reach it, or maybe I don’t like admitting where I’ve been slipping up for a while… but here it is, I’m trying the Whole 30 for the month of January.

Whoa, let me rephrase, I’m DOING the Whole 30 for the WHOLE month of January.  No dairy, no legumes, no sugar, no alcohol… none of the fun stuff really.  This for me has little to do with “diet” but rather getting away from a huge problem I have with identifying myself by things I’m attached to.

How many of us wake up and “need” coffee?  Maybe we “need” a drink after work?  “Need” ranch on our salad?  “Need” cheese to survive?  I know I have fallen into these categories… and after spending some time reading about the Yoga Sutras (would HIGHLY recommend for all you yogis!) they mentioned this “vairagya”.  At first it seemed like some kind of pill you take, but turns out its actually the ability to stop identifying with our thoughts and see ourselves for who we really are.  Our body exists in the material world, but our soul goes far beyond what we can see and possess.  I want to feel what its like to be in control of what I eat.  I know that sounds silly- but if someone offers me a trip to Whitey’s… I will go, skip yoga, and pay for it!

Now I’m all about balance in life (being a yogi and all) but I’ve realized just how unbalanced my life has become.  Food for me has become a prison, I don’t know what to eat, what makes my body feels good, or even to try new things because I’m so concerned with eating right when I’m hungry.

This 30 day challenge I hope to learn what to eat, how it makes my body feel, any intolerances I might have to certain foods, the ability to control my cravings, and overall to get closer to the idea of vairagya.  I don’t want to be known as the ice cream addict… I want to be known for how kind and helpful I can be.  I want to build those traits and not spend my time, energy, and money off of quick treats that give me a false sense of self.  Any of this sound familiar?  Feel free to shoot me a message through my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/angelameyer23) if you’d be interested in trying to join me for your own Whole 30 or let me know your thoughts on this post!

Namaste, Angela

YIN THAI Yoga Workshop

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Last night I treated my boyfriend’s mom and myself to two hours of relaxation & massage at Backwards Yoga.  Sarah and Kela took over the room of 14 yogis and transformed it into a gentle class focused on movement that allowed gentle stretching and massaging.  When I first heard about this class I assumed it might be like a typical massage- but Thai massage is much different.  Sarah was certified in Thailand (how cool is that?!) to do thai massage and although it is hands on as well, it more focuses on the body moving itself rather than her digging into tissue with her hands.

We flowed through mini sequences including gentle twists, pigeon, down dog, seated, lizard, and more.  Each pose we held for 3-5 minutes (not breaths… MINUTES) which I’ll admit was a struggle for me.  Sometimes poses just aren’t comfortable, and moving with them helps me to keep my mind off of pushing myself to get deeper.  But when you’re holding pigeon pose for 3-5 minutes.. there’s not much else to think about than the burning in my hip!

But yoga is about challenging yourself, and not just physically!  This Yin Thai workshop was a great way to explore each pose with depth that you had to surrender to with your breath.  My mind wandered at times, but after a while I got more into what we were doing.  While in pigeon, Sarah massaged me by pressing what I would assume to be trigger points up my calf and hamstring of my back leg.  There were some spots that felt sore to the touch, but I also felt an instant release of relaxation by bringing awareness to that certain point.

Overall, I’m glad we took the two hours to relax and become more aware in such a calming way.  Sarah and Kela both have great energy and just being around good people made me feel relaxed and rejuvenated!  If you guys get the chance to try out Thai Massage or Yin yoga… I would encourage you to try it!  And be ready for that Savasana adjustment… its INCREDIBLE.

Namaste, Angela

What’s the “108 Sun Sal Challenge” really like?

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Every other time I’ve been invited to try out the infamous “108 Sun Salutations Challenge” I politely (or deliberately) have declined.  First of all, that is a lot of work.  Second of all, WHY?!  Well, I finally gave in after being guilt-tripped by fellow teacher trainee, Mike Kaney, who is always up for death-by-yoga challenges… and let me tell you folks- those are the friends you need to have!

I walked into the studio surrounded by four other brave souls ready to face the challenge with our only tool seeming to be a group of numbered popsicle sticks.  Okay, WAY less intimidating than having to remember how to count to 108 without losing your place.. all the work would be moving sticks all while flowing through the same movements over and over… and over and over… again.  Ready, set, start.

At first I felt really strong.  We did the first couple together and right away I connected with my breath and fell into the rhythm of the music.  Even as we took over to go at our own pace, I felt confident that I could do maybe at least half… then the mind games took over.  There were 14 popsicle sticks in front of me, numbered once at the top (1-14) and then again at the bottom (15-27)… we would each stick twice to complete one set… 4 sets of 27 and we would be at the magic number 108.

The first two sets went by fairly quickly, it was a little harder to lower down into chatarunga than it was to begin with, but I felt strong and like I was accomplishing something.  Not only is this a physical practice, but its emotionally and spiritually moving as you think about what you’re working through/working towards.  The winter solstice signifies the darkest day of the year and a turning point in the seasons so that we are now in “Winter”.  As someone who has long struggled with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) the sun not making much of an appearance is a real struggle.  The energy this challenge brought to me was awesome and a great time to reflect on the fact that wherever you’re at in life, good or bad, nothing stays this way.

The third set was certainly the most challenging.  I was sinking back into child’s pose every few sun sal’s to catch my breath and felt like I really wouldn’t be able to finish.  We were all having light hearted conversation during the time which helped keep our minds off the burning in our shoulders and legs… but 108 is a big number.  By the fourth set however I felt a sense of empowerment that can only come from the brink of certain death.  Kela reminded us of our modifications and to not sacrifice my form.. I quickly dropped to my knees for the “lower down Chatarunga” portion and utilized child’s pose when necessary.  I reminded myself that yoga is not only a physical workout, but a full body and mind experience.

the 108 Sun Saluatations Challenge is something I would recommend to anyone!  Its a CHALLENGE, but the more you’ve done your homework (aka practiced) the easier it will get, and I can’t wait until next time to see how different my body feels.  After completing the challenge I felt refocused and like I could conquer whatever life (or yoga) throws at me.  This is all so temporary- experience as much as you can and be in the moment– even if its a struggle at the time, its an amazing experience!  Merry Christmas!!

 

Namaste,

Angela

Foam-rolling, Backbending, and Bear Crawls… oh my!

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Last weekend was a great one at Backwards Yoga- I was lucky enough to attend two workshops with Clarissa and it was AWESOME.

 

First of all, if you’ve never attended another class (or not often) with a teacher other than your go-to… I HIGHLY recommend it!  No matter how much you enjoy one person’s classes, I can guarantee another person will say something differently that will resonate with you.  One example of this was Clarissa saying “you will feel feedback in your outer hip”.  Hearing feedback was the perfect way that my brain needed to register a more neutral approach towards the sensations that sometimes feel hard to breathe through.  The way she stated this so simply reminded me to be gentle and LISTEN to my body, something that has never clicked with me until she said it that way.

 

Friday night we worked on back-bending.  As someone with a spine injury, backbends have become scary to me and an area I haven’t worked on as much as I should.  Clarissa was so helpful in assisting us and giving us time to work through whatever we need to in order to get a little closer to our edge.  I think that’s my favorite thing about workshops- you get the time to play with someone there to help you.  At home, I have all the time in the world (sometimes) to work on things, but with no one there to tell me I’m not gonna injure myself.. its a little scary to experiment at times.

 

Sunday provided another opportunity to work through my body and listen.  Foam-rolling was something I thought I knew enough about to be able to do effectively.  I ran cross-country & track in high school and our coaches/teachers told us how you’d sit on this hard foam and just roll back & forth while you breathed through inevitable pain.  To make an understatement, majority of the class had been doing it incorrectly.  Its scary how many people are put in a position of power and able to “teach” people without them knowing what they’re doing!  That’s why certifications and courses and workshops with true professionals are so important.  ALWAYS question why you’re doing something and look to improve!  I probably could’ve seriously injured myself if I’d foam-rolled consistently the way I had been doing it, luckily I’d been too lazy & barely ever did it.  After taking Clarissa’s class I have such a better understanding and appreciation for the process.  Taking care of my muscles and building up my body properly has a whole new meaning to me!

 

Thank you, Clarissa for taking such great care of us at Backwards this weekend!  Keep an eye out on the schedule for her name folks, you don’t want to miss practicing with her.

 

Namaste, Angela

Breaking the Samskara Chain

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Over the last 18 days I have participated in “The Yogi Assignment” 30-day program book by Kino MacGregor.  It has been full of wonderful prompts to think about while practicing as well as challenges and assignments to better incorporate the yoga lifestyle into your everyday routine.  Day 18- “Breaking the Samskara Chain” really resonated with me so I wanted to share with all of you.  I highly encourage you to read this book (if you asked me I’d even lend it to you!) as it really does encourage deeper thinking to get to the heart of yoga.

Day 18 talks about students asking a guru about tightness and inflexibility within the body.  Instead of responding with suggestions of physical modifications, he would say, “Oh many samskaras there are”.  Samskaras refer to the past experiences and traumas that are kept within our bodies and minds, and the idea that those old patterns/habits are the source of physical stiffness through yoga.

There was a time when I would have seen this way of thinking as “out there” and not applicable to my life.  But the more I’ve gone through life and my practice, I know this to be true.  Not only do my physical traumas, like my scar tissue from a broken collar bone, affect my flexibility… but I know I hold other non-physical traumas within my body as well.

Samskaras are patterns imprinted in our consciousness that can be tough to change.  I like to think they’re difficult to change because we aren’t totally aware of their presence.  Instead of being drawn down in life by this “undertow” of that past baggage, yoga reveals even the deepest samskaras hidden within the body.  When I think of all the poses I am unable to even attempt, let alone do with ease, I now think about the samskaras those poses will release.  Not only that, but my journey of letting go of the past and creating new habits and fresh energy within me that will take me there.

Namaste, Angela