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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Get Out of The Way!

Since the onset of COVID-19 Pandemic and all the restrictions that have come with it, I was among the thousands of people who have lost their income due to business closures.  I was also among the numerous yoga teachers/fitness instructors that transitioned to teaching live-stream classes through Zoom.  Even though teaching through an online platform was something I had wanted to do for a while, I was “forced” into this situation sooner than I was anticipating.  I say “forced” because my other option was to not teach at all.  There are several reasons why I was delaying online teaching:

    1. I don’t like hearing my recorded voice (I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this).  When I hear my unrecorded-self talk, I like the tonality and the intonation in my speaking voice… which is not the case when I hear my recorded voice.
    2. I don’t like seeing myself talking in a video.  I start looking at how I move my mouth when I speak, my non-conscious movements, my lack of smile (making me look like I’m mad), my non-white teeth (from many years of tea and coffee drinking)… the list goes on and on.
    3. I wondered if people would actually switch from in-person classes with me to on-line/live-streaming classes.  Being that I specialize in teaching gentler forms of yoga (not necessarily easier, but I focus more on proper alignment and injury prevention), my morning classes consist of mostly women in their late 30’s to 50’s.  Half of these wonderful women are not big fans of technology, so I knew I would lose the number of people I can help by transitioning my classes online.
    4. I questioned my discipline.  Would I be able to consistently teach online every week, or would I start to lose motivation and quit?

It is interesting that it took a global crisis for me to take the leap into teaching classes online.  But before I decided to offer live-stream classes, I had to search in my heart and make sure I wasn’t doing it out of fear (check out my previous blog on overcoming fear).  Once I prayed, meditated and talked it over with my husband (who is often the voice of reason), I realized that this would be a great time for me to take a leap and see what God does with it.

Today is my second week of online teaching, and it’s going great so far.  Last week, I taught three All-Levels Yoga classes, two Yoga Nidra classes (if you don’t know what this is, sign up for my class here), and a Biblical Meditation Workshop (click here for future workshops)… and I’m happy to report that I did not feel self-conscious, and I was able to stay disciplined and organized with my schedule!  The greatest lesson I learned in this whole process is that I get in my own way (and in God’s way) which prevents me from doing and experiencing greater things.

How often do you convince yourself not to pursue a dream or an idea because you think it is:

  1. Too much work?
  2. Too much effort?
  3. Too scary?
  4. Too intimidating?
  5. Too out of your comfort zone?

Next time you feel any of the feelings above, remind yourself to get out of your way so that you can go after accomplishing and experiencing things that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.  And if you don’t succeed in your definition of success (more on this topic next week), know that IT IS OKAY.  You are still wonderful.  You are still loved.  You are still uniquely YOU!

COVID-19 Self-Quarantine: Finding Your New Normal

I recently saw a meme of a teenager holding a landline phone and trying to figure out how to use it.  I’m among the last generation that remembers fighting over who gets to use the phone next.  As a Gen-X’er, I used payphones at the mall and mail hand-written letters. I remember when we transitioned from records to cassette tapes, from cassette tapes to CDs, and from CDs to mp3.  With each transition came a new normal… but the transition we’re all facing today in social distancing and self-quarantining has been shoved into our lives.

Just like many people in the service-providing industry, I have been impacted as a yoga teacher and pilates instructor.  As of last week, the facilities that I teach weekly classes at have temporarily closed, so I decided to offer On-Demand (aka live streaming) yoga and meditation classes via Zoom (click here to see my schedule of classes).  Instead of using this time to binge-watch TV shows and movies on Netflix 24/7, I decided to keep myself on a schedule to prevent going into hermit-mode.

There are many benefits to keeping a routine in your schedule:  Mentally, stay disciplined allows our minds to be sharper and have more control over negative thoughts and feelings.  Physically, we’re able to burn more calories and prevent muscular atrophy if we stay on task and active.  Our mental and physical discipline can create a sense of safety for our souls to be still and experience the beauty of the present.

Here are some ideas to consider while you create your new normal:

Set your alarm (then wake up and face the sun).

You don’t necessarily have to wake up at 5 AM (unless you want to), but set your alarm at a reasonable hour.  Once you wake up, get out of bed and do some gentle warm-ups and slow stretches (maybe some Cat/Cow Yoga poses or Table Pose to Child’s Pose flow).  After your stretching and warming up, find a spot in your front porch or backyard (or in your house where you can be in sunlight).  Sit or stand still, close your eyes and enjoy the sunlight on your face as you take some deep diaphragmatic breaths.  When you feel present and calm, slowly open your eyes.

Go for a walk.

I’m generally not an outdoor person because of seasonal allergies during the Spring and Fall, and mosquitoes during the Summer.  But we’ve been having great weather here in North Carolina lately, so my family and I’ve been taking advantage of being outside and going for walks in different neighborhoods.  While keeping our social distance from people, we’ve been able to give them a wave, a smile or even say hello in passing.  I also take “podcast walks.” My favorites are BEMA Discipleship (for a deep-dive into context of The Bible), The Creative Penn (for indie authors), and Yoga Teacher Resource (for — you guessed it — yoga teachers).

Have a Game Night with your family.

My family and I love playing card games and board games.  Our current favorites card games are Rummy, King’s Corner, Idiot (yes, it’s an actual card game).  We also love non-card games like The Settlers of Catan, Mexican Train, and Rummikub.  Having some laughter and silliness can definitely bond a family… Just make sure you keep your competitive nature in check so that no one leaves angry.

Enjoy a Weekly Spa Day at home.

Once a week, block out 1-3 hours (or more) to enjoy some time to yourself with a spa day.  All you need are some candles, a bathtub filled with warm water, a great bathbomb (my favorite ones are from Sweet Home Bath+ Body from Plano, TX.  Free shipping until the end of March!), a sheet face mask, some spa music, a difuser with lavender essential oil and some DIY spa water (slices of cucumber and lemon in purified water is nice a refreshing).  This will be quality time of relaxation that you won’t regret.  If you have young kids, you might want to consider having a spa evening after the kids go to bed.

Read a book (or two, or three).

Most of us have several unread books on our bookshelves (or a drawer); I have over 25 unread books because I seem to buy books faster than I can finish them.  This is a great time to pick up those books and read them.  You many not have another extended stay-at-home time like this, so make the most of the time that you have by filling your brain with some useful knowledge with some non-fiction/self-help/DIY books or immerse yourself in a great fiction book to engage your great imagination.  If you need a new book to read, check out my book on biblical meditation.

Do your spring cleaning now.

In the midst of the current world pandemic, Spring has sprung!  Go from room to room to de-clutter and organize. Donate your gently worn clothes (you can find drop-off stations as well as donation bins throughout the city).  Plant some plants and flowers.  Get rid of expired canned goods and freeze-burned foods.  Whether or not you like to organize and clean, it can prove to be a therapeutic experience as you let go of the things that no longer serve your highest good.

 

 

As we all look forward to the day when we no longer need to keep 6 feet away from each other, let’s make it a goal to be better versions of ourselves than when all this began.

 

With Gratitude,
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