A Yogi morning

Over the last month I’ve had too much coffee, tried my first tamale, partnered with IJM, I’ve brainstormed more than I ever thought I could, I crafted a curriculum for a “Yoga basics” workshop, co-led a instagram challenge, I’ve bought far too many vinegar bottles and haven’t read enough books.

Such is the life of this yoga instructor. Part of me feels like people expect a yoga instructors to do list to mirror Gandhi’s. It doesn’t. My to do list is very basic, wake up, coffee, green shake, grab 3 changes of clothes and go to the studio. On a day where I don’t have morning classes it reads wake up… instagram coma, feel insufficient that you cannot hollowback check mail, think about reading a book then realize you are halfway through three of them but the one you need you’ve lent to someone else… decide to meditate..change mind 40 seconds later when you get bored, do this 3 times..find chocolate, eat it. 

I wish I had a solid to do list every day and a tangible goal that I could move towards, right now my mind is so filled it can’t decide what it needs to do first… so I’m doing this instead and hoping lightning will strike and something will become clear.
I love big goals, where I falter is in the details, maybe that’s why I’ve crafted so many detail oriented yoga classes this last month because I know what I need and what my life is craving, details. 

I feel like the summer will be very busy for me, I’ve got some plans lined up so for now I’ll linger in the in-between and enjoy the moments to chill. Life seems to come it waves, no? I’m pretty sure this happened to me same time last year, where it took me the first third of the year to figure out my goals for the year and the the next thing I knew it was the end of summer and I had- thankfully- hit most of my goals, the important ones I accomplished which I’m proud of myself for. I’d like to look back a year from now and be proud of myself again, to know that I accomplished that which I set out to do and even more! I guess that means I’d better get to setting those goals.
Sometimes I am afraid to talk about my goals, because what if I don’t hit them, them everybody will know and I’ll look like a failure… and nobody likes that… but if I am to live that way I may as well keep my mouth shut for the rest of my life. Living out loud is hard, I am currently struggling with how to tell my story. Everyone has a story, I think mine is worth telling but it’s how to tell it that I am working on, I don’t want to blurt it out and see how people take it, I want to tell it with a purpose a meaning behind it, some sort of lesson or goal. It’s okay that I haven’t figured it out yet, I’m sure as I keep thinking on it it’ll become a little clearer. One day at a time is all I ever get to live so that’s how I will tackle these issues… my story, my goals, my hollow-back practice…One day at a time. 

Hopefully I will update before the end of the summer. I will update before the end of the summer, because now it’s one of my goals :)  It’s okay to falter, it’s okay to feel confused, it’s okay to linger in the in-between as long as you learn something from it. I have not yet learned anything this morning, aside from the fact that the book I need to read is not here and chocolate in a gluten-free french bun thrown in the microwave is delicious! 
Perhaps I should go back to my 40 second meditation practice…

 

Life is scary!

Got up this morning all chipper, taught a class and was going along happily and then I saw a news article with a horrible headline, it was about a horrible violent act and it pretty much spiraled my day into darkness. I was so appalled that there were such evil people running around in the world and I felt physically ill at the thought that these people could be people I pass on the street. What is to keep the evil that they bring from touching my life? how can I keep myself safe? how can I keep my loved ones safe, how can I keep anything bad from happening? 

I can’t and that’s what sucks. I can home to meditate and figured out two things. One, you will age, two, you will die, those are the guarantees of life. Sounds pretty miserable and I was in a pretty miserable state, the thought of losing everything that I have and my world turning upside down was very upsetting. Then I thought, now how can I turn this around, I have another class to teach and I can’t go in there with a message of doom I need to get my mind out of this place… so instead of concentrating on how much I had to lose, I started thinking about how blessed I am. 

I could be scared because all my family members are alive which means they’re still liable for death, or I could be so thankful that I have both parents alive and all 8 1/2 siblings plus a step sister alive and well and that is something incredibly special and that makes my life so much richer! I could be terrified that my husband will die in a car crash therefore sending me into a spiral from which I never recover, or I could be grateful that I have someone who loves me with such a unique  and incredible love that it can never be duplicated and that is something amazing. 

I feel like it’s a struggle to remain open and honest, like my heart is exposed and raw. Maybe if I closed myself off a bit I could feel less pain, I could read stories on violence and be like “meh…not my problem” movies wouldn’t bother me, trafficking wouldn’t bother me… I could live a duller life with less pain…. Or, or I can try and remain open I can embrace all that I have and be so grateful for every second of my life and tell people about it! Yes I look forward to my days, yes, I am very much in love with my husband, yes I love my job, yes I love my life the way it is, yes, yes to all of it. I would be devastated to lose anything, family, friends, jobs etc but it would be more devastating to live never having fully appreciated any of them.
I hate reading about violence, but maybe there’s something I can do. Most of the time I feel helpless to stop it, after all you only read about it after the fact, but there are still things going on that I can get involved in. I know where the homeless shelter in my town is, I know a girl who is involved in helping women escape from the trafficking business.

Living a vulnerable life means you cannot be unaffected by what is going on around you so you have to take action, you have to live from the heart and just be as you are in any given moment. If I am hurt I will cry, if I am angry I will yell, if I am happy you will see me smiling… and most of the time I am very happy I am so thankful to be where I am right now.

I will continue to pray for those who are victims of crime and do my best to help when and where I can. Life is worth living to the max, even if it means feeling the hurt, it’s worth the hurt to feel the joy of being truly alive. Life is scary but it’s worth staying open and being present for. Change your perspective and change your world

“So don’t fear love when it comes simply because it makes you vulnerable. But don’t be surprised when it leaves either. Just be glad you had the opportunity to experience it.” 
―Neil Strauss

Dreams

I’m big on dreams, I’m big on living your dreams. I’m living mine. I don’t say that to brag, I say it because it was a relatively easy transition and now that I’m here, I wonder why I didn’t chase my dreams sooner. 
At first I was scared, I didn’t know if I was good enough to be a yoga teacher I didn’t think people would come to me, why would they, what did I know? there was a lot of negative self talk to try and convince myself away from my dream because that was the safer option, that way I wouldn’t fail because you can’t fail if you don’t try. The other side of the coin is that you won’t succeed if you never try. 

I am so, so thankful every day to be able to wake up and do what I love and I wish it for other people. When I talk to others I’ll encourage them to pursue dreams and usually the first thing out of the mouth is an excuse “yes, I’d love to, but I have kids” “it’s sounds so amazing I’m happy for you, but I can’t make a living doing what I love” ” my passion is weird” “I’d love to chase my dreams but I have to pay rent” the list goes on and on. Until you find a good enough reason, you will find an excuse. 

What is my reason? my reason was that I was sick of being mediocre and I wanted to try something scary, something new, and I knew that I would be good at it if I tried, if I really, really tried and committed to it. I had never committed to anything before that, my mind was still developing in the real world and I had not looked more than a few months ahead, but when it came to yoga, I loved everything about it and I the thought of doing it for the next 80 years was a thrill, exciting, a privilege instead of a weight on my mind as was every other career I had had up until that point.
So I started this crazy path chasing my dream down with no option to fail, I knew I wouldn’t fail because I was – I am- never going to give up. It’s been an incredible journey and I am thrilled that I am still at the very beginning of this path, I’m learning to enjoy the journey because the journey is it!!  There is no “achievement” at which I can sit back and say Boom bitches, I’ve made it! I will always be craving more and there will always be more to learn. 

Life has gone from being okay, but looking forward to my vacations to being enthralling and magical! I am surrounded by such greatness of character and I am so thankful to finally be able to see and enjoy this fullness of life that can only come when you live with passion! So find what you love, try everything, find an impossible dream then chase it! Lasso it down, tie it up, put it in your pocket and enjoy every day!  

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us. — Wilma Rudolph 

Listen

I led a class last night where we spent a significant amount of time, 47 minutes to be exact, setting up the body for back bends. Back bends are hard, sure you can do them but doing something and doing something correctly are usually two vastly different things. In any case, I spent most of class opening up the shoulders and the upper back since that’s where the bend ought to be, I also set up some deep twists to ready the spine so by the time we got to 7:17 the body was warm and ready to do back bends properly.
I had everyone come to a seat and then demonstrated taking the bend from the back and sending it into the upper body, towards the shoulders, with the intention that you would end up with your legs straighter, almost no curve in the lower spine (except the natural curve) and all the bend in the upper chest with a lot of opening through the shoulders. Then I had everyone roll down onto their backs and start with bridge pose, I asked that we please start in bridge and attempt to send the stretch into the upper spine so when we went to full wheel people would be familiar with the feeling.

Everyone complied expect for one person who went shooting up into full wheel with legs legs wider than her mat, toes pointed way out to the sides, fingers pointing to the right and left, rather than straight down and basically just murdering her spine. I asked her to come down out of her pose and she did, but she was very proud of herself that she “got it” and brushed me off because she didn’t need my help anymore cause she had it, she was all set. I tried to explain to her that we were about to do that pose and if she could just wait about 20 seconds I would cue it properly, she smiled and laughed it off sure I had cued a less intense posture for the rest of class but since she felt her practice was advanced she skipped ahead because she could.
After bringing everyone down from bridge I began to set up full wheel very pointedly, “fingers point towards your shoulders, thumbs towards your ears, pull the elbows in towards each other, all ten toes face forward, plant through your heels” Again before I was done cueing off shoots this woman into the sky, again all wonked out and putting incorrect compression on her spine. At this point, as a teacher, other than going over and saying “GET DOWN!” there’s not much you can do.

As a yoga teacher in the classroom, I don’t talk just to chit chat, I don’t say cues because they are so much fun to say, I talk because I’m trying to keep you safe. I’m attempting to educate you into a safe yoga practice so that if you are every practicing at home and do not have a teacher you’ll still know some safety guidelines and won’t end up hurting yourself. Your knee should not be going past your ankle in the warriors, you shouldn’t be feeling shortness of breath in chair pose, all of these things have a remedy and if you go to a class and willingly put yourself in the position of student, then try and learn something from your teacher. Listen.

I’m not saying this because I always listen, I say this because when I first started yoga I was SURE I had it down pat! Back bends were my specialty I could do them no problem, sure I’d hurt the next day, but no pain to gain! That whole Chaturanga bit was my jam, I had no arm strength but that was okay I combined the flow into upward facing dog and stayed on my toes so that I could flow back no problem, I didn’t understand why teachers would try and help because clearly.. I had this. It was only when I stopped going to class to prove how strong I was and began to take class to understand and listen that my practice began growing exponentially. Fun fact, all my yoga injuries happened during my first year of taking classes where I was sure I had a handle on this whole yoga thing. In the last year I haven’t been injured (knock on wood, throw salt over shoulder, spin 3 times) and in this last year I really started listening to cues from different instructors, I go to class to learn, I go to teachers who I know have the students best interest at heart and who speak to set you up for success, not to tell fun yoga stories, but to keep your body safe.

I hope that my teaching style continues to evolve and that I can continue to find ways to connect with students to that they understand I’m not barking orders, I’m sincerely trying to guide you through a practice that I love with hopes that you can come through safely and also fall in love with it. I’m working on being a better teacher, but please, try to listen. Just a little bit, just until I’m finished with the sentence… and if it makes no sense or you’re confused ask me about it! I love questions, but if you haven’t heard what I said you won’t know what to do or what to ask.
So before you attempt to jump into a headstand, pause…. listen, I just might say something that could change your practice and keep you safe.

Commitment

As a Yoga Instructor I am fully committed to teaching Yoga classes that are balanced, that link breath to movement and encourage the natural energy of the body to begin to flow, my hope is that at the end of your practice you feel lighter in your mind and body. The thing about it is, if I am fully committed to you, I’ve got to also be fully committed to me, I have to know that the class I’m teaching is a good one, that it feels good the the body and the theme – if there is one- makes sense, that I can tie the whole thing together and make sure I can convey the message or energy from me to you.
This means I have to try on the flow myself, I have to put the theme into my practice and give it a test run, if it doesn’t work.. then I have to run it again, allowing there to be space for change in my personal practice so that I can teach from the heart and from knowledge of how the body feels, rather than guessing that it should feel pretty good cause it looks cool.
This means that I must be committed to myself, I have to allow hours during the day for study, for practice…and some days I’d rather not. I’d rather go home and watch a movie or take a tap. Today is one of those days. It’s cold outside and my blankets are warm…..but I’m also teaching tonight and it’s gotta make sense.

Yoga isn’t about flailing from shape to shape, it’s about creating awareness in the body and slowing down enough to match one breath, to one movement, to keep your mind on the sound of your breath rather than adding to your grocery list as you move about your mat.
I don’t teach you Yoga, you learn how to yoga from your own experience. I can suggest things to you but if your mind is elsewhere  I won’t be able to “teach” for the life of me, therefore the flow has to have a perfect balance of being a challenge so you have to keep your mind present, yet enough of a flow so that you can relax into postures instead of fighting them.
So, I have to get up and move my as-sana, even though I’d rather have a glass of mulled wine and a nap, if I’m going to get any better at this I’ve got to stay committed, if I need to access your body better then I’ve got to study mine! So… without further ado, here I go…. I’ll read some chapters on the Chakras and then it’ll be time to flow, which I’m very much looking forward to, it’s always a challenge and there is always, always something new to learn. 

Here’s to committing to something, sticking to it and watching your life evolve to be something better every day.

*squish

(that was the sound of yoga mats “clinking”)

Happy new year to me!

It’s happened!! We’ve moved into our new place! In case you are wondering why I am so excited about this new development, it’s because this is it, we’re not moving any more, also I’ve been waiting for this move since November, and originally checked the place out in August. That’s a long time. 

But it’s done, we’re here! I’m so thankful to be here and I’m so thankful for friends who helped us out along the way. It’s been so great to purge our stuff and get rid of a bunch of accumulative junk that you don’t know you have until you start packing then you start thinking “when was the last time I used this waffle maker?” It’s funny, you get rid of stuff moving out, then you get rid of stuff moving in. I feel so much lighter and I am so glad to let so many things go. 

Being finally settled and having it be a new year is so great, I feel like I can breathe again and can start laying down some solid plans for growth personally and professionally. I cannot tell you how incredible this last year has been, I’ve learned so much and can’t wait to see what this new year will bring me. So far I’ve knocked one goal off my list, it was to take a Bikram yoga class and I did that tonight, honestly it went a lot better than I expected. Being that I teach hot yoga already, the heat wasn’t even an issue for me and since I knew they held postures for a long time, mentally I was prepared so it went really well, I didn’t “push, push, try harder” like their script requires them to say, I stuck to my knowledge of my body, so it was a great experience…. aside from the smell… the smell was unpleasant. I would not recommend that smell.

Life these past few years has been such a joy, I feel much more grounded and alive, joyous and loved, which in turn allows me to love others in a greater capacity. I don’t know what this year will bring, but I am just happy that I get to live it! If you have not started living your dream yet, start!! If you don’t know what it is for you, start looking! Try new things, do the things that scare you, they may turn out to be your passion! 

Much love and gratitude xx

2014!

Happy New year! Also Merry Christmas since I missed that as well :) This year it off to a good start, I feel it in my bones! Also I just ate a bunch of banana chips so I’m very happy at this moment, it could be that as well…

I’m very much looking forward to 2014, 2013 was an awesome year for me, full of learning about myself, about yoga, about teaching and evolving. If I grow as much this year and have as many breakthroughs as I did in 2013 I should be transcended by the end of the year! True story. In all seriousness, I am so grateful for what 2013 gave to me and I am very excited to put feet to my wings this year. I have a bunch of ideas and plans that I want to do and I’m looking forward to getting down to the what goes where part of the planning. 
We’ve been in limbo since November, staying with friends while we’re waiting for some apartments to be done so we could move in, and good news they’re ready!!!!! I’ll get to live out of drawers instead of a suitcase, this makes me excited about my life. 

My yoga practice has also grown a whole lot since this time last year, it doesn’t make the same leaps and bounds that it used to when I was just starting to learn, but it’s a whole new level of depth in the body and tuning into the subtleties  because it affects my practice overall. There are always parts of the practice that I will struggle with, meditation and breath-work are my two goals for this year, I’d like to get a deeper understanding of the both of them, and they’ll both positively affect my yoga practice so I’m hoping to set a routine that is accessible to my crazy schedule that changes from day to day. 

I am glad to be here, I am glad that you’re here too <3 

Happy New Year!