Calling All Yogis

So, I’m kinda realllllly into Yoga. All kinds/types of Yoga…ESPECIALLY a lil move called savasana :D.

OK first…let’s rewind back to November 2016 when I was in Hawaii (an amazing vacay with my family BTW). We were at this beautiful hotel on the north shore of Oahu. The view was amazing, we were secluded – it was beautiful. The hotel we were at was really really nice. They had a super hardcore gym with fitness classes you could sign up for (AND pay additional cost for – LOL). The first day we got there, we wanted to sign up to do a 7 AM yoga class facing the sunrise.

I was always a big “skeptic” of yoga. AKA I was embarrassed to try it because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to balance, I wasn’t flexible enough, I wasn’t strong enough to hold myself up, etc. I didn’t even want to do it when we were in Hawaii. I was like “this is stupid, I like hard core workouts”. OK NIKKI.

HOWEVER, my awesome parents were going to do it…so I was like alright well if they can do it, I can do it. I woke up, did the class, and all my fears were confirmed. At one point I actually burst out laughing during one of the poses because I had no idea what I was doing. I definitely wasn’t flexible enough, didn’t know any of the moves, and wasn’t strong enough for some of the positions.

Looking back, the girl who taught the class definitely was not offering any assistance (which I know now is NOT the norm). Teachers are always willing to offer help or assistance with your form and guide you if you’re unfamiliar with a position. After that I was like ok nope never again.

THENNNN…I found out about CorePower Yoga and a class called (hot) Yoga Sculpt. I had heard that there were weights involved, it was way less ~yogi posing~ and much more cardio and body pump-esque. One of my coworkers was teaching the class, I signed up for a free week, and I was there.

Let me tell you…it was HARD; but MAN was it rewarding. I felt like I had accomplished so much in just an hour’s worth of class! On top of that, I felt so free. The small simple act of leaving your phone in a locker/car and not looking at it for an hour and a half, being alone with your thoughts, focusing on your breath and the movements of your body, pushing yourself all the way…just clicked with me. The next day I did a C2 class, which is for more advanced Yogis. Again, my friends were attending (it’s great when you can hold each other accountable and go together) and I had that free week, so I said SHORE! – but would I be judged?! I didn’t know ANY yoga moves and I barely knew the names of the poses.

Let me just say that I have learned that yoga “people” are some the least judgmental people I’ve ever met in my life. You can literally go into a class and lay in savasana the entire time, and no one will say anything to you. One of the instructors said to me, “you’re not any more zen or enlightened just because you can do the splits or perfectly execute a crow” – and it’s so true (although it is pretty cool). During class, you can cry, sweat it all out, take a break, do your own thing…literally no one cares. What ever feels right for you, your body and your breath is fair game.

Since I joined CorePower I’ve been to about 10 classes and I will definitely continue to go to more. You work your entire body and on top of that you work and simultaneously relax your mind.

Each class, you begin and end with an intention. I always take them to heart and focus on them the entire time. During the most recent class I took, the intention was to focus on your self worth – to focus on the fact that you are enough and you are valued in everything you do every day and to remember that.

And of course…it doesn’t hurt to end each day with a little *savasana*.

#TeenCancerAwarenessWeek

So there’s a quote that I like…it says: “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” That’s what I’ve learned over the past 7 years. I’m really f-in strong. But, you don’t think about it that way when you’re going through it – it just sort of happens.

I don’t necessarily wake up in the morning every day and say to myself “I’m going to be extra strong today!” – Although sometimes I suppose around a surgery or something I would – but otherwise I’d say it’s a pretty normal routine. I wake up and get ready for work – just like all of you. But then, I take my chemotherapy pills – because I have cancer. It seems so nonchalant these days. I’ve been taking it since October 2014, so it’s pretty much a routine now, right?

Honestly, no. It’s not routine. It’s not routine to be 24 and have to wake up with rashes or scars on your face because your chemo made your skin extra sensitive that night and now you have to cover it up with makeup and hope no one notices at work. It’s not routine to be so unbelievably frustrated with how sensitive your skin is now to the sun, to the point that you burn after being exposed for 5 minutes in the summertime.

“But it’s okay, you’re on chemotherapy, it’s not your fault” is all fine and dandy but…nobody knows that except me and my close friends and family.

Being a teenager – especially – and dealing with these extra struggles is really shitty. You could lose your hair, lose weight, gain weight, have hormonal adjustments, are completely exhausted, etc. You’re not supposed to be dealing with that. You’re supposed to be learning what you like, what you dislike, starting to drink or date, figuring out if you’re going to graduate high school or finish middle school on time, if you’re going to get into college… or even be able to go to college. You shouldn’t be thinking about what your friends are experiencing without you because you have to go to chemo or radiation that day.

And, it makes it SO much worse if you feel like you are alone – that nobody understands what you’re going through. You literally have no choice but to be strong – to gain some sort of normalcy in your adolescent life.

And this is why my Teen Support Bag program means so much to me. I started my foundation, Bite Me Cancer in 2010. One of my missions is to provide support to teenagers who are battling. It’s only a token, a little bit of hope, in a bag, that is sent to hospitals all over the country. Only for teenagers. Specifically, to show them, to tell them, to inspire them, that they too can be strong – that they are not alone; that we’re in this together and we’re here to help.

I didn’t have this support as a teenager with cancer. I felt very alone and didn’t know any other teenager who was going through what I was experiencing – that’s why I came up with this idea.

So far, my foundation has shipped out over 3,500 bags since this project launched in 2012 – 80 hospital partners in 35 states and DC.

I’m writing this post now because it comes at the end of a very special week. January 15th – January 22nd, every year, Teen Cancer Awareness Week takes place across the state of Virginia. This week honors teenagers who are still in the fight/have battled. My heart goes out to you.

To learn more about the efforts of my foundation, please visit www.bitemecancer.org.