How do YOU find stillness when everything around you is in constant motion? 🔸
In my asana & meditation classes, I often remind students to embrace the “purposeful pause” somewhere in between the perpetual to-do lists and jam-packed days. When you intentionally take a moment to pause, it doesn’t interrupt the activity (or, unfortunately, eliminate it) but it, instead, purposely interrupts the mental busyness by taking a moment to simply become more present and aware. It’s a great way to find space in the middle of all the momentum. 🔸
Maybe a “pause” for you might be to enjoy your morning coffee or tea without your phone or even a newspaper; or maybe pausing before you text/call someone back; or even pausing to take a deep breath before you move on to the next activity; or maybe it’s to pause in meditation. 🔸
I invite you to practice more “purposeful pauses” this week or begin to make the pauses part of your routine. Simply enjoy the moment in between. Notice if you find a shift in clarity or more presence.
My 30th high school reunion is coming up this October. Along with the “save the date” was a Reunion Form, basically a fill in the blank form—name, what are you up to now, etc. But the one question I’ve been stumped on is “What is Your Favorite High School Memory?”
I have lots of high school memories, but I can’t seem to come up with an actual favorite. I’m not sure if I can blame it on my old age and lack of long-term memory. After thinking about it, I don’t feel like I was quite present while in high school.
I went to an all-girls, Catholic high school. I remember always struggling to fit in, wanting to be like the popular girls, and finding ways to stand out amongst the rest. I was too self-absorbed in this that I feel like I missed out on really experiencing high school.
In the end, I academically did well in school, graduating with honors, some awards and towards the top of my class. But I remember feeling like I was still stuck in a cocoon just waiting to show my wings.
Jump forward 30 years and here I am. Not giving a shit if I fit in or if I’m popular. I feel good in my skin. I love what I do (which is teaching yoga). And I’m totally present.
I’ve crawled out of my cocoon and everyday I am spreading my wings.🦋
Fear 😳has been knocking at my door lately. Damn, Fear’s knock can be loud! It’s so loud that it’s drowning out my voice of courage.
I’ve been asked to LEAD a yoga teacher training and I’m scared as 💩! Me???? Sure, I can teach students but teach TEACHERS?!? .
Fear is bringing out my insecurities when I really shouldn’t be! Heck, I know this practice. I’m passionate about it. I embody and live it. I even run yoga retreats, for God’s sake! So why am I so scared?
Probably because I fear change. I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid of not being a good enough leader.
Damn, that Fear.
I’m not going to answer that door. I’ll just sit on this decision and remind myself of what I have to offer and who I am.
This week my intention is to take things in slowly especially since I have a busy week ahead. “Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”—Brene Brown
In those moments when I realize I have a lot on my plate, I get anxious. Don’t we all? But when I recognize that anxiety, I stop to pause and take a few deep breaths. With that, I slow down the chase and, instead, I just take things in as they come, in stride.
It’s that easy. Just slow down.
“All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”
When I was looking for a quote that would best fit this photo, I was so drawn to this one by Leo Tolstoy. It’s obvious to see the beauty of things when light shines upon it. We tend to equate darkness with the Ugly—but even through the darkness, something beautiful always comes.
These twin forces of light and dark direct our lives towards maintaining balance in life. Without light, there would be no shadow. Each can only exist because of the other.
Life finds meaning in the contrasts. Life is transformed by the interaction of the light and dark moments.
How have you found the light within yourself to find the balance and beauty in life?
PURA VIDA—It’s one of the things that I always take back with me & try to fully embrace each time I return from Costa Rica. It means “simple life” or “pure life”.
Locals, called Ticos, say Pura Vida (poo-rah-bee-da) a lot like a greeting of hello or goodbye. But it is more than just a saying—it is a way of life in Costa Rica. Ticos have a very relaxed, simple way of looking at life. No worries, no fuss, no stress. Pura Vida to them means being thankful for what they have, not dwelling on the negative and to live life from a deep sense of passion.
I think I’m so drawn to Costa Rica and this Pura Vida life because it reminds me of the Niyamas (personal observances) in Patanjali’s second limb of the 8-limb yogic path—specifically, the niyamas Saucha and Santosha.
Saucha is loosely translated as “cleanliness” but it doesn’t mean make your bed every day (although I do 😊). Saucha relates very closely to Pura Vida. When you practice saucha, you eliminate the impurities around you—toxic people, your environment, harmful situations, etc. Saucha also invites you to cleanse and purify your body and minds by practicing yoga/mediation, eating healthy, speaking truthfully and from a place of love, and living more simply, etc. When you purify yourself from the heaviness & clutter of toxins and distractions, you gain clarity to meet each moment with integrity and you begin to feel lighter, more spacious, free/clear, & expansive.
Santosha means “contentment”. This niyama tells you that when you are perfectly content with all that life gives you and open your heart in gratitude for what you do have, then you attain true happiness & joy. We get so caught up in our wants and desires that we begin to equate happiness with materialism or labels. Practicing santosha frees you from that unnecessary suffering and instead fills you with gratitude and joy for all life’s blessings in this moment.
The beauty of all this is that you don’t need a country, a saying, the sun, nor the beach, to live Pura Vida, Saucha, Santosha or any of the other niyamas. It all begins with YOU.
🧡Cleanse your body, your speech, your thoughts
🧡Fall in love with life. Your life. And be thankful for it.
Hey, just in case you forgot…✨You Are Beautiful✨
When we think of beauty, we instantly think of our outward appearance. Unfortunately, we add our criticisms and judgements to it. Just like you, I do it all the time. I’m fully aware of the wrinkles here and extra rolls there. I just have to remind myself that these “alterations” change my appearance but they do not define my beauty.
“The beauty of a woman must be seen from her EYES, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.”
If you fill your heart space with love, kindness, patience, peace, strength and happiness, then you’ll exude all this inner beauty thus outshining all your physical insecurities. When beauty comes from within as much as without, it makes all of you beautiful. Yup, that includes the wrinkles and rolls!
How do you be that person who radiates beauty inside and out? It just takes a little inner work on your behalf. Love yourself. Accept yourself. Forgive yourself. Tell yourself you are awesome.
Hey, just in case you forgot…🧡You Are Beautiful. From the inside out. 🧡
Namaste, yogis 🧘🏻♀️
We’ve had quite a weekend here in the United States. The heavy, weighted energy from Friday (Trump’s Inauguration) was thankfully replaced when the clouds parted to give way to the light of the sun & the millions who marched in solidarity. No matter if you are in support or against, the Women’s March showed how women, men, and children from different races, ethnicities, sexualities, religious & cultural backgrounds can come together to empower each other.
In fact, all those people were practicing yoga, even if they have never even stepped foot on a mat. What we witnessed is Unity. The word yoga, comes from the sanskrit “yuj” which means to join, unite, yoke. Their unification empowered each other & their strong message. It took courage to stand, to have a voice, but joining each other/unifying with each other helped to them stand taller and speak louder.
I am reminded of the Bhavagad Gita which is a story of a warrior, Arjuna, who is faced with a battle he’s unwilling to fight. He relies upon the wisdom and guidance of Lord Krishna to help him understand his dharma (purpose). Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that there’s no need to fear and hide from life & duty. In book two, verse seventeen, Krishna assures Arjuna to trust in his oneness with God.
We’ve all been faced with times of challenge where we feel alone or cannot muster the courage, maybe even feeling disconnected to God or any higher Spirit, family and friends. As the story of the Bhavagad Gita and the Women’s March tells us that courage cannot exist in isolation. Judith Lasater states in Living Your Yoga, “Just as a flower needs sun, air, soil, and water to bloom, your courage depends on your interdependence with people and things. You must contemplate deeply to understand that when you do what is possible, you are not in a free fall, but are cradled by your interdependence with the world around you.”
When you lay your mat down this week, see how you can strengthen your courage muscle through your practice. When and how can you overcome resistance or fear? Feel the unified energy of your fellow students to elicit the courage you need on and off your mat.
Namaste, my friends.
*Lasater Ph.D. P.T., Judith (2010-06-30). Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life (p. 43). Rodmell Press.
*Women’s March in Chicago photo credit: Christine Truco via ABC 7 Chicago
*Yoga Within You Chacala 2016 Yoga Retreat photo
Every so often students will either tell me after class, email or text to say how they enjoyed my class. It’s always nice to hear. The other day a student texted me that “So & So” didn’t think class was hard, but she herself loved it. I replied saying, “That’s too bad. I’m sorry to have disappointed So & So. I hope the philosophical lesson wasn’t too hard for So & So. I’m glad you liked it though.” (Yes, I was being sarcastic.)
I mulled on that freaking text for days. I taught that same sequence to all my other classes, where the feedback was “that was great”, “that was challenging”, “that was HARD.” In fact, my husband took my class last night and commented afterwards, “that was brilliantly sequenced.” I laughed because I thought he was brown nosing the instructor, but he backed up his response saying how he appreciated how I weaved my theme into a carefully, thought out class. Thanks, Babe. Glad you noticed. That’s the SAME class So & So didn’t think was hard!
So, since I was attached to the feedback I received the other day (hey, I’m only human), I went back to read the text again. “So and So didn’t think class was hard. So & So SKIPPED ALL THE HARD POSES. I loved it!” Well, there it was!!! It wasn’t HARD because he SKIPPED poses! (insert rolled eyes & a shaking head).
This diatribe isn’t trying to solicit praise. It’s more about this question….”WHY DOES YOGA HAVE TO BE HARD?” What makes yoga hard anyway? Does it have to be hot? Does it have to move fast? Do you have to do tons of chaturangas? Do you have to have crazy loud music and a military-style practice?
WHAT MAKES YOGA HARD?…..Being present IN the practice makes yoga hard. So & So probably didn’t find it hard because he wasn’t quite present in the practice. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to skip postures. That’s not the point. Even if you skip something because it doesn’t feel right or you’re not quite at that level, you should still be in the moment.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.14 states: “The practice is firmly grounded when it is persistently done for a long time, without interruption, and WITH EARNEST, REVERENTIAL ATTENTION & DEVOTION.” In other words, practice with commitment and with complete awareness and presence.
What makes yoga challenging or hard is when you’re actually IN the moment. It’s not about standing on your hands or twisting into a pretzel or pushing yourself beyond your limits. It’s about FEELING THE FEELS—the good ones and the bad ones, the ones you do, the ones you skip.
Let me ask you this…What makes LIFE hard? Tons of stuff makes Life hard. But we know when its hard because we’re in it and PRESENT. If we were living life lackadaisically, all the hard crap would just glaze over us without even a thought or feeling.
We are all sometimes challenged by the Life that’s before us all, sometimes even feeling overwhelmed at its difficulty. Sure (and ironically), we sometimes seek a challenge in our practice too, but we should also seek its ease. As the practice of yoga teaches us, being forceful with our bodies, or in Life, has proven to be unhelpful on our mats or off our mats. We don’t need to push our bodies hard in order to be well or fulfilled. And the efforts we make to meet the challenges don’t need to be a struggle.
Feel the ease & namaste, friends.