Posted on August 28 2016
So, it's been exactly 10 day, as I sit down to write this blog, since I returned from my Baptiste Level One training in Phoenicia, New York (Which is located in upstate New York, way upstate..) and I'm still amped up! It was that good! I want to tell everyone how amazing it was but honestly its quite hard to put it all into words. And I don't want to give away too much as it would ruin the experience for anyone who might want to go in the future. But, I do want to tell my story of what made me want to go in the first place and what how I walked away from the experience feeling. It'll also encompass a general idea of what the week of training entailed. So, read on if that sounds sorta kinda interesting!
First, what in the heck lead me to sign up for a yoga training in upstate New York in a place named Phoenicia that's so far out of the way there's no cell reception AND there's no coffee (I found out about that AFTER I signed up, by the way!)? That's a great question! My husband and I own and run a CrossFit gym and sure we do some stretching and mobility but not a lot of yoga. CrossFit seems like the OPPOSITE of yoga right? It's generally thought of as a sport or part of the fitness industry that oozes testosterone and thrives on competition (it's not always liked for anyone unfamiliar with CrossFit or our gym in particular), while yoga has the reputation of being more gentle. And yes, CrossFit is competitive but at its core, you'd be surprised by some of the similarities. Really it's not about competition, even with yourself, but about accepting where you are in the moment (much like yoga!).
But, I digress. Back to yoga. Yep, it's true that we do mobility and I even introduced a restorative/yin yoga class at our gym this year but yoga isn't our main focus and it never has been my personal "thing" either. However, what you don't know about me is that I've felt something pulling me to yoga for a REALLY long time. My first real exposure to yoga was at a fitness and aerobics convention in Dallas, TX when I was around 17 or 18 called "Sara's City" (I just looked it up to see if it still existed and it does but under another name: SCW). I was there to learn more about water and step aerobics, which is what I taught back in the day; WAY back in the day. But, I wandered into a yoga class while I was there, loved it, and even cried at the end. I dug the whole shebang! In returning to rural Louisiana after the convention, where yoga classes were very far and few between, it was far too long before I gave it another go. However, that class had planted a seed. In the back of my mind, I was always thinking that I should try to work yoga into my schedule. However, I always prioritized weights and cardio, thinking they gave me the most bang for my buck in terms of physical benefits (calories burned, fat lost, muscle gained) and in a way, I know I was right. Kinda.
It wasn't until I went to a few classes at Indigo Yoga in Fort Worth and briefly Big Yoga in Houston (both Baptiste affiliates) that I really began to understand how beneficial yoga could be for me. No, it doesn't burn the same amount of calories or build muscle in the same way CrossFit does (Although, power yoga is HARD people!). But, those classes at the Baptiste studios made me realize that I was not valuing the emotional, mental and mobility benefits (oh how we appreciate that more as the years pass) as much as I should have been! Every time I left one of those classes not only was I drenched in sweat and exhausted (in the best of ways), I also felt calmer, lighter, BETTER than any other workout ever left me feeling. Sadly, we moved shortly after I really started to "get into" yoga at Indigo and I struggled to find another studio that offered the same experience. Last year, I suddenly got the urge, or even felt compelled to sign up for the Baptiste Level One. I had witnessed several friends (via social media) attend this training and they all raved about it. And every yoga instructor that I knew seemed to beam, glow even (I know I'm getting a little weird) and I wanted to glow too, damn it! So, I took the plunge. It was an expensive impulse buy, but it was one I didn't really waver about. It just felt right and damn, I am so glad I went for it!
As I mentioned above, I don't want to get into the specifics of what happened at the level 1, as it would ruin it if any of you decide to attend (which I HIGHLY recommend). What I want to do is give you a general idea of my experience and expound on the amazing effects of that week. First, our daily schedule began around 6:30 am with breakfast. Then daily meditation began around 8:00am and lasted for around an hour. I had never genuinely meditated prior to this week and I actually REALLY enjoyed it. Turning off my brain and its constant barrage of thoughts and often worries is incredibly difficult for me. I am a ruminator. I will get ahold of some issue or problem and think about it, worry about it, wail (mostly inner wailing) and nash my teeth until it drives me mad. It's not pleasant. Surprisingly, meditation came quite naturally to me. I have a feeling the "guided" part of the "guided meditation" made it a lot easier. While I am a certainly a worrier, I am also really good at following directions. So, by following the cues I found myself really enjoying freeing my mind of thoughts or at least just "observing" them. I even had a few moments every morning when I felt almost weightless and a little tingly inside. Cool stuff. I know. More weirdness. Bare with me.
We followed mediation with practice teaching with partners which involved us running through parts, if not the whole Baptiste Journey Into Power Series numerous times which each partner taking turns teaching and the other doing. Then we would all practice together as Baron Baptiste let us through what never failed to be an incredibly challenging practice that would leave us in heaps on the floor and literal puddles of sweat everywhere. Oh I didn't mention this yet. The room was heated to roughly 90 degrees. Which meant LOTS of sweat. LOTS. OF. SWEAT. But it felt so good!
That morning session of practice teaching would last from around 9:30-10:00 am until 1:30-2:30pm. That's a LOT of yoga folks! Then we'd have lunch come back and do what I've begun referring to as "emotional work" but what we called "inquiry" for several hours. This was tough stuff centered more on mental and emotional development, rather than physical! I have never cried so much in one week in my entire life! After that, we'd practice teach for another 2-3 hours. Then, we'd either Option A) break late, have dinner and go to bed or Option B) we'd break early and return for either more emotional work or more practice and leave around 10-11:00pm. Either way, those were long days averaging 14-16 hour easily. Every piece of clothing I owned was drenched in sweat by the end of the week and I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
And I know you're probably thinking, why in the heck did you think this was so wonderful? That sounds kinda terrible on the surface, right? LOL! Hours of really hard yoga, mediation for an hour in the morning, and then some weird inquiry work that had you crying in front of complete strangers all week? Sounds like a blast. Yeah I know. But, believe it or not, all of that physical and emotional work left me feeling like a new person! Or maybe not a new person, but the real person I am supposed to be and always have been, I had just covered her up with a bunch of BS. How? First, the yoga training was amazing. I learned new things about the postures, how to lead a yoga class not just "correctly" but so that the words that are coming out of your mouth resonate with your participants, so that they leave feeling renewed, empowered, clearer, just... better. Like how I felt after leaving class at Indigo or Big. I cannot overemphasize how powerful a good yoga class. Again, I may sound a little coocoo here but there are times when I felt like I was emoting through the poses. It feels like interpretive dance when its really good. IT. IS. SO. GOOD.
Oh and back to the emotional work. Again, I don't want to get into specifics as to not ruing this for anyone but I will tell you this was the hardest but also the most important part of the training. There were lots of hard questions, uncomfortable exercises, and times when I think most of us in the room would have liked to quietly back out of the room or disappear into a hole in the ground. But, I'm glad we didn't. In fact, I'm fairly sure almost everyone there would tell you that while it was very hard, by the end of the week we all felt incredible and like so many new things were and are possible in our lives. And I think all 155 of us felt like we had 154 new best friends. Ugly crying together for 5 days straight will bond you like that.
As for me personally, the inquiry work helped me shed layer upon layer of lies and stories I had been telling myself for years. Everyday I discovered something new about myself. For example, early in the week I really came to terms with the fact that for a very long time I have been pretending to like things and do things just to make other people happy. I think a lot of us are guilty of that. Many of us are people pleasers. We run around doing everything to make everyone else happy then wonder why WE aren't happy with our lives. Over the course of the week, that truth led me (and everyone there) to dig deeper and really boil down those surface issues to the big lies we have all been telling ourselves.
My "big lie" was that I think or I "tell" myself I'm never (fill in the blank) enough. Not cool enough. Not skinny enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. Not strong enough. Not ANYTHING enough! I know I'm pretty good at some stuff but never the best. Never really all that great. Nothing to get excited about. Humph. And 10 days later it still makes me sad to acknowledge that. But, that's a good thing because I don't want to live like that anymore. I WON'T live like that anymore. Because when you live your life according to these lies or stories you tell yourself, you limit, you distort, you make decisions based on those lies. You live someone else's life/lie.
Yeah. Let that sink in.
YOU LIVE SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE! If you're not happy with your life circumstances or maybe things aren't too bad but you have this weird, unsettled feeling that never goes away no matter how "good" things are, chances are you're not living your life according to your real wants and needs. You made some decisions and still make decisions based on something that isn't true. Damn. Heavy stuff, right? You're not living authentically. I wasn't living authentically.Yes, I had made vast improvements but I was still trying to fit in, make everyone happy, do what I was "supposed" to do. Not anymore.
Since I've been back from "yoga camp", I've started to make some changes. The biggest change is start appreciating what I do have. I have a pretty awesome life, honestly! I started making some of the changes I needed to have a better life, starting in 2008. I credit CrossFit with that. CrossFit empowered me in a way nothing else ever had. I met the man of my dreams, started pursing a passion I thought was never going to be anything more than a hobby (fitness) and minimized a lot of the stuff I didn't like or want to do. However, I was still living that lie that "I am not enough.". So, I always felt like I had more to do, more to prove I was enough. Always, always, always working.
Now, I've started making time to enjoy things and acknowledge when I feel like I have done a good job. Just realizing and acknowledging my lie has allowed me to feel more relaxed and happier because... it's a LIE! A lie that I told myself and then believed and shaped my life around for who knows how long? 30+ years?! Craziness. I've also stopped waiting to do things like wear the clothes I'll wear when I have something "cool enough" to wear them to. I started wearing my pretty stuff daily! What am I waiting for? I am also working up the nerve to hang out with people I always feel awkward around. Yeah, I STILL feel like an awkward pre-pubescent tween that doesn't really fit in with the cool kids. That's something that may take some time to get over. But. I'm working on it. I'm also started working on bringing more creative opportunities and activities into my life. When I was little I wanted to be an artist or to do something creative as my life's work. I'm not sure when I decided that wasn't something I should actually pursue. But, guess what I'll be doing more of and pursuing more aggressively? Anything creative that my heart feels led to do! And I'll be ignoring that little voice that tells me its not good enough. I'll also be DOING and TEACHING more yoga! And most importunely of all, I am aware of my lie(s) and that makes every decision I make easier, clearer, more authentic. And for that, I am forever grateful. I am living a more authentic life already and it will only get better! And I'm signing up for my Baptiste Level 2 next year! Who's coming with me?