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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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

“us” vs “them”

White vs Black. Trump vs Hillary. People vs Police. East vs West. WE are all one! There’s a lot going on out there right now. I guess this really isn’t new, but it does seem to be intensifying at the moment.

There’s an interpretation of Namasté that I LOVE:

My soul honours your soul.
I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides.
I honour the light, love, truth, beauty & peace within you,
Because it is also within me.
In sharing these things,
We are united,
We are the same,
We are one.

~unknown

Isn’t that beautiful!?

“Us” vs “Them” comes from a place of anger; a place of fear; a place of being closed to understanding.

Knowing that we are all the same at our core; knowing that we are all one as these living breathing beings helps us to come from a place of understanding; a place of compassion; a place of love.

We may not agree, it is unlikely for you to change someone’s beliefs, but just because you may not believe the same thing, that doesn’t mean that one is wrong and one is right. It doesn’t mean that one must push fear and hate on to the other.

It’s not about being perfect tomorrow; it’s about the practice of becoming aware of your tendencies and consistently asking yourself if you are pitting yourself against someone or something. It’s about saying to yourself, over and over and over again, “at the root of this, we are all one; we are more alike than different.” It is about consistently returning to the belief that we are all one.

Namasté,
~Alannah

Life Lessons from the Mat

There are many moments in life when we feel like we’ve slid down a slip & slide to the bottom of the Grand Canyon…ok, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but sometimes it does feel that way. But tonight, when I popped into eka pada koundinyasana (not me), I realized that no matter how many times we stumble, slip, fall into an abyss, we’ve still made some movement in a forward direction.

When I first started practicing yoga, koundinyasana seemed crazier than handstand to me (and I still fear handstand without someone to support me), so I kept practicing yoga and working on other poses (bakasana also not me). Then, one day, one of my teachers walked me into koundinyasana without me noticing.

Then I stumbled. It wasn’t a consistant pose for me yet. So I kept practicing yoga and working on other poses. But now, I knew what it felt like to be in that pose!

It’s been about a year since Crista walked me into koundinyasana for the first time and I’m still not sure I have it 100% of the time, but I definitely have it more times than I don’t. And every day that I don’t have it, I keep practicing yoga and other poses and moving in that forward direction towards it being a 100% of the time pose.

Take this lesson off the mat, in your career, even if you’ve never had the feeling of pure passion for your career, you’re learning and growing and developing towards that position; or, if you have felt that passion and slipped, you know what it feels like and are moving in that forward direction yet again.

In love, even if you’ve never fallen in love, you’re laying the foundation to build a strong, meaningful relationship by spending time working on yourself, or dating duds, or experiencing bad relationships that you don’t want, or good relationships with someone who just isn’t quite The One. But, inevitably, one day, it’ll just be there for you (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

Even if you don’t think you’re heading in the right direction, or if you’ve forgotten about the goal for a moment, it’s still there and you’re still doing things that are leading you towards it so when you remember it, or when an opportunity to try it again presents itself, you’ll be that much more ready for it.

Oh Yoga, the Great Teacher!

Remembering to feel inside and out

I started this post a couple weeks ago and wasn’t sure how to wrap it up and put a pretty bow on it, so I’m coming back to it with a different view…maybe…trying to…

A couple weeks ago I kept catching this cute guys’ eye at yoga, and we’d smile at each other, but that was it. Then, a few Saturdays ago, we were at the same class and during the class, this thought popped into my head:

Yoga is a wonderful tool to help us Western-World-Busy-Bodies remember to slow down and turn inside; to feel what our body is trying to tell us and to, maybe, listen; however, I’ve become so good at looking inside that I’ve actually forgotten about what the people around me are feeling! I’m not talking about what their yoga practice looks like, but, more, what the emotional state of the class is.

Or, in this case, if he’s just a smiley guy, or if he was specifically directing those smiles at me. It doesn’t seem to matter how old we get, it always comes back to a boy…whatever it takes right?

I try to focus on what I’m projecting into the world, but, in that attempt, sometimes I can forget to tune into what those around me are projecting.

I wish I could say it was me he was specifically directing those smiles at, but, to be honest, I haven’t really seen him much since that class so who knows! No matter what, it was a good reminder to be aware of not just the aura I’m emitting, but also what those around me are projecting.

Fear is a funny thing…

2012 has been a goal-crushing year so far: I got laser eye surgery, ran my first 10 km race, maintained a strong (almost) daily yoga practice, paid off my Visa, completed my first half marathon and jumped out of an airplane! Here’s the thing, I’m STILL terrified of losing control; this fear severely limits my ability to crush my goals of feeling comfortable in forearm balance and handstand, not to mention falling in love.

I recently ran into an old yoga friend of mine from Kelowna and we got talking about yoga and my recent goal-crushing and I had an ah-ha moment during our conversation. I realized that I’m happy to be in control or completely hand over control to someone I trust, but I can’t LOSE it. Here’s the difference: when I went skydiving, the person I jumped with had already earned my trust and had already proven his ability to maintain control so I was perfectly comfortable handing him full control of the situation; however, when I go to invert, there isn’t someone there to take over control; it’s me, and only me.  Here’s the sad part of this realization: I don’t trust myself enough.

My distaste for losing control is partly positive; it means that I don’t have the desire to try drugs and won’t allow myself to get drunk. On the other hand, I think it might have something to do with my fear of commitment and falling in love. Oh, and it is obviously hindering my yoga ASANA practice; however, not my YOGA practice as working through this IS my yoga practice.

I had hoped that jumping out of an airplane would help me break through my fear of losing control, but because I was able to fully hand control over that didn’t happen; so now it’s up to me to build up my CONFIDENCE IN MYSELF instead of being scared or putting my trust completely in someone else.