Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How I Spend my Free Time

Despite it being one my favorite hobbies and how I spent a majority of my free time, I've yet to pay much attention to my yoga practice here on my blog.  Actually, aside from posting a few instagram pictures here and there I don't talk much about my yoga.  I've talked about running, the other side of my fitness coin, so why not yoga?  My close friends and family know that I practice daily, enjoy contorting myself into difficult positions and am determined to get into a handstand without the aid of a wall, tree, bookshelf or other sturdy structure, so I guess I should share more about it here as well.  Actually, yoga is one of the driving factors that is causing me to leave Korea.  That probably sounds a bit strange so let me explain. Ever since joining my first 'yogalaties' class at UW-L, during my freshman year in college, I've had a little voice in the back of my head telling me to get certified to be able to teach.  I missed the opportunity when it came up that year and numerous times thereafter.  I searched different programs throughout WI and MN but never took the time to actually sign up and commit myself.  Fast forward a few years and you'll find me killing time at my desk,  in Korea.  While on facebook, I notice an advertisement for Vikasa yoga, an almost brand new yoga  resort on the beaches of Koh Samui, Thailand. It looked like pure paradise, if I could've packed my bags right then and there I would've, this place looked perfect.  Don't believe me? Have a look....

I sent an e-mail to the founder, Konstatin (Kosta), inquiring about prices and dates, talked to my mom about it and was excited to go the following spring, after finishing my contract in Korea. But then I let doubt creep into my mind, what if this course was above my ability?  The other people that would be there would probably be more advanced and experienced than I was, I might just make a fool of myself.  Actually at that time I could barely get into handstand with the wall, what was I thinking?  I actually emailed Kosta about some of my concerns and was quickly reminded that there was no set level for such a course, as yoga is about your practice, something I know but momentarily forgot - letting my self-doubt win.  Eventually I committed, signed up for the course and paid my deposit, but then I decided to stay in Korea for a second year.

Thankfully, that resort wasn't going anywhere, actually it was still under construction meaning it would only get better, new accommodation, restaurant, and open air yoga studio, all in the works. As cheesy as it is this definitely fell under one of those 'everything happens for a reason' motifs.  I now had an extra year to build upon my own yoga practice, while the resort also had time to grown into something spectacular, oh and not to mention create many more unforgettable memories in Korea.  Kosta understood my situation and allowed me to postpone my reservation until the following year, which brings us to present day.  In roughly 3 months I will be in paradise getting my ass kicked by a crew of amazing teachers, and I can't wait. 

Bring it 
Of course I still have some doubts about my own practice but more than anything I can't wait to allow my practice to grow, having time to devote myself to it fully and learn from those around me. Recently, Konstatin posed a question to the followers of Vikasa, "What does yoga mean for you? Is it revolution or evolution" which is actually what prompted this blog post, and also got me thinking.

Given the choices, I'd definitely say that yoga is an evolution, at both a personal level and across the globe.  From where it has started, to what it has grown into, the practice of yoga is continually evolving; changing and expanding.  There's the 'traditional yogis' who's practice is more in line with where yoga started in India, to the 'modern day yogis' who want to look good in their $60+ spandex and aspire to have a hot yoga butt or body like Jennifer's.  Is either group right or wrong in their practice? Does it really matter?  The simple answer here is no.  I've read countless blogs of people critiquing others yoga practices for one reason or another, but really what is the point in that, how is this doing any good?  Yoga has evolved into a diverse practice and those that are accustomed to it know that no matter the form, what clothes your wearing or where you practice, you will reap the benefits.

Rooftop serenity 
What draws me to yoga, so much more so than any other sport or form of exercise, is it's unique form of competitiveness.  You're not out on a field trying to destroy your opponent, sprint past the cheetah-like runner at the front of the pack, or channel your inner Michael Phelps in the pool.  You're competing against yourself, how hard can you push today, or can you listen to your body and be okay with taking a day off? Can you forget about your to-do list long enough to hold that tree without letting the wind send you to the ground? This is what I love about yoga, it's all about you. No one else can tell you what you should be doing, where or when you should practice or how it should look. When I first thought of my practice as evolving I looked to the improvement's I've made in challenging poses, conquering arm balances and getting that much closer to handstand.  As fun as these are to acknowledge that's only one side of the coin, the shiny side that everyone notices. What's on the other side is the evolution yoga has brought to my daily life, after delving deeper into my practice I've noticed a greater calm within myself. I'm more patient and understanding (although living in Korea may have benefited that aspect of my life as well), I take time to breath, and I try, as hard as it sometimes may be, to stay in the present moment.

Or throw out a dancer in front of the Capital
Evolution actually has numerous definitions but two of my favorites, and ones that I believe fully embody the word, in relation to the world of yoga, are as follows:
1. A process of gradual and relatively peaceful [social, political, and economic] advance.     2. The action or an instance of forming and giving something off.  [Webster Dictionary] 
Both of these, either alone or combined, fully embody the way I picture a yoga practice.  At the individual level ones' practice is always advancing, every day you roll out the mat and devote some time to yourself you're advancing.  It doesn't matter if you stick your handstand or fall out of every pose, you put in the time. Conversely, every time you come to the mat and the deeper you get into your practice, the more your actions are going to affect those around you.  Your devotion and enthusiasm for your practice may inspire others to do the same or it may allow you to be a better person to your friends and family.  Either way, in my opinion the practice of yoga creates a positive experience for all involved. I know there are nay sayers, I've even found myself doubting all the claimed benefits of yoga, but the more I practice the more I believe.  After all, how else would this practice have evolved into the enormous enterprise it is today. Not everyone can be after those hot yoga butts previously mentioned, although they're a pretty good side effect.

Proud moment in my practice
As I sit here writing it's clear to me that there are many more yoga centered blog posts in my future, I could write for days on the topic but for now, I will stop here.  The purpose of this post is the introduce you to my practice and some of my plans for the future, with Vikasa yoga.  This resort is still a newborn, only year old, with big hopes for the future. They're currently raising funds in order to allow for their expansion and evolution into something great.  If you're interested check it out here, and stay tuned for more, who knows maybe i'll stick that handstand before too long.

But for now i'll put the walls and bookshelves to use

1 comment:

  1. So excited for you, Steph--and to be honest, just a little bit jealous :) Cannot wait to hear all about it, sounds amazing!