Do you play small?

I certainly do.

What is that!? Why is that? Doesn’t that seem counter-intuitive? And yet, we all seem to have this same disposition/fear/shared consciousness.

This is a cliché question, but, for real: What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? Put differently: What would you do if you didn’t limit your potential? What would you do if you weren’t afraid of your light?

For me, sometimes what limits me is feeling like I can’t make a difference; feeling like whatever small thing I do, won’t affect others – it won’t ripple.

In this time of global fear/flux/change, we have witnessed what happens when individuals influence those around them to both emanate their light, and their dark. All of our energy has ripples and it will affect those around us. It may not be visible and it may not seem immediate, but it does make an impact.

What would happen if you chose to let go of your fear and live more brightly?

What would happen if you recognized others’ fear of showing their light through their negative reactions? Could you keep shining your light if you knew negative reactions were just that, fear? Not a personal judgement against you, but a personal limitation placed upon themselves.

What does that look like for you?

For me, it means stepping back and taking a breath before reacting. It means taking a moment to look at where they are coming from. It means recognizing their fear. It means sending them compassion. It means holding space for both their light, and for my boundaries. It means releasing their judgement. It means stepping into my own light anyway!

My offering to you is to look at where you are holding back. Look at where you allow fear to lead you. Just to be aware of it.

After you are aware of it, you can start to ask yourself if there is another way forward. Do you want to proceed the way you have – allowing fear to lead you? Or, do you want to start to allow your light to shine and lead you as you move forward?

Do this without judgement towards yourself, or towards others. And don’t judge yourself when you find yourself in judgement! Recognize it. Awareness is where this all starts and you can’t move forward if you keep judging yourself.

Notice where you see shifts, however small they may be. Notice the light grow within yourself and within those around you.

We can do this. We can impact positive change. Each and every one of us has the ability to recognize the light within us and within those around us. Each of us can acknowledge the fear bubble up, and each of us can choose to follow the light instead.

The light in me recognizes and honours the light that is also within you.

Namasté
~Alannah

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The whirling hamster wheel

Your alarm goes off, you hit snooze. Your alarm goes off, you hit snooze. Your alarm REALLY goes off. It’s time to drag yourself out of bed…and, you’re off!

Get out the door, get coffee, get to work, work, workout, eat, tv, bed. Repeat.

Does that, or something like that, remind you of someone? It’s definitely been me. And, if I’m being honest, it will likely be me again at various points in my life.

This past week, now that I’m only teaching two classes outside of my 9-5, I’ve had the opportunity to take some time in the evenings to step off the hamster wheel. I made the conscious decision to do what brings me joy, specifically, to not just watch tv.

It’s not that my evenings weren’t busy, but in that time, I consciously asked myself: will watching tv bring me joy right now? And, every single time, the answer was no, it will not. So, instead, I took my time to cook, I didn’t feel rushed to get to a yoga class, I read, I listened to music.

I consciously enjoyed my time.

Here’s the thing, we get so rushed because, yes, we try to fit everything into 24 hours, but also, because we don’t consciously decide how we want to spend our time and end up in habits that suck time.

My offering to you is to start recognizing your habits, and begin to question them.

Do they serve you? Do they bring you joy? Are they the best use of your time?

Here’s the thing,  if binge watching Game of Thrones brings you joy, then that’s ok! No judgement.

If you find yourself running out of time and rushing through life, or wanting to do something that you “don’t have time” to do, over and over, that’s when it matters to question. That’s when it matters to pause, before falling into your routine/habit, and ask.

In love,
~Alannah

When things change

As humans, we’re really good when we’re in control, but what happens if something changes that’s out of your control, or what happens when you have to make a decision with your best knowledge in that moment without any time to really think about it?

yoga-keep-calm

There’s a yoga sutra that pulled itself into my consciousness this week:

Te prati prasava heyah suksmah.

“When you think you have it under control, you had better check again. These tendencies are often subtle, and the untrained mind has a way of avoiding the issues. Develop constant introspection, and pay attention.”

~Bhavani Silvia Maki (The Yogi’s Roadmap)

A few things happened that made this teaching feel relevant.

1. A trip that had previously been cancelled is now happening in three weeks and I committed to going, after deciding to not go.

2. Two yoga studios merged and my students are having to adjust.

3. Wednesday was my last night teaching regular classes at a studio I have taught at since it opened.

Wow.

The Trip. I can’t say I was excited for the initial trip, but I was committed and it was an amazing opportunity to experience a new country and work with a team to build houses, including one that I raised the money to fund. Then, there were a few natural events and the trip was cancelled with the plan of rescheduling. When the trip was rescheduled, I wasn’t all in. I needed to process it and decide if it was something I really wanted to do. I came to the decision to not go, but it still didn’t feel right. So I kept sitting on it. Finally, I rebooked. Done.

The Studios. January 1 marked the merging of two studios and January 9 is the change in schedules so this past week has been amazing with getting to teach new students in busy classes. Wednesday was a gloriously full class with many new-to-me faces. For many of them, they were new to the space and were unsettled by the change to the location and schedule. My work, as their teacher, was to acknowledge their discomfort and to help them live their yoga practice. My class included teachings around Te prati prasava heyah suksmah.

The Classes. I have had the privilege to witness the community grow and develop for the past two years. Through teaching four classes a week, I have watched my students become more focused, mobile, and dedicated to the teachings of yoga. The experience has added depth to my teaching and passion for sharing the lessons that yoga has to offer us. These students have really drawn me in and I will miss them dearly. I had held onto these classes because of my students. Changes to the schedule gave me the push that I needed to release these classes in order to pursue other opportunities.

Loss of control.

I thought I had made the decision to not go on the trip. My students had their yoga schedule figured out. My teaching schedule had remained mostly unchanged for two years and my work schedule was adjusted to fit.

How do you handle events outside of your control?

For me, I take a look inside, I ask myself, what do I need to learn from this? What is this telling me? There are no “right” answers to these questions, these answers are open to interpretation as they come from within you.

Some people sit in meditation, I’m still working on that, but I do “sit with” the decision that feels right. I listen to my gut/my first reaction, then I “test” that decision. I pay attention to my reactions to that decision. If that decision doesn’t “feel right”, the thoughts will continue to whirl around my mind. When it doesn’t feel “done” I know it’s not the right decision/next step yet.

When a decision is “final”, sometimes it can feel sudden, but it also feels complete. When I made the call to rebook my flight, it seemed urgent, rushed, but it also felt final, and “right”.

There was no decision for my students, they will have to continue to practice this magical thing called yoga and make the best choices for themselves as they find new teachers and a new routine. My hope is they can see this change as a positive and are able to further develop their practice through both new teachers/styles, and through their own internal practice of living through this change.

Change isn’t easy, but it is constant. The trick is to look at the change, to look at how it makes you feel, acknowledge that, look at the lessons this change can offer you, and keep moving forward with a positive outlook.

In love,
~Alannah

The Start of a New Year

Happy 2017!

Did you start 2017 how you wanted to? I had a slow morning. It was lovely, but slow, and not 100% what I was planning for the start of a new year.

I shared these thoughts with my yoga class today: It’s ok if you didn’t start your 2017 exactly the way you might have wanted to. Do you know why? This practice of yoga, of learning to be present, brings you into a place where not just each year, but each moment is an opportunity for a new beginning.

You can change your thoughts; acknowledge your emotions instead of reacting to them; create a new habit at any time, not just on January 1.

By being more present and aware of your habitual thoughts and reactions, you can change them. Each and every moment that you bring your attention to them and make the conscious choice to change them, you can.

So what if your day didn’t start/continue/end the way you had envisioned? Instead of throwing it all away, recognize the habitual patterns and make the choice to move forward in a different way.

Hint: this is true for fitness/nutrition “resolutions” too.

If you slip into patterns you want to change, the practice is to lovingly acknowledge the slip (without judgement or criticizing yourself) and choose to step forward in the direction you want to move.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and balanced 2017!
~Alannah

Chronic pain is an interesting companion 

What happens when you choose to let chronic pain go?


Chronic pain becomes a part of you. You identify with it. So what happens to that part of your identity when you choose to let that pain go?

I’m referring to some small, annoying shoulder pain. For the most part, it’s just there; sometimes it flares up, but it’s never debilitating.

It might not be physical pain, it might be emotional pain that you’ve been carrying around for so long, you don’t know what would be left of your identity if you were to release it.

We hold on to pain (emotional/physical) because it is known, it is familiar, it is safer than the unknown of our life without that pain. The thing is, we aren’t even aware that we’re holding onto it.

I’m not saying that you can just “let it go”, but I am suggesting that by working with educated practitioners, intention, and awareness you can help to release stubborn pain. The key is, if you want to.

What are you holding onto that you are ready to let go of? Who can you talk to/work with to help you release that pain? How can you nurture yourself to acknowledge your pain and free yourself from its grasp?

Wishing you love and health,
~Alannah

Resolutions vs Goals vs Intentions 

With 2016 wrapping up and 2017 just around the corner, a lot of people are reflecting on what was and looking towards what will be.

I’ve never been a “resolutions” person, but I have been a “goals” person; and I think I’m starting to turn into an “intentions” person. So…what? Semantics!

Here’s how I would distinguish between resolutions, goals, and intentions; as well as how they can all fit into your life.

Resolutions
I would look at resolutions as “new habits.” The New Year is a great time to take a look at habits you would like to implement going forward, but you don’t have to wait for January 1 each year to implement change in your life!

A lot of times, resolutions fail because people try to make sweeping changes all at once. Think: “On January 1, I will: 1) start working out seven days/week, 2) stop eating sugar, 3) sleep 8 hours per night, 4) drink 2L of water a day, 5) stop smoking/drinking, 6) stop eating after 8pm…” So on January 2, when they wake up sore and hung over, they feel like they’ve failed and “why bother!?” Does that sound familiar?

I don’t believe that resolutions are bad, or doomed to failure; I think they have a place as part of the larger picture.

Goals
Maybe you are (or want to be) a goals-driven person. Goals are concrete and have “by when” dates associated with them to help maintain accountability. Goals can be separated into areas of your life (personal, health, career) and are usually broken into time frames (1 year, 5 years, 10 years). Lululemon is known for their goals, and have great goal-setting worksheets.

I see goals as a great way to organize your thoughts. The challenge with goals is that, because they’re concrete, some things in life don’t “fit” into them. Read: “I will be pregnant by age 29.” Yeah…that did not happen (I’m well past 29, no kids)! It’s not to say that it couldn’t have, but the situation at 29 wasn’t right for it, and thank goodness I wasn’t pregnant at 29!

Intentions
So, intentions, they sound so lofty, but used correctly, they can be extremely powerful. Intentions are great for visioning your life. Intentions provide you with an overall concept of what you want in life, but they don’t have “by when” dates attached to them.

One of my favourite yoga sutra is: Prayatna shaitilyananta sama patibhyam.
Translated to mean: Relax the intensity of your effort and meditate on the endless and copious amounts of energy within.

To me, this sutra is the essence of intentions. It’s not saying don’t try or don’t have effort. It’s saying create a vision/set an intention/aim in a direction, then release that energy to be worked on by the Universe (or whatever it is you believe in). The main caveat here is to trust the energy and work with it, not against it.

For example, “My intention is to be fit and healthy as I age. To me, that looks like making my meals at home, drinking enough water, being physically active at least five times per week, and enjoying my life.”
I wouldn’t set that intention, then continue to eat out, not work out, drink only coffee, etc. and expect to magically become fit and healthy!
I also wouldn’t set that intention then fault myself for having a busy week and needing to eat out. I would do my best to find a healthy meal instead of giving up and eating at a fast food restaurant.

Some questions to think of when setting intentions, thank big-picture here:

  1. What is your vision for your life?
  2. What matters to you?
  3. How do you want your life to feel in the future?
  4. What are the elements of your life that make you happy?
  5. What do you want more of?
  6. What makes you feel fulfilled?

Whatever tool(s) you use to look at and vision your life, I strongly suggest writing them down!

In love,
~Alannah