I have always been the type of person who uses excuses to give up – my knee is bothering me, I don’t feel well – you know, the typical lame excuses.  The excuses justified not being healthy or happy with myself.

I started yoga later in life (ok I am only 45 so not really that old as 40 is the new 30 right?).  The more yoga I did, the stronger I felt, and this made me feel healthier and happier. Go figure! However, I still questioned my practice.  Was I good enough? Would others judge me? Would they say, “what does she think she is doing being on the mat!”?

Contradictory to my own self-doubt, Samudra has welcomed me into its community of yogis. So when I was presented with the opportunity to join a retreat, my sister Heidi and I signed up.  I was still a bit apprehensive, but I was drawn in by the idea of a fall weekend in the mountains of Maine. Still, I questioned, could I really participate in a whole weekend of yoga???

I remember seeing two retreat participants sitting on the deck as we drove up to the house. Heidi and I did not know them and I recall the introductions feeling a bit awkward; however it did not take long for a bond to develop.

The first night of yoga was fantastic. It had me looking forward to the rest of the weekend. Even the food – it was out of this world! My mother would have been surprised with what I ate seeing as I used to be a very fussy eater. I would like to think my palate has grown.

During the Saturday morning practice, I questioned if I could handle a long, intense class. The sun was shining on me, sweat dripping down my back. I discovered a new part of myself I didn’t know was there – determination!  My questioning slipped away and I completed the class. I had never tapped into that inner determination in terms of my self care.

Later on, we took a group hike.  Halfway up, I told myself I would turn around and head back rather than complete the hike with everyone else. The hike itself wasn’t particularly hard, but in the past, I have always just given up and taken the easy way out. Before even trying, I would tell myself, “What are you thinking? You can’t do this.” I am not sure what made me continue this time. I would like to think it was the determination I found on my mat earlier in the day.  I couldn’t be more elated that I stuck it out and completed the hike with the group.  The view from the top was spectacular and the serenity of nature sublime. The group spent some time enjoying the summit, basking in the sun, and getting to know one another. In the process, we were being open and honest with ourselves and people who we just met.

It has been a few weeks since the retreat and I miss my time with the group. I try everyday to dig deep and find that inner determination; there are no excuses for taking care of myself. I keep the Buddha and card Sarah gifted each retreat participant at my desk as a small reminder that I can do it.

I am so grateful for the time I shared with these wonderful women who I barely knew upon arrival. I am grateful to each of them for helping me grow and push myself to be the person I never thought I could be.

Judi started practicing at Samudra last January and is now a studio member. She’ll be joining us on our retreat to Ireland this May!

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