Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Soulful Release...

... is yoga.

It's absolutely fantastic, and it's my new-found love. I've been doing it on and off for a while now, doing classes at Gold's Gym when I find time. But this year, I've made it a goal to really work my body into shape.
However, I'm one of those people who has a really hard time making myself lift weights or run on a treadmill... I find these things somewhat boring and painful in a not-so-good way. Therefore, I've created my own regimen for exercise that is probably what some would deem a little "unconventional". This semester, I'm taking THREE ballroom dance classes and a flexibility class at BYU. Believe it or not, the dance classes provide quite a bit of aerobic activity to replace the old, banal treadmill exercise. And the best part? I love to ballroom dance.

Then, to make sure I'm toning and strengthening my muscles, I have a goal to attend an hour-long yoga class at least twice a week. If you've never done yoga, you're probably in for quite the surprise. It's much more than balance and flexibility. In fact, yoga is practiced by many women in order to strengthen muscles all over the body. I can't believe how sore I am each time I go. It's a complete, full-body workout. Legs? Yes. Arms? For sure. Abs? Definitely! I was blown away.

But for me, the most important part about yoga is not the wonderful pain I feel the next day from being sore. It's the complete, immediate uplift I receive each time I practice. Each time I go, I leave feeling 100% better not only physically, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Whenever I have a headache, neck pain, or just stress, I attend yoga. And, without fail, I always feel better after going.

I found a site on the internet that describes a little about the practice of yoga and where it started:
"Yoga is a way of life; it is a system of education for the body, mind, and soul. The art of Yoga was created and practiced in ancient India, thousands of years ago, and due to its universal truths, it is a timeless value. Yoga may be practiced by anyone disregarding race religion, sex, age, culture…it is for the wellbeing of all humans!
Yoga philosophy states that the physical body is just a vehicle for the soul. To practice the thousands of techniques means to break through the layers of the physical, astral, and causal body limitations. When one achieves such a state, the cosmic energy and the soul mingle and become one, also known as enlightenment. The path of yoga is a life long journey that will bring everyone who uses its powers, joy and happiness in all aspects of their lives!"

My very favorite part of yoga is called savasana, and I would consider it a well-earned reward for a hard workout. Essentially, at the end of the hour, you get to just lay there on your back for about five minutes and breathe. And when you get really good at it, your mental state can completely change. You can become anything you want and escape everything you are. Sometimes, I become the sky and I wrap around the world. Sounds cheezy, but it's a completely refreshing release.
I would recommend yoga to anyone, no matter what your exercise goals or abilities. I believe it's for everyone and it's one of the most healthy things I have ever encountered and such a wonderful release!!

Seriously - Doubt it? I dare you to test me. :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas in NC

This year for Christmas, we were very fortunate to be able to take a week long vacation to North Carolina to visit my family! We arrived Christmas afternoon and ate some hearty soup and opened gifts with my parents and brother. The next day my mom and I went shopping in her new VW Beetle!! :) While we were gone, my mom's two sisters and their families arrived for more festivities! This is all of us eating our traditional christmas brunch the next morning. Mmm! Cheese grits, sausage and egg casserole, and fruit! I look forward to this all year!This next picture we took right before opening gifts after brunch! We took it to send to my mom's brother and his family who are currenly living in Norway and couldn't make it to the U.S. for Christmas! :( We were being completely goofy and thought it would be funny to mix up the signs. This picture epitomizes my family--fun and crazy. Poor Trevor had to escape with a book a couple times to get a break from all the noise. :)
Just a picture of us waiting to open our gifts. Lovely that I'm still in PJs...

After my mom's side of the family left, we went to Albemarle, NC (about a 2 1/2 hour drive) to see my dad's side of the family. On the way we stopped and got hot dogs and fries at the BEST place in the entire world. It's called Chuck Wagon and it's only 80 cents per hot dog - fantastic! :) In response to seeing these fantastic prices, Trevor said "Why doesn't someone tell them about inflation?" Haha. So typical of my "financial nut". :)

This next picture is one of those fun three-generational pictures... Granddaddy, Dad, and Mike! Three generations of Hopkins in one room. How special! :)
When all the aunts, uncles, and cousins had arrived, we did our gift exchange (let's count -- my FOURTH one this Christmas!) and I received this lovely gift card from Victoria's Secret! Trev got a Banana Republic gift card so he could buy some new shirts for his new job!
Just a picture of us opening our joint gift from Nana... she gave us a small Fiestaware serving bowl and salt and pepper shakers. We LOVE our Fiestaware! They are so colorful and bright!Needless to say, Christmas was a fantastic time full of gifts, good food, sweets, and lots of game-playing. I taught Trevor how to play Nertz and, well, I spanked him! :) But he did make some good improvements!

We flew back to Utah on New Year's Eve and landed in Salt Lake at literally 11:57 pm. So... it turned 2009 while we were in the plane! A couple of us gave a little cheer and Trevor and I shared a quick New Year's kiss :) Other than that, New Year's has been pretty uneventful. But it has been great the last couple of days as Trevor and I have had a lot of time to spend together and we completely cleaned and revamped our little apartment. Everything is organized and ready to go for a new year and new semester!

As a final thought, I just want to express how grateful I am for Jesus Christ - the true reason we have Christmas! I am so grateful for His Atonement that provides a way that I can repent of the sins I commit. I'm so grateful that He can overcome the natural tendencies that humans tend to have. He has blessed me with everything that I have- a wonderful home, family, and a fantastic husband. It truly was wonderful to take a break and remember those things that are most important. We really are very lucky.