My Yoga journey began on August 22nd, 2018. This is also my Father's birthday, which makes it easier for me to remember the date. I always wanted to try Yoga, but wasn't until my friend Sarah said she knew a good video series on YouTube that we could try together in her living room. So with that, we started Yoga with Adriene's '30 Days of Yoga' Challenge. I was so sweaty and exhausted afterwards but I knew from that first session that this was something I thoroughly enjoyed and could actually practice on my own. Sarah lasted 6 days into the challenge, but I made it all the way through the 30 day challenge and was eager for more. So I started another one of Yoga with Adriene's 30 day Yoga challenges called 'Yoga Camp'. After these 30 days, I continued to cycle through her 30 days challenges until I left for Bali, Indonesia on October 26th, 2019 for the next chapter of my Yoga journey.
Two Weeks Into My Journey
At this point, Adriene had five 30 day Yoga challenges. They included '30 Days of Yoga', 'Yoga Camp', 'Yoga True', 'Yoga Revolution', and 'Yoga Dedicate'. What attracted me to Adriene was the way she embraced everyones differences. She acknowledged that everyone was on a different journey and needed different variations. She gave the different “bus stops” (variations) and that allowed me to slowly grow my practice. I would start at a lower variation until I could work my way to more difficult variations. I even eventually got to the final expression of some poses. Adriene guided me to a whole new me, physically and emotionally. She gave me my confidence and motivation back. Adriene may never know just how much she pushed me to grow and overcome some obstacles in my life.
After I began practising Yoga, I thought to myself, “if I am going to do this, I am going to do it right”. So I stopped eating take out and processed food and started cooking at home. I made a promise to myself to eat a daily diet of 50% vegetables. A lot of days I was over that percentage, some days I didn't even eat meat at all. I also added five of six of the high- protein and fibre seeds to my daily diet. These include chia seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and ground flax seeds. The sixth is hemp seed, however I learned very quickly that they upset my stomach. I also started going for walks 3 – 4 times per week. I utilized the local waterfront trails and community sidewalks and pushed myself to run in intervals, starting at 30 seconds per interval and eventually getting to 60 seconds. I was feeling great. My lungs were getting less and less tight and I was physically changing. The change was very noticeable to those in my life. I could feel the changes as well, from the fit of my clothing to the way I carried myself.
Body image is a very tricky concept. One day you can feel amazing, the next you can feel like an absolute disaster again. This has been my struggle throughout my Yoga journey, and it continues to this day. This can happen for many reasons, and many of them are psychological, but there are a few physical reasons as well. Psychologically, you look in the mirror, but your brain sees something completely different from your actual appearance. The term for this is body dysmorphia. In my experience, physically my body was changing slowly but steadily. I was toning and building muscle. But one day my upper abdominals would be smaller, and the next they would be pushing out further over the top of my pants. This was because I was toning in my my hips and obliques, and the body fat was back up into my upper abdominals. It was very difficult to continuously remind myself of this and keep myself in a positive space. On my lowest days, I turned to my friends who knew me before my journey began for reassurance, and they always reminded me of how far I had come. It is okay to rely on those who know us and love us most for reassurance at times. We all need it. We all crave it from time to time. There is no shame in needing the reassurance to calm and quiet those mean little voices in the backs of our minds.
My Beloved Kitty Cat: Kita Weeta
In order to keep myself on track and motivated, I decided to blog my journey through my Instagram and Facebook accounts. On the sixth day I took a photo standing next my friend Sarah, with my belly hanging out. Little did I know how far I would come. I recorded short video clips each day after I completed my Yoga practice and talked about how I felt and how the practice was that day. After a while I started taking photos and writing how I felt. I also began recording my Yoga practice, with my beloved kitty cat Kita often making appearances. I utilized the hashtags on Instagram and started getting people from all over the world following me and telling me I was inspiring them. This was never my plan, I had no idea I would inspire people at all, but when they told me this, it only motivated me to continue my journey and never give up. I don't have thousands of followers, but the followers I do have engage with my posts and actually interested. They see me and what I have accomplished and know that they can do the same, it just takes determination and discipline. When I say discipline, that doesn't mean you can't treat yourself to yummy snacks here and there, because my friends know I have a hard time turning down cheesecake. It just means continuing with daily practice and giving yourself a break when you need it. Don't be harsh on yourself if you eat something “bad”, or don't give 100% in a practice or work out. Our bodies need recovery time as well. Also, getting enough sleep is vital to success. If you want to keep a strict regime, you absolutely need to commit to getting enough sleep.
After beginning my Yoga journey, I found myself wanting to read more. One book that absolutely confirmed my beliefs was 'Journey of Souls' by Michael Newton, PhD. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is wondering what life is all about. This book truly blew my mind and confirmed most things I already knew. I finished this book and quickly purchased my copy of his next book, 'Destiny of Souls'. I also found a good book to explain all of the Pranayamas and Asanas, 'The Yoga Bible' by Christina Brown. Another book that can do the same is 'Light on Yoga' by B.K.S. Iyengar. If you are interested in learning more, I highly suggest these books and encourage you to research reading materials that you find interesting to nourish your mind and spirit.
Transformation August 2018 - January 2020
After 10 months, I had changed drastically. My body was much leaner and more toned, and my mind was more centred. I was in the middle of some significant personal changes that were challenging, but ultimately positive. I knew I wanted to teach Yoga, and now I had the financial capability of doing so. I was working with a woman on the set of a film, and she mentioned that she would be going to Bali, Indonesia on her next adventure. She urged me to travel and see the world if I could. On the set of that film, I also met a woman who was personal friends with Adriene herself! This made me incredibly emotional and I realized how much Adriene and her work really meant to me. The woman told Adriene of my reaction and it made her day. After the film shoot was complete, I decided that I wanted to train to be a Yoga instructor in Bali. I then turned to Google to find training that would be good for me. The training at the top of the list looked incredible. It was a 23 day, 200 hour teacher training with YogaUnion in the city of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia. I applied for the program for October to November and was given two days to finalize my spot with a deposit. From there, I got the blessing of my Aunt, who is also a Yoga teacher, and did some research. I found YogaUnion's Instagram and was relieved to see the testimonials confirmed that the retreat was very real and absolutely not a scam. So from there, I paid my deposit and started planning my trip.
The months leading up to my trip were slightly stressful, but much more exciting than anything. I had to purchase my flights and travel immunizations, which were slightly more expensive then expected. But I found an agency willing to hire me and give me the month off, and I made it all work. I made arrangements for my kitty cat to stay with my mom, and for my mom to take me to Toronto Pearson Airport for my first flight of the long journey to the other side of the world. I was all set for my first travel experience, and prepared to do this alone. It would be my first flight ever and my first time leaving the North American continent. I was beyond excited as my mom and I made the three hour drive to Toronto... until she pulled into the passenger drop off area. My mom looked at me, and I was ghostly white. All at once, it hit me like a fist to the face. I was alone and I had to go figure this all out by myself. I got out of the car and hugged my mom tightly as I fought back the tears. Then I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and headed into the airport to begin my adventure half way around the world.