300-HOUR YOGA TEACHER TRAINING – WEEK NINE

In the beginning of last week, I felt determined to finish the remainder of my 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) strong.  The way I had planned my schedule, I saw that I had 2 1/2 weeks worth of studying and submitting tests and homework, and I got excited!  I didn’t feel like I was losing steam or getting burned out, so I was determined more than ever to stay on task until I got to the finish line; but somehow, I was able to really focus and get some serious studying hours in last week, and now, I’m only about a week away from completing my AYTT!

On Monday and Tuesday, I was “in the zone” which helped me to stay focused and studying for hours and hours without feeling mentally drained!  so by the time Friday came around, I was able to give myself a little more breathing room and enjoy the day by spending an extended lunch time with one of my best friends.  Last week was full of happy moments, but it was had a moment that really tested my character… and I’m so grateful it did!

Early last week, a friend had posted a question on a group chat thread that we’ve had going for a long time.  I responded, with the intention to speaking my belief on a certain topic and didn’t think too much about it.  But apparently, this created a miscommunication between me and the friend that posted the original question, and the reply I got in that thread from that friend left me feeling accused and misunderstood.  I must admit, my initial reaction was to get really worked up and confront that person and throw my own accusations.  But instead, I took a step back from the situation to assess it, choosing to give the benefit of the doubt and to think the best of my friend who I felt hurt by.  I forced myself to choose humility because I knew that if I responded any way other than out of humility, it would be out of my desire to feel justified, understood, and validated.  This told me that a non-humble response would’ve been out of my insecurities and pride.  So yes, I chose humility and publicly apologized (in the message thread) because I had to remember that in the grad scheme of life and universe, it didn’t matter who was right.

It was really encouraging to my heart to see that because I had humility constantly in my mind lately because of my AYTT program.  A lot of the questions on the Yoga Philosophy quizzes were questions about how we relate to various yogic principles, and in order to answer authentically and honestly, I had to constantly draw deep within from a place of humility.  So here are some thoughts about humility that I would like to live by:

 

PICK AND CHOOSE THE BATTLES YOU FIGHT.

If I tried to fight every battle that comes my way, I will be too tired to fight the battles that really matter.  And the battles worth fighting will not come in the form of arguments.

 

CREATING PEACE TAKES A LOT OF WORK… BUT IT’S ALWAYS WORTH IT.

Peace doesn’t just happen.  It has never just “happened” in the history of man, so I can’t expect it to be any different in my situation. Things like LOVE and PEACE always comes at a cost.

 

YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE RIGHT.

It’s human nature to want to be right.  We somehow think that if we admit we’re wrong, people will know that we’re not always right… which means they will know we’re not perfect.  The thing is though, they already know that we’re not perfect.

 

DON’T REACT OUT OF INSECURITIES OR PRIDE.

Instead of reacting, try responding from a place of security and humility.  Whenever I know that my desire to defend or justify my words or actions is coming from a place of insecurities or pride, I force myself to be silent and go back to remembering who I am at the core of my authentic self.  At the core, I know who I am, so I don’t need to justify or defend myself.  This place of security brings about so much peace.

 

TREAT EVERYONE WITH RESPECT.

Being respectful isn’t about the person you’re showing respect to; it’s about who you are in your character.  Whether you realize it or not, we’re all connected in one way shape or form, so being respect to everyone unconditionally ultimately brings that respect back to you.  With that said, our motivation to unconditionally respect everyone must not be based on whether or not we think they “deserve” our respect; but rather, it need to be based on the fact that we’re choosing to have a respectful heart which has little to do with them and a lot to do with your soul.

 

I’m so excited to start (hopefully) my final week of AYTT!  I’ve been at this since we moved into our new house in a new state, so I look forward to getting some R&R after this week!

 

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

It’s amazing how eight weeks can seem like 4,838,400 seconds or just two months.  What I mean is that depending on one’s perspective, eight weeks can either drag on or it can come and go in what seems like a blink of an eye.  In these past eight weeks, I have been studying, taking multiple quizzes, recording video exams, and writing quite a lot for my Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT).  After the first few weeks, I fell into a great rhythm in my AYTT:  Studying Mondays through Fridays, averaging 5-7 hours per day, driving my daughter to and from work, teaching two virtual classes per week and meeting with my private clients via Zoom.

There even have been some days lately where I found myself getting ahead of the study schedule that I had planned out for myself.  Being that this AYTT is a self-paced program where you can take up to 12 months to complete, I knew I didn’t have to rush through it, but I also knew that I had to put myself on a schedule in order to finish the program.  I knew that without a committed structure, there was a possibility that I would be trying to cram the last 200 hours in month twelve.  My goal was to complete the entire 300-hour program by mid-August since I homeschool my daughter from September to May.  I am happy to say that as of today, I am about 2 1/2 weeks away from completing the program!

This week, I’ll be tackling five exams, or which three of them are video exams.  I’m not someone who likes to be recorded.  For a very long time, I’ve been asked by many students to create a YouTube channel and post online yoga classes.  I avoided being recorded for a long time partly because I wasn’t sure if I can be consistent with producing content on a regular basis (which is why I started blogging weekly to prove to myself that I can consistently post something).  I tend to be bit of a commitment-phobe.  All my life, I believed that my character will always be to jump ship if something feels too permanent… but something changed.

After being married to my wonderful husband for almost 19 years and being an active member of the same church for the past 26 years, I seem to be doing better with long-term commitments.  When it comes to big things, I feel like I’ve become more comfortable with making a commitment as I’ve gotten older.  With age, I’ve also become more introspective, which led me to wonder why I spent so many years of my young adult life running away from commitment… and the answer that came to me was this:

We self-sabotage.

Why do we sabotage ourselves?  I believe it’s because it feels safer for our hearts to set the bar low in case we fail.  There’s a part of us that struggles to not listen to negative self-talk.  We may base our decisions about the end results on past triggers or fears.  When we do this, we’re basically writing then last sentence of our own stories.  I have done this so many times in my life.  When I was a professional dancer in Los Angeles in the 90’s, one of my actress friends wanted to set me up with a very well-known actor that she worked on a TV show with where he was one of the main characters.  In fact, she showed him a picture of me, and he asked her to set us up.  You would think that I would have jumped at the chance to go on a date with him (especially since he was my celebrity crush at that time), but I told her I was not interested in going out with him.  The reason why I turn down the opportunity to go out with him is because when I was in 7th grade, my friend told me that my crush wanted to date me; but when I saw him by his locker that afternoon and smiled, he and his friends looked over at me and started laughing, saying things that were hurtful.  So six years later, when my celebrity crush wanted to go out with me, I decided to write the last sentence of that chapter in the book of my life.

It is so easy to write that last sentence of each chapter of our lives.  As an author, I usually consider the first sentence and the final sentence before writing because that keeps me focused and prevents me from going off on tangents.  Just like how one sentence can make or break a book, the narrative you tell yourself can determine the outcome of whatever you’re trying to accomplish.  So what do we do about this negative self-talk and self-sabotaging patterns?  Rewrite your story.  Rewrite that last sentence to affirm that you CAN accomplish your goals and dreams!  In the beginning of my AYTT journey, I told myself that I was going to finish it by August, and I did not give myself a way out.  I pushed myself to be disciplined and watch the Zoom lectures, do the Zoom yoga practices/meditations, read all the required books, answer all the questions, and record those exams… and now, I’m beginning to see the finish line!  All it takes is a daily decision to say “No” to sabotaging yourself and saying “Yes” to experiencing all the wonderful potential that God has built within you!

Today is full of endless possibilities!  Write yourself the best last sentence for today!

 

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

The sixth week of my 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) started without a hitch.  By this time, my “normal” has been established since I finally figured out how to manage my time for studying, teaching, spending time with my family, running errands, etc… all while maintaining social distance and wearing my mask outside of my home.  I felt great about the pace that I had set for myself and the progress I was making in the AYTT program.  I felt that I was taking steps forward… or was I?

I have been dealing with chronic pain in my neck, right shoulder, and right wrist for almost 2 years.  I’ve been teaching yoga and fitness classes throughout those 2 years (and for many years prior to that).  I injured my right wrist in my 20’s from too many back handsprings.  Throughout the years, the pain would flare up, but after taking it easy, the pain would go away in a matter of days.  As I got older though, the pain from flareups took longer and longer to subside… until it decided to stay for the long-term in 2018.  I tried chiropractics, acupuncture, physical therapy, I even went to an osteopath who recommended that I stay off of it, ice it after activities, and take a high dosage of prescription Naproxen.  I temporarily stopped teaching for 2 months so that I can give my wrist a break, but the pain did not go away.  So instead of giving up teaching completely, I decided to start wearing a wrist wrap anytime I taught or took yoga classes.  I found that this helped a great deal, but I still could not place full weight on it.

During all of the required Yoga practices I was doing, I made sure I modified any poses that were weight-bearing on my right wrist.  This really challenged my ego (versus the higher self), but I knew it was good for me.  I gave myself permission not to go 100% into all of the poses because I know that my Type A personality wants to push my body to the limit.  But during one of the yoga practices last week, I decided to do an arm-balancing pose (Bakasana, also known as Crow pose) only to feel that terrible wrist pain!  I don’t know what I was thinking when I attempted to do that pose.  Actually, I do know what I was thinking; I was thinking, “My body has gotten even stronger than before in the past month and a half; perhaps my wrist is much better.”  WRONG!  So here’s the lesson I learned last week:

ONE CAN NOT CREATE BALANCE WITH IMBALANCE.

Meaning, I was trying to attempt an arm-balancing pose with an imbalanced arm.  There are obvious imbalances in the muscles of my right arm (starting from the shoulder all the way down to my fingertips).  I have a chronic knot in my right shoulder blade and my right forearm gets tight with overuse of my wrist.  Arm-balancing poses are less about strength and more about BALANCE.  You do need adequate strength in the core and the upper body, but balancing on your hands and arms is mainly about learning balanced weight distribution of the body.  I can’t create that kind of balance with an injured wrist, at least not right now.  I let my ego get the best of me that day.  I spent the next couple of days regretting my action and fighting off feeling sorry for myself; but this is a new week, and I am back to being fully committed to listening to my body and giving myself permission to modify or even completely opt out of poses that will further aggravate my wrist.  My search for healing of my wrist continues, but I’m looking forward to letting each yoga practice be healing and not harmful because Ahimsa, non-violence, applies not only toward others but also to my own self.

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

I can’t believe it.  I finally finished the first module of the 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) on Saturday, 7/4!  While most Americans were celebrating 4th of July with family cookouts and mini-vacations, I was at home recording my video exam and writing a self-evaluation on it.  Normally, I would’ve skipped any studying on a holiday, but my husband wasn’t flying back home from being out of town until later that evening and my daughter was working as a lifeguard most of the day, so it was the perfect time for me to record the video and study.

I spent most of last week (Week Five of AYTT) taking the required 75-minute virtual Vinyasa Yoga classes everyday as well as watching hours and hours of Asanas Analytics lectures breaking down each yoga pose and going through the variations, modifications, and proper alignment.  There were a few differences in the way I was trained in my 200-Hr YTT and this 300-Hr AYTT, but more than anything, the differences were more about the different approaches due to different lineages:  My 200-Hour lineage is Tantra Hatha through the Himalayan Institute, and this 300-Hour program takes a multi-style approach (all the teachers have their backgrounds in different branches of yoga such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Alignment-based, Yin, etc.).  Taking this multi-style AYTT program is helping me to be more open to other yogic lineages, but I think I will always consider myself a Tantra Hatha Yogi, just because that’s where my yoga teaching journey began.  Just like Week Four and the weeks before that, there have been several nuggets of wisdom or statements that would grab my attention and would stay for a while… so last week, the phrase that one of the teachers said that stayed with me is this:

“DEPRIVATION LEADS TO DEPRESSION.”

I admit, I don’t remember which lecture I was listening to and which teacher made that statement.  I did know at that point, but when I wrote that statement down, I didn’t think to write down who said it and which lecture it was.  Anyway, this statement got me thinking about the concept of deprivation.  Merriam-Webster defines deprivation as, “The state of being kept from possessing, enjoying, or using something.”  So based on this definition, is the sense of deprivation all about perspective?  Rubicon Bakers Cake, Chocolate Blackout LayerFor example, I’ve been craving this vegan chocolate cake by Rubicon.  The last time I had it was sometime last month.  It’s rich, moist, and absolutely delicious.  Even though I could very easily drive over to the nearest Sprouts to buy one, I don’t feel like I MUST have it.  But what if I wanted this cake so bad but I didn’t have the money to buy it or I had no access to transportation or delivery service?  What if I couldn’t have chocolate cakes even if it was vegan?  What if everyone around me was having this delicious cake but no one was willing to give me any?  Would I feel so deprived that I would become depressed?  But then let’s say I got really sick last time I had a piece of chocolate cake.  I may no longer desire chocolate cakes because I would remember how it made me feel the last time I had some.  So next time I’m at a party where everyone is eating this chocolate cake, I won’t feel deprived; in fact, I may even experience a sense of aversion from even being around chocolate cakes.  I know all this probably sounds ridiculous since we’re just talking about a chocolate cake, but this could be applied to anything that we once experienced or dreamed of.

So going back to that statement, “deprivation leads to depression,” I wonder if this feeling of deprivation can be altered through changing our perspective?  I’m by no means saying that all depression is curable or that it’s just a matter of choice.  I would never say this because I have experienced depression in the past and they could not be “cured” simply by deciding to have a different perspective.  I could not choose to “have a different perspective” when I was struggling with severe depression after my dad passed away from lung cancer almost 15 years ago.  But I do believe there is some truth to that statement, “deprivation leads to depression.”  I think there are certain material things that we put so much of our focus on, that if it were to be taken away from us, we would feel deprived and fall into depression.  So the question I ask myself (and I invite you to consider) is this: “What material things am I putting my focus on that would cause a feeling of deprivation if it were taken away from me?”

Leave me a comment with your response!

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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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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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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The Process of Transformation

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

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

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

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

 

With Gratitude,
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