Week 2: Transformational Change

It is often said that when beginning any sort of change in life, it is important to make little changes at first, so as not to be too overwhelmed. Simply said, you want change to be an “evolution”, not a “revolution”. This way, the changes made have a much better chance of affecting life in a more positive, long term way.

At the beginning of this journey, I knew that I was going in a direction that I had never gone before, nor thought that I ever would. Trusting my instincts, I went along. The first four weeks, in retrospect, I more or less went through the motions. I was learning; I had poses to learn, new terms to learn, and most importantly I had to learn to read what my body was telling me. By the end of that first four weeks, I felt I had a pretty good grasp of the basics. I was also just beginning to see the “Body-Mind-Spirit” connection, though I was much more focused on the “Body” aspect at the time.

At some point in time around my fifth week, I really cannot pinpoint the exact time, my yoga practice transformed. I had found that once my exercise was completed, I had experienced a calmness and clarity that I had never expected. At first I was very puzzled, even somewhat troubled, that I didn’t understand really what was going on. This feeling was elusive. Being the science-minded, empirical data person that I am, it bothered me that I could not measure it, quantify it, or ever try to predict it. I know that most exercises can induce a release of endorphins which can cause that “high”, euphoric feeling, but this was different. This was more a feeling of controlled contentment, not chaotic. Reminding myself that I started out on this journey with some blind faith, I now needed to continue with that same faith. In the following weeks, I focused on my “intention”, a word that Debra has used in every session that I have done. Thus while I was in a pose, or while I was breathing, I focused my intention on connecting what was going on in my body to what I was feeling in my mind. That connection at first seemed very contrived and even forced. Thinking that I was likely trying too hard, I decided to “let go” a little. I still focused, but I tried just to let it happen at its own pace, and that is when “it” happened. I was able to focus the intention from my mind and then manifest that same intention into my outward, physical poses. Then during the pose, I let the position of my body guide the intention back into my mind, thus creating this sort of positive feed-back “loop”. That is the best way that I can describe it. It was a shock to me that I was able to stumble upon this so early on in my experience. Nevertheless, I counted it as a blessing.

Once I made that connection, and I knew that I had the ability within me, it became much easier to schedule my yoga time during my day. I wanted to make that time for me. This was my time where I could re-charge my batteries after a particularly difficult day, or I could celebrate and be thankful for a really good day. It is amazing how much positive reinforcement can motivate! Thus my yoga practice has taken off. I want/need to do my yoga. I have been doing some sort of yoga at least 6 days a week because it makes me feel good. It cannot be put any more simply than that. I am experiencing a sense of joy and peace that I never could have predicted or expected.

Physically, I have dropped 15 pounds over the last 8 weeks and will have to be buying new clothes very soon. The increases that I have had in strength and flexibility are remarkable and I can see daily improvement. Poses that I could not do four weeks ago, I can now do with stability. At the beginning, I could barely bend down to touch my shins, and now, not only do I have the flexibility of touching my toes in a forward fold, I can now reach down to the underside of my feet! One of the biggest challenges for me at first was the balancing poses. I can now hold my balance much better, and it’s only going to get better because I can see it getting better each and every time I do it, all the while honoring my body. Other people have begun to notice the physical changes as well. With all of the positive changes in my body that are taking place, it feels as though they are merely an added benefit, a nice side-effect. It’s funny how the outward signs (weight loss, increased energy, physical appearance, improved posture), which were so important to me at the outset, have now taken a back seat as my motivation to continue focuses more inward.

! Ever the explorer, I continue to look forward to what yoga has to offer. I am just now beginning to uncover the third piece of the puzzle. That is connecting my Mind/ Body with Spirit. I can feel my journey leading me towards how I can take what I do and feel on the mat, and trying to apply that to the other parts of my daily life. And so the journey continues...Namaste.

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Paul Matlock

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calendar March 3, 2013

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