Thursday, September 25, 2014

Guest Post: Finding My Flow, Karstee Davis

A little over a month ago I sat in front of my laptop with the little arrow hovered over the “buy tickets” button.  I had sent out some texts to family and friends looking for people to come with me to this event, but no one was getting back to me right away.  Should I buy the ticket now and risk going alone or is the bigger threat the tickets will sell out if I wait for everyone else? The event was the last two weekends of Yoga on the Rocks sponsored by Core Power Yoga.  The reason I was hovering over the button was out of fear.  What could be so scary about going to Red Rocks to watch the sunrise and participate in one of the oldest practices on earth, you ask? 

The practice of Yoga is something I have been intrigued with for years.  I would like to say it was sparked from living in one of the healthiest and happiest cities, Boulder, CO, but my interest was initially piqued the first time I ever read Jack Kerouac. I could see how being zen or practicing yoga was more than just something you do on a mat.  On the surface what I found to be so scary or intimidating about finally going to a yoga class was I might run into a bunch of really fit bendy people sporting their Lululemon tight yoga pants and sipping on their morning macchiato.  What really was the underlying fear is those trendy people looking at me like, “What is she doing here?”  If I waited for my army of sisters and friends to come with me I could hide in the camaraderie, but in the end the idea I might miss this opportunity and have to wait another year got the best of me.  I bought my tickets.
I did end up going for my first time alone, and I’m so grateful it worked out that way.  The night before my first yoga class I went out with some friends and one of their other friends who I’d met briefly before was there.  I kid you not, this was my conversation opener: “I love your mala beads.”  This opened us up for the coolest conversation.  Turns out she is a yogini and the creator of Sutra Project, a yoga lifestyle blog/podcast, and a maker of malas!  At the beginning of the night I had already contemplated bailing on the class in the morning, “I don’t want to go alone.” “I’m staying out late tonight, so I’m going to need to sleep in.”  You name it, I had the excuse.  However, after talking with this woman, and her sharing her story and being so completely raw with me right in the middle of a brewery, I thought- this feeling, this sense of community and peace is something I want to experience more.  I got home past one and set my alarm for a few hours later. If I was going to really do this then I wasn’t planning on missing the sunrise!
When the alarm went off I didn't even fear for a second I would turn it off and roll back over, I was so excited to get up and on the road.  I put on some baggy clothes  I wouldn't feel self-conscious in, threw my hair up in a messy knot, grabbed my ticket... and almost forgot my yoga mat.  I decided to take the back roads so I could see the beautiful sunrise. I decided to stop and get a latte, I was greeting the morning after only four hours of sleep after all.  Even though I wasn't going too far, I'd forgotten how good it can feel to be on the road with nothing but your coffee, your mellow tunes, and the sunrise. I arrived in Morrison at the beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater with only about 20 minutes to spare! Luckily there was still enough room on the upper parking lot so I only had to climb a few sets of stairs. I quickly decided  I wanted to be in the very back row, and there was one spot left.  The people around me said good morning, the sun was shining down below over Denver, and everyone looked so relaxed waiting for the class to start.
Once the class started, I instantly had feelings I might be in over my head.  My arms were shaking so hard in the first downward dog, but I told myself I was going to stick with it and do what I could do even if it meant improvising.  I also started regretting being in the back row, as directly behind the rail were a lot of onlookers, people hiking through and taking pictures while giving their running commentaries. I told myself the onlookers didn't matter I was here to do my thing, and if people wanted to post a picture of me in some embarrassing pose I would never know anyway.  Mostly I focused on how everyone around me was friendly and into their own practice and  thoughts, which gave me encouragement to do the same.
I loved the way the teacher would say, "And if you couldn't do that pose a moment ago just the way you would like to, that's okay, let it go, be in this pose right now."  It was a good reminder to be present and not to get up into the, "I'm not good at this, I'll never be able to do this" type of mentality and get into the, "I'm here, I showed up, I'm doing this, I'm being kind to myself" mentality.  There was a moment a little over half way through the hour when we were all in upward facing dog where the teacher said, "Give gratitude to all those around you and to all those people and circumstances in your life that brought you to this moment right now".  I swear I could feel the gratitude emanating off of everyone.  I sent gratitude to people I love who've never hurt me.  My mind felt so peaceful and the power of stretching into this pose and feeling how good it felt to also send love to the people who I've let hurt me the most, and who I carry the most baggage around , was so overwhelming!  Tears instantly began swelling in my eyes, I realized the extreme hurt I carry around with me and I felt so much love for myself, compassion, and forgiveness.   Luckily, everyone was so into their own thoughts and breaths and poses that no one noticed and I could easily grab my little hand towel and wipe away my tears.   It just felt so good to let go!When the class ended, I felt so peaceful.   I took my time driving home, I didn't feel any road rage, I opened the windows and felt the fresh morning August air.
I went back the next weekend and did a free week of yoga at one of the local studios; now I find myself at a crossroad.  In those couple weeks  I brought yoga into my life, I felt so positive, I moved easier, I breathed easier, and the knot of anxiety which resides in my back was slowly stretching out.  But here I sit and it’s been a few weeks since I have done anything related to yoga. I tell myself I’m waiting until I get paid, or I want to check out this little independent studio before I make any commitments. In reality I’m actually just scared.To fully immerse myself in this lifestyle will take some sacrifice.  Is it more important to me to have my daily latte or a membership at a studio?  If I give up all the things that have been holding me back for years in a little safety net of my own making… what will that mean?  What will it look like?  If I become who I know I’m meant to be there is risk involved.  I risk getting hurt again.  I risk  it won’t look exactly the way I want it to.  I risk having to give up habits and people which are not necessarily good for me. I know the awesomeness awaits yet while I’m sitting here waiting to get up the gumption the knot of anxiety is settling in my back again and I can feel myself settling into the school year routine (I work at a University)—get up, go to work, stress eating, negative thoughts about where I am in my life, and because it is easy just going into a winter mode hibernation of sorts.  Basically, the same routine that has put me where I am.  The same routine I know doesn’t produce the results I want. 
 I guess I’m in a state of processing.  I didn’t come to the point of being approximately 150 pounds overweight overnight.  I’m looking at my obstacles, I’m analyzing why hanging on to the dang latte is so important.  I’m sitting with my pain and I’m coming to stark realizations if I stay like this I may never get hurt again, but my life might end before I’ve truly lived again, and that is heavy.  In the meantime, Core Power Yoga has sent me a second free week to help me make up my mind, and I have plans to go to a class with a friend tomorrow over lunch.  Baby steps.
Be kind to yourself, be kind to each other.
 Karstee Davis

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