Simple gifts.

Last week was a heavy one for me. It’s the 5th week of the 40-Day program, and a lot of things that I’ve been working through really came up and out. I had to shine a light on some of the darker places that I don’t like to go in myself and clear them out. I wrote 4 long pages, but I’ve decided to keep them for myself… sometimes it’s important to write for your own well-being, not for public consumption.

In terms of accountability, I stayed true to my goal to write every week and set up my inspiration/foundation for my classes. I talked about the idea that everything doesn’t have to be something so big and serious – we can lighten up on ourselves, drop a bit of the heavy weight, and just enjoy the movement. I also pulled in last week’s theme of “centering” with a literal interpretation of a core-heavy class. But what it really came down to was pulling in to the middle, setting the strong foundation, and then as the limbs moved away from the center and our bodies twisted and turned, we were able to maintain the connection to our deep root.

Kind of an obvious one there, friends, but when life pulls us in all sorts of crazy directions, we just need to dig back to our center, stand firm, and stay grounded.

Enough about last week. It’s Monday, and we’re moving forward... by looking backward.

As the 40-Day program ends this week, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on how far I’ve come… in the program and in my teaching. Again, that’s another piece for my private collection, but I’m going back to the beginning this week.

Five or 6 years ago I got back on my mat after a pretty nasty battle with anxiety and stress that culminated in a visit to the ER with chest pains and a racing heart. My body usually tells me what I need to know, and after that really scary wake up call, I found a yoga studio and committed to going once or twice a week. It wasn’t pretty at first. I struggled with the heat and was surprised at how much flexibility and strength I’d lost since my fitter college days. It was a struggle, and I didn't feel good about it at first. But by working through the process each week, supported by encouraging teachers and a community of women, I started not to hate the 90-degree temperature and embraced the flow.

Slightly different from the way I teach, each class always followed the same structure. It made sense in my body, and while it was never easy, I got stronger and was able to drop in and let my stressed out, high-strung brain quiet down. The studio rooms were small, so we were often only inches away from other students, and there were no mirrors. I was forced to see myself from the inside out and get comfortable shedding the layers (physical and mental) with strangers.

I learned to let my breath lead the movement, to listen to my body, and to dissolve my expectations and need to “achieve and succeed” in all moments. Success in yoga isn’t hitting the pose perfectly – it’s showing up with the intention to stay grounded, committed, and connected. It always made me feel empowered, even when physically I was barely hanging on.

That word: Empowered. Empowerment. Power. That’s what yoga gave me. It’s what I want my yoga to give others… that feeling that you don’t need metrics and numbers and big, physical goals to feel strong and capable. You have everything you need right there, right now, as the person you are today – all you have to do is be willing to get a little uncomfortable, stop worrying about how it looks, choose to accept whatever comes, and be willing to put in the work.

None of those things require open hips, flat abs, or strong glutes... just self-awareness and positive intention.

Yoga was a gift that I gave myself in a time of need and struggle, and it made such a profound and positive difference on my relationships, my outlook, my actions, and, ultimately, my life.

This week, I'm going to give it back. I'm giving you the space to find empowerment through yoga… because I know you’re ready to receive it.