Learning Never Stops

I became a 200-Hour Certified Yoga Teacher in 2013.  Since then, I’ve completed a handful of other certification programs, taught over 2,500 hours of Yoga in the form of classes, workshops, and certifications.  Through all of my experience taking and teaching Yoga, there is one common thread:  I’m still learning.

I have wanted to take a 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training (AYTT) to obtain my 500-Hour status with Yoga Alliance, but I felt like that was not good enough of a reason for me to enroll in one.  I didn’t want my motivation to be a status but rather for the pure joy of learning.  I did my own studies by reading yoga-related books and articles, and I became a regular listener of podcasts for Yoga Teachers.

I’m not sure if the reason why I didn’t enroll in a 300-HR YTT is because I truly wanted my reason to be a calling toward a certain program or if it was because I was afraid of committing 300 hours of my life to another YTT.  YTT’s are hard.  It causes you to grow in ways that you may not have wanted to because during YTT’s, you’re faced with… YOU.  You have to do the work to go through a transformation so that you’re able to grow in your journey to your authentic-self.  It gets messy.  There are often tears shed by classmates (or even by you).  But at the end of the program, you’re not the person that you were when you walked into your first session of a 200-Hr YTT.

It is exhausting to go through that much transformation while completing all your reading and writing assignments, and learning how to teach yoga in front of your classmates.  I think this is what I was nervous about:  All the reading and writing and practicing and… LEARNING.  But I also didn’t want to not learn (if that makes any sense).

I was thisclose to registering for a 300-Hour AYTT twice.  One time, I was supposed to meet with my future teacher and had my tuition ready to send to her.  I was excited about enrolling in her program, but it turned out that I had schedule conflicts that I just couldn’t resolve.  This happened two years in a row.  So I inquired about another AYTT.  The second studio is a well-known studio in the Southeast Region of the US.  They even offered to waive my application fee because I would’ve had to make housing arrangements each time I attended the sessions because it was a few hours away from where I lived.  In the end, I decided not to enroll in any of the programs… Until now.

Due to COVID-19, Yoga Alliance has granted all RYS (Registered Yoga School) to temporarily offer their programs online, preferably via livestream.  So, I started doing some research on yoga schools that I didn’t consider previously due to them being out of state or out of the country.  I wanted a program with flexibility with an option to take classes online and offline… and then I found one.

I enrolled in an AYTT program based out of Surat Thani, Thailand and Bali, Indonesia.  It’s crazy to think about going through an entire 300-Hour program without physically being present, but I’m really excited to start my program this morning!  I won’t know how I need to schedule out my e-learning yet, but what I do know for sure is that I’m going to dive in head first, with the mindset that I will learn something everyday.  Learning has to happen daily so that we can be better and do better.

Learning never stops.

Never stop learning because life never stops teaching.

 

With Gratitude,
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How Are You Doing?

68 days.  That’s how long it’s been since I taught an in-person class due to the closures of non-essential businesses because of COVD-19.  My daily routine has changed dramatically just like everyone else.  I go out less, I wash my hands more often, and I have definitely talked on the phone and FaceTimed with friends more than I have before. So…

HOW ARE YOU DOING?

As for me, I’ve been okay.  Not awesome, not horrible; somewhere in between.  Here’s pretty much how I’ve been week-to-week:

Week 1:  Being “forced” to slow down and be home with my family = AWESOME!!!
Week 2:  Super paranoid whenever I step outside of my home.  Constantly washing my hands for at least 20 seconds.  Putting our house on the market made it quite challenging whenever we had showing appointments since all the public places were closed.  We spent a lot of time at Walmart and Lowe’s as well as long drives just to kill time.  Thank goodness our house went under contract!  Another week of showing appointments might’ve killed me (not really).  Let the packing begin!
Week 3:  We were so busy with packing that I wasn’t aware of the changes due to the stay-at-home order… but I continued loving spending extended time at home (I’m an extroverted introvert, so I value alone time because that is when I’m able to feel replenished of my energy).
Week 4:  I found myself getting really independent in a way that I felt like I didn’t really need friends (which is not true!).  I started wanting to socially withdraw from my friends.  In addition to social distancing, I think part of the reason why I was feeling this way was because I knew I was going to be moving, so I felt a sense of letting go even before the move happened.
Week 5:  Our search for our new home in Texas began.  It was a very interesting experience taking virtual tours and video tours with our agent.  By the end of the week, we were under contract on a home in one of the suburbs in North Dallas!
Week 6:  We made the drive from North Carolina to Texas!  It was really interesting to drive during quarantine (you can read about it here).
Week 7:  We spent a week in San Antonio.  While my husband worked remotely, my daughter and I got to enjoy the Riverwalk and a few other cool places.  This is the week that some of the businesses started re-opening their doors with safety precautions in order.  We got to dine in at a restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday!
Week 8:  We had a temporary living arrangement while waiting to close on our new house.  I continued to wear my mask in public places as well as washing my hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.  Thank goodness for moisturizing hand lotions!
Week 9:  We finally moved into our new home!  Since most of our friends are still strictly social distancing, we didn’t ask for help with the move; instead, we hired movers to come and unload our things from our moving container into our house.  With many boxes but very little furniture, they were done in no time!  It seems like I’m getting less and less cautious about social distancing.  I have to remind myself to respect others — that are at higher risk — by wearing my mask and keeping my distance.

Now that we are going into Week 10 of self-quarantine, I wonder what our new normal will be like going forward.  I don’t feel anxious, but I do feel limited in what activities I can do.  I miss teaching yoga, meditation and pilates in person at studios.  I miss being able to go to the mall where all the stores are open.  But I constantly remind myself that these are First World Problems.  I am grateful that even though I have experienced some set-backs in my business, I’m able to still move forward and work on the things that I can.  I really do have so much to be grateful for, and most likely, so do you.  Next week, I will talk more about the topic of gratitude.

Have a great week, and please continue to be safe!

With Gratitude,
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My Personal Struggles of COVID-19 (and how I combat it)

Everyone in this entire globe has been affected by the pandemic of COVID-19.  Life as we know it, has been turned upside down.  Whether or not you have been infected by the virus (or personally know someone that has been infected), the past three months have created many challenges in everyone’s lives.  Here are my top three struggles that has come out during this time:

  1. I got Zoomed Out!

    girl, computer, work, fatigue, office, woman, stand-alone, girl ...Struggle: Most people I meet in a social setting think that I’m an extrovert.  Not that I’m being deceptive, but when I have to “work a room,” I make a conscious decision to be positive, get to know people and make people feel seen and heard.  As much as I love to make people feel special, it really drains my energy.  The reason why this is important for you to know about me is because my struggles during quarantine did not include going batty over not seeing people in person.  I actually loved the time of “stay-at-home order” because I felt like it gave me permission to stay at home; but with staying home, I couldn’t get out of all the Zoom call requests!
    Solution: I started to limit my Zoom call acceptances to 2 calls per day, and they could not be back-to-back.  As an extrovert by nurture and introvert by nature, I quickly realized that I needed at least 30 minutes in between calls to energetically recover and regenerate.  This simple decision helped me maintain my energetic boundaries as well as increase my ability to mentally show up for each Zoom calls.

  2. I lost half of my income!
    Empty wallet | ✅ Marco Verch is a Professional Photographer ...Struggle: As a yoga teacher, fitness instructor and pilates instructor, the studios and gyms I taught weekly classes and monthly workshops at had to temporarily close their doors. Most health and wellness instructors and teachers are independent contractors for studios and/or part-time employees at fitness facilities, so we don’t get paid time-off.
    Solution: I chose to count my blessings and focus on the things I can be grateful for.  My husband makes enough for me to not work (some of the money I make goes toward my wellness business-related expenses).  I’m not an essential worker that is required to put myself in danger everyday (A deep, sincere thank-you to all the essential workers!). I don’t have as many expenses when I stay at home.  I can teach some classes virtually.  I was able to successfully transition all of my private clients to meeting virtually.  My monthly workshop has also been transitioned to virtual workshops.  There are people who have lost jobs and their entire income.  I pray for them everyday. 
  3. My daily routine has been thrown all over the place!
    Struggle: I’ve heard from many people (without young kids or having to work) that it’s getting easier to stay up late and harder to get up early.  For people with kids, they’ve had to add being a homeschool teacher/daycare worker/nanny to their already-existing responsibilities.  For me, I’ve been busier than ever with teaching my classes online, moving half way across the country, writing my second book, getting ready for an upcoming advanced yoga teacher training in a couple of weeks, and getting furniture for our new house.  These days, I don’t have a consistent routine other than waking up, reading my Bible, praying, meditating and practicing yoga.  Other than that, my day-to-day activities varies.

Solution: I decided to enjoy this time of slight disorder and semi-chaotic life.  This sets the perfect environment for me to truly practice stillness and being present. I also started taking walks around the lake and enjoying short yoga asana practices during sunsets.  When I’m outside (especially near lakes and beaches), it immediately calms me down and helps me to become fully present.

I’ve been making a daily decision to be okay with my new normal.  Even through my struggles of feeling like my life is on hold, I must be present and live each and every moment… because even in this new reality, our lives continue on.

What are some of your own struggles during this pandemic?  I would love to hear from you!

With Gratitude,
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Lessons from The Lotus Flower

Pink and White Lotus Flower · Free Stock PhotoI moved back to Texas (from North Carolina) 12 days ago.  I lived in North Carolina for 4.5 years, but before that, I was a resident of the Lone Star State for almost 10 years.  Even though I grew up in California (Los Angeles), I somehow feel that I’m more of a Texan than a Californian.  I was so excited to make the move back to where my heart is, but the move was not without challenges.  In my blog last week, I talked about the Dos and Don’ts of moving in the midst of COVID-19 (it’s so important to plan ahead because there are moving-related services that may not necessarily readily available due to business closures).  Today, I want to address the emotional aspect of moving, using the symbolism of a lotus flower.

“Be like a lotus. Let the beauty of your heart speak. Be grateful to the mud, water, air and the light.”
Amit Ray

A lotus is a very unique plant: While most plants in the northern hemisphere became extinct during the Ice Age, lotus plants survived, earning the distinction as a living fossil.  It also grows in muddy waters into a beautiful flower: This fact alone can be pondered over for many hours — and I promise to dedicate an entire blog in the near future — but today, I will talk about the following characteristics of a Lotus: Purity, Enlightenment, Self-regeneration and Rebirth.

Purity

The dictionary defines purity as “freedom from contamination.”  When I think of the word contamination, I think of something being dirty, dangerous to one’s well-being, and no longer being good for its purpose.  It seems kind of odd to think about the connection between purity and moving; but the way I connect it is by asking myself, “Am I dragging my personal baggage from state to state, or am I starting anew with a blank slate, with no pre-conceived notion of what this new chapter in my life will be like?”  Being that I’m a dreamer, I like to envision the way I think certain situations will be like.  It’s hard not to go into a new experience and environment with no expectation; however, if I want to approach this with purity, I must go into my life in Texas free from contamination of bad habits that I have previously created in my life.

Enlightenment

We use this term (or some form of it) a lot in Yoga.  Some words that are in this category are understanding, insight, awareness and awakening.  I’ve been missing my friends in Charlotte a lot the past couple of days.  I found myself wondering if we made a mistake by leaving Charlotte.  When I expressed this to my friend in Dallas, she seemed concerned for me.  But I assured her that I was glad I was feeling sad and having doubts because if I didn’t feel this way, how can I say that I gave my heart fully to my life in Charlotte?  It would also indicate that I was totally out of touch with my feelings if I didn’t feel this way.  I think part of being enlightened in one’s journey in life is to be able to have self-awareness and to be able to recognize the discomforts without avoiding or ignoring them.

Self-Regeneration

When I think self-regeneration, I think of lizards.  I remember when I was at a summer camp as a teenager, one of my friends caught a lizard and was trying to hold onto it.  When it squirmed out of his hand, he grabbed the tail (you know what’s coming next), and the tail detached from the lizard… and it was moving by itself!  This was the first time I had ever seen a lizard do that in person, so it freaked me out!  We know that lizards have the ability to regenerate their tails.  I found myself asking the question, “Are there any areas in my life where my heart has been hurt or injured?  If so, am I actively taking the necessary steps to heal and regenerate those parts of my heart?

Rebirth

Rebirth.  To be born again.  This makes me think about being like a newborn, where everything is new and fascinating.  Even though I have previously lived in Dallas for almost 10 years, I want to embrace this city with a new set of eyes and new perspective.  I don’t want to go back to who I was when I lived here before; I want to allow myself to approach this new chapter of life with freshness and excitement.

Moving is tough.  It is never without discomforts and bitter-sweetness.  If you are (or will be) in the situation of moving, know that I can relate to the myriad of emotions that you are (or will be) going though… and that transition feelings are completely normal and necessary.

With Gratitude,
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Dos and Don’ts of Moving During COVID-19

Last week, my family and I made our 1,102 mile move, driving from Charlotte, NC to Dallas, TX.  We sold our house (that we loved so much) in Charlotte and we’re now under contract on a house in Dallas.  Things happened faster than we had anticipated where by the beginning of April, we were packing and making moving arrangements while house-hunting virtually.

This is such a weird time to sell/buy a house.  I didn’t know what to expect, but the process was quite easy and flawless.  Because our agent posted a virtual tour of our house on the listing, many potential buyers were able to take a tour without physically stepping inside of our house.  The few in-person showing appointments were a bit tricky, since there weren’t any cafes of businesses open that we can go to so that we can leave the house.  We ended up taking rides down to grocery stores a bit out of our way to kill time, and we took some walks in nearby neighborhoods.  But we ended up accepting an offer just six days after our listing went live, so the inconvenience of leaving the house, coming back and sanitizing everything wasn’t too exhausting.

Anyway, I did mention in my blog last week that I was going to let you know how our move in the midst of COVID-19 went, so in addition to that, I will share with you the Dos and Don’ts of moving during a world pandemic.

DOs:
    1. DO start purging items that you won’t need in your new place.
      My daughter and I tend to be more emotionally attached to things than my husband does, but we actually did pretty well in this area!  We started donating and selling a lot of clothes that we haven’t worn in over a year… and even after that, we were still left with a lot of clothes!
    2. DO start packing items that you won’t need for the next few months.
      We knew we would be in our new home before the winter, so we packed up our Christmas decor and other holiday home decor in boxes as well as winter clothes.  We also have tons of books that are yet to be read… and if I’m being honest, I probably won’t be getting to them in the next few months (so they got packed as well).
    3. DO make a checklist of places you’ll need to make address changes for.
      This includes USPS, credit card companies, subscriptions, etc.  I did a permanent address change to our temporary place; once we move into our house (in 18 days!), I will do another permanent address change.
    4. DO create a preliminary time frame and an itinerary of transition plans.
      I love checklists.  I used an Excel spreadsheet to make time frame plan, driving itinerary, and a checklist of companies we would need to contact to stop/transfer service.
    5. DO start selling things that you will not be taking with you.
      In my experience, I learned that my favorite furniture may look good in my old house, but it doesn’t mean that it will match my new house; so we sold almost all of our furniture except for my piano (which is technically an instrument, not furniture) and one table that dissembles nicely (we bought it at a yard sale, and it is such a high quality, unique piece that I knew I can use in our new house).  If you do sell your dining room furniture, I would recommend that you sell it last so that you actually have a place to sit during your last week of your move.
DON’TS
    1. DON’T overprice the items that you’re selling.
      We listed items reasonably cheap, so they sold very quickly.  We used CashApp to receive payments from people to practice social distancing, and my husband wore gloves and a mask when helping people carry the heavier/bulkier items to their cars.
    2. DON’T underestimate the size/space of the moving vehicle that you will need when you make the reservation.
      We ran out of space in the moving container quickly.  We had to discard about 90% of our kitchenware and appliances, and the 10% got put in storage in Charlotte… so I’m not sure if I will be seeing my favorite air fryer anytime soon.  One of the things that helped me not get upset about this is reminding myself that all of these things are replaceable.
    3. DON’T wait until the last day to pack up your kitchen.
      Because we waited until the day before our move to start packing up the kitchen, my brain was completely on empty which means my organizational/packing abilities were all gone.  It’s pretty insane how many knives, platters, pots and pans I had, not to mention all the silverware!  We mad the decision to donate all of our pots, pans, dishware and glasses.  In hindsight, I should’ve packed up every kitchen item a week earlier that I wasn’t going to need for that following week.
    4. DON’T try to sell items while trying to pack.
      I used to love Facebook online yard sale group pages; Now I loathe them.  I know my hatred for these pages will soon be gone, but while I was listing items, I was also trying to pack.  My mind was constantly divided and I found myself getting stressed out trying to manage selling, pick-up arrangements and dealing with no-shows while trying to pack up the leftover items so that we can play Tetris with the little space that was left in the moving container.
    5. DON’T leave your house dirty.
      I’m so grateful for my husband.  Even though we were mentally, emotionally and physically tired after moving everything out of the house, he and his best friend (thank you, Anthony) spent hours cleaning the house to make sure it’s ready for the new homeowners.

The drive itself wasn’t too bad.  We have driven to Texas from North Carolina many times in the past four and a half years that we lived in Charlotte, so we knew what to expect.  What I didn’t expect is the challenge of remembering that we were still in the middle of a pandemic because it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL: The trees were green, the mountains were green, the weather was great (we hit just a little rain in Memphis).  Other than that there were less cars on the road and we didn’t do our usual lunch stops, the drive felt the way it did before the pandemic.

I’ve now been back in Texas for five days, and it still doesn’t feel real that we have moved back.  I’ll check in next Monday to let you know if that feeling has changed yet.

With Gratitude,
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Adventures of Moving Across the Country

I’m no stranger to major moves.  I’m not talking about moving from city to city; I’m talking about moving from one coast to another.

I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, CA.  I went to elementary, jr. high, high school… and even college in the suburbs of Los Angeles.  I loved living in L.A. and absolutely loved the beautiful weather, busy-ness of the city and experiencing celebrity encounters at the local Whole Foods, coffee shops and… well, anywhere!  I’ve seen Alec Baldwin, Jane Seymour, Christina Applegate, Jenny Garth, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, etc.  I was even good friends with some well-known artists, actors, dancers and models (which I will not name because that’s irrelevant to this blog).  L.A. was everything to me… until it wasn’t.

After I got married and had a baby, my husband and I desired a different life for us as a family.  We wanted to raise our daughter in a slower-paced and a more family-oriented environment.  At that time, one of my best friends and her family decided to move to Dallas, TX.  I had no idea what Dallas was like (I assumed it would be like the TV Show Dallas, which cowboys and rich southern folks), but we wanted to visit them… so we flew out to Dallas to see them and to determine whether or not it would be a good city for us to consider moving to.  Less than six months after visiting them, we packed up our car and drove almost 1,500 miles to our new home state.  We loved being Texans and raising our daughter around southern hospitality and manners (I quickly got used to being called “ma’am” and “Ms. Jheni” by anyone under 18).  I could not ever imagine leaving Dallas because it was everything to me… until it wasn’t.

After 9 1/2 years of living in Dallas, my husband and I felt called to go spiritually serve somewhere else, in some capacity.  To make the long story short, Charlotte, NC became the place we felt called to move to.  So in August of 2015, we flew out to Charlotte to check out the sister church to our congregation in Dallas.  We also realized that we had friends from our past that were now living in Charlotte as well, so it became a reunion visit.  By the end of our trip, we were certain that this was the place God wanted us to be in the next chapter of our lives.  Two months after our visit, we packed up once again and moved to our new home state of North Carolina.  I quickly fell in love with the beauty of North Carolina.  It was so cool to live in the state that I’ve only read about in Nicolas Sparks books. 😁  I was able to build my yoga and wellness business pretty quickly, and I was given the opportunity to teach yoga and mediation at the Southeast Women’s Retreat to over 800 women.  My husband and I started volunteering as Teen Workers, mentoring teens in The Charlotte Church Youth and Family Ministry.  I also got to serve in the Worship Team as a vocalist, and I had the opportunity to perform with the Dance Ministry dancing ballet, contemporary, jazz and hip-hop.  By the end of last year, I could not believe how I was living my dream life:  Teaching Yoga classes so close to my home (one facility was 12 minutes away, and the other facility was literally 3 minutes down the street!), becoming a certified group pilates instructor, debuting my first published book, teaching workshops in-state and out of state, still homeschooling my daughter, enjoying long walks with my husband…  I couldn’t have asked for anything more… or could I?

Even though I was grateful for my life and the capacity that my family was able to serve in the community and in our church, we felt a certain pull back to Texas.  We tried to ignore it for many months, but we came to the decision as a family to move back to Dallas.  One of the reasons why is because my daughter wants to go to a university in Texas (in-state tuition is much more favorable).  Another reason is to be closer to our families in California (we didn’t realize how much more challenging — and more costly — it would be to fly from North Carolina to California).

So here we are — April 27th, 2020 — driving back to Dallas, TX.  Some would question our choices: I’m sure some people would call us transient souls, but I prefer the term adventurous.

Next week, I will let you know how our move in the midst of COVID-19 went!

 

With Gratitude,
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The Process of Transformation

Last week, I talked about the cost of discipline and how creating a habit takes more than 21 days like many of us had been previously informed.  Although the being disciplined is not the most fun or comfortable route to take in life, it is the more productive choice and an essential decision to make in order to improve who we are.

I used to teach a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program which would take 9-10 months for my students to complete.  On the first day of the program each year, I reminded my students that becoming a certified yoga teacher is secondary and that the self-transformation through the process is the primary benefit that they will experience.  At the end of the program, they have all agreed that they’re not the same person that they came in through the door on the first day.  I’ve had students that seemed to be polar opposites or conflicting personalities become best friends by the end of the program.  I’ve had students who seemed to “have it all together” break down and experience a sense of authenticity and vulnerability that they say they’ve never felt before (you can read more about it in my book, BE STILL: The Power of Biblical Meditation“).  I took a break from running my 200-Hr YTT program last year so that I can focus on publishing my first book, and I am in the process of writing my second book which will be completed either by the end of this year or the beginning of next year; but once I am ready (and my schedule allows me to commit to teaching 200 hours), I will resume teaching my program… in Texas!  (Check out my blog next week for details on Texas.)  Now getting back on topic of transformation…

The reason why my students experienced a transformation is because they committed to learning how to be a good teacher; and part of being a good teacher is to be a good student.  Yoga is not something you can teach or regularly practice half-hearted.  Being a Yoga Teacher means you are also doing the work to get deeper in your journey towards authenticity.  As a teacher to future Yoga Teachers, I always say that I am not an expert as there really is no such thing (that’s why it’s called a Yoga Practice, not Yoga Perfection).  Even the greatest gurus in Yoga are learning and growing.  With learning and growing comes discomfort, facing your fears, and doing the work necessary to heal from past hurts, traumas and tendencies that do not serve us for our highest good (which is to meet who you were created to be since the beginning of creation itself).  I have had to face many obstacles (pride, bad habits, fears, etc.) in order to change and to grow… so that I can continue to change and grow.  We must be intentional about constantly transforming to be better versions of ourselves.  We never stay the same;  We’re either striving to get better or allowing ourselves to get worse.

The process of transformation is hard, and it won’t happen overnight; but if you keep persevering and staying disciplined, you will be able to look back and see how much you have grown!

 

With Gratitude,
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