The #100DaysOfYoga Challenge!

100DaysOfYogaChallenge

I’m starting a #100DaysOfYoga challenge starting this morning!

What is it?

100 Straight Days of Practicing Yoga.
It will include 30 minutes of Yoga a day followed by a picture and a reflection.
All of these photos will be kept in a single album on Facebook (and Google+).

Why?

A WDS friend of mine, Rita Chand, inspired me immensely with her #100Days challenge of working out every day. Here is her post last week after making it to Day 100:
RitaChand

An incredible feat, and quite a commitment to a practice for over 3 straight months.

Yoga has been a big part of my life since the Fall of 2011.

I wrote a post on November, 11, 2011 entitled, “Home is where the heart is”. In this post, I mentioned, “I returned home to KC under difficult circumstances where I re-connected to my roots, made critical business partnerships, and found focus and clarity through Yoga (I’ll be writing more in-depth about this in future posts).”

I’m so sad I didn’t more closely document my experiences during these months because they held some of the most expansive self-growth I’ve ever had in my life. I grew more as a person in the year-after that post than I had in almost a decade before.

Only a couple times I posted...

Only a couple times I posted…

Only a couple times I posted...

Only a couple times I posted…

At the time, I meant to discuss things I had discovered and what Yoga meant to me, but I just couldn’t find my voice.

Sometimes, you lose your voice when you feel most in flow.

That’s what happened to me. I became so drawn to the practice, the philosophy, the culture, the science, the energy, and the world-wide community I met through Yoga that it changed my perspective. I ended up feeling incredibly connected to everything around me. As if I was engineering serendipity. I was so caught up in the flow, I lost the ability to connect with my voice about it.

I want that to change. I want to return to my inner voice which allowed me to connect easier with everyone around me. The voice that made it easy to write and blog about these experiences as they were happening.

For example:
I ended up at a cafe in Paris shortly after making that post; sitting quietly on a couch by the windows looking over the Rhine river. A man sitting next to me sparked a conversation that would end in us talking for hours that night. I remember feeling down, and being able to talk to this man about the successes of my business and lifestyle path was incredible. I could see a fire in his eyes; a passion and a yearning for something greater in life. He happened to be reading a book that I was very fond of in college and we reminisced on this intellectual wavelength throughout the night. We saw the greatness in each-other which allowed us to be grateful for ourselves. I never anticipated making a connection like this on a random night in Paris, but when you live intentionally with your heart out, the universe has a way of attracting people in your life at the right moment at the right time.

I would end up traveling through 8 regions of India shortly after…

Finding a spiritual center in Auroville, near Pondicherry.

Finding a spiritual center in Auroville, near Pondicherry. I would be drawn back to this magnificent place again and again shortly after this trip.

howYogaWorks
I still remember reading “How Yoga Works” while the plane was landing in Bangalore and feeling incredibly connected to the Moon, the Sun, and the Earth. It’s almost crazy and unexplainable… but I felt as if I embodied all that was around me, and all that was around me filled me up. As if there was a universe within mirroring the universe outside and I could feel that inner universe so purely. And no, I was not on any drugs.

Later in the Summer something incredibly would happen. I just had the most inspirational time of my life attending the WDS conference in Portland.

Photos by Armosa Studios. https://flic.kr/p/csPRB1

Photos by Armosa Studios. https://flic.kr/p/csPRB1

Morning Meditations led by Nathan Agin

Morning Meditations led by Nathan Agin

On my flight out, I was sitting next to a lady who was flying to San Francisco. She was flying to say her graces to someone who was passing away. She had been taking Yoga classes and was fascinated by the effects it had on the energy centers of the body. After I talked for almost an hour about my experiences throughout the year, she opened up to me and told me something that to this day still leaves me in Awe. She said she experienced this moment (while being a nurse and in the care of this elderly patient), where she saw the oneness in the universe. She was stitching a patient and rolling a white cloth over their arm, when all of a sudden, circles upon circles entered her field of vision until it engulfed her, but not in a confusing, scary, or mind-spinning way. She felt like she was in a womb — safe and protected. She felt the reactions her energy had on everything around her, including inanimate objects like tables, chairs, and the bed of her patient. She said she had been struggling with faith and dedicating her life to something noble in order to help people which led her to nursing. She was sad because she felt no matter how much she would care for patients, many of them (especially elderly patients), would simply pass away shortly after her care. Life was and is impermanent. As much as we like to control the outcomes of our lives and day to day experiences, life unravels sometimes in ways we can never even imagine.

She would later tell me that her son lived a few years in India, in the holy city of Varanasi. I had never heard of this city, but I happened to be on my way to India again, and it soon became part of many things that would line up in my life path.

This was only the beginning of an incredible year in 2012 which included diving deeper into my Yoga practice, collaborating on a Virtual Yoga Studio called Joyful Breath Yoga which is currently the largest Online Yoga Studio in the midwest, and finding love through incredible synchronicities.

2013 was a turbulent year. Despite this, I still helped organize a Yoga Retreat to India. The first Journey of Joy for Joyful Breath Yoga. Everyone that participated made this an incredible success. I was so humbled to even be a part of it:

YogaInIndia2

yogaInIndia1

This year has been all about restoring that peace and security of self I felt back in 2012.

I’m feeling incredible in these days leading up to Summer. I’m reminded of all the beautiful memories, the people I encountered, and the wonderful connections I made. Words have been pouring through my soul and I’ve been writing feverishly to keep these experiences close.

I want to publish these past experiences along with new insights I gain through a regular and dynamic Yoga practice. I don’t plan on just getting more physically fit, but also growing a deeper calmness in the mind and stronger spiritual connection.

Doing this in 100 Days will not only be a challenge to myself, but it will be an incredible journey in and of itself! In these next 100 Days, I already have plans on being in at least 5-7 different cities in at least 3 different countries!

First up will be Detroit this weekend for a visit with cousins, followed my Minneapolis with more cousins, and then Fargo, ND for the annual Misfit Conference.

After this, Jacki and I will be heading to Brazil for the World Cup and taking buses along the countryside as we venture onwards to Chile!

During this challenge, I will practice at least 30 minutes of Yoga every day, take a picture, write something meaningful that came to me from the practice, and post it in the same Photo Album on Facebook and Google+. At the end of 100 Days, there will be 100 Photos in that album.

Some days I may simply reflect on the experiences of the last couple of years which has shaped my life in ways I could never have imagined. Other days I will write what feels like is coming straight through me.

I’m so excited for this journey! If you have any interest in the deeper philosophies of Yoga or how they intertwine with the realities of our life, stay tuned (or make your own #100DaysChallenge)!
:)



Home is where the heart is

couch I sleep on

Yes, I sleep here usually now.



It’s been awhile since I posted on here. So many things have transpired for me in the past couple months. Some for the better, others I’m not so sure about. One thing I do know though — these last few months after returning from Peru have had a huge impact on me. In fact, I see this year so far as having three major impacts on my life:

1) Being apart of an amazing Coworking Community that helped me grow as a person and really learn how to connect better with people on a personal and professional level with a simple idea: you are more inspired, passionate and productive when you work together rather than alone.

2) During the Summer I was bit by the travel bug and gained a thirst for adventure.

3) In the Fall, I returned home to KC under difficult circumstances where I re-connected to my roots, made critical business partnerships, and found focus and clarity through Yoga (I’ll be writing more in-depth about this in future posts).

I just keep thinking back to a day last Summer that I’ve never told anyone about. It boggles my mind that this day even took place with where I’m at mentally and physically at this very moment.

I reached a low point in the Summer of 2010, where I was not only depressed, but uncomfortable in my own skin. I was looking out in the world and seeing all these amazing things others were doing and seeing their successes as a reflection of how I’ve always failed at doing anything spectacular with my life. My life was so simple, so plain, so predictable, and so empty. Yet I had everything — I had a loving family back home, a great salary with a stable job, a nice apartment with a view over a beautiful park, and was living for the first time out of Kansas on the Front Range in Colorado. What more could I ask for? Why did nothing ever satisfy me? Why did I always feel second tier even to my friends?

I remember sitting under a tree in late May of 2010 at the park one evening with the biggest hole in my stomach. It was a painful feeling like a knot was tying me up from inside, pulling me in like an anchor I couldn’t stop from falling. I felt absolute uncertainty and loss of purpose. I crouched, hands around my feet, head down fighting the waves of tears that kept wanting to come pouring out of my eyes. I didn’t even know what I was sad about. So many people had it worse off than I did. I was actually privileged to be where I was, but here I sat, under a tree wondering why my life was passing me by. I did the only thing I knew at the time to do — just wait until the pain went away. I sat there for a few hours before I got up, wiped the emotions away and pretended nothing ever happend. Tomorrow was a new day, even if I wasn’t looking forward to it.

Reflecting back, I think experiences like this are more common than people are willing to admit. Our society is not so comfortable revealing the hardships and low points that make us who we are. We only like to see who we become, not the trials and tribulations that are encountered to get there. Entreprenuers and business owners face these moments of uncertainty constantly, some on a daily basis, but the difference is that they are treated as growth opportunities not validation of failure. And that’s the key. If you look at a moment like that as proof of not being able to accomplish anything, you probably won’t. Instead, you need to embrace such moments to gain clarity and vision on where to position yourself next. Where’s the next opportunity? How can I grow from this point forward?

It’s not an easy path working for yourself, that’s why everyone isn’t doing it. But it’s moments like this when you realize why you’re doing it.

Shortly after this, I received an e-mail that would change the course of the entire year ahead. My friend Kunjan and I had already started a business on the side of our jobs because we both were convinced about at least one thing — we wanted to do more than sit in a cubicle all day having our skills strip-mined and our futures decided by people who took our time in exchange for money. It was a big struggle to build up to the point where we were able to break out of the 9-5. Nothing comes easy in this world, but sometimes it can be a single catalyst that sets you off, and this e-mail was one. I’ll never forget my response to it which seems so hilarious to me now:



With that, we had our first client, and a long-term partner and friend in Raghu as he helped us throughout this year with business development while he went on to do bigger and better things on his own. I feel differently now about only doing work for clients and not focusing on your own projects, but this opportunity allowed us to really focus and take our business seriously. We had a goal, we had a vision, we had purpose, and we were working towards something. Personally, I gained more confidence, and continued to push myself out of my comfort zone which allowed me to meet the unbelievably passionate people through the Cohere Coworking Community I joined later that year.

After that, it was full speed ahead, we were getting referrals left and right, juggling many hats, trying to keep up with all the work that was now coming our way. The best part about our work was every single part of it was online, so we collaborated wherever we could find internet connections — Cohere, coffee shops, airports, friend’s/cousin’s places, or in our pajamas at home. This is actually the true benefit of working for yourself — the freedom you gain from it. Time is also worth currency even if it’s hard to quantify and completely worth monetary pay cuts due to the time you get back that could be used to put yourself in the path of greater opportunities you would otherwise have missed out on. It was this time and freedom that allowed me to take over 5 weeks of working vacations to Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Peru over the Summer.

It was really hard for me coming back to KC. I had enjoyed some of the best months of my life living in Northern Colorado; meeting, connecting, and working with some of the most inspiring people I know. Logistically, I didn’t have much of a choice. The rent in the apartment I had was being increased by $300 at the end of the lease and there was 17 days to move-out/find a new place while also trying to prepare for my 2 week trip to South America. I tried everything I could after I got back from Peru to stay — kept my things in a storage locker, lived on friend’s couches while I scoured craigslist for temporary living arrangements. All the while, realizing I was probably being selfish trying to remain in Colorado while our largest clients were in KC and Kunjan, getting married in January, had only a few months before he would be leaving to India; thus I only had a small window of opportunity to work closely with him before he left.

Home is where the heart is. Where our lifeforce keeps getting replenished. Our blood flows back through our heart before taking its trip through our many vessels delivering life throughout the rest of our body, our brain and our soul. It’s a cyclical process; one part cannot exist without the other. I decided to return home, to where my heart was, where my roots were, where my past was, and where most of my experiences in this life have been to understand where I needed to be and where I wanted to go. It just made sense at the time and I’m grateful I did. New business partnerships were made, current clients were able to meet more face to face, and exciting projects have been planned for 2012 that I can’t wait to announce. I also developed a deeper love of Yoga (more on that later).

That moment in the Summer of 2010 changed me. When I realized it was the way I valued myself and that I didn’t have to rely on external acceptance of others to be happy or fulfilled, the world began to open up to me. Seems like a simple, almost obvious fact — others don’t control your life, you do. But it’s hard to truly accept. Even if you’re dependent on others for money, shelter, food, at the end of the day, each breathe you take, each moment you experience is your own. You can choose to keep feeling sorry for yourself and being a victim or you can find excitement in everything you do, see opportunities and possibilities in everything you’re involved with, and impact the world in any way you wish.

As Ganhdi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.