During a yoga session this past Sunday, I taught a client that I have been teaching for about a year now. He expressed to me that he recently experienced the most effective at home yoga practice that he has ever had. He expressed that before this practice he was feeling imbalanced, insecure and anxious but after his practice he felt released, grounded and in a more relaxed state of mind than he ever had before after a usual at home practice. I questioned him as to why he believed this practice was more effective for him than other practices. He expressed that he allowed himself to freely flow through his practice without overthinking if he was doing poses or stretches “right” or “wrong” or creating any type of expectation or judgment on himself.
After hearing this, it was definitely a proud moment for me. Over the past year, as his teacher I have encouraged him to see yoga through this perception and to hear that he has reached it on his own put a smile on my face. I realize that this is a common thought when completing yoga (the fear of if you are practicing a pose “right”, “wrong”, “good” or bad”). It is also common that the ego likes to trick us into believing we are not good enough by allowing us to create comparison between the way you complete a pose and the way that someone else may complete a pose.
I was inspired to create this post as a reminder for the next time that you step on your yoga mat. Allow yourself to observe these thoughts and begin to leave the judgment behind so you can simply let go. The attitude that you bring to the mat will shape your poses. Rather than giving power to the pose to change you, focus on the power that you have yourself to change the pose. In yoga as well as in our everyday lives, our outcomes root from the attitudes that we carry. For instance, when I allow myself to go into my practice with an open mind and a positive attitude, I can tell the difference amongst my flow, poses, and my overall practice as a whole.
Take joy onto your mat or into your life and watch what happens.
When practicing yoga, it is not about becoming more flexible but rather becoming softer in each pose and as we go through our daily lives. When we become softer, we release our need to understand everything around us and go more with the flow of life.
For instance, there is many things we may not be able to understand. We may question: “what is the universe?”, “why is the universe?” Or “where is the universe?”. Even the wisest people cannot answer these questions. Although, we can choose to soften and allow ourselves to open our hearts to the universe and welcome it, even though our understanding is incomplete.
With this scenario, or any scenario, we can accept that we may be uncertain or have an incomplete understanding of something, but can choose to soften, accept and open our hearts to it anyways.
When you finish reading these words, take in this moment through your senses: sensations, sounds and thoughts. Soften to your life as you experience it in this moment, even if you have incomplete understanding.
The passage below is from the book “Come on, Inner Peace” by Sachin Garg. This book was given to me by a man who was working in a little store located in the markets of Jew Town in Kerala, India. I am grateful that I was given this book because it opened my eyes to a heart warming story filled with various strong messages about inner peace. I loved this passage from the book and so I figured that I would share it!
From the chapter “The wind beneath my wings” on pg. 226-
“We are nothing but the mistakes we make. And everybody makes mistakes. That’s what makes us human. It’s important to forgive yourself for those mistakes and accept yourself with them instead of ruing yourself over it forever. We have a tendency to relapse into the mistakes we’ve once made, because we feel we have been there once, we could do it again. But that is where your inner strength, friends, family, passions, books, and love will play a role. Distract yourself to positivity and let life surprise you with its rewards.”
I have decided to write on the concept of intention because I have realized that it is exceptionally important in one’s life. For the past year, I have made a point to set intentions for my day, week or month. I enjoy setting intentions during my yoga practice or writing them down on my commute to work. This allows me to start my day with positivity and motivation towards a goal. It is also beneficial to revisit these intentions whenever I feel the need to throughout my day or week. I enjoy writing intentions down so I can stay mindful of them because it is easy to become lazy or busy with other things that you push your intentions to the side.
Along with setting intentions, I have also become mindful of the intentions that we have behind the way that we act, speak or treat others. We may not realize at the time what it is but I believe that there is usually an intention behind everything. It is helpful to become mindful of our intentions and understand why we act or think a certain way. I have recently made a point to check in with my intentions of my actions, what I say and how I act. For instance, when it comes to practicing yoga in the morning, my intention is to start my day off with yoga because I find it therapeutic and joyful. If my intention behind this was because I felt that I “should” practice yoga and if I don’t I am a failure, then I would look at this from a whole new perspective. I realize that it is so important to take the time to check in with our intentions behind our actions to become more mindful of if they are coming from a positive place.
Allow yourself to take the time to set intentions and become mindful of your intentions throughout your day. This may lead you to question yourself but it will help you to develop awareness and lead you towards more positive intentions.
What intention can you set for today?
The past two weeks I have had the opportunity to work with a wise and extraordinary man at the hospital who happens to be 100 years old! I would have never guessed it until he told me and when he told me I could have sworn he was kidding. We have had great conversation, BINGO games, created abstract art and reminisced on past experiences together. Today is his last day in the rehabilitation unit and I decided to ask him what he believes his trick was to his health and happiness at the age of 100 years. Aside from pringles and wine, he answered by telling me that he truly believes that it is because he has always been extremely easy going and kept a positive attitude throughout his life. He expressed to me that he was never one to stress over much and usually just went with the flow of life. He expressed that stress is only going to make us unhealthy, weary and unhappy. I am a firm believer in the power of positivity but by working with this man I have witnessed it with my own eyes. Safe to say, I’m inspired.
“I am enough. I have enough. I do enough.”
This morning I revisited how incredible it feels to do absolutely nothing (might sound crazy but for me, so true!). I absolutely love finding a comfortable place to lay down and simply do nothing at all. I take this time to notice thoughts, feelings, and how my body is feeling physically. This enables me to become fully present and realize that I am “enough” in that very moment. It allows me to realize that I do not need to hustle for my worth or need someone else with me to fulfil a feeling of wholeness or worthiness. This is coming from someone who is extremely fast paced so I feel that it is exceptionally important for me to incorporate this into my schedule daily or weekly. I share this because once I learned to integrate this into my lifestyle, it has opened my eyes to an entirely new perspective. It is easy to feel that we are not “enough” without doing something or being with someone else.
Allow yourself to take 5, 10, 15 minutes out of your day and do nothing. YOU are enough.
“Comparison kills creativity and joy” -quote from the book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown
From experience, I can say that the quote above is most always a true statement. For instance, I consider my yoga practice as my happy place, my safe haven, my therapy, my meditation and my exercise. However, when I have my focus on someone else’s yoga practice, all of this is taken away from me. I begin to create comparison or competition. When I focus on someone else’s yoga practice it definitely does eliminate the joy of my own.
Along with yoga, this can apply to any situation in life when creating comparison between individuals. I have recently become aware of how important it is to spend time focusing on our own lives in order to become the best version of ourselves. This requires releasing the need to allow ourselves to feel “less than” by comparing ourselves to others. I continue to remind myself, what works for someone else, does not mean that it works for you.
Next time you catch yourself creating a comparison between you and someone else, turn that comparison into happiness for that person and focus your attention back to your own life. We can choose and create our own happiness so why choose the hard route?
Throughout the past couple of months, I have been exploring the deeper meaning and benefits of gratitude. My inspiration to do so began while working in the rehabilitation unit of the hospital. Additionally, my thoughts expanded while reading the article; “How Gratitude Leads to a Happier Life” by Melanie Greenburg from the website “Psychology Today” (go check it out!). My eyes have been opened and I am much more aware of what it means to become more mindful of gratitude and how it can lead to a happier and healthier life.
To incorporate more gratitude into my lifestyle, I keep a gratitude journal to write at least one thing that I am grateful for each day. My favorite time to do this is on my commute home from work every day. Even if it is something as simple as a smile received from a patient, or that first sip of my Starbucks iced coffee that morning, it truly does make me feel better than I did before. This is not something I feel I “have” to do or “should” do, I do it because I simply WANT TO. There is so much to be grateful for on this planet and in this life but sometimes I am guilty of not slowing down to become mindful of it.
I decided to incorporate the concept of gratitude into the therapeutic yoga group that I lead at the hospital. I felt that this would be extremely helpful when guiding those with mental illness disorders. I truly believe that we can always replace anxiety with gratitude. I begin each session by asking each person to introduce themselves and name one thing that they are grateful for. This starts the group out with positive vibes. If there is someone who feels they are not grateful for anything that day, I continue to remind them that we can always be grateful for our breath because it is always available to us.
Another instance I found necessary to incorporate the concept of gratitude was at a family dinner during my trip home for the Fourth of July. Once we all had finished eating I asked my family to go around the table and say one thing that we are grateful for. One thing most definitely turned into about ten but it was very effective and heart-warming. We decided that we would like to start doing this at every dinner!
From observation in both experiences, there was a greater sense of energy. The mood immediately became more positive than it had been prior. This also created greater connection amongst one another. I am confident that a lifestyle focused more on gratitude leads to greater energy amongst oneself. I intend to continue to cultivate gratitude into my life as well assisting others to incorporate it into their lives.
How can you cultivate gratitude into your life…?!
This past Friday was not like any ordinary Friday evening at work. My eyes were opened to various life threatening stories from a few of the patients in the rehabilitation unit. I decided to facilitate a group focused on uplifting and inspiring the patients as well as allowing them to create connectedness amongst one another. The group began with patients sharing a brief story of what their lives have consisted of “in a nutshell” and what has brought them to the rehabilitation unit today.
I was amazed at the stories told and how much I did not know about these patients. I began to feel selfish… but at the same time extremely lucky. I felt as if the problems in my life were so small compared to other circumstances I could be in. However, I felt lucky to be able to hear these stories to become aware at such a young age of how challenging life can get. From hearing a story of how one man has lost his leg, to a story of how one woman has raised a family all while facing cancer at the same time, I was inspired. Not only by these stories, but by how these patients were still able to carry the faith that they do and work with what life has given to them. Once again, my patients are inspiring me even at my own inspiration group.
From this experience, I realize that there is truly a story behind everything and everyone. I realize the importance of keeping an open mind and practicing acceptance of others.
A daily reminder to be mindful before making a judgment, we all have a story and are simply doing the best that we can right now.