Yoga is one thing that brings me deep down, sincere joy. I often find myself in the midst of practice experiencing the most intense feelings of happiness, gratitude, and peace. To me, yoga is so much more than a hobby or a workout - it is a necessity.
My passion for yoga began immediately after practicing at Balance Hot Yoga in Cedar Falls for a period of time. The teachers were amazing and loving, but you know what, it was just too damn hot. I wanted to do yoga without slipping out of poses due to the layer of sweat covering every part of by body! It's not for everyone - but I will credit that studio for teaching me the basic foundations I needed to confidently start my own at home practice.
I was off to a good start after leaving Balance and frequenting Field of Yoga in Cedar Falls as I could. But having a teacher was important to me to ensure I was aligning my body correctly - nurturing it vs. injuring it. I turned to several online yogis that resonated with me. I have two favorites: Rachel Brathen a.k.a. Yoga Girl and Adriene of Yoga with Adriene.
Rachel is from Aruba and travels internationally. Adriene is based in Texas and travels on a more limited basis. I always thought I'd only practice with them both through a smart phone screen. But this week, I was able to cross that threshold and practice in person with one of my favorite teachers - Rachel!
My sister and I laid down our mats at the convention center in Minneapolis with 548 other yogis to practice with Yoga Girl as part of her "Gratitude Tour." The woman. The myth. The legend. In the same room as all of us. She led a 75 minute, ass kicking flow, while her husband and dog, Ringo, joined her to wander among us. It was an experience I won't try to describe in words, because you had to be there to feel it, but I'll choose three words to sum it up: Empowering, Resonating, Spiritual.
If it wasn't enough to practice with her in person, be led through a meditative journey, and to be surrounded by a room full of strangers that united in the name of yoga - I got to MEET her before we left the convention center. My sister (bless her beautiful, patient heart) waited for an hour so that I could hug Rachel and have her sign the book she wrote (and that I take EVERYWHERE with me). That was not my ultimate goal, I was there for the experience, but meeting her was most certainly the icing on the cake. She was everything I thought she would be and more. I feet so full of gratitude for the entire experience. I think it will take a few more days for it all to sink in.
Two other wonderful things that made my trip to Minneapolis extra special was being able to share the entire journey with my sister by my side and also being able to see my brother-in-law that just moved to Minnesota. My heart is so very full of love for both of these people, and I could not keep saying "Thank You" to the powers that be for filling my life with people to love, and that love me in return.
Because my heart is very raw with thanks right now, and because it feels SO GOOD, I have one last thing to say in closing: "Give Thanks." It doesn't require the guidance of a pro yogi, you can do it from the comfort of your own home, all by yourself. Give thanks. For every single small and large thing that you alone appreciate and need and love.
Bing Crosby sings it best, "Count your blessings instead of sheep."