Bali Yoga Training: Day 18: health

This video is a little wordy, but if you stay through to the end you’ll hear the point. I really like yoga, in case you didn’t already know that. I love moving to my breath, I love challenging myself, I love the mind, body, spirit connection, I love the people that practice, I love the clothes, the sweat, the ecstasy like state you get while you move and breathe and feel and be. It’s a state of being that is so alive!

This teacher training is an intensive, comprehensive, 200 hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training within 3 weeks time. That’s a lot of info and work to do in a short amount of time. We start at 6:30am and end usually at 7pm but have homework and group projects and teaching in between it all. Yes, we have breaks during the day for breakfast and lunch, and we have half days off but as you have probably seen from pictures and past videos, I want to get off the property to explore, not just because I’m in an amazing foreign land, but also for sanity’s sake! All this to say, that sometimes a person, me, can get blinded to the obvious.

I am thankful for people in my life to help me see clearly. I hope this video, these blog posts, and my life helps you become awakened, as I am becoming each and everyday.

We have a half day off tomorrow! Yeehaw! I haven’t decided what adventures I will partake in outside the yoga and group teaching project work, but I’m sure I will tell you about it. Good night! Until tomorrow, Namaste!

Bali Yoga Training: Day 16: perfect

This has been day 2 of sitting out of asana practice. ☹ My arms have been tingly and somewhat numb for a little over a week, progressively getting more so as the days have gone by. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had an acupuncture treatment because my wrists hurt and that it relieved some of that pain, but it has slowly crept back on.

It’s an interesting place to be: at a yoga teacher training where we are doing yoga daily, sometimes twice a day, and not able to participate physically. I was pretty upset about it yesterday, but it was a powerful moment. One of the many things Awakened Life School of Yoga is good at is cultivating a space to let one sit with and work through stuff. Chris, one of the co-founders, let me cry, laugh, cry, and process these feelings of disappointment, frustration, awareness, pity, realization, and then enlightenment. He did such an incredible job of lovingly sitting beside me, but not stopping the process. “Getting a tissue” as we have jokingly yet realistically called it. I saw, yesterday, that it’s not a big deal if I don’t complete every single yoga asana class! I realized that it’s not normal for people to have tingling and numb arms. I realized that I had been pushing through this just for the falsity that I “needed to keep up and be like or be more advanced” than the other students in the class. When I realized that, I laughed and laughed, and then cried some more. I told Christ though, that I wanted to create a new normal. His response: “You will.”

Today I had a 1.5 hour “healing massage.” I’m giving myself some more time to determine how much help this has been, but there has definitely been some shifting. He did some good work with pressure points, muscle, myofacial tissue, tendons; it was intense, yet relaxing! My body is settling into this new alignment. We will see how things are in the morning. I’m hoping, and expectant, for a miracle. One of the yoga instructors told me yesterday that I need to take a break from yoga asana practice until I don’t feel pain, then slowly ease back into it, determining which poses are bothersome. I think it all stemmed from shoulders stands, which I am pretty sure I was actually doing as neck stands; however, as I was sharing with both Chris and the yoga instructor yesterday, I have been through a LOT of trauma, surgeries, near death experiences, chemotherapy, organs removed, chemo, broken bones, falls, etc. And as the yoga instructor so eloquently stated, things are all interconnected. With my abdomen having a lot of scar tissue, it can create a pulling forward of my spine and tension on my neck.

In tonight’s Restorative Yoga class, we ended the class with some chanting and contemplative silence. As I was sitting there, I began asking myself the question “when will I be fixed? When will I be healthy?” What immediately came to me, almost audibly, was: “you are perfect just as you are.” It rocked me. It was so freeing! I am absolutely perfect, right now, right here! There is no “fixing” that needs to happen! I am free to be me.

Enjoy this video. I hope it’s not too shaky. I obviously took it while walking.

Thanks for reading. I hope you are inspired to keep on moving forward, regardless of your past traumas, pains, hurts, and to stop, be vulnerable, be real, honest, and open, and realize that you are perfect: right now, without changing a single thing. You are loved.

Namaste!

Instructing people who practice yoga

What an incredible day it is here in Redding! It’s perfectly sunny and 75 degrees, and it’s November 13th. I’m sitting in my backyard with a cup of jasmine green tea (organic, free trade, and non-chlorine bleached paper tea bags, of course, from Numi), overlooking the pool, and the open space park that backs up against it. I know, it sounds all incredibly glamorous, being that I am in California and all, but there are real, non-glamorous things here as well (a black tarp along the fence rustling in the wind, the random pool toys littered about, the knocked over flower pot, the large burn pile of yard debris, leaves all over, the pool lining tearing, etc), but like ALL of life, I choose to look at the positive, and celebrate it. All of course, without ignoring the things that need to be changed, cleaned up, worked on, etc.

I have been teaching yoga now for 3 years! I can hardly believe it really. It was this month 3 years ago that I was asked by my pastor to lead my 25 person ministry team through a daily yoga practice while we were working with a church in Madrid, Spain. Wow. What a life changing trip, on so many levels. I had no idea it would lead me to where I am today, nor that I would fall more and more in love with yoga.

I taught one of my land yoga classes this morning and was talking with one of my students after class about his desire to teach. He used to coach sports and has some old injuries that make some poses and transitions very difficult or impossible. I asked him why he wanted to teach and heard a passion that is inspiring. Because of his background and experience he wants to lead, encourage, and inspire more men (and women) into the health benefits of yoga and knows that he can in a way that is unique and different than other instructors. It was a really great conversation and helps me remember why I started and show me how far I have grown and changed.

One of the struggles I have had as an instructor was the feeling that I needed to address everyone’s concern, everyone’s injury, everyone’s goals, and everyone’s problems. As I have gained experience, I have realized that I cannot, AND, I am ok with that. It is much like me looking at this yard: there is so much work that needs to be done here, but wow, it is still so beautiful, right now! It’s about trusting and believing that I am doing the best I can, keeping people’s best into consideration, of course, but also not taking things personally. It’s really not even about me! I have so enjoyed the practice of yoga for this reason: it has helped me to put into reality (practice), all the nice things that we hear at church, all the inspirational promptings we read in some famous person’s quote, all the incredible feats that we see in someone we admire. Yoga creates the opportunity to practice, in a safe place, so we can then carry this revelation out beyond the studio, or off the paddleboard. What a gift it is.

I pray a lot, as 1 Timothy 5:17 suggests, “Pray without ceasing” and have been striving to live my life as a continuous prayer (after all it is not feasible to be kneeling with hands folded and head bowed 24-7). Yoga has been the biggest vehicle by which I have gained progress in this goal. I pray for people’s lives to be changed and bettered through their interaction with me. I pray for the earth to be as wonderful as heaven (Matthew 6:10, Habakkuk 2:14). I pray for people to be healed. I pray for wisdom personally, locally, nationally, and for us all to take a stand for what is right, regardless of some short term discomfort we may feel. I pray for peace.

May my experience help you to choose the higher path, the better way. I could have easily gotten offended at my yoga student today because he gave me some great constructive criticism, but I chose not to. It’s getting easier each time because I am practicing. Like a physical posture/pose, yoga helps us to mentally grow healthier too. What are you choosing?

Namaste.

Courage OWY

Webster’s defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”.

Many look at my life, hear my story, and tell me that I have a lot of courage. I don’t disagree, but I don’t want to be the Dead Sea. I don’t want to hog all the courage. My heart’s cry is to edify, build-up, and strengthen my students, you, and the world with courage! I want to en-courage. I want to encourage you that YOU can do what I am doing. You have what it takes. You can accomplish things that seem hard. You can overcome. You can dream big dreams and make them a reality. I also want to bring to light some more good news, you already have.

I teach a class for the Recreation Department called Walk With Ease that starts with 10 minutes of walking 3 times a week, then gradually adds 5 minutes each week for 6 weeks. Today one of my students, who is in her mid-60’s, said that it wasn’t until this class that she realized she is normal. She thought the pain and struggles she deals with daily were abnormal. She, too, is a cancer survivor. She too struggles daily with pain, old injuries, surgery aftereffects, and negative emotions and thoughts. And she too is courageous. She stepped out and registered for a walking class. She stepped out and has shared her pains, her struggles, her fears, her successes, her failures and in doing so she has en-couraged me, the other students in the class, and now, hopefully you. It makes me such a proud teacher to hear my students say such things. I know that they are getting it. I know that they are different. I know that they are becoming more powerful, able to share and spread good news of hope and healing. I know that they will not leave my class(es) with some more head knowledge, but with a real demonstration of courage and strength. I am now embarking on this journey in blog form. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Education. I have been teaching since my sister was born and have a lot of practice with encouraging and teaching in person. Now, I want practice encouraging through writing. Thanks for being on this journey with me. My hope is through this blog, my classes, and my life, we create a new and larger story of hope, healing, and courage, together.

I welcome your stories of courage. May the world be all the better for it.

Namaste!