In order to learn and grow, we must commit to the practice—no matter what you practice. Yoga. Music lessons. Martial Arts. LIFE.
Once you choose to fully commit to the journey and trust in the process, the results show. And it’s not about developing a talent. It’s about developing a skill.
For me, practicing yoga has taught me how to skillfully walk through life with compassion and patience. There are many life moments that challenge me and my reactions, but Life, as in yoga, is a constant, committed practice for me to live my best self.
A couple weeks ago my dharma talk was about the #yama, #Ahimsa. To remind people to act, think & speak from a place of #love and #kindness, every student in all my classes that week got a #BeKind @bekindchicagoland pin from me.
The idea is when you wear the pin if someone comments on the pin, liking it, you give them your pin. Thus, spreading kindness. Another way to share the pin is if you see an act of love & kindness, give that person the pin.
Since then, I’ve asked my students if they still had their pins. The results were interesting: 1) Some students liked their pin so much that they didn’t give it out, 2) No one commented on their pin even if they tried to make the pin obvious on their lapel, 3) No one saw an act of kindness.
Each result is quite telling, isn’t it? 1) We either are protective of ourselves or what we have that we don’t want to give anything out. 2) People just don’t communicate with each other anymore. And 3) People are not as kind anymore. All of this is quite sad, don’t you think?
I recently read, “The smallest gesture can bring a smile to light the shadow of an unpleasant situation or remove tension from a difficult task, but its effects can echo and extend far beyond the moment…Kindness expands the light within us and reaches out to touch the light in others as well, giving us all a glimpse of the glow that has the power to enlighten our world.”
Being kind is so simple, folks. You don’t need a pin to be kind and loving. Just spread the light.
Whenever I want to feel stable and at peace, I connect with my inner light, or #jyoti. The #yogasutras teach us that this inner light frees us from darkness and suffering and, in turn, shines our way towards our strong, inner Self.
“Listen to your inner light. It will guide you. Listen to the inner peace. It will feed you. Listen to the inner love. It will transform you.”—Sri Chinmoy
Ever get stuck between a rock and hard place? When you do, it’s like no matter what, no matter what options, the outcome of your decision might not be quite desirable.
Recently, I was guiding a friend through a challenging decision. She felt that no matter which way she turned, it was “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” She felt defeated and frustrated.
Sometimes when faced with situations like that, it helps to take a step back and look at the situation objectively. List out the pros and cons to weigh out the consequences.
During that reflection, also take a better look at your moral compass. What serves you best? What is in line with your core values?
Still can’t find the right answers? Try meditating upon your Third Eye Chakra, the Ajna Chakra, to open your mind, find more clarity and connect with your inner wisdom.
I mostly self-practice nowadays due to my schedule. But last week, I had the opportunity to take class at a studio. I consider it quite a gift to be able to take other teachers’ classes. I can just connect without practicing with a teacher’s mind. Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t lose myself in this particular class.
This teacher, whom I didn’t know, would cue the oddest posture names. The one that broke the camel’s back was “auspicious one-armed pose.” I seriously looked up with a perplexed, WTF-look to see what the teacher was referring to.
After class, I reflected upon TRADITION in yoga. I highly regard & honor the traditional practice of yoga, but I’ve noticed how today’s yoga practice has morphed & slightly steered away from tradition, some in an unfortunate “auspciously one-armed-pose” kind of way but mostly into way that honors tradition in a more modern method.
I’ve adapted it myself, in fact, incorporating a more mindful, movement & mobility practice into transitions & traditional postures, yet without creating crazy made up names. Many of my cues have also shifted, mostly in an anatomical way that promotes safety & heightened understanding of our body’s functionality.
As a practitioner for almost 20 years, I’m constantly learning ways to honor this practice & yet keep it adaptable to my (aging) changing body. I also love sharing what I learn in all of my classes.
How are you adapting yet honoring tradition as a teacher or student? I’d love to hear!
I’ve been dealing with some minor health issues lately. It seemed to come out of no where, but in full effect. I started to feel betrayed by my body—“how dare my body get ill…I take care of myself inside and out.”
Then I watched a documentary called “Heal”. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Basically, this film shows how thoughts, beliefs and emotions have a huge impact on our health and ability to heal. After watching the film, I looked at my own life and realized that I was under a lot of stress. I started to take on too many projects. I kept stressing over all my future projects and not allowing myself to be fully present in my current projects. And, I had emotions that were constantly in flux.
I strongly believe that I was making self sick.
Did you know that stress can affect your gastrointestinal system? Scientists have pointed out that the gut imbalance has a connection to the mind. Yogis may point out the imbalance in the 🌞Manipura Chakra🌞.
Your Manipura Chakra, your third chakra which color is yellow, is located in your solar plexus. It is tied to your wisdom, self-confidence and feelings of well-being. When it’s imbalanced, you may feel tired, weak, sick and, since it anatomically governs the pancreas, digestive system’s organs and adrenal glands, you may experience digestive issues.
Having felt imbalanced in my Manipura Chakra, I’ve been meditating upon this space, visualizing a brillant, glowing yellow light in my stomach area. Each in-breath, I invite more balance, self-awareness, and loving assertiveness. Each out-breath I release tension.
Repeating these #affirmations have helped too:
✨I balance my personal power from a place of compassion and self-esteem.
✨I am strong. I have courage.
✨I have control and am worthy of creating a life I want.
Sense imbalance too? Try this healing meditation too. Namaste, yogis.
While chatting with students before class last week, one student commented on how he’s really been enjoying my thought-provoking posts lately, adding that it’s nice to see positive things on his social media feed.
That led to a discussion about “Why is it so easy to express hate than it is to express love?”
It’s sad to think that most of our surroundings is in that mindset. I guess it is easy to exploit things we don’t really understand, are jealous of, or dislike. Ironically, though, hate is such a strong emotion that sometimes it takes more energy to hate than love.
Before you hate on something, gossip or spread untruths, take a moment to look at yourself first. Most likely, what you’re hating on is actually a reflection of yourself—your own flaws or fears. Perhaps, practice a bit self-reflection and self-compassion to see what you can improve to be more at peace with yourself. Loving yourself first to then love others.
THEY’RE JUST SHAPES🔺🔹▪️
I’ve said this many times in class and have heard other teachers say it too. I say it as if to say, “hey, don’t judge yourself over that pose…they’re just shapes.”
The other day when I caught myself saying it, I also wondered if it was the wrong thing to say. Are you practicing yoga or just making shapes? Yes, you’re moving your bodies in and out of shapes, but are you struggling to create the shape or practicing mindfulness, awareness and presence inwhat you’re doing?
Are you trying to fit into a pose? Kinda like how you try to fit into clothes, or fit into a group, or fit into what is expected of you?🤔
The movement of yoga offers various shapes for our bodies, but the deeper practice of yoga teaches us to just fit into OURSELVES. You already are enough. Your postures are perfect for you.
So what if you can’t touch your toes in a forward fold! Instead redirect your focus to your breath and become a witness to the physical sensations. Notice that when you shape your inner awareness, it aligns you more on the inside rather than what shows up on the outside.
I read somewhere once, “figure out how to make money doing what you love to do”. Funny thing is I always say that I don’t make as much money as I did as a real estate agent (my previous career) but I LOVE what I do & it is so much more rewarding. That statement doesn’t work so well when paying off bills but I’ve learned how to slowly be more successful as a yoga teacher. I remember one year my accountant said to me, “Well, hey, you actually made money this year!” 🤦🏽♀️
It took me some time to find my passion and my dharma (purpose), though. I went to college for electrical engineering for all the wrong reasons—it looked good on paper, I’d be rich, I’d make my parents proud. But after a few years in school, I knew it wasn’t me. I transferred schools and dabbled in accounting, soon realizing I suck at math!
One of the side jobs I had since high school was a columnist for VIA Times and local TV news reporter for Chicago Philippine News Reports, both Filipino news outlets. That was the first time I realized I could continue this, something I enjoyed, and actually make money from it! So I changed my major to Journalism and finally finished college. 🙌🏽
But that lasted a hot second. 🤦🏽♀️ I stayed at home to raise Casey, later got my RE license when he was a little older, and had some major life-changing experiences (insert #Survivor here). Yet, after all that, I knew there was something more for me to do.
Then one day @donbaeyoga said, why don’t you do #yogateachertraining ? I really didn’t see myself as a teacher AT ALL. I just wanted to learn more about the practice. But my teacher, Daren Friesen @madhavadas at @mokshayogachicago, gave me such great insight into all aspects of the practice and I knew I found my purpose.
Now about ten years in, I’ve immersed myself physically and spiritually into the practice of Yoga. I’m so passionate about sharing a practice that’s taught me to be the best version of myself inside and out. I love when students discover that about themselves, too.
I truly believe in the healing, transformative, and rejuvenating powers of #yoga. It drives me to support and encourage students to feel yoga’s embrace. I leave each of my classes happy and fulfilled from the personal connections with soul-full yogis from all walks of life. I’ve really hit the jackpot because I get to spend my time & energy on a practice and with people who fill my heart and feed my soul.
Thank you for being a part of my journey and all the joy that has come with it. I’m not done yet, so look out for more from me.
When we draw inward like a tortoise we can find the experience of pratyahara, sense withdrawal. From this place that is free from external distractions, we can rest in our #trueselves ,also known as #atman, to find eternal peace, more clarity and focus, and even connection to our center.
Turtles 🐢 represent the grounding energy of the Earth. They are slow, deliberate and purposeful. When they draw into their shells, it’s not cowardice but pulling inward to withstand the extreme dangers or disturbances without being knocked off center. This idea is the foundational concept of yoga.
When you get so caught up in the day to day, our connection to our center is lost. Like a turtle, take a moment to draw inward. Listen to the silent rhythm of your breath. Feel brave enough to stand in the middle of chaos and recognize your own powerful center.