By Adrienne Boland
“If we are going to bring out the best in people, we, too, need to sow the seeds of encouragement.”
Life throws challenges our way, it is inevitable. Some challenges we chose to bring upon ourselves, like a fitness challenge, race, or goal to accomplish. Other challenges happen when we least expect it such as health issues, car maintenance and conflicts at work or at home. The inner yogi takes these challenges and turns them into successes, however sometimes that yogi is overwhelmed and needs a little encouragement from a friend, family member or even a stranger. I think fitness and health is one of the hardest things to master, especially if it is a new piece of your life. Temptation is everywhere: donuts, cream pie, deep-fried onions; I mean why does this stuff have to taste so good? I recently have discovered some food allergies making all of the items above completely off limits, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still crave them. Saying no to bad habits or yes to good ones often requires a little help and encouragement. Everyone is different and requires a different type of encouragement, whether that be the friend that goes to the gym with you or swaps healthy recipes and encourages you to eat smaller portions and healthier foods.
One great thing about being a part of a yoga community is the support that you receive. Most participants are doing yoga or practicing the yoga lifestyle to be healthy and fit. It is easy to find people that will encourage you to try a new healthy lifestyle and stick with it. If you are apprehensive about attending a class, grab a friend! It is a great way to have accountability to attend class and to introduce others that will benefit from the experience. Talk to a co-worker that has wanted to start a fitness routine, ask your mom, friend, dad or husband. If you encourage others, you in turn encourage yourself. My new found love of yoga is inspiring me to bring my friends and roommates to class and share the gift that is yoga. This does not only apply to yoga, it applies to all of the positive and healthy things in your life. Share them, and the fever will spread, making a happier and healthier family and community.
I was inspired to write this article after encouraging a stranger to finish a 10K race yesterday. I randomly decided to run this race after coerced to volunteer in exchange for registration. I had not run much in the last 6 months, like two times. I have been riding my bike, so I figured I would be able to do a 10K, even if I had to walk a bit. I had another friend sign up and next thing you know we are running down the path in the brisk Colorado mountain air. My friend was faster than me and was soon out of sight. I was to rely on only my music and pure willpower to get to the finish, I had this… maybe? I end up running next to this woman and started to make small talk. After a mile I decided I was done with the music and just into talking to this woman. We discussed life, her kids, and her recent foot surgery. I was amazed at her ability to run and her dedication to lose the weight she had gained while incapacitated from her surgery.
We high five at mile 3, half way done. We slow to grab a drink at the aid station, fatigue is setting in. “Let’s get going,” I say. I know if I slow down, I will keel over. We continue running and she begins to voice her struggle to keep running. She tells me to run ahead because she was slowing me down. At this point I am in this for the long haul and know I need to help encourage her all the way to the finish line. Mile 5, one more mile to go. We talk about how beautiful the mountains and the trees are… talking about anything really just to keep the conversation going so we can get to the damn finish. Legs are tired, but must keep going. I describe to her that I feel like I am living life when I am confronted with these physical challenges. I am feeling the air, my muscles, and the sweat on my brow! Most people are so numb to these feelings. Plus the feeling you have when you no longer feel the stress on your body is the most relaxing experience you can ever imagine. A feeling similar to when you are in a yoga pose, holding your arms outstretched and they burn like crazy! When you release you feel so light and soft, you smile, you did it, made it through the pain to the relief.
We round the corner and see the finish line, I tell her, now we pick up the pace and finish strong. Reluctant at first but the finish is so close, she runs faster! We finish together, high five and hug after receiving our finisher’s medals that are also a bottle opener, BONUS! Did I mention I love beer? Yeah, another bummer about gluten intolerance. She is pumped! I am pumped! We both ran the whole thing and accomplished it because we had each other! She introduces me to her family and introduces me as “her friend that helped her finish.” Little does she know that she helped me just as much as I helped her. We both left the race feeling excited for other races and stoked on our new accomplishment and step towards greater fitness.
Find a race, a workshop, a class that challenges you! We all need some positive challenges to help us feel our minds, bodies and breathe in the life that awaits you if we only get off the couch! Find a friend to do it with you and hold each other accountable. Set realistic goals and start small. There is always room for improvement and a new adventure awaits if you just go out and find it and push yourself to feel the pain and the pleasure of life!
“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”
-Joshua J. Marine