As the Move to Heal Project begins to unfold, I've found myself reaching out to a lot of people that I have met at different points in my life.
Someone once told me that the energy you put out will attract similar energy, and as time goes on I am beginning to believe in that whole-heartedly.
I met Gillian and her friend Marisa filming the Food Network a few years ago, and both of them still continue to inspire me to be the best version of myself.
Below, Gillian shares how she began 2018- committing to do yoga every day for 365 days- and how it is helping her find clarity + surrender amidst the heaviness.
I recently surrendered to the mat.
December got heavy for me. Life forced me to re-evaluate myself, my decisions, my past and my goals.
As one does, I kept myself busy and dismissed self questioning in exchange for Christmas parties and heavy pours of wine.
By the end of it all, I was ready to get clear. Yoga had been sneaking into my life subtly but the voice inside of me was getting louder:
“Make it a practice.”
And when a bourbon infused version of myself declared boldly on New Year’s Eve “I’m going to do 365 days of yoga!” I took my hungover limbs to yoga the next day, and decided that since I am a woman of my word, I would do exactly that.
When you get clear about what you want, you get it. So when I reached out to my favorite yoga studio and owner, and asked if I could work in exchange for classes, she welcomed the idea.
I realized that first day that yoga with a hangover really sucks.
I also remembered from previous times practicing that it always took away from the depth of my practice. When I was treating my body right on all accounts, I was able to get into the postures and my meditation on a whole new level.
So like any all or nothing gal (I live to self-experiment), I decided I would also cut out alcohol and coffee. At least for the first 30 days of my #365daysofyoga.
I can only describe the first two weeks as ugly but beautiful.
Whenever I do any kind of “detox” I always feel like crap at first. Normally, during this time, I hide from the world. But I was committed. So there I was on days when I was severely depressed, bloated, gassy, stinky from sweating it all out...you name it. I was there. Awkwardly unwinding my body and surrendering to the mat. I held back tears in child’s pose. I laughed. I felt embarrassed and I felt proud.
But no matter what I was going through physically or emotionally, I always left feeling calm and centered. I also found warmth in the community of the studio, appropriately called “Union”, and a sense of belonging I hadn’t felt since I moved to California.
One night after class my favorite yoga teacher looked at me before leaving and said, “You inspire me. You show up every day.” And I felt so humbled that even this wounded version of myself could somehow inspire.
I’m on day 17 now. They say it takes 21 days to make a habit, so I’m almost there.
Every day is different. Every class is different. I’m always humbled and fascinated by where my body and mind will take me. Some days it is (almost) effortless. Most days I struggle with my ego and remind myself not to compare my practice to others. But every day I leave feeling better. I am more and more mentally free. I am more and more me.
One of my teachers describes yoga as returning to your most natural state of being, and I couldn’t describe it any better way.
I am so grateful for this surrender. To the mat. To myself. To finding some inner peace during challenging times in such a sweet way.
Gillian Young Barkalow is my beautiful, wonderful friend and also a Health & Fitness Coach that is doing some pretty amazing stuff.
Find her on Instagram: @gybstrength
AND check out her 4 week online workshop that she'll be doing this February (details in the poster below!)