A Thank You Note to Yoga for “Intention”

Guys, it took almost 2 years, but Austin has finally converted me into a yogi. Okay, not like a real yogi. I don’t go every day. Honestly, I really only average like 1-2 times a week. But I’m prepared to take on the yogi identifier for a couple of reasons.

First, I have goals on my mat. Yeah goals, plural.One of them isn’t even “Don’t fall over.” I’m actually kind of okay with falling over these days. I want to be able to do crow pose. That’s one of my goals.So far I haven’t really gotten to hold it without falling over.Crow Pose

I also want to be able to consistently do wheel. The crazy thing is that I’ve done wheel. But sometimes I go to class, and I get scared and I think I can’t hold myself up and I don’t do it. It doesn’t even correlate to my physical fitness. Last week, I was honestly probably a little hungover, and I did wheel just fine. I could barely balance in the simplest of poses, but I could do a full back bend. It doesn’t really make sense.

Right there is another reason why I think I can call myself a yogi. I have come to a place of acceptance in my body, where I don’t need it to make sense. I’m a pretty linear thinker so this is a big deal. One of the reasons I’ve never been really great of staying physically fit is because I am not naturally athletic, and I don’t really like being bad at stuff. But now when I come to my mat, I’ve finally found a way to not expect anything from myself. I can let me self try and fail, because it’s not really cataloged in my mind as failure anymore. The trying to make my body do that crazy thing was the goal, not actually being able to do it. Can I please get a pause for what a big step that is? I, Amanda, have accepted a non-traditional framework of success. That’s huge for me….and I would argue huge for anyone that’s a type A personality.

I was able to get to that place because of setting my intention. It’s one of the crunchy granola things you do in yoga practice where at the beginning you set your intention for class. The instructor usually uses that moment to share a theme, give you an intention if you haven’t got one lined up. I only even have one intention and that is to do this. Do it. Not do it well. Not “today were doing crow goddamnit!” Nope. My intention is always. “self, we’re here, well done, let’s do it.” And that has made a really big difference.Taking that moment to set an intention is so huge! And finally there’s the last reason I think I’m a yogi now. That is because I have started to take my practice off my mat.

The practice of clearly identifying my intention has been, not to sound cliche but this whole post kinda is anyway, life changing. I feel like before I found some yoga studios I like, I never really bought into the whole yoga thing because I’m unapologetic-ally not a chill person. I’m just not, and I don’t feel the need to be. I get stuff done. That’s my personality. But intention is getting stuff done. It’s complete mindfulness. I’ve come to realize how often we do things without really identifying our end goal. I’ve used intention to convince myself to eat the lunch I brought instead of going out and buying something by reminding my self of the intention I set when I made it to be healthy and financially responsible.

It’s a little thing but intention has helped me use myself to hold myself accountable and to give myself some slack when I need it. Yoga is definitely not for everyone and I honestly doubt I’ll ever get to the place where it’s my central activity. But I am really happy I’ve added it to my life. There are physical health reasons for going. But that’s not really what get me out of my bed on the weekends to go, it’s the head space changes. I thought to be a yogi, you needed to mediate and drink a lot of tea and bend your body crazy ways. These days I think being a yogi is letting your practice be a part of your life, however small. I’m grateful for my practice, and if you haven’t got one I encourage you to at least give intention a shot. You can set an intention from child’s pose…heck you can set it from your couch, yoga pants encourage but not required.

Did Someone Say Free?

There are a couple things you should know about moving miles and miles away from your home base. 1) It ain’t cheap. 2) Your social calendar will take a hit.

Eventually both of those things will work themselves out but as we’re on day 8 in Austin they are both still 100% true for me. Enter Austin’s Free Day of Yoga.  It’s like they knew I’m poor and friendless (ok, that second part isn’t true, I have friends…just limited friends in Austin, and it’s a holiday weekend so they had stuff to do, just like I probably would have if I was in Boston so it’s totally fine).

Austin isn’t the only city that does Free Day of Yoga so I strongly suggest you check out the link. You can even learn how to go about creating a Free Day of Yoga in your city if they don’t already have one. If you’ve ever been to Austin you can’t really be surprised that it was founded here. There are Yoga studios all over the place!

I’ve done yoga off of DVDs (either in the gym in high school or from the comfort of my own home) but I’ve never actually taken a formal class. When I visited and noticed how popular yoga is in Austin I knew I wanted to try it. FDoY was my chance to kill two birds with one stone – try a yoga class risk free and kill some time.

I love a long weekend just as much as the next person, but as someone who draws energy from being around other people I’ve had to work pretty hard to not go insane these past few days. So I when learned about this most amazing of events I kind of planned my weekend around it. Free Day of Yoga was today, Labor Day, but there was a kick off festival yesterday morning. I did both.

The Kick-off was in Tillery Park which is not within walking distance from my current digs so this was a perfect opportunity to experiment with riding the bus. The Capital Metro buses are only a dollar a ride. So that’s nice and cheap. The downside is that they are not NextBus tracked so there really isn’t a way to see in real time if your bus is coming. However, each bus stop in the city has an ID number and you can text that number to Dadnab and you’ll get texts back with the next 4 or 5 departure times for all the buses at that stop. Google Maps even lists the bus stop ID when you get transit directions online. If you’re at the bus stop you can also scan a QR code that launches a mobile site that does the same thing. My bus to the park was 4 minutes behind schedule but the one I took home was right on time. I’m not sure I’ll use the bus as much as I used public transit in Boston but I’m glad I’ve figured out how it works right away.

Tillery Park

I didn’t spend as much time at the kick-off as I had planned. I probably shouldn’t have gone right at 9am,but the first 100 people got a goodie bag and I wanted it!

2 coconut waters, 2 Kind bars, a sweat band, a pen, a magnet, some yoga coupons, and some vegan soap. Not bad.

2 coconut waters, 2 Kind bars, a sweat band, a pen, a magnet, some yoga coupons, and some vegan soap. Not bad.

I honestly would have stayed longer but I’ve come to learn that it can be humid in the mornings here until the heat of the day burns it off. It’s not oppressive or anything, but not comfy. As cute as Tillery was it was kinda buggy and once I had talked to the couple of vendors that had gotten there on time and set up I was ready to scoot out.

Tons and tons of studios all over Austin participate in FDoY. I narrowed it down to the ones I could easily walk to from my apartment. When I saw that Wanderlust was one of those I picked it immediately. My good friend that moved here in July has already been and reported good things. It also has an amazing website with a great story that I totally ate right up so I was sold.

Wanderlust

So today at Noon I rented a mat for $2 (I actually own one but alas, it’s in a U-box making its way to TX from MA) and took my first ever yoga class. It was a Vinyasa class, which to anyone unfamiliar with yoga is just one of many styles of practice. The room was slightly heated. I was so proud of myself for bringing a little towel. I became less proud as the class began and I realized I should have brought at least 4.

First of all the room was packed. We were very, very close to our neighbors. So close that at one point I kicked the guy behind me in the head. Yep, I kicked someone in the head today. I apologized as soon as class ended and he was pretty nice about it. But that didn’t stop me from feeling really bad. I also of course had some type of yoga savant to my left during class. She didn’t even appear to be sweating. I, on the other hand, have never sweat more in my whole life. Literally, beads of sweat all over my body. If you had seen me after you would have though I just got caught in the rain. The only thing that made me feel better in the face of Ms. I’m-so-great-at-yoga-pants was the man diagonal to my right. He was maybe 40, I don’t know. I’m bad with ages, but his hair was all gray so I’m gonna go with 40. He was pouring sweat like nothing I’ve ever seen. Seriously it was like a faucet. I swear there was standing water on his mat.

Sweaty silver-fox aside, I was really surprised by the number of men in the class. I guess I’ve always just thought of yoga as a predominately female activity. I’m not exactly sure where that comes from. Maybe because women tend to be more flexible. The class did skew female but there were at least a dozen guys in there. And they weren’t just tagging along with their girlfriends or anything. A bunch of them knew what they were doing. While I laughing on the inside at the idea that the instructor actually thought I could do a head stand, they were crushing it.

It was really busy in there today, I barely got a minute to appreciate the cute interior.

It was really busy in there today, I barely got a minute to appreciate the cute interior.

An hour later I emerged from the dimly-lit sweaty room quite damp but also really happy. I wouldn’t go so far as to say addicted, but I definitely want to do it again. Usually when I’m not good at something I don’t like doing it. However, today when I couldn’t do something, instead of being discouraged, my mind immediately went to “Can I practice this and get better?” Good news is there is a yoga studio in town that does “pay what you can” so I can take classes for as little as $5. And Wanderlust offers a 30 days for $35 special too. So I think I’ll be able to start incorporating some yoga into my life here in Austin which is exciting.

To reward myself for a job well done, and truly start my Austinite transformation I stopped by Daily Juice and got a juice for lunch on the way home. (I grabbed one called Pineapple Popeye, it was so yummy. Green drinks my friends, they’re where it’s at!)

Pineapple Popeye

I may not be used to filling my weekends with solo-activities but I think I did a decent job. Moving here was all about trying new things, challenging myself and living a happier, healthier life. I think this weekend was a solid start.

Have you tried anything new recently?