Often my class themes are relevant to what I’m personally working on. This week, that holds true.
I just started my new job and the 9-to-5 world has to-do lists and deadlines that don’t exist for a yoga teacher. It’s inherently stressful. In this 9-to-5 world many years ago, I interviewed a new candidate and asked how she deals with stress. Her response?
“I just… breathe.”
She was fresh out of college, interviewing for an entry level position, and I initially dismissed her response as naive. Yet, in retrospect, it’s arguably the wisest thing she could have said. Over my 8 years practicing yoga, I’ve learned that the breathing tactics I practice during yoga’s physical challenges have become invaluable to handling stressful situations with composure off the mat.
At CorePower, every pose in the studio is prefaced with an “Inhale” or an “Exhale.” You may hear the following:
“Breathe into the bottom of your lungs.”
“Send breath to the sensation in your hamstrings.”
“Imagine your hips have tiny lung that expand with each breath.”
Why is breath prioritized? Why the breath-oriented visuals?
Breath in the rejuvenating life force. Seventy percent of toxins are released in our Co2. Slowing the breath slows our heart rate. It draws our attention to the present moment, the rise and fall of our lungs. Breath also tapers our open emotional reaction to extended holds in physically challenging poses.
I’ve heard it said: “Practice three days a week for yoga to change your body. Practice five days a week for yoga to change your life.” Practice breath that much in the yoga studio, and watch how your breath brings ease into every facet of your life.
Yoga is so much more than a physical practice. It’s backed by philosophy and observances detailed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. One of which is known as Satya, the observance of truth.
We typically think of in practicing truth the context of social relationships. For example, being honest with others or showing up authentically to a conversation by being truly present and attentive. However, Satya also applies to how we approach ourself.
In the context of yoga, Satya challenges practitioners to show up authentically to the mat. To be honest about your capabilities. To drop to your knees in high plank if you’re ever compromising the integrity of the pose. Yet perhaps more importantly, being honest about how truly awesome you are. To recognize the truth that it’s a tremendous accomplishment to even show up to your mat. As a wise man named Drake once said: “Being humble don’t work as well as being aware.”
The next time you fall out of a balancing pose – rather than defaulting to discouragement – practice Satya by recalling the truth – the honest self awareness – that you are undoubtedly divine.
If you’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, it’s magic. The snow-covered trees inspire a level of awe that’s rare, even in nature. Pair that with a blue sky and epic snow conditions for this early in the season, and any skier or snowboarder feels their soul vibrating at a higher frequency.
It had been about 8 months since my last ride and about 4 years since I’ve seen conditions like this. That’s a long time to be out of practice. While I was on the mountain – rather than acknowledging my validated rustiness – I found myself making a lot of excuses about why I wasn’t snowboarding at the level of skill I was used to. I took a nasty tumble and I blamed it on a snowboarder that got in my way. I was riding slower than normal and I blamed it on how congested the mountain was.
It reminded me of the times I’ve been in class where I’ve made similar excuses. Like when another yogi jolts out of their balancing pose and I blame them for throwing off my equilibrium. Or the times I blame my inability to settle into my meditation on a bad Savasana song choice.
It’s rare that excuses add value to our practice or our lives. In that way, blame becomes a thief, robbing us of awareness, energy and self efficacy. This week, my classes will focus on conserving your energy for the things you can control. If something isn’t serving you or the posture – like an excuse – get rid of it. Do you need to clench your jaw in half pigeon? Do you need to make that face in high plank? Does the mental jab toward your neighbor’s lack of grace offer any improvement in your balance?
This week, I’ll encourage you to find empowerment in the things you can control… Liberation and surrender in the things you can’t.
Fourth of July weekend Rachel McIntosh texted me that she and Katie Struble were looking for a roommate in their lovely San Francisco home. I rented out my apartment, quit my job, and moved north with no real plan beyond achieving my 5 year strong goal to live in San Francisco. My intuition told me this was it, and I had the courage to listen. I felt it in my bones.
I couldn’t have planned the details more perfectly than they happened…I live in a happy home, CorePower welcomed me into their teaching community, my boyfriend moved here and I feel more fulfilled than I could have imagined.
My classes this week are about trusting your intuition – the One who Knows within you – which can guide you to heights and happiness you’d never have imagined for yourself.
Halloween is a time that we get to be really imaginative with what we want to be. This year, I’ve heard of everything from a hipster ghost to Ebola. Point being, the possibilities are endless. Outside of Halloween costume brainstorming, how often do we ask ourselves what we want to be with that level of creative freedom? This week, I’ll be inviting students to DREAM BIG for their own lives with unbridled imagination. Want to sell greeting cards on Etsy? I can’t wait to buy one. Want to move to Tibet? Tashi Deleg! Or (like the legends on this playlist) want to be a rockstar? That one’s easy… All my students are rockstars.
Photo by Kreate Photography