Admittedly, August is usually one of my favorite months; it is filled with anniversary and birthday celebrations. I typically plot out my year and infuse all the good hopes, fortunes, and intentions I'd like for my next adventure around the sun. I set up lunch dates and connect with family and friends. This August was not that. I had an ominous dream on August 5, preparing me to receive some difficult news. I was ready to take a bit of a break this August and refresh in between a challenging end-of-year semester and before heading into my second year in clinical.
Unfortunately, as I write this, just days before I am hopeful of boarding a plane to begin my 4th semester of school, I am not sure if I have my place held for me in my program. You see, at my school, we have a pass/fail grading system, and this was true for my end-of-year comprehensive exam taken at the end of July. So, anything below 80% is a fail. I missed passing by a few points. Two days before my birthday, three days before my sweetie and I were going to take a short vacation, I learned that I either was out of my program or had to take an additional case study and redo my final comprehensive exam. So, no vacation, no break. I was devastated.
One of the main reasons I am interested in becoming a Yoga Therapist is because one of our primary (and an oversimplified explanation) focus is learning our suffering and focusing on returning to our finding joy. I am a Gen X'er through and through, so if you read that last sentence and rolled your eyes, I get it. Finding authentic joy is not about false positivity or bypassing what you suffer and struggle with. It is weeding out the clutter of pains to find the gems already there.
Like in a Yoga practice it is not about being perfect but about progress. It's about showing up on your mat, even when you don't feel like it. It's about listening to your body, honoring its limitations, and pushing it to its edge. It's about confronting your fears and insecurities and learning to let go of them.
The truth is that most Yogis have struggled with their lives and practice at some point. They have experienced physical limitations, mental blocks, and emotional breakdowns. They have faced the frustration of not being able to do a pose, the fear of falling out of it, and the disappointment of not progressing as fast as they wanted to and failing a comp exam.
But what gets them through is their determination and resilience. They don't give up when things get tough, they don't compare themselves to others, and they don't let their ego get in the way. They keep showing up, they keep practicing, and they keep learning.
Knowing I had no time to hibernate to process and heal this awful situation, I faced this difficulty head-on. Some days it was writing a paper through sobs and snot; some days, writing and researching moved forward with piss and vinegar. So, I'd like to share a few ways I made it through the efforts.
My husband had to call this out, but once I realized it was one of the gems that brought a slow and less painful way forward. I had to let go of my judgments of myself for what it was; failing wasn't a zero in this case; it was below what the university accepted to move forward. While I had moments where I continually felt like I didn't know anything and called myself some hurtful names, I had to bring myself back to what I knew and understood. There was no way to not accept this reality; I was in it, but I could choose how to be in it.
The struggle is what makes yoga so transformative. We grow the most in moments of discomfort, challenge, and resistance. When we face our inner demons, limiting beliefs, and negative patterns, we can break free from them. When we push ourselves beyond our comfort zone, we discover new levels of strength, flexibility, and awareness.
Next, I acknowledged that I needed to improve to move forward, but I didn't have much time for that growth, so I refocused my energy from what went wrong to noticing spaces for improvement. I broke down the enormity of the project into more bite-sized actions and religiously studied my APA formatting book like I was trying to fly in crow pose.
With all my hurt and frustration around my situation, I had to acknowledge that help was offered if needed. As I was offered a second chance to complete this, I was also offered guidance for the process. I had a couple of opportunities for help with direction and refinement, and I took advantage of the provided resources. It was humbling and rewarding at the same time. In addition to the guidance offered, encouragement and support from peers and friends made all the difference; I was surrounded by incredible humans who cared and checked in on me. My school is not some weird competitive place that is thinning the heard; they genuinely want us as students to shine, and I felt that through our department chair and peer support through my cohort.
When I had moments of being stuck and feeling a collapse, I did everything to try and pull from my toolbox- find my breath, be in the present, cry some more if I needed to, write one sentence at a time, and find an ear that will hear me.
Even though I had to dedicate most of my time to this project to get it right, I gave myself mini breaks, one of which was to read for pleasure. The perfect book for the ideal time I started "The Storyteller" by David Grohl. I am no rockstar, but the thing I needed to remember came from this book. The person you may think had a straightforward track in life or made something happen so easily usually has several stories or years of struggle toward success. If it were easy, everyone would do it, and no one would appreciate it. I also had to take dance breaks; if a song popped into my head, it needed to be played, and I had to get up and dance. I don’t know if David Grohl practices yoga, but I have practiced yoga listening to Everlong, and that was an experience. It is the struggles that make the stories.
- Practice self-compassion (Ahimsa): Treat yourself with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness. Don't beat yourself up for not being perfect or making mistakes. Instead, focus on what you're doing well and what you can improve.
- Set realistic goals (Shila): Don't compare yourself to others or set high expectations. Instead, focus on your progress and set small, achievable goals to keep you motivated.
- Listen to your body (Satya): Pay attention to how you feel and adjust your practice or mission accordingly. Don't push yourself too hard or ignore pain or discomfort. Instead, respect your and your body's limits and work with them.
- Find a supportive community (Sangha): Surround yourself with people who inspire and encourage you. Join a yoga class, read a book, or an online group to connect with like-minded individuals.
- Practice gratitude (Dhyana): Focus on what you have, not your lack. Be grateful for your body, mind, practice, and the people who support you. Cultivate a positive mindset and a sense of appreciation for life.
The struggle is not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength. It's what makes you human. Embrace it, learn from it, and let it transform you. I often come back to the word strong- The root of Valerie “valens” means strength, bravery and powerful. If you are struggling with anything, I hope my strength and determination can support you. I share this for my own mental health and processing what is next for me, and I know your future success (Sankalpa) is also out there.
Five days before I board a plane to meet with my cohort and finish my second year, I am still waiting to hear a final decision, and I wonder if my second attempt was successful or if I passed. I am hopeful and moving forward. I have begun reviewing my fall syllabus and what I need to do in case all goes well. I have also prepared myself for what I will do if the result differs from what I hope.
Stay well –
“Send Somebody” Collin Hay
“Charriots Rise” Lizzie West
“What about us” Pink
“Don’t Break” September 67
“Learn it all again tomorrow” Ben Harper
“I won’t back down” Tom Petty
“Best of you” Foo Fighters
“People Everyday” Arrested Development
“Rolling’” Better than Ezra
“Greatest Day” Bowling for Soup
“Ca Plane Pour Moi” Plastic Bertrand
“Move Along” All American Rejects
“In the Middle” Jimmy Eats World
“I am enough” Heather Mae
“Don’t stop Believin” Journey
“I’m Alive” Michael Franti
“Good Day” Nappy Roots
“Let it Be” Beatles
I love fashion. My passion for fashion has ebbed and flowed throughout my life but is probably in flow at this juncture because I have found a place that carries items that fit me and does not charge extra. Some havens provide fabulous plus-size fashion, and I am grateful; this blog is because I had to venture away from my favorite local plus-size clothing shop and buy some scrubs. I had to purchase and find hunter-green scrubs for my clinical year in grad school for 23-24. I am so excited about my clinical year. However, my process of finding something that fit was challenging for a few reasons.
My usual clothing size is not my scrub size. (I had to go up one to three sizes to fit my curves.) Plus-size scrubs come in limited colors, and I needed a specific color. I love buying clothes, but I quickly learned scrubs are not made for bodies with curves. I had to purchase and return items several times and try several styles—many companies charge for return shipping and a restocking fee. Also, if you are a plus-size scrub wearer, you may know that buying scrubs can be a bit more costly than for your smaller colleagues ($3-7 per item). This is due to what is commonly known as the "Fat Tax." The Fat Tax is an additional cost that plus-size individuals are charged for clothing items that are larger in size (Greenleaf, 2019). This practice is not only unfair but can also be harmful to the self-esteem and confidence of those who are affected by it.
The Fat Tax has been an issue in Westernized yoga culture and the fashion industry for years, with many brands charging more for plus-size clothing items than for their smaller counterparts or shaming and not extending size range (a brand that sounds like shoe-moo hemon). Retailers often justify this due to the additional fabric and materials needed to produce larger sizes. However, this reasoning needs to include that larger sizes are in higher demand and that the companies could easily absorb the additional costs or diversify them, like how they do that for an XS size through an XL size (Christel & Dunn, 2016). The same is true for scrubs. Plus-size scrubs are often more expensive than smaller sizes despite being made from the same materials and requiring the same amount of labor to produce. This can be frustrating for plus-size healthcare professionals who are already facing challenges in their field. The Fat Tax affects individuals' wallets and self-image.
By charging more for larger sizes, retailers essentially tell plus-size individuals that their bodies are not as desirable or worthy as smaller ones. This can be detrimental to the mental health of individuals who, by their job title and need for scrubs, are trying to maintain and care for the health and well-being of others. The Fat Tax sends a message that plus-size individuals are not welcome in specific roles, making it difficult for them to feel confident and comfortable.
As a student already trying to learn a field of study, it has brought forth more concern about my abilities in my role for the following year. One way to combat the Fat Tax is to shop from brands that do not charge extra for plus-size clothing items. If you are an organization requiring scrubs, offer your employees or students resources that offer equitably priced items.
Some brands are committed to size inclusivity and provide a wide range of sizes at the same price. Do your research and be fierce about shopping around. By supporting these brands, we can send a message to retailers that the Fat Tax is unacceptable and that we demand size inclusivity in all areas of fashion and clothing, including scrubs.
Through some deep diving on the internet and recommendations from friends, I did find a brand that did not charge extra for my size, came in hunter green, and was cut right, but I had to order directly from their site; most scrub uniform websites upcharge on the extended sizes – including the brand that I found. The Fat Tax is an unfair and toxic practice affecting individuals in many ways. As consumers, it is up to us to demand change and support brands committed to size inclusivity. Doing so can create a more equal and accepting world for all body types, including those who wear plus-size scrubs.
Christel, D. A., & Dunn, S. C. (2016). Average american women's clothing size: Comparing national health and nutritional examination surveys (1988–2010) to astm international misses & women's plus size clothing. International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, 10(2), 129–136. https://doi.org/10.1080/17543266.2016.1214291
Greenleaf, C. (2019, October 2). https://doi.org/10.1177/0887302X198785
I plan to share with you many more video links in the near future. do you need to take a 1 minute break for meditation in your day? try this practice.
About 2 weeks ago, I - like I imagine much of the rest of the world already out of sorts form being in any routine of normal, we have been in a pandemic-of COVID-19 and now the world is ever changing with a hope for justice. I couldn't help but notice a major divide in my social media of the response.
One thing I was surprised of in myself, is that I noticed how clearly I knew where I felt and stood on the issues.(I'll get to the surprise part of that in a moment) for me, black lives matter, and it's needed to be said and repeated and repeated some more because if it's not- would it matter to me as a white person? could I go on about my day and not have to say or think black lives matter?
As I mentioned I am now aware of how many people in my circle choose to not need to say this and as a reaction choose to point out lives that have always mattered to them- matter to them more than entertaining what saying those other 3 words means. I am not an expert nor am I going to say this as succinct as I'd like to make the changes needed happen, but I had envisioned that I should build and offer a bridge. I know why and where we need to change as a country and I understand that I still need to listen and learn more to fully empathize with the experience of being a person of color in this life and in this world, and having been blind to it for many reasons for many years, I had imagined those that are still not quite valuing the importance of honoring humanity in all lives but not processing in their view of all lives as those black and brown friends that need to be included as such to say it. if it's even hard to read for you that black lives matter, why? did your politics or guts wrench by this? what did you feel in your body- pause breath. because- you are breathing and can still breath. embracing black lives matter does not devalue you or your loved ones or your believes in any way, just as one can never have enough love or compassion- it does not expire or sell out, there should be no consequence to say black lives matter if you didn't need to be aware that they did before. it's not a limitation it's an opportunity to expand your heart to more spaces.
after being quite crushed of really not reaching anyone else that was on the side of the bridge I was hoping to help cross over- and quite frankly being told I was wrong on social media and to my face (well my zoom face) in Yoga, I decided to dig deeper within my heart- self maintenance practice, meditation, yoga, drinking water, and reading. I am also still listening and learning to be a better anti-racist.
what I learned in my- self designated purpose to bridge the gap in thought is it made me feel miserable, many of my friends who also believe as I, took the time to relate and respond, but I was either deafeningly ignored by family and friends or shamed for asking for accountability, or muted. the heels of the one side were dug deeper, the other side wants the space to be heard. please speak- and I will listen.
(any heel diggers? this paragraph is for you to either read or skip- always an invitation) so I decided to metaphorically burn the bridge I was trying to lead you to. I don't mean that I am severing relationships, I am going to try and meet those that I believe differently from a space of patience and kindness my yoga has helped me with this. I think you need that. because you seek the light of love by digging down into the earth beneath the soil only to be dug down so deep that when you look up very little light shines in and it's such a sliver that you have to grasp for that small little bit and cling to it tightly- I hold space for you- my light and my love is big enough to hear and do my best to hold that space for you and still love you. Understand that does not mean I will never speak of these things you choose not to hear of. If you engage me, respectfully understand that saying what you have to say and then shutting down the conversation will not abide. we will converse- I will hear you- do you hear me, will you un-bury your ears to listen. pause. breath. I will no longer allow a platform monologue - expect a conversation.
I digress- so I came across and was reminded of a tool that I learned about in yoga training. the Enneagram. if you are unfamiliar, I will try and enlighten you.
the Enneagram plots out 9 personality types. As fun as it is to discover the type you are, and it is really fun to take the test and discover the things that feel spot on for you. unlike your typically buzzfeed quiz, or horoscope reading, the Enneagram is not about finding your type and then being done with it or forming a judgment around it. the Enneagram is a way to figure out how you navigate the world. and in times of uncertainty this type in you acts as your protective shield (armor or maybe a mask) as you work your way in life. so in my review of my type and my way to process- my enneagram bingo card became full in the ways that I was reacting and responding and posting.
I will get back to my surprise to how I feel about black lives matter- my surprise is, and if you have ever had to coordinate meeting me in real life- ask me where I want to go- and in my typical enneagram type- I will not make this decision well- I will want what you want and that is the truth. I want everyone to be happy, and then I believe I will be happy. so my surprise is that I didn't see someone disagreeing with my plight of black lives matter as an option. it just is, this is not something that I will back down from or complacently agree with you because you think differently. I am horrible at making decisions or being firm on my opinions but this time. I am firm- make no mistake - every fiber of my being will blast through my armor of protection to be agreeable with you this time. that's surprising- I imagine that's why maybe some of those said on my platform were so surprised too.
so my work is not done, but acknowledging that we all have our armor or mask to shield us, this is how we navigate. I am much clearer on how I will be on my quest to seek justice for black lives matter. my armor was sorting out how to be harmonious - but I don't think in our society anyone is singing kum bah yah right now.
If there was a way to say that there is unity is do we not all have our protective shields up right now? how can we navigate those walls or protection to get to a heart to heart conversation.
a few resources if you would like to dive into the Enneagram or revisit it yourself- feel free to comment below what is your type?
to test, learn more and find your type:
if you know your type a book to check out:
The Honest Enneagram by Sarajane Case
The Enneagram for Relationships by Ashton Whitmoyer-Ober
An incredible conversation about how the Enneargram and social justice can play a part: this was recorded before March but couldn't be more relevant now.
Power & Vulnerability - https://www.instagram.com/tv/CA5S6cDgvlE/?hl=en
I have been thinking about this today, and I feel like I would like to share. Yesterday I had a super exciting day over all, I taught my regular morning classes and then I went to present at Kramas Yoga School as a lead on the topic of making yoga classes more accessible to all. (I will be sharing more of this experience too and post it later.) If you know me, and my nature, I like to plan and I like to allow plenty of time to arrive somewhere.
Not as early as I should have arrived, because I was to present at 2pm - but I arrive at 1:15pm. Yes. 45 minutes early. I had planned extra time since I knew I'd have to drive through downtown to get to Infinite Flow Yoga Studio and that traffic can unpredictably be backed up, so I of course allowed more time. But, I didn't have to stop at 1 traffic light, it was green all the way and no traffic congestion. So I find a place to park, try to settle my nerves a bit because I am so passionate about this topic and I want to share it in a way that is usefully for yoga teachers to be, I get nervous. I was so much in my head, that I did not see a woman approach my car and her gentle knock on the window startled me a bit.
I made a quick judgment about her and imagined that she was going to ask me for money, so instead of opening up the window on the passenger side, I stepped out of the car on my side and asked her what she wanted. I did than realize she had a very young child (a year old or less) with her. she said she had just missed the bus and needed a ride to a gas station that was about 5 miles back towards downtown. she could give me gas money. After I asked her a few more questions, I told her I just couldn't help her because I was so focused on my presentation and I didn't want to be late. She walked away from me and over to a parking stop about 3 spaces over and sat down I believe to figure out what her next plan was. I asked her if she knew when the next bus was coming and she said in an hour. I observed her again, I took a breath and truly SAW her - someone who was in challenging circumstances, tired, kind and having a bad day. It cannot be easy to ask a complete stranger for a ride to begin with. I will say I also believe that she was about ready to cry. Something inside me said that despite all of the bad things that could happen by giving a stranger a ride, offering her a lift was absolutely the right thing to do. So I did. I told her I did not want her to feel rushed but I could give her a lift if we left right away.
We introduced ourselves by first name, shook hands and she also introduced me to her beautiful daughter Jayla who had the cutest smile EVER when I waved at her. Mom had not only been carrying around all of her belongings but also a car seat so that if she could get a ride with someone her daughter could be safe. The ride and our conversation in the car was about 9 minutes. She had asked me to drop her off at a gas station near a shelter that was about 4 blocks from the gas station. Near the end of the ride, I dropped her off at the shelter so she wouldn't have to walk that much further. My passenger had fallen on hard times and recently evicted from her place. she had some resources of friends and some minimal help from parents but this was her first week that she had to seek a shelter for survival. She again offered me gas money when I dropped her off, I instead chose to give her the few dollars that I had because I believe she needed it more than me. I didn't change her life, I couldn't fix her circumstances, and I couldn't help and I felt that I really didn't make anything better.
After I dropped her off, I drove back and was still 17 minutes before I was to present to the group. plenty of time. I had planned an introduction with learning the students names and talking about my background a bit, but instead with just the few minutes before presenting, I decided to share my experience with the group. I just felt that in many ways this was a practice that felt how we as yogi's and yoga teachers can bring the deepest practices of yoga on the mat into the world. I didn't save anyone, but I imagine I created just a bit of ease and comfort for the day for someone who needed just a bit of accessibility or kindness in that moment.
As I mentioned before, my experience leading the group went so well and I'm still on a bit of cloud from the positive experience. but I also have been thinking about my experience of offering a ride to someone who needed a ride. I want to make clear, that I'm not sharing this with you to have you throw aside any instinct of caution or concern and pick up strangers. I truly had an experience in this moment that although I was raised right and well educated it stood in the way for a moment of seeing the humanity in someone else. I choose to lead with a kind heart an intuition that said do the right thing and not let fear paralyze seeing the humanity in my fellow humankind.
there are many small ways that we can make a difference for someone- I'd love to hear your thoughts or any stories you'd like to share.
I make quite a deal out of my birthday each year, like really! I could say it's simple - I'm a Leo, we are like that. but being born in a water year, I believe my qualities are usually more low key and I tend to roar a bit less than my other bright shining Leo cohorts. Except birthday time. Anyone in earshot usually will know my birthday is within a month or just was.....I find myself thinking how obnoxious I'm being, and then being fine with that too. I just feel I can't help it. ME month!
However this year for the past couple months, I realized I'm not bringing my usual zest and enthusiasm for the upcoming day, so a bit of digging in and processing here is what's been on my mind. I realized that I've needed bring something in my heart to an end, and my age seems more in my face about this than it ever has any other time in my life. none of these milestones I cared too much about- double digits at 10, turning 18 officially into an adult, 21 you can drink, than the you can't do milestones start, most likely not going to be famous if it didn't happen by 25, you're not going to be in the FBI anymore if you are over 36, Over 40 as a woman you most likely will not have a baby. Sometimes age does matter.
Since Mark and I have been married we have tried to conceive a child and over the past year, many signals that I imagine for most women would be a sign of their body changing, my slightly unrealistic over optimistic hope and possibilities have been that lateness or differences I have dreamed were of possible conception. These past couple years, I only accepted reading about stories of women beyond their 40's conceiving a child and the viability of it all. Only those closest to me have had some personal and deep discussions and known even though probability was unlikely, I learned and I appreciated knowing not everyone's story to conception was easy, yes I'm aware of how old I'd be when my child would turn 20, these hard realities and honestly their thoughts and support were so caring and kind I tried to find relief and peace with this dialogue, but I have been rather inconsolable. (because yes, but my body is supposed to be able to do this!)
so as this birthday nears I decided I wanted to have a more somber way to honor my age with a ritual of letting go of this hope and possibility. maybe not a fun arcade night and multiple lunches and dinners with friends to celebrate my birthday month, but something that can put this difficult monthly trap of ups and downs- am I, could I be, maybe?????? - nope. and repeat - to peace.
I've been doing my best to not be incessantly on social media, I have been reading a lot more lately and writing, and regardless of the knowledge I have about looking at screens right before sleep - cute dog and cat videos can set me up for a good night's rest. Sadly after an adorable belly-up puppy video - what came across my news-feed was that a classmate, a lovely soul, a swim team teammate -Katy had lost her battle with cancer. This quite quickly after she posted receiving a 3 year cancer free prognosis in May. It returned with a vengeance and with complications to chemo she lost her battle last night.
Since graduation Katy had went on to so many things, she was a successful lawyer, lived life to the fullest- met her soul mate, attended rock concerts, traveled the world, all these amazing things and impacted so many people. then cancer. FUCK CANCER!!!! she has been on my mind quite a bit today, I have suffered quite a bit of loss this year and hearing her passing has bubbled and stirred more sadness and grief up again.
It's only happened a few times in my life (3 that I can remember) I hear 3 LOUD knocks in my dream. They wake me up, they vibrate so much that I truly believe that they were in the waking world (I get half way out of bed to answer the door and realize our door is wood not metal) and they echo in my body and ears for hours afterward. This is how I woke up this morning, echoing knocks - mostly what the dream books say is that a major SHIFT is coming.........
I believe all of this is some type of clarity to instant presence - first off, acceptance. I think I'm somewhere close to acceptance about my body. I had been seeing this all backwards, I don't have to give up hope and possibility in my life I like those parts of me too, what I found is seeking acceptance in my heart. my body, life, cancer, loss, uncertainties, all of it. we really cannot control or manage most of what comes our way. It's not bad to hope or believe in possibility, but I need to allow what these things are and not let them be bigger than they are. I also think I need to celebrate my birthday and my life as it is.
We all have stressors that rattle us, knock us off our moments of balance, or burden our lives. These are things we either want to change, pretend not to exist, or even wish away every so often.
Loss, Stress, jobs, bills, messy homes, the toxic people in our lives—they all from time to time “own” us, consume us, or drive us spiritually away from our true selves. Acceptance means that you do not let these things own you or your life. They exist. They will continue to exist.
It is our response to these stressors, not the stressors themselves that is within our control. Accepting life, including its burdens and hardships, helps us thrive despite these stressors. Instead of making these stressors bigger than they are, we simply need to recognize and accept them as part of the journey.
This is why humility and non-attachment are essential components to a sound yoga practice and a good life. We cannot let the the sad moments or the "too" great of moments “own” us either by making them bigger than they are or living in the past at the expense of the present.
how this can show up in your yoga?
Practicing Aparigraha (non attachment or acceptance)
check out this article for more ideas and practices-
Mantra to practice: “I am at peace as I am”
Namaste dear ones!!!!
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine
& Spiritual Literacy - reading the sacred in Everyday Life by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
& Lifelong Yoga by Sage Rountree and Alexandra Desiato
Namaste dear ones! I hope you are looking forward to the upcoming year. I have to say many January's in the past have brought struggle, not that I imagine that I'm cursed, but it just seems to be a month in years past that has brought unexpected challenges so I often head into the new new year with a bit of trepidation.
This year however, I am looking forward to so many plans that I have dreamed up that I want to pursue for this year and I beleive that it will be a fantastic year. I look forward to sharing these plans with you when the time is right. laying down these plans has felt like building blocks. For any strong foundation you need a strong support. I imagine that you may have felt many ways about the yoga block as a prop this month if you practiced with me, below is a link to connect to some of the movements we did.
The work that we did with the block is about coordination, mobility, strength and creating a strong mind body connection. I hope you enjoy the video and some of the practices that you can do at home, if you have questions or an exciting discovery along the way, please comment below!
New Years marks a new beginning. New people to meet, new adventures to enjoy and new memories to create.
Here's wishing you the happiest New Year ever!
Yoga practice offers practical methods to shift our perception of the world and of ourselves, so we may become more effective in our everyday life.....
I have never considered myself good with the written word. I had learning challenges as a kid, which has influenced a resistance to writing for a long time. However, I have always had a love for reading and longed for a writing habit. so I decided and have kept a paper planner for my schedule this entire year. I honestly, don't think I have ever maintained a calendar this long. however, with my schedule and the randomness that sometimes happens in my schedule it is important to keep it all straight. I have learned that writing it down stays with me way longer than putting it into a digital calendar. If you are looking for a good planner, here is what I used: Native Bear planner it is filled with spaces to write to do's, intention for the week, things to get completed in the month ahead, and plenty of spaces for notes in between.
so I am going to continue this writing.
For this year I have been thinking about ways to use my newly developed writing habit to tie into some of my future plans. And I have also thought about this in the sense of plans versus dreams. I am by nature someone who is pretty good at planning things out. I like to plan get togethers with friends, my yoga classes, and my week ahead. However, I have never considered myself much of a dreamer. Planning takes grounded roots and a firm base in the practical that I have not often explored open ended possibilities in a realistic sense, rather that dreams are for the dreamers. Mind you I am drawn to those who dream, I am married to a wonderful dreamer I embrace and hold tender his talks of possibilities.
Somewhere in my life, I have wandered away from dreaming for myself. I'm not sure the planner/level-headed me ever thought beyond tangible steps before, but I believe that writing out steps for a dream may make a grander idea possible. In addition to continuing writing out my weeks for the coming year, I am also going to plan out some ideas that I have been thinking about for awhile. I have 4 ideas which I believe are dreams of a future me, and taking pen to paper for some of these ideas has led me to discover, 3 of them may connect and evolve together In a way I hadn't thought possible before (ummm sounds a bit dreamy to me). therefore in addition to my planner, I have come across this book which I hope will help in my path forward. a little bit of planning (grounded, rooted) and a bit dreamy.
RITUALS FOR LIVING DREAMBOOK + PLANNER
I believe with my yoga practice and the deep dive within, I will continue to explore and deepen my path, it truly does manifest into many other areas of my life
For 2019, I wish all of these things for you as well dear friends!
Yoga and the Dark Night of the Soul by Simon Haas
Looking forward to reading:
Rituals for Transformation by Briana and Dr. Peter Borten
I remember when my drivers test appointment was booked. My mother told me, don't tell anyone that you're going to take your test. I was puzzled by her request because I was so excited to be able to envision driving all alone, and she said well if you fail, no one will know either way. Although that may sound harsh about the prospects of my success as a newly minted driver, I believe I've approached many things in my life in this way, careful to share or express excitement around something that may not pan out. Well, let me just say that for the past couple years and the preparations of the past 6 months on my path to completing my advanced yoga teacher training, I had forgotten this advice. well partially that, and partially I was so joyful about my path, I'll talk about yoga and my passions within the practice to anyone who shows interest, and because of this excitement - overlooked the stakes of being approved in one more step towards certification.
My workshop date was set during a training weekend and all plans were in place to present. I also got to invite a few students to attend outside of the teacher training and invited my very close friends and students to attend. I was nervous, excited, and loved the process and challenge of preparing and putting together presentation materials (which included a button!), sequencing, adding in our advanced themeing elements and also just got a big joy out of telling people about my workshop. "What the Prop?" ways to incorporate yoga props into your practice.
I was feeling as ready as I was going to be for the night. Everything that I could possibly have done to be prepared I had done. It was the strangest day that held a half hour long blizzard in the middle of October which knocked many of the beautiful fall colors and leaves out of the season right at the time that I had to unload all of my props and materials for the presentation. No snow accumulated but it was enough to pause and think of how truly unpredictable mother nature can be. I set up the room, and then it was time to start. I was bit too nervous at first but eventually found my groove and taught my workshop. I received wonderful feedback. One of my attendees brought me flowers. It felt great to be teaching! I felt fantastic and that I really shared some new insights for everyone that evening, and since I was so nervous the few nights before I also got the best night sleep afterward.
The following week I presented again because a few friends who couldn't attend my initial workshop wanted to see what I shared. I was tired, I hadn't really caught my breathe from the previous weeks experience but I also enjoyed presenting it again.
Than on Halloween (Wednesday) we had our feedback session it was me and 3 of my peers who also presented phenomenal workshops that weekend, meeting to discuss our feedback and be reviewed by our mentor. I received much positive feedback about my workshop, but overall, I didn't quite make the mark for adding in all our advanced training elements. I think it's unfortunate sometimes how our human minds work, because despite all of the positive feedback - I came away from that meeting feeling a failure. (not in actuality mind you, but my mind and heart just went there). as many of you have or maybe you can imagine, have since asked how my presentation went, I'm so grateful for you and to have thought of me, because I'm still processing not meeting my mark of the event, It was been some very heartbroken sad days for me. I have very teary eyed had to explain my failure even though I haven't fully comprehended how to meet those marks in the future.
So how do you comeback from failure? Well after a couple of days of once again little sleep and lot of distress, I reached out to my mentor just to explain my interior experience of it all. I have maintained to be honest about not reaching the marks that I so dearly had wished to reach even if it means I will have a few tears explaining that in conversation. I have already decided what I want to offer in a new workshop down the road, and I have chosen to share this experience with you.
I've been reading Brene' Browns latest book and have been focusing on the rumblings with my own vulnerability. And if you are in need for a few ways to find your way through failure, here is what I have been working with:
1.Compassion: a fellow teacher of mine said you give so much compassion in your teaching - it's time to find some for yourself. what would be the compassionate thing for you? For me it will be taking a yoga class, and having coffee with a friend this week.
2. Connection :your square squad. One of my favorite tips in Brene's book is to write down my square squad. get a one inch by one inch piece of paper. it needs to be small because it forces you to edit, write down the names of people whose opinions of you matter. fold it and put it in your wallet. then take 10 minutes to reach out to those people - your square squad- and share a little gratitude. send a simple note or message their way.
3. Create: Crumble/Construct - I think we put so much attention on the need to say everything is fine and perfect. but to be honest a day and a half of sadness, crying and being with those emotions really allowed me to emerge from the internal crumble as opposed to carrying it with me for a long time. I than started to make my new plans for how to proceed- I started to think of new workshop ideas and I reached out to my mentor to just express my dismay over it all, it was so helpful to hear a different perspective on the outcome. It also has lead me to believe that this will make me a better human/and yoga teacher in the end. I just needed this process on the way to get there.
Thoughts on mindful moment images and a little tech help from a photographer:
I have been taking a lot more yoga pose "selfie's" these days, more on that in a bit.
With this development, I have realized that there is about 2 decades of my life that barley have any photographic evidence with me in it. Wedding photos exist during this time and an occasional image of me in the furthest background of family holiday pictures and some office gathering photos too.
From a very young age, I always enjoyed taking photos - of family, friends, animals, nature and things that were new to my eyes. But I have shied away from being in front of the camera as long as I can remember. I even based a profession on being behind the scenes.
Enter Yoga in my life and further self study, I imagine for me part of it was worthiness part of it was/ is being more introverted but most of it lied in not wanting to see my image. I don't consider myself a conventional beauty and didn't imagine others would want to see all the flaws that I noticed. However these days I realize putting images of myself out there is exactly what others need to see. Maybe to feel alive themselves or possibly to inspire adding in a yoga practice or some passion into their own life or to even just challenge a perception out there that more of the American population looks like I do than what magazine advertisements do. I also do know and appreciate that sometimes what I "feel" a pose looks like isn't the same image in my mind's eye so it's sometimes a surprise to see what inner openness, space and expansion shows up as in a picture.
I have read about and sometimes felt taking and posting tons of selfie's could be narcissistic, or even some articles have pointed out there is a mental disorder with selfie addiction. Closer to my perspective and an inspiring blog post about Yoga Pose Photography posted by one of my inspirations is here:
So carefully, I have been thinking about this process myself. And have given an intention to this activity. When I take a photo I don't want to remove the mindfulness from my practice, yes I am aware of the camera, but I also am aware of my breath and my inner landscape. I take images to show what poses that you may be used to seeing in a much smaller body, looks like in a larger body. Both are amazing and brilliant. I also take these mindful moment images to invite in further practice time in my life.
And so I invite you that even if you don't share them,(although I think you should) to try out taking some yoga pose pics. if you do share, please #mindfulmomentimages
Here are my professional photography tips to taking mindful moment images with your cell phone.
1st - Be safe and respectful to yourself and your surroundings. A memorial monument might not be not be the most appropriate place to express your pose. Same with busy streets and unfamiliar surroundings. Do poses that you regularly practice and that you have warmed up your body enough to not injure yourself.
2nd - Simple and natural spaces work best for the background. Find places that you don't need permission (most public spaces) or that you have permission to take an image in. Yoga studios are wonderful, but make sure you have approval by desk staff, the teacher or the studio owner and that you are not disruptive to others. (don't turn on lights or make noise moving things around if others are in earshot), and certainly not during a class. Nature photos are a fun way to get in a walk and find perfect natural areas to practice and take pics.
3rd- The phone should not be a distraction- find a way to prop up your phone and take the image hands free. a few ways to do this: if you are in a studio, multiple yoga blocks can add the right height/ angle for your shot. If in other places, maybe a friend might be willing to take the image or see what is around you to prop up or rest your phone on- you can get rather creative here. If you are considering investing a little in some equipment here are my suggestions: a Cell phone mount and tripod or mini-tripod, a blu-tooth remote, and clip on lens. If you use android there is a voice activation option on the in camera phone and you won't need to purchase a remote.
4th- Maybe not so Insta-I think it's ok if you don't post your photo on social media immediately. Discover and notice your thoughts about the image first- if what comes up for you is judgments find as many non-judgmental things to also say to yourself- even if it feels awkward at first- make it as much a part of the experience it will start to feel more fluid after a few times.
5th- Post and share your image with love and kindness- to others but mostly to yourself.
---------please share your experiences and tips in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you.
sending you love-
I'm Valerie, Yoga Teacher and following my Sankalpa!