Over the weekend, we sent Autumn to the Northwest Yoga Conference as a representative for NW Healthy Mama. Her experience was so incredible and today she’s sharing all about it with us!
My youngest (almost 4) often wakes the moment I leave our bed. Because of this, I rarely have the calm of a quiet morning. But this morning what pulled me out of bed was worth the early waking for my little one. We both padded our feet on cold hardwoods to the kitchen. My husband met me, this five am, with hot coffee. I breathed deep and smiled, this was a calm, and it felt good.
The deep breath and warm cup continued for the entirety of the day. Having the honor of driving a couple hours and watching the sleepy indigo sky wake up and wash herself clean of the clouds and stars, welcoming me to Bellevue with light blue sky freckled with a few puffy clouds, I parked my car and took another deep breath.
I had some ideas about what a yoga conference might be like. I had imagined it as instagram yoga come to life, perfect bodies and clothes and postures. Aloof faces, gear and money in excess. I worried that because it would be full with soon-to-be teachers that this space wouldn’t fit me, a beginner, with my solely at-home practice.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. As I made my way to the registration desk I was met with warm smiles, and welcoming. Every age and body type represented and a swag bag excitedly handed my way. I consulted the map and found my way to my first class. How to Live a Colorful, Full-Spectrum life through Yoga and Chakra Nutrition, With Deanna Minich. But I had no idea what I was walking into.We lined our mats up close to each other to make enough room to squeeze us all in. As Deanna introduced herself, her warmth, knowledge, and fervor for her subject, the excitement was contagious. As someone who walked in with no idea what the seven chakras even were, I was intrigued. We worked through ideas about food, our food stories, and how our chakras help to define who we are and what our bodies want and need.
She led us through exercises in understanding our cravings, listening quickly and deeply to our bodies’ needs and plans and messages to us. All of it was led with such skill and love that there was never a moment of feeling in over my head, or doubtful of my body’s thoughts just because it’s new to me. I felt like an expert in my body as I opened up to absorbing the skills she was pouring out. We ended the class in a circle each saying something we had taken away from this, and the responses were beautiful and connecting, varied, but all following the common theme of Love, Slow Down, and Believe your chakras and your body. One exercise we did was slow and mindful eating. I chose an orange, and as I peeled the whole orange apart and enjoyed each juicy section, I knew exactly what I was leaving with. Even if the work of undoing diet talk, body hate, and letting go of the safety of food rules (like whole30), is tearing me gently apart, I am satisfying and whole, even in pieces.
Once I left that workshop I found my way to the marketplace to explore! There were so many beautiful vendors – gorgeous clothing and jewelry, yoga studios and natural beauty products. Essential oils, and yoga props, mandala decorated coffee cups (that I’m still thinking about). A selfie station (always), extra volunteers around to help, a coconut water vender with mango smoothies, and calming music floating throughout. It was so clear what a thoughtful and well designed conference this was.My next workshop was Rock Your Asana, Chill Your Chi with Jenniferlyn Chiemingo. This is where I began to feel a little moment of nervousness creep in. When the music started Jenniferlyn asked us all to abandon our mats and come close-close to the front. She wanted to strip down the space barriers that our mats provide, she shared a bit about her story that brought her to yoga, asked everyone to shout out where they had come from, and to my surprise, there were several Bellingham people there! The class was everything I love in a yoga session. We got stretched out, held poses till they pushed my limits and then, when we got into flowing through Sun Salutations and variations, sweat was beginning to bead. We ended the workshop with 25min of guided meditation. The sun streamed through the sky lights above us and I was able to really hear her and tune out every other thought. She led us into the sun and down a path to see who our guide would be and what we were walking towards. It was enlightening and stirred up dreams in me that had been churning for the past month. I felt so affirmed and aware and, more than that, it really helped me to feel ready to start realizing some of my Big Dreams out loud, and not just in my head.
The final workshop I attended was Burn It Out: Ignight the Fire Within and GET EMPOWERED with Jill Knouse. And it was exactly how it sounded. INTENSE. This was my first experience doing yoga with a DJ. It blew any club experience out of the water and has endeared me forever to this bump and flow style of yoga. We flowed, with our breath, through sequences that literally burned out each part of our bodies. I was pouring sweat onto my mat as Jill reminded us to think of what we wanted to burn out. What idea/ image/ damaging thought were we holding onto, using fire as a resource in our bodies to burn it out of existence. Using what I had learned in my first class, and wanting to end strong and empowered, I didn’t ruminate, I went with the word that came immediately to mind. Comparison. BURN IT UP. I went deeper, held poses longer, and let go of any comparisons in body, sweat, ability, clothes, all of it. I left that class lighter and ready to rejoin my day-to-day life as a different woman.
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the Northwest Yoga Conference. I’ve been rolling so many new ideas around in my head these last few days. I feel surer now that dreams I thought were too lofty are far from it, and I am ready to dive in with awareness and mindfulness, knowing that I am limitless. This conference was beautiful, so full of classes I wanted to explore, and such a gift to attend. I have high hopes of being able to save to attend all four days next year!