Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reflecting on the BIC

Why I Chose the BIC
When I was accepted into Baylor the fall semester of my senior year in high school, Baylor included information about its honor programs in my acceptance packet.  I had been a gifted and talented student ever since I entered first grade; I could not imagine not being in the honors college.  I guess I needed to feel like I was challenging myself academically and associate myself with individuals who also value education.  I now know that my motives for applying to the honors college were wrong.  Students do not need to be a part of the honors college to challenge themselves academically, for most majors push students intellectually.  In addition, every student that enters college values education, not just students that join the honors college.  I also thought that being a part of the honors college would bring merit to my resume as I applied to medical schools.  This was the more practical motive.
            While looking through the different honors programs, I tried to decide which program would best suit me.  Reading information off a website or information packet helps give the basics about programs but does not really provide all the information, yet I based my decisions to join certain honors programs on what I read through those two mediums.  I should have attempted to speak to students in the different honors programs and gotten their opinions on the programs.  I would have probably been more prepared for the BIC if I had done that. 
In the end, I decided that the Great Text program would not be the best fit for me since the copious amounts of reading required intimidated me.  I wanted to do something different from the normal honors program, so I did not apply for the honors program.  However, I applied to be a University Scholar because being able to take a wide range of classes without too many restrictions interested me.  I also applied to join the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core because I thought the classes were interesting and would provide me with a unique experience.  I was right.

Why I Stayed in the BIC
My Fall 2010 course schedule felt very different and empty without any BIC courses.  I missed classes with discussions and that expanded my knowledge of other cultures and philosophies.  This sadness I felt without any BIC courses showed me how much I enjoyed the BIC program and why I stayed in the program.  The other reasons being the BIC’s unique teaching method (field trips, large groups/small groups, and discussions), all the information the BIC had to offer, and the community found amongst all the students.
My first semester in the BIC, I remember the difficulty I encountered with finishing all my readings and assignments.  I thought the BIC would be impossible.  Everyone was always complaining about those New York Times assignments we needed to finish for World of Rhetoric.  World Cultures I had so much reading.  I remember reading Fiero, Plato, and The Ramayana amongst other things.  Even Examined Life had a bunch of reading for each of the five dimensions.  I remember that my first semester in the BIC exposed me to readings that challenged me academically, for reading comprehension has not always been my strongest subject.  I do not think I ever thought about dropping the BIC though.  I was overwhelmed, but the BIC was such an amazing experience that the work was worth it.
            I enjoyed the field trips we took for World Cultures and the books we read because I had never heard of many of them prior to the course.  I always love new experiences and learning about other cultures.  The field trips we took helped the BIC students bond as a group; I know that many students have formed deep relationships with fellow BIC students since they went on field trips together and shared that experience amongst studying for BIC classes together.  In addition, the field trips helped students see in person what they had been reading.  It is very unique to be able to actually experience other cultures and meet as well as talk to people of different cultural backgrounds.
I thought the World of Rhetoric class greatly assisted me in becoming a better writer.  At the beginning of the semester, I was most worried about that class because I am not a very strong writer, but the class taught me so much.  I was so surprised that I made an A in that class both semesters.  The oral assignment we did for World of Rhetoric class also took me out of my comfort zone, for I could not have imagined speaking in front of a class prior to that assignment.  The success I encountered in this class proved that I could surprise myself and overcome any worries that I may have about doing well in the BIC courses.  I just needed to work hard and be determined to do well.
BIC classes challenged me academically.  I am a social work major and most of my classes do not involve much intellectually.  The information the professors teach in social work classes involve practical skills we will need as social workers and statistics.  These courses usually require investments of time and emotions.  I might be crazy to say this, but I actually love the challenge of doing well in my BIC classes and miss studying for my classes and taking tests.  How will I survive without needing to take any tests after graduation?
            The BIC emphasizes discussions in all of its classes.  At the beginning, the focus on discussions scared me because I am usually a very shy individual.  However, I had not realized how much I would enjoy this aspect of the BIC until I experienced it.  I love that students are encouraged to voice their opinions and become, in a way, teachers in each of their courses; students have more responsibility in their classes if they are asked to participate in discussions.  Students also will typically try to be more prepared for classes if the professors expect them to give input into discussion, and they will become more engaged if they are asked to participate.

What I Gained from the BIC
            I learned so much through the BIC.  I would like to say I became a more well rounded student because of the BIC.  If I had not been in the BIC, I would not have had to take any history or English classes because I had received AP credits for all of those classes.  However, fulfilling the BIC requirements for these courses enabled me to gain so much more knowledge.  The AP courses from high school mainly focused on the history of the world and the United States.  If I had accepted the AP course credits instead of joining the BIC, I would have missed out on learning about different religions, cultural practices, and more in-depth history.  The religion classes that Baylor requires only focus on Christianity, so I would not have learned about other religions and visited those places of worship if I was not in the BIC.  I guess I would have learned about different religions if I took a World Religions course, but I would not have also been able to learn about the cultures of different areas of the world.
            The BIC also gave me multiple new experiences.  All the field trips brought me directly to places of worship – a Hindu temple, a synagogue, and a mosque.  I had never been to any of these places of worship prior to the BIC field trips.  We were also encouraged to attend a church of a different faith background in Examined Life.  I probably would never have gone to a Baptist service if the BIC had not encouraged me to attend.  I would have remained unknowledgeable about what occurs at a Baptist service or even that Baptist services differed in style and content from one church to the next.  Many of the BIC classes also required extended learning opportunities, so I experienced many events by completing my extended learning opportunities.  This year alone I attended a discussion by a panel of Chinese human rights lawyers, listened to music from the Middle East, and watched The Mission.  (A side note: I loved this movie!  It has now become one of my favorite movies, and I am buying it for myself as a Christmas present.  I never would have watched this movie if it had not been an extended learning opportunity.)
            One of my favorite classes in BIC was Biblical Heritage and Moral Ethics.  I loved how the professors scheduled the course around certain moral topics, for I loved learning more about the biblical stance on certain moral issues or more like how the Bible might not have a clear stance.  Prior to taking the course, I knew that many moral issues were issues precisely because they resided in that gray area, but I had no actual Biblical evidence.  Now I have Biblical evidence for and against certain moral stances.
In addition, I have enjoyed my World Cultures V class with Dr. Cann.  This class focuses on Argentina and Brazil.  When Dr. Cann asked my class why we decided to take her class, many of us noted that the BIC had not included much information about Latin America.  I actually did not know much about Latin America prior to taking the World Cultures class and still have so much more to learn about it.  I feel like I have a good basic knowledge now though.  One of my favorite aspects of the class includes how the course covered so many different aspects of each country’s culture.  We began the course looking at the colonial history of the countries and moved into different subjects like influential leaders, music, literature, poverty, classes, military dictatorships, soccer, and tango; the course was a whirlwind of information.  I appreciated that we read the entirety of the required books except for two anthologies.  Many BIC students have complained about how the BIC typically only requires students to read parts of the books, so being asked to read the whole book was a nice change.  Of course this was also overwhelming many weeks when we had papers or assignments due on the same week as we needed to read a 300 hundred page book.  The class also gave a nice change in the teaching style.  All the students signed up to teach one aspect of the culture.  Through that assignment, students learned more than just what was included in the readings, for students needed to bring in outside information to present to the class along with summarizing the information from the readings.  Teaching about one of Brazil’s influential leaders encouraged me to learn more about the political system in Brazil and also assisted me in gaining some teaching skills.  Of course, the class also included discussions.  After each student’s presentation, we would further discuss the readings and Dr. Cann would challenge us to think more critically and gave us additional information about the topics especially personal stories.
            Not only did I gain academically from the BIC, but I also gained socially through the program.  I really enjoyed being able to take so many classes with the same students but at the same time being able to meet new students in each and every one of my classes.  In addition, I loved learning from students in different disciplines and how each student brings something new to the table.  My roommate was also in the BIC program, and we took some classes together.  The common experience helped us connect since we would talk about the readings, study together, and edit each other’s papers.

How the BIC Influenced My Choice of Major
            I am not really sure if the BIC influenced my decision to become a social work major.  I began college as a University Scholar in the pre-med program.  My decision to change to social work was not connected to the BIC program – at least I can’t see any connections.  However, the BIC has helped me learn more about cultures, which might have sparked my interest in working with a diverse group of people.  Even though I only have a simple bank of information about other cultures, this little bit of information has assisted me in cultural competency while working with clients and even with normal interactions.

How BIC Capstone Connects Everything
            In the philosophy section of our classes, we have discussed how this course connects all different aspects of the BIC especially Examined Life from freshman year.  Our yoga class has helped us to see how the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, and social aspects of life may all be connected.  Many of my classmates have noted how the physical actions of yoga (all the poses) have helped relieve their little aches and pains; the relief they experience has assisted in their emotional happiness as well.  Everyone just feels happier whenever his or her body feels good.  Yoga also helps emotional health via the yoga sutras, for the sutras help me see life in a different perspective, a better perspective.  In addition, the yoga sutras have helped me personally with my spirituality because yoga helps me with my reflections.  I have rethought my relationship with God by thinking more about what I want my relationship with God to look like.  Lastly, this course has helped me socially because it has invited me into the yoga community.  I can now connect to many more people who have a mutual love for yoga, and our yoga class has connected as friends because of our participation in the class.  The yoga class has always been enjoyable with the conversations we have had and the laughs we have shared.
            In many of our conversations, my classmates and I reminisce about the BIC as a whole and relate some of our readings to readings we have done in previous BIC courses.  I remember talking about the Allegory of the Cave. 
            The yoga class also connects my whole college experience.  As a social work major, I help clients who need assistance in some way whether that means counseling, social service needs, or community development.  One of the assignments in our class was to read 2 memoirs and write blog posts.  I decided to read Waking as one of my memoirs.  As a social work major, I would love to refer disabled clients to a yoga studio (preferably one that specializes in his particular type of yoga) because the fruits of his yoga experience can definitely be translated into more mobility for other disabled individuals and may bring them hope and joy.  This memoir also connected to my personal life because my sister is also paralyzed.  I can relate to some of the author’s experiences at the hospital and identify with his family, and the memoir also helped me to better understand what my sister may be going through as she adjusts to life without mobility in her legs and fingers.
            This class has also represented the importance of balancing all the five dimensions and how I have had to work on finding this balance throughout my college experience.  My life will not be healthy unless all five dimensions are well.  In yoga, each part of the practice influences the five dimensions and works to enhance overall well being.  During college, I have seen how everything impacts the five dimensions.  Whenever I exercise (physical), my body feels better which lifts my mood (emotional); sometimes I pray on runs (spiritual) or study if I am at the SLC (intellectual).  I also will go on walks on the Bear Trail with friends (social).  This yoga class also encouraged me to reflect on my years at Baylor and whether I was satisfied with everything I had done.  Was I happy with how I had interacted with others?  Was I happy with my spiritual life?  Reflecting on these aspects of my life have helped me to improve on my relationships with others and my relationship with God.

What I Gained from BIC Capstone
I loved our BIC Capstone class.  I thought the class was very unique.  Who would have thought there would be a yoga and philosophy class at Baylor?  The course also never seemed overwhelming in course load.  Yet, it was not a blow off class.  We still had regular assignments and papers to write, but these assignments were always manageable.  The blog posts also allowed all of us to interact with each other outside of the classroom and get to know each other even better.  I loved how all the students in our class were so encouraging; through the blogs, we always complimented each other’s abilities and recognized the success of others.
Also, Dr. Schultz was always receptive to what the students wanted to learn and was very fair in her praises as well as corrections.  I always felt like I was learning something new in each class but still had much more I could learn and practice.  Even in our last class, we learned a new pose amongst all our favorite poses.  Class time was never wasted.  We spent the first 15 minutes discussing the philosophy aspect of yoga while the rest of class was devoted to yoga.  We were always encouraged to speak our minds and even sometimes took turns giving an answer to a question.  I loved that discuss was also a part of our yoga class as was expected for a BIC course.
I began the semester in a very sad state.  I was dealing with a tough situation and was not sure what my life would look like this semester.  Part of me did not think that I would ever be ok again.  After the first few classes, I always felt a sense of peace I could not have imagined during that turbulent time.  Yoga helped me to reflect on everything that had happened and how things needed to change.  I saw the importance of changing the way I thought of life and helped me to come to terms with all that had happened.
One question included: Am I happy with my spiritual life?  Not so much.  I think that I can always grow stronger in my faith, and the yoga sutras have taught me all the things that keep me from forming a stronger relationship with God.  These obstacles include disease, inertia, doubt, heedlessness, laziness, indiscipline of the senses, erroneous views, lack of perseverance, backsliding, sorrow, despair, unsteadiness of the body, and irregular breathing (yoga sutra 1.30 and 1.33).  I knew that there were certain things that distracted me from my relationship with God, but I could never have pinpointed them.  The yoga sutras made it easier for me!  Now I know the aspects of my life I need to work on; some possible methods include cultivating friendliness, compassion, joy, and indifference to pleasure and pain (yoga sutra 1.33).  In addition, now I know the importance of practice and becoming indifferent to pleasure or pain.  Only through those may I begin to have a life focused on God, for practice in the form of prayer and doing everything according to the will of God regardless of whether it means pleasure or pain for me will show true devotion and enable me to draw closer to Him.
I also began reflecting on my relationships with people in my life.  Was I satisfied with my interactions with them?  I realized that I wasn’t.  I had not been the best friend to some individuals.  I had been insecure around them and jealous of their talents, but I should not have been.  I must always remember that God gave everyone different talents.  I needed to find the good in myself and see what God had granted me.  Of course, yoga was not the only reason I began reflecting on my life, but it definitely encouraged me to think more about how I was living.  I am still reflecting on my life and will continue to do so all throughout my life.  I will try to continuously apply the yoga sutras to my life.
I am still healing.  I am still trying to find happiness amidst all the things that have happened this semester.  I have made great memories throughout this semester even though I did not think things would ever get better.  Yoga class has been one of those great highlights of the semester.  I hope to continue practicing yoga after this semester, but I definitely need to have some discipline.  I do not have the best track record in being consistent or disciplined.  However, I need to set aside some time each day to do some yoga.

How BIC Capstone can be Improved
            Let me think about this….how can BIC Capstone be improved…I think next year you should change….NOTHING!!!  This was by far my favorite class of the semester.  I think the class balanced the five dimensions perfectly.  I enjoyed everything we read.  I enjoyed all the poses we learned whether I had the talents for them or not.  I loved the people.  I loved the format.  Everything was great.  I guess the one suggestion would be to offer this capstone every semester so that more people can experience this unique class that combines yoga and philosophy.  Many people have asked me if I enjoyed the class because they were considering taking this course as their capstone, so I know there would be an interest and demand.  However, we have discussed why each capstone topic happens once a year so that more professors have the opportunity to teach capstone.
            Another suggestion, though not necessary, is to have pictures of the poses available.  Sometimes I tried to do poses at home but wasn’t sure whether I was executing the poses correctly.  Maybe students could have pictures taken of them as they execute poses so that they can see whether they are doing the poses correctly.  I do not know if this idea is very practical though.

How BIC can be Improved
            As we discussed in one of our yoga classes, the BIC program is growing.  Dr. Schultz noted that more students are applying to the BIC program early (prior to orientation) now, so the BIC program does not need to depend on recruiting quite as many students during orientation.  However, the BIC program still has a very high dropout rate.  I believe something needs to be done to increase the retention rate of the program.  What is causing students to reconsider their decision to join the BIC?  Maybe the BIC should better inform incoming students about the course load and descriptions of classes, so incoming students will better know what they are getting themselves into.  They will better know whether they feel they can fulfill all of the BIC’s requirements/assignments and whether the BIC really is the best fit for them.  In addition, spreading the courses amongst the 4 years of college might make the course loads more manageable.  The BIC has structured its schedule for the course load to be heavier the first two years of an average college student’s experience while making the last two years a little lighter.  The first two years, students take from 10 to 12 courses, and students would take 1 to 3 courses the last two years.  Students would need to balance transitioning into college and weed-out classes the first semester on top of BIC courses.  This first semester would be overwhelming for freshmen and might be a reason for the huge drop-out rate at the beginning of the BIC curriculum.
            I also think the BIC would benefit from a more uniform utilization of the peer instructors.  I was actually a peer instructor my sophomore year of college for World Cultures I.  Each professor had a different idea of how to use their peer instructors, so I think the peer instructors were sometimes unsure what they needed to do.  I think the peer instructors could have been encouraged to participate in the class in more discussions and been provided with more resources.  The peer instructors were asked to do review sessions, but I think the peer instructors would have benefited from a guide as to what to cover in each of those sessions.  I also think the students would have felt more prepared if they had handouts during review sessions.  I know that some peer instructors created handouts and study guides for their students, so maybe all peer instructors should be required to make these resources or should be provided with these materials to organize their review sessions and also to pass out to their students.  Maybe peer instructors could also be encouraged to work together because multiple minds probably would be more productive.  I know that some of my peer instructors were more invested in their responsibility as peer instructors while others did not do the readings or do office hours.  I think that stricter requirements need to be made of the peer instructors.  They need to do their office hours so that students have a resource and need to do the readings so that they are prepared for class discussions and also for when students ask them questions.  Peer instructors would also have benefited on a little training about how to be the best peer instructor possible; we had a very short meeting at the beginning of the semester, but it did not include very much explanation about how to best do our jobs or the expectations for us.  In addition, maybe BIC students can have an older BIC student separate from their peer instructors guiding them along throughout their BIC experience – someone they can talk to about each of the courses and get advice about how to do the best they can.

            I always love unique situations.  The BIC provides that.  Remember the World Cultures I final?  We made our own test questions and graded each other’s responses.  How much more unique can a program be?  In addition, not many programs plan field trips for their students.  Lastly, no other program on campus integrates literature, religion, and culture into one class.  Now I am a senior social work major graduating in May and hoping to continue on to graduate school.  I would never trade my BIC experience for anything.  It has made my college experience that much more memorable.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Feeling Tired

Over the past week I have felt very tired during the days.  Whenever I start to feel tired, I try to do some yoga to see if it will invigorate me.  It has worked!  Inversions especially have been very helpful with making me feel like I have more energy.  My goal is to reach behind and grab my legs.  I tried to practice this pose at home, but I do not know how to practice the pose without props.  Recently, I have realized that I'm not a huge fan of downward facing dog; I used to love this pose, but I now know that I was definitely not doing the pose correctly.  I think this shows that I like poses I can do well.  I should probably try to like poses because I enjoy doing those poses not because I can do them well.  Anyways, I need to work on doing better downward facing dog, for my weight needs to be shifted more towards my legs and not my arms.

I can't believe we only have a few more classes left!  I can't wait to learn more poses and practice yoga with our great class.  I will definitely miss our class.  Other yoga classes will not be the same.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Practice makes perfect?

This week I tried to practice inversions more often.  I think I can bunny hop into a headstand, but at the same time I think I use the wall to bunny hop.  I don’t think I am capable of going into the middle of the room yet even though I really wish I was there.  I did do lotus pose as I was doing a headstand.  It was pretty fun!  During class I realized that my balance is horrible.  I have such a difficult time doing the poses in which we need good balance.  It can be very frustrating.  However, I realize that all of us have our strengths and weaknesses, and weaknesses are good because they show that we always will have something to work on.  In class, I thought Warrior III pose was very tough.  I could not get my standing leg to go straight without tipping over.  However, I have practiced it a few times at home and found that I can actually do this pose for a few seconds before toppling over.  I take that as an accomplishment!  I will continue to practice all the balancing poses and hope that I’ll get better at them.

Krishna's Portrayal

In The Bhagavad Gita, Krishna is portrayed as a teacher providing Arjuna with knowledge about how he should live out his life.  Maybe sage would be a better word or mentor?  Not really sure.  In essence, a guiding figure.  Krishna also seems to be all-knowing and a moral compass for Arjuna.  Arjuna can ask Krishna questions, and Krishna will have a proper response.  Krishna is also portrayed as a figure above all others, and the ultimate goal of all human beings is to reach fulfillment with Krishna.  One of the most important descriptions of Krishna I took out of the reading was that he was the breath of life.  He lives within each of us.  I definitely see God in that way.  I believe that God is present in each and every one of us.  The Holy Spirit is described as the giver of life in the Nicene Creed.  I believe that the Holy Spirit moves and breathes in each person, guiding individuals to holiness.  Many times I will tell people that I see God's love in them.  What I mean by this is that I can see God in them.  People are reflections of God.  We were made in the image and likeness of God.  Our actions can reflect what God has planned for us.  Of course we have free will and do things contrary to what God wants for us, but the things we do with God in mind show His love and presence in our lives.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Planting Seeds

I just finished reading a book called The Noticer.  I couldn't put it down even though I was super tired, and I can't go to bed until I blog about it because it was so good.  The book is about a traveler named Jones who goes about and helps people change their perspectives.  I thought it was relevant to blog about the book because at the end Jones notes that he has planted seeds in everyone and gives seeds to all of them to plant in other people.  The idea of seeds is not limited to just the sutras!  I have had a really hard keeping a positive perspective on situations in my life.  Right now I do have a great hope and determination to change my perspective.  Usually I will always revert back to my more negative thoughts, but I hope that something will remind me about being positive whenever I reach that point.  This book was read at the perfect moment for me because I was having alot of negative thoughts and needed to gain a better perspective.  I also did yoga while reading the book!

The Three Paths

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna about the three paths of yoga.  These paths are...
1. karma yoga: the way of action
2. jnana yoga: the yoga of wisdom and realization
3. the royal path

Karma yoga is the way of action and may even be defined as selfless service.  Therefore, Krishna is trying to teach Arjuna that all individuals are expected to work towards the well-being of others, not for personal motives.  This path seems like the practical path.

Jnana yoga denotes a type of wisdom that connects the individual to God.  This path is about spirituality and the relationship with the Divine.

Lastly, the third path is the royal path.  The royal path involves a pure devotion to God.  Krishna teaches Arjuna that he will receive complete unity with Krishna if he follows the royal path.  To do this, he must do everything as an offering to God.

I believe that I am currently doing karma yoga.  I am very practical in the way that I show my devotion to God.  I pray certain prayers, go to certain ministries, and believe in certain things that have been written down.  As stated above, karma yoga also involves doing things for other people.  I do many things for other people, but I have not yet accomplished the goal of doing everything for other people without any self-interest.  There are times when I look out for my own well-being, knowing that it might hurt someone else...that sounds so selfish.  =(

I think I am also doing jnana yoga because I am focusing on creating a personal relationship with God.  Oftentimes I do get sidetracked and find my focus has drifted from God.  I believe this will always be a growing process for me.

The royal path is the ideal path though.  I would love to do everything as an offering to God, to always have my focus on God.  I would love every part of me to be glorifying God and doing His will.  I do not know if I will ever reach this point though.

** I hope I got all the paths right.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

More Practice

I showed my friend some yoga poses today.  I don't remember what it is called, but I showed him the pose in which we are lying down and reach behind our heads to get our big toes.  He did not think that it would be possible for me to reach my big toes.  He was impressed that it is possible.  I also told him how I wanted to do a headstand and then lotus pose while doing a headstand.  I couldn't show him that one at that moment though.  I tried to show him crane pose, but I couldn't get up off the floor.  He said that he has already seen crane pose though.  My roommate showed me a variation of the crane pose; she saw it online.  It involves crane pose with one leg stretched out straight behind the yoga practitioner.  Maybe one day I will be able to do that pose.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I thought crane was a super fun pose even though it was super frustrating.  I could only get both of my feet up for a few seconds and then would fall down.  That's ok though because I could tell my progress even in the few minutes that we practiced this pose.  At the beginning of the practice, I could not even get my feet up, but the adjustments that we made (the block + me actually putting my knees into my arms) helped me get my feet off the floor for a little bit.  Dr. Schultz said that inversions are probably the most frustrating poses because it does not come easily all the time.  They are also the most fun though.  It's an interesting group of poses.  I still cannot do a handstand, but hopefully with enough practice I will one day be able to get my legs all the way up and will be able to support myself.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bhagavad Gita

At the beginning, Arjuna raises the question of why he should kill his relatives.  What good would come out of killing them?  This leads Arjuna to question more of his spirituality such as how he views the world.  Krishna attempts to explain to Arjuna how the living are meant to die while the living are meant to be reborn.  It is just a cycle.  Krishna also introduces the idea of karma. Karma reminds me of an idea from How Yoga Works when it was said that the bad an individual did would be reflected in the individual's life by bad things happening to the individual (equal to each other).  I agree with this idea - maybe not exactly as stated - but I think that life is essentially fair.  Everyone will go through difficult trials but at the same time have moments of joy.

Arjuna, like myself, is very practical.  He asks about how an ideal person should live.  Krishna responds that individuals should live without personal desire.  I have a difficult time with this one.  I always want something.  I always want to be better, to have better things, for even more happiness, etc.  Krishna would not promote my way of thinking.  Instead, Krishna would say that I need to let go of my personal desires.

Like Arjuna, I have begun to question more about how I should live - especially with my thoughts and outlook on life.  I am eager to see what else the Bhagavad Gita will say about it.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Something I noticed in the book was how people viewed Matthew and reacted to him.  As a social worker, I believe in ideas like client self-determination.  This means that the client has the right to make his/her own decisions on services and on what the client feels he or she needs.  This can also be translated in Matthew's situation that Matthew's feelings should have been respected.  The doctors should have listened to him when he said that he was in pain; they should have at least considered what he was saying.  Instead, the doctors disregarded his feelings as normal and him complaining about nothing.  I was so upset after reading that.  They also suggested that he would only feel whole again if his body was restored back to normal, making it seem as if he would never be able to be whole.  I understand that doctors probably have had more experience with patients in those situations and what patients usually feel, but I also hate the mentality that many professionals have when they think they know better and will not listen to anything anyone else says.  I might be a little extreme in my opinion because the doctor did not mean to disregard Matthew's feelings and felt bad that he did not listen to Matthew.  The doctors also did not want him to have expectations or dreams and then have them not be fulfilled, which is why they did not want him to be concerned with the small movements he could make.  At the same time, I think that the doctors needed to acknowledge those small things and should not be so quick to decide what is best for their patients.  I think that not acknowledging those small things can also cause great harm to the patients – maybe even more so than giving the patients a little hope.  For example, the patients could begin questioning their own judgment and feel like they have nothing to work towards if they are given no hope.  Patients in these situations need a strong desire to overcome the mental stigma that they will be burdens to others and that there is a chance for things to get better even if it is not exactly what the patients have in mind.
Another thing I noticed in the book was that Matthew discussed how yoga helped him reconnect with his body.  (This is actually probably one of the main points in the book.)  I can also say that I think yoga has helped me connect more so with my body.  As an example, I can really tell how I have become more aware of parts of my body.  I never thought I could really pull my quads upwards or that I could move the skins between my shoulders back.  I have tested my capabilities such as by even attempting to do inversions.  I would never have imagined that I could do a head stand all by myself by kicking my legs all the way up onto a wall.  I still cannot do a handstand, but one step at a time right?  It does not even need to be a drastic pose such as doing an inversion.  Yoga has even shown me my capabilities in “simple” poses like cow pose, eagle pose, and tree pose.  Cow pose and eagle pose have helped me see how my limbs can twist around each other while tree pose has helped me see how much I can balance or not balance.  I am excited to see how much more I can challenge my body and do things I would never have thought imaginable before taking this yoga class.

Waking by Matthew Sanford greatly impacted me not because of the yoga aspects of the story though I still loved reading about how yoga transformed Matthew's life through its ability to help him heal and reconnect with his body.  The main reason why I loved reading Waking was because I can relate to Matthew's story or at least with his family's part in his story.

A little more than two years ago, my sister was in an accident that broke her neck and left her paralyzed from the chest down and without mobility or sensation in her fingers.  I can relate to how Matthew's family felt as he lay in the hospital right after the accident.  I remember standing in my sister's ICU room, not knowing the outcome of the accident.  I remember fearing that I would lose my sister.  I remember how my family reacted to the accident.  My mom was always at the hospital and only went home a few times the few months my sister was in the hospital just like Matthew's mom was constantly by his side.  My dad, brother, and I tried to keep things together at our house and kept going to work/school during those months just like Matthew's brother tried to resume his "normal" life.  My family also began the journey not knowing much about everything that happens during a patient's stay at the hospital and all the needs of someone who has suffered from a spinal cord injury.  We did not know the jargon.  We were completely lost.  We quickly learned that many medications would be needed, and my sister would need someone to give her baths and catheterize her as well as do her bowel movement.  That would be a huge adjustment for both my mom, myself, and especially my sister.  It would take us a year and a half before we could better regulate all of this.

I do not completely know how my sister has felt about the changes in her body.  I know that it has been an adjustment.  I know that she would prefer being able to do whatever she wants rather than being confined to her bed and her wheelchair.  However, I am not sure if she has accepted what has happened.  She has been much more positive about the accidents and its aftermath than I expected; she does not blame anyone for what happened and is grateful that she is still alive.  She never complains about the lack of mobility, for she seems content with her life as it has played out these past two years.  Does that mean she is actually happy though?

What makes someone happy?  Matthew was happy going to college, discovering how to connect his mind and body, and raising a family.  He did not plan for these exact things to happen, but his happiness came from striving towards healing.  I do not know if my sister is striving towards healing though.  After accidents, patients usually go to physical and/or occupational therapy.  These services will help them regain function or to adjust to new changes, and my sister did benefit from therapy.  However, she has not kept up with what they had taught her, and Matthew's story suggests that individuals need to practice if they want to improve.  I would love for my sister to learn how to become more independent by practicing more of these moves, but I know that she is in charge of her progress.  She must be motivated on her own account to want change, to want to become more independent.  Even though I want her to do these practices and become more independent, that may not be what my sister needs or wants.  I am not her.  I cannot say that a certain service is what she needs.  I can only tell her of ways that she can learn and especially of methods that I think she will enjoy.  Therefore, I want to tell her about the yoga methods catered to those with disabilities.  I love how yoga can be adapted to everyone's situation no matter what that situation may be.  I think she will enjoy the poses, and I can do the poses with her.  I need to do more research on how I can access resources to learn more about these poses and programs.

As stated above, I love how yoga can be adapted for anyone.  I would love to see how Matthew has adapted the yoga poses for those who have limited mobility.  Yoga is so great at using what individuals are capable of doing.  Even in our class, I can see how yoga has been adapted to each of our individual’s capabilities and needs.  Dr. Schultz always comments on how we execute the poses and will help us to adapt the poses to make us more comfortable.  She is very receptive to what we say.  For example, if we say a pose is not comfortable or look like we are not comfortable in a pose, she will adjust the pose to make the pose more enjoyable.  Yoga is not easy, but it should not be painful in a way that will not lead to better executed poses.  I think it is so inspirational that Matthew felt the desire to spread the healing he has experienced through yoga.  I cannot imagine how he has impacted other people’s lives not only as he teaches yoga but also through this book, for the book provides testimony that those who are disabled can find healing.

The end of the book definitely sparked a hopefulness for the future at least in my hopes for anybody who has a physical disability especially a paralysis of the lower body.  Matthew’s story showed that those with physical disabilities can still have families.  I know that many people with physical disabilities do not believe that they will be able to foster children, but Matthew’s story shows that it is possible.  These individuals do not necessarily need to go the same route Matthew did.  They do not need to go through in vitro fertilization.  There is another option: adoption.  I understand that there will probably be some difficulties with adoption since physical limitations might come into consideration when adoption agencies decide on whether a client is suitable for adopting a child, but I do also believe that God will always provide opportunities for individuals to get to where He plans.  If a person with a physical limitation is called to be a parent, God will lead him/her to that and provide ways for that individual to be a parent.  We do not always get what we want I realize.  I know that individuals with physical disabilities most likely did not want to have a physical limitation.  Things will work out though.  I think that when we look back on life, we will see that life worked out in the best way for us.  I think that Matthew will look back and see that maybe he did not want to be in that accident and become paralyzed, but at the end of his life he will be happy for how it turned out.  He will find that he was happy.  He married someone who accepted him for all of him and greatly loved him.  (Side note: I think that his story also is hopeful because it means that it is possible for someone disabled to find love.  It is possible for him/her to be loved even though there is a limitation.  Limitations do not prevent anyone from love.  I think that many disabled individuals believe they will always be alone and that there is not hope for love, but Awakening is an example of how love transcends anything physical.)  Matthew also will be happy because he is father to two sons.  Even though one son has passed away, I think that Matthew will still always be grateful that he could have known William for even that short amount of time.  I think the relationship that we form are ultimately what we will determine how we judge the quality of our lives.  Matthew demonstrated great relationships to his family, to all the friends he gained through his journey, and also to all those he has and will help.  According to me, I think he has already lived a magnificent life that is worth living over and over again

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yoga From The Inside Out (Chapters 7 & 8)

As usual, many of the author's writings spoke to me.  One particular thing included her thoughts on  the importance of "good company."  I believe I had found "good company" in our yoga class.  Even though we did not choose who would be in the class, I would choose the same students and professor for our class.  Does this mean it is my kula?  Each individual in our class has been super supportive and encouraging whether in class or through the blog, so the class feels like a safe haven.  I love how Dr. Schultz compliments us whenever we have improved and at the same will give us constructive criticism in a gentle manner.  I also love how students in the class help each other out and will compliment each others' progress.  I love this environment in which students are not competing with each other but instead only want to see classmates succeed and become more confident in their abilities.  Because of the loving community I have found in this yoga class, I have become more comfortable telling little bits of my struggles to the class.  I am not yet comfortable divulging everything, but little steps are still something.

Another aspect of these chapters that interested me was the author's statement about how practicing yoga and negative thoughts could not coincide.  If individuals want to truly practice yoga, they must also cultivate positive thoughts and become more comfortable with their bodies.  I am still at the point that I am negative about my abilities and unsure about how well I can execute the yoga poses, but I want to overcome those negative thoughts at some point. I desire to become perfect in as many aspects as possible, but the author makes a great point that God does not want us to be perfect.  God accepts us no matter who we are or what we have done.  He wants us to come to Him as we are and know that we are not perfect but that God is greater than we are.  He can love us as humans - as fallen individuals.  I am slowly accepting that I do not need to be perfect but instead only need to accept who I am and embrace all of me.

I wonder about all my reasons for deciding to practice yoga and desiring to continue as long as I can.  I have noticed that my body feels better, stronger in some aspects.  I love how yoga encourages practice and continued growth because nobody will ever be perfect at everything in yoga.  One of my strengths according to the Strengths Finder test is that I am a learner; therefore, I love how there are so many yoga poses and poses can always be altered.  Individuals can always learn new ways to do poses and better those methods.  Practicing yoga has also been very fun and mentally/emotionally helpful.  Yoga is definitely my favorite class of the semester for how much it relaxes me and helps me in altering my perception of life.  I have not completely changed how I think, but the seeds have been planted.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yoga From The Inside Out (Chapters 5 & 6)

These two chapters of the book really impacted me today.  It could be because I had a bad day yesterday, and the reasons stemmed from things that the author was addressing in these chapters.  Maybe I have always had trouble with my self-image, with accepting the good in me.

These past two months I have had a really tough time seeing the good in me, seeing what I have to offer the world.  All my friends keep telling me to stay positive and that I have alot to offer, but I just cannot seem to accept their view of me.  I see what the author says about Christianity teaching that humans have original sin and are fallen, but I do not think that necessarily is the reason people have a difficult time seeing the good in themselves.  I think that this song really illustrates the view of Christianity in that Christ came to save us.  We are definitely more than what we do.  Christ will still love us no matter what mistakes we make.  I think that is the true message of Christianity, so knowing that we are fallen should not mean that we only see the negative.  Instead, we should see what God has given us and what He sees in us.

From my experience, poor self-image comes from society - what the media portrays of individuals as the ideal.  In addition, poor self-image might also come from personal experiences like being teased or being rejected.  I believe that it is ok at times to doubt yourself in those cases because it is your first instinct, but individuals should not dwell in those insecurities.  I say all this knowing that I am dealing with these insecurities.  I say all of it in hopes that what I am saying is true, that eventually everyone can overcome these insecurities and be confident in themselves, to see the good in them.

I completely agree with the author when she writes that we must open our hearts and suffer before we can be truly compassionate.  Last semester my friend was going through a really tough experience.  I had no idea how it felt for her; I could just tell her encouraging words that seemed pretty generic.  This year I have had to go through the same pain that she went through.  She has been there for me through all of this, telling me things that really do apply.  She knows how I'm feeling and what I need.  Now I know what it was like for her, so now I can be truly compassionate to anyone else who has to go through the same kind of pain.

I am still dealing with this pain.  The author writes that we must face suffering with an open heart.  That we cannot receive grace until we have that broken heart that only God can heal.  I have been praying and begging God to heal me.  All of me just wants this pain to go away, but I know that sometimes God gives you things to make you stronger.  Being in pain is just part of the process.  God has been my rock through all of this.  He has blessed me so much especially in the past 2 months.  I can see how I am receiving grace with this broken heart that only He can fix.  I have realized over the past 2 months that I need to turn to God because He knows best for me and will always take care of me.

Love and Hate Relationship with Inversions

I am so glad that we will be practicing inversions at every class.  I definitely need more work on these and would definitely benefit from corrections.  Practicing inversions at home have proved fruitful.  I am using the wall in my living room rather than in my room since I do not want my neighbors to hear thudding as I kick up onto the wall.

Headstands have become easier in two aspects.  1) I can kick myself up alot easier now.  That makes me more confident in my abilities.  One thing I discovered that helps me get into headstand is being a few inches from the wall, so I won't automatically fall back if I kick off too hard.  Usually pushing too hard when I'm a few inches from the wall is ok because my butt will just rest on the wall.  2) I do not need to rest my feet on the wall anymore.  I can be completely off the wall for a few minutes now.

Shoulderstands are probably the easiest out of the three for me.  However, I still need to work on getting my back more straight.  I feel like my back is pretty curved in shoulderstand.  I think my goal should be to get my hands as high up my back as possible.

Handstands are definitely my least favorite type of inversion.  I just cannot seem to get up the wall.  I still have reservations on whether I can support myself.  Walking up the wall is still hard for me, so I do not know if I can do a full handstand.  That is something I really need to work on.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Headstand & Shoulderstand

It was pretty funny when I turned around before class began Tuesday and saw Dr. Schultz in a head stand only because I was totally not expecting it.  I hope to one day be able to do a head stand not up against a wall.  Doing the shoulder stands and head stands in class were really fun.  I loved that everyone in our class at least did the head stand once with or without help.  I am not brave enough yet to do the head stand all by myself because I keep overthinking and analyzing.  Kelsey kept telling me to stop thinking and just kick my legs up.  During my yoga practice, I still haven't done the head stand at home because I do not think I can do it.  Maybe I should just try though and see what happens.  In addition, I feel too embarrassed to ask somebody at home to help put my legs up the wall, so that's another reason I have not practiced head stands.  I did practice the shoulder stand at home though.  In class, I was told to move my hips forward during the shoulder stand because my butt was too far back.  When I did that, I toppled over...not my proudest moment.  When I practiced the shoulder stand at home, I was not sure whether I was really moving my hips anymore forward than I was in class.  I want to ask somebody to watch as I do the shoulder stand and correct me, but once again I am too self-conscious to ask.  The shoulder stands and head stands are lots of fun though.  They feel like great accomplishments when I do them.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

The limb that stuck out the most to me was that of fixed observances.  This limb (actually all the limbs) seemed to incorporate so many different things.  For example, this limb meant cleanliness, contentment, austerity, study and persevering devotion to God.  I do not exactly see this limb fully exhibited in my life, but my goal is to devote myself to working on this limb.  I do believe that I am fairly clean physically in that most of my things are in order around my room or with my work; of course I can always do better.  However, I see that my life especially my emotions are not very clean because I am still so emotional and unsure about many things in my life.  At times I am very wishy washy.  I would love to be able to do the sutras saying to do the opposite of a bad thought or feeling.  In relation to contentment, I really need to work on that.  I never can seem to be content with my life.  The benefits of contentment seem amazing, and I hope to have that one-mindedness and purity of mind one day.  I don't know if I understand austerity - does this mind just a seriousness?  If it does, I think I exhibit that really well.  Lastly, I have grown more devoted to my faith over the past 3 years at Baylor.  I know that I still have so much more to learn with my faith and that I can always do better.  However, I am proud of where I am now and want to strive to keep doing what I'm doing at least.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Backward Bends

Hmmm....I don't know how much I enjoyed the backward bends this week.  I think I probably struggle most with these poses as compared to maybe the standing poses or twists.  Many people in the class talked about feeling really good after doing the backward bends, but I felt a dull ache after the poses.  I don't know if that was normal; I probably should have said something in class.  However, I always enjoy learning new poses.  Not being "good" at them just means that I need practice just like I need to practice all the poses.  One of the poses I really didn't like was the camel pose.  I don't think my back curled like it should have for that pose, for I think I might have been bending without lifting my chest.  I also was not sure how I felt about all the calf mashing.  Those really hurt!  I definitely will keep doing those so that I can get adjusted to the pain.  Lastly, my upward facing dog needs some work.  I am not yet able to really push my chest forward.  I did enjoy going back and forth from downward facing dog to upward facing dog during class.  Thursday's class was really peaceful for me - not really sure why.  Thank you Dr. Schultz for offering this class!

Reflection on How Yoga Works

I really enjoyed reading How Yoga Works, for the book explained all the sutras very well.  By the end of the book, I realized that I had learned a great deal about my way of thinking.  One of the things that stuck out to me was Ms. Friday explaining that many individuals become unhappy when they see other people happy while they become happy at other individual's misfortunes.  In all honesty, I can kind of relate to this...I wish I wasn't able to admit that.  I really hate that sometimes I am selfish and become sad whenever other people have happy news and I don't.  For example, my friend became coordinator of a retreat last year; I actually wanted to become coordinator of that retreat.  I knew that she was the right person for the job, but I still struggled with not being coordinator.  The funny thing is that I voted for her to be chosen as coordinator knowing that I also wanted the position.  I sometimes still struggle with not being coordinator, but I have accepted that God was calling her to this job.  The way that she has executed all her duties and the love that she has for this retreat shows that she is the perfect person for position.  I really would like to work on my self-centeredness.  I want to be as genuine as possible.  I want to be happy when other people are happy and to feel sad whenever other people are sad.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yoga From The Inside Out (Chapters 3 & 4)

As I was reading these chapters, I kept thinking about how we had talked about the mind and body in class one day.  I agree with the author that our minds and bodies are connected.  We can use our bodies to achieve higher levels of peace whether that means emotionally, mentally, or socially.  At the same time, our bodies cannot be healthy unless we are also healthy in our mind.  There are times when your body will be fine, but your mind will be wailing; eventually your body will feel the strain of the mind's stress and get ill.  In short, the two influence each other.  It also works the other way too.  Dr. Schultz has told us to smile, to push our shoulders back and eventually we'll begin to feel happy.  All of this reminds me of examined life from freshman year.  The class was structured around those five aspects: the intellectual dimension, the physical dimension, the social dimension, the emotional dimension, and the spiritual dimension.  It’s awesome to see how examined life course from my freshman year can be connected to examined life/capstone course my senior year.

In chapter 4, the author writes about paying attention to various things.  I have noticed that I have become more aware of various parts of my body that I had never thought of before.  For example, today we talked about the outer shin muscles; I had never thought about my outer shin muscles, let alone being able to control them.  I have realized that my body can do more things than expected.  Another example is that in many poses we need to lift our quads.  I have never thought about being able to lift my quads.  Oh…before taking this class, I had never thought about being able to spread my feet like leaves.

In chapter 4, I really enjoyed reading Minnie’s story.  I can relate to Minnie in that I am also very critical of myself.  Hearing Dr. Schultz say that everyone moves at a different pace and has different strengths helps me in being ok with my progress. Minnie and I are also similar in that neither of us expects anything when we come to yoga class.  Neither of us really thinks about what we’ll be learning in class; we arrive and let things come as they come.  I’m always excited to hear about what we’ll be learning and to know that we’ll be going over new things.  Learning new poses allows me to have a greater storage of poses to practice.

One other thing: I love how the author talks about the difference between being with our feelings and going into our feelings.  I had never thought about a difference between the two.  The author explains that going into our feelings means giving into our emotions and acting on them.  On the other hand, being with our feelings means self-observation and being unattached.  This demonstrates the sutras – specifically the ones saying that the vrittis can be combatted with practice and disattachment.  The author is definitely demonstrating that she understands and practices the sutras.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Standing Poses

Today I did some standing poses.  I did mountain pose, warrior pose II, chair pose, and eagle pose.  Mountain pose is definitely my favorite standing pose since I can do this pose practically anywhere and I really think it relieves all my shoulder aches.  Warrior pose II is a pretty hard pose, for I wasn't sure how far apart my legs should have been or what it was supposed to feel like.  When I was doing warrior pose II, it was very hard to stay in that position; my legs wanted to give out after a few breaths.  With chair pose, I wasn't sure if I was "sitting" correctly.  I have noticed that I have forgotten many of the small details for each pose.  Lastly, I did the eagle pose.  I think the eagle pose is one of the more awkward poses we've done; maybe I'm the only one that thinks so.  I guess I think it is awkward because I feel so twisted in the eagle pose.  Both my arms and legs are wrapped around each other.

How Yoga Works (Chapters 33 - 40)

I do not know why I found so many things funny in the book with these past few chapters, but I giggled at various parts of the book.  For example, I enjoyed reading about the corporal taking initiative and fixing the porch roof - how the captain would not hear him explain since it was out of character for him to take initiative.  I also find it humorous that during the captain's yoga session, everyone in the jail participated through the wall; at the beginning of the book I would have thought the captain would be angry with this, but now he accepts the comments of prisoners and employees.

These chapters showed how yoga has impacted all the characters in the book.  The captain has continued to think critically about the sutras applying to his life.  The sergeant has become much more pleasant; in chapter 36, the sergeant seemed so content with his life.  The corporal has become more confident in himself, for he has begun to take more initiative.  The sergeant's son and corporal's mother have physically been improving.  I love hearing how yoga has had a positive impact.

One other thing I noted in these chapters was how the dynamics in the jail have changed.  One important change is that Ms. Friday is not even locked up anymore; the sergeant does not view her as a prisoner now.  Her cell has the appearance of being secured, but she can leave whenever she wants.

In the second set of sutras, we are taught that meditations helps us deal with the five afflictions.  Ms. Friday tells the captain that he must meditate on the bad seeds, how they came into being, in order to learn self-control.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Using Yoga To Find Calmness

This morning I woke up and did some yoga.  Maybe I should try to do yoga every morning.  I actually did yoga this morning because I was not feeling well emotionally.  Lately I have been getting antsy frequently.  I thought maybe yoga would help me become a bit calmer.  It really did help.  It made me feel like I was coming into a happier place; all I had to focus on was yoga.

During my yoga practice, I did downward facing dog amongst other yoga poses.  I felt that I was not doing downward facing dog very well; in class we have been doing other poses before doing downward facing dog to help make it easier getting into this particular pose.  It is a lot more difficult to do the pose right out of the bat.

Is there a certain sequence of poses we should do?  Should we be doing standing poses before doing sitting poses?  I was just doing whatever poses came to mind.  Sometimes I worry that I might be practicing the poses wrongly and will become accustomed to the wrong poses.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Applying the Yoga Sutras to How Yoga Works

The yoga sutras 1.12 - 1.16 deal with practice and non-attachment.  As I was reading How Yoga Works, I saw Ms. Friday using non-attachment by not desiring "freedom."  She instead creates her own idea of freedom by rethinking what it means to be confined whether in a jail or outside the jail.  Ms. Friday also demonstrates non-attachment in chapter 26 when she exhibits no desire to leave the jail; the captain keeps trying to explain to her why she will not be released, but she does not actively listen to him and continues to just think about their practice.

Both the captain and Ms. Friday practice.  Everyday Ms. Friday practices her yoga, and every week they both have a yoga class together.  The captain also does yoga on his own time.  However, the captain does not only do physical yoga practice, for he also practices by meditating on the yoga sutras.  Throughout the book, the captain has had more and more questions for Ms. Friday and has exhibited critical thinking as well as understanding.  Ms. Friday comments that she is very proud of her student for using the time outside of class to think about the yoga sutras and try to truly understand them.  Just to double check - does this count as a type of practice?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Yoga From The Inside Out (Chapters 1 & 2)

As I was reading the first two chapters of this book, I appreciated how willing Christina Sell is to disclose very personal information about her journey.  Her stories about her past have made her feel more real, more human.  I cannot imagine the struggles that she had to face with her self-image.  Of course I have had to deal with feeling unattractive, but I have never struggled with my weight or the scrutiny of all those around me.  The author has continuously dealt with weight fluctuations and overexertion; her claim that yoga has helped her become more self-confident convinces me that yoga will also help me become more self-confident.

In the past year, I feel that I have become more accepting of my appearance due to the encouragement of another person.  Throughout the past year, a friend has boosted my self-esteem by praising my natural beauty.  He helped me see that I did not need to hide behind make-up or get dressed up; I can be myself and still be beautiful.  Beauty does not need to be what society dictates.  I get to decide what is beautiful.  I still am not the most confident person in the world especially with my appearance, but my self-confidence is the best that it has ever been.

The story at the end of Chapter 2 by Minnie made me think about why I even care about looks.  Reading that story has made me question, but the story alone is not enough to completely change me.  I am sure that I will still care about my looks after reading this book, but hopefully I will not emphasize it quite as much.

Like Rachel in Chapter 1, yoga has made me feel better about myself.  My body has felt much lighter and upbeat.  I do not think I have achieved the same realization that Rachel has in that her sense of beauty comes from a feeling rather than an appearance, but maybe I will one day claim that belief.  In class I am still self-conscious around all the other yoga students.  I become very insecure after seeing how well other students can do all the poses, but Dr. Schultz has been great at complimenting each of us individually as well as gently correcting our mistakes.  Because I know that I am doing well on certain poses and improving on other poses, I feel better about my practice of yoga.  I will continue to try to just focus on my practice of yoga and understand that each student is at a different place concerning yoga.  I do not need to compare myself to other students and do not need to be the best at anything or everything.  Maybe as an honor student/BIC student I have it in my head that I need to be the best and strive to overachieve.  Every time I make a mistake, I beat myself up over it and dwell on the mistake.  Is this a sign of memory?  Does anyone in the class have these feelings in general or about yoga?