Pushing 200lbs, I remember once struggling to run 8 minutes without stopping in Iroquois Park. At the time I was a caregiver to my parents: mom with cancer and dad with Alzheimer’s. The stress of this situation wasn’t helping my own health – I was eating my way into a size 18.
Then, my niece, Emilie Dyer, invited me to a free class at 502 Power Yoga. In the past I had used yoga successfully to stop smoking, so I figured it could also improve my overall health. At one point in my first class, I remember the instructor said to “kiss your knees;” I couldn’t do it. It really hit home then how big I had gotten. I’m going to have to work to get this off, I thought.
Rather than feeling intimidated by others at 502 Power Yoga, I was empowered by this community. I decided to take on the Sunrise Challenge in 2014, and also completed the 40 Days to a Personal Revolution program. Through these experiences, I gained insight into my emotional eating. I learned to be aware of what I was putting into my body and why. I gave up sodas and coffee, and today I only drink green tea, water and sometimes black tea. I have sweets as an occasional treat, and not with every meal as I had in the past. I witnessed these physical and emotional transformations slowly change my body. Over time, I saw cellulite on my knees diminish. I was able to do my first Flip Dog with Mimi’s instruction. I was inspired, and I fell in love with the community.
After some time, it seemed like my daddy was doing fairly well, or maybe it was me. Maybe I had learned to move with the universe instead of work against it. Yoga had become my retreat from all the drama of hospitals and doctors with my parents. I truly believe my yoga practice helped me stay calm throughout every situation and provided me the opportunity for self-care.
I can see how life has come full circle for me. The beginning of my transformation was the Sunrise Challenge in 2014, and more than a year later, after the 2015 Sunrise Challenge, I’m a size 8. My faith in God, my program of recovery and daily asana helped me physically and emotionally through those trying times. I feel those previous limitations fading behind me and conquering Iroquois Park is next on my list!
I’ve been a slow but persistent runner since I hit early adolescence. In college, it was no longer about times and practices but a release and an escape. If I had a bad day I would run—I was under the impression I was running through my problems. I kept the habit; running and running. I ran harder and longer the more stress I experienced in life. It didn’t matter that my times were nothing to brag about; I was just running and pounding out whatever tape was playing in my head. I was accomplishing races but even during this time swore I’d never run a mini; I told myself I couldn’t run that many miles.
After college, it all clicked. I was not running through my changes and situations that challenged me, I was running from them, I was running from myself. Not long after this realization, I wandered into my first class at 502 Power Yoga.
1. Yoga is cross-training…physically and mentally
Soon after joining 502PY I signed up for the 40 Days to A Personal Revolution program. I was learned so much through the practice besides cool poses and terms; I learned more about who I truly am and what is important to me. Through it, I decided to do the Mini Marathon with the support of my Yoga community and family. I finally had the confidence to run for me—not for getting away from the parts of life that are uncomfortable.
2. When my practice began
I woke up on race day; it was cold and going to rain. I did not want to do it. I pushed myself to get up and get to the course. I started and wanted to quit so bad just like I really wanted to quit uncomfortable poses sometimes in class. But I didn’t on my mat and didn’t in my race. It started to rain harder, and I stopped to breathe, and I began to focus on the quote so often repeated in class, “The pose begins when you want to get out of it.”
3. You Are Stronger Than You Think You Are
My race began at that moment. I started running harder not to pound away the discomfort or stress of the race but to embrace it and reach a new experience in myself. I finished my last five miles with a smile on my face, a better time than I expected, and a feeling not just of accomplishment but perfect happiness.
So much came together for me in that moment—when my months of practice on my mat clicked with my life outside the studio. The inquiry and breath, the strength to push through not only physically but mentally and emotionally—all those things surfaced for me during my first mini-marathon. I would not have signed up for the race without my practice in my life. I also know that I would not have shown up or completed that race without my Yoga community or without the self-love and strength that I have found through it.