Breakthroughs, Realizations & Enlightenment

Last week was filled with breakthroughs and realizations, enlightenment, and release of guilt. Breakthroughs and realizations included things like understanding the true value of meditation and letting my mind rest enough to be able to really see myself from the outside in. Enlightenment and release of guilt through understanding different types of vibrations and how they work with each other or against, in relation to one another and how they can deflect the out comes that you want.

Last week I also wrote the third letter to my past self. I have written and gave my 12 year old self one, I wrote a letter to my 16 year old self, and a letter to my 23 year old self giving myself permission to let go of thoughts and fears that I had been harboring, holding on to and allowing to manifest itself in my choice to “find” and prove myself right in regards to the things I want most, but thought I could not get. ( I hope that this makes sense)

Having done this and taking time to reframe and redirect my thought patterns to see my successes and my wins, I began to understand how I literally was sabotaging myself in my quest to justify in my rational mind all the things that I allowed my ego to seek out. By telling my ego mind to take a back seat and be quiet, I have been able to find and manifest what I actually want. One of those being peace of mind in my ability to be a value, not so much by others, but by myself. I have been able to lighten my load so to speak, because I have come to understand my own value. That what I have to share and teach is of value because I am passionate about it and I love what I do, not because I am like one of my teachers but because I am me.

The second half of last week, I have literally manifested, ideal clients, who have said things to me like….” You are the answer to my prayers” …. ” this is EXACTLY what I have been looking for… ” WOW, this is perfect” and more. This brought tears to my eyes, and I am not one to let the water works flow easily, but it truly struck a cord. I was finally allowing myself to just share my passion and not get caught up in the, “what if…I’m not good enough, not like my teachers, no one wants what I have to offer, etc.”

I read something this morning that I want to share with you and that hit home and made solid my resolution to continue on this path of enlightenment.

” Your highest function is simply to be the person you are capable of being, and form that effort – the development of your kindness and positivity, your vulnerability and your availability to life – your calling will emerge.” Marianne Williamson. – The Law of Divine Compensation.

I hope that you all have a wonderful week. Namaste- Jules.

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Why I Am Not Making A New Years Resolution and How Yoga Taught Me Not To.

It’s something that everyone talks about every year at this time yet, very few people seem to be able to follow through. I would see it all the time when I worked in the gym, the floor and the classes would be flooded with people, newbies and those who had set intentions before. Working hard and coming daily, then mid February, like all the February’s before it, the gym would be back to how it was before January 1st.

I too used to make resolutions, whether it was to get into better shape, or to be more consistent with crocheting, or read more or watch less TV. While all of those are admirable, just like a little kid at Christmas who has opened all their toys on Christmas morning with excitement and glee, who then stands there, completely overwhelmed and not too sure what to do next. Then like last years toys end up in the toy box with the rest of the “MUST HAVE” items of the year. Same goes with resolutions, we get all hyped up and excited just to realize that it’s just one more thing to add to the ” To Do List” and we gradually go back to our old ways.

Well not for me. For the last 4 years or so I have not set an intention, and not only do I accomplish more, but I have been able to do so in a way that feels properly aligned, like when you feel like you have found your expression of Triangle pose. Everything feels exactly as it should be grounded, expansive, light, and open. This is exactly how I have been feeling since I let go of the idea of setting resolutions.

Four years ago, I started my yoga teacher training journey, and through that journey, I found patterns that worked for me and patterns that were not serving me. One of those patterns not serving me being New Years Resolutions. For years I would make resolutions and the outcome was always the same. I’d fall flat on my face, not literally, but figuratively speaking, I would not achieve the stated goal and I could not really understand why.

Yoga means yoke, or union. The teachings of yoga are to listen to your body, love yourself, and expand and grow in a way that enhanced your life.  When I would set new years resolutions, I would not set them with the intention of creating a union with the rest of who I was. Instead I was usually looking outside of myself to do something that did not necessarily make me happy, even though, I thought that it would. One year, I set a new years resolution that I wanted to make sure that I had a spot on my tennis team line up.

As a Freshman, I was on the team, but I was not in the line up. My resolution that year was to work on getting a spot in the line up for sophomore year. I hit the gym hard, I played as much as I could, joining tennis groups, playing all summer long. I was very particular about what I ate, and I did every workout that was given to us to do over the summer. I wanted to make sure that I left no stone unturned in my quest to achieve my goal.  When I went back to school that fall, I was excited, to see friends, and play tennis. Long story short, I was in the line up. I played to help win points for the team, I accomplished my goal. I also hated myself. I was miserable, it was hard to maintain the lifestyle that I set up for myself because it was very strict and very isolating.  So while I succeeded in attaining my resolution, I also developed an extreme sense of angst and agitation.

Another year I set an intention to read books. I mean I wanted to read books for fun, not just because it was required text. All my friends were telling me about great books that they had been reading. They were like you really need to read this because you will really enjoy it. That Dec. 31 I made it my new years resolution to read books for fun not just text books. I will just end it here by saying it was a total fail. Why? Because it was unrealistic. At the time I was going to school and working and picking up a fun book just to relax with was not in the cards for me. Could I have made time, sure, but that anatomy and physiology exam was staring me in the face and reading something other than notes and textbooks seemed daunting. Yet again, the following Dec 31 here I was and not a book outside of school had been read. Yet, here I was about to set another new years resolution. I was going to spend that next year, anxious, nervous, angry, frustrated and creating another recording of negative self talk that ultimately would seep into every aspect of my life.

Fast forward to 2013. I had this itch to dive deeper into yoga. We spent a lot of time not just on the physical asana portion of the practice but also the theoretical side as well. It was during this time that I came to understand that true meaning of yoga and how that meaning was not resonating with how I was living my life. During this journey to become a teacher, like the opening of a can of worms, all my thoughts and beliefs came sprawling out on my mat, and every single one of them was being challenged. I agreed with the teachings and I felt aligned with how it worked, but, when it came to putting it to everyday use, I was hit with conflict.

The best way I can describe it, is that I had allowed myself to live with this idea that everything had to be difficult for so long, that I thought that was the way. It was like the first time I went to see a chiropractor. I didn’t think I needed a chiropractor so I never went to one. Then, I met this woman who I became friends with, who was a chiropractor, and was curious about what this was all about. She told me to make an appointment and come in. So I did. I walked in feeling fine, “normal” so to speak. When I walked out I felt amazing, I felt aligned, light, and I moved so much better. Same held true when my yoga teacher pointed out my way of thinking. She called me out on it and started asking me questions. It was then that I realized that the conflict I was feeling was because my thought process was out of alignment with what I wanted to believe.  She was like a chiropractor for my brain and when I allowed myself to start looking at my thought process, a lightness and an openness similar to my physical alignment began to start.

December 2013- into Jan 2014 was the first year I did not make a new years resolution. I had one more month of yoga teacher training and after almost a year of challenging my current beliefs and getting into alignment with what I truly believed that made me actually happy, I knew this was one “tradition” that had to go. So when it was my turn to answer the question “what is your new years resolution?” My reply then, and it is now, I do not have one. From now on if there is something that I want, I am going to set realistic goals with a start date and an end date. I am not going to be ambiguous rather, I am going to be intentional and specific. Since then, my level of anxiety has decreased. I am happier because I know I am not chasing some half-baked idea or chasing something that in the long run, is too hard to maintain in a way that is in alignment with me.

Now, every time I step into a yoga practice, I set an intention to open my eyes to areas of my life and business that are not serving me in the best way possible. In this way, I can spill the struggles I am having and the conflict that is rumbling onto my mat and sort out what feels right and in union with my beliefs and what is not.  I am grateful every day for my yoga practice and my decision to let go of new years resolutions.

 

 

 

 

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Oh I Don’t Know…I Tried Yoga Before…and I Got Hurt. “Ahhhhhrg”

Like everything in this world, you can have an amazing experience or you can have a horrible experience and either way it will leave a lasting impression on you and help you make decisions when similar circumstances come up. Unfortunately in the latter part, having a bad experience or working with someone who does not know what they are doing, could leave you hesitant to try again.

Just as in the world of personal trainers there are hacks out there that get a low-grade certification and have no experience and put a shingle on their door that says personal trainer, the same unfortunately holds true for the sacred practice of yoga. Fortunately for yoga, in order to actually teach you have to go through a 200 hr teacher training so there is some hope that hacks are a little harder to come by, but then again, it is part of the fitness industry and there are trainers who think because they know what downward facing dog is, it qualifies them to offer yoga to their clients.

Fortunately, these people do not get jobs in reputable studios but that does not stop them from duping you into believing, because they speak with a soft voice and say take deep breaths and do downward facing dog, that they are “professional.” The reason that I am writing this today is because I have heard over the last few months from people who want to try yoga again or who want to try yoga in general have either themselves been hurt or a friend or family member has been hurt either by taking a yoga class at a local studio or gym or tried yoga with a personal trainer who was not professionally trained with a 200 hr certification, but, knew a few of the “moves.”

Which, if a trainer says they are going to teach you yoga moves, then you might right there hesitate to try it. Yoga postures and asanas are not just “moves,” they are a purposefully guided practice done with intention and for a reason. The fact that the people I talk with either have been hurt or know someone who has been hurt sets off red lights and I begin to probe a bit further into what actually happened.

Usually it was one of three things.

1. The class they went to was packed full, they were brand new to the practice. Because of this it seems the teacher was not able to physically get around to personally give attention.

2. The new student walked into a studio or gym and talked to the person at the front desk who thinks all yoga is the same, and says, “oh yeah try this one it starts in 10 minutes.” Without knowing anything about the person who wants to join.

3. My personal favorite, my personal trainer told me to do these “stretches” because he/she did them in a yoga class and thought they would be good for me because they were challenging. (YIKES!)

As a yoga teacher and personal trainer all three of these bother me on MANY levels. The first scenario is a little harder to avoid. With yoga being a popular activity to do, many classes tend to be large and packed. Yoga studios are a bit better at keeping numbers small, but even this can be hard to do all the time.  I personally love teaching big classes and going to big classes but at the same time, I keep my eyes peeled and make sure that I walk around the room to make myself accessible if necessary. It’s important that the instructor keep the practice about their students and not about them.  It is easier to get hurt in a big class because it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, you may not be able to see the instructor or hear the instructor give cues.

Maybe the instructor is subbing and is not used to large crowds and does not actively move about the room, giving you less access to the instructor to give you attention.

The second one is a little more irritating because getting hurt could have been more avoidable.  This is especially true at small studios. It is the job of the studio is to inform their staff of the classes that are offered and who would be ideal for each class. It is the job of the staff member if they are not yoga savvy to grab an instructor or owner if they are unsure about a potential member going to a specific class. For example, I had the opportunity to meet a few people who wanted to give yoga another try but were hesitant because they personally had bad experiences. Upon further investigation I found out that it was lack of information that caused them to injure themselves.  One woman in particular had severely injured her lower back because she had arrived late to the gentle yoga class that she wanted to try. Being her first time,  when she got to the studio she found it was full and already started. She asked the staff member at the desk when the next class would be.  The staff member told her that there were no more gentle classes scheduled for the evening, but that she could attend the next class and she would probably be just fine.  The woman insisted, “are you sure I will be OK? I have never done yoga before and would like to start easy.” The staff member assured her that she would be fine and to just try it. So thinking that the staff had her best interests in mind, she set up her mat.

The class began to fill and fill, until there was no space left. The door closed and class began, what she found was that no one in the class was beginner, she was in the back of the room and it was a heated fast paced power vinyasa. Not knowing any better, she tried to keep up with the others in the class and afraid to get behind, pushed herself too far and got hurt. Now I know what you are thinking, “well, when she saw that it was not for her she should have left, or she should have asked for help.” But before we are quick to judge this woman, put yourself in her shoes. When was the last time you were insecure about something and stuck it out because you were nervous to look silly or get embarrassed? Ok, now that we are all on the same empathetic page, you can see why I would be frustrated by this situation. First of all it gives a bad impression of the studio because their employees don’t know what is happening and how to properly guide clients.

Second as a teacher it shows negligence of paying attention to her students. If a student is struggling, it is the instructors JOB to make sure they offer modifications, or gently go over to the struggling student and give them the OK to bow out or rest in child’s pose or another gentle pose.

As teachers we know who our regulars are even in a big class, we have a general idea of who is in attendance. If there is a new face its imperative that we as teachers acknowledge the newbies just as we chat and talk with the regulars. This could have been avoided with a simple introduction of I see some new faces this is a such and such class please feel free to rest if you need to or if you feel uncomfortable know its OK to try a different class another time.

The third scenario annoys me three ways to Sunday. Not only because it is irresponsible but because it is extremely unethical. The personal trainer who uses yoga without properly understanding the rational for having a client do it other than it was cool or challenging is not acting in the best interest of the client. This not only annoys me as an instructor of yoga but it also annoys me as a personal trainer.

Yoga is not just another activity to spring onto your clients without understanding the principles of yoga. Each pose in and of it self is work of art that requires dynamic muscular actions and immense concentration. Proper alignment and understanding of why a pose is being chosen for a person can dramatically change the way the body responds to the pose. Just doing a pose for the sake of the pose is diminishing the value of the practice and puts the client at a risk of being injured. The potential injury to the client is where I find using yoga just because it is new or different or the “cool” thing to do, unethical on the part of the trainer. As a personal trainer our job is to make sure that we lead our clients through a safe, purposeful workout, with our clients best interests being at the forefront.

As a yoga teacher, because of the lack of education, ignorance, and negligence all for the sake of a dollar, makes it very difficult to explain to someone who has had a bad experience that not all yoga is the same. I honor this challenge because it shows potential clients/students that I care about their well-being. It is frustrating, I must admit, when I am constantly having to apologize for others lack of responsibility. However,  I also welcome it as a chance to show people I am different and I am here to provide the students a class that meets their needs at all levels of their practice. My hope in writing this piece is to reach out to anyone who has had a bad experience and let me show them that the power of yoga is actually meant to be beneficial and preventative. My hope is that if you are reading this, you give yoga another chance.  If you do here are a few suggestions that I would make to minimize another bad experience.

Call the studio ahead of time or gym and ask to speak directly to the instructor or leave a message for the instructor to call you. If you are new to yoga; look for classes that say gentle, beginner, not heated.</b></li><li><b>Go in to class with an open mind and know that child’s pose is ALWAYS an option.This kinda goes with #1 I highly recommend NOT talking to the front desk person about yoga class  suggestions. Unless they say, “I teach that class” my personal opinion is  to set up a time with the instructor before going to class to get a synopsis of the class level, demographic, and intensity. I hope this helps you in your attempt to either give yoga a try for the first time or give it another try after a rough experience! When in the right setting yoga can and will be an amazing practice to add to your life!<Namaste!

Jules

Yoga

Why I Love Yoga During the Holidays

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can really leave us drained and needing energy. The thought of getting exercise in seems impossible with the endless things we need to get done on a daily basis.The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can really leave us drained and needing energy. The thought of getting exercise in seems impossible with the endless things we need to get done on a daily basis.

What I love about yoga, is that it leaves you feeling like you can take on the day. Just 3-5 yoga poses can completely shift our thinking from a negative mindset to a positive one.

5 of my favorite poses to help bring me energy and leave me feeling ready to take on the day no matter what time it is are the following.

Cat and Cow

Downward Facing Dog

Warrior II

Reverse Warrior

Child’s Pose

What is it about each of these poses that possess the ability to lift our spirits?
Cat and cow helps to liberate the spine. Having flexibility in the spine helps to prevent back pain, it loosens the muscles of the back helping us to feel like we have space to move and feel free.

Downward Facing Dog is a nice way to get blood to the brain in a safe and effective way. Increasing blood flow to the brain increases our energy naturally. This pose also helps to elongate the hamstrings, the muscles in the back of the legs which helps to stave off low back pain and it lengthens the spine to help us feel taller and more confident.Warrior II: </strong>What’s not to love about warrior II?  It is expansive, strong and expressive.

Warrior II is grounding giving us a sense of stability and it fosters our inner strength.

Reverse Warrior: This pose is awesome for helping you put things into perspective! Sometimes we feel like we are being pulled in a million different directions especially at the holidays. Reverse warrior helps us to come to peace with that feeling because it too pulls you in different directions while maintaining the same position at the same time. Physically you are maintaining most of the Warrior II position but the slight modification with the arm reaching up and over your head lengthening your side body. Energetically however, your are being pulled up and over, forward, back and in. If you can handle doing all of that you can handle anything!!

Child’s Pose: Besides stretching the lower back and hips, Child’s Pose is a very relaxing and self reflective pose. Our lower back and hips hold a lot of stress & tension. That stress and tension build up can cause us to feel chaotic and out of sorts. Child’s pose liberates the hips and lower back helping you feel less tense and stressed. It also is an introspective pose in that it allows you to look inward and close yourself off from things that can cause you to be over stimulated over the holidays.

Give these 5 poses a try and see if when you are done, you feel ready to handle the holiday season with grace and energy.

Namaste!
Jules

Yoga

Your Opportunity to Grow & Achieve (YOGA)

Have you ever had one of those days where every time you tried a challenging yoga pose you seem to miss falling on your face by mere inches? It’s frustrating right? There are days when I just want to say forget it, its not worth the effort.

I have been working on arm balances lately, learning to distribute weight evenly has been one of those things that I seem to have the most trouble with. The funny thing about arm balances, and  yoga in general, is how much of how we deal with challenges on the mat can often mirror how we handle the challenges in life.

This is one of the reasons why I love my daily yoga practices. Each time I step onto the mat, I am presented with the opportunity to look at my patterns and take note as to whether or not they are serving me and my goals. It gives me a chance to ask myself, “how am I going to approach this?” What is making me hesitate, or feel unable to complete a pose or practice? At the moment with arm balances I know that I am not distributing my weight properly. I know that I have the strength to express the pose, I just am blocking the energy that is needed to allow myself to do it. That blockage of energy is fear. Fear of failing, fear of falling, fear of the results.

When I step on the mat, to practice, I begin with looking at my process. How do I set myself up, how do I move into the pose. I take note as to what works well and what does not. The goal is to find patterns that I keep repeating that are not serving my purpose. Just like in business. As I work on creating my empire, if I keep doing things that are hindering my business why would I want to continue doing them? Would you continue doing things that are not working for you? Do you keep doing the same thing and expect a different result? I have been able to take my time on the mat to see that while, my consistency and stick-to-itness is great, approaching it from an all or nothing attitude, is not helping me to balance properly.

What I mean by this is that, while I am staying the course and working hard to accomplish a goal, I am placing all my weight in one direction and not taking into account that the energy needs to be flowing evenly through out the entire pose not just all dumped in one area.  (All or nothing) While my determination to stick with it is honorable, I am not going to get to where I want with an attitude and actions that are not serving me.

Do you have areas in your life or business that you find yourself working your tail off but maybe not getting the results that you want? Do you ever take a moment to see if you are repeating patterns that are not serving you?

Today I encourage you to take a step back and take a moment on your yoga mat to observe how you approach challenges in your life and practice. Viewing yourself from an outsiders perspective will give you the opportunity to see what exactly you are doing and what might not be in your best interest to do. Be open during this process and set an intention for your practice that allows you to fully accept all that you find. When you go in with an open mind and heart you will be more likely to find and a way that might suit you better and also make you more attuned to what you are doing that might not be working so well for you. You can take this same approach to business and life as well. Yoga is such a great tool to help us become more observant. It’s present moment practice gives us a moment to be introspective and honest with ourselves.

Today as I step on to my yoga mat, I am going to set the intention of being open minded to new ways of exploring arm balances. I am going to give myself permission to fall. I will give myself the opportunity to observe how I act and see if those actions help or hinder and find a way to let go of actions that are not allowing me to find success.   I can only learn by doing and knowing how the mechanics all work together to create a master piece that is the art form of yoga poses!

Namaste!

Jules

Yoga

Is There Such Thing as Balance?

Today’s yoga practice led me through a series of balancing poses. I transitioned from one balancing pose to the next. Some of them with ease and the other not  so much, fumbling as I moved through them.

That is what I love about yoga. Like life, sometimes I feel graceful and ready to take on the world and other days I feel like I am constantly tripping over my own feet or stopping myself from doing what is going to push me forward.

When practicing this afternoon, I could feel the difference in how smoothly I made the same transitions from the right and the left. The right side was effortless, I was graceful and felt as ease moving from half moon to tree pose back to half moon pose. The left side was a completely different animal. I felt lopsided and off balance not to mention clumsy and doofy. It was entertaining to say the least, and as I bounced around the yoga mat like a pinball in an arcade game, I could not help but sometimes this feels an awful lot like business and life. One moment you are gracefully gliding through, things are going your way, things are running smoothly and the next, you are luck if you can keep a steady cup of coffee in your hand with out spilling it all over your nice white shirt or tripping over your own feet getting from point A to point B no further than 10 feet away.

When it happens I notice how I talk to myself, it is much more harsh and less reassuring than when I am moving with ease. I notice that when I am having a harder day or have more to juggle than other days that I tend to get a bit more flustered with myself and tend to not be so forgiving of myself when mistakes happen. As I work through my yoga journey, I have notice that I am very much a creature of habit. When the practice goes well, I am super pumped and left feeling invigorated. When it does not go as well as I would have liked, I finish feeling unsettled or unfulfilled. I found myself saying things like I could have done that better, or I am never going to be as good as so and so. I noticed this pattern in my every day too. When I begin something and it does not go as well as I would like, I find myself saying things like, well maybe I was not cut out for this or maybe this is just not my thing. I have to find that happy balance between being satisfied with what I am doing and the outcome whether it be perfect or not.

Interestingly, no matter how much trouble yoga poses give me, I have not given up. I have kept keeping up with my practices. No matter how challenging a pose is, I keep working at it. I am finally learning that I need to have that kind of patience with my business with my journey and adventures in life too. Just because it is causing me to fumble does not mean that I was not meant to do it, it just means that I have to give just a bit more of myself and dedication to getting it. For example I just recently released an e-book.

The first release I received ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH, response. I could not believe it I poured so much time and energy into it and I was so excited to have something that I thought was valuable and helpful. I shared it on facebook, Pintrest, Kindle direct publishing. You name it and I shared it. Feeling like a failure, rather than reworking it, asking for some feedback or evaluating what was up, I just took it down and let it collect dust for a while on my hard drive.  I chalked it up to it not being something that I was supposed to do.

I went about my business and the same theme kept creeping up in every conversation that I was having with people. How do I create a home yoga practice. What can I do to make practicing at home more comfortable? How do you get yourself on to your yoga mat at home? Just like that tugging feeling I get to keep trying and keep working on my balancing poses and transitions in yoga, I started to get that same feeling about the e-book I had written. So, with determination I pulled it back up and started working through it piece by piece. I added components that people were asking me about, and I took out parts that seem to be too much for people to do. I simplified it. I made it prettier, easier to read with bigger text and pictures. I realized that the first book was too starchy, too much like a text book. There was no real flow to it. There was nothing about that first book that made it stick out or say HEY I’M DIFFERENT COME READ ME!

Taking a step back after today’s yoga practice I realized that my journey to writing that e-book was a lot like the floppiness that I experienced on transitions on my non-dominant side. I realized that just because I almost fall over on one side, I do not put my mat and practice in the closet to collect dust, I keep it out and keep working on it, cutting out the garbage and focusing on the goal. That is exactly what I did with the e-book. I cut out the things that were unnecessary, condensed, tightened and honed in on my goal. The result clear, concise, and quality piece that people enjoyed reading and actually did get value out of.

I released it again, same outlets, new and improved version…it was a HIT. I received so much positive feed back from it was an easy read, to it was beautifully laid out to things like “you really made it feel like I could pull out my yoga mat right now and get started.” Is it perfect? No, but neither is my yoga practice and I am OK with that. It was value packed and it was something that people appreciated. What this says to me is that even if I am floppy or not graceful, that does not mean I am not successful or accomplished. I just have to look to my yoga practice to see that I am growing and a work in progress.  I know that if I keep practicing my yoga the balancing poses and transitions will get smoother on both sides and what was once challenging will no longer be a challenge and I will move on to other things that will present me with challenges. What I have learned is that I can and will endure the shaky moments and walk away better and stronger for having stuck it out.

My message to you is to keep on keeping on. You will find the balance that you are looking for. It will be your balance, not what someone else’s version of balance is. Your life is not like anyone else’s and neither is your yoga practice. We each have our own struggles and our own challenges to over come. There is no such thing as perfect balance just balance that works for us. You will persevere if you continue to be faithful on your journey to self growth and you will find success in all that you do with continued practice.  Remember your yoga practice is here to help you tune in to you and break free from limiting beliefs so that you can let your brilliance shine through! Namaste 🙂

Yoga

Do You Set An Intention For Your Yoga Practice?

Do you set an intention for your yoga practice? When you begin each practice do you take the time to think about what is on your mind and heart and look to see if what is there is serving you or your loved ones?

When setting an intention it can be as simple as ” I will follow through with the practice uninterrupted.” Or ” I will address negative thoughts with graciousness and forgiveness as I work through today’s practice.” Why do we set an intention? It gives our practice meaning and focus. It allows us to look inward to find the answers to the questions we might be having, whether they be tangible or not. Intentions remind us of why we come to the yoga mat in the first place.

At first it might be purely physical and about the asana (poses). For example, I want to work on sculpting lean arms, or strong legs or strong core. However as we grow with our practice and come to evolve as yoga practitioners we come to the mat for more internal gratification and answers to our abstract questions. For example, “Today’s practice I want to be loving and foster self acceptance.” How each of us does this is completely personal however, with an intention for our practice we learn to take what we do on the mat deeper and do our sessions with more meaning and an open mind and heart. This allows us to become more connected to ourselves, our environment and those around us.

Today, I set an intention to be more gracious to myself by being patient and forgiving. If I come across something that is challenging for me, I need to be mindful of my inner voice . Low and behold it was a good thing that I set that intention because later on I was asked for the first time in a few years to figure out body fat % math by hand. (Anyone who knows me knows that math is not my strong suit) Almost instantly I started with the negative self talk. ” How can I not remember how to do this?” This is basic math, this not supposed to be hard. How could I be so dumb?” Not exactly very forgiving and gracious in terms of self talk and being kinder to myself. Then, I took a step back and reminded myself that it had been a while since I had to do the math without help from a chart. I took a deep breath and thought, what if it was a friend that was saying these things to herself? Would I have spoken to her the way I was speaking to myself? No. I would have been coaching her that she would eventually remember, and that she was not dumb. Eventually, I did remembered, and it did come back. Probably because I settled myself down and took that step back. I was able to get it all out on paper. I also found that chart as well to compare answers. Which by the way, done by hand, were correct and correlated to what the chart came up with.

Had I not practiced my yoga with the specific intention of kindness and graciousness towards myself, I can almost guarantee that I would not have taken that step back. I would not have taken a deep breath to just absorb what was happening at that moment. I probably would not even been of the mindset to say whoa, self talk check. I would have most definitely kept rambling, not even been aware that I was being so mean and hard on myself.  I probably would not have been able to figure out how to find the answers that I was looking for. Fortunately that day’s practice put in my path challenging poses that I had to face with a kinder inner voice. It was not easy. It was not immediate, actually the first thing out of my mouth was , I am so weak, I am so bad at yoga. I had to be on and watching with vigilant eyes and ears to see what triggered those thoughts and hear the negativity in my voice and then use my concentration and the side of my brain that knew better to switch over and start releasing positive self thoughts. I am consistent. I am persistent. I am strong. I can, and I will!

I know that it is a journey, but one that I feel is very important for growing as a person, yoga teacher and yoga practitioner. The lessons learned today were invaluable to learning and creating a positive and more abundant lifestyle. I encourage you to do the same. When you find yourself generating negative energy towards yourself  or a situation that you are in, take a step back. It will take time as you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Each opportunity that is presented is a chance to become more introspective and think about how we choose to spend and spread our energy. Yoga gives us that opportunity every time we step on the mat by setting an intention. Every time you situate yourself for your yoga practice take a moment to reflect on your day, your week, your year, your life and be more aware of the subconscious thoughts that find ways of permeating into our day that might cause us to react negatively. Setting an intention helps us to focus and gives our practice purpose. It gives us a chance to learn to be more active rather than reactive. These planned and practiced opportunities give us a chance to make a choice to be more positive and see things in a more abundant light when we are off the mat and moving about our day to day life.

Namaste 🙂

Yoga

Be Open

On this journey we travel we learn to cope and deal with the stuff, good and bad and everything in between. I like to think that we are handed opportunities and how we handle them is all part of walking that journey.  When deciding on the yoga practice I wanted to set for myself, I thought about how I wanted to feel afterwards. Even though yoga sessions are not supposed to really make you feel one way or another as part of yoga is non attachment, I still wanted to finish my practice at peace and ready to take on my day. Sometimes I start out with one intention but something else creeps in and focusing my attention on working through that finishes it off. Again, the importance of non attachment and being able to be flexible and change direction if necessary.

While on my mat, I discovered a few traits that I know are both fantastic and yet can also be detrimental to my own growth. One of those traits that can be fantastic and yet detrimental is my stubbornness. While on one hand it shows that I am not afraid to tackle adversity and handle challenging situations without backing down and taking something to completion. It can be a hinderance to me when that stubbornness stops me from looking at an area of my life, business or something that needs to be addressed, thus stifling my growth and development.

Today’s yoga practice was very telling of my current situation. Situation not necessarily being a bad thing, but just my current state of how I do things and feel about things. Again not good or bad just status quo. However what popped up made me realize that maybe I need to re-evaluate how I approach my personal self talk. (You will find this a major theme in my writing right now as it is part of my journey and ability to crack the stubborn streak that keeps me from growing and learning.)

I love back bends. I love wheel pose. I really love that it just gives you that feeling of accomplishment and opens your heart to so many opportunities. Wheel pose is something that I loved to add to my practice as a peak pose to lengthen & strengthen, expand and open up.  As of late, I had not been adding them to my practice, I was focusing my attention else where and had let the practice of working that pose go to the way side. I also had been spending more time in the car and in front of the computer, two activities that I know close off the front body and make the chest and hip flexors extremely tight. It also over stretches the back muscles causing weakness in the back body. Despite my efforts to maintain a well-balanced yoga practice, the driving and computer time trumped the amount of time I spent on the yoga mat. As a result my back bending suffered a bit.

At the same time I was working with a client on being open and learning to trust herself and expand her mind and heart and we did that with lots of practice of poses that enhanced those thoughts and feelings. We worked slowly towards wheel pose since that was one of the poses that seemed to intrigue her and she was curious about it. So each time we met we worked it and for a bit she struggled. I gave her some homework, gave her some reading and had her watch some demos on the wheel pose progression just so that she could immerse herself in learning it in different ways. Then something just clicked and one day we get to our peak pose and up she went and it was effortless and it was with good form and it was beautiful. She felt accomplished, I felt accomplished for her. She finally realized that it was not strength that was holding her back but through extensive journaling and reflection, that it was lack of trust in herself that was blocking her from fully expressing her wheel pose. This was a huge break through and I was so excited for her.

Now it was my turn. I had been putting wheel pose to the side and after all the excitement of my clients achievements I thought I would get back at it and undo some of the damage I had done with activities such as driving and typing. So on the mat I went with the intention of reversing the closed off and roundedness that was occurring in my upper back and chest. I asked myself to be compassionate as I worked through the process again as my intention for my practice. I knew that it was going to be a process and that stubbornness was going to sneak its way in. I wanted some of that stubbornness to be there, but the negative self talk and the desire to want to just say forget it also comes along with it. With the best of intentions I gave it a go, but I struggled and I would stop midway through to throw in the towel, but I used my stubbornness to my advantage and kept going.

The practices looked something like this:

Day 1:

Round 1: “Am I sure about this?” I feel like I have a weight on my chest” “what if I can not handle my weight.”

Round 2: “Alignment is good, I am ready to take this on…”  “Up I go…nope…down I come…”

Round 3: “Maybe tomorrow…”

By Day 3:

Round 1: “Alignment set, I am ready to do this” ” Well that was not so bad, could be better”

Round 2: ” Up I go, oh hey I can give a little more” ” That felt good, its coming back

Round 3: ” OMG, I did it.” I could feel the space being created and my heart open up. I felt energy running up through my arms and legs supporting me effortlessly as I held wheel breathing steadily!

It took time but when I started to treat myself as a student and be compassionate and patient I was able to enjoy the energy (positive energy) that surged through me as I fully expressed a pose that I always came to as a pose that helped me to be open and accepting of all that I am working on and will continue to work on.

Lesson learned: When you treat yourself with respect and you use your traits for the greater good of your practice, you can accomplish and grow leaps and bounds. When you expend energy on activities such as negative self talk and using your traits against you continue to perpetuate the physical heaviness that might be holding you back from opening your heart to all the greatness the world has to offer.  When you are light and positive with yourself you are much more capable of attaining the abundance of happiness and success that you deserve!

Yoga

Lessons Learned On the Mat

Sometimes you just gotta do what you don’t want to do. I know that this sounds harsh, but it was something that I needed to be reminded of today. As I began my practice my intention was to light my inner fire, I wanted to engage and target the core to draw strength and endurance not only into my practice but all aspects of my life where I felt that I was needing it.  I felt that with all of the changes that I have been making lately with regards to my athletic performance and energy levels, keeping my momentum going and driving that inner spirit fire, this would be an appropriate intention and focus.

The first sequence challenged me right of the bat. It challenged me because while, I do have a strong core, I know that I do not challenge it the way that it should be. With arm balances right out the gate, I had to tap into that area more than ever and it was difficult maintaining that positive momentum and drive to continue. But, seeing as that was my intention for the practice I dug a little deeper and held on tight engaging the non-muscular components of the core such as drive and motivation, and inner fire just as much if not more than the muscular components.  So not only were my abs burning ,but my soul was being tested as well. Initially, I did not even want to continue, I just did not want to tackle it. However, once I stoked the fire and moved past the I can’t and I don’t want too’s I was able to at least eek out some semblance of each of the balances increasing my confidence, motivation and drive to want to continue.

When I am off the mat, I find myself remembering those moments on the mat when I was not feeling like I could even eek out something sort of like an arm balance. I think about how now I am able to at least put forth some semblance of the pose and how eventually with continued motivation, drive and effort, I will be able to do the pose to my fullest expression.  The same holds true for my business. When I do not want to write a blog post. The idea of it can be a bit overwhelming but I know that the anxiety is being caused by my fears and not my lack of ambition or drive. I know that if I want to accomplish a blog post I must dig into my inner fire and remember that I  have the ability to put together two words to make a sentence thus creating a blog post when it is all said and done.  Just like when I am on the yoga mat, I can take a deep breath and reach in for that motivation to create without judgement and fear.  What I find is that when I am perplexed by not wanting to do something it is not out of lack of ambition but an over abundance of fear that I will not be successful. However, just with my arm balances on the mat, I take baby steps daily to get closer to my goal and I need to do the same whether it be an arm balance, a blog post, content creation, or just being visible online to create presence.

Sometimes it is a hard pill to swallow but it has to be done and it will be done. Sometimes we have to do things that we do not want to do in order to be successful and in order to thrive in life. I encourage you to take time at each practice and when you come upon a pose or place where you feel you do not want to continue. Take a deep breath and try to understand why you are feeling this way. What is holding you back from finding true success? If it is fear, then I encourage you to find ways to over come it. Whether it be thinking of a time you over came something else that at the moment you thought you could not do, or if it is just stepping away from the situation and writing out what is making you feel a certain way.

Fan your inner fire and tap into the drive and motivation that had you start your quest in the first place. Part of being successful and getting what we truly want asks us to do things we might not enjoy or not want to do. Let go of the can’ts and beliefs that are holding you back from stepping into your greatness. I am learning that the following Yoga Sutra to be true:

“To achieve a strong foundation in our practice we must practice over and over a long period of time without interruption, believing in it and looking forward to it with an attitude of service” 1.14

Yoga

Aligning Yourself With Your Work

You always know when something is not jiving, when things are not in alignment. You know this because you are always passing through center on a seesaw but never actually hitting center. It’s a struggle, and you are never quite sure why you always feel blocked or stuck riding the recurrent wave.  It’s because you are not working with your authentic self.  This is what was happening to me. I was pushing back on something that I should have been flowing with but wasn’t. I knew I had to spread my wings and expand if I wanted to up-level and take my business with me.

When I said finally said YES, and stopped trying to control everything, slowly the seesaw got a little closer to center. Every time I looked fear in the eye and said, No, I am going to do it, fear fell a few more steps back letting up on some of the pressure that was holding me down. The seesaw slowly became more level. I was able to start walking along more steadily and confidently. A little wobbly at times, but such is on this journey. However, instead of always being all the way up or all the way down the extremes were getting smaller and smaller.  What I am learning is that there is no true balance, you learn to find your own authentic and aligned center.

This is when I knew that what I did and what I do and stand for fell into place. I was able to walk like a gymnast on a balance beam gracefully putting one foot in front of the other. I finally practice fully what I preach, teach and lead because what I use and what I do are in alignment. I am all in and ready to share fully my whole business.

What I have learned is that looking like you walk the walk and actually walking the walk are two completely different things. When you just look like you walk the walk, that is when you feel heavy, and off.  When you actually walk the walk, the load is so much lighter and you move more freely flowing with grace and ease!Namaste- Jules

Yoga