Okay...Hold the phone...What does 400 days mean?!!! Consecutively??? Are you crazy???!!! Well, that happened. Not the crazy part, the 400 consecutive days part. Yeaaaahhhh. Last year, I finished 365 consecutive days of yoga as of July 31st. Then I continued on that track through September and did four different types of yoga -- Bikram (my main style), Buti (not to be confused with Booty), Aerial and Vinyasa. Think of the physical fitness, the mental stability, the energy boost, the emotional wellness, the camaraderie (noted: for introverts like me, it's like being in a room full of friends, hanging out, and well, just being, while we all do our own thing = kinda perfect right?) Are you thinking of it? Aaaaahhhhhh. Yes. Zen. So peaceful! Yeeeeaaaaahhh, that happened.
Now, I won't be all sunshine and roses. Let's get real. Think of 20-30 people, many strangers, in a hot sweaty Bikram environment (For those who don't know Bikram yoga, which is what I did the majority of the year, it's a type of hatha yoga characterized by a set series of postures and breathing exercises, performed in a heated room (a.k.a. Hella HOT!) Where we do 26 moves for 90 minutes). Can you picture it??? Many hippies, several hipsters, some CEOs, a conglomerate of people who have been through shit and want to make their lives better which I have to say is pretty cool. Though I don't really feel like I fit into the first three categories, I do love being around random quirky people. Ok. Back to the getting real part. Think of a whole bunch of people smelling each others body odor, and praying there's no camel toe, boobs popping out, see-through clothes, too short shorts, clothing two sizes too small, men in banana hammock "beachwear" who keep looking your way eagerly seeking eye contact, extreme flatulence, heavy mouth breathers, or buckets of sweat that slowly trickle closer to your yoga mat. Eeewwwwwweeee & Yikes!!! Oooooo. Yeah, that happened! So with that seared into your brain (sorry but hahaha, not sorry!), one would have to ask, was it all really worth it? And I have to say yes. Yes, I will take it all for the benefits I mentioned in the first paragraph.
What brought me to a place where I would make the drastic decision to dedicate a year to yoga? Well, it didn't happen that way. I didn't expect I would last a full week attending daily, a full month, sixty days, ninety days, but then six months came, nine months came, and then it happened, a month away from the full year. I did go into this journey after losing my dream job though & I thought I needed a change. I was working for a global women's personal and professional development company based in Australia who lost their marketing funding and with it, there went my remote Director of Digital Communications position. I, along with the woman's administrator of 7 years was given two weeks notice and that was my, well, what to do now. To which I said, "F**k it! Let's do some yoga U make this thing happen!" Anytime there is a huge life change, I have come back to self-care and turned out okay and this decision, well, it was a blast and all the things in the second paragraph made the experience more than entertaining on the daily!
For those of you who don't know all the cool benefits of yoga in general here are some that may make you think, 'Hhhhmmmm, maybe I can overlook butt sweat too.'
Many of us, with our busy lives, can't seem to find the time for it all & I do really get it! Not many can carve out 90 minutes to sit in a hot room unless that means they are in a spa holding a cold Mai Tai or Mock Pina Colada if that's more your flavor...or green tea..water...or just nothing cause you are in a spa and possibly getting services done. From a mental health perspective, I have seen vast improvements by taking the time to do yoga, even if it's at home using a YouTube station and doin it on my porch...and by "it" I do mean yoga. As shared before, I have dealt with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event). The combination of yoga and therapy was and is a game changer! FYI: My favorite go-to spots for yoga in Lahaina are Bikram Yoga Lahaina and Body in Balance/The Pole Room. These two studios have their own charms. If you are wanting strictly Bikram with instructors who are dedicated to their craft and ready to give you pointers on proper stances, movement, etc., BYL is your jam. If you want some variety, some spice in your yoga life, BB/TPR cover a wide spectrum of yoga and pilates instruction, amongst other fun and exciting activities, such as burlesque, bungee aerobics, pole dancing, self-defense (taught by Muah), and stuff like ballet, hip-hop dance and so forth. Soooo, all of this to say, yoga has been a wonderful commitment, life change, and new way of living. I am thankful for all that has come of my 400 days of yoga and will share on it as my journey continues.
Serving My Happiness
For a long time now, I have shared my story with close friends, loved ones and yes, even therapists. When they hear my story a similar comment has come up, "You should write a blog!" The reality is that I have collaborated on blogs, I have written about other women and their lives, I have covered topics focused on advocacy and online communications but when asked to write about myself, I felt stunted. LinkedIn even shows I have high 85 people who have endorsed my blogging skills. The idea of a personal blog was...well...so personal and, as I am sure many people feel, it is exposing. However, there are parts of my life which appear very relevant for others, could possibly help them and so, I decided to buckle down and write this blog. I will say that if you read the beginning and stop, you may find me shallow, uncaring, heartless even, but if you read what I have to share in its entirety, a completely different picture may arise in your mind.
So, here is the reality, I am going to say what you aren't supposed to say. It goes against several theories and beliefs on how to serve the world best, but I am going to share it anyway. Forget your friends, loved ones and humanity, if you are not serving yourself to your highest power, you are doing a disservice to the world, and you will not be as effective at your craft if you do not explore WHO YOU ARE. Who you are is relative to many things and can be psycho-analyzed in many different ways.
For years, I have associated my mindset with that of an advocate. I wanted to serve my community in several different capacities. I have served through running a non-profit, owning women empowerment businesses, doing online communications for local and statewide political campaigns, and sitting on steering committees focused on advocating for youth of color and youth impacted by poverty. I hosted an Undoing Institutional Racism workshop for the city of Tacoma and aided with a national Race and Pedagogy conference. It was a few years ago that a thought began to percolate in my mind, 'What if I am not serving my community and those I love to the best of my ability? Am I staying in negative situations because I believe I am serving a greater good? Is that even healthy?!' The thought which I am sure many millennials before me have had, and most likely other generations before me will detest was, "What about MY happiness?! What about ME?!" Then an idea popped into my head.
Serving My Happiness is a thought that came to fruition at a very low point in my life. I was drained, tired, had given my all and lost, failed, and now it was time to pick myself up again. However, this time I wanted life to be different. I didn't want to fall down the same rabbit hole. I wanted to rise and serve my highest purpose. What I have found is that by honoring that feeling and following my gut instincts, I am now serving my happiness -- something few people do for themselves in a lifetime. I realized that the more I served my best interests, the more I was available to purposefully help others.
A Blog Focused on Happiness and Healing
Tasha Ina Church