Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Niyamas, Pt. 2: Santosha

Phrases such as “The grass is greener on the other side” and “FOMO” is a common phrase and acronym used often to describe the desire of being somewhere else other than the place we are currently at.  The sanskrit word, Santosha, means contentment.  Santosha is the second Niyama which is one of Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga

Many people mistake happiness to be synonymous to contentment.  Paul states in Philippians 4:12, I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Paul learned the secret of being content in every situation that he was faced with: He was a Pharisee who had a significant conversion to Christian discipleship, experienced the highs and the lows of being a missionary, and he was imprisoned twice, with the latter one resulting in eventual execution.  I’m sure there were moments that Paul did not feel happy, but he somehow remained content.

After much contemplation of scriptures and prayers throughout the years, here’s my conclusion:


CONTENTMENT IS A COMPLETE SURRENDER AND UNCONDITIONAL TRUST IN GOD

One of the things I love doing is taking long road trips with my family.  Throughout the years, we have driven to many states spanning from California all the way to Massachusetts as well as many of the states along the way and then some).  My husband prefers to do the driving through the busy cities while I prefer to take over the driving through long stretch of (what seems to be) nothingness.  Whether my husband or I are doing the driving, my daughter sits in the back and reads, plays games, naps, sings and chats with us without worrying about anything.  Even when we had to drive through a massive summer rainstorm in Alabama or in dense fog in the nighttime through the mountains in Utah, she was content.  This contentment came from knowing that even though the last leg of the trips feel like they last forever, she fully trusted that mom and dad are responsible drivers and that as long as it is up to us, we will protect her and have her best interest in mind.  This is a great lesson that I try to remember when I’m not feeling content.


HAPPINESS IS A TEMPORARY FEELING BASED ON TEMPORARY THINGS

Growing up in the United States has great benefits such as freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, opportunities for wealth, many colleges/universities as well as numerous restaurants, shopping centers, recreational facilities and events such as sports and performing arts (although they are currently limited due to the pandemic).  It’s an entertainment paradise.  But in the midst of all the opportunities that we have access to, it’s quite easy to become unsatisfied with what we have.  When we get what we want, we feel happy; but then six months down the line, we see that there’s an upgraded version of what we have… so we become unhappy with what we bought.  Happiness generally seems to be tied to something temporary.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe one can be both content and happy.  I think happiness can be a byproduct of contentment, but it’s the state of contentment that will last even long after the feeling the happiness is gone.

I can honestly say that I’ve been both happy and content.  I can also truthfully admit that I’ve been sad but content… but because of my commitment to striving for contentment, the sadness doesn’t last for too long.  When I feel (emotional) pain, I make every effort to not push it away but rather allow myself to feel it and find contentment in the middle of that pain.


For me, my contentment comes from knowing that God knows exactly what He’s doing with me and that I just need to sit back and enjoy the ride with complete trust that God’s got my back.

 

With Gratitude,
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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. 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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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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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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