On Teamwork: Lessons in Letting Go

“You are powerful in your letting go. You are more powerful in your letting go than in your holding on. The letting go is your strength. The more you can let go, the stronger you become. Fear causes people to grasp and hold. Letting go creates Infinite freedom. I suggest you take Infinite freedom.”

~Divine Mother through Connie Huebner

 

I don’t think I’ve ever really been a team player. Don’t get me wrong- I love people, I just don’t like working with people. I’m the kind of person that, when I have a vision for something, I get on that one-track-mind life and plough forwards to make it happen. Inefficiency frustrates me and dilly-dallying on decision making is the bane of my existence. 

This last year, I’ve gone from being an independent one-woman show to working with two other partners on an upcoming project.  

Backstory- After hosting the one day mobile meditation studio pop up last December, a man named Evian reached out to me and said he wanted to chat as he was already planning a very similar idea for a business. Long story short, I met with him and his business partner Hiroko and together we became the trio behind Moment Meditation. 

Like any relationship, our business partnership started out with glowing excitement. We couldn’t stop talking about big picture and the wonderful places we wanted to take this idea. However, like with any relationship, we soon had to have the tough conversations and make tough decisions. In particular- a conversation around money surfaced. How much money was each person going to contribute? 

 

Because the branding behind “MOMENT” was something I had worked on, on my own, almost two years ago when I hosted the pop up meditation studio, this new company founded by the three of us was going to “buy the brand” off of me, the individual, and this would be a part of my contribution. Immediately, I felt a sense of resistance well up within me. The truth was, I was afraid. I was afraid they would try to change the MOMENT brand. I was afraid of being used. I was afraid of being nudged out of my own “baby”- that they, these strangers I had just met this year, would purchase this brand from me and then kick me out of it. After all, I was the new one. They had been talking about this long before I was around. I was the addition. I was replaceable. 

 

This fear and lack of trust meant I needed to protect myself. As they say, I had to look out for number one. So I raised my walls, put up my guard, and I dug my heels in on matters that required me to give- even just a little. I had heard horror stories about partnerships gone wrong and I was convinced that could happen in this case so I turned myself into an obstacle, halting progress, at least until we signed papers with a lawyer. 

 

And surprise surprise, that didn’t work.

 

As my business partner Hiroko likes to remind me, the brain’s job is to keep us alive- which means seeking out all the things that are wrong in the situation and making sure we’re aware of them. What we’re trying to do with meditation is to notice the sometimes outrageous stories the brain weaves. I’m not sure what clicked but at some point, I decided to stop resisting. I made the conscious decision to turn away from my chattering brain and to turn towards trust. I forged ahead, not looking back. (And fortunately for us as a lawyer’s docs wouldn’t arrive for another five months at which point we had already secured an architect.) When I decided to trust my partners and let go of the vision that I clung to in my mind, things suddenly became smoother and easier. I was moving with the flow rather than against it. Decision making moved more quickly when we were all, truly, open-minded. I no longer felt the imagined animosity that I had been feeling and instead, finally, began to feel like a part of a team.  

Maybe the ego isn't a terrible thing

Back at the tail end of last year, I volunteered to plan a date with someone I really like. We had been hanging out for a while now but because of conflicting work schedules, we hadn’t had an opportunity to have what we call a “Day Date”. After setting the date, type-A Anita came out in full force.

 Image via pinterest

Image via pinterest

I made a list, checked the weather (chance of showers- typical Vancouver), and then made another list for rainy day activities. I was on vacation with two of my best girl friends at the time and I proceeded to poll them for ideas as well as bounce my own ideas off of them. Aquarium? Nope. Not 17 anymore. Go to a hockey game? I’m not into watching sports. Eventually, I threw my hands up in the air exclaiming: NONE OF THIS IS GOING TO WORK. WE HAVE NO INTERESTS IN COMMON. And proceeded to throw myself a pity party.

 

The next day, I was still going on about this needs-to-be-perfect Day Date when my best guy friend who was also on the trip, stopped me and said

 

“I don’t get it. Why are you putting so much effort into this?”
I replied- “…because I care about this person and I want him to have fun?”

And he said “Are you sure that’s it? It sounds like you want him to have fun because it makes you feel good.”

 

Goddammit, Wilson.

 image via google

image via google

 

He was right. Here I was thinking I was being selfless by planning a day that would make someone else super happy when in reality, my sneaky ego was the driving force.  I did want him to have fun because it would make me feel good about myself.  Did that make me a bad person?

 

And then I realized- the ego gets a bad rep.

 Image via pinterest

Image via pinterest

New age philosophy these days teaches us that the ego and its desires and attachments is the source of all suffering; and that ideally, we should all live ego-free if we want to be better people. While lovely in theory, the application isn’t as practical.

 

The fact is, we are going to be individuals with egos, preferences, desires, and attachments.

We’re flawed and we’re human.

It’s all a part of this human experience we’ve been given. The important thing is is not to let any of these things- egos, preferences, desires, and attachments rule our lives in such a way that we are unconscious. So long as we are aware and we can reign it in every so often (rather than be forced to react), we can continue to choose to live by the higher road.

 

So to Wilson, I retorted
“Yeah- so what. He has fun, he’s happy and I’m happy he’s happy.”

 Via @lostboyslife  doodles

Via @lostboyslife doodles

 

Nothing wrong with that. 

The Moments In-between // ROAD TRIP ESSENTIALS

In yoga, there’s a lot of talk about taking what we learn "off of the mat." We try to cultivate patience, grounding, flexibility, and strength in our practice, and ideally, we translate it into our daily lives. However, this exchange of learning on and off the mat flows both ways; there are times when we learn things out in the world that end up informing our practice on the mat. Most recently, I found a source of deeper understanding by sitting on my ass in the passenger seat of an old Prius for like, 500 hours.

 This trusty steed.

This trusty steed.

 getting-there-asana? ( source )

getting-there-asana? (source)

When we think of yoga practice, we often think of poses. When I say road trip, people ask about my destination. The collective image is defined by moments made up of extended pauses. Pose after pose, place after place, there’s a name given to each blip in time.

But what happens during the seconds in between? When I consider how I get from pose to pose, I recognize that we aren’t given the vocabulary to describe it. They’re all considered “transitions,” even though they take varied forms that hardly resemble one another. It’s these unidentified moments, the in-betweens, that I find significance in.

This past summer, my best friend and I dreamt up a road trip with no specific end goal in mind. We started in Phoenix, Arizona, ended in Phoenix, Arizona, and made the journey West, North, East, and South take a glorious ten weeks. Perhaps inspired by the immediate onset of car seat-induced numb-butt, we quickly realized that the ride was, in fact, the destination.

If we wanted to make the most of the open road, we needed to be as invested in the going as we were in the getting to where wanted to go. It wouldn’t do the flying colors, forward-facing heart-to-hearts, and endless trade-off DJing justice any other way.

Rolling down the Pacific Coast Highway, certain things came to make our car-house feel like a car-home. Spending hours in a packed vehicle doesn't have to remind you of rushed, nauseating family road trips. Similarly, moving from pose to pose doesn’t need to be hurried, make you fear losing your balance, or be anything other than another part of enjoying the ride. Depending on what type of yoga you’re practicing, transitions might take up half of total class time. Try giving these moments as much intention and consideration as we’re taught to give the poses with names. You never know how the subtle changes you make might enhance your experience overall, on or off the mat.

 

Here are my top 10 must-haves for leisurely road tripping, or how I learned to pay attention to the beauty of transitioning from place to place (and later, pose to pose.)

1. A Double Car Charger.

DJ from one phone, navigate from the other... get back to the view faster.

2. Wet Ones, Kleenex, & Paper Towels.

So many things to spill, so much time to spill it.

3. Google Maps, downloaded.

Map your route and have it ready before entering areas without service.

 Our actual trip, thanks Google!

Our actual trip, thanks Google!

4. Accessible Water.

Keep a gallon jug on the ground to refill cup-holder sized cups the whole way. 

5. Incense Matches.

Revitalize a stuffy atmosphere in 10 seconds flat.

6. Polarized Sunglasses.

 Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

7. Flavored Stevia.

Makes even the most questionable gas station coffee taste reasonably decent.

8. Coconut Oil.

Lotion, massage oil, and great for cooking on a campfire.

 Big Sur, CA

Big Sur, CA

9. A Handy Camera.

You never know when you're going to see a whale from the highway and capture your own reaction to it because your phone is still in selfie mode.... Tears, naturally.

 

 

 

10. Gifts, for the amazing people you'll meet along the way.

We gave away maple syrup tapped in my best friend’s home state of New Hampshire, because everyone loves a good excuse for brunch with new friends (especially off the grid, in the middle of a desert.)

 Slab City, CA

Slab City, CA

Ultimately, we learned that the journey isn’t downtime unless we make it that way. As it turns out, the moments in-between are some of the most significant of all.

 Plus, who knows what you might see from the car.

Plus, who knows what you might see from the car.


Already got the travel bug, or trying to catch it? Join us on June 25th & 26th for kayaking to a secret beach, setting up camp, doing some yoga, beers around a bonfire, journalling, starlit meditation, and all the rest. Fall asleep to the sound of the ocean and wake up to yoga and meditation on the beach. It's nothing fancy, it's The Cheapest Yoga Retreat Ever (and you can sign up here!)

 

 

THE MANY (SURPRISING) BENEFITS OF DAILY MORNING RITUALS

This week, we've got another sweet guest post on developing morning rituals from Angie at The Five15. See the OG piece here, plus more creativity and positivity on her blog. Keep an eye out for her new designs on Social Yoga's next round of notebooks!



My husband and I have been roomies for one year! (And married for 11 months!) And it's been the most fantastic, mind-blowing experience. Among many of the perks of co-habitating, one of my top favs are our morning rituals. Unlike routine, rituals are intentional, mindful. They have become such an important part of my life as an individual and now of our life as a married couple. 

We both had our own morning rituals that started years before we even started dating. My morning ritual then involved a daily reading from a couple of meditation books, a little bit of journaling and quiet time to set intentions for the day.

I didn’t come up with this practice on my own. It seemed to happened accidentally, when I was going through a difficult time in my life and I was desperately craving direction. The universe put people in my path who seemed to be living meaningful, intentional lives. I started asking them questions and modeling actions I could implement in my life. That is how my morning rituals (among other things) started evolving, very clumsily at first, until I found something that worked for me. 

Discovering the importance of a daily practice was not an enlightened process. It was really more trial and error. Sometimes I didn’t feel like making time for reading or journaling. Other times I thought it was silly, unimportant, a pain in the butt that took some of my precious time (cause I am so busy don’t you know?). What happened is I started noticing that when I made time in the morning to “fill my tank” (read, journal, meditate), I felt more grounded, tolerant, positive, and overall moved through the rest of the day with ease.

I am a slow learner, so fine-tuning my practice was an imperfect, bumpy process.  Today, after many years of practice, I couldn’t imagine a day without my morning rituals. What I do has changed with the years (as have I) but it’s become a foundation of my spiritual practice and who I am today. 

I am not the only one who believes in morning rituals. I stumbled upon an interesting article on Scientific Americandiscussing their benefits. 

“People facing situations that induce anxiety typically take comfort in engaging in preparatory activities, inducing a feeling of being back in control and reducing uncertainty”.

This made sense to me on so many levels. Why not be as prepared as I can to get out there every day, to ensure I have all the energy and resources I need to live life on life’s terms, on good days and on bad days?

It's a no brainer for me. 

So I had this kick-ass practice, and had figured it all out -I thought- then one day, I met the most amazing man, THE love of my life. After spending more time (and mornings) together, it was only a matter of time before we had to adjust the daily morning rituals again.

Luckily, we both have similar values and practices, but no previous experience practicing with a significant other. We tried different things until gradually we found something that works really well for us: we read, together, from a couple of books we both really like, we have (usually) un-timed quiet meditation, and all of it usually involves forms of cuddling (sorry). It not only sets the tone for the rest of our day, but it is also very mindful together time we get every morning as a couple. We always talk about living intentional lives and for us, this is a huge part of that. 

I like how again, finding a new morning ritual happened naturally and again, I can’t imagine doing anything different. It’s interesting how some of the best things that happen to me occur when I (counter-intuitively) let things unfold without trying to control (much). Huh.... I am a slow learner. 

Sitting in our dining room table and either drawing or writing (or both!) every night has somehow become a mini ritual too (for now). Usually it involves lots of sparkling water, tea & Spotify playlists. 

Are you a morning ritual convert? Do you practice any? I’d love to know! 

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING- Or The Ongoing Battle Between Feeling Guilty & Doing Nothing

If your gCal runs your life and you are always on the lookout on how to maximize efficiency, listen up.

 

I am you.


Nothing makes me more upset than inefficiency and knowing that I’ve wasted time. After all, there are things to do, people to see, classes to teach, passion projects to pursue and aint nobody got time for loafing around.

 

That is- until the other day.

 

Let me make it clear that I’m not a robot. I too need breaks and rest days. However, I’ve half-jokingly told loved ones that

doing nothing is only OK when I schedule it in.

As a Myers Briggs “J” through and through, I love a good pre-planned break and can wholeheartedly appreciate planned spontaneity. With that said, the other day I found myself in an internal battle with myself over, well, nothing.  

Do a quick google search and you’ll see that there are a gazillion apps out there that help us streamline our lives. To make things easier, smoother, and to leave us with more time to do more things.

More is the buzz word and we just can’t get enough.

 

The other day, a Wednesday, started just the same as any other. I woke up to my alarm, rolled around, and debated whether or not to go for a workout with a friend. I was exhausted, fighting off sickness, and only had 5-6 hours of sleep. A quick glance showed that she had texted to cancel. Taking that as a sign from the universe, I re-set my alarm for an hour later and proceeded to go back to bed.

 

Except I couldn’t. My heart was racing as I thought about all the things I had to do. A little voice inside my head said something along the lines of “C’mon Anita. You’re an entrepreneur which means you don’t have time to laze around like this. If you aren’t working, you aren’t getting paid so GET UP.”

 

I eventually crawled out of bed, put on running shoes, and went for an hour long jog to clear my head. Feeling a little bit better, I came back, did a yoga practice, and meditated for 20 minutes. I showered, made breakfast, had tea, and read the paper. At this point, I was nearly three hours into my “workday” yet had accomplished nothing. A small voice inside called me a slacker (team No Days Off would revoke my membership) while another voice- a little louder now after my morning of self care- reassured me that I can only be good to others if I’m good to myself.  

 

As someone who is self-employed, I am my own terrible boss.

The pressure is constant, the deadlines unrealistic, and I always feel like I’m falling behind in the race. In terms of what I’m running towards- who knows. We all know life isn’t a footrace yet to actually live and practice that is a whole other story.

 

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend last month (who is also a therapist). When she asked me what I did over the weekend, I responded “a lot of nothing”.

She then said- “What do you mean nothing? How are you doing nothing?”

Me: Nothing of importance.

Her: Well, what were you doing?

Me: Literally nothing. Sitting on my bed daydreaming? I don’t know.

Her: Well, that’s something.

 

We are quick to write something off as “nothing important” when really, it’s something- just maybe not the thing we envisioned ourselves doing or the place where we envisioned ourselves at the time. This craving of something just over the horizon is not uncommon and when that happens, it robs us of the present. Not only that, it also devalues the thing that we are doing in the moment.

Everything is something and everything is nothing- it’s where we place our value and awareness that makes it what it is. 

Learn To Stay

With The Chill & Be Still Series right around the corner, we're featuring a guest post on learning to stay written by our girl, Angie Coates (aka resident artist for Social Yoga's next round of notebook designs.) See the original post, plus many more of her rad words + designs on The Five15


I used to be a runner, both literally and figuratively. I ran from emotions and uncomfortable situations. I ran from people and friends when they were getting too close, so they wouldn’t get to know the real me. I ran from relationships that were never right for me, straight into the next wrong relationship.

I also ran long runs to control my weight. I ran when I was tired. I ran when I was hurt. I ran when I was sick.

I am grateful my running shoes don’t get much action these days. I am grateful these days, I am learning to stay.

My spirit BFF Pema Chodron says staying is the cause of lasting happiness, the path to enlightenment. To me that means the business of staying is worth a shot. She also says escapism is the cause of suffering, and this -I know from personal experience- is the absolute truth.

Looking back, a lot of the times I ran it actually made sense. I want to see it as self preservation. I was getting out of things that were not good for me. It wasn’t intentional running though, it was a painful reaction to the life I was living. Learning to stay has a lot to do with building a GOOD life. A life worth staying for. It also has everything to do with learning to know and love myself.

Staying is a workout. It takes practice. It takes discipline and commitment. It is also imperfect. That is why we practice. I am learning to keep coming back, and learning to stay longer.

Today I am grateful for intentional running when it is necessary, and running for health. More importantly, I am also grateful I am not fighting the urge to escape. I am grateful today I actually do enjoy staying.


You can check out Angie's Instagram here. It's cool.

Whose energy is it anyway?

“He’s not messaging me back.”
“We always talk about hanging out but we never actually hang out.”
“Does he even like me?!”

 Navigating the jungle of lurveeeee 

Navigating the jungle of lurveeeee 

 

One thing that was really rad about last year is that most of my best friends and I were on the same sort of wavelength in terms of our love lives. No matter who I was hanging out with, eventually the conversation trickled into “… so how is it going with ____?”

 

And often times, the answer was met with phrases similar to the ones listed above. We would dissect text messages and conversations, like amateur anthropologists trying to decode a language from another culture. Because don’t they say something about men being from mars and women being from venus?

 

As for myself at that time, despite being relatively new, my relationship status was (and still is) pretty great. However, after having those amateur anthropologist moments with friends and being generally surrounded by their nervous (kind of anxious)- new-to-relationship-energy, I found myself internally questioning my feelings, questioning the guy I was dating (now partner), and finding reasons to bemoan.

 

I had no reason to be anxious and nervous. The aforementioned guy is a friend who I respect, trust, and care about. We have no problems “getting real” with serious talk when needed and he really is great. So what’s the deal with these Debbie downer feels and thoughts?

 

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love my friends and the roles have definitely been switched before; however, I had to ask myself- whose energy is this? As it certainly wasn’t my own.

 

How often do we lend an empathetic ear and get sucked in to another’s story, only to be spit out feeling just a touch affected and a little too invested?

We are compassionate, loving people (at least the people who read this blog are) and in order to continue to be compassionate, empathetic people- without losing a part of ourselves, we need to learn to take care of ourselves and stay grounded in our own energy .

 

Some tips to get grounded (and you may have your own ritual):

  • Go for a run
  • Get some fresh air
  • Meditate. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes- find stillness and take a few deep breaths. –Check in with yourself and jot down some bullet points about how you’re feeling
  • Do something for yourself- a bath, a meal, whatever it is.

 

What’s your grounding ritual? 

Confessions From A Sensory Deprivation Pod

I eat ice cream on most days. My Spotify never stops. I travel as often as possible. Most yoga I teach incorporates partner acrobatics. I hopped in the Sensory Overload Chamber (below) long before giving sensory deprivation a passing thought. 

 Not quite a sensory deprivation tank... (Image via  DJOYBEAT )

Not quite a sensory deprivation tank... (Image via DJOYBEAT)

Needless to say, I'd never thought about external sensory deprivation as a means of internal relaxation. Ashtanga yoga has always been my go-to for "controlling the fluctuations of the mind," which is the traditional purpose of the practice. In order to calm the whirring thoughts, breath control is used to complete primary practice, which takes about as long as a floating session. By the time I get to rest, or shavasana, I've been focusing on my breathing and alignment for at least 75 minutes prior. Blissful? Absolutely. Meditative? Often, but not without completing a series of poses that could double as my audition to circus school.

 Try letting your mind wander to the grocery list in this position (image via  Pinterest )

Try letting your mind wander to the grocery list in this position (image via Pinterest)

Back to sensory deprivation. The thought of hopping in a pod that takes away all the distractions, without taking me to my physical limits first? I was intimidated by the thought.

It was mostly curiosity that led me to the reception area at Float YaletownAs I sat there, thoughts like, "what if I can't relax?" and  "what if I fall asleep?" crossed my mind. I'd talked to two people who didn't like it...  "what if I hate it?"

                        He gets it (image via  Pinterest )

                       He gets it (image via Pinterest)

Then I laughed. Watching myself run through the hypotheticals and rationalize my possible behavior in a space that only existed to relax people is the beauty of trying something new. Clearly, anything can happen, even when the goal is to make nothing happen for 90 minutes. 

New situations allow us to recognize our tendencies, and better equip us to navigate future unknowns, no matter how big or small they feel at the time.

Diving into it allows us to think past the initial reaction of, "I guess I know myself." It helps us evolve the way we think.

Nothing like pondering the magic of neuroplasticity in a waiting room.

After a couple minutes, I'm brought back to my room -- all wood & stone everything. It's very zen, except for the glowing, futuristic, white pod taking up 70% of the space. There's a stone shower to rinse off in, a robe, towels, two kinds of earplugs (go for the wax ones), and petroleum jelly to cover any battle wounds you might be sporting. 

Inside the tank, there's a spray bottle of fresh water and a towel in case things get salty (you're floating in Epsom salt, by the way), and a mini pool noodle for added neck support. There are also adjustable light settings, as well as a music button, just in case you want to bring back two of the senses.

So there I am, external distraction-free, entirely alone, comfortably naked, and I've got 90 minutes to do whatever I please.

 image via  Instagram

image via Instagram

I stepped into the water and was immediately rushed back to the feeling of entering the Dead Sea for the first time. To say the least, it was trippy. Climbing into what resembled an alien incubator, only to feel like I was floating in the Dead Sea, except it's glowing like a European trance club? Hardly deprivation. Ultimately, I found the experience to be more like a sensory modification pod. 

After a few slow breaths, light show changes, and fiddling with the pool noodle, I started to drift away. The appeal of floating quickly became clear: it's a space to exist without the temptation of distraction. In a way, it's a lot like showing up to your mat. What happens once you get there is up to you. Breathe deep, float in circles, bounce off of the walls, sing, take a nap, or simply experience the subtle sensations of something unusual. What you can't do? Check your phone, change the song, hear construction work outside, get a snack, or look at your nails... all of which were welcomed limitations of the experience.

When it was over, soft music came on to let me know I had five minutes left. I rinsed off, got dressed, and wandered back out into the "real world," which felt a lot less real, and a lot less serious this time around. Spending 90 minutes in your own head just might do that to you, and I'd recommend the change of perspective to anyone who's ever felt like they get "too caught up in it all" sometimes.

 image via  Float Yaletown

image via Float Yaletown

All in all? The Dead Sea rocks if you happen to be in the Middle East, but on a two-hour lunch break, floating is a worthwhile endeavor. Do it for the newness, and don't expect to feel any type of way. Just let whatever happens happen. Practicing non-attachment to the outcome of a situation is a great use of 90 minutes as it stands.

Pro tip: Clean your ears in the shower after you're finished, or they might be full of dried salt when you get home. Live and learn.

ADULTING 101: INACTION & FACING YOUR FEARS

A few months ago, I received a voice mail from a 1-800 number. The man in the voice mail said to call him right back as it was urgent; however, it was 7PM by that time so I decided the phone call could wait until the next day. That night, curiosity killed the cat and I decided to google the number. The result pulled up and emblazoned across the entirety of the first page was-

 

COLLECT CORP.

 

For those of you who don’t recognize the name, it’s an apparently super aggressive debt collection agency. I immediately started to freak the fuck out. As most people do these days, I have some debt- but nothing out of the ordinary and I never miss payments. Typically, when I encounter what I call “first adult moments” like these, I have a wonderful support system of friends and family that I rush to for advice. However, as I was just about to text my best friend, something inside me stopped me from going through with it. Money and financial discretion/ privacy had torn apart another relationship of mine in the past and I realized that no matter how much I trusted the people I love in my life, I couldn’t be sure that there would be no judgement on their end- now or in the future. (It’s my hope that one day we can talk as freely about money as we do about Sex, STIs, and soon- mental health, thereby eliminating the last taboo. But, I digress.)

 photo via pinterest

photo via pinterest

So I didn’t text anyone and I sat, quite literally, for a good half hour paralyzed by fear. I decided I wasn’t going to call the number back because if I ignore it- it’ll go away… right? 

  Denial in photo form. (via Pinterest) 

Denial in photo form. (via Pinterest) 

Worst case scenarios ran through my head and my heart sank into my stomach with each minute that passed. There was even a brief, VERY BRIEF, moment in which I thought- well, I can see why people would end their lives over debilitating debt.

Whoa. With that, my brain screeched to a halt and I snapped myself out of it. I knew I couldn’t handle this emotionally alone. Putting my pride to the side, I reached out to my sister and together we talked it through. She offered to meet up the next evening to chat it through before I called them back as they are, according to google, notoriously mean, nasty, and aggressive.

Feeling a little more settled, I decided to do some meditation & journaling to get grounded. Coming out of my self care practice, I realized, as cheesy as it sounds, that I can handle anything that comes at me. In this case, worst comes to worst- I would make lifestyle adjustments, postpone plans, negotiate a reasonable payment plan. It wasn’t the end of the world. Feeling confident, I decided to contact them on my own the next morning.

  photo via pinterest

photo via pinterest

This whole experience reminded me of a phrase in one of yoga’s famous books- The Gita:

HE WHO SEETH INACTION IN ACTION AND ACTION ININACTION, HE IS WISE AMONG MEN.

We falsely convince ourselves that taking no action allows us to sit back and play the role of the victim. In reality, there is action in inaction. By consciously doing nothing we are effectively doing something and we have to accept the consequences all the same. Whether the consequences are as extreme as facing a disgusting amount of debt to pay back or something as simple as not getting what we want out of a relationship, we’ve made our bed by doing nothing and we will have to lie in it.

As for Collect Corp? The next day I called them back and after a bit of phone tag, was finally connected with the man who called me originally. The first question he asked me after I confirmed my name was whether or not I was born in February. I said no, to which he responded:

SORRY! WRONG PERSON.

Yup. So that happened.

 

The Beauty of a Forward Fold

When I first re-kindled my love affair with yoga, I was afraid to take flight. I could backbend until the cows came home but arm balances and inversions were a no-fly zone. Well, they say your practice shifts as you grow with it- to become what you need at that point in time. Nowadays, I take handstand breaks and my favourite thing to teach is an arm balance focused class.

Yet, I can feel a rumble in the distance of shifts to come. Scratch that, the shifts are real and they’re here.

As someone with fairly open hamstrings, forward folds were always a bit of a snooze fest for me. It was an opportunity to slack off, a “rest pose” in yoga class. Give me wheel pose or grasshopper- anything but a standing forward fold or a child’s pose. I wanted to feel, and feel lots. I went from craving a powerful, sweaty class, to a dance-inspired flow, and now-

to nothing

.

but

.

Stillness

 

As Mara mentioned in a previous post, we all have dark thoughts. And while we all hope for a happy ending- a day where it won’t be so hard, there will be good days and bad days. I’ve had a few bad days myself in the last little while to the point where I felt paralyzed with anxiety, and I was brought to my knees- literally. Knees as wide as the mat, big toes together, and forehead to the ground. Child’s pose is my go-to for moments like these and I will be the first to admit there have been many, many tears shed on my mat.

These are the days where sitting in meditation feels too difficult and even savasana feels too exposed. 

As one of the most underrated postures, it’s time to give forward folds their credit. Sure backbends, inversions, and arm balances are prettier, more photogenic, but

there is something innately settling when you surrender your head to your heart, or your mind to your mat.

The action of a forward fold is a true action of looking inwards. I am reminded of something I was taught in yoga teacher training: our front body is our “ego” body- the part of us that is an individual. When we are proud of our achievements, we puff up our chests. We walk with our ego bodies leading the way. On the other side, our back body is our universal body- the place of connection between us and something greater. When we conceal the individual body in a forward fold, we are thereby opening ourselves up to potential, to connection, to the universe.

They say backbends are vulnerable because we leave our internal organs exposed. What they don’t talk about is how forward folds require just as much internal strength. When we look inwards, we are literally blind to what is around us, requiring us to trust that we will be protected and provided for. (On a physical level- have you ever tried to engage your core in a forward fold? If not- give it a shot. Anatomy 101- engaging the muscle groups on one side side allows the opposing muscle groups to release, so firmness in the belly allows us to go deeper in a forward fold.)

 

And so, while child’s pose doesn’t solve my problems, it offers me a moment to feel safe. The shape of a forward fold is one of self protection. However, whereas one may mistakenly believe that it is a posture of turning away from the world, in reality, it is one of giving in.

It reminds me of perspective- that this is part of something greater and that this too, will pass.

Once I know that and believe that- in every bone and thought in my body, I am able to pick myself up and carry on.

 

And that, friends, is the beauty of a forward fold. 

THE SEEDY UNDERBELLY OF OPTIMISM

I must’ve sat down to write these thoughts ten separate times during January. I sat down, determined to get something down on the page, hating how long it had been since I’d written down a fully-formed thought and then I’d chickened out, running to numb with Netflix while quietly cursing my cowardice before I’d even attempted to put a single word down.

  Image via @blogsociety on Instagram

Image via @blogsociety on Instagram

We’re now comfortably into February and so far, 2016 has already been a bumpy road of highs and lows for oh so many reasons. [Sidebar: right here, not more than a few sentences into writing this post, I ran to facebook to scroll through my feed which showed me nothing of interest and was done purely as a coping mechanism. I did it mechanically and without thinking. When I realized what I was doing, I took a breath, acknowledged my fear, and came back.] It’s time for some real talk: we all have fears which hold us back from living our best lives. One of the many things I’ve learned from Brene Brown is this--fear breeds shame and shame holds power when left to fester in the dark space of things we leave unsaid.

THAT IS TO SAY, THE BEST WAY TO PULL OUT OF A SHAME SPIRAL IS BY ADMITTING OUT LOUD, TO OTHER HUMAN BEINGS, THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY IN ONE. SIMPLE AS THAT.

The New Year is supposed to bring with it a fresh start, a shiny package of optimism dropped on our doorstep with which we can usher in a year of new beginnings.

  Photo via @studiodiy on instagram

Photo via @studiodiy on instagram

I’ve always found this to ring hollow but this year, I finally put my finger on why. In a time of year when everyone is excited, fresh-faced, and eager to share their enthusiasm for the year ahead, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one haunted by dark thoughts and self doubt. No one’s voicing their fears and doubts. Your instagram feed is brimming with beautiful, hand drawn quotes sparkling with the newness of January; your facebook feed fills with statuses declaring goals and fear-conquering mindsets of pure badassery. During times like this where we are bombarded with messages of can-do and positivity, it’s so easy to give into the voices in your head, mentally lashing out at those shiny optimists and judging them as try-hards.

  Photo via Danielle La Porte's Truthbombs

Photo via Danielle La Porte's Truthbombs

And this is why it’s taken me so long to write. Because writing that sentence, putting that darkness within you onto the page for all to see? That’s hard. But it’s real and it’s my truth. And chances are, it’s someone else’s truth too, someone who might also be too scared to admit it out loud.

[Here I had to take a day and a half break. I strongly considered giving up on this draft entirely. I started doubting whether I could put something like this out there for all to see. I started wondering is this really how I feel, or am I being dramatic? I tried to rationalize myself out of putting this out into the world, basically.

IT ALL COMES BACK TO THAT DEEP-SEATED, IRRATIONAL FEAR THAT I’M THE ONLY ONE FEELING THIS WAY FROM TIME TO TIME, THAT BY SHARING SUCH A VULNERABLE, HONEST, AND IN SOME WAYS BITTERLY NEGATIVE PART OF MYSELF, OTHERS MIGHT START TO SEE ME AS ONLY THIS, THIS ONE SMALL PART OF MY IDENTITY WHICH I USUALLY TUCK QUIETLY AWAY AND ONLY SHOW TO MY TRUSTED CIRCLE.

  Image via @tonyfutura on instagram.

Image via @tonyfutura on instagram.

Today, I had a great day which reinvigorated me. I currently feel fulfilled and lit up about my future; the mood in which I chose to sit down a few days ago and start writing this feels a million miles away, yet I know it will return. Our lives and our moods ebb and flow like the ocean. Being back on the upswing gives me the courage to finish what I started, see this post through to the end and get it online.]

 

But that’s just it, right? We all have these dark thoughts from time to time--all of us. Some of us are better at recognizing them for what they are, as doubts founded not in logic but in the social construct that is our worldview, and are able to keep them from affecting our outlook on life. Some are powerless to overcome these worries and allow their occasional negative thoughts to run rampant with their life. I find myself constantly straddling these two extremes, hovering closer and closer to the former as I learn more about myself. But it’s an imperfect journey. It’s two steps forward and one step backward...but I know that if I keep moving, I’ll keep improving.

I’VE LEARNED THAT THOSE STEPS BACKWARD ARE STILL PROGRESS FORWARDS BECAUSE THEY TEACH ME VALUABLE LESSONS.

I’m writing this because everyone struggles. I’m writing this to say it’s okay, I feel that way too sometimes. I’m writing this because every one of my close friends seems to have had a particularly difficult January this year and I know I’m lucky to have a group of friends to talk to about things like this. More than anything, I’m writing this for those who struggle alone. Whether by choice or necessity, struggling alone is so. freaking. painful. So give yourself some credit and remember that you’ve gotten through the tough times before. Remember that sharing how you’re feeling with friends is the best way to build trust and a bond, the best way to establish a connect with another human being enough that next time you feel this way, you don’t feel so lonely. We’re all human. We’re all looking for connection. Everyday can be New Year’s Day, if you want it to be.



This post was written by our girl Mara- you can learn more about her & read more of her work on her personal site: http://www.mfalstein.com

HOW YOGA HELPED ME HAVE THE TOUGH CONVERSATIONS

We need to talk.

Four words that no one really likes to say, and no one really likes to hear.
Yet if we didn't have these tough conversations, there is no way we would function in relationships of any sort. As we all (hopefully) know, relationships- whether they be intimate and romantic, friendships, or work-related, all require some level of communication. The ideal is for the communication to be honest and open, even when the things that need to be said are no fun to say.

Recently, it’s been an ongoing thing between me and most of my friends. We’re all in various stages of dating and as women in their 20s will, we consult one another for advice. The common thread between all advice has been “you need to have a conversation with him.”

  Not in their 20s. Image via pinterest

Not in their 20s. Image via pinterest

Want to find out if he actually likes you or if you’ve been friend zoned? Have a talk.

Want to know why he doesn’t text? Have a talk.

Want to be open to seeing other people but don’t want to hurt his feelings? Have a goddamn talk.   

 

I’M THINKING YOU GET IT BY NOW. CONVERSATION IS KING.

  Image via pinterest

Image via pinterest

So you’ve figured out what you need to do and now you’ve mustered up the courage to converse. This next thing I want to share with you is KEY. Highlight, bold, and underline it kind of KEY. Picked it up from a yoga teacher training/ ancient scripture but it sure as heck applies to modern day life & modern day romance. 

 

“YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO WORK BUT NEVER TO THE FRUIT OF WORK.”

 

If you’re confused, bear with me. Because here’s the next line:

 

“YOU SHOULD NEVER ENGAGE IN ACTION FOR THE SAKE OF REWARD.”

 

Still lost? Basically, my intention for sharing this is to remind us all (myself included), that you can amp yourself up for a tough conversation all you want but once you’ve decided to do it, you then need to wipe the slate clean and go into it completely open.Withhold any expectation of where you want the conversation to go. Otherwise, it is less of a conversation and more of a monologue.

  Monologue. Image via pinterest

Monologue. Image via pinterest

You can plan out what you’re going to say and what you need to get across but once it’s out there, it’s out there. There is no guarantee that the person you are talking to will reciprocate- both feelings and conversation- and that is something you need to understand before getting into it. It’s scary, I know, but it’s way better than agonizing and running the situation through your head over, and over, and over again.

 

-Or worse, staying complacent in uncertainty because it’s simply easier to turn a blind eye and play the victim (more on that in another blogpost).

 

Whether it’s a talk to get on the same page in a relationship, or it’s a situation at work, bite the bullet, and have the talk. It’s the responsible, and kinder thing to do. 

  Image via pinterest

Image via pinterest