Shifting Perspective

The end of a Thanksgiving weekend seems like an opportune time to talk about a change in perspective. Perhaps it’s all in my head, but somehow the state of the world feels shifted during a 24 hours when the majority of the country is focused on the things they are grateful for. I think ever since I was little I’ve closed my eyes on Thanksgiving and Christmas and thought, why can’t every day be like this? As I gear up for a stressful and chaotic next couple of weeks at work, I’m realizing how critical this four day hiatus has been in getting my mind right. I really want to end the year strong–personally, physically, and professionally. I think all of the gratitude in the air has helped with my peace of mind. I know that everything will get done and everything will be ok–even if it doesn’t all get done when and how I think it should.

Many of you remember how devastated I was a month ago when our yoga studio shut it’s doors after fourteen years in the community. My joints and muscles are absolutely miserable without those 26 postures so my hubs and I didn’t waste any time in finding our new place to practice. We were a bit crabby in the beginning because getting to class now requires a subway ride (one whole stop) instead of a walk, and because the prices at the new studio are considerably more. With all that, I am here to confirm: Change is Good.  As I’ve gotten better at inviting change into my life–or at least not outright rejecting it, I’ve been able to see the positives more and more quickly.

Being at this new studio has made us realize there was a lot the old one was lacking. I think that the convenience of the old studio, along with the love that I had for one teacher personally, blinded me to everything that had been missing from my practice for a while. I forgot how transformative really good instruction can be. So far, the teachers at the new studio have been incredible and the environment is full of energy and inspiration. It’s only been four weeks, but I’ve already learned/remembered a few things that are making a world of difference for me, inside and outside the yoga room:

  • Sometimes the smallest corrections can bring about unbelievably BIG changes. Last Saturday, during bow pose, my teacher instructed me to press the top of my feet into the palm of my hands as I kicked up. I’ve been told to kick up a million times, but no one had ever given me such a clear visualization before for this posture–press the top of my feet into the palm of my hands. It changed everything. My body sprang up into a teardrop in no time and I got the massive backward bend you’re supposed to get but that eludes many in this posture. The relief I felt when I was done was insane; nothing like reversing hours and hours of slumping forward on a computer each day.

    bow pose
    Not quite where this girl is yet, but getting there
  • Often advice meant for other people helps me too. Without realizing it, I was stuck in a bit of a rut at our old studio. I was often just going through the motions rather than looking at any moment in class as a real opportunity for growth or change. Now in the new space I’m feeling revitalized and more open and attentive to everything around me. I’ve noticed lately that a lot of instruction being given to my classmates applies to me too. I think with marathon training especially I was very much in “run your own race” mode. While that is generally positive, I’m just now realizing that it also has meant that I can be a bit closed off to what’s going on around me. Whether we are beginners or more advanced practitioners, there is a lot basic guidance that applies to all of us. Sometimes it feels good to be one among many.
  • My energy matters in the yoga room, and in the world. I’ve been in a few classes lately that were total killers. This past Saturday was especially brutal. The heat felt relentless as we were all detoxing from two days of gorging on leftover stuffing and too much sugar. All over the room, people were dropping like flies–which is to say that many were taking breaks and resting often rather than pushing through the entire class. All but one guy in the corner seemed content with their limitations that day. This guy was obviously struggling and kept on sitting down. Frustrated, he kept fidgeting and doing other stretches. While it never bothers me when someone next to me sits down, I felt distracted by this guy from all the way across the room. I must not have been the only one because eventually, the teacher asked him to just sit still or take a savasana if and when he needed to rest. She explained that his superfluous movements could make it difficult for other students to concentrate. He obliged and eventually seemed to calm down. All of this got me thinking about the next couple weeks I have ahead of me at work. We are being audited by our studio which basically means Showtime comes in to look over all of our files and make sure we are doing our jobs correctly. I’ve never gotten too worked up over audits cause I know my team and I know we do a good job. Still, a lot of people get pretty stressed during this time. In the past I think I’ve reacted in a way that only added to people’s anxieties. I’d get annoyed when I felt like people were taking the job too seriously. After all, we are making television, we are not curing cancer. (I probably said this out loud, at least once a day.) While I may have been right, I’m not sure I was always helpful. This year I am just going to focus on making the environment lighter and on being useful wherever I can be, even if I think what’s being done is stupid or unnecessary. My actions very rarely only affect me. That’s something I want to continue to remember throughout this holiday season.

Here’s to hoping this rejuvenation of my yoga practice will help keep me open, mindful, and present–in the last 35 days of this year, and beyond.

How about you? Anything you’re learning in your yoga or running or swim regimen that’s really translating into real life lately? How’s your head feeling going into the holiday season? Anything you’re especially dreading that you might be able to shift your perspective on? I wanna hear it all, please do tell…

 

header: lesly juarez

41 thoughts on “Shifting Perspective

  1. Pingback: On my Fitness – cat h. bradley

  2. A friend of mine is a yoga instructor. I tried a one to one session with her, knowing that my flexibility isn’t great and needs work. I found it a good session, but the hardest part for me was the end. The bit where you just lie there and reconnect with your body. I find stillness ridiculously hard to do! Stillness and silence just kill me! I’m sure this won’t surprise you in the least. I have a great respect for it though, and for the people that put so much time and study into it. It’s important to know your body and what its capable of, and this applies not just in yoga but through all life. You seem to have had a great year of self discovery Cat, and its helped you grow a great deal as a person and athlete.

    I look forward to hearing more about your journeys.

    xx

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  3. I cannot even begin to imagine doing yoga in a sauna so I am proud of you for finding a new place. I would have been like, “Oh, you’re closing? Peace out yoga!” 😉

    I loved your message on perspective though – spot on! I have been struggling with some things at work and when I read “my energy matters…” it kind of smacked me upside the head. I have been deeply hurt by some co-workers and I have had a hard time letting it go. I am sure my energy has affected words and decisions since. Gah – I hate it when the truth hurts!

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    1. Lol, thanks for the chuckle Deanna 😂. I wouldn’t say it’s a sauna! But yes, honestly, the heat is one of the things I can’t live without, makes such a difference in opening up my body.

      So glad I could be the one to smack you upside the head this week 😍. Jk, but really—that happens to me all the time, usually at meetings. It’s when I realize how much I need other people! I am the same as you, I have a hard time letting go of things, especially if someone has hurt me. A lot of times I get annoyed with myself because I get hurt by people for the same reasons—I always have expectations for them that they can’t meet, and then I am upset and disappointed when they of course don’t. I set myself up for it! Just did it again with my brother this week. Hoping it’s the wake up call I need to change. We will see l work in progress 😍.

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  4. How exciting to find a new yoga studio!! I just ordered the Yoga for Runners DVD, I wish I had a yoga studio close by. Last year I attended a 6 week beginners yoga workshop, but the start time only gave me 45 min to change and get there, putting me there just in time to get my mat out. That alone stressed me so much it took half the class time for me to calm down. However, I did enjoy it!! I have a few yoga videos that I rotate through at the house, but it’s not the same as in studio with someone there to help with the poses.

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    1. Jodi! I am always so impressed with people that do yoga on their own. People always think i am disciplined cause i make it to class–I would NEVER do it on my own if it was up to me!! I need not only the teacher but also the energy of the other students. I learn a lot from everyone.
      I know what you mean though about the stress of the logistics of the whole thing. I wish there was something closer to you!! This new studio is just a bit further away but really we have nothing to complain about, it’s still very close. I will cross my fingers that some entrepreneur yogi decides to set up shop in your neck of the woods :).

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  5. I love this Cat, especially “My energy matters in the yoga room, and in the world” part. It is so true, I always thought I am the only one thinking that your energy really matters, and sometimes would think it is crazy but I still believed it does matter. I was in the same situation once, but in the meditation room where I felt the other persons energy and couldn’t concentrate. What you wrote is perfect, and I am so happy to read this. Thanks for sharing ❤ You always have good posts that worth reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much lady!! Isn’t it crazy how especially pronounced that feeling of energy can be in the yoga and meditation room. I felt like i had to write this because sometimes I forget that it applies in the outside world as well. How i act is very often affecting others! I am so happy to have you read my posts, and even more thrilled that you reached out and shared your thoughts today. Thank you thank you!! x

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    1. Honestly Bryce, I am right there with you. I think now I’ve just had so many instances where change has been positive that i am trying hard to be less averse to it. I don’t want to miss anything because I’m stubborn (which has happened often enough!). Thanks for reading lady! x

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  6. I love how you played all of this out! A change in perspective can be so important! I am trying to get back on the blog bandwagon an get some of my queued posts and thoughts out as the list keeps on building and I feel I can’t keep up with myself! Going to change up the normal routine to jumpstart some productivity! Thanks for sharing. x

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    1. Hey Victoria!! That is awesome you are getting back into blogging. You are right, maybe a change in perspective is what you need!! I look at blogging like i look at a lot of other things–one step at a time!! Also with blogging, I’ve had to let go of almost all of my perfectionism–I think i’d never post anything otherwise.
      Good luck with getting into that routine. You can do it!! Thanks for reading, and so happy to have you here!

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  7. Kudos to you Cat! Yeah sometimes it’s hard to let go of the old routine. But some things happen for a reason! I have been reluctant to lift more weights for fear it might make my legs sore. I’ve done it the last 3 weeks and I improved considerably during my race on Thursday. Change can be good indeed!

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    1. Thanks Cat! Yeah it seems like a lot of runners are reluctant to lift with their legs, but I have found it not only helpful, but necessary. I think I’m faster and stronger when I strength train, but I also know it’s been a HUGE part of preventing injuries for me. When i just did running and yoga, my hips and quads were actually crazy weak!!
      I hope it continues to work out for you–yes for change!!

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      1. Yes when I realize I can hardly do squats then I think I need some leg strength. My brother in law who is a trainer swears I will get faster with stregth training. Lets see what happens! Thanks for the vote of confidence on that as well!

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  8. Hanna

    Great post! I’m so glad you’re adjusting to and enjoying your new studio. You’re right, change is hard, but when we open ourselves up to it we often find that there is so much positive!

    I totally hear you on how small adjustments can result in big changes. I’ve recently started the habit of reading during my lunch hour, and having that time to get out of my head has brought so much more centered-ness to my days. It’s also helped me get more into the habit of packing my lunch instead of going out – when I have my book to look forward to and focus on I’m not as tempted to go out for lunch. It’s funny how one little habit can have ripple effects like that.

    November has been rough for me. Cabin fever is hitting me already – I just have no energy. I don’t usually respond this way to the arrival of fall/winter, so it’s weird. But as frustrating as it is to feel like such a lump, I’m trying to show myself some grace. We can’t be “on” all the time and maybe I just really need some recovery after a busy and eventful year. And even though it’s far off, I have to admit I’m enjoying the change in looking forward to the warm weather of spring and summer instead of dreading it!

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    1. Ahh Hanna I love love love your bringing your lunch example. I didn’t even touch on that here–the CHAIN REACTION. It’s like not only can the small actions result in big changes, they can also touch other parts of our lives we weren’t even counting on. I love that. That’s so great you are fitting your reading in like that. I really wish I had a lunch break! We eat at our desks and people walk in and ask us questions in between bites!!

      I vote on def showing yourself that grace. You know yourself, right? I feel like i know myself well enough to be know when i need a swift kick in the pants and know when I need to slow it down and focus on doing less and self care. Your head and your body probably needs this time, so listen to them, and take it! I am a big fan of taking this recovery time during the holiday–so if I am feeling in a slump during this time, I definitely roll with it. I get “enough” exercise, and eat well “enough”, and it’s all really okay.
      Listen to you talking about warm weather!! We’ve got a bit to go before that lady–better settle into the cold for a bit!! Awesome your perspective has changed though and you are looking forward to it :).

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  9. Glad you found a new yoga studio and that it’s working out better than expected. My word this year is ‘stretch’ though no in the yoga sense, in the sense of trying new things. Maybe next year my word will be ‘change.’ I’m going to bounce that around in my brain for awhile.

    Do you have a running goal for 2018? I guess my goal would be to get off the couch and run a little somewhere. That would be a ‘change.’ 🙂

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    1. Lady I understand your sense of the word ‘stretch’ completely! It’s a good one. Now that I think about it, I think maybe without knowing it, that was my word for 2017 also. I really wanted to extend myself this year, to go beyond what I previously thought I could do in all different areas. I think I’ve done that. Now to just finish out the year strong!

      I think it could be interesting to make your word ‘change’ for 2018. There’s something about setting an intention I think, rather than just telling ourselves we will be “open”. My blogger friend Bobbi has a blog where she often writes about learning from failure. Lately her and i have been discussing failure on a deeper level–like even failure as a goal. We kind of figured like wait, we have all this evidence that failure brings all this good stuff into our lives–growth, change, inspiration, toughness. Why not reach for it then? Why not GO for failure. There’s good stuff there. Anyway, just something her and I have been fiddling around with–I think she has her head wrapped around it better than I do, but it’s def something I am thinking about more and something i think i really want to usher into the new year! Your possible ‘change’ goal just made me think of it.
      I am mulling over some running goals now. I am afraid they won’t be that exciting when I announce them–exciting to me, but not to anyone else. I did the marathon, and i am never going bigger than that–so is it all downhill from here? You tell me :).

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  10. I enjoy when you comment on your yoga studio. I began yoga in the same style of hot yoga and am always amazed at after hundreds of classes I can pick up a cue that is spoken differently by an instructor and it opens up a world of possibility.

    After two long trail race/runs this fall it has been challenging to find the balance, literally, on one foot and stay grounded to find proper form versus going through the motions. It can be so humbling but offer so much growth.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying your new studio and hope the last month of the year puts a nice capper on what seems like a great year for you. Thanks for a good morning read. Now…off to yoga for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Matt!! I know what you mean–I can hear something over and over again–and then for some reason, I finally hear it. I think sometimes it’s the way it’s said, sometimes it’s the messenger, or sometimes it’s just that i am finally ready to receive and apply the information.
      I’m also right there with you with going through the motions–I think that is exactly what i was doing at my old studio. I told my hubs it was almost as if the old studio was a self driving car. I still basically got where i needed to go, but I wasn’t engaged at all, I wasn’t having to follow directions or watch for signals or listen for other people or cars. I think the manual “engaged” me is the better yogi–just never realized before how much that engagement transferred to other parts of my life!
      Thanks so much for reading and for your well wishes for the rest of the year. I am so happy to have you here!! Also, hope you had a good class this morning! x

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  11. I’m so glad your new yoga studio is working out. I completely get what you mean about small things making a big difference and listening to what is being said to other people and seeing if you need that adjustment, too. I had no idea the end point of bow pose was as illustrated – ha! I look more like a seal when I’m doing it!

    I’ve made a change in my yoga practice because I’ve been doing the rehab stretching for my post-marathon injury (oh – I didn’t mention that before your mara, did I!? Basically not an injury from running a mara, but from bad organisation: if you read my race report you’ll know the half-marathon folk overtook us near the end of the mara. Running in the gutter, including stepping down onto or hopping over drain covers gave me some damage to my left side – the muscles from lower back to knee went into spasm and my buttock stopped firing! But 2 physio sessions, a horrible massage and lots of stretching later and I’m OK again, though have lost a month of mara training for the next one) and so my hamstrings are x times looser and WOW I can suddenly get into the slightly more advanced than usual parts of postures more comfortably. My yoga was kind of stuck at one point and that’s fine, it’s my practice, but it’s nice to be able to do a few different things and know I’m more flexible.

    I’m making some changes, too, to get my running a little faster and stronger and shift some of that marathon “softness” we’ve been talking about. I’d got into a few bad habits I didn’t need through the end of mara training when I was so.fatigued, so I’ve drawn up a little chart with no snacking and less chocolate and more classes at the gym. Small changes that should translate into better sleep and stronger running. Hope so, anyway. I don’t tend to blog about food changes as I have two eating-disordered friends I worry about triggering, but I’ll try to remember to stop by in a few months to report back!

    Good luck for the busy work time, some great thinking and working around that has already gone on, I can see, so I’m sure it will go well.

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    1. LOL, Liz I think one of my favorite things is looking up full expressions of the poses. It is always a very “ohhhh…so that’s what that is supposed to look like” moment.
      I am glad you have been able to do more in your practice lately. You are right though, it’s yours. I have learned now over so many years of doing yoga that there are ebbs and flows, just like with everything else. There are things I could do a year ago that I can’t do now. And those things will come back–and I will lose them again. I think more recently I have been understanding that the acceptance of where I am at is a part of the practice as well.
      I think you and i have some similar fitness/running goals!! I want to work on speed and get a bit faster as well. It’s weird how my thoughts are starting to settle as I get further away from the marathon. Learning more about what i want i think. It’s good! Hope you have a good week lady. Thanks! x

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    1. Isn’t it Ida? Just those words made me visualize it so differently and it was a dramatic difference. I know a lot of people get bored only doing one style of yoga. I love Bikram–sticking to the same 26 postures means even the smallest changes are really revelatory! Thanks for reading lady! x

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  12. I’m so glad to read that you found a new studio and your practice is flourishing. i’m so glad to be back on my mat and/or in the yoga silks. It truly is transformative how the slightest adjustment or correction can completely alter a pose for you. It definitely crosses over into our everyday lives. Sometimes we need a little change not a big miraculous change to improve our lives. Great post!

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    1. Aww thank you so much. I have to say I am very touched that you seem to remember how bummed I was about the old studio–really happy that the change has ended up being positive.
      I also really like what you’ve said here about needing little changes–I feel like i should look for the little changes more. I think I am probably always too focused on the big kahunas–always looking for the BIG life changing things–all the while, little things are changing my life every day. Thanks for this lady!! x

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      1. I had to step away from my yoga studio for just over a year due to life and finances, so i know how much it stinks. Fortunately, I was able to get back there this fall and have made it a priority. It feels so good to be back!

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      2. So glad you were able to get back!! This studio is a good chunk more expensive than our last one, and the change wasn’t easy, so I hear you there. My practice def took a backseat when i was marathon training and now i feel like my body is telling me everyday that it wants yoga as a priority. Trying to listen!!
        Glad you are enjoying. I am sure the time away gives you even more appreciation!

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  13. Hi Cat, very thoughtful post. I need to get back to yoga following several years marred by surgery, adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia and severe daily headaches. Love doing some stretching ands cautious taxi chi, now it’s time for the real deal. Thanks for the encouragement.

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