Sunday, December 5, 2010

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

“But how do I start for Emerald City?”
“It's always best to start at the beginning – and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

- Dorothy and Glinda the good witch, Wizard of Oz

There are about, oh, I don’t know… hundreds of things I love about Bikram Yoga. I love…

… that I get 90 minutes for me and only me.

… the wonderful community of people that I have formed beautiful, lasting relationships with.

… the way I feel like I can conquer the world after pushing through a tough class.

… that the first time I felt my baby move was during class.

… teaching and inspiring.

… watching students improve their bodies.

… the patience and love for myself that I now have.

But the one thing I would like to talk about today is my love for the fact that ANYBODY can do Bikram yoga. It doesn’t matter how young you are, how old you are, how skinny or fat, or muscular or scrawny, how tall or short, how inflexible or limber, everyone can do this yoga. All you have do is walk in the door.

I love walking into a class room and seeing the variety of students in the room. Some students have broken bodies that are just touching the surface of the healing. Others are there for a good workout, and have not yet found the meditation, the mental clarity, the new-found love for self that follows. I see young college girls that are so bendy, but have no strength, and I see middle-aged former athletes who cannot even kneel comfortably. But these students all have something in common: they walked in the door. And sometimes, that is the biggest challenge.

This yoga is so hard, not just for those with broken bodies. It is hard for everyone. If it’s not hard for you, well then you simply aren’t working hard enough. Even on the days that it seems easy – we still struggle. We struggle for our balance, struggle for our breath, struggle being still, struggle with locking the freaking knee. There is almost always something. Right now, my struggle is learning how to not struggle. It’s learning that this practice is no longer just about me anymore. So when I am getting overwhelmed with the heat and become overly exerted, I am learning that it’s ok for me to stop and sit, or even leave the room if I need to. For this body is no longer my own. I’m sharing it with this precious little life growing inside me that I already madly in love with. And the pretty posture I want to see in the mirror is so miniscule compared to that.

How do we overcome, or even realize these struggles? We have to start at the beginning. Step by step, word by word, breath by breath… If we are not completely present, in the very moment, struggling to just try the right way, while taking care of ourselves, then we have nothing. If we are busy wondering when on earth we will ever be able to get our forehead on the knee, when we can’t even grab the foot, what is the point? If we have sustained an injury, and we are busy worrying about how beautiful Standing Bow Pose looked a week ago, are we really trying to help ourselves NOW? We all have to start every day, every practice, every posture from the beginning. Whatever that beginning is on any given day is always the most perfect place to start.

“There is no such thing as the past.
It exists only in the memory.
There is no such thing as the future.
It exists only in our imagination.
If our watches were truly accurate,
the only thing they would ever say is NOW.”

- Excerpt from a letter from Damien Echols of the West Memphis 3 to Eddie Vedder

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On pregnancy

I am reading the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, because…Well folks, I’m pregnant! Today I am 15 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I have had so many happy times in my life lately, but this one trumps them all. It just seems to be one happiness on top of another for the past 2 years. This life of mine continues to spin in a direction I never thought it would have 5 years ago. But thankfully, I have found peace with myself, strength in my mind and a sense of balance in my spirit. Who knew that walking into a Bikram yoga studio 6 years ago would have begun the series of events that have gotten me to where I am now? Life works so mysteriously.

Back to my point… this book I am reading is full of a lot of great information. When I’m feeling a little lightheaded, I turn to the book to see why it’s happening and if it is normal. When my heart starts racing a little more than usual because I’ve eaten too much, I turn to the book and find out what is going on inside my body and why. It’s a really great resource for a newly pregnant woman who has never done this before. However, there is one item I have just gotten to that talks about working out and exercise while pregnant that really made my jaw drop. Here is the except:

“Stay cool. Any exercise or environment that raises a pregnant woman’s temperature more than 1.5 degrees should be avoided. So stay out of saunas, steam rooms, or hot tubs, and don’t exercise outdoors in very hot or humid weather or indoors in a stuffy, overheated room (no Bikram yoga).” p 218

I do actually understand that we don’t want our internal temperature to rise too much, if at all. I get this. But who is to say that our temperatures are actually getting higher just because we are sweating in the hot room? Has the author of this book ever even taken a Bikram yoga class? You should see the “exercises” they are suggesting to women! I don’t know that I would call them exercise. They are laughable. I suppose, if the reader is someone who has never done a thing in her life, then perhaps these exercises would account for something. I mean, at least it would get you up and moving. But I can’t see what moving my neck from side to side four times, then sitting Indian style and reaching up toward the ceiling, then doing a shoulder stretch, where you grab your elbow and pull it to the other side of your body would actually do for me. Are these exercises really going to prepare my physical strength and mental stamina for child birth?

I have been practicing Bikram yoga for 6 years, so yes, I am someone who knows my body and my limits very well. I am certainly not saying that a woman who has never done Bikram yoga before should decide to take it up for the first time in the middle of her pregnancy, but you know what? You could! The pregnancy series is actually quite brilliant. Now that I am doing it, I have an even greater appreciation for the modifications and breaks that are built in. The breaks that we take are where we create a lot of compression to our baby-bellies. So it’s Standing Head to Knee, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee and Rabbit pose. Think about what happens at this point in class… our heart rates SKYROCKET. Standing H2K, this is HUGE cardiovascular work out happening. So we take it off (because of compression to the belly, but I’m making a point here). THEN after Triangle – yowsah! Our hearts are pummeling through our chests right now. So you get a break for Standing Separate H2K. Same thing for Camel Pose… it always feels funny and gets my heart racing, so we get a break after that for Rabbit. There I times I really wish I could keep going, because I’m already starting to miss some of my old friends, like Cobra and Rabbit, but these modifications to the 26 and 2 are so well timed, I have to wonder if it was thought out intentionally back when Bikram created this series. (I sort of doubt it, and feel like it was just one of those wonderful coincidences.)

So I for one, will continue to practice my Bikram yoga as often as possible. When I am in that hot room now, I have a whole new sense of myself. I walk out of that room feeling so good for me, and so good for the little being growing inside me. I know it is making me physically strong and mentally powerful. I am more aware of everything that is happening with my body and with what I am feeling, because I have someone else to take care of now, besides just myself. My ego is no longer in that room with me. I’ve got a new sidekick cheering me on… I can feel it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


A solid 3 months has passed and I have completely neglected my blog. And it is not like I haven’t had things to say! I would have experiences in class, either teaching or practicing, and think, “Yes – I have to write about this!” But the thought would come and go, I’d sit down at my laptop to think about writing, and… nothing. I can blame it on the wonderful summer we had. I mean, who wants to be inside sitting at a computer during the most gorgeous summer I can remember, when I could be outside gardening, at the farm stand, or spending time with friends and family at the beach? Or I could blame it on all the STUFF I have been doing with all of my spare time since I quit my “real job” and started teaching full time. I had a huge list that I completed every item on over the summer… and I do feel so accomplished. But you know what, I am not going to blame not blogging on anything. It’s ok. I just didn’t want to I guess. It wasn’t on the top of my priority list. And that is just fine with me.

So what have I been doing with myself for the last 3 months? Well, I have, first and foremost, been growing exponentially as a teacher. Once I went from teaching 2 classes a week to teaching 10 – 12 classes a week, things just started really clicking. I always felt like I was in a good place prior to this, but I just KNEW that I had so much more in me. And once teaching became my main focus, ZHOOOM! I plowed ahead, full steam! I keep collecting more and more tools for my toolbox. And now I actually have ease using this collection of tools. It just goes to show that teaching is just like practicing. The more consistently you do it, the faster you will grow.

Beyond teaching, I have begun doing all the little things that were neglected for so long. I have a clean home, rooms have been de-cluttered, healthy, good meals have been prepared, yard work has been done, a garden tended to, and more time has been spent with friends and family. And on top of that, I am beginning to do some freelance graphic design. What is funny is that I didn’t realize I missed it until I started doing it again. As much as I am now a yoga teacher, I still am a designer and a creative person at heart. I am absolutely loving the balance of it all. I am able to do design work at home, on my own time, with complete focus on what I am doing. (Coming from where I previously came from, the “focus” part of it is something totally new!)

I have been reflecting on the past couple of years, and am in awe at how everything has worked out. That one decision to send in that check to teacher training put a totally unexpected, unlikely, surprising, yet perfect spin on my life. Everything, and I mean everything in my life has changed. From the inside out, bones to skin, fingertips to soul… There is so much more to tell. But right now, on this perfect Sunday morning, the day after our 6 year anniversary, the most important thing for me is to go hang out with my husband, and listen to some Jack Johnson over our morning coffee.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Weeding the Garden

I figured something out a couple of weekends ago. Weeding is much easier after a heavy rain. Unfortunately, two weeks ago was the first time all year that I have done it. It was mid-June, where we have had an onset of really lovely warm weather this year, followed by some great rain showers… so as you can imagine, our front yard landscaping has turned into a jungle. It is overwhelming. I have tackled about a quarter of it in 2 and a half hours on a Saturday, then another 2 hours on Sunday. Then this past weekend, another 3 hours. Really and great, big mess.

Where am I going with this? Well, I got to thinking, as I was pulling out milk weeds that have grown up to my shoulders – weeding is a lot like the dialogue: If you don’t stick with it on a regular basis, it becomes an enormous undertaking to get it back on track. And just like weeds overtaking our landscaping, if we, as teachers, begin to let these little weeds into our teaching without nipping them in the bud right away, suddenly we are up to our ears spewing all kinds of nonsense that just grows bigger and bigger, and by the time we realize we need to get back on track, we are so far away from the words on the page, we don’t even know how it got so out of hand. (wow… hello, run-on sentence!) But if we stick with the dialogue, even go back to it every week to make sure that there aren’t any weeds creeping in to what we are saying, then our classes will be strong and our students will grow with precision.

I think we have all been in classes where we are listening to the teacher and thinking to ourselves, “Huh? What are they saying??” (Or maybe it is just teachers that do that? I don’t know… I know I did it as a student, too.) These are perhaps teachers that have been teaching for years and years and years. Maybe they are the teachers that went to training when there wasn’t even a “dialogue”. There are so many reasons that people stray away. And once they do, it is overwhelming to attempt to go back. Going back is like looking at a football field full of ragweeds and thinking you have to pull them out by hand one by one. The only way to attempt this massive undertaking is to go square foot by square foot. Or in the case of teaching, posture by posture, sequence by sequence. We can’t expect to peruse thru our entire dialogue in one night and think that it is all going to fix itself that easily. But everyday, if we walk thru our garden and pull out any nagging little weeds, our landscaping will remain pristine, clean and beautiful. And as teachers, if we continue to get feedback from other teachers and work on the understanding and delivery of our dialogue day by day, our students will be the same: pristine, clean, beautiful.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

And we all Levitate

First of all, I have to just say that I am absolutely loving this new life of mine. Teaching full time is a dream job. I’m not actually sure I can even call it a job. It is A-freaking-MA-ZING. But more about that later…

This morning, I taught the 6am class. In the Auburn studio, students tend to roll in pretty early to class. I got there really early – like 5:15 and started with some chores. 5:30am hits, and the first student walks in. Then there was a continuous flow of students until 6 o’clock on the nose. 20 students in the 6am class! This I unbelievable! I’ve had large 6am classes, but this was over and above anything I’ve seen. I mean really – just think of the power of this yoga. To wake that many people up, as the birds are chirping their good morning songs, and into the Bikram Yoga Torture Chamber is pretty powerful stuff.

And what an incredible class it was. Get that many people together that early to start their day, and something pretty cool happens. I watched these simultaneous triangle poses – all four sides – SO STRONG. I couldn’t help but exclaim, “WOW!” I felt such an enormous surge of energy charging at me… like nothing I have felt before while teaching. The intense feeling has been coursing thru my veins all day, like adrenaline barreling me thru life with nothing to hold me back.

I’ve been thinking about that class all day today. I mean, when I walked in, there was literally a buzz of happy, smiling faces. A buzz of students that perhaps felt like they were “in the know”. A charge that I swear you could see! Some of the students that I’ve never seen before at 6am, must’ve been thinking, “I can’t believe how many people come to yoga this early!” And the rest of the regulars that are there for the early classes seemed to have all shown up on the same day. They must have been thinking, “Yes! More people means more energy!” And me? I literally walk into the room saying, “What are you all doing here? This is AWESOME! And start giggling with giddy excitement for the class ahead of me.

All that I know right now is that I have seen before me the power you can ride off of with collective energy. Can you imagine if the entire state of Massachusetts woke up early to come to yoga class on any given day? The entire country? The world?? I’m having a hard time finding the words. I just know that that energy could cure cancer, create world peace, and quite possibly, make us all levitate.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cleaning up the clutter

Have you ever looked around yourself and been overwhelmed with all the “stuff” in your life? It’s not just physical, tangible things that I am talking about here. How much “extra baggage” to we carry around in our day-to-day lives? All the things we do in life, because perhaps we feel like we should, like we are obligated, like if we don’t do it, someone is going to get hurt or feel bad or not like us. Why? All the mental clutter that crowds our minds: “Is my job safe?” or “Are we going to be ok?” or “Why aren’t I good enough?”

As I embark in the next phase of my life, I feel so much like I really have to “clean house”. Yes, definitely in the literal sense, but even more than that. With everything I have been doing for the past year (full-time job, practicing, teaching, softball, cooking, friends, family, LIFE!), I feel like this transition is a way for me to really clean up shop. I look around our home and can see all this STUFF. It is so easy to accumulate a lot over the course of a few years… bills piled up high, notebooks full of to-do lists and half-baked ideas, empty boxes from new appliances that you can’t quite throw away just in case. I can’t help but think that if I clean up all the STUFF, I am going to gain more focus, more clarity, more spirit of self. If we are crowded by things that have no purpose in our lives, why do we continue to hold on to them? I can probably go thru boxes and closets and find things I didn’t even know or remember I had. What use is this? Will my life be any less fulfilling or happy without these things?

I’ve been thinking that moving on from my job is another way that I am removing that which does not serve me. My job turned in to something I no longer LOVE. There are still the parts that get my adrenaline going, but the majority of my days were spent thinking about what I REALLY want to be doing. And what is really cool is that after making that final decision to move forward with teaching on a full-time basis, I found out that I am still going to be able to continue doing some design, getting the best of both of my worlds. Only this time, it’s in my own control. I’m cleaning up the daily ho-hum and refocusing myself on where I am meant to be. Is it scary? Well, hell yeah. But the knowledge and certainty I feel is astounding. I mean, shit, if I can take ALL of my energy and focus it on yoga, there is no telling what I can accomplish. There is so much I can give. It's my karma yoga to give it. And not only that, there is so much more for me to learn.

So as I mop up all the muddle, I dream of this ongoing journey of life. Where things come and go, and paths are undefined and clear. Where the jumble jams the pathway, only to see that goal in the far away distance, refocus my sights, clean the clutter in the way, and continue on the straight road, while filling myself up with the beauty of the scenery on the way.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A change gonna do me good

I have an announcement that I can finally share with the world. (Err… well, at least my few readers!) I am quitting my job to become a full time yoga teacher! There! I said it!!! It’s out there. I’ve been thinking about it since the first day I taught my first class. I may have even been thinking about it since I took my first class, but who knows?

I’ve said since the very beginning that I was going to give my job a full year, to see if I could get back into the swing of things. That was always my intention. I don’t think I knew how much this teaching thing would take over my being. But it has. And so now, exactly 3 days from the anniversary of me leaving for Teacher Training in California, I can finally say with conviction that this is what I want to do.

I am ready for change. I’ve been working as a graphic designer in the crazy trade show industry for 10 years. And the last 5 years, I’ve been the director of graphic design for a company that has gone from 4 people to about 70 people in those 5 years. I’ve grown as a designer, I’ve grown as a manager, and I’ve grown as a woman. Lucky for me, it is the type of company that inspires personal growth. When I broached the subject of me leaving for 9 weeks to pursue the goal of becoming a certified Bikram yoga instructor, I was not met with “you want to do what??” I was met with, “Ok… let’s figure out how to make this work.” Not to say that I wouldn’t have done it anyways. Who really knows? But everything I’ve been able to do, I’ve been able to do with confidence because of the people who surround me every day with support.

This change is huge. Hey – might as well go big or go home, right? The high-stress, deadline-driven, madness that was my job will soon be replaced with teaching yoga, something I don’t even consider a “job”. My hours will be cut in half (as will my salary... yikes!). Right now, I am teaching 2 – 4 classes per week, working my full-time job, and practicing on a daily basis. As you can imagine – there’s not much extra time in my life for quality time with my husband, friends and family. So I’m really looking forward to having more time. Time for me. Time for Tim. Just time.

It’s funny how life flips upside-down on us sometimes. I was so career driven only 4 short years ago. So much so that my life was controlled by it. I wanted the big job, wanted the nice clothes, the “stuff” that was supposed to make me happy. I thrived on the fast-pace stress that consumed my days. And now, my priorities have done a 180. My happiness is most important. For me to say that I want to make us a nice home – you never would have heard that come out of my mouth, until now. This evolution of Self often surprises me. I think, “Who is this, and what have you done with Danielle?” But this is me. It’s who I have become. I’m ready to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n. Ready for a new pace. Ready to evolve as a teacher. Only teaching a few classes a week, I feel like I really haven’t been able to develop myself as a teacher. I’m ready to see what is in store for me.

This new life of mine is going to be different. Exactly one week after I graduated from college, I began working. The 8:00 – 5:00 job is all I know. I am now going to be teaching 2 – 3 classes a day, at 4 different studios around Massachusetts… all various times of the day! I’ll be somewhere different every day. I’ll be working with different students every day. I am ready to dive in. Head first. With no swimmies.

Damn. That feels good!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fresh Pot!!

I have an addiction.

To coffee.

It’s been 11 months since it started. Late nights at teacher training is when this addiction began. And it hasn’t stopped since. There is something to be said about juicing yourself up with coffee then going to teach a hyped-up, caffine-induced, energetic-can’t-stop-talking-yoga-class.

I love the taste. I love when it is piping hot. I love it so much that I went and bought a really nifty little (well…not really little) Thermos that keeps your coffee hot for 12 hours! You heard right – 12 HOURS. Sweet Jesus.

And so now, I sit here at work, with yet another shot poured from my nifty little Thermos, realizing that yes, I AM addicted to coffee. Perhaps when life calms down a little, I will be able to ween myself off a little. Just maybe.

After 2 months of not posting, this is my post. I’m looking forward to a time when I can come back more steadily to this blog…. Soon my friends. Soon.

And speaking of caffine – you MUST watch this!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The quest to learn how to let it go

Sometimes disappointment comes in many forms. We often disappoint ourselves, whether it is in our jobs, our relationships, or in our yoga. Fortunately, the feeling of disappointment in yoga only lasts for brief moments. The feeling of, “Oh, I am having such a bad class” or, “my bow pose will never improve.” Lucky for us, the next day, there is a new class. A new you. The slate is wiped clean. It doesn’t matter what we did yesterday. All that matters is the here and the now.

So why does the feeling of disappointment grip so much longer and tighter in real life? When these feelings take a hold, why are they so hard to let go? I speak so loudly of the wonderful effects that yoga has on my life, and how it is a perfect correlation of so many amazing things in my life. But when it comes to feelings of sadness, hurt, disappointment, embarassment… why can’t I wipe it away as easily as a “bad class”?

I guess the only difference is that yoga is only about me. It is me, and my body, and my reflection in the mirror. How do I turn that solidarity within myself in the hot room into solidarity outside of the hot room? How do I keep my heart strings in check, with the knowledge that my peace has been stolen?

“If anybody steals your peace, YOU are the loser!”

How do we “let it go” like a bad class?

When feelings are involved, how can we NOT be affected?

Guest Post on Bikram 101

Check out my guest post on Bikram 101!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Busting out of the Comfort Zone

As we approach the last week of January, can anyone answer me this: Where the hell did January go??? Seriously, time has been flying by for me. And I am proud to say that I am now 24 classes deep for 2010! And I’m showing no signs of stopping! I feel amazing. I love practicing yoga everyday. There are times it feels like getting there is a chore. Bikram yoga is a HUGE time commitment, and there are times when I just want to sleep until 7am instead of 5am, and times that I want to go home and relax after work instead of getting home from yoga at 7:30 in the evening. But every time I get myself in the hot room, 90 minutes later, I am glad I did.

Besides feeling amazing from yoga, I’ve taken a real turn in my eating habits. I’ve never really been a “bad” eater, but my brother has taught me an awful lot about nutrition, and I’m now spending more time in my life to actually make better and more healthy eating habits. I have found that my energy level is way up. All day. I’m primarily eating only real food. You know, the kind that was once alive, the kind that doesn’t have shit preservatives pumped into it, the kind that our bodies were made to eat. It’s a lot of work. The limited time I have at home lately is spent preparing healthy meals for the next day. It’s all worth it though. My brother had a phenomenal post a while back that really hit home for me. Read it. You’ll like it.

I spent last weekend at Kripalu in the Berkshires for a weekend long yoga retreat/seminar with Rajashree Choudhury. It was from Friday to Monday. My friend Michele and I went last year and had a blast. When we went last year, I had just sent in my payment for teacher training. I was brimming with anticipation and emotion and excitement. So going back this year was meaningful to me. I got to meet a lot of teachers and I felt like a part of something BIG. On the first day, we got to meet everyone in the group. Listening to everyone’s stories of how they came to love Bikram yoga and how it changed their lives was incredibly inspiring. It felt so right to be there, as a teacher… as someone whose life has also changed for the better. Funny side story: As the microphone is going around the room and people are introducing themselves, my crazy anxiety that I get from public speaking totally hit me!! I was shocked how strongly it came on. Michele and I were toward the back of the room, so I pretty much had to wait an hour before I got the microphone. Lucky for me, the woman just before me told her story – she had cancer and said she never would have made it without Bikram Yoga. I was in tears. It totally took the edge off of having to speak. I guess my nervous emotions came out in tears, and I was good to go from there.

I also went and taught at a different studio yesterday, which was totally exciting and surreal for me. Teri Almquist was one of my first instructors where I practice (and now teach), and she now owns a studio in Andover. I’ve been wanting to go and teach for her, and we finally worked it out. So I get there and ask her if Saturday’s 4m class is usually busy. She says “No, not really.” That makes me kind of happy because then I a can probably catch a few names and really give some corrections and do my normal class. Well, people begin to roll in, and roll in, and ROLL IN! It was incredible. I think I had 12 brand new students, another handful of students still on their intro special, some solid experienced students and 2 teachers. I NEVER get that in Auburn! Suddenly my excitement and nervousness starts to creep in, I walk into the studio introduce myself and begin class. MAN was I nervous! It was so weird! I think I settled into my very first class quicker than I did yesterday! I don’t think I actually saw any bodies until 20 minutes into class. It was really fun though, and I hope to be able to go back there and teach. The students absolutely love Teri and they have great practices. I could tell that they have solid, dialogue-driven teachers. The new students did really well, too. With my nerves kicked in, Teri said to me, “Just say the dialogue.” And what do you know! It really works!! (As if I didn’t already know that…)

One more thing that is really exciting for me. (And will likely cause me another bout of nerves!!) The Holy Cross crew team is coming into the yoga studio every Thursday evening for class for the next 5 weeks. They started last week. I wasn’t there. I didn’t teach. However, Sunny (teacher) and Sam (the owner), thought I might like to teach that class. I usually love to have big classes and a few new students. Well, this will be 40 new students… athletic, young, brand new fellas in one class. I know it will be great practice for me and that I will probably learn a lot, so I was psyched when I was asked if I wanted to give it a try. I’m going to continue to push myself further and further out of my comfort zone. Because you know what? That is when we really begin to grow. ☺

And now for some comparison posture pics (and more)!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Riding the wave

Happy New Year, everybody! As I look back at 2009, I smile. It was one of my best years ever. And as I look to 2010, I get giddy with anticipation of the wonderful things to come. I know it is going to be a beautiful year. As the winds of change start picking up, I will write all about it.

I awoke on the first day of 2010 (with a slight hangover) with the strong intention to practice. But once that time actually came, I was easily swayed to go out to breakfast with some friends. The second day of 2010, I set my alarm to go to 8am class, then re-set it to go to 10am class, then turned off the alarm and decided I would go to the 4pm class. And as 3:00 rolled along, my husband and I got a call from our best friends to meet them for lunch. Day 2 of 2010 did not include yoga. I had a brief moment of guilt, and another moment of disappointment. All these people with their New Year’s resolutions have started their year Gung-Ho! And I have started mine spending time with friends. Wait a minute… that doesn’t sound so bad after all!

Sometimes it is hard to fit it all in. Practicing, teaching, working, preparing my meals, spending time at home with Tim, and finding time for friends and family ends up being a balancing act. I WANT to do them all. In fact, I NEED to do them all. The time spent building relationships is what keeps me sane. The hard work that my husband and I do everyday – its reward is our down time with each other. Being able to do what we want to do with the people that we love. Spending all day in our jammies on a snowy Saturday is what we have earned, right? So why do these feelings of guilt and disappointment creep in when I take a day or two off of yoga? I’m not sure I have a definite answer. I know how amazing I feel when I practice. It energizes my day, revitalizes my being, even changes the way I feel. I love the every day challenge. I love that every day, something different happens to me in that room. The transformation my body and mind has made over the past 4 years is possibly the answer. But why guilt? Should I feel guilty for wanting to sleep in with my husband? Should I feel disappointment that I decided to hang out with my friends instead of practice? I know I shouldn’t. I don’t always feel this way. I think the combination of a couple of things exemplified these feelings.

The first thing being “the start to the new year”. I think everyone goes into a brand new year thinking, “Ok, this is going to be the year.” We go in strong and determined. Start strong, end strong, right? The second thing: Knowing that all sorts of yogis around the world have started the Bikram 101 Challenge. They’ve started with such amazing willpower, strength and determination. (Bikram 101 started on January 1st around the globe. 101 classes in 101 days.) And I had breakfast. And slept in. And ate lunch. Instead.

What is funny is that I originally said to myself that I am not going to “commit” to Bikram 101. I know my work schedule gets crazy mid-winter, where it is difficult to get to class. I also have a week long vacation to Mexico in February. So committing to the challenge of 101 classes in 101 days is pretty daunting. But you know, I was going to give it an effort. And just this morning, on my bleary-eyed drive to work after a wonderfully long, relaxing weekend, I realized that it’s not too late. (Wait a minute... I think I've heard that somewhere.) Yes, I missed Day 1 and Day 2 of this huge challenge. I started my 2010 with a thud not a bang. But 2 days is easy to make up. In fact, I am going to a weekend-long yoga-fest in the Birkshires with Rajashree in a couple weekends, where I am going to be taking 2 classes a day no matter what. There you go! Those classes are already made up!

This funny little wave of silly emotions is now over. I still have not officially committed myself to the challenge, but I’m starting with 30 in January, since my home studio is once again doing a New Years 30-day challenge. And I am really excited to see what happens after that. No more guilt. No more disappointment. The good old, valiant, “Danielle effort” is all I know. No choice.