What does it mean to be a teacher? To be a student?
As a yoga instructor, the answer to this question informs how I feel about my calling, how I go about my work and how I look at growth and improvement—not just that of my students, but my own, too! I’m always trying to be my best for my students so that they can bring out the best in themselves, and this means I am always ready to learn.
The art of ‘teaching,’ of imparting knowledge, sparking curiosity and inspiring creativity, is one that I’m forever perfecting. This is because I believe my role is more than merely being a guide, leading you through poses. My role is to plant and nurture seeds, which will flower independently of me. My role is to bring you into #flow so that you can find your own way.
In the process of teaching, I am constantly surprised by how much I learn. I learn about people, I learn about myself, I learn to be flexible and adaptable. Most importantly, I enjoy learning just as much as I love teaching!
When I look at a yoga mat, I don’t just see a tool of my trade. I see a playground where we are all learning about our minds and our bodies through curiosity, play and exploration. I could bring you into the playground, and show you how to use the tools, lead you through the activities and tell you what you’re learning, but that’s not good enough for me.
I want to bring you into the playground and ask you what you see. I want to help you think about and use your minds and bodies in new and exciting ways. I want you to tell me what you’re learning. I want you to teach me where the yoga mat is taking you.
So, in my mind, to be a teacher is to be a student. And to be a student is to be a teacher.
No one speaks to you as much as you do yourself. Our own voice, our own opinions and our own feelings are the ones we are most familiar with and the ones we are most accustomed to hearing. This is why what we say to ourselves, and how we speak to ourselves, is so important.
Often, if you compare how you speak to your friends, and how you treat yourself, you’ll find that you have so much more space, so much more patience, so much more compassion for others. You let them make mistakes, and you forgive them; you give them a safe space to feel their feelings; you have so much time for them.
But when it comes to you, you’re so hard on yourself! You don’t let yourself make mistakes, and you struggle to forgive or forget the ones you do make. You minimize your feelings so that they won’t take up too much space. You berate yourself when things don’t go as planned.
Just think: if you could lift yourself up as high as you lift your loved ones, the sky would be the limit!
All it takes is for you to start treating yourself as a friend.
“It’s okay. You made a mistake this time, but remember yesterday? You did so well! And the day before! Tomorrow, you’ll do well again.”
“You are enough. Let’s make a list of all the times you have been enough.”
“Of course, you feel tired. Think of all the things you’ve been juggling! How can I help?”
“It’s completely understandable that you feel sad. Lot’s of stuff has been going on for you these days.”
Rewrite your self-talk. When you hold yourself accountable with #Love and #Compassion and own all of your achievements and positive qualities, you #empower yourself to reach your true potential.
I just spent a weekend in Mammoth Mountain with @donbaeyoga and @aybaebay. I’ve never been a winter-sport kind of person, but both Don & Casey love skiing & snowboarding, respectively. I’ve gone snowboarding just once before 7 years prior, so I was both excited and anxious about going out on the slopes. Admittingly a novice, and not quite honoring that, I went out on a slope that was too advanced for my level. After many falls, tumbles, bruises, bumps and feelings of failure (scroll to laugh a couple videos), I had to rein in my ego and decided I needed to take lessons and start from point A.
This realization reminded me so much about yoga. As a teacher, I’ve seen many new students jump into an advanced practice without knowing the basics, only to hurt themselves or develop bad habits.
While listening to my instructor, two lessons kept coming back to me time and time again. Whether it’s through witnessing someone else’s struggle or learning the lessons again through personal experience, I’m always reminded of the importance of #Patience and #Humility.
We can sometimes approach new challenges with impatience and pride, seeking out immediate gratification, validation of ourselves and believing ourselves to be ‘ready.’ We aim high straight off the bat—the most complex asanas, the steepest ski runs, the most intricate book, the heaviest weights. No matter how ready we believe ourselves to be, Patience and Humility are never far behind, waiting to teach us, again and again, the lessons we forget.
You can’t build high without solid #foundations. Aiming for the top without #grounding yourself can become such a terrifying, off-putting experience that regaining the #trust and #courage to start again feels impossible.
Humility teaches us that we are not above the baby steps and the small beginnings—and this is okay.
Patience teaches us to see further than tomorrow, to know the value in taking our time, to understand the nature of #growth.
They are loving teachers who always reward us for coming back to them, for swallowing our pride and returning to the basics, to the foundations, to the beginning. The most valuable journeys we take are those through which we grow the most.
When one door closes, another door opens – we just have to be willing to see it.
When we are told ‘No,’ when a job opportunity falls through, a relationship ends or never even starts, our funds don’t allow us that vacation, that car, or that school, it feels like a door we’ve been walking towards confidently and hopefully has just been slammed in our faces, and there’s nowhere else worth going. It feels like the world turned its back on us and shut us out. It might even feel like the world is out to get you.
You have two choices at this point. You could stay where you are, pounding on the door, yelling in frustration and anger about what you feel you’ve been robbed of.
Or you could turn around.
Let’s face it: you didn’t really know what to expect behind that door, so why are you so attached to it? Why is that door better than any other door?
You could turn around and notice the other doors that are available to you. Maybe you hadn’t notice them before, when you were so focused on that particular option, but the other doors are there, waiting for you to try them.
Some will open, some will not. Some will do so easily, some will require tenacity and persistence on your behalf. But they are there.
Trusting that there are plenty of doors we could try, knowing that those which open will work out for us, perhaps in unexpected ways, makes it easier to see a closed door in a positive light. A closed door is simply an opportunity to try something else, something new, something unexpected. To open our mind and shift out of our comfort zone. To switch up our perspective and remain receptive to our blessings.
Where is Home? 🏠 A place or a state of mind?
We closed on our house in Lake Forest today. It took a while to sell it but now it’s officially final. I thought I had already gone through the tears, the memories, the goodbyes but, oddly, the finality of selling the house makes it all too real (again). When you think you’ve felt it all, you discover you actually have an unlimited capacity to feel. It was our home for 22 years. So, now, where is home?
“Home is where the heart is,” is what @donbaeyoga and I jokingly say to each other. It’s true and I believe that, but why does it feel like we’re without a home? Whenever we’d return from traveling, there’s no other feeling like coming home…to your space, your bed, the familiar, the comfort. Home is a place of safety and refuge, where all barriers can come tumbling down and you can be your raw, unfiltered self. It’s a space you know, in which you don’t need to ask any questions.
We’ve been living in CA five months now and I’ve noticed that when we refer to anything in Chicago (family, friends, our house) we call it “home.” Very rarely have I called our place here in Venice “home” because it doesn’t quite feel like it—yet. Maybe we’re not home? Maybe this is just a pit stop. Maybe this is trial run. Maybe this is a transition. Maybe it’s a pause—that place in between.
Is a home somewhere you grow into? Will California feel like home in a month, a year, a decade? It’s impossible to live up to 22 years in 5 months. Like a new relationship, a new home needs to be negotiated without comparison to its predecessor. But when a place has held your heart for 22 years, that’s a hard philosophy to follow through on.
Even if Cali isn’t home, even if it is a pitstop, a transition – that’s okay! The moments in between, the stepping stones, are just as important as the destinations, if not more so. However long we are in CA for, we will grow, we will learn, we will be strengthened. We’ll meet new people and have new experiences. We are always moving forward.
If the time comes to move on, we’ll know. If the time comes to accept California as our home, we’ll know. I trust whatever the Universe has in store for us😉
🧩 Recognizing Your Samskaras 🧩
It can be difficult to see the #patterns that govern our lives. They surround us and are a part of us, a kaleidoscopic tunnel we walk through as we step out into the world. Some patterns strengthen us and pave the way for powerful forward momentum, but others weaken us, distancing us from our #power and #independence and making it difficult to maintain our forward motion.
The Sanskrit word #samskaras refers to these patterns, these emotional habits that our lives revolve around. Whether positive or negative, we get the best view of our own personal samskaras when we take a step back. Removing ourselves from the immediate desire to react, watching our thoughts, studying our behavior, and asking difficult and uncomfortable questions: Why did I do/think/feel that? Have I done/thought/felt that before?
Noticing both the helpful and harmful patterns allows you greater control over the path you walk. When we recognize the strengthening habits we already enact, it becomes easier to nurture and solidify them, so that we can gain even more from our natural tendencies.
Recognizing the patterns and emotional habits that are holding us down is also so #empowering. These are the patterns that keep up going in circles, dragging us under as we furiously tread water, reaching for the sky. These are the samskaras that result in the ‘same scars’, over and over again.
As always, coming from the #perspective of #love, understand where and why these patterns developed and what they were trying to protect you from. Be grateful for their #intention, but recognize that you don’t need them anymore. You’re ready to stride forward into your #truth, into your #purpose, into your #potential.
With the New Year coming in strong, hit the reset button on those patterns and #habits that have been pulling you down. Replace them with new patterns that build you up and bring you closer to the best version of yourself 😊 Then build on the patterns that have elevated you this far so that they can continue to lift towards your highest potential.
As 2019 winds down, it’s interesting to consider whether 2020 is the final year of the current decade, or whether this New Year’s Eve is ringing in the 21st century’s very own “Roaring 20s.” It was quite interesting to read the recent debate on my FB page when I asked when does the decade start, in 2020 or 2021?
Beyond numerical proof, the answer to this question impacts the #energy with which we’re closing down this year. What #intentions are you manifesting and focusing on? 🤔
Look back and see what has been working, what hasn’t been working, and release whatever is not helping you move forward. Fine-tune your intentions and goals to bring all of your projects, be they professional or personal, to fruition in the coming year.
Preparing to begin a new decade, set fresh intentions and #goals that will see you through to the 2030s. You can obviously see how far you came in the 2010s. Maybe you have a sharper understanding of what brings you fulfillment and satisfaction, and you know how you can bring yourself closer to your #truth and #happiness in the coming decade.
Armed with all the success and growth from the 2010s, this new decade is a clean slate, a fresh start, that strengthens what you’ve created and built so far. Release completely what has been holding you back—it has no place in your future steps.
Whether you see 2020 as the end of this decade or the beginning of the new one, bring the energy of #love, #positivity and #gratitude with you, and trust that whatever you set your mind to, you can #manifest it in the coming year. The end of one chapter always means the beginning of the next, a profoundly exciting time where blank pages are waiting for you to write the continuation of your story. Be receptive and open to the opportunities that will come your way, no matter what shape they reveal themselves to you in.
Close this chapter with #love and #gratitude for what it brought you, and open the new one with #optimism and #focus 🙏🏼
There are so many things to look forward to in the #holidayseason 🎁, and so many reasons to be excited. But for many of us, there are just as many reasons to feel a twinge of dread, anxiety and stress at the thought of the chaotic waves, or #vrittis , of family, friends, events, dinners, expectations and obligations that are inevitably going to come with the #holidays🎄
This is a time for #giving, and if we want to survive, our first priority should be giving to ourselves. In the midst of running around like a headless chicken 🐓 shopping around for the right present or preparing for holiday parties 🍾— make sure you find a moment for YOU. Give yourself the gift of a moment’s #stillness, a moment’s respite from emotional, mental and physical chaos.
This might be once a day, once a week, once an hour – as often as you need it in order to stay in #balance. I’ve mentioned this before because it’s so important, but you have to give to yourself first before you can provide healthily for others, especially at a time when most of us are focusing on everyone else in our lives. So don’t be scared to take a moment. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. It’s not self-indulgence, it’s #selfcare.
Yoga citta vritti nirodha – Yoga Sutra 1.2
Whether you set aside some time to read a book📚 take a long bath 🛀 , #meditate, or practice #yoga 🧘🏽♀️, you’re giving yourself that time when you don’t think about the holiday chaos. You’re giving yourself that time when you’re coming back to yourself and recharging your batteries, “calming the fluctuations of your consciousness”.
If it helps, schedule this time into your #journal or calendar, label it as ‘Me Time’ or a ‘Self Care Day.’ Don’t be scared to tell people about it, so that they know not to disturb you during this time 🤫 Make sure your loved ones respect your needs in this regard.
Most importantly, though, #commit to yourself. Make yourself the promise that you will show up for yourself in this way. You deserve it. You’re worth it. You’ve earned it. Don’t let anyone, especially yourself, tell you the opposite🙏🏼
#mondaymotivation #yogicthoughts #inspiration #jennygbyoga #jennyogini #yogateacher #equinoxyogainstructor #equinoxsantamonica #team_eqx #itsnotfitnessitslife #lululemonambassador #lululemonlegacyambassador #thesweatlife
We often find ‘change’ a scary thing. Although we know that life is constant flow and forward momentum, when we think of something coming in to change our routines and our habits, or threatening to change what we know and how we see the world, we can react with fear and negativity😬 We feel safe in the perceived permanence of our lives, believing that any suggestion of flux, impermanence, or transformation must necessarily be for the worst.
But the impermanence of things is what makes them most beautiful! 🌺 Everything around us is always transforming: day to night, season to season, full moon to new moon; the oceans and the seas, the sand dunes in our deserts, the earth beneath our feet — everything shifts. Everything follows its flow🌊
Our lives are like a constantly evolving dance💃🏼 , from one emotion to another, through one song to another; or like a flowing, shifting yoga sequence, working our way from one state of mind to another, through one #asana to another. Each new posture builds on the last but remains distinct: we see where we have come from, but where we are now is unique, and there’s no telling where we’ll end up!
We can sit with the feelings of discomfort knowing that we will pass through them, and we must rejoice in the love 💗 and happiness which act like a true north🧭, a cardinal direction to which we can always return no matter where our flow takes us.
Being able to enter that flow and respect where it takes us, having the awareness to honor ourselves wherever we are in our dance, is the key to finding peace and fulfilment.
To be able to do this, we must accept that nothing can stay as it is. Stasis is unnatural. Like the Earth🌍 herself, we are always shifting from one season to another. Transformation and growth are what life is made of, after all!
Growth is hard. It can be uncomfortable. It can be scary.
Whether we can see where we need to be or have no idea what our next steps are, somedays it’s so much easier to sit snugly in our comfort zone.
Our #comfortzone may not be perfect – it doesn’t fulfil us, and we know it’s not healthy in the long run – but we know it so well. We know where we stand, we know how to act, we know how things go.
Somedays, the only thing scarier than the thought of staying in our comfort zone forever is the thought of the unknown.
And yet, reaching for the unknown is the only way to grow. Stepping bravely into the discomfort and fear which come with #change and #transformation is the first step on your path to a life of meaning and impact.
#Bravery is not the absence of fear, but taking action despite it.
Don’t dread or avoid fear and discomfort. Breathe into it and see it for what it is: a sign that you are changing, growing, transforming. Moving forward and evolving. Diving deeper into yourself and expanding the way you exist in this world. It’s a sign that you are pushing at the boundaries which have been holding you back.
The world is ready for you to break out of the cocoon of your comfort zone, transformed by your own courage and vision. The world is ready for you to step into your life with #purpose and #intent. You are ready too.