Thoughts


At the beginning of August I began my 300 hour Rocket Yoga teacher training. I knew the first section of training would be ashtanga and I knew I was dreading it. I don’t like feeling stifled with set sequences and I hate feeling exhausted and I’ve never been able to commit to a full daily practice so mysore seemed beyond any possible success. The first weekend was brutal. Double practice daily and all primary. The first week I only made it to practice three of the five times. Then we got tossed into second series, which is never done in total. I felt insane. High on yoga, weak in my body, poses that I breeze through felt like WORK. I took the following Tuesday off but then I came back. Just that one day off and my body was already craving movement.

Then something amazing started to happen, I started to get into things I’d never thought I’d be able to do so soon. Kapotasana? Karandavasana? Adho Mukha Vrksasana? Actually finding some consistent float? I couldn’t quite believe it (and still kind of can’t, I mean I literally couldn’t touch my toes in high school) and then I started looking forward to it. The early mornings, the way I feel less like I’m choking on my breath in backbends, it starts to feel like flying.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days where it’s sun sals and breath work, but without noticing it I’ve gotten a daily self practice. One that I’ll always treasure. I’ll still go take a flow class, after all I do love changing sequences, and I will always be ready for a rocket class, but ashtanga has given me a new appreciation for noticing the subtle shifts, the minute changes that you really only see when the poses are the ‘same’ every day. Once that feeling opens it’s easier to realize that the poses are never the same and the opportunity to check in is always there.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Follow me on:
twitterinstagramtwitterinstagram

This month was full of discovery. I am finally balancing in forearm stand and as this was happening my teacher stopped the class and said, “the handstand doesn’t matter, in fact, that is the secret of yoga. All of this time we spend deepening our physical bodies is simply an outcome of practice, you must deepen to attain the same stretch that a simpler pose gave you when you started. Achieving a pose is the least important part of practice.”

At first I was taken aback, I JUST got this pose! I’ve been working on it for more than a year! Of COURSE it’s about getting to pose! And then I realized the magic of understanding that it truly isn’t about “getting a pose”. As a teacher I’ve felt more of a need to get poses checked off than I did before, so I can teach them to students without being a fraud in their eyes. But it doesn’t matter because although I guide students in practice, their bodies are their teachers, just as my body is my teacher.

Even though I am proud of what my body has done to open up this new inversion for me, I am more thankful for the process. When I now pop into a forearm stand and hold it, I am witness to hundreds of failed attempts, many helping hands from teachers, and all of the thousands of asanas I have practiced throughout my life that led me to this moment. That is the most important part of yoga.

Processed with VSCO with 3 preset

This is freeing, you don’t need to achieve for yoga, you just need to show up and listen to your body.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Follow me on:
twitterinstagramtwitterinstagram

I teach at Yoga District in DC and wrote up a post on one of the topics about which I am most passionate, yoga for trauma:

After completing my teacher training at YD, and prior to starting teaching there, I was looking for opportunities to help the community I feel most connected to: women who have survived sexual assault. I stumbled upon Exhale to Inhale, and while they don’t have a program in DC currently, they drove home a message that there is a place for everyone in yoga and that healing can take place within your mind and your body if you let a little love in. A few weeks ago I received an email from ETI outlining a free resource for those that have suffered trauma, work with trauma victims, or simply live anxious lives. I would like to share Lisa Danylchuk’s YouTube series on poses for trauma with the beautiful YD community: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClWtofIVMVvqDZ5na4urmDw.
The videos are not affiliated with ETI or Yoga District, yet they are simple and straightforward poses to help soothe, ground, restore, and reconnect to ourselves after trauma. As she moves through the variations during the five minute videos I was reminded of Jasmine’s lessons on connectivity, meeting yourself where you are, and becoming aware of our bodies and minds. We feel these movements in our yoga practices across YD, and yet to point them out, we can take a moment to appreciate how deeply they help release our deepest fears and our sharpest tensions. Brining that awareness to ourselves can only help us as we work to give back to the community.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Follow me on:
twitterinstagramtwitterinstagram

Today I would like to share a little something that isn’t related to policy. I was published on one of my favorite blogs and I encourage any and everyone to read and follow The Financial Diet.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

I have always been a financial disaster. I had no idea how money was made, or what it meant to spend it. I spent my childhood willfully ignorant of finances despite the best efforts of my incredibly patient and prudent parents (sorry Mom and Dad!). I have always defined myself by the clothes I could purchase or the ability to go and get a nice bottle of wine, and the stubborn idea that the only way I would look cool was if I ordered the top shelf bourbon at the bar. I like all of these things, of course. Fashion and good drinks are delightful. However, being consumed by the need to define yourself with these cultural symbols — in spite of the fact that you are financially unable to support them — is madness.

I made it through undergrad and graduate school followed by internships and a low paying job (in my field!) in DC until last summer. I lost my job (through a combination of finally standing up to my boss and a terrible HR team) and was given a “don’t sue us” package that consisted of pay for the remainder of the summer. I was terrified and suddenly, the little I’d been able to save was on the line in the most real way I’d ever experienced. To top off my predicament, my roommate was moving out of our apartment at the end of the summer to live with her fiancé. I thought I would have to leave DC, and after two years, I was unprepared for that possibility. But I got a scholarship to take yoga teacher training that I will forever credit with helping me not have a two month-long panic attack, and hit the ground running on the job hunting front.

I got a new job in the nick of time, found an apartment the same week, and all of a sudden things were moving way too quickly. I spent my savings, all of the stipend I’d received, and maxed out my credit card. When I finally looked around, I had a new apartment full of boxes, no money, and an abandoned cat in the new place I called home. A (beautiful, intelligent, put-together—shout out Natalie) friend recommended TFD and I started to devour it. Money finally started to “click”: saving was not the deprivation of things I wanted, it was to the mechanism I needed to use to reward myself with the things I most wanted and cared to have in my life. I got a Mint account and started getting serious about the rest of my student loans, my emergency fund, and taking care of my financial health. It took me six months to get myself back on track and by then it was December, and while the panic had subsided and I felt more confident about my ability to take care of my bank account, I still felt the desire to purchase things I didn’t need or necessarily want. I can best describe it as a desire to make myself feel like I was put together. A grown-up with good taste.

Walking in to my cluttered apartment with armfuls of extra gifts, I realized that the problem was all around me. You cannot grow into the person you want to be if you have so much ‘stuff’ in your way. I initiated what became “The Great Apartment Purge.” I started with my closets, and things that a teenager shouldn’t be caught dead in were finally put into the donation box (I’m 27…), shoes no one has business wearing were gone, purses I hadn’t used in three years were shoved into a pile, scarves I hadn’t touched for four years were stuffed into bags. I looked around, proud of the accomplishment and realized I’d caught a bug. I couldn’t help myself. I started throwing out old papers, notebooks from undergrad, knick knacks that were solely dust collection devices sent by the devil to make my cleaning days suck, scrap paper that I’d long forgotten the reason for keeping, cups that I’d collected, all my old race tags, five year old coffee tumblers (I had so many!!), extra mugs, mismatched Tupperware, photos and paintings from thrift stores that had lost all meaning, gifts my beautiful mother had given me in bulk because she herself couldn’t throw them out, hats from my Zooey Deschanel phase when I was 21, gross Ikea furniture that had been moved too many times, and finally my books. My precious books, my most prized possessions. I discarded duplicates first, then the unopened cookbooks, then all the ridiculous books that I’d read and not particularly enjoyed.

As I continued to work through all of these things, I realized I was only keeping the parts of my life that meant something important to me. When I looked around to see two thirds of my possessions gone, I realized I’d uncovered the woman I had strived so long to be. I have the clothes that make me feel put together and the books that make me disappear in other worlds, and even with so much furniture gone, I have space for the things that mean so much to me. The greatest lessons that TFD has given me are the confidence to face my finances head-on, and the ability to choose to live in my space as the woman I was always trying to be — the space that money couldn’t buy.

CJ is a 27 year-old, recently put-together woman, living and working in Washington DC, running on coffee and tech policy issues. She is on Twitter and Instagram.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Follow me on:
twitterinstagramtwitterinstagram