Be now.

Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant: all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed. This mortal life is a little thing, lived in a little corner of the earth;

–Marcus Aurelius

I was reminded last night of a memory I had in my childhood:  kids teasing me in the lunchroom because my food was different than theirs. I remember how I felt: ostracized, alone, ashamed. And I felt those things again.

When I look back in time, or forward in time, it’s usually for these reasons: back because I see connection between now and then, and forward because I’m anticipating, planning, attempting to control what will come. What good does this do?

Well, to tell myself never to think forward or backward would be unrealistic. Also, some reminiscing and planning is a good thing: to appreciate how I’ve grown and changed since I was a kid, to appreciate good memories I’ve had, and to look forward to and take action towards things coming up. So how much is enough?

I answer this question with another question: does this thought serve me? If it doesn’t serve to help me live my life, my dharma (purpose), then set it aside. How?

Meditation! When I sit quietly with my thoughts, I become familiar with the feeling of actually experiencing them, instead of pushing them aside as they bubble up during work, during asana, or when I’m scrolling through Facebook or reading the news. Then I can decide whether they’re helping my day, my week, my goals or not.

In the 8-limb path (astanga) of yoga, meditation (dhyana) is the seventh limb. That’s because it’s not easy! To prepare for meditation  limbs 1-6 suggest observing and acting from a conscious and conscientious perspective (yamas, niyamas), practicing yoga poses, bringing awareness to your breath, and turning your attention and focus inward.

Beyond the eight limbs, I believe that yoga is about beginning again. So when I’m thinking about things once again that don’t serve me or those around me, I can think of it as a chance to act from my True Self. “Thanks, but I’m good. That was then, this is now.” Or “Hey, who knows what will happen? I’m going to enjoy this smoothie and sunny day because they’re right here in front of me.” And then I do.

Bring some heat into your warm-up

The New York Times posted an article to remind us about safe and effective warm-ups. Don’t hold (or worse, grasp for) deep stretches when warming up for your workout. It’s all about the dynamic stretching: build some heat, baby!

Work meets play!

Playtime! 🙂🙃🙂🙏🏼 #yoga #homepractice #nofilter

A post shared by So Yee (@soyeemole) on

 

I was flowing at home a couple days ago. It started as creating a sequence for my teacher training video review, and ended with moving from my True Self. You know that inner voice? The one where your gut feeling comes from? That’s the one I explore when I practice at home; it’s the one I teach from.

In moments like this, when work really feels like play, I feel like I’m in my element, and I’m living my dharma. “I have a purpose!” shouts my True Self. It was a good day.

 

Get out of your funk. Or don’t.

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It’s all well and good to be happy, feel joyful and content. But what about when you don’t?

Last week was such a week for me. My body was fighting a cold, but my mind was fighting me.

“Why did I get sick?”

“What about all the things I need to do?”

“This is so inconvenient! For me, for my partner, my coworkers, my yoga classmates…”

This negative self-talk led to a negative week. I knew I could meditate, do some gentle asana, but I didn’t. I chose to be in, continue in, deepen the funk.

So how did I get out of my funk?

I decided that I was done with it.

I’ve lost count of the things I don’t have control of in my life, but my attitude, my intention, is not one of them. Hell, it might be the only thing I do have control over. (Wouldn’t that be scary?) That doesn’t mean I can control how I feel. Ha! I wish. But I can do something about my response to how I feel. Instead of blaming myself for letting my funk go on for a week, I chose to be kind to myself. Instead of forcing a smile on my face to “snap out of it”, I acknowledged the validity of my funk and let go of my tug-of-war between my “shoulds” and my “cans.”

I started to feel empowered by my choice, and grateful for the things that didn’t stink in my life.

So here’s what I learned about happiness:  you get to choose it. You have the power to be happy. And I don’t believe that there’s a right choice. If you read this post and said “fuck off, I’m busy frowning!” then right on, because hey, you just exercised your power to choose.

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Image credit: Edward Monkton

 

It’s thesis time!

My yoga teacher training program has flown by! It’s time to dive into my final thesis and teaching projects, so my posts may not be as regular as I’d like them to be for the next few weeks. I’ll still be sharing some thoughts as I flesh out my topic: chakras, breath, movement 🙂 I’ll also share my report on the blog once it’s complete. Thanks for your patience guys!

P.S. Boy does this process differ from academic writing! I’m excited to explore and share a different kind of intelligence with you guys!

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Image credit: Bill Watterson

Be You.

Tell your own story, and you’ll be interesting.

Louise Bourgeois

Why be miserable trying to be someone else, someone you think you should be? I’ve struggled with that in the past. And after years-and-years, I decided to stop struggling and become curious: who am I, anyway? Yoga has deepened that curiosity and sprinkled in some loving kindness.

Yoga is all about beginning again — coming back to where you are with each breath.  The more mindful breathing you do, the more aware you become of You. And the more aware you are of your True Self, the more grounded you feel in your body, your mind, your heart. That means less shoulda-woulda-couldas, and more hey-guys-this-is-me. Less FOMO, more I’m Doing Me.

I write the story of my life one day at a time. Each day brings a new beginning, another opportunity to Be Me. And right now, I feel a trikonasana (triangle) calling to me. Cheers!

Yoga is for everyone (Yes, it is!)

recent blog post in the Harvard Health blog touts the many (scientifically backed) benefits of yoga: improvement of cardiovascular health, flexibility, and balance, for example.  But of the people that have not tried yoga, the most common reason they give is that it’s exclusive — to young women or people who are already flexible.

But of course.

How could they not think that? The media (yoga magazine covers and Instagram accounts for example) largely confirm this stereotype in the West. Sure, there are counter examples, such as Curvy Yoga and curvy girls doing poses, but those are few and far between in comparison. And when those examples are presented, it’s most often from the perspective being on the outside. As in, “here is a separate kind of yoga for us rebel yogis. We old, fat, unattractive, tight and inflexible bunch who feel left out of the game.”

I’m exaggerating — but only a little.

When I speak to people that don’t do yoga, almost all of them expressed a wish to start, and almost all of them cited “not being flexible” as a reason not to. “But no!” I cry, “that is exactly why you should start!” But they don’t believe me.

I confess: I am a young woman, flexible, and was already fairly athletic when I started yoga. But that’s not why I started doing yoga, nor is it why I love yoga.

I love it because it makes me happy, and it’s part of who I am. Connecting with yourself, your True Self, on and off the mat is bliss. Moving through asana, breathing through pranayama, sitting in meditation, and walking through life, it’s all connected. And I feel this joy and peace when I get to share it with other people.

When I teach beginner students who may have reservations about their ability or potential, I strive to help them see that they are yogis. Not rebel yogis, or outsiders looking in. Yogis, just like me. Because guess what? Everyone is capable of compassion, loving kindness, connecting with your breath and your True Self even when poses get challenging. So what if the pose that challenges you is tadasana (mountain pose) or balasana (child’s pose)?

The practice of yoga (and I can’t stress this enough: practice, NOT perfect!) is a continual coming back to the present, and being where you are now. I have “good” days where I can go further into a pose, and “bad” days where folding forward is tough, and I love them all.  Because “good” or “bad” day be damned, I’m still me.

As I finish up my teacher training in the next three months, I think about what kind of teacher I want to be. What style speaks to me? What kind of music will I play? How can I include poetry, song, maybe even dance into my classes? But the most important thing to me is inclusiveness. I want to change how we look at yoga. It is not only for the young, the physically fit and the spiritual, it is for everyone. So I invite you — yes you — to join me in breath, movement, and flow through this journey we call life. Namaste 🙂

Rage Yoga

If listening to your breath as you connect with your True Self sounds a little too kumbaya to you, there’s rage yoga. Featuring swearing, pints of beer, and heavy metal music, it shows that there is more than one way to your yoga practice. While some might argue that this is not real yoga and goes against some fundamental yoga principles, I love the idea of inclusiveness and diversity.  There is not one single path to yoga, and if swearing and drinking a pint can loosen you up and bring you to your heart space, then that’s a great place to begin.  Where you go from there is totally up to you 🙂

 


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What are your wildest dreams?

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Calvin & Hobbes is my favorite comic. It’s fun to see their personalities play off each other, and they make me think.  Aparigraha (non-hoarding) anyone?