Night biking bliss

I’ve been biking to and from my bartending job these days. Enjoying my last days. On my ride home, it’s dark and often very quiet. The moon is bright and the stars are very clear — no light pollution here! — and the trees in the neighborhood frame this gorgeous night sky. It’s quiet.

After the hustle and bustle of being behind the bar, biking home is a reward. My legs working as I pedal full speed past dark homes and parked cars and empty yards, rarely a soul in sight. I feel completely in the moment, present to the sights, sounds, and smells around me.

The soundtrack to my night time biking is Jamie Xx’s In Colour. There’s something about listening to this album while traveling in the dark. To me it syncs with my heart beat and evolves tranquilly with my surroundings. I am. So hum.  So hum. So hum.

I’m looking forward to my trip. To seeing new places, new faces. To experiencing new things through sound, taste, rhythm, touch. I’m looking forward to when M gets back from his contract job, to giving him a big kiss and hug. But right now, I feel blissful and alive to be here, right now.


Image credit: Mark Unrau

Bliss: why I teach yoga

Why do I teach yoga?

I teach yoga because it is my dharma, my purpose. That is, it brings my whole being — my True Self — bliss! Not bliss in the newlywed, just-got-promoted, everything-feels-perfect sense, though there are moments of that too. It’s bliss in my soul. Content, at home. It feels like, “this is what I’m here for.”

When I see the transmission of yoga through me to my students, I smile inside. When they challenge themselves by listening to their breath and their body, I feel joy. When they’re able to let go of their ego, and simply be, I know I’ve done something good.

I want to stress — bliss is not perfection. It’s not the thrill of a roller coaster. It includes times of struggle, can-I-make-a-living? (Not yet.) It includes boredom, a lack of inspiration. (How can I teach today? Nothing moves me!) But it also includes gratitude for those struggles and those feelings, because it’s all part of the journey. And every time I teach another class, or try something new in my practice, or see my old practice through new eyes, it feels like home.

Jai! The end of my yoga teacher training

On Saturday night, my yoga teacher training tribe met for our closing circle: a celebration of the last 9 months of learning, sharing, and growing together. We are the inaugural graduating class — pioneers of the first teacher training program at Living Yoga Center. We came from different backgrounds: law, accounting, academia, business, massage therapy. We grew up in different generations, traveled to different places. Yet somehow, we created a deep love for each other.

We all spoke about what we learned in the last year, how this program has changed our lives, in large ways and small. We wrote down an intention for our knowledge going forward on blank index cards, then set the cards on fire one by one to let go of the intention and trust that the universe will reveal each step as we go. My favorite part of our closing circle, however, was this: the comfortable silence we shared as we sat down in the living room of our teacher’s house, on benches, plush armchairs, rolling office chairs, on the floor, and ate food brought by all.

My second favorite moment was this:

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Jai! 

Lila: being playful

Sometimes when I’m practicing yoga, I catch myself being very serious about my journey. Am I doing this pose good enough? Have I really let go with my exhales? Maybe I didn’t try hard enough in meditation…

There’s a concept I came across recently called lila, which means playfulness for the sake of playfulness.  I think it’s a way of letting go and enjoying the moment. When I fall during Natarajasana (Dancer’s pose) and I laugh, the pose is no longer something I must conquer, but a way of playing: standing tall and bending back and reaching for your toes!

On my journey as a yoga teacher and a yoga practitioner, there are times when I am so focused that I take things too seriously.  Being able to be playful, curious, and exploring with poses, philosophy, and finding my teaching style helps me balance the depth and profoundness of what I learn with lightheartedness and fun. After all, life is short! Why not have some fun?

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