Are you a sissy?

I’ve been exploring femininity both in myself and in the yoga classes I teach and have found it to be profoundly enlightening.

I told my students in class today to embrace their “sissy side.” I said it to provoke. I said it to stir up (real) belief systems. And I ask this question of you now to get straight to the heart of the matter, breaking old thought patterns and bringing freedom. How does this make you feel? Are you a sissy?

If you are still reading, ask yourself what is a sissy, anyway? I know what school kids mean by it when they say it and that proves my point: there is a real attack and diminishing of feminine qualities in our world. (Why is a whole other story, so I’ll skip that for today.) What I want to invoke is an embrace of the Divine Feminine that each one of us has. Femininity is nurture, kindness, patience, gratitude, interdependence, emotion, meekness, sensitivity, quietness, grace, innocence, flirtatiousness, softness, acceptance, love. These are great qualities to possess! Ones that our world is desperate and hungry for! So, I ask again, will you embrace your “sissy side?”

In a world that idolizes masculine traits such as independence, aggression, tough skin, competition, strength, experience, activity, self confidence, harshness, rebellion; in a world where even women try to be more masculine in order to get by and make it (in singleness, in careers, in order to be seen at church, etc.), we all may need to embrace our “sissy side!” (There is a difference between being a sissy and embracing aspects of the metaphor, let’s get that straight.)

I want to be both strong and meek, confident and sensitive, aggressive and kind. We need both masculinity and femininity, we need the yin and the yang in our world and in order to have that, we need to first embrace it in ourselves.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Let me know how it goes!

Namaste.

Bali Yoga Teacher Training: Day 6: rest, strength, grace, love

It’s amazing what some good sleep can do. I didn’t sleep well the night before and my yoga practice yesterday was like moving through sand. I could barely lift my leg. Today, however, I got a good amount of sleep and I felt strong and way more able to participate in the entire 2.5 hour class. It’s amazing what a day can make! It’s such a good reminder to give ourselves grace and that tomorrow is a new day. Some of the biggest ideas we are discussing here in our Yoga Teacher Training is to enjoy the present moment, be in the right here, right now; notice what is, what we each feel, notice the truth about ourselves and surroundings, but not to let these things ruin us, not to let these feels/truths/etc. dictate how we respond or behave. My yoga practice yesterday is a good example of that: I enjoyed where I was even though my yoga practice wasn’t much to speak of. I took a lot of child’s poses and/or watched our instructor adjust and cue the other students in the the class as I rested. There were a few moments where a lie tried to creep into my head saying I should feel shameful or inadequate because I wasn’t doing what all the other students were and that I wasn’t good enough, but I consciously chose to not believe it. I consciously chose to give myself grace and take breaks and actually make use of that time and learn, instead of pouting in child’s pose the whole time. (Believe me, I have done that in the past, but I have chosen to not be so selfish anymore.) It feels good to be so present, so able to enjoy the right here, right now. It’s good to be here!!

Happy Thanksgiving by the way!! Nothing too out of the ordinary happened here because of the holiday, there are a lot of non USA students here (actually maybe even most are not American even!) But one of the girl’s, Kate, a lovely new friend from England, made cards for a few of us where she actually drew out typical Thanksgiving images. It was so sweet and cute! I got an incredibly cute turkey wearing cowboy boots, SO American! 🙂

I hope you enjoy this video. This is part 1 of the movie “I Am” which we watched last night. It’s a documentary about the director of the movie “Ace Ventura,” among others, and how his life changed after he had a serious injury. Here’s what the Youtube write up says about it: “We have created a world based on the notion that we are all separate. Fundamentally, there is no separation.” What is cool about this movie is that it interviews some 10+ people of all different walks of life, faith, and beliefs, and shows scientifically how we are all literally connected. This movie shows the power of thought, speech, and how we are shaping our future through it; we are not victims to the world going to hell, we are the ones steering the boat. It’s a powerful movie and I hope you enjoy it!

May you enjoy the moments. May you realize that you are stronger than you think you are. May you know when to say no and be confident in that decision. May you experience deep rest. May you know you are loved.

Namaste!

The importance of goals

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Summer has ended and rain and cooler temperatures have come to Redding sooner than expected. Although I absolutely love the sunshine, the heat, and the busy-ness of summer, the slower pace that fall and winter provide help me to reflect, reevaluate, and take a step back to see how things have gone and how I want to move forward.

I haven’t always been so focused. I haven’t always set goals. In fact, I used to purposely not set them because I wanted to live “free” and take things as they came, but really, it’s only through setting goals that have I gained freedom! So counter-intuitive.

With the plethora of injuries and health problems I’ve had, because of financial hardships, because I am passionate about helping others, and because of my faith, I have begun to set goals, cast vision, and take time to stop and reflect. I used to be scared of slowing down because I didn’t like who I was, although I didn’t realize that. Hind-sight is 20-20 and I’m now using it to move forward, and get bigger, better, stronger. Like with a yoga practice or any other exercise, muscles only get stronger from momentary “pain” or discomfort and the level of sacrifice that a vision requires determines the size of the person or people who follow. I want to be great and inspire greatness in others, so goals need to be cast, revised, and celebrated!

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (KJV). Perish means to die; to pass away or disappear; to suffer destruction or ruin; to suffer spiritual death. This signifies the importance of vision: stated aims and objectives; the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be; a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation (Dictionary.com). Speaking for myself and comparing where I am now with where I was even just 2 years ago, I am so much more alive because I practice en-vision-ing, goal setting, vision casting, and because I stop to reevaluate, and celebrate how far I have come.

If we have no vision or goals for our life then what shapes or defines how we makes choices? Looking at my own life, I can see that a lot of decisions have been made based on what was easiest, what was least likely to cause pain or discomfort, I have flittered about like the wind, directionless, and I have been searching.

I know a lot of others are searching too, maybe even you. I want to encourage you to start right where you are. Set a goal. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to run a marathon? Do you want to be debt free? Do you want to get married? How might you get there? Set some goals for the month, 6 months, the year, etc. and then set some tactics, or smaller more manageable steps to take in order to accomplish the bigger goals. The good news is that if you don’t accomplish something, you can try again. To be successful, one must fail. I pray that you know the 1John 4:18 love that casts out fear (of failure, etc.) and step forward, get back up if you fall down, and try again.

I have some large goals with yoga and I took some time today to practice and watch my “Yoga Journal Advance Your Practice” DVD. What was really cool is that I haven’t been practicing these exact poses but maybe once in the past year and I was shocked at the amount of flexibility and strength I had to get as far as I did. An amazing fact about goal setting is that sometimes, the goals get accomplished without even trying! It’s because we took the time to put them to thought, or en-vision them, that they manifest. I haven’t found all goals to be this way, but it sure is encouraging when some are! I think it’s God way of giving us fuel for the harder or more challenging ones.

May you dream big, cast your nets wide, and see your children’s children prosper because of what you did today and do tomorrow. It’s not really not even about us and when we stop and take time to set goals and make steps towards them, the world is better for it.

Namaste!

What is my heart for my yoga classes and my students?

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I have had people ask ‘What are your yoga classes like? What is your vision? What makes you different?’ These have been great questions for me to think about and work on formulating into understandable points, not only for others but for myself. As with all instructors, I have a particular style and way of teaching but there is power in knowing where you are, right here, right now. It allows for assessment and thus helps direct the future, it lines up like-minded and passionate people, and gives a person confidence and/or fuel for change. I teach and lead my students in this activity in my classes, now, it’s time for me to do the same.

My heart is for people to walk away from my classes more than just strengthened. My hope is that my students also walk away different: more relaxed, peaceful, while at the same time stronger and more confident. I want my students to feel and be equipped, more able to face life and decisions, confident yet humble, restful yet strong; a humble and valiant warrior enjoying each moment. I want my students to en-joy life, no matter the circumstances! In my flow classes we open and build up to more complex poses while I encourage and adjust them as necessary. We take breaks after difficult poses because I want them to regain the deep breathing if they lost it; I want them to visualize themselves strong, confident, and joyful in the pose again; I want them to check in with their body’s to see if they are pushing themselves too far, or not far enough. I have my students take a moment or two to recover because in life we do that each and every night we go to sleep. Our muscles (including our brain!) cannot repair, rebuild, or grow stronger if we do not take a break. Most people I come across don’t have a problem barreling and pushing through poses or asanas or even life for that matter and comparing themselves with their neighbor in a “I want to keep up with the Joneses” sort of way. Most people need to actually stop comparing and listen to what the Creator is whispering to them through their body, their mind, and their spirit. I create and allow space for this in my yoga classes. I allow time to reflect, in a safe and peaceful place, as I encourage my students into trying new things that deep down they may not believe they can actually accomplish. Most people I come across don’t believe in themselves and feel quite hopeless in one area or another. It is my passion to change that and I get to every time I teach a yoga class.

How do I do this? For starters, I have had to work on believing in myself, believing in a powerful, loving, and joyful God that wants to see all people live full and happy lives, trusting that I have what it takes, and stepping out, over and over again, even if I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. In my classes, I do this through the encouragement of smiles in hard poses, deep breathes in twists and holds, and steady but soft gazes in balance asanas. I allow time for my students to visualize themselves in poses that they want to master, imagining what they smell, how they feel, what their body is doing, what the mat or SUP board feels like under their feet, hands, belly, etc. I am a teacher and as such it is my responsibility to create an atmosphere of practical application of principles that most of us have heard for years. My yoga classes are where you can put theory into practice and have some fun doing it!

Thankfully time and time again I hear my students say that this is what they receive. It’s encouraging to me that I am making a difference through something that some would say is inconsequential: a yoga or SUP yoga class. I hope you can experience this for yourself too, whether it be in one of my classes or not: a peaceful strength as you courageously live this life fully alive, joyful, present, strong. May my life be a challenge and example of what is possible to those who believe and may the world never be the same because of it, practically through your life, your neighbor’s, and mine.

Namaste!