Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aim True - First Month Wrap-Up

Jai! Jai! Jai!
Aiming true with more green smoothies!

The first month of my Aim True Challenge 2012 is almost done. In fact, it's been exactly four weeks today since 2012 began, and there are only two days left in January. What a different experience this January has been for me than those of the past. In some ways it has still been a tough month for me, but not quite in the same ways that it has been in prior years, and this time around having the focus of my yoga practice with specific plans and goals (including writing about it in this very blog!) really changed the way it felt, all for the better.

Sitting here with a space heater, fuzzy socks and ginger tea to warm me, I present my January stats! (My heat isn't working and won't be fixed until tomorrow. I'm going to be under 10,000 blankets watching movies soon.) 

January, 2012
Aiming true with glorious steamed artichokes!
I remain convinced that a strong personal practice of yoga is a stepping stone to wonderful things - transformation in your life for the better in ways you didn't necessarily realize you wanted and needed. This is the magic of yoga and this is why it works in a way that other fitness practices do not (at least for me!) - it's truly something you do on the mat as a launching pad for your life off the mat. Maybe this is what makes it a spiritual practice. I have the experience in other forms of physical activity to back this comparison up, too. I have been a cardio-junkie, a regular at both Jazzercise and step aerobics back in the early 90s, a walker, even training for (and walking in) the 39-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I spent many an afternoon in the spinning room, have done all the machines at the gym,, been at Bikram five times a week, followed a very regimented and intense strength and interval training program called Turbulence Training, been the queen of Tae-Bo, and put Jillian's 30-day shred in my DVD player numerous times. Through it all, what I've come back to again and again is my practice of yoga - this beautiful balance of strength, cardio and flexibility. And when I commit to my sadhana of  yoga, I start to see positive changes in my life that I didn't even plan for or have to force to happen. Life just starts to blossom. I start to make better choices. I start to take better care of myself. I become activity engaged - in a soft, safe way - with this overwhelming, confusing reality of being ALIVE.

Aiming true with a focus on fruits and veggies!
The most obvious and measurable step I've taken as an outgrowth of my practice so far is to join Weight Watchers online, a decision that has provided me a lot of comfort and stability this week. Being able to count points and make good food choices gives me a sense of control that I really value. I'd like to lose some more weight, and I want to do it in a compassionate, reasonable way. It isn't that I was making lots of bad food choices as much as I was choosing to eat too much. I read a great quote the other day that said "If hunger isn't the problem, food isn't the solution." Amen and amen. I don't know exactly when it happened, but my practice led me to taking action toward this goal of healthy, compassionate weight loss. I've become reinvigorated and excited about healthy cooking, revisited my love affair with vegetables (yesterday I roasted beets, carrots and broccoli and steamed artichokes, all to have on hand for quick, healthy meals) and have been paying a lot of attention to keeping up on the latest information on nutrition and health. I've cut down my caffeine to one cup of coffee or latte a day (Nick would be so proud!) and quit doing things that have a negative impact on my health and well-being. And I've actually managed to get almost eight hours of sleep a night this past week! (Something else Nick would be proud of!)

Aiming true with Artemis!
It's fitting. This entire Aim True challenge slowly presented itself to me because of how much Kathryn Budig's story of how she found strength through the Greek goddess, Artemis, resonated with me. You should read it. I love the first line of the prayer to Artemis that Kathryn found, and I've had it as my "info" on Facebook for months: Artemis, huntress of the moon, make my aim true. Give me goals to seek and the constant determination to achieve them.

I joke with my students all of the time that they can set an intention to have intention, and that's perfectly okay. Your intention in yoga practice, if you have one, doesn't have to be something lofty or profound. It can be as simple as having intention. I can't tell you the number of times in class, when directed to set an intention for my practice, I have thought "my intention is just to find some freakin' intention!" (it's second only to "My intention is my breath. Focus on the breath. Nothing more or less. Breath.") It's not so much that I lack things I want to do, see, achieve, accomplish, and check off an imaginary list. It's that I have TOO many things on too many lists, and I get overwhelmed and start feeling paralyzed. I need help discerning which goals I should seek. And after one full month of this focus, I know my first goal is the inquiry of optimal living, and specifically how good health supports optimal living, and how my choices support good health.

So, Jai! Jai! Jai! to you, to me, to all beings. As I continue to choose to be actively engaged in my life, I wish you the aim to be actively engaged in yours. And peace. I wish myself and you and all beings peace. Om. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.

*photo of Artemis from Kathryn Budig's Elephant Journal article.

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