Sunday, March 20, 2011


Wow! Sometimes our yoga teacher training sessions really are like a huge therapy sessions...we all open up, like in an AA meeting. I find it so powerful; sometimes exhausting, emotionally, but so, so good.
Today we had to share our midterm assessments. We did not have to read what we wrote, but somehow share and then all discuss. I had a lot of anxiety about my paper, but I was proud of my honest assessment. I knew that I would be emotional during my turn to share, so I volunteered to go FIRST, and to just read my paper.

When I finished reading, the class actually clapped. People seemed so touched by what I wrote. My classmates told me it was beautiful, lovely, amazing.  Their words, not mine!

It felt so good to share.
Can my yoga be my therapy? I'm beginning to think so.

This weekend was also big for me in that I did my first wheel pose. Normally, I would tell myself I do not like back bends; I feel like I am going to break in half!!
 But with my new-found openness and confidence from the day, instead of staying in bridge, I listened carefully to the instruction and went for it.
AND I DID IT!! AND I DID CORRECTLY according to the instructor. And in those few seconds, I have never felt more free. Everything opened.  It was a huge rush of feel-good chemicals and I felt as if my smile was deep down into my chest. I was smiling from the inside out, illuminating from my heart and chest area.
(Not me, but found on google images to show)

Has anyone ever felt this way before during a back bend? I think it's because I've been so closed off to the idea and generally like a rounded forward fold. This was the opposite. And it was so good!

Weekend photos.


taco bus!

 vegetarian tacos from the taco bus...nothing makes more sense

Yoga teacher training

SUPER moons
Funny, when you're small...the moon follows the car. There's no one, but you see, HEY, the moon is chasing me!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yoga Self-Assessment

We have reached the midterm of our Yoga Teacher Training. We were given the homework assignment of doing a self-assessment. The instructions were vague--it could be a paper, graph, whatever worked. This was the follow-up email after the explanation in class:

Assess where you are in practice using the sutras, Pranayama, Asana, the Yamas and Niyamas. 
  • Where are there holes or weaknesses in disposition or practice?
  • Do you see the value in taking the next step towards balance?
  • Might those steps look like? What tools/practices that we have covered so far?
  • How can you structure them in the next half of the program?
  • Think about some of the journaling, mantra, and meditation techniques as well. 
With this "Self Assessment", consider further transitioning into a Yogi and what are the impediments to that? Assume you are the teacher advising yourself (all based on your understanding so far).  We will all share our findings.

I sat down this morning and spewed this out. Not sure if it's what they wanted, but it's my own, true honest assessment

Nicole M.
March 16, 2011
Midterm Self Assessment
Yoga Teacher Training 200hr
            In August 2010, after years of contemplation and hours of much internal debate, I made what I had hoped to be a life changing decision by enrolling in Yoga Teacher Training. With a hefty down payment, each month, I paid $165 and anxiously waited for January 15, 2011, our first day of classes. I began my journey with the notion that even if I decided to never actually teach yoga, my training as an instructor would only deepen my personal practice, allowing for internal growth. My goal was simple: be a good person and live a dignified life. As I reach the halfway point in my training, it is imperative that I do a self check-in; to assess and continually reassess where my mind and body are leading me through this journey.
            Before I can truly unravel myself and deconstruct how I am utilizing yoga to the best of my ability, I must be honest with my self and others. It was a New Year. I was enthusiastic to start 2011. I exclaimed that 2011 would be all about “self reflection,” and “awareness.” All at once, my world came crumbling down when one week prior to beginning classes, my Mother, age 54 passed away on January 5, 2011. We had a small memorial service for her and I took one month off from my work as an ICU nurse. I struggled with the notion that I would have to spend the next 6 months in deep, self-reflection. With so much pain, but also so much love from my Mother, I knew that I had to do my best. In the beginning of the program, I worked through the weekend intensives in a daze. I was a ghost of my former self. But I showed up and I tried to participate. Often times, we would be sitting in class, deep in discussion, and all I could hear was the self-dialogue, “my Mother is dead, my Mother is dead.”  It felt physically impossible to concentrate; it was at the forefront of all my thoughts; everything I did each day included a backdrop of grief. Usually, I throw myself into whatever I am doing with 100% zeal. With Yoga Teacher training, though? I did not go to classes outside of the weekend intensives. I did not do much reading; and the reading I did do was robotic, no thought or contemplation behind the words. And I certainly was not participating in my own home practice or personal meditation. One month since beginning training and I finally made myself go to a class. It took another 2 weeks before I attended another. I was beginning to feel like a complete failure. Here I am, paying for this program, wasting all of this time and money and not even participating in my own life!  If this is an honest assessment, it has only been in the last two weeks where I feel more awake. I am slowly, but surely, attending classes, developing my own practice, and reading the homework assignments with actual thought, rather than skimming like a computer.
            As for my asana practice, I have made a commitment to myself. Five minutes. That’s it. No pressure. Each day, I set the timer on my phone for 5 minutes and in that short time, I practice yoga. Often times, the practice is longer, but I do 5 minutes each day and for me, that has been a start. Perhaps I am behind. Perhaps others are doing more than me, but this is my practice and I cannot compare my self-assessment to others. That is what I have learned and taken away from my yoga practice and training. I cannot compare myself to others. I have come to accept that my yoga practice is going to change and evolve with life.  Each night, I have been reading a page or two from Meditations from the Mat, a book by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison that offers 365 meditations for each day of the year. The book delves into the 8-limb path of yoga, beginning with the yamas and niyamas.  Day 84 begins with the niyama of svadhyaya, or self-study. It begins, “Each step foreword in our practice is a step inward.” It is also important to note that, “When we do feel lost or uncertain, drifting away from our practice, blocked from our own truth, it helps to remember that darkness and confusion, too, are part of the path,” (118).
            In the last couple of weeks, my sense of enthusiasm and wonderment has returned for yoga. I recognize my own labile, or fluctuating emotions. I am still grieving the loss of my Mother; I always will be! However, I am participating in my own life. And that means participating in Yoga Teacher Training. It is unfortunate that I could not have given 100% at the beginning of the program. My Type-A personality would have loved to write this self-assessment and tell the class and instructors how I have been utilizing the yamas, niyamas, and pranayama for the past 3 months, and how I have read from the yoga sutras each night, and that meditation has completely changed my outlook on life, but it would be a lie. For me, a midterm assessment is not enough. I need a day-to-day assessment. A daily check-in.
            As we begin the second half of our program, I am beginning to think of myself as a yoga teacher. I have yet to teach a class, and even the thought of getting in front of a group of people with all eyes on me is completely anxiety producing, but I will fake it until I make it. Nice to meet you, I’m Nicole, I’ll be your yoga instructor today. Namaste.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nidra Yoga

On Friday, I went to my first meditation class. But it wasn't just regular meditation, it was Nidra Yoga.
From my yoga school website:

"Yoga Nidra is a state of consciousness also known as "yogic sleep." The Yoga Nidra state is most similar to that of deep dreamless sleep, with the notable difference that the person is fully awake. In addition, Yoga Nidra is also a practice conducive to entering the Nidra state. Through guided relaxation techniques and visualization, this practice aims to create a deeply relaxing state for exploration of latent consciousness.Yoga Nidra is a powerful practice that complements meditation and that can be helpful in noticing deep seated habitual patterns of action and thought. This class starts with a brief section of gentle stretches to release body tension in preparation for lying down in a restful position for most of the practice."
Basically, you're lying in Savasana the entire class, besides the first 10-15 minutes when we did some light asana practice.
source: gettyimages

The hardest part for me was getting comfortable. After awhile, the pressure point on my head was killing me (I needed a pillow!) and my elbows were begging to be bent. I actually began to feel pain. Besides that...

At one point during the class, when the instructor was naming places like the desert, forest, the beach, that we were supposed to imagine, etc, I could feel my body pulsating, but not the pulsing of a heart beat, more like a wave. Immediately after, it felt like I was split into two halves down the center of my body and the left part was sliding away from me, while the right part was sliding up the room. It felt like my body was incredibly imbalanced, physically. It was as if an earthquake separated my body into two. It also began to feel like I were laying on an axis—while the left was moving away from me, toward my feet, it was also moving upwards. I felt so crooked!
It was not a pleasant experience, but did not last for long. After class, I evaluated what this might mean—perhaps it was a sign that my inner self is imbalanced, as well?

Anyone experience nidra yoga? What are your thoughts?
I definitely plan to go again--this time with a pillow and the notion that it's okay to keep my arms bent over my belly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Where I'm at...

My postings have been far and few between, but that's okay. Life has been a challenge lately.

 It's been two months since my Mother's death and  I now have more good days than bad, and the "bad" usually comes in waves. I find the hardest parts of the days for me are just before bed, where my mind goes wild with sad thoughts, and when I am driving alone. Especially when I drive home from work, and I pass this one restaurant where I ate with my mother, brother, and step-dad over a year ago. During this time, they were not in a healthy state and it always makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it...maybe I should find a new route home?

My hospital system offers counseling, up to 6 per year, and I might take advantage?

Besides that, I have been busy working. Surprisingly, work has become more enjoyable to me throughout all of this. Maybe it's a release?

 I'm not sure, but I have actually gotten over my shit and even work extra days now! I never thought the day would come when I would finally act like an adult and work overtime. It finally dawned on me that I could be as frugal as I want, but it isn't going to earn me any more money.

 I can make a lot of extra dough from working extra, too. My unit has a highly incentive bonus program. It works like this: In a 12 week period, I work a certain number of extra hours and in addition to the overtime money that  I get with each check, at the end of the 12 week period, I will get a big fat check, max of $1500...

144+ hours=$10.42 (144 x 10.52=$1500)
120-143 hours=9.90
96-119 hours=9.38
72-95 hours=8.85
48-71 hours=$8.3

Working just one extra day per week (four 12 hour shifts, as opposed to 3) could earn me an extra $1500 in 12 weeks; not to mention the extra money in my checks. 
What is my ultimate goal for earning extra money? I want to pay off my car loan. Right now, I have $6700 left and my goal is to have it paid off by March 2012. If I keep chipping away here and there, and then with the help of my tax return next January, it completely doable. This would free-up an extra $316/month for me. A huge relief.

Plus, my warranty ends in 2012, so it would be ideal for me to not have payments each month if something decides to break on the car. I plan on driving this car into the ground. It'a a 2005 Toyota Corolla LE that I purchased in March 2009. It had 3,500 miles on it at the time!! That's as a 3-4 year old car. Now, the car is 6 years old and still only has 26,000 miles on it.  I CAN DO IT!!

As for Yoga Teacher Training?
I must be honest, I have not been giving it 100%. We have every other weekend intensives, but during the week, we can choose from a huge schedule and attend classes. We need 24 by graduation. At this rate, we should probably have 12-14 classes under our belts, which all need to be evaluated.
Me? I have...oh, 3.
I don't know what's my problem (actually, I do, I have no motivation and I am sad about my mom's death and tired from working, ha), but this last weekend intensive has really spun my head around and I know I need a good kick in the ass. I am determined to stop slacking and start giving it my all.

Is anyone still reading?