During last year’s Yoga Challenge I watched Jes Ricker, owner of Night and Day Coffee Cafe, transform herself. She became dedicated to her practice, which then started her on a dramatic trajectory of transformation, which is continuing to this day. I asked her to tell me how this all came about, in the hopes that it will resonate with, and encourage all the people who have been practicing so hard for the last 22 days. By now everyone, even those who come sporadically, should be feeling the beginnings of a seismic shift, in their bodies and in their minds.
Here’s what I asked Jes, and here are her answers:
Me: Jes, you’ve told me that last year’s Yoga Challenge started you on a path of transformation. Can you remember how you were feeling last April as the Challenge began?
Jes: This is such a great question because honestly, when I think about it, I feel like I was a different person. Yes, I had done yoga before, but it had been 2 years since I took a class. I can remember feeling intimidated, like I would be extremely out of shape or unsure of my ability to keep up. At the time I was just simply happy to be back in the studio, so I had no idea that starting back up would be the start to major changes in my life.
Me: What were some of the difficulties, as well as the joys of practicing yoga regularly?
Jes: Kath, you say it best when you tell your classes that, “Just getting to the mat is the hardest part.” Making time to do yoga is a daily challenge for me, even after a year of regular practice. With that said, however, I have also learned to just do what I can or want to do in a day, without feeling guilty for what does not get done. And this is true for yoga, too. Over time I am finding that the less I worry about being able to get to that mat, the easier I find time for it.
Every day I remind myself to carry into the real world the state of peace and clarity that I feel when doing yoga. No matter what kind of day I was having when entering your studio, I always walked out with a smile on my face. I challenge myself to make that smile last a little bit longer than it did the day before.
Me: What happened after the April Challenge ended? Were you able to keep up your practice(s)?
Jes: At the end of last year’s challenge I made it my intent to attend one of your classes at least once a week. In the summer that was easy to do because I had plenty of time! Throughout the rest of the year, it’s not so easy. So this is where my struggle began. I know of the benefits and rewards that yoga brings me, yet I will sacrifice my practice for other commitments. Unfortunately, that is still something I am trying to change today.
I find it very challenging to do yoga on my own because I appreciate so much the yoga I do in your studio. In May I will be going on a solo retreat for 3 weeks and the thing I am looking forward to doing the most is working on my yoga practice, alone. I am truly hoping this will be an opportunity to break through that challenge.
Me: How do you feel now, a year later?
Jes: I tell people all the time that yoga changed my life. Mostly because it opened up my world –and my hips! When I was doing yoga I was fascinated with how I didn’t think about anything. Which for me seemed so unrealistic because I was so highly stressed all the time. I was always so preoccupied with my next task before I even finished the one I was currently working on. So yoga became an addiction because it became my sanctuary; it became the one thing I did every day that I did not think about. By the end of the Challenge last April, my body craved more. More relief. And as I found that relief, through yoga, there was no going back.
By doing yoga I learned how to pay attention to how I felt, on the inside. Over time, I began to apply this concept to every aspect of my life. When you pay attention to how you feel (not think), as you eat certain foods or do certain activities, it becomes very obvious what is good or better for you. So with yoga came the desire to eat better. Also with yoga I had more energy, so I wanted to exert myself more, challenge myself more. This is how I lost more than 30 pounds since the end of the yoga challenge last April.
In a world of chaos, yoga makes me feel sane. So by the end of the challenge last April i felt…….grateful. Alive. Back on track. People go through their days so worried about so many things, that after a while we forget what is really important. Yoga reminded me of what’s important. One year later I feel like I am, every day, genuinely trying to be the person I have always wanted to be, which is no more than just simply accepting who I am.
Me: Any advice for people currently in the Challenge wondering how they will keep going on this path after April?
Jes: Oh geez, I don’t know if I am in a position to give advice (haha). But I guess the one thing I would love to share with anyone is whether you are new to the practice, or have been doing it for a while, to simply remind yourself every day to let things be whatever they are, in the studio, as well as outside in the real world. Quieting my mind while doing yoga made me realize I really didn’t need to take things as seriously as I did. And that actually, when I stopped trying to control how things would feel, what they would look like, etc, everything became exactly what is was meant to be (and a lot faster). So with that said, don’t try to control how your practice will go, or how it will make you feel. If you are a beginner, give yourself time to grow with your practice. Don’t worry so much about whether you are doing it right or what you look like. And listen to your body. Feel what you feel, whatever it is, and be ok with that. : )