Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Yama Pt. 5: Aparigraha

As we finish up the last of the 5 Yamas in Patanjali’s “Eight Limbs of Yoga,” let’s do this quick breathing exercise together:

Keep your shoulders relaxed, sitting with spine in neutral.
Take a deep breath in.
Let the breath out.

Now, breathe in again; but this time,
notice how the breath feels as you fill up your lungs with air.
Then breathe out, letting that breath go.


How did that feel?  Pretty good, I’m sure.  🙂

Aparigraha is sanskrit for Non-Possessiveness.  This covers everything from materialism, hoarding, unhealthy habits… basically, anything that causes attachments outside of God.  Why is practicing Aparigraha so important?  I will break my response into two parts: During and After.

 

During the Practice of Aparigraha

One of the greatest challenges of practicing non-possessiveness during this COVID-19 Pandemic is all the online shopping that is practically being shoved in front of our faces. When I checked my e-mail yesterday afternoon, I had 73 Unread messages, and almost all of them were e-mails from retailers notifying me of a sale, a coupon code, or a new promotional item.  I think I’ve only shopped from maybe 7-8 of those retailers, and I generally delete those e-mails; but once in a while, an e-mail subject line will catch my eye if it mentions a 50%-75% off sale.  I will click on the e-mail and start browsing on their online store, feeling the temptation to buy the leggings or the eyeshadow palette just because they’re on sale.  I may even add them to my cart, but in the end, I delete them out of the cart because I know that I don’t really need another pair of leggings or another palette of eyeshadow.  Part of what helps me is going back to what the logic part of my brain — the frontal lobe — is telling me.

When we’re practicing non-possessiveness, we allow ourselves to receive the enjoyment and the nourishment of the object/people/situations but we don’t become attached and/or addicted to it.  We begin to understand that we can not look at tangible things the same way that we look at non-tangible things.  Tangible things are temporary, whereas non-tangible things are eternal.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthian 4:18

After the Practice of Aparigraha

Another thing I’ve been seeing a lot online is ads for weight-loss and fitness programs.  Most of these ads show the “Before” and “After” photos of people that have successfully lost weight or gained muscle-definition using their program.  Just like how the “After” photos show the benefits of the program, you see the benefits of practicing non-possessiveness after you actually practice it.  By not buying things that you don’t really need, you will have money in your bank account, you won’t have a credit card bill at the end of the month (which would included a monthly interest rate that you will have to pay), you will actually enjoy the things that you already have, and you won’t have to worry about somehow making more room in your home for the things you just bought.  You may even notice that you feel happier from not being ruled by a life of excess.  You’re able to make space in your heart and your soul for more experiences, more freedom, and more joy.  This brings about a sense of empowerment to move forward without dragging a big, heavy load of things that will only slow you down from your ultimate, divine purpose in your life.

In the beginning this blog, I invited you to do a breathing exercise.  The air that you breathed in nourished your body and kept you alive; but what would’ve happened if you held on to that breath and not let it out?   That very breath which was meant to nourish you would have become toxic to your body.  Just like the breath, the tangible things in this world are not necessarily bad; but if we don’t learn to enjoy them and then let them go, they will end up become toxic to our spiritual growths.

Each of the five Yamas that I have spoken in these past five weeks — Ahimsa (Non-Violence), Satya (Truthfulness), Asteya (Non-Stealing), Brahmachaya (Non-Excess), and Aparigraha (Non-Possessiveness) — make up the restraints and moral codes that build on the previous Yama.  Next week, I will begin the topic of the second limb of Yoga which is Niyamas.

With Gratitude,
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CHRISTIAN YOGI’S PERSPECTIVE ON YAMA PT. 4: BRAHMACHARYA

Brahmacharya — loosely translated to non-excess or moderation — is made up of two words, brahman which means “the divine” or “ultimate” and charya which means “the path”.  So put together, brahmacharya means the path of the divine.  When one is on the path of the divine, they live and make choices avoiding selfish motives.  To be on the path of the divine requires us to let go of idolatry in order to continue the journey to the Self, the one that God has created us to be. 

To claim that we all struggle with idolatry may sound harsh, but it does not make it any less true.  The dictionary defines idolatry as, “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.”  The Bible defines idolatry as anything that one puts before God. 

“Do not worship any other gods besides me.” Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish. You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god.”
Exodus 20:3-5

(On a side note, when God said that He’s a jealous God, it doesn’t mean a resentful jealousy; He’s referring to a protective, zealous, loving claim on His children.)

As a Christian living in the United States, I’m bombarded with struggles toward materialism, addiction to social media, and over-indulgence of the senses whether it be delicious foods, staying up late, binge-watching Netflix, etc.  Late last year, I started thinking about living a simpler life with less things.  Being that my family and I made a move from North Carolina to Texas in the middle of the pandemic (you can read all about it here), we had the opportunity to get rid of a lot of stuff (you don’t realize how much you’ve accumulated until you start packing for a move).  Getting rid of things was a lot harder than I had expected.  It felt like as we sold and gave away furniture, kitchen items, clothes, electronics, etc., we were letting go of the memories that were attached to them.  We live in such a sentimental world with heightened emotions where the media tells us to “listen to your heart” and “YOLO.”  But the problem of living an emotion-based life is that it causes you to put your utmost importance on pleasures of the flesh.  Not that we shouldn’t enjoy a refreshing watermelon or even a delicious piece of chocolate cake, but if our attention is more on these things than on God, they become idols in our lives. 

In the beginning of 2019, I had the privilege of taking a weekend certification workshop from the famous yoga teacher Nikki Myers, who said that co-dependency is also an addiction where “the belief that something outside of ourselves – people, places, things, behaviors or experiences – will bring fulfillment and joy.”  I think this can be said of almost everyone.  One could argue and say that if this is the case, we must get fulfillment and joy from within ourselves (and not from God).  But have you ever tried to make yourself experience fulfillment and joy without anything or anyone?  In my opinion, I don’t think it’s possible to not be co-dependent.  You can either be co-dependent on God, or your can be co-dependent on people, places, things, behaviors or experiences for that fulfillment and joy.  I believe that the latter way of living creates idolatry.  As a Chrisitian who uses yoga philosophy as a tool to enhance her faith and relationship with God, I practice brahmacharya — the way of the divine (aka the way of Jesus Christ) — by choosing to find moderation while living in this world so that I can ensure I don’t become self-indulgent on the pleasures of this world.

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.”
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

With Gratitude,
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Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Yama Pt. 2: Satya

Satya (pronounced suht-yaa) — which means Truthfulness — is the second Yama which can be found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.  As a Christian who uses Yoga and its philosophy as a tool to enhance her relationship with God, truthfulness is completely in line with the Bible.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” 
Ephesians 4:15

So often, we approach truth and honesty without consideration and love towards the person we’re speaking the truth to.  I’ve heard people say things like, “I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, but I’m just being honest,” or “What, you’d rather me lie to you?”  The first Yama, Ahimsa — which we talked about last week — is all about non-violence.  Ahimsa and Satya go hand in hand because truth must be spoken in a non-violent (loving) way.

“Love and truth are two sides of the same coin.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

In order to mature and grow to be fully aligned with the Self (aka the authentic YOU that God has created you to be) as well as to be united with Christ, we must speak the truth that is saturated with love.  The love from our truthfulness must be so evident that the words that we speak serves them and not our egos.  Any other way results in words being used as a personal weapon to destroy others.  In addition, in order to speak the truth in love to others, we must also be speaking the truth in love to ourselves as well; but how about if we don’t really know the truth?

One of my favorite phrases is “self-awareness.”  I love this phrase because in order to be self-aware, you must first be still, take a step back, and then examine yourself from the most unbiased way possible.  That last part — unbiased self-examination — determines whether you are self-aware or self-unaware.  Unbiased self-examination can not happen without Satya.

“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
James 1:25

Having an unchanging standard is essential for unbiased self-examination.  The Bible does not change, so if I’m examining myself and examining the Bible to make the two match up, I must be the one to change.  My self-awareness comes from comparing my truth to Biblical truth.  Whenever I find myself feeling stuck or unsure of where I am in this journey of life, I know I have the Word of God to steer me back — like a compass — on the path that is already paved for me by Jesus.

Although being truthful takes courage, it has some great rewards.  Mark Twain is known to have said, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”  One time in my younger years, I decided to accept an invitation to spend time with a guy that my friend and I both liked.  She felt a bit insecure and jealous about my friendship with him; and instead of turning down his invitation or just being honest with her, I lied to her and said that I was helping my mom with some chores.  Granted, nothing inappropriate happened between us, but because I lied to her, I made up several other lies to cover up that lie.  It became exhausting to remember all the lies I told just to cover up that one lie!  Had I just been honest with her, there wouldn’t have been tension in our friendship and I wouldn’t have had to waste brainpower just to remember all the lies.  In the end, I confessed to her and I apologized.  She was more hurt about me lying to her than the fact that I spent time with him.  It took some time, but our friendship proved to be stronger than the guy who ended up exiting our lives later that year.  Part of John 8:31-32 reads, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”   There is so much freedom in living out Satya! 🙌

Come back next week as I discuss the third Yama, Asteya (Non-Stealing).

With Gratitude,
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Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Yama Pt. 1: Ahimsa

Ahimsa is Sanskrit which translates to Non-Violence.  This is the first of five Yamas, which is one of the eight limbs of Yoga found in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  You may be thinking, “Wait, I thought you’re a Christian.  Isn’t that book (and other ancient yogic texts) part of the Hindu religion?”  In the famous words of one of my great teachers Nikki Myers, “It depends.”  As I’ve explained in my previous blogs, Yoga itself is not a religion; it’s a tool to help you get closer to meeting your Self, which is the core of your authenticity by God’s design.  If you’re a Hindu and use the Yoga and its texts as part of your belief, then yes, it is a part of the Hindu religion.  But that could be said of any religious beliefs and faiths.  If you’re Buddhist and use the same practices and texts to enhance your Buddhist faith, then it is absolutely a part of the Buddhist religion.  You see where I’m going with this, right?  When I use Yoga and its philosophies as a tool in my walk with God, it becomes a Christian practice because I’m a Christian who is practicing Yoga.  Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get back to the subject for today’s blog.  😉

Ahimsa, aka Non-Violence, refers to actions, thoughts, words, feelings… basically, everything.  Romans 12:17 reads,  “Do not repay evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Ahimsa towards those who you feel like don’t deserve kindness, grace and mercy.  Ahimsa towards that person who cut you off and then flipped you off.  Ahimsa towards that person that backstabbed you or spread rumors about you.  Yoga Philosophy advises the Yogi to practice Ahimsa; The Bible shows you how.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 15:1

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Luke 6:31

Another aspect of Ahimsa is Non-Violence toward yourself.  This goes beyond physical self-harm.  When was the last time you said something negative about yourself out loud or in your mind?  Comments such as, “Ugh, I’m so fat,” “I wish I was as pretty as her,” “I’m so stupid,” create negativity in our hearts and minds… and ultimately, it effects our spirit.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”  We are spiritual beings that have been gifted this human body to reside in while we’re here on earth.  Our bodies are a gift from God, so when we speak negatively about His gift, it breaks His heart.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Psalm 139:13-14
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:16

A Japanese Scientist named Masaru Emoto conducted a research on how the human consciousness and intentions can effect the molecular structure of water.  He did several experiments observing the physical effect of words, prayers, music and environment on the structure of water. He hired photographers to take pictures of water after  exposing them the various words and phrases (some positive like “Thank you” and some negative like, “You make me sick”) and froze them until they formed crystalline structures.  The photos that were taken showed that the water that was exposed to positive words and phrases formed beautiful, symmetrical crystals; however, the water that was exposed to negative words and phrases formed jagged, disturbing, asymmetrical crystals.  An adult human body is made of approximately 60% water; and the heart and the brain is composed of approximately 73% water.  So if Dr. Emoto’s theories are true (which I personally believe they are), the words we speak to ourselves and others have the potential to change the way a person thinks, feels and acts.

I pray that through positive words and displaying unconditional kindness to ourselves and others, we will live out Ahimsa throughout our lives.  Stay tuned for my blog next week on the second Yama, Satya (truthfulness).

 

With Gratitude,
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A Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Yoga Philosophy: Introduction

In the past several months, I have been writing mostly about my journey in completing a 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training as well as the lessons I learned along the way.  For the rest of this year, I will be diving deeper into a topic of Yoga Philosophy that every Yoga Teacher learns about in their teacher training: The Eight Limbs of Yoga.  As a Yogi that follows the scriptures written in the Bible, I will be writing about the Eight Limbs from a Christian’s perspective.

Just to tell you more about me beyond what my bio says on this website, I come from a Buddhist lineage.  As a young child in Seoul, South Korea, we used to go to a Buddhist temple a few times a year, and we used to observe “jesa” which is a ceremony to honor and invoke the presence of deceased ancestors spirits on the anniversary of their death.  We weren’t super strict Buddhists, but these things that we did were part of our ancestral tradition that were handed down for many generations.  When we moved to the United States in 1983, I started going to a church with my neighborhood friends for social reasons.  Even though my reason to going to church was purely selfish, the seeds of faith were planted but stayed dormant throughout my teen years.

As a sophomore at California State University in Northridge in 1994, I asked a few of my Christian friends to teach me what I needed to know to become a true, committed disciple of Jesus Christ.  The more I learned about God’s plans for me through the Bible, the more I felt compelled to walk away from everything that was holding me back from living a life full of hope, love and a “peace that transcends all understanding.”

Fast forward to the beginning of 2013: I enrolled in a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training that ended up transforming my life with God completely.  I learned techniques that helped me to become still so that I can hear God’s whispers, and I went through a self-inquiry that helped me to understand my tendencies toward godly things as well as my tendencies toward self-destruction.  I received some push-back from well-intentioned Christians for practicing and teaching Yoga, but surprisingly, these encounters helped me to become more secure in my “unique” methods of connecting with God.  I put the word “unique” in quotations because they’re really not unique at all:  Meditation is mentioned throughout the Bible, and — depending on your intentions — the Yoga poses themselves could mean nothing, or they could mean everything.

Fast forward to 2020:  My family and I have moved back to Texas after living in North Carolina for 4½ years, and I am still learning and growing as a student and a teacher of Yoga and Meditation… and this growth helps me to get closer and closer to the authentic, pure essence of who God has created me to be.  There are some things in Yoga Philosophy that I disagree with; but guess what?  There isn’t one school of thought or philosophy in Yoga!  When I come across any Yoga philosophy that does not align with the Bible, I choose to not let that be part of what I practice.  This does not make me less of a Yogi just like practicing and teaching Yoga does not make me less of a Christian.  Yoga is a tool to help enhance one’s faith and belief system.  Contrary to popular belief, Yoga does not belong to one single religion.  The Eight Limbs of Yoga that I will be elaborating on for the remainder of the year are as follows:

  1. Yama – “Moral Code/Guidelines” toward external environment
  2. Niyama – “Personal Code/Guidelines” toward oneself
  3. Asana – Physical postures
  4. Pranayama – Breath Control
  5. Prathayahara – Sense Withdrawal
  6. Dharana – Concentration
  7. Dhyana – Meditation
  8. Samadhi – Union with God or Complete Integration

Next week, I will begin a deep-dive on the first aspect of Yama, which is Ahimsa (Non-Violence).

With Gratitude,
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My Personality Type

Do you ever feel like you were going full speed ahead toward the light at the end of the tunnel for a while; and then when you get to that light, you come out of the tunnel, not knowing what to do next?  Well, this is how I felt last week.  This entire summer, I had been turning down pool time with friends and other weekday activities so that I can focus on completing my 300-hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT).  Last week, I found myself trying to fill my schedule with back to back things because that’s what I had gotten used to doing prior to graduating from the AYTT program.  I took on two more weekly vitual classes, and I got busy with researching for and booking our upcoming family vacation in December.  I also started catching up on some FaceTime chats with friends, took time to read a book, take a walk around the neighborhood, and taught a couple of virtual meditation classes for a healthcare company in North Carolina.  By the end of the week, I felt exhausted!

It is in my nature to just go, go, go.  It is also in my nature to be extremely lazy.  I tend to be an extremist, so balance is something I’m constantly working on.  So to create more self-awareness and balance in my life, I do what I always do:  I spent more time in meditation, prayer, and looking over at my bookshelves.  On my left bookshelf, I have my Christian Faith books as well as books on natural health, nutrition and fitness; on my right bookshelf, I have my yoga-related books which includes books on asanas (physical postures), meditation, and yoga philosophy as well as books on neuroscience and energy science.  Whenever I start to feel an imbalance coming on, I usually pick up one (or more) of these books and read either the entire book or use it as a reference to help inspire or ignite something in me that helps me feel refreshed.  Anyway, I had been glancing at my book on Enneagrams for several days, so I finally went online and took a quiz.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but my Enneagram Type is Four, “The Individualist.”  It was really interesting how accurate it was, but the struggles of a Type Four were humbling.  According to Enneagram Institute, Type Fours feel different from everyone (that’s me), and they struggle with the fear of having no identity or personal significance (also me).  There are many other accurate things on that list, but I am grateful that through my faith and my purpose in life (which I discovered during my journey in Yoga and Meditation), I don’t struggle as much with other things on the list such as low self-esteem and negative self-image.  Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle from time to time with my physical appearance just like anyone, but I have — for the most part — learned to accept and love the way that God has created me.

It is so important to take time out for self-assessment.  More than ever, it is so important that we stay connected with how we feel, what we think, and who we truly are.

What’s your Enneagram Type?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

With Gratitude,
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I did it!

At 4:30pm on Friday, 8/7/2020, I clicked on the [SUBMIT] button for the very last video exam of my 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) program!  When this journey first began 10 weeks prior (on 6/1/2020), and it definitely has been full of self-discoveries and life lessons!  Of the countless amount of lessons I learned/re-learned, here are the Top 5 Lessons that will stay with me throughout my journey in life and self-realization:


1.  LIFE IS NOT A RACE.

I have a competitive spirit.  I didn’t play competitive sports growing up because I hated losing.  I think that’s why I loved the performing arts so much.  Of course, there is a competitive aspect in performing arts, but I’ve always felt that a performer expressing their art can not be objectively judged (which is also why I am not a big fan of awards shows for movies, music, television series, etc.).  When I was a dancer in Los Angeles, I did strive to be a “better dancer than everyone else,” but when it came down to it, I danced because it made my spirit feel alive.   In the beginning of the AYTT program, I found myself wanting to finish the program faster just because I saw others finishing the program in a month, a month and a half, etc.  But then somewhere along the way (I think in between week 2 and week 3), I reminded myself to enjoy the journey and learn for the pure love of learning and growing instead of trying to finish before someone that started at the same time as I did.



2.  DREAM BIG… AND THEN PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!

I knew I would eventually complete a 300-hour AYTT program, but I didn’t know how or when.  First of all, most AYTT programs cost anywhere from $2,300 to $5,000; secondly, there was an AYTT near me that I felt was a good fit for me.  While I was living in Charlotte, NC, I looked into a program in Asheville which was a little over 2 hours away as well as one in Winstom-Salem which was only slightly over an hour away.  When this pandemic hit the US earlier this year and everyone went into social distancing and quarantine mode, Yoga Alliance decided to temporarily allow Registered Yoga Schools (RYS) to offer their programs virtually.  So after a lot of research, I found a program that was affordable, flexible, and very unique… So I signed up on June 1st to complete my 300 hours with ULU Yoga in Thailand!  I planned out my study schedule for each week, and I made sure I stuck to it with some wiggle room in case of unexpected things happened (check out all 9 blogs from the previous weeks for those “unexpected events”).  I loved checking off each task and seeing myself getting closer and closer to achieving a dream of mine while learning and growing.



3.  ONLY CONTROL THE THINGS THAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO CONTROL, AND LET THE REST WORK ITSELF OUT.

Like I mentioned above,  there were things that happened during the last 10 weeks that I could not control.  In fact, there have always been things in my life that I could not control (can I get an amen?).  I used to get upset that I couldn’t control everything (like changing somebody’s mind, outcome of situations, etc.); but through this AYTT experience, I was reminded to focus on controlling myself and just leave alone the other things outside of my control.  There’s a sense of freedom that comes with surrender and just putting any desire for improvement to be placed on self-improvement.



4.  CHOOSE DELAYED GRATIFICATION OVER INSTANT PLEASURE.

Let’s face it, we live in a world where we expect results right away.  If our Google results don’t pop up within .01 second, we get impatient.  We try to find the quickest way to get things done.  I admit, I’m guilty of choosing the easier and faster way of accomplishing things (like using my sewing machine over hand-sewing my face masks), but it is so good for our hearts and our souls to work hard at something that doesn’t come quickly or easy to us.  James 1:4 reads, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  It takes perseverance to build character, and if we constantly choose the easy way out, we won’t grow in our authenticity.  There were days that I wanted to binge-watch Netflix or just sleep in until Noon (although I don’t think I can physically sleep until Noon); but I knew that in order to finish my AYTT by August, I needed to stay on task and enjoy each moment of the training — which leads us to #5:



5.  BE PRESENT.

Going through the AYTT program allowed me to be a better Yoga Teacher for the virtual classes that I’ve been teaching.  In my book, “Be Still: The Power of Biblical Meditation,” I talked about how in order to be a good teacher, you must be a good student.  I find that I’m a better teacher when I’m going through some type of learning, whether it be a certification course or reading a book on Christian discipleship, self-improvement, yoga, ayurveda, or energy science.  When I’m learning, I fully there physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Lately, I’ve been reminding my yoga students that because we are bound by this thing called “Time,” we can not live in the past or the future; So if we’re constantly focusing on the past or the future — and the only place we can live in is the present — we have to ask ourselves, “Are we truly living?”

Show up.  Every time.  Every moment.

 

With Gratitude,
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300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training – Week Seven

Last week was the best week in studying that I’ve had since starting my 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) on June 1st.  I really felt like I’ve gotten in the zone and have been able to complete assignments and stay on track while learning a lot.  I’ve noticed that the way I teach my virtual classes is also improving.  I plan out my studying schedule for the upcoming week on Sunday nights; and since I had scheduled a fun mother-daughter outing with my friend and her daughter for Friday, I made sure I got a lot done in the first half of the week.  I was so excited when I was able to get a week’s worth of assignments and studying on Monday and Tuesday (I studied from morning until just before dinner time on both of those days).  On Tuesday night, I thought to myself, “Maybe I should really get ahead and do next week’s studying tomorrow.”  Well, that did not happen.

Early on Wednesday morning, my daughter said goodbye before she left for work.  She decided to ride her skateboard to work that morning, which she has done many times before.  She always texts me when she gets to work (which is only 10 minutes away on her skateboard), so I was waiting for her text message; but instead of a text message 10 minutes later, I got a phone call from her about 7-8 minutes after she left… and she was crying!  Of course, I shot up out of bed and immediately asked her what was wrong.  She had fallen off of her skateboard and badly sprained her ankle!  Since I track her location when she’s en route, I knew exactly where she was so I got in my car and got to her in less than 4 minutes.

Her ankle was very swollen, so I had her elevate her foot, put an ice-pack on it and made sure she stayed on the couch the rest of the day.  I was glad to take care of her that day, but I literally could not get anything else done (other than teaching my virtual yoga class mid-morning) because I was going up and down the stairs to get her what she needed.  It was the same thing on Thursday, where after I finished teaching my Thursday morning virtual yoga class, I was her caretaker and companion.  We did end up going out on our outing on Friday (thanks to a pair of crutches I was able to buy through the NextDoor app), and we had a great time.

Here are a few pics from our outing! I love flowers!

So here’s the lesson I learned last week:  Sometimes God frees up your schedule not so that you can fill it back up with stuff, but because He knows you will need to be available for an unforeseen event.  Obviously, taking care of my injured daughter is not something I would’ve ignored if I had a full schedule, but I know that if I had unfinished assignments for the remainder of the week, I would’ve felt overwhelmed or tempted to sacrifice sleep to get caught up.  I’m grateful that I didn’t have to lose sleep other than waking up in the middle of the night wondering if she was sleeping okay.

There’s something to be said about having pockets of “free time” planned into our schedules.  I hope that next time you find yourself all caught up with your to-do list, you take a moment (or longer) to sit back and practice some self-care.

Oh, and my daughter is doing much better; her ankle is still slightly swollen, but she is able to walk on it with no pain and  was able to go back to work today.  😊

With Gratitude,
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300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training – Week Four

Initially when I started on May 1st, I had plans to be finished with the 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) by the end of July.  I thought I could put in 7.5 hours of studying from Monday to Friday every week so that I can finish in two months.  The goal was quite ambitious, and by the end of week one, it became very clear that I would not be able to study from 7AM to 3:30PM (with two 30 minute breaks in between).  The second week, I let go of the rigid schedule a little too much and barely got anything done.  I started to doubt whether or not I could stay disciplined to finish the program.  I also started to feel insecure about the video exams that I would have to submit (two 75-minute videos each module as well as a video recording of me lecturing on a Yoga-related topic).  By week three, I found a good balance of planning but expecting disruptions which really helped me to approach this AYTT with discipline and grace.  Last week was a great week of progress even though I had more distractions and disruptions than the first three weeks.

My daughter started her summer job as a life guard last week.  Being that she gets scheduled at various locations, I’ve had to schedule my yoga practices and studying around when I had to drive her.  So when I wasn’t chauffeuring her around or teaching virtual classes/private sessions and an hour-long hangout with a friend, I was in my home office/yoga studio studying, listening and watching lectures on Anatomy and Asanas (yoga poses), I found it challenging to stay engaged through all the lectures, but I committed to listening, watching and paying attention for some potential nuggets of information/wisdom that would spark a “Wow” moment within me… and it happened with this quote:

“STRESS IS THE ABSENCE OF AWARENESS”

This quote really got me thinking.  I started to think about how when we are not mentally/emotionally/spiritually in our bodies, we begin to experience regrets (thinking about the past) and fears (thinking about the future) which cause us to experience a neurochemical imbalance, which then leads to the body experiencing stress.  How often do you find yourself not living in the moment?  How many moments do you remember from each day?  Do you find that your Monday bleeds into your Tuesday… and then before you know it, it’s Sunday evening and you don’t know where the week went?  I ask these questions because I have personally experienced all those scenarios.  I do find myself not being aware when I’m worrying or stressing out about the what-ifs of the future.  When I catch myself letting my mind drift this way, I immediately bring myself back to my body and mind by doing the following pranayama (breath control) practice:

  1. Stand or sit still, with both feel firmly planted into the ground.
  2. Either close your eyes or allow your gaze to become fixed on one non-moving object (do not try this while driving).
  3. If you’re standing, become aware of the ground underneath your feet.  Notice how the ground feels on your feet.
  4. Become aware of your breath going in and out through your nostrils.
  5. Feel the belly rise and fall with each breath.
  6. Notice any sounds that you hear.
  7. Notice the scenery that you see.
  8. Take a moment to smile and give thanks to God for that very moment.

I encourage you to try the awareness exercise and comment below about your experience!  🙏

With Gratitude,
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300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training – Week Three

The saying, “Third time’s a charm” definitely fits how last week went with the Virtual 300-Hr Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) that I started on June 1st.  I was extremely rigid and strict with my study schedule the first week which led to some unnecessary stress, so I decided to go the totally opposite direction on the second week with being unstructured which resulted in barely getting anything done.  I knew I needed to find a balance between the two extreme approaches.  So last week (Week Three), I decided to somehow marry both approaches and here is what happened:

“Sadhana” is the Yoga Practice and Meditation required for this AYTT.

I started the week by creating a schedule but working around some social appointments that I decided to add in (FaceTiming with one of my best friends in North Carolina, having lunch with another best friend here in Texas, etc.).  I made sure that I was getting an average of 5 hours of studying per day, so on the days that I was teaching a class or meeting with clients (all virtually), I did not schedule any social appointments.  I made a checklist on my dry erase board and checked off the tasks as I finished them.  I decided to take Monday off from studying so that I can spend the day with my daughter since I knew she would be gone all day from Tuesday-Friday due to Lifeguard Training and Testing.

My schedule felt more balanced, but I still found myself having to protect my study times; a friend of mine wanted me to meet her and some other friends at the pool on Friday, and part of me felt bad saying no two weeks in a row.  I tried to compromise and agreed to stop by for 30 minutes which ended up not happening anyway because one of my private clients had to reschedule her appointment to Friday morning.  Speaking of clients, I’m always encouraging my private clients to not be apologetic about protecting their schedules, whether it be due to family, school, home business, etc.  Most of us who are homeschool moms, stay-at-home moms, small business owner or working from home can relate with each other on having to protect their schedules.  But the reason why I decided to compromise initially is because it’s also important to know when you’re being too strict or rigid with your schedule (which was my case the first week of my AYTT studies).

LESSON LEARNED DURING WEEK THREE: FAITH & GUNAS

One of the topics from Yoga Philosophy was about gunas.  Gunas are three basic qualities of nature and energy that are present in all things under God’s universe. They are the original elements which are behind all existing beings with life in them.

Tamas represents the element of heaviness and rigidness, Rajas represents hyperactive energy, and Sattva represents harmony and equilibrium.

These elements are available for anyone to harness, although tamas and rajas are not the qualities one would benefit from having.  There are many articles and books that explain the gunas in detail (you can find a great 5-minute read on Yoga International), but for today, I’m going to focus only on how it’s related to one’s faith.

A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:4-9

Having a tamasic faith causes one to struggle in keeping their faith when obstacles come.  In Matthew 13:20-21 reads, “The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”

One with a rajasic faith uses their faith for selfish gains and is motivated by recognition and/or rewards.  In the next verse in Matthew (13:22) it reads, “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

Sattvic faith, which causes one to use their faith selflessly by sharing their faith, hope and contentment with others, is the kind of faith that will last.  In Matthew 13:23, Jesus says, “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

There are various factors that play into raising your sattva element, but one way to create a sattvic state is in your food choices.  If you eat foods that tend to be heavy such as fast foods and processed foods, you will experience more tamasic qualities (stubborness and unwillingness to compromise).  If you eat foods that cause spikes in energy such as caffeine and sugar (even smoking is in this category), you will notice that you struggle more with staying still mentally and physically, and you will find yourself becoming hyperactive and get distracted easily.  In order to experience the sattvic state, it will be beneficial to eat healthy foods that cause lightness such as fresh organic fruits and vegetables as well as non-processed foods.  So grab that organic apple and take a nice bite and smile, knowing that you just did your body, mind and faith a lot of good!  🍏❤️

With Gratitude,
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