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What the Heck Are We Doing?

I am strolling through the local grocery store after gorging myself with a bag of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (which I do not recommend by the way) and I run into a friend who I have not seen in quite a few years. Life has changed a ton for both of us. We both have made significant changes to our priorities and life choices but when I instantly see her I revert back to my old self. Has that ever happened to you? I immediately start nitpicking myself apart in my mind. I was thinking she probably can see this huge bulge in my belly from the Reeses I just demolished, my eyebrows are out of control and need to be weed wacked, I have algae stuck in my teeth from swimming in the lake and I am using this new fish perfume. My mind is so focused on everything that is wrong with me that I am halfway listening to her amazing journey she is on. I could have used her story to inspire others or for self-improvement but instead I become very un-attentive and unfocused. I leave our conversation very discouraged and upset with myself and go eat another bag of Reeses. Ok, just kidding about the bag of Reeses but sometime it is easy to depend on food to find some comfort but not this time. Instead, I jump in the car and start a yoga practice.  

Yes, yoga in my car. Warrior I was a little difficult but the rest was fairly efficient. Ok, just kidding again. I practiced yoga and did zero yoga poses (asanas). Did you know you can do yoga and not hold one pose? I never understood why anyone would ever want to do that because the physical practice was the only reason why I started practicing yoga. But my practice has been developing and growing and I thought I had a grasp on it until that day. I fell out of my practice. When you become more attentive you practice yoga. I clearly was un-attentive, rude, and selfish. Yoga can be practiced 24 hours a day if you can stay attentive.

Every day we have experiences and perceptions. Think about that; experiences and perceptions. I spent my time perceiving that my friend was judging my appearance but in reality I missed an opportunity for an amazing experience. One of the goals of Pantajali (the father of modern yoga), is sustainable attention, focus, clarity and meditation. Sounds pretty simple, huh? But focus is not in our control.

We are passengers in our own system. An example of this is when we get a cut on our body. How do we physically heal a wound? We do not. It heals on its own because our bodies are pretty spectacular. We can put items on our wound to help heal or keep it clean but we do nothing physically to heal our body. We are passengers in our own system. How our body functions is not in our control.

We DO have an influence but no control. Our system is composed of 6 dimensions…

1. Body

2. Breath

3. Thoughts

4. Behavior

5. Emotions

6. Spirit

When we can align these six dimensions we can find peace. Doesn’t that sound glorious? Through a consistent and committed yoga practice we can work on this alignment and balance. Yoga is a set of techniques which influences the way we feel. What is currently happening in our system is a result to the experiences we have been having. Yoga is an intentionally created experience and helps direct our attention to a designated place.

When our system is out of balance it brings us down emotionally. A result of emotional distress is crying, anger, anxiety, stress etc. When our emotions are in check we find peace. Can you see why it would be important to align the 6 dimensions of our system? Below are some examples of what could happen if a dimension is out of balance and what happens when it is in balance.

1a. Body out of balance- lack of sleep, health issues, rashes, fatigue, weight gain, food dependencies

1b. Body in balance- Everything starts working properly, limited physical ailments

2a. Breath out of balance-short, choppy and shallow breaths

2b. Breath in balance-long, calm, even and deep

3a. Thoughts out of balance-negative thoughts, distractions, self-doubt, fear,

3b. Thoughts in balance-positive, hopeful, motivated, happy, clarity   

4a. Behavior out of balance-short tempered, bad choices, self-sabotage, disrespect others, procrastinate

4b. Behavior in balance-proactive, execute plans, accomplish goals, become selfless

5a. Emotions out of balance-cry, yell, anxious, nauseous

5b. Emotions in balance-we are at peace

6a. Spirit out of balance-values become distorted and blurred, ego takes over

6b. Spirit in balance-priorities become clear, life becomes easier, peace and happiness

In our yoga practice we want to mimic functions our body does when it is balanced. This is the context of yoga. At the end of yoga we should be calm, peaceful, hopeful and our mind attentive. 

 

Breath is our barometer to check in with what our system is doing. If we are breathing quick and choppy then we are stressed, anxious, angry, or out of balance. Yoga is about breathing, attention and one focus. A breathing technique we use in our yoga class is Ujjai. Ujjai is used to make our breath tangible so you can feel it. It also creates one focus and allows for slow and controlled breathing. Ujjai allows us to become intimate with our breath and present in the moment. When we allow ourselves to be more present we tend to have more experiences rather than perceptions. I missed out on something that could have been a really great experience because I was living a life of perception. I was completely off balanced. Sometimes all we need to do is sit back and breathe, clear our minds and get back to the basics of life.

THE REST IS JUST GARBAGE

 

Namaste,

Kim Damm

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Yoga For Fitness? What the what?

Yoga for fitness? Really? Seriously? Better yet, why? 

I would have never, EVER, EVER, and I mean EVER; in a million years thought you could do yoga for a workout regimen. And nor did I want to (in the past).

Calm your mind, Huh? What does that mean? How in the hell do you calm your mind when you are a full time mother, employee, taxi driver, maid, therapist, grocery shopper, grad student, runner, booger picker, toilet scrubber, retirement planner, banker, CEO of the household, etc. And why would I want to calm my mind when I can workout with some weights, burn some major calories, destroy my body,  starve myself and blow off some steam.

By the way what is yoga? Is this where you touch your toes and take a nap? Who has time for toe touching and naps? You saw all the stuff I have to get done. I DO NOT have time for naps and my mind will not calm down because I am freaking out. The thought of taking a nap freaks me out because I have no time. Oh geez, now I am all upset. Maybe I do need yoga.

Does any of the above sound familiar? When I was first exposed to the word yoga as a "fit" adult, these are the thoughts that spewed through my head. Fitness has a variety of definitions and is personal to each individual. Fitness to the 'past' me, was being able to workout intensely and pushing my body to extreme limits. Pain, lots of pain. I also like muscles. Girl muscles are really fun. Fitness to me was being as lean as I could be with awesome ripped muscles. Essentially it was all about the exterior. This makes me sad to remember back on those days. I had a six pack! Do you care? Do you know how many other people cared? ZERO!!!!! That six pack changed the world how? Made me a better person, how? Lets talk about my ego for one second. I was having competitions with people who had no idea they were competing with me. Weird, I know! I hate that person. I am glad I buried her. It was not to long ago either. I am not talking about my youth. This was only 3 years ago.

Three years ago I accidentally drank the yoga Kool-Aid. I would have never done this on purpose but a friend of mine wanted me to train her and she would only do yoga. Are you kidding me? BAHHHAAHAHAHAHA! I DO NOT DO YOGA! But her plea for help was so sincere and inspiring. I knew I had to accommodate her because she was sick. I made it clear at the time, I was not yoga certified, nor do I know anything about yoga. I spent some time researching and educating myself on yoga to see if I could help. It was just as boring as I thought it would be in the beginning. I threw some sequences together and three days a week we would meet in her living room going through the poses. She was pretty entertaining though and we laughed a ton. I would do the poses with her and I could feel my muscles working so that was pretty cool too. But it wasn't until I started to see her getting stronger, healthier, more self-confident and happier did I realize that yoga is the "real deal". At the same time I thought, it was good for her but yoga would never work for me. I like to sweat and act like a crazy woman in the gym. Or could it work for me?

This is when my life had completely changed. After learning about proper alignment, form, technique, and the anatomy I was blessed with a platform to develop a yoga style that works for personalities like mine. Anytime Fitness allowed me to lead yoga classes at their fitness center for 2+ years. The next two years I ditched the weights and worked on my yoga practice. I developed a hot yoga class that was intense, rewarding and fun. I became leaner, more toned, stronger and in the best shape of my life. Weird I know, you probably do not believe it. I was a naysayer too but you just need to try it. The yoga was a hardcore workout but what happened next really freaked me out. I found value in life and I was able to sort through all the garbage and identify what is import. I was able to build my relationship with Jesus and ask for forgiveness of my sins and forgive myself. I was able to let go of all the material items, ego and all the junk that just does not matter. I am now able to love everyone unconditionally and have become passionate about introducing as many people to the life changing practice of yoga. I opened my ears during my yoga practice and listened to my Heavenly Father and felt him wrap his arms around me with the truest form of love. I just want to spread his love and encourage you to open your ears too. He loves you so much. That is what is most important.

Yoga for fitness? Yes. There is no better fitness than a total body fitness that includes your mind, body and soul.  

Namaste,
Kim Damm

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Let Go of Your Fears-Life is to Short

When you truly let go of all your fears and put all your faith in God, life becomes euphoric! After losing two dear friends last year I committed to living life to the fullest.  2015 is going to be insane!  We are leaving for a last minute trip to Cardinals Spring training then to Disney this week!  Yoga studio opens March 28th!  Full Ironman 140.6 mile race in Louisville October 11th. 

I will race the Ironman in honor of Ashley Gordon Farmer.  This race will require ALOT of strength, focus, faith and commitment.  This is how Ashley lived her life.  Her faith, strength, focus and commitment to God has forever changed my life.  I remember always telling her about my workouts for the day and she would say "You did what?  You are crazy girl!". Well Ashley you are coming with me this time!  I miss you so much and I can't wait.

And finally, ON THE EXACT DAY OF MY 40TH BIRTHDAY (Nov 1st) I WILL BE RUNNING THE NEW YORK MARATHON!  I will run this race in honor of Chrissy Rhea-Bauerr. She always loved to hear about my races and told me if she wasn't sick she would be right there with me!!  THIS ONE IS FOR YOU MY BEAUTIFUL FRIEND you will be with me every step of the way.  GOD has truly blessed me!  I love God, my family (especially my husband Mark Damm) for putting up with all my crazy adventures and my beautiful friends who continually push me to be the best I can be!  I would be nothing without yall.  Here is to an AMAZING 2015!!!!  Go conquer a dream this year!!!  You can do it!

Namaste,
Kim Damm

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