This yoga challenge could not have come at a better time for me.
After working 4 years in a job that wasn’t inspiring, motivating or even challenging me anymore I started to feel like I was living my life in auto pilot. I was late everyday for work because I just didn’t want to wake up anymore. I was afraid to make a change though because I was making a decent living, my job wasn’t “hard” but rather quite comfortable, and the people I worked with were nice… what more could you ask for? At 27, I felt settled and maybe a little too complacent and just wanted more out of life. So I quit. Just like that. It wasn’t a F*** you moment, I’m done, but more of a thank you for this opportunity but I need to discover what else is out there. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. I didn’t know exactly what to do next but knew if I kept on this journey I would never discover my true passions or feed my real desires. So here I am, on a quest to wake my sleeping self and find out what will truly make me happy.
As soon as that (saved up vacation and sick time) check came, I immediately booked a flight to LA to dance again. Something I have been wanting to do, but have been too scared to do for the past 8 years. I danced professionally right out of high school, and after moving back home, I haven’t done it since. I have tried filling this void with other outlets, but the creative and healthy emotional release that I get from it has never been satisfied. I believe there are 3 things that make you happy in life: love, health and your craft. I had love and even though I eat pretty healthy, I could not keep a consistent work out regime to save my life. And I was lacking my craft…something that made me want to get out of bed each day. Even though, I love my husband and my dog very much, 1/3 is not enough.
When I was in LA, it was a humbling experience for sure. I jumped right into advanced classes with all of the other working industry dancers. Like, immediately! I actually took an Uber straight to the studio from the airport. I couldn’t WAIT to dance again, but my first two classes were horrible and I began asking myself WHY, why did I do this to myself? In fact I walked out of the second class in tears. It was 8pm, 11pm EST and I just could not go back to the hotel feeling defeated. So I took a 3rd class. With an “I can” attitude and this was a game changer… I actually got the choreography this time! I still looked a little “awkward” doing it, but was just proud that I could keep up. The next day, the class was even easier ! And by the third day I didn’t want to go home, I was truly in my happy place.
I came back and was searching for ways to continue the momentum. I stumbled on the yoga challenge and thought, this will at least help my flexibility that I am so lacking! But what I got out of it was SO MUCH MORE.
I had taken yoga only a handful of times. Once on Citizen’s RO opening day, and I even bought a few of the flash sales but never had the time to use the membership and just let them expire. So this time, I was going to do it FOR REAL. I had no excuses, nothing to lose and everything to gain. I wanted to go everyday so I could really experience what the practice was all about. I even kept a journal and wrote how I was feeling before and after class. I struggle with depression, anxiety, social anxiety, and self doubt, a lot of self doubt.
My first class, brought me to tears. With one hand on my heart and one hand on my belly I felt unbelievably grateful for my breath and my heartbeat and the opportunity to be alive. I had never just slowed down like that and listened to this miracle of a body we have. And I remember Lauren saying “If not now, when, what are you waiting for?” That was it, I was done wasting my life away, my mind and body rotting away in a job I hated. I left feeling so inspired and excited for the next day to take class again.
The next two classes, we did our splits. Something I have not done in 8+ years but just made a fool of myself doing in front of all the other dancers in LA. But this time, it was different. Even though I was struggling, I felt comfortable. Like it was OK to be where I was and just looked at it as an opportunity to grow in the challenge.
I skipped a day, and all my feelings of self doubt came flooding into my head on overdrive. It made me realize why yoga is a practice and should be done daily.
Right around the 5th class I decided to write a business plan to open a dance studio. I was highly motivated and kept saying WHY NOT. If not now, When? By the end of the challenge I was able to complete my business plan! Something I honestly don’t think I could have done with out the constant motivational mind set by all the teachers.
Something I have always struggled with is social anxiety. My mom recently reminded me of how needy I was as a child. I was noticeably intelligent but highly emotional. I could never spend the night at others houses, I dropped out of pre school, spent my entire kindergarten coloring at the craft table alone while the other girls played house, and clinged to my teacher. 1st grade; they literally had to take me out of the class because I was a disruption to other kid’s learning. Constantly crying for my mom, she had to volunteer at the school so I could make it through the day. I rode the bus one time. ONE TIME! And afterwards, one of my parents had to drive me to school every day until I got my license because I was afraid to talk to kids on the bus. As I have gotten older, I am much better but I am still very shy. I have a really hard time going to social gatherings and have to take deep breaths before walking into a bar or party. At the studio, I found myself listening to other people’s conversations waiting for class to start and thinking of things to say to them in my head. I related to them so much, and actually could have said something that would have added to the conversation, but afraid of what they might think of me, I never did. In Kacee’s class everyone seemed SO talkative. It was the loudest yoga class I had ever been to. I sat on my mat praying no one would talk to me. At the end, she announced, “If you haven’t met your neighbor please introduce yourself”. My hands started sweating, my heart was racing, until a friendly guy turned around and said, “Hey, You were in front of me in class yesterday”. We exchanged names and a quick couple things about ourselves and left the studio. The next day, I saw him again. He approached me right away and thank goodness we both remembered each other’s names. We had a conversation and at the end, he invited me to come join he, and his friends later that night. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe how nice he was and was thrilled that he invited me. I even called my mom and told her and couldn’t wait to tell my husband when I got home. I didn’t have the courage to go, but I am working on it! I asked him to please keep me in the loop and I promise to come soon. Everyone is so welcoming and kind at the studio and it very rare to be around that many like-minded individuals. I am grateful to have found a community that I fit into.
All of the teachers have been so supportive as well and I think they could all tell I was new because sometimes they would linger around me to make corrections and not go too far so they didn’t have to keep walking back and forth! I took a basics class which was a whole fundamental learning experience in itself! We often value ourselves on things that we are good at. It’s great for our egos but it is also important to jump out of our comfort zones and try new things. Instead, I’m trying to value myself on just being willing to learn. By my last class, I wasn’t needing to look around as much to figure out what the poses were, I was starting to remember them and focus more on my own practice.
The yoga challenge was quickly coming to an end and even though I was physically tired and so sore I had never felt more mental clarity. I was truly sad to see it end.
While listening to a podcast, I heard this amazing quote. Q: What will make me love my life the most? A: To do the things that are most fulfilling.
Basic principles of fulfillment;
-Work your ass off to get very good at something that you care deeply about that allows you to serve not only yourself but other people.
So at the very end of the challenge I really broke out of my comfort zone, put myself out there and taught my very first dance class. Even though only one person came, it was still so much fun! I just want to create a safe space where other dancers can be their true selves. So, hopefully there will be more to come. 🙂
I am forever grateful for this challenge and this experience. And I feel like I have already won. “You are never too old, and it is never too late”.
Olivia was the winner of the Spring Fever Challenge in MI.
We loved reading about your experiences, and are thankful for you ALL!