Be. Here. Now.

My last week’s blog post was about how life seems to move at the speed of light. As promised, this blog post is an elaboration of my statement, “When we get in the mode of constantly DOING, we forget to live our lives in the present moment.”

Why is it so hard for us to live in the present? Why do we have such a difficult time just BEING instead of DOING? I believe part of the reason is due to our desire for control.

“There are only two days in a year that nothing can be done.
One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow,
so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”
Dalai Lama

Even for those “two days” that we can not control, we spend so much time trying to fix things that have already happened (yesterday) and control the future outcome (tomorrow). This creates a sense of constant movement both physically and mentally.

“Even if we are able to physically stop moving, our minds are
constantly thinking, problem-solving, organizing, worrying,
rationalizing, irrationalizing, regretting and dwelling.”

Excerpt from my book, Be Still: The Power of Biblical Meditation

Each week, I teach several styles of yoga classes (group and private classes), ranging from physically challenging to restorative and passive, longer-holds. Can you guess which one has a bigger attendance? (If you guessed the more physically challenging yoga class, you are correct!) As human beings, we’re drawn to things that create more imbalance within ourselves. The more driven you are, the more you will be drawn to activities that keep you in constant motion. When was the last time you stopped and experienced the present? When was the last time you consciously stopped your mind from regretting the past or worrying about the future?

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”
Luke 12:25

According to Luke 12:25, we can not add more hours to our lives by worrying. In fact, worrying is robbing us of our time, energy, joy, and even our health. So if worrying robs our lives (potentially shortening it), then perhaps the opposite is true: Not worrying (and BEING present) could extend our lives!

As a Yoga and Meditation Teacher, I have been trained to teach others how to be present. One of the most rewarding moments for me is when a student of mine experiences a self-transformation through becoming still. One of the practices that I teach my students is counting their breaths. It may sound funny, but I invite you to give it a shot with the following recorded practice (this one is pretty short) which is one of many techniques I have recorded for my book:


Next time you find your mind regretting or worrying, make a conscious decision to stop and experience the present.

Be. Here. Now.
With Gratitude,

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Theme for October: Overcoming Fear

“There is no illusion greater than fear.”
Lao Tzu

Every month in my Yoga classes, we work around a certain theme. The yoga practices that I put together for these classes are created with that goal in mind. I use the principles of Vinyasa Krama (not to be confused with Vinyasa Yoga). Vinyasa Krama is translated as “wise progression” or “intelligent sequencing.”

Vinyasa = Synchronizing Breath and Movement
Krama – Orderly/Wise Action

Every asana (the physical postures in Yoga) included in the practice is there for a specific reason. So with this intention, we’re working on creating a sense of empowerment (twist poses), being reminded to stay grounded and true to our authenticity and love (standing poses and heart-opening back bending poses).

Our apex/peak asana for this month is Camatkarasana (Miracle Pose, also known as “Wild Thing”) for my Monday morning class at Keith Family YMCA and for my Wednesday morning classes at IM=X Pilates & Fitness, Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose – demonstrated below by one of my former aerial yoga students, Danielle Bisheit).

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For the students who are working up to these asanas, I always provide modifications (I advise them to skip the Wheel Pose and stay on their knee for Miracle Pose/Wild Thing):

 


lines Getting Personal lines

I find myself being driven by fear and guilt. I will complete a task because “if I don’t, I will feel guilty.” I’m not this way all the time; in fact, when I spend some great quality time in “The Word” (aka The Bible), meditation, and conversations with God (aka prayer), I am more inclined to do things out of love. I feel more compelled to live out my authenticity.

Recently, I noticed that I was feeling defeated at the end of each day. I felt like I was not productive because I didn’t get everything done that I planned on completing that day <insert guilt here>. Just as a point of reference, this was a typical day:

Screenshot 2019-10-13 17.17.37

After that realization of feeling defeated, I prayed one morning for God to help me get everything done that day. And then — as I always do — I sat still and waited for God to speak to me. He revealed to me that I had way too many things that I wanted to accomplish each day. It may have worked when I was nineteen with no aches and pains, full of energy and when multi-tasking was a way of life. That is no longer me. So I changed my prayer request. I asked God to reveal the things I didn’t need to do that day. Sure enough, things started getting cancelled out of my schedule. Instead of filling those open slots with something else, I used those times to do things I enjoyed: I read, I took extra walks around the neighborhood, I listened to podcasts, I baked, etc.

I love my new schedule. Setting myself up for success feels awesome! I ask for more help from friends (instead of driving my daughter and her friends to places, I ask one of the moms if they can pick-up if I drop-off) and family (which they are always more than happy to help out). I try to multi-task less so that I can give my full attention and energy to a single task.

So back to overcoming fear: What you think is your fear may not actually be the source of it. In my case, the source of my fear wasn’t not being able to doing more but rather the fear of not being enough which is a total lie from the enemy:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:10

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Romans 8:37

Don’t believe the lies. Most of the things we fear are lies, an illusion that will most likely not even happen anyway.

With Gratitude,

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Click here to find out more about my new book, Be Still: The Power of Biblical Meditation

My First Post in FOUR YEARS because…

Today is October 11, 2019. It’s been almost FOUR YEARS since I’ve posted a blog. In the beginning on 2016, I wrote a blog titled, “What a Difference a Year Makes, Pt. 2” (Part 1 was written and posted on 8/12/15). In these posts, I did a short recap on my life since the last time I posted. Each of these “recap posts” ended with an intention (to myself) to post regularly; however, I did not follow through in 2015 or in 2016. Throughout the months and years in between, I battled feeling like a failure. In the back of my mind, I thought that I was just too lazy to have the discipline to do this; but I recently realized that I was wrong.

As long as I can remember, I struggled with self-doubt. Growing up in Los Angeles, there was always someone prettier/smarter/funnier/more talented than me. The Korean Culture that I grew up in was (and is still) filled with comparisons to someone prettier/smarter/funnier/more talented. I thought as an adult, I had “grown out” of this, but unfortunately, self-doubt isn’t something you just grow out of like a pair of shoes. It is something you have to tackle with full intention.

I recently wrote and self-published a book called, “Be Still: The Power of Biblical Meditation.” It is a book filled with breathing techniques, biblical meditation techniques (audio links to the techniques are included), scriptural yoga practice, stories from my life as well as the lives of others (Chapter 5 contains stories from brave souls who have used biblical meditation as one of the ways to overcome daily stress, child abuse, divorce, remarriage, etc.). It was such a wonderful experience, but it forced parts of my self-doubt to surface over and over again.

One of the biggest things I had to overcome was the self-doubt of authenticity.  The common question I battled regularly during that time was, “Am I qualified to write this book?”  According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word qualified is defined as, “fitted (as by training or experience) for a given purpose. 

Qualified: (adj.) fitted (as by training or experience) for a given purpose

So I had to ask myself, “Am I fit — by training and experience — to write this book?” I knew the answer was YES! Through years of training in and experiencing Yoga, Ayurveda, Meditation and Energy Science as well as biblically living out what I learned at the feet of some amazing Bible Teachers and Ministers, I knew I was fit by training and experience.

Writing this book was therapeutic and so needed. I feel that I have grown in my vulnerability through the things I wrote about myself which allows me to live a more authentic life. 

As I end this post, I am setting the intention within myself to blog more often with unapologetic authenticity.

 

With Gratitude,
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Styles of Yoga in 10 words or less

I started practicing Yoga in 1996 for rehabilitation purposes from several dance injuries. I didn’t really pay attention to styles of yoga, mainly because the thought of doing such a research seemed like a daunting task (after all, this was before search engines like Google became a household name).

I decided to provide you with a quick list of Yoga styles and short description in 10 words or less (yes, you may count the number of words):

  1. Aerial: Yoga using an aerial silks hung like a hammock.
  2. Anusara: Lighthearted, positive and fun in a challenging Vinyasa-inspired practice.
  3. Ashtanga: Fast-moving, 6 Series of sequences of progression. Physically strenuous.
  4. Bikram: 26 postures done twice in a 104°-heated room.
  5. Hatha: Classical approach, using physical poses and breath control.
  6. Iyengar: Focuses on proper alignment using props.
  7. Jivamukti: Chanting in Sanskrit and setting intention along with physical poses.
  8. Kripalu: Know, accept, and learn from your body. Poses and Meditation.
  9. Kundalini: Using meditation, poses, and breath control to elevate the spirit.
  10. Power: Think Ashtanga without the same 6 series of sequences.
  11. Restorative: Simple poses using props to restore the body and mind.
  12. Sivananda: Combines proper breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking.
  13. Tantra: Combines poses, mantra, mudra, bandha (energy lock) and chakra work.
  14. Viniyoga: Gentle yoga, adapting poses according to individual needs and abilities.
  15. Vinyasa: Style varies by teacher, but they’re all flow type practices.
  16. Yin: Focuses on lengthening the connective tissues with gentle long holds.

This is not an extensive list, so if you have questions on any other styles of Yoga that I did not list, please send me a message!

Learning to Breathe: Importance of Pranayama

Today, I had a brief conversation with a friend who told me that he recently had an anxiety attack. He said it was triggered by a combination of a crowded room he was in, and not being able to slow down his mind (being that he’s a singer/dancer, his mind is creating a thousand ideas a minute on top of all the day-to-day thoughts he sorts through within that same 60 seconds… If you’re an artist, you understand). When I mentioned to him that I can teach him some breathing techniques that have helped my clients who struggle with anxiety, he jokingly said, “People pay to learn how to breathe? I can do that all by myself!” (He was joking, as he was very appreciative of my offer)

Not that I was offended by his joke in any way, but his statement got me thinking about how so many people believe that they’re breathing simply because they haven’t passed out from turning blue… but I stand by my belief that at least once a day, you must make your breathing intentional.

You may have heard the word, Pranayama in your last Yoga class. In Sanskrit, Prana is “fundamental life force” (aka breath), and Ayama is “control”… so Pranayama translates to “breath control”, more specifically, controlling the breath to intentionally create a specific energetic effect.

Throughout the day, most people take unintentional, shallow breaths through the chest. This shallow chest-breathing manually activates the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), which is the “fight or flight” response to stress.  When this this activated, the shoulders start coming up towards the ears, digestion slows down, and the immune system weakens.  Our bodies are wired with the ability to activate the SNS to protect ourselves from dangerous situations and environments. But if SNS is active for too long, it becomes a chronic condition. Studies have shown that chronic stress is linked to many ailments such as anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain and impaired memory.

All this sounds terrible, doesn’t it?  There’s great news though! Just as I mentioned to my friend earlier, you can manually activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which is the “rest and digest” response toward optimal health.  Activating the PNS allows your entire body (including your vital organs) to relax, heal and restore.


To activate the PNS, try this simple Pranayama:

Sit comfortably, and begin to breathe through the nose, inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 4 counts.
After about 5 breaths, start increasing your exhalation by 1 count until you reach a 1:2 ratio (inhaling for 4 counts, exhaling for 8 counts):

Inhale 4 counts; Exhale 4 counts.
Inhale 4 counts; Exhale 5 counts.
Inhale 4 counts; Exhale 6 counts.
Inhale 4 counts; Exhale 7 counts.
Inhale 4 counts; Exhale 8 counts.

Close your eyes and continue the 1:2 breathing for several minutes until you begin to feel calm and relaxed.


The 1:2 breathing above is also excellent to practice right before going to bed… In fact, this is the pranayama that I practice every night.

There are many different types of pranayama for different effects, such as to energize, to help focus, to clear the head, to increase digestion and to increase focus.

And to answer my friend’s question: Yes, people do pay to learn how to breathe.
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Aerial Yoga: A 3-Dimensional Practice

I love Aerial Yoga.  I love the fluidity, grace, strength, and fun that Aerial Yoga brings. It’s such a cool way to practice Yoga, and when done properly, it can be a great practice to uplift, calm, or center (just like a great traditional Yoga practice). It can be as restoring or as physically-challenging as you want it to be (or both).

You can use the hammock as a propAerial Dancer to assist in certain poses (like in Natarajasana, or “King Dancer Pose”on the right) which allows certain poses to become more accessible for those working on increasing their stability and/or flexibility. While in a pose like Natarajasana with a hammock, you can pull the fabric forward and up simultaneously to increase the back bend.

You might be saying to yourself, “I can use a yoga strap to achieve the same pose.” It is true that you can use a yoga strap to achieve an Assisted Natarajasana, but the aerial hammock allows for more versatility in assisting with other poses like Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana (“Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose”like this one on the left).  This assisted pose allows the body to build up the stability and flexibility gradually while learning proper alignment and gaining confidence that you can achieve the unassisted/unmodified version of the pose(s) in the future.

Another aspect of Aerial Yoga that I love is the inversions. When I teach traditional (Hatha and Hatha Flow) Yoga classes, the only “inversion” that I teach is Viparita Karani (also known as “Jack Knife” or “Legs up the Wall”) because it does not compress the cervical spine. Ever since I was involved in a car accident two years ago (I was rear-ended by a vehicle going about 40 mph), I no longer do my favorite inversion, Sirsasana (“Headstand”) because my I’ve lost a lot of the curvature in my neck (see my blog titled “Inversion Addiction“). Aerial Yoga gives me an alternative and therapeutic way to invert without compressing any part of the spine.

Here’s me doing one of my favorite inversions, Inverted Pigeon:
Inverted Pigeon

This pose, along with other aerial inversions, allows the spine to decompress, creating more space between the discs which becomes more and more important as we get older.  (On a side note, did you know that after about 30 years of age, your spinal discs begin to dry out because the water content in them begins to decrease?  Creating space in the discs allows them to “suck up” moisture like a sponge.)

To be completely honest, I haven’t done an aerial yoga practice in 12 days, and my spine definitely feels the difference! I’ll be planning some time with my hammock this week!

Yoga Teacher Training – Weekend #7

Wow, it’s almost as if I’ve fallen off the face of the earth!

After Yoga Teacher Weekend #6, life got extremely hectic and I just couldn’t keep up with my blog. There were 6 more weekends, and in between Weekend #7 and Exam Weekend, the number of fitness classes I was teaching went from 2 to 8 along with selling our home and moving into a temporary dwelling place… and I was rear-ended by a pizza delivery boy who was driving 40 mph!  I was able to finish my contact and non-contact hours to graduate the training with close to 230 hours and 97% on my written exam.

As part of our exam, we had to each create and teach a short yoga practice with an assigned theme from our teacher.  We were evaluated by our peers as well as our teacher, and everyone did well.

Since becoming a 200-Hr Yoga Teacher, I’ve been teaching 2-4 yoga classes per week, and scaled back to 2 fitness classes a week.  I’ve also had the privilege of leading over 200 women in yoga at two different women’s events, a private yoga class for PepsiCo… and I got certified to teach Aerial Yoga (yoga on aerial hammocks).  I’ve been co-teaching and assisting in aerial yoga workshops out of town, but I’m about to launch my own aerial yoga workshops here in Dallas.

We’re getting ready to (finally) move into a house that we’ll be buying (we’re under contract) in a location closer to everything my family and I do (our old house was rather far from a lot of the activities we were involved in)… My next blog will contain some things that I’ve learned about myself and others through my journey in Yoga.

So until next time… May your days be bright and your heart be light! Namaste.