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What I Learned from My First Year of Yoga

What I Learned from My First Year of Yoga

It was a dismal day in 2002 when my doctor suggested a second back surgery on my lumbar spine. For an outdoorsy, Colorado girl, I sat in my car in the parking lot of the doctor’s office and cried-- I felt hopeless, out-of-control, weak, and so far from my positive, fun-loving self. I prayed for the pain to subside, to find release from this cloud of depression, and to get back to living my life in a fuller way. On the drive back to my Denver office, I passed a “Now Open” sign outside of the CorePower Yoga studio on 12th and Grant. I had read that yoga could help back pain, so I walked in and met the owner and asked him if the practice could heal my back? Trevor reminded me that he wasn’t a physician or therapist, but invited me to experience an intuitive style of heated power yoga, set to great music and accessible to everyday folks like me. He too was struggling with foot pain from an accident and suggested that I listen to my body and do what I can manage. He told me to honor where I am physically - and that was the mercy I needed to step onto a yoga mat. I remember a quote read in class in those early days of practicing that said"

“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state” ~Sharon Gannon

This quote resonated with me as I reflected upon the stressful knots I had created in mind, body and spirit.  In those first few weeks of practicing, I realized how much of my identity was based on the intensity of my daily physical activity. Much of my happiness was dependent on how many miles I ran to fit into my skinny jeans or the desperate need for that post-workout, euphoric feeling. The unraveling was real and I started to slow-down and bring presence to my afflicted perception of mind, and breathed into the areas of my body in which my emotional state had manifested into physical pain.  In yoga class, I embraced my vulnerability and asked God to make His power perfect in my weakness as I rested my head in child’s pose.

Rolf Gates says, “Yoga is not a work-out, it is a work-in.  And this is the point of spiritual practice, to make us teachable; to open up our heart and focus our awareness so that we can know what we already know and be who we already are.”  

As I began to excavate to a deeper place, I realize that I was genuinely affected by what others thought of me and it was preventing me from really knowing myself. Learning correct postural alignment continues to be an important part of strengthening my core and healing pain from muscular imbalance; but the key to “working-in,” was finding stillness long enough to dig deeper into my original design and who I’m meant to be.

That first year of yoga revealed areas in my life where I allowed rigidity and fear to take precedence over teachability and love. I stumbled with my ego as I started to feel stronger and forced myself into postures that caused new injuries. In that first year of practicing, I also completed my 200-hour teacher training, and repeat offenders like competitiveness and comparison reared their ugly heads. Only now, my eyes were open to see these patterns and I was on a transformative path to self-acceptance, learning from my mistakes and beginning of a new season of grace-fully becoming.  

Fast-forward 15 years, and I continue to fall in love with the modality of yoga for what it’s brought to me: amazing community, a healthy back & overall wellness, a place to find reflection, rest, renewal and acceptance, a space to grow deeper in my relationship with God, and always a platform of presence that reminds me to live gratefully.

As we continue moving through 2017, we are asked to revisit our Sankalpa statement, or divinely-inspired intention. Better than a resolution, kalpa means vow or promise to submit to above any other. San refers to an association with the highest validity. Sankalpa is then a commitment we make as a cornerstone to support our highest truth. I didn’t know about the word Sankalpa until I was many years into this venture and undoubtedly, there is so much more to learn.  My first year of yoga taught me to remain teachable & live gratefully and I think I’ll continue to make that my 2017 Sankalpa statement. 

*Also read: Sankalpa- Spiritually Aligning For the New Year

Kristin started practicing yoga after a doctor told her she should expect a second back surgery on her lumbar spine. An outdoor enthusiast and a young mom, she refused to accept the diagnosis. She stepped into CorePower Yoga and committed to practicing to see if she’d see any improvements in her condition. With a consistent practice, yoga healed her by strengthening her core physically, giving her body awareness, and reducing stress in her mind and body. Kristin started teaching yoga in 2003 and knowing that 80% of Americans suffer from back problems, felt moved to learn everything she could about the anatomy, breathing techniques to reduce stress and how to transform other’s lives through teaching yoga. “Power yoga brings this exhilarating, cardiovascular yoga practice to “everyday Joes” like me. My goal as a teacher is to share my passion and improve the quality of people’s lives. In each class I hope to help liberate my students both mentally and physically, and leave them in a better place.”

Click here for a complete listing of Kristin's YogaDownload classes!

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