Aparigraha: Nonattachment

Recently, I was talking to a friend about the possibility of her moving. "How do you feel about it?" I asked her. She was cool as a freaking cucumber. I asked her if it would be hard to leave the life she had built, and she nonchalantly was like, nah it'd be a good thing.

And I just thought: damn, that's amazing. Because I think I'd have a really hard time leaving, I feel so attached to this city and the life I've created here. I look at my friend with a lot of admiration, because she too loves Columbus and her life here... but she didn't seem to cling to it in the same way I totally do... which brings us to our next ad final yama: aparigraha, nonattachment.

Let's start with Deborah Adele's definition, she gives two:

1. "Aparigraha invites us to enjoy life to the fullest and yet always be able to drop everything and run into the waiting arms of the Divine."

2. "Aparigraha, or nonpossessiveness, can also be interpreted as nonattachment, nongreed, nonclinging, nongrasping, and noncoveting; we can simply think of it as being able to 'let go.'"

"What we try to possess, possesses us," she says.

Mmmmmmm. Let that soak in, right?! Like... ding ding ding! TRUTH BOMB ALERT.

Let's look at it from both sides... the good and the bad things I attach myself to.

Starting with the "GOOD" things: my boyfriend, my puppy, my yoga practice, cycling...

All are wonderful things, right? Of course! But when I stop and think, there is something to be said for not holding on too tight to any one of the above. Because if/when I do... they drag me down instead of give me life and happiness. 

For instance, in my relationship. I love Alex with my whole heart. He's my person, and I am so grateful to have him in my life. Life is straight up better with him in it. But if I were to hold on so tightly and attach myself to him so much, I would lose myself in him. I would compromise myself, my identity, my unique self. 

In yoga, attachment can come in the forms of holding onto the idea of obsessing over a pose. And then consequently beating myself up when I can't do said pose, OR feeling egotistical when I can...

In cycling, attachment has shown up for me in a form of exercise addiction that I had back in college. Needing to workout and burn calories... or else

Aparigraha teaches us to soak up all of these good things, enjoy them to the fullest, be nourished by them... but then also be able to release them and let go in an instant... she relates it to breath: each breath we take in is life-giving, it nourishes us. And then we let it go, fully and completely... the same should go with all of life's experiences.

I then think about the harmful things I'm attached to. I think about the food/exercise/body image struggles I had growing up.

For most of my adolescence and even into my young adult years, I clung to the idea that I had to look a certain way in order to be loved or be valued. I did everything I could to fit this societal "ideal." I held onto it so tightly that it has taken me years to let it go, and it is still a daily work in progress.

And if I could tell you one harmful thing I wanted to fully and completely let go of right now, it would be the remains of that "perfect body need" and all that goes with it, because while I've come a LONG way, the little voice still creeps up here and there. 

It's so hard to let go of because I held onto it so hard, for so long.

Nonattachment. Mmmmhmmm, ya'll. It's a good one. It takes us deep. 

I'll end with one more Deborah Adele quote because it's brilliant:

"A bird cannot hold its perch and fly. Neither can we grasp anything and be free."

... drop mic, walk off stage. Let THAT marinate.

 

 

 

Bramachrya: Nonexcess

It's a quiet April morning. Alex is out getting a hair cut, Maple is asleep in her favorite spot by the door, and I just read the next chapter in The Yamas and the Niyamas by Deborah Adele and am feeling zen and inspired AF.

This chapter really resonated with me, so I'm excited to share some of her wisdom about this yama. 

In her chapter, Adele talks about bramachrya, nonexcess, as being the point in which we are able to find pleasure and feel "enough" in an experience. We are meant to enjoy things in life: food, cycling classes, yoga classes, watching Netflix, going for hikes... these are all wonderful things. 

Adele says that finding enjoyment in these things is all well and good until we move past the point of pleasure and into a place of excess, or addiction... when we move from the place of being filled, to a place of excessive want and need, where our mind starts telling us stories about why we need more of a, b, and c.

The first thing that came to mind when I read this was exercise. When I first really got into fitness, I was in college. At first, it did come from a place of pleasure. That workout felt great, I feel great, this is awesome, I'm going to keep doing it. At first, working out here and there was enough. 

This was all well and good until I crossed the line. Soon, exercise became a need, like an addiction. If I didn't go to the gym every day, I felt guilty. If I didn't "go hard" in every workout, I wasn't enough. I constantly needed more. I always thought I had to do more, be better, faster, stronger. MORE MORE MORE.

It took a hip injury the summer after I graduated from college, for me to realize that I wouldn't die if I didn't workout every day. Hell, during that recovery time I was only allowed to moderately ride a recumbent bike maybe 3x a week. Easy, girl.  

But this ended up being so good for me. I was forced to let go of that need to constantly move and sweat and "burn calories." I had to let go of the story I told myself over and over: move more, sweat more, lift more, BE MORE.

I've finally gotten to a place where I don't feel the need to exercise every day. In fact, I don't want to! I know that what my body actually needs some days is rest, or gentle stretching, or a nice long walk outside. 

Even more recently, as many of you know, I got a puppy. She's my dream dog that I have wanted since I was 8-years-old. I'm completely in love with her. Like.... maybe I've moved past pleasure and into excess hahaha, ok no, that's NOT where I was going with this story.

When we were making the plans to pick up Maple and thinking about how our schedule would change, I decided to drop a cycling class. This may sound small, but for me it was huge. I haven't given up a class like that.... ever. If I ever "gave up" a class, it would be too switch times, or because I was teaching at a new studio...

I never just "gave up a class" to make free time for myself... FREE TIME? What's that?! People often asked me how I taught so much with a full-time job, like I was crazy. It was just what I was used to: always go-go-go. But just because I was used to it, didn't make it right... I DID need to slow down. I did need time for myself (hence my 2017 goal of slowing down...)

I realized that with my dream puppy coming home, I wanted to clear space in my schedule to just be home with her.

And let me tell you something, it has been amazing. Having two free week nights has given me so much space to just relax and enjoy spending time with Alex, Maple and friends. I get to read and write and do things during the week that I never used to have time for. I'm able to just sit on the patio with Maple and do NOTHING. 

Adele talks about bramachrya as the ability to find wonder, joy, and beauty in the everyday little things. She says when we are practicing bramachrya, we let go of the need to be constantly doing something, in the action, the center of attention.

We step back and recognize that we are just one little piece of the MASSIVE puzzle that is this world. There is a larger entity at play (maybe you believe in God, or gods, or some other higher being...) and all of life's moments are beautiful because they were made by this higher entity. When we slow down and recognize and appreciate this, we are practicing bramachrya.

My puppy helped me slow down. She helped me step back and find joy in the little moments... although if you ask friends of mine, it's a running joke that I'll stop mid-chat to say something like, "oh my gosh, LOOK AT THAT SKY, IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL." Haha (Mackenzie, Meg...)

So maybe I'll say THAT part of bramachrya I'm already kinda good at ;)

But practicing nonexcess in basically every other way? Hot damn that's a challenge I'll always be working on.

At the end of her chapter, Adele says, "How many of us go to bed with a sense of accomplishment because we checked a lot of things off our task list or someone told us how "great" we were or how we "helped" others? What if we walked off stage altogether and put God there instead. Maybe then we could go to sleep at night, not with a sense of accomplishment, but with a sense of wonder, because all day we had been an attentive audience to this divine play."

Hot damn, Adele, you've done it again. WHAT. Yeah. Chill-bumps moment for SURE.

She then ends with a quote from Howard Thurman that further made me stop and think:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

I'll just leave that there.

Namaste, ya'll.

 

 

Asteya: Nonstealing

It's been a helluva March. I mean March. Has. FLOWN. Lots has happened. Went to Canada to get my puppy, returned to the States without my puppy. Went back to Canada to get my puppy, came home with my puppy! Family came, I turned 26... and something is beginning that I can't talk about quite yet... but I'm really excited about it...

... it's been a helluva March! A great March! A life-changing March, actually! And phew, thankfully, I still have one week left to stick to my promise to learn about one yamas/niyamas each month of the year.

March's yama (yogic ethical principal) is asteya which means nonstealing. And like all the others, we could just hear "nonstealing," think, "ok don't steal shit," and then just move along. "Asteya, got it. So I won't go to CVS and steal a lip gloss. Promise." Done.

Lucky for us there is the wonderful Deborah Adele who wrote about each of the yamas and niyamas for us in her book, "The Yamas and Niyamas."

She talks about many different ways we steal. Like stealing from the Earth by polluting it and not taking proper care of our surroundings. By taking things from it and not giving back. She talks about stealing from the future, by leaving the Earth and the world in a damaged place for our grandchildren and our grandchildren's children. Like stealing from ourselves when we have low self-esteem and can't recognize our own self-worth and unique capacity and thus don't live to our full potential. She also talks about how we steal from others, and it's this one that I wanted to embellish on because I feel like we've all been on both sides of this, and it's a good and simple thing we can all try to work on. I know I have been ever since I started reading about asteya... so here goes.

Stealing from others:
Adele challenges us to think about comparison. Ahhh one of my favorite topics.
See, when we compare ourselves to others, we either think we are superior or feel like we are lacking or cheated Either way it's a shitty outcome, toxic. That's where things get interesting.

Hold your hand high if you've ever been talking to someone, excited about said topic, and then they chime in and "one-up" you. Hold your hand high if you have ALSO been that one-upper. 

Chances are we just held our hands high both times. 

Chances are also high that we ALL HATE ONE-UPPERS.

When we one-up, or someone one-ups us, it comes from a place of comparison. One person feels "less than" the other and thus wants to trump them to get back on top.

Being one-upped really sucks. Thinking back to experiences I've had with one-uppers, I leave the their presence feeling drained and shitty... like I just got beaten down time and time again... like damn! Good-BYE!

Why? Because that person just stole our joy, or excitement, they'll even steal our GRIEF or STRESS by over shadowing us and stealing our moment to express what we are feeling.

I remember in college, for example, it was always a competition to see who had the most work and responsibilities and STRESS to handle at all at once. "Phew my day is SO MUCH HARDER THAN YOURS" was the undertone. Haha, I totally took part in that! TOTALLY DID. SO GUITLY! "OMG, I have this exam tomorrow, this 50-page paper due on Tuesday, that 25-page paper ALSO due on Tuesday, I have to work x-amount of hours, I have to do A-B-C things, OMG... SO MUCH. I AM SO STRESSED."

Like, cool, glad we're having competitions about how stressed out we all are. So insane, right?! 

If you don't identify with the above example, I'm honestly so super happy for you haha because it's the STUPIDEST THING IN THE WORLD. You are a much better person than I, hah! Seriously. Oops, I just made a comparison. ;)

If we are able to put comparison aside (which is hard, don't get me wrong), we can actually be genuinely happy for other people. Or we can be genuinely empathetic or sympathetic. We can actually be there for them, support them, love them, laugh with them, celebrate with them. We can build people up, we can make them feel better and happier.

Let's all start noticing our comparison tendencies. And notice how we interact with other people. Let's all try to drop comparison and notice how GOOD it feels to stop obsessing so much with other people and instead to dive into whatever it is we want: what we want to do, or be, to go, to learn, or WHATEVER.

And mostly? Let's all focus on BUILDING EACH OTHER UP. Let's critically think about how people feel when our interaction ends. Do they feel better because they ran into us? Or not so much?

... who do you want to be?

 

Satya Week 2: We Should All Over Ourselves.

I remember back in yoga teacher training (holy crap which is now a YEAR AGO), my wonderful teacher Mary Ellen was giving us a powerful yoga philosophy lecture when she said five words that have forever shifted my perspective on just about... everything:

"We should all over ourselves."

... we should do this. We should go there. We should get this kind of job. We should look like that model. We should exercise. We should eat kale. We should not eat junk food. We should do our laundry, get groceries, clean the house...

We should, we should, WE SHOULD.

I was like WHAAAAAAT. THAT IS SO TRUE. I DO THAT, I DO THAT LIKE EVERY DAY.

Why bring this idea up now? Because it goes hand-in-hand with living our truth, or satya. 

Because if we are living how we think we should versus how we actually want to... we aren't being truthful. We aren't being real.

We aren't being us.

In her chapter on satya, Debroah Adele talks in length about this very idea, and how damaging it is when we silence our own unique inner voice trying to satisfy some external force...

As a typical Type A, "good student" personality, this hit home, HARD. I think about all the people in my life, all the influences, all the cultural pressures to be a certain way, get a certain job, live a certain lifestyle... due to my up-bringing, or because of where I went to school, or simply because it's what others want or expect me to do/be...

And it's hard to not fall into this "trap..." to just become this person that others want or expect. It would be easier, honestly, to just be that person. 

But it's so important that we don't silence our own unique inner voice trying to satisfy some external force... no matter how scary it might seem. After all, as I've mentioned before on this blog, often that thing we're scared of is the exact thing we need to do/embark on/explore...

"We forget that we are here on this earth to self-express in a way no one else ever has or ever could," says Adele.

And the world NEEDS our own unique voice.

 

Satya Week 1: Getting Real

February 1 has arrived! Happy dancing over here, because Feb has lots of exciting things in store: fun yoga workshops, a V-Day Blue Jackets game w. my man and to top it all off: MOVING to a super cool new apartment! I CAN'T WAIT.

ANYWHO, February also brings us our next yama! Ahimsa, you were fab, but now it's Feb and time to look at satya: truthfulness. 

This one is loaded with challenging goodness.

Being truthful isn't just like, hey don't lie to your mom about A, B, C. Rather, Debroah Adele says, it's about living in a real, authentic way... You know that saying, "you do you?" Yeah, but really, DO YOU.

In a more eloquent way, Adele says:

"Real asks us to live from a place where there is nothing to defend and nothing to manage. It is a contact with the moment that is not superimposed or prepackaged. Real is something we might not always like in another, but we come to know there will be no surprises. Real, though not always pleasant, is trustworthy."

I think there are moments when each of us likely is SUPER REAL, and there are other moments when... not so much...

For me, when I'm up on the bike, teaching at Cycle614... I feel like my authentic self is just shining through, taking over me in this really fantastic way. I often joke that you don't really KNOW ME until you've taken my cycling class. Which is funny because my big bro and SIL who live in Thailand have never been to my class! (DAN AND ASH, CALLING YOU OUT, DO YOU REALLY KNOW YOUR LIL SIS?! hehe). 

Moments when I'm not real? When I'm hangry AF (and likely sweaty from Cycle/yoga) and am waiting in line at the Chipolte in Grandview and they're SLOW AND DISFUNCTIONAL AF, and I'm crawling out of my skin and basically want to die, but I still slap on a smile and am nice and pleasant as ever with plenty of THANK YOU'S thrown in when it's DEAR LORD JESUS FINALLY MY TURN. Sure, I'm being nice, but I'm not being real. And MAYBE if I was real their service would actually improve and millions of Grandview residents wouldn't suffer from this DYSFUNCTIONAL SLOW CHIPOLTE LINE EPIDEMIC. (Ok, I know, a tad dramatic, but if you've been there, YOU GET IT, JUST BEING REAL HERE).

But now Imma get real real and talk about something I don't often talk about on my blog: my relationship.

 Why? Because when reflecting on when I feel most real, I think about when I'm hanging out with my boyfriend, Alex. We've been together 3, almost 4 years now... and we've been through a lot together... cliche, but he 100% knows me better than anyone else. He knows me SO well, that he can tell when I'm  (silently) brainstorming puppy names (Watson, Basil, Marvin) instead of giving my full attention to our fave show, Brooklyn 99. No really, he called me out just last night, I was just sitting there! HOW DID HE KNOW.

ANYWAYS - when we get home from a long day, make dinner together and chat about how we're doing, blah blah blah, and then plop down on the couch and binge-watch Brooklyn 99 (I have a MAJOR crush on Andy Samberg)... there's little more real than that. We're not trying to impress each other, we're just being ourselves. Some days we are exciting and have hysterical stories to tell each other or moments to be proud of... other days we're just like, "yeah, nothing crazy happened... Brooklyn 99 time?" 

And it's funny, because I can remember when this simple authenticity was NOT the case. When we first started dating, oh how HARD I tried to impress him, CONSTANTLY. I wasn't being real, I was being some dreamed up "perfect girlfriend stereotype." Yeah, that changed. Haha, and what's funny is that looking back at our 3+ year relationship, the reason it's grown so much and become so strong is that we've both dropped any false front, and instead have just fully shown each other our true, REAL selves. We own what we're good at, we own what we suck at and want to work on. And we call each other out accordingly.

We're not trying to be another couple, we don't do nice things for each other just because we think we're supposed to. We'll get in arguments because we're not afraid to be real and speak our minds, AND THAT IS A GOOD THING. We're just Alex and Julie. And because we are real with each other, as Adele says, this comes with a pretty solid layer of trust. 

So now, with satya, truthfulness, taking over the month of February, my challenge to myself this week, and to all ya'll who are following along on these yamas/niyamas posts - is to just notice when you feel most real. What are you doing? Who are you with?

And... notice when you're not being real. Why? Are you worried or scared about how someone might respond or think of you? Again... Why? 

Maybe an easy place to do this is on your yoga mat: are you progressing a pose just because someone else is doing it next to you? Do you really want to take bird of paradise from that bound extended side angle? Or... do you actually just really want to enjoy that wonderful extended side angle pose and not fuss with the bird of freaking paradise?! Are you honoring your REAL wants/needs on your mat? Similarly at Cycle614 -- are you riding extra hard for YOU? Or are you just trying to beat the other person on the Beat Board for the first place status?

Through noticing our tendencies, we are then able to adjust as needed and become more real, authentic versions of ourselves. And guess what? Our life, our relationships, and our community will benefit because of it.

 

Ahimsa Week 4: Compassion

When I opened my book, The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele, the book that has been guiding these posts on ahimsa (nonviolence), I laughed to myself, because the timing for this week's theme/aspect of ahimsa seemed particularly appropriate.

Compassion, Adele notes is the fourth thing we must work on to practice nonviolence.

Adele says, "We learn compassion as we dissolve our personal version of the world, and grow gentle eyes that are not afraid to see reality as it is. We learn compassion as we stop living in our heads, where we can neatly arrange things, and ground ourselves in our bodies, where things might not be so neat. We learn compassion as we stop trying to change ourselves and others and choose instead to soften the boundaries that keep us separated from what we don't understand. We learn compassion as we do simple acts of kindness that allow others' lives to be as important as our own."

It's like, hot damn girl, you've done it again. I was 100% taken by her words. 

Our country (and our world at large) is... at an interesting point in time... to say the least.

I must admit, as a proud and passionate young Dem, I have been majorly struggling with compassion lately.

Sometimes we talk about compassion in a wishy-washy lovey-dovey way. Like ohhh peace and love, so easy, just love everybodyyyyy. Just have compassion, yo! But when you really get into it, compassion is hard. REALLY hard sometimes.

I need to dig down deep and find a way to be compassionate towards the people who support this administration, I need to find a way to understand...

"We learn compassion as we stop trying to change ourselves and others and choose instead to soften the boundaries that keep us separated from what we don't understand."

Here's to '"softening the boundaries," y'all. Somehow, some way, I AM going to find a way to understand, to love, and to show compassion in the midst of this chaos. Not saying I'm going to always get it right or be good at it. Ha. No, no. But I'm going to try. I'm really, really going to try.

 

 

 

Ahimsa Week 3: Self Love

"The truth is, we will express love for others by treating them the same way we treat ourselves. Love lies at the core of nonviolence and begins with our love of self. Not a love that is ego-centric but a love that is forgiving and lenient; a love that sees the humor in the imperfections and accepts the fullness of human expression. Only when we find this love for all the parts of ourselves can we begin to fully express the love that wells up inside of us for others." - Deborah Adele in The Yamas and the Niyamas. 

... Drop mic, walk off stage, right?

Honestly, I don't want to add much to this. I'd rather us all read it, soak it up, and let it marinate and resonate with you in the way that you need it.

So all I'm gonna do is give 10 random little ways we can practice self love:

1. Watch your language! How do you speak to yourself? Are they loving words? Start to notice them ...start to shift them... after all, our own words and thoughts create our reality. What kind of reality do you want to live in? We have power over our thoughts. We do! Realize that. Embrace this freedom.

2. Think about your intentions: why do you exercise/eat healthy foods? Is it because you love yourself and want to do something good for yourself? Or is it because you're trying to "fix" yourself or fit some mold the media enforces...

3. How do you book your time? Are you giving yourself the time you need to show yourself love?

4. Carefully decide when to say yes and when to say no. Think about yourself. But also think about others. Self love can be selfish in a good way. But be aware for when it becomes an excuse to just be selfish in the bad way. 

5. Write down all the things you love about you. Embrace the corniness of this idea. DO IT! 

6. Do something for YOU that you've been wanting so badly, but have been putting off...

7. During/after your cycle class, be proud of your ride and your effort, watch those harsh thoughts that judge your power/energy output/performance. Did you show up? Did you ride? Mission accomplished. Celebrate THAT.

8. During your yoga practice, dedicate it to YOU. Dedicate it to loving every single part of you. If you fall out of a pose, drop the self criticism and love that you're there trying to balance in the first place. 

9. Go out to eat at your favorite restaurant. Enjoy. Every. Single. Bite. I don't care if it's the most nutritious thing in the world...or.... the most caloric/fatty/sodium filled/not so nutritious thing (*I plan on doing it this weekend eating fried chicken and mac 'n cheese at The Eagle in the Short North...!) ENJOY IT. Don't feel "guilty" or promise yourself you'll "work it off later." JUST ENJOY IT.

10. Read a book you love. Get inspired.

Ahimsa Week 2: Finding Balance

If ya didn't read my post from last week about Ahimsa, scroll down and check it out. It informs this post and week 2 of my exploration of ahimsa, or nonviolence.

In her book The Yamas and Niyamas, Debroah Adele says that our ability to be nonviolent is directly related to our ability to be nonviolent within ourselves. And to do this, we must practice four things: courage, balance, self love, and compassion.

This week, were onto the whole balance thing. Which is great, because if you're a frequent reader of my blog, you know that in 2017, my intention is to slow down... to not be so rushed and hurried, and to work on achieving a better balance in my every day.

But why balance? Adele says that in order to be courageous and face our fears, we must be our best selves. And let's all be super honest with ourselves for a sec. Tell me something... when you're having the busiest week of your life... I'm talking nonstop GO... how do you treat other people around you? Especially those closest to you? ... How do you treat yourself? Are you at your best when you're rushed and stressed and going full force?

Even me, the Type A, who has been known to say, "I do my best when I'm busy," knows that there is a fine line to this statement. Even for those of us who thrive on packed schedules knows... there's a point of no return, when we are no longer at our best.

Want in on a funny story? When I was a freshman in high school, I was on the swim team, in the show choir (dork alert) and in the musical (Beauty and the Beast... a proud villager, knife, and wolf, thank you very much). And all of this happened to be in the same season. And to top things off, during much of this season, my swim team had two-a-day practices.

To this day, if you ask my mother, she will gladly tell you what a raging bitch I was that entire season. I was doing WAY too much, and consequently was a horrible human. DEFINITELY not my best self.

When we're spread too thin, we don't have enough time and energy to give to loving and nurturing ourselves, let alone other people.

Adele says so beautifully, "like the body, the mind and soul need time to digest and assimilate. Like the body, the mind and soul need time to rest. We create this rest by allowing space that we can breathe in. Not more clutter, but more space, space to reflect, space to journal, space for closure, space for imagination, and space to feel the calling of life force within us."

So I ask myself and all of us this: how can we create this space?

Going into 2017, I created space for myself by asking my wonderful owner at Cycle614 to have Thursday night off. I teach every single weeknight after I work a full day at Columbus Public Health. Even Fridays. So when I looked at my schedule, and thought about how rushed I feel, I knew that giving myself one week night to do whatever it is I want... I would create much needed space.

Maybe some Thursdays I'll spend attending a Cycle614 class. Maybe I'll go to yoga. Maybe I'll nap. Maybe I'll get dinner with friends. Maybe I'll binge watch Netflix. Maybe I'll meditate. Maybe I'll write. Maybe I'll read.

Point is: I can do whatever I want! And that automatically releases stress and creates a wonderful feeling of "ahhhhhh."

So what will you do? How will you find balance? Do you need to slow down like me? Or... do you maybe need to even speed up a little?

Start to notice.

 

Ahimsa: Cultivating Nonviolence this January and the Proactive Practice of Courage

Starting out this new year, I've decided to work my way through each of the yamas and niyamas, which are the ethical principles/practices of yoga. 

One of my favorite parts of yoga teacher training was learning about yogic philosophy. And I miss studying it deeply, so by blogging about it, I plan to recommit to the study... and I thought I'd share it with you all.

I also plan to theme my yoga classes and maybe even some cycling classes around these ideas.

So in January, I'm focusing on ahimsa, the first and foundational yama.

Ahimsa means nonviolence, and I've blogged about it before... but here are some beautiful words describing the depths of ahimsa by Deborah Adele (I'm reading her book, The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice to guide my study):

"When we feel hurried, afraid, powerless, out of balance, harsh with ourselves, we may find ourselves speaking words of unkindness or even exploding with a violent outburst. As our awareness of these nuances grows, we learn that our ability to be nonviolent to others is directly related to nonviolence within ourselves."

Anybody else read this and think, "hot damn, I know exactly what she's talkin about? Been there, done that?" No? Just me? ;)

According to Adele, cultivating ahimsa means "the proactive practice of courage, balance, love of self, and compassion of others." 

So this, the first week of January, I'm specifically looking into her first notion: the proactive practice of courage. In her book, she talks about fear, and being able to discern which fears are simply fears of the unfamiliar versus legit fears that, you know, keep us alive.

It's funny, because as I read her words about living with fear, about acknowledging fear and moving forward and doing the thing that scares us... I think about my entire 2016. That is precisely the thing I dedicated my year towards. And it was, as I've written before, absolutely transformative. 

I grew so much in 2016 because of the fears I faced. And it wasn't about being fearless, no, it was about recognizing my fear, and using it as my compass, to guide me along my life journey. Because... chances were that if it scared me... I ought to do it... because I'd learn a ton from it. And this proved itself correct time and time again for me throughout 2016.

So this first week of January, I am going to set an intention to keep acknowledging what scares me, and go forth with this fear, exploring it and never letting it stop me from whatever it is I want to do.

Join me, yeah!?

Reframe Your Resolution.

Ahhhh a new year is upon us. Even though, yes, we get the opportunity to start every single day anew, there is something special about launching into a brand new calendar year.

It's now that we’re inundated with LOTS of thoughts about New Years Resolutions.

Some people mock them. Some people flock to them. Some people roll their eyes at them. Some people revel in them. Some people fall off the bandwagon. Some people succeed beyond their wildest dreams. And... some people don’t even think twice about the whole thing.

I’m simply here to let you in on my New Years tradition. I started it this past year, and it was transformative.

And… it was rather simple.

Instead of setting a traditional goal, or a set of goals (which don’t get me wrong, I LOVE GOALS) – for the New Year, I set an intention.

I think of a word or idea that embodies something that would be great for me to dedicate my year towards. Something to keep in mind. Something to notice.

I don’t think: I want to lose weight, get a six-pack (unless it’s of Land Grant Stiff Arm), or get at least 7 hours of sleep every night (which, honestly is a goal I should set...).

Instead, I think of a guiding force, a theme.

This past year, I dedicated my year to facing my fears. I committed to doing things that made me uncomfortable. I started this by playing with fire and lighting these massive lanterns in Thailand on New Years Eve - (see insta post from yesterday! Playing with fire FREAKS me out). And throughout the year, I kept this theme alive by noticing when that nervous feeling set in, and if it did, that was my indication this thing was something for me to explore... it was like this "oh shit, this freaks me out, now I have to do it..." thing.

And if I’m being totally honest? It worked.

This intention of facing my fears stuck with me from January 1 to December 31. It was a deep and meaningful commitment I made to myself because I really cared about it. You can check out my very first blog post in Thoughts for more on this.

 As I look back, I’m proud of the risks I took this year thanks to my fear facing intention.

I faced my fear and committed to raising $2k and riding 100 miles in Pelotonia, my first century ride. I started this blog. I tried a new yoga studio and fell in love with the traditional style of Ashtanga and Mysore style of practice. I graduated from yoga teacher training and started teaching. I got promoted and ventured into new territories at work. I helped organize an event to showcase the strong and courageous people in our community who have overcome the depths of addiction and have since become inspiring leaders in our community. I climbed a MASSIVE 450ft dune in Sleeping Bear National Park that sent shivers down my spine. I kayaked the Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore in the midst of a thunder storm. I stood up for myself and what I believe in. I reached out to people I wanted to get to know, and have sense made lasting friendships. 

Yes, literally everything I listed above made me feel nervous/fearful/timid/shy... but I did them. And each experience taught me so much about life and myself.

I'm telling you: this theme thing? It works.

Ok… so what’s my theme for 2017?

Quite simply: to slow down.

2016 was … in two words? Action packed. So much happened. I felt like I was constantly on the go. Always busy. Moving so fast.

And it was great. And although for our world, 2016 may have sucked, for me... personally and professionally, it was the best year of my life.

But in 2017, I desperately need to commit to less, to relax more, and allow myself space to just be. Allow myself me-time.

By having this theme in mind, it will allow me to be more conscious of how I book my time (or don’t book my time…) The Yes Person that I am is going to start saying no, and setting boundaries. I’ll think more critically about what’s worth spending energy on, and what’s not. And I’ll be ok with saying no to even the things I want to do… but ultimately know will exhaust me. And I’ll enjoy the things I do so much more, because I’ll have more energy, more capacity for them.

So here’s to 2017, a year I look forward to mindfully, slowly soaking up drop by drop.

On Shifting Comparison

One of my favorite yogis is Kathryn Budig. If you don't follow her on instagram, please do so now. If you've never taken her class on YogaGlo, please do so now. And if you've never read her book... you know what to do... It's called Aim True. 

I'm convinced she's my spirit animal. I'm 250% sure we'd be best friends. It's casual, you guys, I just love her. A lot. 

ANYWHO I was (re)reading Kathryn's incredible book when I stumbled upon this sentence that really resonated:

"It's easy to forget to take pride in who we are when we've become habituated to focus on what's come before or what's next."

Yes. Yes. Yes... yes yes yes yes, and more yes.

Can I get a YES?

When I read this sentence I what came to mind is the tendency to compare myself to others, as Kathryn so eloquently writes: who has come before, or who is coming next.

Comparison can be dangerous. And I mean this in both directions. For instance, if I look down on someone, and think "I am so much better," or look up to someone and think, "ugh, I suck, she/he is way better than me..." either way the outcome is not awesome. I am either: A. a stuck up, egotistical bitch, or B. letting my inner critic get the best of me and belittle me.

I mean, right? Ew, no thanks! Hey, self? Drop the comparison, please!

Why do we so often insist on evaluating ourselves based on what others have done before us, or are doing right now? Why do we give others this power over our own achievement and sense of worth?

Comparison, however, doesn't have to be bad.

 We have the ability to shift the way we compare. 

We can do this if we choose the lens of inspiration and motivation.

When I look to my girl crush, Kathryn Budig, I don't see her practice or her achievements and think, "wow she can do way more than me, therefore, I suck." Or, "wow, she's a published author and travels around the world teaching yoga, she's WAY better than me. She wins the game of life, and I lose." 

(ha)

Nop. Rather, I look to her for inspiration... I admire her practice, her dedication. I look to her and all that she has done, and think, "she's amazing!" 

I find JOY in witnessing her strong practice. It inspires my own. I do the same thing when I'm in a class filled with other yogis. I don't look to other mats and judge people's practice in accordance to my own. Instead, I LOVE witnessing everyone's dedication and commitment to showing up on their mats and putting the work in (... and having fun)!

This kind of comparison is fantastic. It has the ability to move us in really exciting ways.

Comparison, however, has a nasty edge that most of us likely know all too well. It can reveal its ugly head when we harshly judge ourselves against others, using them as a measuring stick. 

An indoor cycling example: just because that other person can get their power up to 300 watts on a sprint, and today you get yours up to 150 watts on a sprint, does NOT mean you are weak.

Are you giving all YOU got? Are you challenging yourself? Then good! You are strong.

And I truly mean it when I say: all that really matters is that we show up, and we give all we got on that given day. Every day can't be our best day, after all.

But damn, it's easy to get stuck in that negative comparison rut and get down on ourselves. 

I think it's important to remember: we are all have on our own, unique journeys. And we all start a particular journey at different times and progress at different rates. We all have our own unique skills and talents and goals and wants and needs and beliefs. We have our good days, and our bad days; days we feel stronger than ever, and days we just feel slow and weak. 

It's just called life.

And just because someone preforms differently than me, does not make my own performance any better or worse.

It's mine... It's just where I am at right now. 

So... let's be proud of ourselves.  Let's allow ourselves to take pride in our abilities and accomplishments as they are right now.

Let's try to shift the negative comparisons, and instead, choose the lens of joy and inspiration when witnessing another's ability or accomplishment.

 

 

Be So, Insanely, Proud

One of my favorite feelings in the entire world is when I am overwhelmed with happiness and inspiration because I am so insanely proud of someone.

Most recently this incredible feeling has come as I bask in awe of Alex, my amazing boyfriend, who yesterday completed the Akron Marathon, a hilly course, and the first of three he's doing in the next four weeks. This was his 7th marathon, and I have the most spectacular memories of cheering him through the past six. 

(Damnit, why didn't I meet him one year sooner so I could say for all 7!?) ANYWAYS.

If you know me, you know that Alex's marathon season is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. Sure, it's not shabby that it also coincides with football, pumpkins, leaves changing colors, apples, brisk air, boots and scarves resurfacing. But really, I just get so excited to cheer him on.

I love being a crazy woman doing a rat race around a particular city catching him at different mile markers. I make signs. I yell. I ring a bell. I jump up and down. I run with him. I instagram. I Facebook. I Snap Chat. I get extremely obnoxious. And. I. Love. It.

It gives me the biggest thrill. Like... you'd think I WAS THE ONE RUNNING. Nop. I just love watching. It's incredible to see him, and all these other runners, complete such a physically and mentally exhausting feat.  They are super human!

Here we are at the Akron finish! --- Please note the Lebron banner behind Alex's head.

Here we are at the Akron finish! --- Please note the Lebron banner behind Alex's head.

This year I'm even MORE excited because two of my amazing friends are hitting milestones of their own.

My good friend Amanda has adopted a new lifestyle over the past few years, exercising daily, sometimes twice daily, and eating healthy foods. Sure, she's lost a TON of weight on her journey towards health, but man, it's just been amazing seeing her become so physically and mentally strong. It's been an incredible thing to watch and cheer on. Well, as a part of this journey, Amanda has been training to run the Columbus Half Marathon. I have loved hearing about her journey, seeing her social media posts, giving her fist bumps, the whole thing. I love seeing her find her own strength through the ups and the downs. The woman is unstoppable.

I was actually doing a Pelotonia training ride, and I had seen her running on the path (and almost crashed my bike because I was so excited), and then later in my ride, when I pictured the Columbus Half, I imagined her crossing the finish line... and I literally started crying behind my sunglasses. I was just... So. Freaking. Proud.

So that was cool.

And then there's my rockstar friend Kelli. Kelli is... wow. I don't even know if I can put into words how proud of her I am, how lucky I am just to call her a friend. When Kelli's dad died on a run when he was much too young, Kelli started running, in her words, to run the miles the world still owed him. I'm actually crying as I write this, it's cool, it's cool. Nothing to see here, folks. 

I've watched in wonder as Kelli has completed triathlons and a MILLION half marathons (one of which she ran ON A MOUNTAIN)... and now, this fall, she's completing her first full in Chicago, where I will also be cheering (HOORAY!), and I CANNOT WAIT to see her meet this milestone.

Good lord, I'm going to be a blubbery mess this entire marathon season! If you see me crying on the sidelines, please, keep moving, I'm fine, just casually overcome with pure joy for my amazing friends and boyfriend... and strangers who no doubt have inspiring stories of their own. Because in my mind... anyone who runs those races? They're some the most inspiring people you'll ever meet.

So I thought... why don't we set an intention to just be so, genuinely proud of someone in our lives? Or many people! To truly feel their joy and be authentically happy for them.

Even better... after we've felt this genuine happiness for someone else's achievements, what if we were able to feel this way about someone who.... maybe rubs us the wrong way? Someone who we find hard to like. 

Now THAT is a good intention. THAT is a meaningful challenge.

What I just described above is what I like to think Patanjali (he's basically the father of yoga for all you non-yogis reading) was referring to when he taught about mudita, which is one way to overcome the many obstacles we face as humans.

In B.K.S. Iyegar's famous Light on Yoga (another father of yoga), he describes mudita as follows:

"Mudita is a feeling of delight at the good work (punya) done by another, even though he may be a rival. Through mudita, the yogi saves himself from much heart-burning by not showing anger, hatred or jealousy for another who has reached the desired goal which he himself has failed to achieve."

I think to myself, wow, if I could feel as proud of and as happy as I do for Alex, Amanda, and Kelli for someone who I struggle to love... well, that would be pretty badass.

So there it is. Let's revel in mudita this week. From the bottom of our hearts, let us find this amazing pride, joy, happiness for someone else's' successes, and maybe for someone who we might not like so much...

 

Ready, Set, GOAL.

I love setting goals. It's just fun to set my mind to something and work towards it. And ya know what? The crazier the goal, the more satisfying the outcome.

Right now I have a ton of yoga goals, of course. Supta kurmasana is high up on the list, so is that notorious handstand. I love these goals because right now, to be quite honest, they both seem SO far away. The idea of clasping my hands behind my back in supta kurmasana seems impossible. And "effortlessly" floating up into a handstand with grace and control, seems years away.

But I know that if I keep practicing, if I stay committed, one day, they'll come. 

I truly believe that we are all capable of so much. I believe that we are capable of whatever it is we deeply set our minds to.

I also believe that we often underestimate ourselves. We often get in our own ways. We often see something and think, "I could never," when actually... we totally can.

I see it all the time when I teach, people think they can't... and then they do....and it's the most exciting thing to watch. 

I've also been on the receiving end. When I thought my body just wasn't made for marichyasana D, and yet my teacher Taylor saw it in me and low and behold, I now get it on the first (or second) try (on most days ;) haha). Or, when a drop back wasn't even on my radar, and Taylor an Dawn were like yup, it's in you already. And then bam. I dropped back. They saw it in me way before I did.

So the teacher in me is now begging all of you readers: see yourself as teachers see you. I see your power. I see your strength. I KNOW you can. Now, just see it for yourself. Start believing in yourself as much as I believe in all of you... which is A TON.

So what is it? What's your goal? This post is very much inspired by my crazy amazing boyfriend, Alex. This Saturday, he starts a marathon of marathons: 3 in 4 weeks, to be exact. Akron on 9/24, Chicago on 10/9, and Columbus on 10/16. 

That's a bat shit crazy goal! You know what's even nuttier? He wants to PR on his last one! And next year? He wants to run an ULTRA MARATHON. As in a 36 or 50 mile race! INSANE!

So this week, our intention is to set a goal. A crazy freaking goal. And go for it. Even if it's something that is a year away. Cool. Even better, it'll teach you patience ;)

If you're one of my Cycle614 riders, we have another challenge coming up to celebrate our 2nd birthday (October 20th!). Maybe, you think you could never ride 4x a week for 4 weeks. But psh, I KNOW you can.

Here's the Birthday Bash Challenge (it begins Monday, October 3):

  • Ride 4x a week for 4 consecutive weeks, earn 4 free rides (AND be entered to win a free 5 Class Package!)
  • Ride 4x a week for 3 consecutive weeks, earn 3 free rides
  • Ride 4x a week for 2 consecutive weeks, earn 2 free rides

So what do you say? If your initial thought is, "I could never," maybe... that's exactly why you should.

Just saying.

To register for it, just email Mark at info@Cycle614.com - or ask the front desk staff, Mark will track your progress for ya!

Whatever it may be: cycle, yoga, crossfit, travel, buying a house, learning to knit, WHATEVER IT IS... Ready... set... goal.

Week Fourteen: On Making Plans

First: "JULES!" Kate yelled as her arm flies across my chest, "WATCH OUT!"

Then, heart pounding: "Holy shit."

Ok, pump the breaks, back up.

See...I had a lot planned for this weekend. My big sis came to town on Friday, and I couldn't wait to take her to get the most delicious tofu at Condado Tacos, drink saisons on Seventh Son's patio, nom on egg sandwiches at Fox in the Snow, browse the Grandview Ave boutiques, walk along the Scioto Mile, show her Old Town East and Columbus Public Health's amazing building, and then, of course, the whole point of the weekend trip: go to Kino Macgregor's arm balance workshop. Then, Kate would leave to head home to Akron, Alex and I would carbo-load and get in bed early, because he was waking up to run 16 miles, and me to ride 70 miles.

We had a pretty epic plan for the weekend.

... and all was going according to plan.

We had done everything on my list, we had enjoyed Friday night, Kate loved Fox in the Snow (duh), and she even found an amazing dress 70% off at Thread on Grandview Ave. We were on to our next stop: the Scioto Mile, before Kino's workshop. 

I was craving an Arnold Palmer, so as we were driving down 3rd Ave in Grandview, we were just about to stop at the GetGo.

But... alas plans are made to be broken.

Out of nowhere a blue car was suddenly in front of my big Jeep Grand Cherokee. Kate screams and I SLAM on the breaks, but it was too late.

WHACK! The blue car spins out onto the side of the road.

My heart was pounding. My whole body shaking. I had never gotten into an accident like this before. And even as I type this I feel tears welling up in my ducts.

I look over at Kate, she's fine. and I'm ok. We pull over to the side of the road and see the driver standing on the opposite side of the street... he's ok. Looks like we collided right at his back driver's side tire. There was a giant dent, his car was likely totaled. 

My big jeep did pretty well, just the front bumper came off. Thank God for Jake the Jeep.

A bunch of people stopped and gave me their cards saying, if you need me, let me know, I saw him drive straight through that stop sign full speed in front of you. One guy actually got it on his dash cam video and called the cops for us. 

We talk to the driver and there was even a passenger in his car, and he was also fine. Turns out the driver just didn't see the stop sign... and thus, just drove right through it.

The cops came, blah blah blah, witnesses told him what happened, the driver himself confessed, and all was fine. I'll call my insurance agent and all we will get things fixed.

But over the past 24 hours, I've thought about two things that I think make for good intentions for the next two weeks. I'll write about one this week, and one next week. 

So here goes:

We can plan, plan, plan... but we never actually know what's going to happen.  Ever. And I kind of love that. I mean, I'm a planner. If you've read my blog, you should know that by now. But I've learned time and time again that no matter how you think things will play out, or how much work you put in to make things go a certain way... life is full of all this amazing uncertainty. And surprises. For the good and the bad.  And you really never know what's around the next bend.

I mean... when it comes down to it... we really only control a little ounce of our lives. That's why attitude and carefully choosing our thoughts is important. Because we may not be able control what happens to us... I mean a blue car could fly out of the side of the road at any moment... but we can control how we react, how we perceive, and how we think about these things.

We can learn, and grow, and find strength in the struggle. 

I am NOT one to say that everything happens for a reason. Because I'm sorry, but too many really awful things have happened in my life and in life in general where I just don't find that statement to be true.

But yes: we can always learn, and grow and find strength in the struggle.

We CAN come out better on the other side.

So that's the first intention that came out of this weekend's events: we can plan all we want, but always keep in mind that a curve ball is more than likely. It might be a home run, or it might be a tie game at the top of the ninth, and you just struck out.

All we can do is go with it. And learn. And grow. And find strength in the struggle.

And, of course, things just might turn out WAY better than we EVER could have planned...

Just saying.

Tune in next week for the other intention based on this weekend's events...

Above are a few pictures from our fully planned weekend... despite the curve ball.

Week Twelve: Show Up

If someone had been watching me at Mysore this morning at the moment my hands clasped for the first time on their own, entirely unassisted, bound over my knee and behind my back for Marichyasana D, they would have seen my face absolutely light up. I was partially dumbfounded and COMPLETELY PSYCHED. I probably looked pretty goofy with my huge smile and wide-eyes, as I twisted and held the pose…I was practically laughing.

I did it.

Holy f***ing shit.

I did it! And I held it! 10 freaking breaths, I HELD IT.

I was glowing. I wanted to squeal to my neighbors next to me, “OH MY GOSH, I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE ON MY OWN, THIS IS A FIRST. THIS IS A BIG MOMENT FOR ME! EEEE! HOLY CRAP!”

But I didn’t. I kept it in. Well, until my teachers Dawn and Taylor walked by and then I had to share my moment.

Ok, pause, rewind. I was just introduced to Marichyasana D four months ago. And I remember trying it, and thinking to myself, “HA! Funny. Yeah, that will never happen, my body just will not move like that.”

But I kept trying…I mean, it is a part of the Primary Series... so I just kept trying... and Taylor and Dawn kept assisting me (most times HEAVILY so, like … MAJOR assists to help me get into it). I didn’t know if I’d ever get it on my own, but I figured: whatever! Let's dance.

I had been getting closer... but still thought I was far away. Just a week or so ago, I remember getting to it in the series, and looking up to Taylor thinking, "ummm hello... HELP ME HERE," and he just looked down and smiled/laughed and said, "keep trying." Ah ha. I see you, Taylor, you think I can do this on my own. Ok then. So I tried. And failed. Haha, merp.

Fast-forward to this morning. The man was right. He knew I was on the brink of it WELL before I realized this. That's what good teachers do. They see the potential in you. Then they allow you to see the potential in you. 

Woa.

Ugh. Yoga. I love you, yoga. And hey, whether you’re a yogi or not, please realize that the following lesson applies to ALL of life. I mean, that’s where yoga really has its power anyways… when we take our lessons from the mat and live them off of it…

Ok. So, here’s my ah-ha:

This morning’s practice reminded me of the incredible power of simply showing up. Day after day, week after week: just keep showing up.

I almost didn’t go to Mysore this morning. Between teaching at Cycle614 and practicing yoga, my body hadn’t had a break in 8 days, and I’m talking two-a-days of cycle and yoga on 7 of the 8 days. [[Usually I have a day of rest, but this past week just didn’t work out like that. That happens sometimes.]]

On top of my 8-day spree, on Monday night, I basically murdered our deltoids at Cycle614 (my Monday night riders were audibly moaning/yelling at me hahahah… holler at you rock stars) and then the amazing Lara Falberg challenged me to stay strong throughout her advanced vinyasa workshop that night, which included some fun arm balancing shit. So… by the end of Monday, my shoulders were like oh, HEY.

So I almost thought, maybe I should sleep in, skip Mysore.

But Tuesday/Thursday mornings are my Mysore mornings.

And I love my Mysore mornings: it's peaceful waking up at 430am and working through the practice on my own, in those quiet early hours, getting deep assists, focusing on my breath… practicing my drop backs and just completely surrendering to my practice in a unique way that Mysore allows me… I couldn’t skip it. I love my time at Ashtanga Yoga Columbus.

So I went, and I told myself that I would just move.

I would just practice. It didn’t have to be my best practice, I didn’t need to move fucking mountains, I just wanted to go. I just wanted to get to the top of my mat and chant some sanskirt and go through some of the primary series and call it a day (morning).

So I did.

And then I started flowing. And as I moved, about 30-minutes into my practice, I felt a little voice inside me saying, “today’s the day.”

I know this sounds totally corny, but I swear to God, something inside me told me that Tuesday morning, June 7, I would clasp my hands in Marichyasana D for the first time ever: all by myself.

And ya know what? I did.

And do you know how that happened?

I showed up.

That’s it. I showed up.

I showed up today. I showed up yesterday. I showed up Sunday. I showed up Saturday.

I show up daily.*

And when I show up, I do not hold myself to standards. I don’t look at a practice and say, oh yeah, that was a good one and that was a bad one. I never get to my mat and say, “I AM NOT FINISHING MY PRACTICE UNTIL I GET X-POSE,” Or, “THIS WILL ONLY BE A GOOD PRACTICE IF I NAIL MY FOREARM STAND.”

No. Ew, no.

Instead, I practice with intention. I have a poses in mind that I am mindfully working towards (often time over the course of an entire year), sure, but I allow my mind and body to lead me. I allow myself to work towards a posture without attachment to achievement, and instead dedication to the process, and enjoyment of the journey.

And when I keep showing up, time after time, I know that magic is bound to happen. It’s sprinkled between the practices in various ways.

Maybe one day the magic comes in the form of calming my mind.

Another day it comes in shedding a layer of crap I need to let go of (think: stress, self-criticism, worry, judgment…)

Other days I have complete life epiphanies…

Today it just happened to come in the form of Marichyasana D.

So: this week’s intention is simple. All I ask you to do is join me in showing up.

Show up in whatever way this means to you. Show up to be present to the people who need you. Show up to the bike, to your run, to CrossFit, to your book, to your meditation practice.

Just show up.

It’s funny, this topic/intention keeps showing up in my life lately (see what I did there? Hehe). I was talking to two of my friends in the past 24 hours alone about this idea. The conversation just naturally presented itself both times. One friend is far along on her own inspiring journey towards health and wellness in general, and the other is just beginning to think about embarking on hers.

The message I said to both of them was this: you don’t have to have your best workout (practice, whatever it is) every time. All you have to do is show up. Just begin. Just start. Just get there. That is 95% of the process.

After all, "practice, and all is coming." - Pattabhi Jois.

I went home after Mysore and had to try it again. And needed a photo, because I believe in celebrating these moments! Go to my insta (@julie.pedal.and.flow) to see the vid... you'll see my struggle before getting into this bad boy, hah!)

I went home after Mysore and had to try it again. And needed a photo, because I believe in celebrating these moments! Go to my insta (@julie.pedal.and.flow) to see the vid... you'll see my struggle before getting into this bad boy, hah!)

Upcoming blog post: on what Marichyasana D Has Taught Me

(*note, I do not practice Ashtanga daily, but I practice yoga daily, I balance my practice between Ashtanga and Hatha (which includes power and restorative), this combo is just what keeps me happy).

Week Ten: On Being Perfect.

I've dedicated a lot of my life to the notion of being perfect.

In the beginning it was all about being the stellar, overachieving student, so that I could get into the perfect, highly selective, name-brand college, and go on to have the perfect job and live the perfect little comfortable life.

But it wasn't just about being the perfect student, I also needed to have the perfect body, be super fit, well-liked among my peers and be an active member of various groups on campus. 

Then I wanted to be the perfect girlfriend who treated her boyfriend like gold, always making sure he was cared for and happy. God forbid I "rock the boat."

Perfect, perfect, perfect.

We live in a world where we're inundated with messages every day, every other hour, on every medium, both interpersonally and mass communicated, that we should be a certain way, that we should look a certain way. We should do this, we shouldn't do that. We should spend our time doing a, b, and c things.

And so we try. I know I did. I tried so hard to be this perfect person for so long. For most of my 25 years, really. 

But what's funny about being perfect... is that, quite simply: it doesn't exist. 

Little by little, I realized it was impossible to be perfect and that it was toxic to try. 

When I got to college, and was surrounded by other over achieving students like me, I learned quickly that getting straight A's just wasn't going to be on my college resume. My professors were tough, and they were VERY selective about how many A's were given out in each class. 

So what I could do was let go of the need for the 4.+ GPA. And I did. I set it free. I let myself stop fussing over the A and instead allowed myself to just soak up as much as I could. I asked questions, I studied, I learned, and I always tried my best. But I did not stress over being perfect. I didn't stress when I got a B. In fact, I celebrated it.

Learning became so much more enjoyable when I let myself relax.

Over time (see my post on body image) I was able to detach from the idea of having the perfect body. And when I did, I became so much healthier, mind and body. I became stronger mentally and physically. I enjoyed my workouts more and became so much more confident. 

I also gave up the idea of being the perfect girlfriend. And it's funny... because as soon as I let that go, my relationship grew in the most spectacular ways. And now, we've become this incredibly strong couple, we're a team who builds each other up, I step in when he needs support, and he has my back when I fall. We couldn't be more in love, and we couldn't be more imperfect. 

By simply letting go, by just focusing on always growing, learning, reflecting, and being my real self... I've become a better version of me. 

I did not become perfect.

I will never become perfect.

I became a better version of me.

Perfection doesn't exist.

I'm human. Humans by default are imperfect. And in our imperfections we are unique and quirky and unpredictable and fun and beautiful. We are raw. We are authentic. I am myself and nobody else. 

But sure, you could always chase being perfect. I did for most of my life, and what did I learn? I learned that it'll never be enough, that I'll never be enough.

Even when I got to said place I worked for... where I thought I'd be happy, where I thought was 'perfect,' I wanted more. I needed to be better. More of this, less of that.

Lesson learned: there's always something MORE.

This 'perfect state' is elusive. It is always just beyond my grasp. And it always will be.

Once I came to that conclusion, I freed myself from the concept of perfection entirely and in all areas of my life. I instead started focusing on just loving where I'm at right now. I decided to celebrate what I'm good at, be happy with my strengths, work on my weaknesses, always try and be a better person... but not a perfect person.

I decided to live with intention and dedication and purpose, but not with an attachment to perfection in any way shape or form.

I just want to do my best. Whatever that means from day-to-day.

I just want to be authentic. I just want to be truthful and honest and kind and generous and loving.

And I'm going to fall short. And that's ok. Because I'll always get back up. And chances are, I'm going to learn something really freaking cool when I lose my way.

As my yoga teacher trainers say, "we should all over ourselves."

So this week, let's think about that. What do you think you should do? Who do you think you should be? Should, should, should.

"I should be perfect."

Mmmmm... but should we be?

My fave sweat shirt from Cycle614 ... "F** Being Perfect.*

My fave sweat shirt from Cycle614 ... "F** Being Perfect.*

 

 

Week Nine: Choosing Perspective

I'm a tad late in writing this week's intention, but what can I say, I was at yoga teacher training all weekend long, and just didn't have time to squeeze it in.

But I'm glad I didn't, because my intention really shifted as I went about my yoga weekend.

I thought a lot about perspective. I thought about how I have the power to choose how I see the world, how I see people, how I see circumstances.

I can choose to have a bad attitude. Ugh. It's Monday. Monday's suck.

Or, I can shift that thought, and purposely try to alter my energy and outlook on Monday.

F--- YES, IT'S MONDAY.

Hah.

Silly, example, but it's true.

I can go into something thinking about how awful it is. I can judge people and have a bad attitude about them. I can be thrown into a circumstance entirely out of my control that really pisses me off.

When these things happen, there is always a choice. I can choose to wallow in that negative energy, and even feed that negative energy. Or... I can identify it, explore it, try and understand why I feel that way... and then look for a way to make a small shift.

My yoga trainer Laurel always says, "where there is the most resistance, there is the most opportunity for growth."

I love this. This idea allows me to look at new challenges with a lens of excitement for opportunity and growth and self-exploration and self-improvement, rather than dread or negativity. Woe is me never helped anyone or anything.

Now, whenever something comes up that brings up some sort of resistnace in me... I think to myself, ok, let's see what this is going to teach me.

Where there is the most resistance, there is the most opportunity for growth.

This week, as we go about our days, notice where resistance shows up. Notice where a negative thought or attitude sneaks into you. What can you do with it? How can you explore it? Get curious... and see how you can become a better version of you because of it.

Week Eight: The F Word.

I write this blog freshly yoga drunk after not only an inspiring and SWEATY 2.5 hour workshop with Patrick Beach at GoYoga, but also after a post-Patrick Beach Dinner with three really fantastic humans. This dinner included hugging in the booth. So.... yeah.

As I reflected back on my practice with Patrick, there are so many golden nuggets that I took away, like new ways to play and advance and transition into different postures; and a different avenue for me to approach meditation. 

But really, the thing I loved most about Patrick's practice was that it brought me back to the magic of yoga and... the FUN of yoga.

The fun. Yeah, thats the F word I'm talking about. Seesh.

...I had so much freaking FUN. And that was so refreshing. Sometimes I feel like I can get too serious. Too focused. And, of course, I can get so hard on myself that sometimes I lose track of why I practice to begin with.

Tonight reminded me that aside from everything else, I love my practice because it allows me to get curious, play, and to step out of my every day rush and have some fun.

Just that. It's that simple: just to have fun.

I had a few pretty cool "ah-ha" moments happen in Patrick's class. For instance, I've always been WAY too in my head and timid to do full handstand kicks in the middle of a class, let alone in the middle of a room, away from a wall period. But Friday, for some strange reason, my guard went down, and I just kicked. I even felt the float for a second or so... and even though it was brief... it's one of those little steps along my journey that is actually HUGE for me. WOO HOO! 

 I celebrate these little victories all the time in my practice. In fact, I live for them. Those little victories add up. And... when you notice them... it's a ton of fun. If you're like me, you get out of said pose and talk to yourself like, "OH MY GOSH I DID IT," and then you laugh and clap as if someone is there celebrating with you... and then you're like OMG I gotta do it again... And then sometimes you're like shoot I need a video of that ish! It's just fun, people!

ANYWAYS, this week, as I go about my day on and off of the mat, I simply want to look at the ways I spend my time and see where I can put in more ease to balance out the effort. Where can I stick the fun back in? 

I think we all probably do this to some extent. You know, when some hobby becomes a chore? When you get so focused that you lose the simple joy?

This week, let's all pause and find the magic again, in whatever it may be. 

And let's start having a shit ton of fun while we're at it.

I was pretty pumped when my yoga teacher friend Lisa said, "Did you see Patrick's insta? You're in the back ground!" No, I had NOT seen it... and I was pretty pumped about it! That's me in the forearm stand and pink sports bra. That's Diana next to me, who is another FANTASTIC yoga teacher at GoYoga.

I was pretty pumped when my yoga teacher friend Lisa said, "Did you see Patrick's insta? You're in the back ground!" No, I had NOT seen it... and I was pretty pumped about it! That's me in the forearm stand and pink sports bra. That's Diana next to me, who is another FANTASTIC yoga teacher at GoYoga.