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.
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.
“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?
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.
I have recently started reading the book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown (I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, it has been exceptionally inspiring). Throughout the book so far, the author has opened my eyes to a valuable lesson- the importance of choosing courage over comfort. She states that “vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage”. I have kept this line in the back of my head ever since I read it.
This book has assisted me to understand how important it is to allow ourselves to feel our way through difficult times that we come across rather than trying to fight them (referring to the times that we feel we have hit rock bottom). We can honor our own struggle as a replacement for dawning on the moment. Instead of escaping the uncomfortable feelings, we can allow ourselves to feel the emotions as they arise. I am mindful that it is common and much easier to choose the comfortable road rather than pushing through the difficult, not so comfortable road. I am most definitely guilty at times of choosing the path I feel more comfortable with to avoid the discomfort of the more challenging path. Although, as I grow, I continue to realize choosing courage is more effective and creates less suffering in the long run.
I found myself thinking back on this concept in my Friday morning yoga class while in triangle pose. As we were flowing from peaceful warrior to triangle pose, I began to think of how uncomfortable this pose always makes me feel. I am usually counting down the seconds until I can finally get my body out of this awkward state and we can finally flow our way back into Warrior 2. As I started to rise my arm up and come into the pose, I related this situation to my life. When something becomes too uncomfortable, it is easy to avoid it, dawn on it or become impatient until it is over. As I held triangle pose, as it was extremely uncomfortable for me, I recognized that am also very capable of it (and I will admit this is one of my strongest poses). I began to allow myself to open up to this pose and feel it as is.
I realize that we come across difficult times each day and are left with uncomfortable emotions or feelings that we do not want to sit with. Although, I realize that each and every one of us are very capable in allowing ourselves to feel our way through difficult times. When we experience difficulty, we can either choose comfort or courage.
Today, choose courage.
“Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.” -Brene Brown
I have just finished the chapter “Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging, and Being Enough” in the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. In this chapter, she talks about the concept of love as an action rather than a feeling. This steered me to view the concept of love from a different perspective. I realize how often we tend to throw around the word love but do not always remember to practice it. She talks about the difference between professing love and practicing love. This sparked my awareness that love is something that we practice, words are simply not enough. I realize that it is more important how we act towards ourselves or others we love on a daily basis.
We may love ourselves or another person, but do we practice it every day? From experience, I am aware that it is extremely easy to become lazy with the ones that we love and most importantly ourselves. I am aware that if we allow ourselves to become lazy, it can easily effect other aspects of our lives. This chapter has drawn me realize that it is a priority to cultivate self-love and self-acceptance. If we practice self-love or self-acceptance on a daily basis, it is also easier for us to practice love with others.
Are you professing love or practicing love?
Usually the first thing I do when I get on the train is put my headphones in and open up my book. Today, I stopped to take a moment to glimpse at my surroundings. Observing the person sitting across from me, the person across the aisle, eventually making my way to all of the people in my line of sight that were in the same section of the train. I began to deepen my thoughts, questioning what they did before arriving on the train, where they were going, what their career was or what their life was like. I admit, I was most definitely overthinking. However, this steered me to notice that I had no awareness of what any of these people’s lives consisted of. Yet, I did realize we all had one thing in common this morning. We all made it onto the train and were on the same commute at 7:30AM from Grand Central Station. From this, we can create a sense of connectedness amongst one another.
I also referred to this concept when I ran the NYRR women’s 10K this past Saturday. Before we took off for the race, I began to think about how I did not know the other women in this race, but we were all running the same race, for the same cause, and for the same experience. I felt that we didn’t have to know each other to feel a certain sense of connectedness amongst one another. During the race, I focused on the idea of women running together, not against one another. As for this race, along with life, instead of seeing each other as competition, I realize that we can see each person as motivation or support.
These are just two simple examples that infer how often we come across the concept of connectedness with others, and we may not take the time to realize it. We can never tell what one is experiencing, but there is a high chance that someone you come across today is having the same experience as you, or has had the same experience once before. When we look at the world in this perspective, we can feel further support and a sense of comfort. I am currently working towards cultivating the courage to be imperfect and allow myself to be vulnerable. If you’re anything like me, this does not come easily. Although when we notice the concept of connectedness, we can allow ourselves to realize we are not alone, we are not perfect and we are all merely only human.
As for today & every day, practice compassion and cultivate connectedness with the individuals around you.