All posts by aspiringashtangi

About aspiringashtangi

Embarking on a Journey to deepen my yoga practice and awaken my heart.

18 conclusions since turning 18

Mind you, I’m halfway through my 24th year on this earth, so it had been almost a cool 5.5 years since I turned 18. But also mind you that in these past 5 years I have gone through some of my darkest times, had some serious personal growth, and have made some seriously awesome (and some not so seriously awesome) memories. In fact, 5 years ago today I was starting the second semester of my freshman year at the university of Mary Washington, which happens to be a year of my most painful memories. With that being said, I have a lot of free time here in Mysore which leads to a lot of time to reflect. I have jotted down 18 conclusions I have come to since I have turned 18. I understand that I’m still young and that these may change as I get older but here is what I got, and I think it’s pretty good:

1. More than likely, things won’t work out as planned.

I honestly hate the word plan because it just has never been useful in my experience. You can research, plan, and put together the most beautiful plan that has ever been put together but it will still probably not go the way you want. Life happens. Plain and simple. It’s our reaction that really matters. I’ve learned that once you can “go with the flow”, plans have a way of always falling into place. Perspective and attitude are everything.

2. Never try to be someone else for someone else.

Please NEVER do this because it just never ends well. Like ever. I have wasted so much damn time obsessing over how people see me, trying to be friends with certain people, and trying to be someone that I thought they would like better. In reality, you become so exhausted from resisting the urge to be your true self that you’ll inevitably explode, make a total ass out of yourself, and lose these so called friends you worked so desperately hard to make. Don’t waste your time and save yourself from the self-hate, be you always. You’ll attract people who love this you, and those are the people you want in your life. You are awesome and don’t forget it.

3. Lying NEVER EVER EVER ENDS WELL. EVER.

This is a tough one for me as I went through a phase of essentially being a pathological liar. I didn’t like who I was so I wanted to create a new persona. I lied so much I wouldn’t even realize that I was doing it and I dug myself into a massive hole, crater, whatever it was it was huge. I got caught and there really isn’t anything more embarrassing, in my experience. But it happened and it took years to forgive myself and move on. I have learned through gaining my self-confidence over the past couple years that my truth is pretty awesome and that’s all that I should and will speak.

4. Alcohol doesn’t make your issues disappear, but a little red wine with your girlfriends certainly helps.

Mom and dad you may not want to read this but it’s important that I mention it. Alcohol doesn’t fix anything. It doesn’t erase things that have happened and it certainly won’t magically get rid of your issues. I started to drink at the way too young age of 16 and wasn’t able to responsibly drink, ironically, until I turned 21. In high school it was fun because of the thrill but when I sunk into my deep depression my first few years of college, I drank to numb the pain, I drank to feel good, and I drank to forget. I was reckless. I have learned that alcohol doesn’t suppress your emotions but rather all your issues will come out in black-out drunken rages and you will absolutely make a total ass of yourself. Again I speak from way too much experience. I have learned that excessive alcohol does not serve me in the slightest. Don’t get me wrong, I am human and a freshly graduated college student and have certainly overdone it a few times in the past couple years, but it was never the intention, which is much different than intending to overdo it every time. But I have also learned that a glass of good red wine with my best friends is so good for my soul, even therapeutic. I have learned moderation and that the best memories can be made over a glass of J. Lohr cab sav. (Kinsey)

5. Take care of your body.

This has been a tough one for me as well. But I have learned again to honor and love my body through my yoga practice after years of a self-destructing eating disorder. Our culture is so disconnected from our bodies and I think we forget this is the only vessel we are given. I have seen so many people my age and that are older than me who are in terrible health because they never learned how to take care of their bodies. I know yoga isn’t the only way to do so, but it has helped me stay fit and continue to heal. I think it is so important to learn early to eat right, move your body daily, and do things that make you happy. And everything in moderation because what’s life without some dessert honestly?

6. Friends that stick by you during your darkest times…you better keep them around.

I have been so blessed to have the best friends in the world. Yes I’m biased but honestly they are the most incredible people I know. They have dealt with my crazy “plans”, my lies, my depression, really me at my worst and they still love me. They never blinked an eye. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to tell them in words what their unconditional love and support means to me. They know who they are, and please know how much I love you. Keep friends who have been there for you, like mine, close and never out of reach. These kinds of people make life so sweet and worthwhile.

7. Family really is everything.

This can also be under #6 too, as friends are the family that we pick and not everyone has blood family they can depend on. I am so lucky to have both. As I have gotten older I have learned that family time isn’t forever, and now these times and memories are so sweet and precious. Cherish your family, whether related or not, because when everything falls apart these are the people who help put you back together. Again, I’ll never have the words to express how much I love mine and how thankful and grateful I am for their love and support. And remember to be family to those who need you the most right now. What comes around most certainly goes around.

8. Not everyone will agree or understand your goals and dreams, and that’s OK.

This one is still hard for me. I want everyone to be on board with my “plans” and I want everyone to understand my intentions, but this just will never be the case. I wanted my parents to be jumping for joy the first time I was headed to India to study at KPJAYI, but they didn’t and it was so hard. I obviously went anyway and they came around as I am here again on my second trip 🙂 My point is that I’ve learned that not everyone has to get it, as long as what your are doing best serves you and your purpose that’s all that matters. Because I’ve also learned that the ones that matter will love and support you regardless if they agree or understand. I have to constantly remind myself of this. We know ourselves best, so trust your gut and do YOU.

9. It’s really good to learn to say no sooner rather than later.

Again, I have learned this by experience. I have overcommitted myself too many times and it just leads to letting yourself and others down, which leads to self-hate. My best friend/teacher Marcia can attest to this 🙂 Thanks for still loving me and giving me a third second chance! When you overcommit you exhaust yourself, you take less care of yourself, and you just feel like shit. It’s not worth it so say NO. It can be done nicely! As Ron Swanson said: “It’s better to whole ass one thing than half ass two things.” Be your best, one thing at a time.

10. Comparing yourself to others is the biggest disservice you can do to yourself.

Again, something else I am constantly working on. I find myself comparing myself to EVERYONE. Especially when it comes to physical appearance which is rooted in my lifelong struggle with body image. Thankfully my yoga practice is a daily reminder that I am perfect the way I am in this moment. That I am exactly where I should be. And that I have control over my life. When we compare ourselves to other it completely invalidates our self-worth. We have the power to change anything we want, but let the intention of that change be to transform yourself into the best possible version of YOU.

11. Awareness is not only important, but necessary.

I am just about convinced that my healing has a lot to do with my increasing self-awareness over the last two years. I owe this to my yoga practice as well. Getting on the mat every morning allows me to check in with myself and ask questions like: how do I feel? How are my relationships? How am I reacting to situations? What needs work today? This increased self-awareness has also triggered a yearning to be more aware of the world and what is happening. Take time everyday to check in whether it be yoga, on a walk or run, or even driving home from work. Also, read the news, stay informed with what’s going on around you because it really does effect all of us.

12. Travel.

I could not be a bigger advocate for travel. Domestic or international, just go. My times abroad and away from home where some of the most transformative times of my life. This is where we can learn the most about ourselves, when we are vulnerable and uncomfortable. I’m also convinced when you see how huge the world is you realize how small you are which is a good check to the ego. So just go. GO. When I asked Kino MacGregor about my hesitation about going to Mysore for the first time she said: “You have the pull to go for a reason. Trust it. Buy the ticket now, think about it later.”

13. Being selfish is important.

Let me explain. This kind of goes with giving yourself time to gain some self-awareness and take care of your body. When I say selfish I mean to make sure you make yourself a priority. Do things that make you happy and serve your purpose. I have learned that when you do these “selfish” things, you are a better person to the world around you. When you take time for yourself, you have more energy to give back to others and the community. So is it really selfish?

14. But like I said, giving back is important too.

Like taking time for yourself, take time to give back. Keep the balance. It’s basically an equal exchange to the universe. I have learned that sometimes giving back is actually taking time for yourself. You are allowing yourself to gain awareness and making room for personal growth. So volunteer, help a friend to move, spend time with grandma, whatever it may be, give some love back!

15. Saying you’re sorry too much is invalidating.

Some say it’s “I love you” but I think “I’m sorry” is the most over used phrase/word at this time. It is loosing it’s meaning and frankly I think it weakens our demeanor the more loosely and casually we use it. This is actually one of my resolutions, not to say sorry all the time. I mean I would say it if I messed up an order at a new job or even if someone ran into ME. I was new to the job so I obviously didn’t know better and I certainly didn’t do it on purpose, so why am I sorry? She ran into me, shouldn’t she say something? I put myself into a position where I had to really apologize to friend for really hurting her feelings last Christmas and it was SO hard. This made me realize that saying you’re sorry when it’s not needed invalidates it’s true purpose and meaning. I want to resolve to being known for taking responsibilities for my mistakes, not saying I’m sorry. I want to resolve to being aware and strong enough to say I’m sorry when a true apology is needed.

16. Be aware of privilege.

My education at App State opened my eyes to many things, but the most important being my privilege. Growing up in a predominately white area, coming from a middle class white family, and being a middle class white female myself, I was not aware that most things worked in my favor. Whether or not you want to believe white privilege exists, which it does, I have learned that this may never change but it is so important that people are aware of it. We should know that others have it a lot worse than us and that maybe our privilege can be used for something useful. Not a sermon, just a thought.

17. Don’t settle.

Know your self-worth. Don’t let fear anchor you down. I have learned that in many ways society tells us the “best” way to live and the “best” things to peruse, and what our self-worth and purpose is. Only you know what’s best for you. Only you know your purpose and self-worth. Don’t settle for the status quo if it does not serve you. Settle on your own terms, no one else’s. This is one of the most valuable conclusions I have come to.

18. Have faith in timing.

I never understood why things happened the way they did and when they did. But I now have learned that I will never know and don’t need to know. All I know is that everything has happened at its most perfect time. This is of course in hindsight but with this new perspective, I have faith in the timings of all things that have and will happen to me. We may not know why something is happening or not, but with time we will. But also don’t wait to make the first move. Be proactive but be flexible.

So there you have it, my comprehensive list of my 18 conclusions I have come to since I turned 18. If you found it useful, I am so glad and if not, thanks for reading anyway. I hope you all can take some time to reflect on what life have taught you since you turned 18, it may surprise you! Miss and love you all!

Ally

January 5, 2015

Sorry for the unoriginal title, but considering how much I’ll be on here catchy ones will appear when they come to me.  As for what’s going on with me? Not a whole lot which seems to be just enough right now.  I had my first led class with Saraswathi yesterday and like always it was really hard, just like Sharth’s led. A good ol’ ass whooping at 5:45 am is just want I need. Today is a moon day so no practice, a group of us went to the infamous “secret breakfast” spot that is a favorite among yoga students. This was my first time and it was wonderful with deliciously cheap food and good company. Later today we have a lunch planned at a local woman’s house, Pushpa. Last night my roommate and a friend and I went down into the city to do some shopping in the big market and to see the palace lit up. Going into the city is always a reminder of the bubble Gokulam we live in, the city is a glimpse of “real India” (Pics Below) and we capped the night off on a ride on the local, no AC bus for 15 rupees that was so full that they couldn’t shut the doors. So other than practice, drinking coconuts, and eating some bomb Indian food, that’s it. Typical life in Mysore for yoga peeps.

I think one of the most challenging parts of being here is adjusting to not having real responsibilities or obligations besides making sure you show up on time to the Shala in the morning. After that though, the day is yours to do as you wish and sometimes this kind of freedom is a little overwhelming. Especially after a hellish last semester with constant assignments, papers, and more papers, it still feels odd not having a deadline approaching and I still feel the urge to check my planner. (Which isn’t possible as it is in the Watauga county landfill.) Though there is a good bit socializing, there is even more alone time, w hich to many of us constantly-on-the-go westerners this is scary. From what I learned last time it is that this time is actually the most important, or even sacred, that we get. But for most of us we fill it with to-do lists, and we don’t actually want to sit with ourselves and maybe take a glimpse of the shit that accumulated emotionally, spiritually, mentally…whatever you want to call it. I once hated to be alone with myself because I did NOT want to acknowledge that I even had issues or massive pile of you know what to sort through, but my first trip to Mysore left me no choice. With the moving, twisting, bending, and sweating of my yoga practice 6 days a week and way too much free time (or like I said, just enough) I had to dig, sort, dispose, and clean up things that I had no intention of reliving and also things I didn’t know that had embedded into my being. So now I’m back to take a look at the crud that has accumulated over the last two years and I’m here to sift and clean up. People have asked why me and hundreds of people continue to my yearly or bi-yearly trips here as we have already been and what else is there to see? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain it and certainly not for anyone else but myself. We all have our own experiences here. Theee was that initial pull for all of us to come to Mysore, for whatever reason and there is obviously something that keeps us coming back to practice and study with our teacher. For me I’m convinced there is some healing power in the air, something that allows me to block out distractions and allows me to really sit and be with myself. I think all of us that make the trip are drawn by the same force but come back for different reasons. I come to continue my healing process, reset my mind and body, and to meet and reconnect with those on the same path. Oh, and I’m also pretty convinced with that whole ashtanga system thing 😉

So that’s all I got for an update, more will surely come. Love and miss you all!!

Ally

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The foreign becomes the familiar.

wishing you all a happy new year from Mysore!! It’s still 2014 back at home but I can say, since I am talking from the future, that 2015 is great. All 30 minutes I have been awake for it. I got in yesterday (NYE) and ran around getting our stuff into our flat, getting our money exchanged, getting registered for Saraswathi, and re-acclimating to India and the little neighborhood of Gokulam. I’ve already seen several familiar faces and just for I am thankful as it makes adjusting so much easier. There have certainly been changes to the area but not enough to make it feel like a foreign place. It’s pretty amazing to be in a place so far away from home, that feels so familiar and like a home itself.  Once I was done running around I showered and promptly fell asleep at 7:30 pm to only being awaken by some fireworks at midnight. And this morning I woke up to my favorite sounds of the beeping rickshaws and chirping chipmunks.

Today, New Year’s Day, I start my practice with Saraswathi at 8:30 am and I’m interested how my body is going to behave after almost 48 hours of travel. Regardless I am so excited for this new experience to practice with her and I’ll let you know how first day back goes. My flat is wonderful with a wonderful family as our landlord that lives below us, and I’m thankful for my western-styped bathroom lol. So this was a quick update, but I will be back on soon to post some pics! Wishing you the best in 2015!!! Xx

ally

Prepare for take off…

I was debating whether or not to stop using this blog, and start fresh with another one but I’ve decided to keep on with aspiringashtangi.  I want my readers to see my growth over the last two years since I first started this blog, and how my interests and perspective has changed.  In fact, I was just looking back at my first posts and was cracking up at myself and wondering what my motivation was behind some of them, and how I was a bit deluded about my intentions.  I don’t think I really knew what I wanted to write about, all I knew was that I wanted to document my journey, and I am glad I did. I still don’t think I really know what my intentions are still, but I am confident that my growth and experiences over the last two years will help me produce posts that have a bit more depth than my “yoga diet” or yoga in general.  Don’t get me wrong, yoga still remains a part of my daily life, but I want this blog to represent more than just that aspect of who I am, I want it to represent who I have become since my first trip to India.  I have been TERRIBLE with keeping up with this blog since Spain and my last semester of college.  Honestly, I was already writing so many papers for school that the last thing I wanted to do was get on here and blog.  But I am back, motivated and excited for what is to come, and ready to write my thoughts down whether people read them or not. So a little recap of whats been happening since I blogged last…SIX months ago:

In August I headed back down to Boone to finish up my last semester of school, and as crazy, hectic, and stressful as it was, it was the best semester of my life.  I took a full class load including my senior capstone class which required a 25-35 page thesis research paper, I was working around 20-22 hours a week at Stickboy Bread Co., and became pretty involved with a club on campus called the Appalachian Educators of Social Justice.  All of which were crucial ingredients to my crazy, awesome semester and none of which I would change.  I loved my classes and my program of study (Global Studies), they have inspired me to go out and really do something rather than just get sucked into the statusquo.  They allowed me to unleash the inner feminist that was suppressed for so long and I feel like I have truly found my calling.  (At least for now) My time working at Stickboy, though short, proved to be some of the best times of my time at App. I met some of the best people and made really amazing friends, they really made me feel like a part of the family.  I am so thankful for my time there and it was painful to leave. (Yes, there were tears.) My rough start to my college experience could not have had a better ending.  I mean, how lucky am I to have lived in a place that made it SO hard to leave? That is how I know that App State was my place.  I have yet another heart string attached on the map of the world, thank you Boone, for taking such good care of me.

I’m officially a college graduate, so what’s next?  As usual, I am not still for long and ready to embark on my next little adventure. I head back to India on Monday for two months of study at KPJAYI (check out the site if you have no idea what that means: kpjayi.org). I have been waiting to go back since the day I left a little over two years ago, it doesn’t feel real yet and probably won’t until I am buckled in my seat on the runway.  This time will be a little different, as I am studying with Saraswathi (Sharath’s mother, Guruji’s daughter) rather than Sharath who I studied with last time.  Since I applied for the busiest time at the shala and due to application submission difficulties, I did not get a space with him.  But to be honest, I am so glad and excited to be a student of Mamaji this time. I believe it is where I am meant to be.  So, Ill be in Mysore for about 7 weeks and then Ill finish out my trip with a little traveling with my brother, our plan is to explore up north a bit and do the Taj Mahl, don’t worry I’ll take plenty of pics and blow up your instagram feeds 😉

I am curious to see how this second trip will go and how I will feel.  The first time, with blissful ignorance, was life changing and I would even say life saving as well.  It gave me that quite space to heal and move forward from everything that had happened prior.  With a new found perspective of the world due to my studies, I wonder if this will change how I see India, the shala, and the practice in general.  I guess this is where I find my intention and motivation for this new chapter of my blog.  To document my time in India as I see it through my new lens, not just my yoga practice but all of my experiences while I am over there. So, here I go again, on the move and ready to ring in the new year with a little less (actually none) booze, and with a lot more time to recharge and reflect.  Here’s to 2015 and aspiring to be the best you.

Much love,

Ally

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Progress is in the eye of the beholder.

**warning: this is a yoga post 😉 **

I landed back in the the US of A three weeks ago today and I have quickly settled back into my routine, just like I hadn’t even been gone for the last five months. I am working back at my favorite little health food store and doing some catering on the side, I am so lucky to have reliable work that I actually enjoy.  I am reconnecting with friends and family, getting back into an exercise routine and have transitioned back into my mostly veggie diet, for the most part I feel pretty good. My practice, ha, well that is a different story.  For the most part I maintained a steady practice while abroad, or as much as I could with traveling and making sure I experienced as much of the European culture as possible.  But wow, it was really, REALLY hard. Sometimes I would skip days at a time, maybe even go a week without getting on my mat, and I would feel this immense guilt.  Especially when I would log onto facebook and see many of my yogi friends around the world post beutiful videos or be tagged in pics of their crazy deep backbends, incredibly strong handstands, and their delicious looking fresh green juices they were slurping on. (“Oh man I shouldn’t have eaten the ham and cheese baguette last night”, I would think.) I had come to the conclusion that I was inevitably digressing after I had put in so much work during my home practice on my mat for the past year and a half since I returned from Mysore.  I had let my practice go by the wayside and let the Spanish culture of late nights, pounds of bread, and the many (insanely good) scoops of helado consume me. (pun kinda intended)

Now that I am back home and can return to normal living hours and accessibility to health foods, exercise classes, and mat time, things are somewhat better.  My diet has cleaned up tremendously, I have joined a cycling studio that I really love, and though my practice is existent it surely isn’t what it was pre-Spain.  Especially since I have been dealing with immense lower back pain, to the point that I can only do about half of the primary series.  But this morning I had a much different perspective as I sat in lotus at the end of my short and sweet practice.  What is progress? Is it always adding new postures in your practice? Binding your ankles, calves, or thighs in backends? Touching your toes in handstand? Or is it rolling out your mat in the morning despite the little voice telling you to go back to bed? Or is it rolling out your mat despite the events happening in your family, work, or social life? Or is it rolling out your mat despite the intense lower back pain your woke up with? Or is it just rolling out your mat each morning despite everything? I believe its both.  Progress is getting up and doing something, digression is doing nothing. Whether it be just getting out of bed or just unrolling your mat just to sit and be. That’s doing something despite the shitty circumstances that life may be throwing your way, THAT is progress.  Progress for me was getting on my mat this morning despite the frustration that I’ll have to put my work on karandavasana on hold and letting go of that frustration.  Progress for me was realizing that maybe I wasn’t using my bandhas and core as much as a should have been the last year and half and my back is finally feeling its overcompensation.  Progress for me was taking each posture slowly, being mindful of how my back felt and what muscles were working and what muscles should be working. Progress to me is letting go of the guilt of letting a few days slip from me and to allow  myself to be 22 in Europe and to experience the culture. Progress for me is that despite how much I do on my mat, I still walk away feeling more confident in my own skin, with who I am, and what I can offer the world or leaves me thinking how I can be better to the world.  Progress (and reassurance) to me is that the effect of this practice remains the same off the mat despite the quantity that happens on the mat. Quality over quantity.

I love facebook for the reasons that I can stay connected to my friends all over the world and also that I can be inspired by the very unique and dedicated lives they all live.  And I appreciate what they share. I must continue to tell myself not to compare myself to others especially in the physical sense or judge others by what they share because truly only God, the universe, Shiva, whoever or whatever knows what is truly happening within them.  And maybe these things they share are representative of their progress.  (And these also are weak moments of my ego, frankly.) Practice makes progress.

 

All my love,

 

A

 

 

No matter your age, it’s still a struggle. (yes this is a yoga post) (spain: day 72)

I am not writing this for sympathy nor am I fishing for compliments. I am writing this to vent or perhaps reach someone out there in this over-populated world that could possibly relate.  I have tried to avoid posting about my yoga practice and going on and on about my struggles with karandavasana and “catching” in backbends, because honestly who cares, right? And most people who will see this on my facebook will have absolutely no idea what the hell I am talking about.  But, this blog is kind of like my practice. It keeps me real, it keeps me honest, and it is a time to sit and let go of emotions that are coming up.  So here it is: I see these posts all over the web about practitioners of all lineages talk about their age and how they found it later in life, and how they wish they found it when they were in their 20’s because it would have been so much easier. Okay, ya, I’m not in my 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and so on. I’m 22. I hear all the time “wow you are so lucky”, “wow I wish I was your age when i started, it would have been so much easier!”  And yes, you can believe me when I say I am SO grateful that this practice of ashtanga yoga found me at 21. No doubt it saved my life. Gave me life. And continues to do so. But is the practice easier because I am 22 and “young”?

I’m my humble opinion, abso-fucking-lutely not. (Sorry parents and grandparents).  Okay, yes my body may be more flexible, malleable, my muscles may recover faster, and my joints may be well oiled still, I may have “more” energy but does that make it easy? No.  I still struggle. My body still gives me issues, my lower back has had a dull pain for the last month and a half due to the fact that my tiled apartment refuses to let me sweat, I am still really, REALLY freaking tired at 6:30 am when I wake up, and some days I can lower down in karandavasana and some days I can barely balance in uttthita hasta padagustasana.  Same issues that the “older folk” have.  (To me age is a mind set) But here is something that you tend to forget…being in your 20’s. This is supposed to be a time of late nights, dancing, drinking, experimenting, being free, and letting loose.  Which I did in my later teens and even earlier 20’s, don’t get me wrong.  I left for Mysore at 21 doing these things, I was dabbling in ashtanga, not really committed but committed to the trip I was about to make.  I came back, still 21, committed to the practice but totally uprooted from the social norm of being in your 20’s.  It was a blessing and a curse. Here I was (still am), back in college, going to bed at 8:30, rising at 4:45 am to practice before my 8 am classes, eating my last meal before 6 pm, castor oil baths on saturdays, doing my japa daily, and watching the moon cycle intently. Did you do this in your 20’s? As I moved through my semesters following my Mysore trip I was constantly being tugged by “the college 20’s life” and my inner, old, “yogini” self.  Do I stay out late to hang out? Or do I call it a night and maybe miss out on an experience?  Do I take those shots? Or do I order a tonic water instead? I felt and still feel that I was less connected to those my age. Nothing has changed since I have arrived in Spain to do my semester abroad. In fact it has just gotten harder.  Do I go on that weekend trip? Or do I stay so I don’t miss practice on sunday? Do I go to the beer fest during the day? Even though I’ll feel like shit when I practice in the morning? Is it weird i’d rather stay home and read, then go out to the bar? And the most asked question(s) to myself: am I really effing crazy?  (probably)

Sometimes I feel like a 42 year old amongst the 19/20 year olds that are in my program. And sometimes I hate that. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so disciplined and didn’t prioritized my practice.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t sacrifice certain experiences for my practice. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have this guilt of missing a practice. But I do and I am.  And it’s really, really hard, ya I’ll say it.  And on top of that I have no community to escape to in the morning, to breath and move with, to interact with.  It has just been me, my manduka, and whatever tiny apartment I am currently occupying at the time for the last year and a half.  And again, it’s  like really, really, really hard.  But something deep, deeeeeep down reminds me it’s worth it, so I listen. But ultimately  I chose this way of life, I choose to make these sacrifices because I know what my life was like before it all. No one is forcing me. And I also know I am not the only one out there. But because I am 22, doesn’t make it easier.

Again, I am not looking for sympathy, in fact I don’t want it or need it. Nor am I looking for compliments.  But I needed to spill it somewhere, so I chose my blog. No matter what your practice is, no matter what lineage you follow, a daily, disciplined practice is really freaking hard.  No matter your capabilities physically, whether you have a studio/community accessible, or your age…it’s a struggle.  But I have found that the struggle is actually really beautiful.  The more I sit with these feelings of frustration and confusion, the more I realize I don’t miss out on anything.  In fact I get to experience so much more because my mind is a bit clearer every day, my heart opens up more every day, and I am a little bit healthier everyday.  Sure, you can say I am “lucky” to have this tool to supplement my life so, but is it easy??? No. Is it worth it? Abso-fucking-lutely.

xo

Ally

Spain: Day…51?

YIKES. It’s been a while since I have written here, time seriously flies in Sevilla!  So just a quick update: It is midterm time at the moment in school, I have had two and have three more next week. So that has definitely kept me busy between studying and writing papers, but after Wednesday I’ll just be cruisin’ till finals! I’ve done a little bit of traveling since being here, I went to Morocco and Gibraltar last month and it was so beautiful.  Parts of Morocco reminded me a bit of India with all the beautiful colors, scents, and fabrics.  And wow does Morocco have some gorgeous beaches! It was stunning and so, so nice to by the ocean for a short time.  I have also been to Cordoba, a city about an hour and a half outside of Sevilla.  It’s known for its incredible architecture and the famous “La Mezquita” (mosque) which is now a cathedral. And it was definitely incredible like they say, there is something humbling yet recharging about being in a place that is SO old.  I also went to Cadiz for Carnaval with a group of friends earlier this month.  If you don’t know what carnaval is, google it haha it was wild.  It’s basically the European version of Mardi Gras but way bigger and you dress up as ridiculous as possible. I, for instance, was a cow. Utters and all.  I’m glad I had the experience but one time was definitely enough!  I will definitely be returning to Cadiz as the weather is starting to reach beach temperature and because it is only an hour away.  But since then, we just continue to explore Sevilla and it continues to amaze me.  I have several trips coming up, we may try to get out of town next weekend to treat ourselves after midterms, so I will keep you posted on that.  Also, my mom, Uncle Scott and Rob come in TWO WEEKS! I am sososososooooooo excited to have family come for a bit.  I am meeting them in Barcelona and then we will train back to Sevilla where they will stay for a week. I have no doubt it will be a blast with lots of site seeing, food, and of course wine.  April will be a busy month as well, we get 11 days of for Semana Santa and Sevilla is the place to be for this holiday. They say there is no place like it. The weekend before a group of us are going to do a beach weekend in Portugal and obviously as beach lover, this cannot come soon enough!! Then 48 hours later Aileen and I are jet setting to Ireland for 4 days. Now this, this has always been a dream of mine. There are no words to tell you how excited I am, and don’t worry I will blow up you Facebook and Instagram feeds with millions of pictures.  We get back and get to enjoy the last few days of Semana Santa. Oh, did I mention I also register for my last semester of undergrad? Woah.  And then two weeks after that, Wendy comes for a week for Feria!!! So much to look forward too, I feel so lucky.

I appreciate, very much, the beauty and culture here in Spain.  The beauty in the old, narrow cobble stone streets and colorful buildings.  The passion the people have for their culture and heritage. To call this place home, even for a short time is so amazing.  In just two months, I feel like I have learned and grown so much.  Everyday I am challenged whether is be getting my a$$ on my yoga mat in the morning, speaking with locals, finding my way around town, adjusting to new culture and people, and school.  I am grateful for these opportunities.  They give me the opportunity to learn a bit more about myself like my strengths, weaknesses, and limits everyday.  Living abroad really reinforces the fact that everything really is temporary, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I’ve come to the conclusion that is one of life’s greatest blessings.  The good: there can be too much of a good thing.  With too much good, you lose appreciation for it, you loose the opportunity to soak up life’s sweetest moments.  The bad and the ugly: yes, nobody wants too much of these times in life.  But I swear these are God’s way of telling you to adjust your attitude and that a major breakthrough is coming.  These times will make the good SO, so much sweeter. These are the times of growth, and everyone has room for that.  And remember they are all temporary, so savor them all, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Missing you all from the sunniest city in Spain! All my love!

Ally

Spain: day 10

I feel so, so grateful to be in this city. To be meeting people from around the world and to be exposed to new things, it is totally amazing, do not get me wrong.  But I have to say it has been quite an emotional roller-coaster since my arrival, the highs of new sights and friends and the lows of language barriers and uncomfortable situations.  I am being challenged a lot here, in my comfort zone, my daily routines, my (seemingly limited) Spanish, and apparently the task of finding coconut oil. Seriously, WHERE ARE THEY HIDING IT?! But that aside, things are going.  I was trying not to blog too much about my yoga practice, as it seems that is all people ever talk about, but it’s a part of me now so, how could I not?

It’s been rough. Plain and simple. Though the outdoor temperature is much warmer than back home, the indoor temperature, I swear, is colder. Tile floors and concrete walls are doing their job by keeping our apartment cold, preparing for the scorching summers.  I have to layer up and place a space heater so close to my yoga mat I could probably get a sunburn.  But regardless, I am on my mat and never regret being there.  My last great adventure was to Mysore, over a year ago, and I think in my subconscious I assumed I would have the same exact experience from the get-go.  Not the case, obviously, because I came to a different country to study for my degree and Sevilla doesn’t even have a Mysore program in sight. Which is fine, ultimately, since I have had a home practice for over a year now.

I was inspired to write this post because I was thinking how I would have reacted to this kind of situation two years ago.  For those of you who don’t know, I was in my lowest moments, feeling permanently lost and confused about life in general. (There is much more to the story but it does not matter at this point) Two years ago or more, if I was in a situation where I was uncomfortable I would run for the door. Without even thinking, I was out of there.  I never gave myself the time to sit and see what the situation actually was.  Fortunately, I was saved when Michael Gannon came back into town to lead a week long Ashtanga intensive and it was then I said “f@*k it, I’m going to Mysore.” And as I have said and will say for the rest of my life, the trip was the most heart opening and awakening experience of my life, that which ultimately (I believe) saved my life. But that story has been told as well, moving on.  As I sit here in another foreign country, uncomfortable, nervous, scared, anxious, I know that I am okay. I just know.  Why I love the Ashtanga system so much is its absolute concreteness in the sense of its loyalty. It isn’t going anywhere. But also its absolutely openness to allow you to grow into the best person you can be.  Yes your asana practice evolves and progresses over time, but the essence of the practice stays the same, and that is why I know I am okay.  Life doesn’t get harder or easier, life is concrete but full of space to grow as well.  When my practice gets hard: I breath, I move, I get through it, and I have grown. Life: “Same-same” (As Sharath would say).  I can now be okay with being uncomfortable because I have an unbreakable faith that growth is at the end. That this will also be a life transforming experience.  So I welcome the challenge or better yet, the opportunity.  I know longer run, I embrace.  This is why I practice everyday, because I am able to see what life has to offer.  Yes, I know, I’m 22 so what do I know? I know a lot of things actually, but I also do not know a lot of things.  I know one thing for sure: I am lucky to have this practice as a tool. A tool that has given me the faith to live life fully and to see everything it is worth, and to know this at 22.

One of my favorite books of all time, “The Laws of Spirit”, by Dan Millman (HIGHLY recommend it) has a chapter called the “Law of Faith”.  “And as you live in the light of this law, it will transform your perception and experiences of the world. You’ll begin to see every difficulty as a test in order to instruct you; you’ll find lessons and opportunities in every challenge.” (Dan Millman) I am sitting in an uncomfortable situation comfortably, because I have faith that this experience will make me a better person to this world.

So, in the meantime, I will sit and breath in the Spanish beauty and challenges, then inhale lift up and exhale jump back. On to the next.

todo mi amor,

Ally

Spain: Day 2

Well, It didn’t take long but I have fallen in love with Sevilla.  The best way to describe the city is simply: dreamy.  Beautiful colors, flowers, greenery, and the wine…THE WINE Y’ALL.  It’s cheaper than water, so there’s that.  The food is incredible too, we had some amazing seafood Paella yesterday with Sangria, I know it’s a rough life. Aileen (my friend/roommate from school) and I have done lots of walking and exploring and grocery shopping haha!  On Monday we have to go to our host university to take our placement exam for our classes, then orientation on Tuesday, then Wednesday classes officially start.  So, next week this life should feel more like reality and I find a routine.  Our apartment is perfect, just us two so its cozy but the greatest part is our own private rooftop patio. The morning light here is incredible, it’s my favorite part of the day. After three days of traveling and dealing with jet lag I finally got on my mat this morning in my teeny room, if you wanted to know 😉

 

Surprisingly, my Spanish is much better than I expected…probably because in the States we don’t ever actually speak it, funny how much you know when you have no other choice but to use it. It’s been fun, now I am super determined to really work on my speaking. Last night Aileen and I went to a part of the city that we were told that mainly locals go out for drinks on the weekend, so we braved it and found our way.  I don’t think I have ever felt so out of place in my life, I felt like the geek who wasn’t invited to the party but didn’t know so came anyway. Lots of stares and smirks, BUT we stayed for a beer still.  Next time we’ll actually talk to someone, baby steps.  But situations like these are why I love traveling so much.  Feeling vulnerable plants the seed of growth.

 

This was a quick update, but just wanted to let family and friends know that I am settling quite well (VERY well) and loving it so far.  I am loving the sun and the beautiful people.  I will post about my first few days of school next week.  Love to my family and friends!! xx

 

Ally

Resolutions

2013 was certainly one for the books. I have learned more about myself than I have in the last 22 years of my life. I have grown up, fallen down, gotten back up, I have pushed myself, taken risks, I see things around me differently, have met new people, grown to cherish those I have in my life even more, and my heart has finally opened. I am so very thankful for this past year and all the experiences, good and bad, that have put me in this place that I am today.  The fog that has blinded and weighed me down for so many years, has finally lifted. I am so, SO happy.

2014 holds lots of promise and I believe it will be a big year again, just as I predicted 2013 would be. (Intuition never lies, people!!)  Lets see, I leave for my semester abroad in Sevilla, Spain in 19 days (EEK!), then head back to Boone for my last semester at App State and undergrad (finally), graduate in December, and then shortly after will be returning to my home away from home: Mysore (FINALLY). Insert the #blessed. But for real, I am lucky.  The inner nomad in me is so excited for the coming months, to be able to travel and explore new parts of the world and push my comfort zone. I also feel quite nervous and scared…which means I am doing the right thing. Keep life exciting, right?!

So, tis’ the season for resolutions and to set goals for the new year ahead. I have been doing a lot of reflecting and decided that last year was my year for meeting goals so this year is dedicated to going further, remaining disciplined, and Tapas, Tapas, Tapas! Tapas refers to personal discipline and devotion, in my yoga asana practice, spiritual practice, eating and body habits, ect.  My resolution and mantra for this year: Tapas.  To remain focused and devoted to my ashtanga yoga practice, on and off my mat.  To continue strengthening my devotion to my mind, body, and soul. Lastly, to continue and grow my devotion to God and my faith.

I will be trying to post fairly regularly while I am frolicking around Spain and Europe (It’s a hard life), and posting pics.  I wish you ALL and very happy and healthy new year. I hope you take risks, make mistakes, and explore what this life has to offer. After all, we create our life, so get goin’!

“I hope in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.” – Neil Gaiman

all my love and then some,

Ally