One of my last assignments for my yoga teacher training is to talk a little about myself. A personal introduction to my future students. Before sitting down to write it, this felt a little strange to me, almost too self-centered and it made me uncomfortable. Once I sat with it a little longer, I realized that I need my students to know my journey and how I might best help them in theirs. I needed to give them my tattered road map so they could learn from my own experience getting to a place of peace and oneness with life. I feel like I am now brimming over with ideas and experiences that I wish to share with whomever needs it.
I have always felt like I needed to be of service. Even as a young girl in the church and girl scouts, I really loved working for the community and feeling like I was doing something for the benefit of others. It made me feel good. Even working in management in my adulthood, I tried to help my employees in whatever way I could, be it more training to get them promoted or to be a shoulder to cry on when life kicked them down. I tried to stay available to them and be a source of comfort. Sometimes that was my downfall, when I cared so much and it was still ‘just business’ to some.
The stress of corporate life had swallowed me up for ten plus years and I had always wished I could try something new. I found yoga when I most needed it. I started to go regularly to my local studio within walking distance and it felt so good and right! But life kept going and I fell off every couple months, citing my 50+ hour work week as the problem. The real problem was I wasn’t ready to go all in with my practice. I still held my self loathing above my self worth.
Growing up, I had found it difficult to open myself up. I suffered from a deep depression in high school, being scared of who I really was. In constant fear that my loved ones would stop caring about me if they knew the truth. The realization that I was gay was a hard one for me, knowing that it would make my life harder to navigate coming from a very religious background. It solidified my teenage brain into a cycle of depression, self hatred and secrecy. It took a long time to feel okay in my own skin. I had never loved myself, and my yoga practice forced me to begin knocking the walls down and look deeper.
One day when I was really unhappy at work, I started taking some college classes for a future that I wanted to move toward, going into Hospitality Management. I only got through two semesters before I felt pulled toward another certification, my yoga teacher training. I had wanted to start my own business where I would teach yoga, run retreats and serve my community with a place to gather. I was going to wait to do my yoga training after my degree was completed, but one day I found an online training called ‘Yoga 4 Love” and pulled out my credit card immediately without hesitation.
There was no question I needed to do something. To shift my life toward another purpose. I felt it in my bones. Within two months of starting my training online, I quit my job and decided that I was not okay allowing stress to dictate my well-being anymore. It was a very emotional decision, losing the image of myself that I held so tightly for so long, but I knew that I could no longer put myself through emotional torture for a fat paycheck. I’m lucky to have a partner that really understood my suffering and gave me the permission that I felt I needed to save my sanity. She gave me the strength to take the leap. My fellow yoga teacher trainees also showed me a way of life that I yearned for. One of self care and self love.
It has been a year of major transitions, the biggest being our move three hours away from family and friends to open our own retreat center. It has not been a smooth road, and I have questioned our actions many times, but I knew that if I kept listening to my heart that it would never lead me astray. I began this journey to self love and I now feel confident that my story and knowledge can be what I share to help others.
Please contact me if you feel pulled to. Know that you are worth loving and worth the journey.
Love & Light!
Check out www.yoga4love.com if you want to get certified in yoga online! Be a part of the Goddess Tribe!
This Easter has been a strange one. For all of us, it is one in quarantine from our loved ones that we would normally be traveling to see and spend time with in person. For me, there is another layer of it being my 33rd birthday. April 12th has never fallen on Easter before in my lifetime and it seems like there is always a connection that we can’t completely understand when the world falls into place a certain way. I have decided to take notice.
I don’t feel sad. I thought I might, since my normal routine is to have my closest friends over to cheers my birth and share it with me. I have made my Zoom time with them starting in only a few minutes and I can’t wait to see their smiling faces on my computer screen. After my friend date, I am Zooming with my family and attempting to play a card game with them as is tradition when we gather. It could be a disaster, but we will be together and laugh through the hiccups.
“Together in spirit.” Such a fitting saying now. Even when we don’t get the chance to hug and touch our loved ones, their spirit appears in our living rooms with Zoom, Facebook and Skype. Like magic, their laughter fills my home and I feel a little bit better when they inhabit the material space around me.
Let us use this time as a Rebirth. To reconnect with what is important. Hold up in your cave, but look inside and investigate your inner world with this forced hermitage. Be silent, pray, meditate, cry, laugh, be content in your solitude. The outside world has been stripped away and we need to remember that we are complete still. Looking elsewhere for wholeness is pointless. You are all you need. Stretch your mind and touch the divine that is your inner soul, your eternal light. It is waiting for you.
Whether it is in Sanskrit or English, the use of mantra in my yoga practice has been very helpful in reeling my thoughts in while doing my asana postures or in meditation. A mantra is a word or phrase that you concentrate on to help in practicing mindfulness. Some of the Sanskrit chants evoke certain emotions and looking for the right mantra can be overwhelming.
To start, let’s stick to English. When beginning your mantra work, you may feel more comfortable to make your own affirmations that you can concentrate on. Some good ones are:
Loving Kindness (metta)
I am Peace
I am Enough
I am Strong and Healthy
Everything happens for my highest good
When you create your own Mantra, it should always be a positive affirmation. Speaking of things you want to change like ‘I don’t want…’ or ‘I will not do…’ is bringing your mind to that negative feeling that you DON’T like and can bring it into being more easily. Keeping to ‘I am…’ statements is a safe bet that you are using the Law of Attraction to bring good things to you instead of what you want to avoid. Your brain and the Universe don’t know the difference between a lie and the truth, so I always say to change a situation you sometimes have to ‘Fake it to make it.’ Smiling or laughing in a sad moment can switch your mindset, even for just a moment, and bring you out of the funk faster. This also works with a Mantra. When you feel weak, chant ‘I am strong’. When your thoughts are in chaos, use ‘I am peace’ to shift your consciousness and calm your mind.
Once you feel good about your own Mantra creation, you may feel inclined to try some Sanskrit out. The Mantra of the sages of India can be very powerful when you use them with mindful reverence. The language of Sanskrit is very special. Each syllable was found by listening and meditating on an object’s resonance or vibration. The chanting of Sanskrit is inherently more intense for this reason. You are speaking to the essence of the Universe. Cool, huh? Here are some Sanskrit Mantra to try:
Om (Sound of the Universe)
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti “Peace in Body, Mind and Spirit”
Om Mani Padme Hum “Praise to the jewel in the lotus”, referencing your soul
Lokah Samastah Sukinoh Bhavantu “May all beings be happy and free, and may I contribute to that happiness.”
So Hum “I am that”
I also like to visualize when I am chanting Mantra that there are countless others speaking the same words around the globe with me, magnifying its power into one of Transmutation. We can transform our world with our intention. Voices raised together will always amplify our vibrations, our ‘Good Vibes’, faster. Know that when you pray or meditate using Mantra, you are never alone. You are tapping into the inter-connectedness of all beings like a microphone, booming your love and energy throughout the cosmos! Happy Chanting!
I am at the point in my training that I am creating my own classes and teaching. (YAY!) I graduate in only a few weeks and then I will have the certification I worked a year to attain. I have three online classes on my schedule each week and it has been really fun figuring out how to shift each sequence to fit what I’m wishing to share that day. Two of the classes are under the same name, “Relax into Stillness”, a night class designed to relax you for sleep. It is a half hour where we are only doing sitting and supine poses, then we end with a meditation and maybe a mantra. My first live class I was shaking like a leaf inside but I got comfortable a few minutes in and ended the class strong. I feel like it is a good beginning class to teach for me right now.
My third class is in the morning, “Sunrise Salutation on the Lake” where I want to do 8 Surya Namaskars with the breath, 8 breaths between each sequence and do a longer meditation and mantra at the end. I’m still learning how long each posture will take and I want to slow myself down to hold the poses longer. I tend to speed up when I’m nervous.
The feeling of teaching online is strange. I feel like I’m speaking into the void if there aren’t participants live that I can see. I also have to consider who will be seeing it as a recording and teach to them as well. I think this is a great transitional period so I can get comfortable teaching, get used to working the technology, and also try and grow my student body virtually.
The rise of Covid-19 has really shifted everything in our daily lives. I hope that people find the benefit of practicing yoga with others while being in this quarantine. I know that for me, any sort of connection, no matter how small, makes a big difference for my well being.
These last couple of weeks my creativity is in overdrive. So many ideas are floating in my head about content to put out there that I sometimes find it hard to sleep. I might be fixating on this to placate my fears of an unknown future. Will society be forever changed by the pandemic? How will the Retreat Center survive if we lose our summer bookings? Will my wife, an ER nurse, be safe through this crisis? So many worries and questions that creation seems more appealing than staying in a constant panic.
I have really been holding to my gratitude practices and I know that it has served me well. Gratitude for what I now have keeps my mind out of that precarious future and back in the present where it belongs. So, I will continue to remind myself how lucky I am and start making my dreams and concepts emerge through my class flow and other videos. I feel that if I can make one person’s day a little brighter, than I will have done what I set out to do.
Find your calm. Find your connection. And always, remember to breathe!