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

Advertisements

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

“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

Are we JUST consumers?

Have you watched the documentary ‘True Cost’ yet? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it – you can find it on Netflix. The director/creator of that film, Andrew Morgan, just did a podcast with Rich Roll which brought it back to my consciousness. In the podcast, Andrew, says something about how we’ve been labeled (turned into) consumers and we believe that we don’t have a choice – that we’re just bystanders.

This just isn’t the case! One person CAN make a change and an impact!

Five years ago, lululemon began the SeaWheeze – a beautiful half marathon followed by yoga and an outdoor concert. I had never run that far before, but FUN. was the band playing the concert that evening and I wanted to go see the concert, so I signed up to run. Btw, this was the year that FUN. won a Grammy – they were kind of a big deal. Anyway, I digress. The other piece of this event is that lululemon, being a clothing retailer, creates specialty product that is sold on the SeaWheeze weekend. Yahoo!

Fast forward five years. The SeaWheeze now sells out within minute, well in advance of the band being announced, and the SeaWheeze shop is INSANE! People were paying to have someone line up for them the day before the store opened; people were posting items online while they were in the store to find out if they could resell them; the shop is supposed to be open all weekend, but it sells out on day one now.

I picked up my race package first thing in the morning this year and I watched people run into the shop! I also, later, stood in the line for an hour; however, I picked up three things once I was in the store, then looked down, looked at the cash line, and realized it really didn’t need or want any of it.

Ok, so what can we learn from this?

We are constantly told that we are just consumers – we are expected to consume. We are expected to covet what’s new, better, trendy, but do we have to be that way? Do we have to give in? Will it really make us happier, healthier, more loving people?

In yoga, there are the Yamas and Niyamas that are basically the guidelines for how to live. There are five of each (kind of like the 10 Commandments). The fourth Yama is Aparigraha, translated to mean “non-attachment/non-possessiveness”.

I love this description of Aparigraha:

This important yama teaches us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment, and to let go when the time is right.

Part of removing ourselves from the label of “consumer” is to become more conscious about what we’re bringing into our space, why we’re bringing it in (what purpose it’s serving), and if it’s the choice we want to make.

Are we collecting stuff for the sake of having it? Because someone told us we should want it? Because we think it will make us happier?

I find this to be an extremely difficult practice and I definitely find myself wanting the newest iPhone, boots, scarf, brand-name jeans… We don’t perfect these moral and ethical codes; we continuously bring ourselves back to them. We constantly have to ask ourselves, do I need this? Will this make me happy? Will this make me a kinder person? Will this choice make me more loving?

Sometimes we really do “need” to purchase a new ____, and we all need to purchase food. So how do we make the best choices for ourselves, the environment and those creating the goods that we buy?

Being conscious about the consumer choices we’re making is still challenging, but with more of us making these conscious choices, they will become easier to make. Organic milk didn’t come to Walmart because Walmart wanted it!

What and how you buy MATTERS! If you believe in supporting local farmers, then buy foods that are in season and local. If you believe people shouldn’t be killed making your clothing, look into who is making your clothing and invest into products that last and that are made to a higher standard.

Right now, this costs higher; however, if more of us choose to support this, the costs will come down.

We don’t need all the clothes that are in our closets; we don’t need the newest release of something when our old product works just fine; we don’t need to over-purchase.

I am NOT just a consumer. I am a conscious human who wants to do better for the World around me. I want my choices to bring positive change into the World.

This is a practice and we’re all working on it together. Please share what helps you make more conscious consumer choices.

In love,
Alannah

Yoga Musings

Instead of sleeping (or being out on a Friday night) I thought I’d share a few random thoughts I’ve had recently.

Yoga Goggles
There are many reasons why men should practice yoga: build strength, stretch and lengthen muscles, improve movement and functionality of the body, stress reduction, challenge…fit women in luon (whatever gets you there boys!), but here’s another reason for (single) men to roll out a mat: Yoga Goggles. Yoga Goggles act similar to Beer Goggles, but healthier; when an average looking guy chooses to attend a yoga class of his own free will, he instantly becomes hotter! I highly recommend you come to class and say hi to the cute girl sweating next to you.

Being “Good” at Yoga
I recently met someone who has never practiced yoga, so I shared that now, I can’t imagine my life without a regular practice; however, it took me many years to get to this point. His reply was “you must be pretty good at it”; which got me thinking, that’s really the amazing thing about yoga, there’s always a new layer to peel back and discover!

He then asked for an example and this was my response:
It’s a pretty cool form of exercise because as you practice, your body gets stronger AND more flexible and your mind becomes quieter. So as those changes occur, new poses become available for you, and new feelings within old poses arise. When I started, I had the physical strength to do handstand, but my fear (head/thoughts) was my limiting factor, now my head is catching up to my body.

As these thoughts dance inside my head during my practice, I also marvel at how those changes and shifts can happen daily; some days my arms feel strong and some days my hips feel tight and pinchy; all those combinations alter the practice each and every moment!

I was talking to someone else recently about yoga and equated it to growing out your hair (guys, this might not make sense): for months, it feels like your hair hasn’t grown at all, then one morning, you wake up and notice “all of a sudden” your hair is longer. I touched on this in a previous post, but I feel it fits in well here and is worth repeating: yoga (and life) is not always about achieving the next pose (goal), sometimes it’s about building the foundations, getting stronger in other ways, then “all of a sudden”, poof, the pose is there for you (you’ve achieved that BHAG, your hair has grown)!

Travel Blogging

Who knows how this is going to turn out!

I am currently chilling at LAX waiting for my next flight to Miami, then it’s on to ARUBA to complete a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training with the amazing Tiffany Cruikshank.

I never did write about my experience with this training so maybe now’s the time…or maybe not.

I’m going to start here: Today has been such an amazing day so far! I didn’t go to the lululemon warehouse sale or a yoga class this morning; however, I ended up walking into my neighbourhood lulu and was helped by the Educator who is currently organizing the in-store yoga! Gave her my info and will hopefully get to teach there in the near future.

Then my dentist appointment was moved up by 30 minutes which was perfect because it got me to the airport right on time for my flight! On the plane I took a picture of Mount St Helen’s (?? Maybe ??) and the woman in the seat in front of me asked if I would email it to her; turns out her daughter is currently living in Kelowna and hanging out in the same circles I was when I lived there so I’ll be following up with them about Kelowna life.

It’s moments like that that you realize how small the world is and how inter-connected we are; which is nice when you’re traveling (both physically and through this life). Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that there are other humans out there 😉

I almost forgot, so far, the boarder agents, security people and shuttle drivers have been extremely friendly and helpful; even going out of their ways to assist (even at LAX)!

Another note on that thought process…my attitude today was different then normal, “vacation mode”. Have you ever noticed how when you smile and make small talk with strangers, amazing things happen? It happens on a rare sunny day in Vancouver too; random people say hi to strangers on the street. What would happen if we all tried to carry this positivity with us every day!?

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!

Monkey Mind…time to get honest

Recently I’ve felt my mind is scattered — too much to do and absolutely no focus on anything! So this post will be an attempt at focusing in preparation for the beginning of 2013. 2012 has been a year of goal crushing, but with the year coming to a close (much faster than I had expected), I’m finding myself spinning trying to wrap up loose ends, and getting nowhere fast.

With the holiday season upon us, my teaching schedule is winding down, leaving me with more time in the week to work on my goal “homework”. Ok, I put that in quotes, but really, it’s real homework.

There are two key things left on my 2012 goal list:

  • Start dating someone with the potential to become my husband (it’s been an intention, but I haven’t made any steps to actually meet anyone)
  • Complete my Personal Training certification (this is where Monkey Mind is coming into play)

Also, I will be in Aruba January 19 to complete my Yoga Teacher Training and have A LOT of homework to do BEFORE I leave!

So…the plan…as always, dating is being pushed to the back-burner (much to my family’s dismay).

Here is my commitment: I spend a minimum of 1 hour per night AND 2 hours per weekend day on work related to attaining my Yoga and/or Personal Training certification until December 31, 2012.

This can include:

  • Observing a yoga class
  • Teaching a yoga class
  • Watching an online lecture
  • Taking notes on human anatomy and systems
  • Reading a book related to either of these goals (I have to do a book report as part of my YTT)
  • Creating personal training programs
  • Doing a Home Practice

Outcome: by committing to the above, I will be confident in my abilities to write and pass both my Personal Training and Yoga tests in January 2013.

This is my pre New Years Resolution.

What do you want to get accomplished before 2013 begins? Maybe we can encourage each other to finish 2012 even stronger than we started it!

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.

When do you practice yoga?

I’ll get back to that, but first, I need a white board in my shower! One that would work in a shower. I find that all my best thoughts come to me mid-shower and I end up rushing to get out, grasping those thoughts!

Ok, back to the original thought process… A new yoga studio opened in my area recently (I’m sure I’ll write more on that in the near future) and I was super excited to try out this teacher my friends have told me about. Everything was going according to plan and the class was starting off pretty good, then the woman one person over stopped and the teacher came over…the class ended up being cancelled due to a medical emergency (she seemed to be ok, but needed medical attention to make sure everything would continue to be ok). This raised the question: when do you practice yoga?

This question has come up for me quite a lot recently. A little background; I’ve been doing yoga for close to 10 years now; however, I’ve been practicing yoga for about three years. I say I was doing yoga during those first seven years because I was, what my friend liked to call, a ‘clock-watcher’; I would show up, do the poses and constantly think about all the things I did that day or needed to do that night, or the next day, or the coming weekend…and then I would tell myself off for not focusing. About three years ago (could be four), Rockstar Yoga Teacher Laura said something in class that has stuck with me; she said, something along the lines of: watch your thoughts like you’re watching leaves floating down a river; don’t try to reach in and grab the thought, just watch it pass by. It’s ok to have thoughts, but just see them float along. That changed me. Now, I practice yoga and I find myself practicing yoga everywhere, during every situation. It’s ok to think things as they happen, but I don’t hold onto the thoughts or situations, I just let them float on by.

It’s very easy to get caught up in a situation and how it makes you feel, and how you feel about how it makes you feel, but really, it’s just a temporary moment and a temporary feeling.

When things don’t go according to plan, or a coworker annoys you, or you make a mistake, or, or, or…try watching that moment/thought/situation float on down that river (it might be a slow river and that’s ok) and allow yourself the freedom to not grab at it and hold on and squeeze it and look at it from all different angles and agonize over it…just let it float… Oh, and if you do grab it, just unclench your fist and let it float off (watching the judgement thought that’s sure to follow float on down that river behind the original one…because I know it’s there).

That’s when I practice yoga everywhere, in every situation; it’s not just about the perfect asana practice – they both come with time 🙂