A new year is upon us! This is a good time for reflection and goal setting. No better time than NOW, which applies every day but there is something about a new year that is refreshing and really gives us a push to make some changes that we know we need to make. I didn’t want to wait until Monday to set the tone for my 2017, so I made it a priority to hit a yoga class today…slightly hungover and dehydrated…but I made it. I’ve been working hard to be intentional about slowing down and taking time to BREATHE. I’ve been incorporating more yoga. It’s been a big goal of mine for awhile now, but I’m really going to dig in and focus on this over the course of the next year. There is no better practice than yoga (in my opinion) to help with this. The stuff you practice on the mat transcends into your every day life, or it SHOULD anyway. 
A friend of mine got me a bracelet from myintent.org which lets you pick a word to inscribe on the bracelet. (Thanks Laurie!) A daily reminder, a conversation piece, whatever…the word means different things for different people. I picked “Breathe”. That is my word. I need that daily reminder in many different aspects of my life. So – I’m sporting this bracelet…hitting yoga today…feeling all fresh and ready to tackle 2017. 10 minutes into the class I’m mid downward dog, gazing down at my new bracelet thinking how awesome of a reminder it is…and I get a bloody nose! Of course. Messing up my flow…throwing my mindset off. I quietly step out of the room and take care of it…but really thinking, “What the hell! This is how I’m starting my 2017? This is DUMB.” Luckily the class was 2 hours long, so lots of time to refocus!

I am not the best at yoga…let’s be real. And if I only did the things that were easy or that I was good at, then what kind of growth would that provide for me? None. So, I show up. I do my best and I challenge myself. I challenge myself physically…but more so mentally. That is what I love about the practice of yoga. I am not the type to sit still. Sure, there is the yoga that is flowy, with constant movement, only staying in certain movements for a few breaths. I enjoy that, too. But I feel like I get more out of the yoga that is slower, not so focused on active poses. Today, for instance, toward the end of the class we were slowing down and holding some stretches for 5 minutes at a time…yes. Literally sitting in a bendy hip stretch for 5 minutes. Here is a little inner dialogue I had with myself as Alison is talking us through it.

“Ugh my hips are tight…ok BREATHE Ashlee…my leg is going numb…what should I have for dinner tonight…NO, stop….clear your mind…ok, back to your breath…OUCH this is not getting easier…keep breathing…I feel dizzy…why is yoga so hard…what do I want to accomplish in 2017…I wonder if Chris is ok at home with the kids…I’m not good at yoga…all these people can do the balancey crow pose and I can’t…that’s dumb…I want to do that…STOP…keep breathing…this isn’t about them…I love this…this is why I need to do yoga…I’m not centered on my mat and my perfectionist self is annoyed…why is my gut hanging over my yoga pants…oh yea, that’s not why I’m here…keep Breathing…do I have legs?? Because they are 100% numb right now…all of these chicks have lululemon mats and clothes…I think my mat is from Walmart…I need to step my game up.”

I sound crazy, right? But this is why I need yoga and why I think everyone needs it. It gives you the ability to sit with yourself for a little while and see what comes up. Sure your body is giving you feedback, but so is your mind. I start criticizing myself, comparing myself, thinking about things out of my control. And then have to remind myself to breathe…just breathe. And slowly but surely as I come back to my breath, I start to feel better! And this is how yoga creeps into my daily life. It’s those lessons on the mat that I take with me outside. Those moments when I’m being overly critical of myself…those moments out of my control…those moments when I’m overwhelmed. Yoga is teaching me to breathe through the uncomfortable moments in life…everyone can benefit from that, right? I think so.

I’m making 2017 my year of personal growth. I’m going to take the time to really work on ME. And that’s pretty exciting. Huge shout out to Alison Tigges for showing me that yoga is so much more than a physical workout. I remember doing yoga classes in the past at big gyms and I would leave feeling like I totally dominated a pose…but that’s about it. It wasn’t until I took one of Alison’s yoga classes that I had a mental workout. Alison – you may or may not remember this…but I did my first class with you and I got in my car afterwards and totally got all kinds of emotional…I was holding back tears in class. For many reasons. It was during some rough times in my life and you said some things that totally resonated with me and what I was going through. Things I needed to hear. I wasn’t expecting that kind of response in myself. I remember texting you and asking if I was a total weirdo or if that’s a normal response! Haha! Thank you for showing me what yoga is all about. I am truly loving it…and kind of a snob because I only want to take your classes now…but no really guys, she’s the best!

Here’s to making 2017 an AMAZING year full of growth. Thanks for everyone who has been a part of my 2016. Let’s grow together. 


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