As I watched it the looting, rioting and violence unfold all over our country, . As I watched a women bravely blocking a man with an axe from breaking into a store, . As I witnessed the strength of thousands of peaceful protesters lose their message by bursts of violence, . As I watched a human being beg to breathe, .
I cry for the hurt, injustice, hate and fear that exists.
It’s difficult to say which came first. Do we hate those we fear? Do we fear those we hate? I don’t claim to have the answers to these questions. The one thing I do know is that fear and hatred are still very much present in our so-called ‘advanced, civilized’ societies.
At this time when people should be feeling more bonded than ever in the drive to survive and thrive, prejudice and, let’s call it what it is, , are still dividing us, still causing people to live in fear, to face discrimination, to be left out in the open, vulnerable and without the protection of a system that favors white skin.
This is what I wish I could be writing right now:
“It’s difficult to say which came first. Are we compassionate towards those we love? Do we love those for whom we feel compassion? I don’t claim to have the answers to these questions. The one thing I do know is that love and compassion are pillars of the communities we’ve built – communities where differences are seen and honored, where experiences and perspectives are listened to and valued. Communities where acceptance, understanding and empathy build emotional, social, environmental and economical resilience. Communities where all can thrive, feel safe, and feel valued. It’s difficult to say which came first. Are we compassionate towards those we love? Do we love those for whom we feel compassion? I don’t claim to have the answers to these questions. The one thing I do know is that love and compassion are pillars of the communities we’ve built – communities where differences are seen and honored, where experiences and perspectives are listened to and valued. Communities where acceptance, understanding and empathy build emotional, social, environmental and economical resilience. Communities where all can thrive, feel safe, and feel valued.”
Watching the world around me react to George Floyd’s painful and unjust death, I feel like most of us are sick to the core of hatred and fear.
We take our stand: we kneel for the George. We kneel for love and compassion to save our communities. We kneel to shake the world out of apathy. We kneel to demand an end to ingrained systemic racism. .
Change, flow and #transformation are all around us, and it’s vital to accept and honor them so that we can make the best of where they take us. But it’s equally essential that our roots be deep and powerful enough to keep our foundations strong, so that we can go with the #flow without losing or compromising ourselves, and without losing track of our #intentions and goals.
Your roots are your #connection to the Earth, to the Source. They ground you when life wants to run away with you. They are the stable #foundation from which you can learn to fly. They are your magnetic North.
They grow from your #values, the actions you take that align with them, the communities and Soul tribes that you develop based on them, and your ability to bring yourself back to them when you’re feeling overwhelmed, tugged in all sorts of directions, or afraid. When you base your actions, decisions and choices on your root values, you strengthen your connection with yourself and with the Earth, who gives you everything you need to thrive.
The best way to picture it is to visualize yourself as a strong tree, in its prime, full of vitality. Before you were able to grow tall, reaching for the stars, you grew down into the #Earth, connecting powerfully with your #Source. And as you grew taller and taller, and blossomed with beautiful flowers and fruits, your roots also grew deeper and deeper. Today, as you continue to reach for the stars, to blossom and bloom, your roots also must continue to evolve and be nurtured, so that they can empower you to grow stronger.
When you take time to regularly #reconnect with your root values, you are #grounding yourself so that you can grow. Strengthening the connection with yourself and with the Earth empowers you to reach new heights, so don’t be afraid to fly.
These unprecedented times have left us with fear, uncertainty, stress along with isolation. We are all in the need to feel connected whether it be to our teacher, our spiritual guide, or the #Source.
As a yogi/yoga instructor, I value the #connection I can create on my mat with body, mind and breath because it brings depth and meaning to my life and my practice. The tools I learn on my mat lead me to incredible connections off my mat—with friends, family, students, even strangers and the environment around me.
Our collective love of #yoga and need for #peace has gathered us onto our mats, albeit virtually now. From just providing #facebooklive yoga classes this week to students from Chicago to Chile to Japan and Africa, I’ve seen how powerful this practice can bring a global community together and energetically connect in a really positive way, to share uplifting #prana.
I bow to you in deep #gratitude for sharing space with me. And I’m also grateful for my own teachers who are providing online content for myself and their students. We’re all in this together, fully connected.
If you’d like to practice with me subscribe to my # “ ” My latest classes are posted and more content, including meditations are coming soon.
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Looking at all the fear around us, the panic buying, the hoarding, the prejudice and discrimination that often accompany a crisis, it’s easy to forget that we’re all in this #together. We are all simply trying to get through this, to stay healthy, to stay loving. This might mean keeping our distance from others so more vulnerable people can stay healthy; doing the groceries or running errands for your parents, neighbors, friends; or staying in bed drinking bone broth, taking appropriate medication and binging your favorite tv show if you’re not feeling well.
What it doesn’t mean is worrying about what tomorrow, next week or next month will bring. It doesn’t mean ruminating on all the ways the crisis has affected our routines.
The most important thing for us as individuals is re-finding our center of –#peace, #grounding ourselves in what is truly important, and taking what opportunities are given to us, like spending valuable time with our families. While it’s easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of fear, panic and negativity, let’s instead anchor ourselves with #Love and #Positivity.
Yes, our normal routines may have been thrown on its head, the way you like to do things may seem impossible, so take this opportunity to dive deep within yourself and maybe even learn more about yourself.
As we’re literally forced to slow down and retreat, both physically and mentally, into ourselves, choose to see this as an opportunity to try life in a different way or work on those things you’re always too busy to do. Try out some new hobbies, call family/friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, meditate and journal more deeply. It’s okay to take a step back—not only is it okay, but it’s necessary!
✅ Stay focused on the present and making the most of this moment, now.
✅ Keep yourself productive, doing things that bring YOU joy or make YOU feel accomplished. Don’t worry about what others expect you to be working on or expect you to achieve. You’re looking after yourself and your loved ones at the moment, and that’s okay.
✅ Eat well, stay active in any way you can, and respect what your body tells you.
✅ Give yourself something to look forward to every day. This might be a book, an episode of a tv show, a new project, a new hobby, your journaling practice, a ritual, chatting to a friend.
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What does it mean to be #vulnerable?
It starts with #authenticity. Being authentically yourself means standing in your #truth, your #power, your values and your ideas, expressing them honestly. Vulnerability is simply the next step: being authentically yourself around others; expressing your feelings, truths and ideas openly in public.
But that’s scary! It’s where we run the risk of rejection, mockery, exclusion. Being vulnerable is one of the bravest things we can do, and so often, it ends up being the most rewarding.
There’s a key ingredient to healthy, brave authenticity and vulnerability, though: #compassion. Express yourself from the heart and lead with Love: Love for yourself, and Love for others.
When your truth is rooted in self-love, you’re safe from rejection and exclusion, and mockery can’t hurt you. When your truth is rooted in love and compassion for others, similarity and difference are both as beautiful as each other and your vulnerability will empower those around you, whether they have a similar truth to you or come from a completely different perspective.
Being vulnerable is really about being #honest, with yourself and with others. It’s about showing up and being seen as you are, in all your complex beauty. It’s about showing compassion and respect for the feelings, truths and ideas of those around you. Be fearlessly you so that others can be fearlessly them!
Next time, when you feel a certain way, express that emotion. If you have an opinion, share it. The world will be enriched and empowered by your contributions. And when someone else suggests an idea, expresses an emotion or shares an opinion, let them know that you have been enriched and empowered by their contributions.
Since late January when we went to Mammoth Mountain, I strained my bicep from using my arms to break my falls. One particular fall felt really bad and since that time, weeks later, I’m dealing with pain as it slowly heals. As my own biggest teacher, I’ve given myself space to heal but still deal with the frustrations of not feeling free in my body.
It might sound obvious if I say that flexibility is important in yoga. But I don’t mean #flexibility of the body—I mean flexibility of the #spirit.
Yoga is a powerful teacher of #balance between #freedom and #restraint: the liberation that comes with learning to connect with ourselves; the restraint that comes from existing in a complex physical world. Finding and keeping that balance, dancing between the total release and #self-awareness, requires the flexibility to be constantly conscious of ourselves and adaptable to our rhythms.
In Sanskrit, the word for ‘freedom’ is ‘kaivalya’; the fourth book of the #YogaSutras explores the freedoms we find through a ‘dedicated and consistent yoga practice.’
The freedoms that yoga brings are so powerful: open muscles, deep nourishing breaths, oneness and connection. But any restrictions that come from our physical bodies are also felt powerfully. Whether it’s an injury from which we’re recovering, a body that is larger or tighter than we would like, a physical condition that presents additional challenges—all of these factor deeply into our yoga practice.
In many ways, life is similar to yoga. We’re constantly spinning between working powerfully towards our intentions and dealing with limitations and constraints.
It’s easy to slip into frustration, impatience, pessimism when something is holding us back, but the best way to work with constraints is through loving #compassion and #space.
Give yourself the space to heal, to grow and to overcome challenges at your own pace. Give yourself the space to feel all of those feelings that come to the surface, but don’t let them tempt you into pushing yourself.
To give yourself this space, you might need to adapt your plan, modify your routine or shift your #perspective. You’ll need to stay flexible and receptive, open to #change and #transformation. By doing this, you’re not compromising your intentions or failing in your goals, not at all! You’re simply giving yourself the best tools to achieve your uniquely personal definition of #success.
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.