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Nikki Meets the Mat

April 10, 2017


This is a story that has it's beginnings in decades gone by- thirty seven years and some odd months to be more precise, as it is truly a story that begins the day I was born.  You see, I believe whole-heartedly that every moment from then on has led me directly to my yoga mat.


Ok, maybe not "directly" in the sense of the shortest distance between two points... blah blah blah. No straight lines here, but every bit of this twisted, rocky road has been beautifully necessary.


Of course, I won't give the whole story away in a single blog post, nor will I start as far back as the day of my birth. Instead, I'll share from a single, significant crossroad in my adult life. Already a wife, already a mother, and yet struggling with the box I kept myself in and all its sticky little labels.


I won't give voice to the ugly things I heard in my head, but I was truly unhappy with myself.


In May of 2012, I traveled home to Texas. It was a weekend away from my husband and kids to celebrate an important day in my younger sister's life. We couldn't all afford to go, but Sam was graduating from college. It was the perfect excuse for a girls' weekend away, and so in the company of another of my sisters, Amy, I made the trip to Lubbock.


It was on this trip that Amy and I commiserated about the unhealthy reflections we found in the mirror.  The scale was all too honest with me as well with its digital 212 staring back at me- the heaviest of my life, but Amy had some words of encouragement and a secret weapon. It was an app and it was simple- log your food and exercise.  It came with the all important promise of her accountability, too.


Downloaded. Done and done. Now comes the hard part... follow through.


I took one day at a time, mastering small changes before moving onto something new with the help of this little gem- starting with just the calorie restriction, then finding a little extra movement in my day before moving onto exchanging sodas for water, and so on.


These were the little battles I fought. These were the little battles that won my war.  Even with periods of weight gain (as you can see. I told you- no straight lines!) and struggling against moments of old habits rearing their ugly heads, I was still discovering a healthier version of myself.  And I felt good- better everyday. I was able to do things I hadn't ever been able to do before, some as simple as climbing stairs without being winded. And so I continued.


In the summer of 2014, in a moment of discouragement, I was given some advice to kick up my activity level a notch or two... or ten. My daily treadmill hour at the gym was no longer serving me.  It was time to trade it in for a higher intensity combination of cardio and body weight training, but I had no idea how to do that!  Lucky me- under the care and planning of some very good friends a meticulous plan was crafted.  Ashleigh and Justin were a power couple, if you will, who guided this gym-shy but determined woman to a whole new fitness level. My schedule was intense with 4-5 mornings or afternoons in the gym, sometimes both, but my family routine and the less demanding age of my children now allowed me the time to really focus on this health pursuit quest.  


It was at this time, in July of 2014 that Justin suggested adding yoga to the regimen, particularly on my "rest days."  Intrigued by this yoga thing, but intimidated by the daunting idea of trying a new fitness class, for which I still shy away from, I sought out classes and information from the first place anyone from my generation would look- the internet. I found some fabulous yoginis willing to share their practices via Youtube and Instagram, and it was there I began, mat unrolled on the bathroom floor and computer calling poses from the counter where it sat. 


Turns out, it wasn't just for those "rest days." I practiced. Every. Day. I made some kind of time for that cheap pink mat, and as I fell in love with this God-given gift, I began to chronicle the discoveries I was making; fun poses, balances, and inversions. Of course, it has become so much more than just asanas now, but it's fun (and funny) to look back at those first photos (my very very first pictured above).  Some days I wish I had had the courage to start with a class with real human beings, as I now know the value of community and guidance by a trained professional, but most days I am so very grateful to have the little Instagram squares I had compiled to reflect on.


We forget so easily the distance we've traveled. We get so caught up in the measurement of the single steps in time and inches, sometimes mere centimeters.  But those are the precise moments to scroll back through and remember- to truly own the trip-ups and triumphs alike as a thing of pure beauty and grace.


I came to my mat because I was led here.  


And now, having completed my RYT 200 hour training with Chesapeake Hot Yoga in March of 2017, I'm ready to lead others, with experience and knowledge, passion and love, to find the unique gift and beautiful purpose yoga has in each individual life. 


My yoga education continues; with the completion of my initial 200 hours, I jumped immediately into 300 hour teacher training. I will proudly earn my RYT 500 status in March of 2018 from my "om away from home," Chesapeake Hot Yoga.

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