Because it’s Saturday

I’m having some coffee and thought time to myself this morning, contemplating a lot of things, I have a bunch of “big articles” I’d like to write but they require more thought and organization.
I am missing the part of me that goes from “gosh that sounds like fun I’d love to do that” to the groundwork and the organization needed to bring it through to fruition. Growing up there were a lot of instances of “this is the next big thing that we’re going to push for and do” and then 3 months later, nothing. I didn’t see anyone actually bring any sort of plan they laid out to a successful fruition. Sure there was mediocre success, like making the months rent, that was always pleasant, but then there was the next month and you’d have to go through the process all over again. There were pushes to “win disciples” but as long as they turned into a supporter, well that was good enough.
Going through my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training was the first thing that I completed from start to finish. I didn’t chicken out at 180 hours or think “well this is good enough” I actually finished all the requirements, and then some because I loved learning all I could about Yoga. I was 27.
I had done the training for myself, no one else. It felt good to know I could invest in myself and actually carry through, I was very proud of myself for completing the program and chasing after my dream, it was also eye opening to know that I could finish what I set out to do. This might be a very basic mindset for anyone else who grew up in a regular school environment where you have tests, complete them and then move on, or those who played sports where you win a tournament and go on to the next level etc, but for me there was never any sort of structure set up so I just tried to get by each day doing what I was expected to do and “who knows what’ll happen tomorrow” Maybe the Antichrist would finally get here and then my troubles would be over :)

One of my biggest challenges in life is learning to put working legs to my brain child. I’ll have an idea and LOVE IT! I’ll see it in my head I’ll pick people or locations out and imagine how exciting it would be to see this come to life!! And then groundwork will come up and I’ll think meh… maybe I’ll do it later, I’ll wait for the right time… after all who has time to go to city hall and apply for permits etc. Old habits of “well maybe if I do this instead it’ll be good enough” will pop up and more often than I care to admit I’ll take the lazy way out. But that’s no way to live.
If I don’t constantly challenge myself to take risks I find that I’ll simply stand still, nothing will improve. It won’t get worse… but it won’t improve, so unless this is as far as I want to go, I have to keep on moving forward- no matter how scary it is to put myself up against a challenge that I don’t quite know how to complete.

My Yoga practice is so helpful in challenging me. There’s always another step to take, more to discover and there is also no “quick” way to do yoga. It’s a slow process that you’ve gotta commit to for the rest of your life, otherwise it can be frustrating. The magic of the practice is that it imitates life, when I find that I’ve been stuck in my practice for a long time I can usually look at my life and find the same thing, I haven’t added any challenges or tried something new in a while. When I am trying new things in life and pushing myself to reach forward, I’ll usually find my practice starts growing as well.

I do not have the perfect yoga practice or the perfect life, but I am so, so thankful for what I do have and I won’t let it go to waste by settling for 75% of what I set out to do, I need to keep moving forward and finding that balance of pursuing the things that are actually important to me and which I wish to complete 100%, and letting go of the less important things or things that I’ve allowed to be “put” onto me by others. Never stop moving forward and chasing what is important to you. Personal dreams and goals are important, invest in yourself and improve on what you have, lean into your strengths and watch them grow!
Now if you’ll excuse me I have some Excel sheets to fill out :)

Telling a story

When sequencing a yoga class I start at the beginning, the very beginning, with breath. The pose you start in is a reflection of where the class will go, if we are working towards back bends we’ll  start in Virasana to open up the quads, if we are hip opening we’ll do child’s pose or supta baddha konasana, there’s a method to the madness believe it or not and it’s fun to unravel the body and have a place to go with your class, like telling a story,  the poses and sequence has a beginning a middle and an end, but they all tie together somehow…the parts in the beginning have something to do with the middle and they all go together in the end, and you’re left feeling blissful and at peace.

I have not quite figured out how to tell my story, I know the beginning, but the beginning makes the middle confusing….there’s nothing to be done for it, unlike a book or an article where you can go back and rewrite the beginning, the past is fixed and there’s no reworking it.

I’m in the middle and I’m not quite sure what to do with my skill set. I know I love to teach yoga, I love to listen, I am empathetic and can understand people from different walks of life. Living with 25-75 people for the first 23 years of life will give you some people skills… so there’s that and that’s nice. I feel like I have a bunch of unharnessed talent, like I was supposed to be super awesome and talented, but then nothing happened. Whomp. I’m not down on myself, I just have an itch to scratch but I’m not quite sure where it is and it’s driving me mad so I end up throwing myself into a bunch of things hoping one of them will stick.
Yesterday I had a moment of “oh my gosh what am I doing with my life, I only have two classes today I should be working harder” But then I did some yoga and perspective happened and I realized I am right where I am supposed to be. Life has it’s ups and downs but it also has plateaus.. places to rest and just be, they are as long as they are going to be and you can either let it drive you crazy or you can enjoy the rest and linger in it appreciating every moment of life, because it is precious. It took me a hot sec, but I’m going to do the latter. It’s hard to let go of the expectations we put on ourselves especially when we feel like we should have something worked out, but we don’t. It takes a moment of acknowledgement that we’re not as -fill in the blank- as we think we should be, but after that acknowledgement you can let go…. let go of any self imposed ideals of greatness or expectation and take a moment to love what is.
I love my days… I’ll use this time to chill, to marinate in my thoughts, observe my patterns and see what comes up. Who knows, I may find the key to my story or my intended path directly in front of me :)

Apparently I should be a writer

I took one of those quizzes that asks you about 7 questions then tells you what you should really be doing in your life, those are really helpful, I’m so glad we have the internet to help tell us who we should be. Just kidding. 

See I’m so good at this writing thing. 

I don’t know that “Yoga instructor” was an option for the quiz, but it said I should be a writer because I have a creative mind and would need a way to express it.
I have never thought I was very creative, as a child I was always too shy/oppressed to express myself, there was a very specific box that I was allowed to be in and had no desire to create within that box so I assumed I was not creative and left it at that. Fast Forward to now and my discovery of yoga, the discovery of the body being art and the unrestricted ability to create… now I’m full of ideas that I want to put into action and I’ll craft the idea in my head even put it down on paper and then hear myself think “but you are not creative.” And so I will leave it there, on paper or in my mind, resting, it’s a nice thought but since I am not creative or very talented I will just keep it there, the perfect expression of what I want to say or impart. It’s nestled in my mind if I need it. 

There is a constant struggle of who I am and who I “allow” myself to be, the good news is I’m getting much better at allowing myself to just be, no judgement or harsh criticism from my head, just the observation of “why” and the learning process that comes from allowing myself to react to a situation, observe my reaction, change if need be or stay the same if I have a sound reasoning behind my actions. 
The more I delve into allowing myself to be me, the more I find I must create. I have to get this stuff out of my head and out onto canvas, or film, or paper, some platform where I can express the joy, struggle, compassion or bliss that I feel. The more I allow myself to create, the more creative I become, the less I care about how the world will receive my expression and the more I know I must just express. 

It feels good to start getting things out of my head and find like minded people with whom I can create. It is such a pleasure to be surrounded by people who are equally passionate as you and the things you can come up with are incredible. I have had a thought brewing in my mind for sometime, and since I am supposed to be a writer I will write emails and start putting groundwork to my ideas. I am so excited to feel the freedom of expression, I am grateful to know that I have the ability to create, many platforms to work with and passionate individuals who share my vision. 

I’ll take that step today, walk off the ledge and allow my creativity to take me somewhere, I’m not sure where but I’m ready to find out just how creative I can be… It’s about time. 

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.