Lifting My Partner

So turns out I may write here more often, at least until I somehow offend someone and the site crashes… cross your fingers

My yoga experience is pretty limited. I’m not a teacher and I’m not even sure I qualify as a student, but at times I suppose I could be considered both on a technicality. There is one style of yoga that I do help my wife teach and am a student of, Acroyoga. I’m the awkward guy in the front of class going “Hi, I’m Eric and I don’t do yoga.” As I slowly move to my mat….

Now Acro is not your everyday class and truth be told I’ve recruited more unwitting partners by telling their significant others it’s a gateway for people who either don’t like or are reluctant to try yoga. Sorry Brendan… But that’s how it started with me. I like to think of myself as the “Muscle” as I spend most of my time on my back lifting my wife, Amanda with my arms and legs as she does yoga in the air.

Truthfully, there is more to it than that. The bond we share has grown over time the more we practice. We’ve learned how each other moves and feels. When we started there was a lot of fumbling and trying to talk through the movements and now all though I still drop her on occasion… oops, we move with slight touches and eye contact.

Shorts by My Inner Fire Mat from Yoloha Yoga

Shorts by My Inner Fire Mat from Yoloha Yoga

When we started the class, we had couples tell us it was their couple’s therapy. The class does require some amount trust and communication. You need to trust your partner to be there for you, to catch you when you fall. You need to say when something is uncomfortable or you need to get down. Although we always have great spotters during class, we always teach your base is your first spotter, because they feel your body and the balance. Many times I know when my partner is going to fall before they do and it’s my job to ensure that happens as gracefully as possible.

Now let’s be clear I don’t fly. Not because I can’t but because I don’t want to. Have I tried a few poses in the air, sure but that’s not where my interests lie and that’s ok. You don’t have to fly, you don’t have to base but you CAN. Don’t be intimidated to do one or the other based on preconceived notions of body styles. With the right partner and some spotters some poses may be accessible.

These skills though are not just beneficial to couples. It’s more about connecting with people and being open. Our classes almost always have some singles and they get thrown into all the same stuff.  You meet new people and make new friends. Our group grows every week, maybe next week it will be with you.

Maybe Acro isn’t for you, maybe you don’t want to rely on another person for your practice and that’s ok, but there is more to yoga than the standard studio or gym class. Try a workshop, learn headstands, learn meditation, or try hanging off fabric from the ceiling. Take a dive into adventure yoga and see where it takes you. I’m going to go lay on my back and watch Amanda do yoga on my feet.

Yoga From the Outside

So I’m sure there are plenty of articles about boyfriends and husbands sucked into yoga by the wives/girlfriends and how amazing it is, but this isn’t that article. Yes, my wife, Amanda is an accomplished yoga instructor. She has been for about 7 years teaching various studio yoga, kid’s yoga, acroyoga, paddleboard yoga, and chances are if it’s a type of yoga she has tried it or taught it. Although I’m still holding out hope for some naked yoga…. You know for research…

For me I’ve taken a few standard classes here and there. I can probably count them all on 1 hand and they’ve been good. Definitely eye-opening as far as what yoga is and what it is not. I don’t do Yoga but I can see why so many do and the benefits of regular yoga classes.

Yoga is NOT all hippies and rainbows. Yes, there are teachers out there who practically sweat crystals, but a lot just want to connect with their students and send you on your way with new perspectives. There are teachers who just want to give you an excellent workout and keep you sweating. The point is if you are interested in giving it a shot don’t stop because of one bad experience with a teacher.

Yoga IS filled with teachers from all different backgrounds and styles that give you choices.

Finding balance with Inner Fire Leggings (use "amandaqu" at checkout for 15% off).

Finding balance with Inner Fire Leggings (use "amandaqu" at checkout for 15% off).

Yoga is NOT leggings and sports bras. Sure some classes may encourage or be filled with skinny girls and shirtless guys, but there are just as many people in basketball shorts and a t-shirt.  If anyone at a yoga class makes you feel self-conscience then it’s not a class or studio you want to give your money to.

Yoga IS about how you feel about and in your body, not how the asshole next you feels about it.

Yoga is NOT about being flexible. Being able to touch your toes or do the splits is not the gauge to whether you can do yoga. Most classrooms are full of props and tools that can be used to accommodate different body styles and flexibility levels or bring your own.

Yoga IS accessible by people of all levels. You just need to find the right teacher or props to help you.

Yoga is NOT all done in 100 degree studios with beads of sweat dripping down your face. Yoga can be outside, on the lake, in pools, hanging from the ceiling or in a normal temperature class with the fans on.

Yoga is about finding the class that best fit your needs, it can be as easy or challenging as you want it to be.

So go find a local studio and see what the offer. Check reviews or looks up the teachers social media accounts to get an idea of what they offer. As for me, I’ll be hiding from my wife as she tries to get me to use two hands for my yoga count…

Embracing the Mom Bod

 "It's not about being good at something. It's about being good to yourself."

This is NOT an easy concept for many and I am one of those people. Negative self talk has been my reality for the majority of my life. Looking in the mirror had been one of my biggest challenges all because of terrible self esteem. Years of conditioned negative body image don't just disappear it takes a lot of work.

Most recently I've been frustrated and discouraged when being asked if I'm pregnant (I'm not) even with teaching full time and in the gym 5 days a week I STILL look 4 months pregnant. I've beat myself up about it for far to long only to find out last week it's because of my Diastasis Recti which has now caused a hernia. It's not the end of the world and there are ways for me to take care of the condition, but instead of seeing a doctor I spent the past 2.5 YEARS blaming myself that I couldn't meet the ridiculous appearance standards I have set for myself. 

Handstands and Strength Building with My Inner Fire. 

Handstands and Strength Building with My Inner Fire

It's actually amusing that this diagnosis came at the time it did because in recent months I have completely embraced my body. That doesn't mean I've stopped working on it.  I'm TRULY proud of how strong I am physically and emotionally, and of all the things my body is capable of regardless of what "look" others may perceive. So this came at a time of acceptance and understanding. A time when I could finally look in the mirror and say I'm proud of ME and who I am not what I look like. 

In today's society we are starting to see a glimmer of hope in the media and advertising industries around body image. More companies are embracing the "every BODY" matters mind set, but there is still a very long road ahead. The change has to start within and with ourselves. We cannot expect big changes in our society if we do not make big strides within ourselves. When I finally decided enough was enough I did three things to help me move on and away from the negative self talk.

1. Face yourself in the mirror with a smile

This was my most challenging DAILY key to working toward self acceptance. Any time through out the day that I passed a mirror I would truly look at myself and smile. For me it required faking it for the first few days (or weeks), but I didn't give up. Over time it got easier and now I've taken it a step further to think of one thing I'm internally proud of when I look at my reflection. For instance maybe today was the rare occurrence where I awoke before my kiddos. Go me!

2. Any activity that makes your heart sing

I have MANY hobbies! My interests change from day to day and even minute to minute. This gives me the opportunity to find joy in so many ways. It's easy to get bogged down and feel depressed about life when we don't take time for ourselves. Take just 15 minutes to do something that makes you happy so the next time you face negative self talk you have something to think back on that you are AWESOME at!

3. Wear clothes you LOVE!

When we feel insecure in our bodies it's often hard for us to get dressed everyday. We tend to wear clothes that don't fit and don't make us fall in love when we do look in the mirror (remember that's step one...look in the mirror!). Do NOT wait until you're such and such size to go out and get yourself clothes you love. Go out and pick up something NOW for the body you currently have. And pick something that the colors make you happy. Don't stress if you have to try on 10 different sizes because let me tell you none of the brands run the same in sizing anyway it's an arbitrary number.

These are just a few of the ways that I started to turn around my negative self image. Now don't get me wrong there are still hard days and society (or people's unwanted comments) will still get in your head. It's easier to pull yourself out of the funk when you have tools and the WHY behind it. If you don't have a WHY yet I'll give you one until you come up with your own:

You deserve to be happy!