Utilizing Yoga to Experience Life with Less Effort and More Joy

Yoga in the West has become synonymous with flashy yoga clothes, competitive style classes, and instagram photos of people twisting their bodies into various shapes while smiling from ear to ear. While there is nothing wrong with any of these, they do gloss over the root of yoga which is you.  

Focusing solely on the physical aspect of the practice without addressing the deeper psychological layer is a disservice. There is no doubt that one will see and feel the physical transformations in their body once a regular yoga practice is a part of their life. What can be felt from the inside out and carried into their lives daily is the opportunity to dig deeper in the thought patterns that cause us to repeat a loop which keeps us in a state of discontentment and distress.

Peeling Back the Layers

In Sanskrit the word granthi refers to the knots of the mind and body. When we are not able to be present in our minds and bodies, we are not able to be present in life. We will continue to either cling to pleasure and comfort or avoid challenge and change. The longer I practice yoga, the slower I want to move in the asanas so that I can process all that comes up. To be able to hold a posture longer, not only does the body need to be physically able, but the mind must also be conditioned to be able to focus and sit with what may arise.

Outside Chatter

A consistent yoga practice will condition both the mind and body, and allow the individual to focus on what they really need to bring in or let go of in their lives to feel content. With a bombardment of chatter around us day in and day out it can be quite a challenge to tune in and figure this out. Personally, I find that ‘staying on track’ can be isolating if I let it be, but then I remember that part to of what makes me feel content and happy is feeling connected to others. So instead of hiding out at home because I don’t want to go to a bar or some social event, I will call a friend, get to a yoga class, or write a note to someone I’ve had on my mind.

Letting Go of Old Versions of Yourself

Patterns of the mind can be deeply rooted and be expressed as a habit, coping mechanism, or survival strategy that has worked for a part of your life. Experiencing a loss can lead to feeling a lost sense of self. As you look back through the chapters of your life, I am sure you can pinpoint a few versions of yourself that no longer exist. Maybe it had to do with the way you dressed, the job you had, or the people you hung out with. Certain versions are easier to let go of than others. For example, when you are in a serious relationship with someone and spend a lot of time with them, live together, build a life together and then you break up - parts of that life that you loved will continue to linger in your mind. Clinging to this old version of yourself – even if seen as a great one – will only cause your suffering to continue.

Not being with life as it is, attachment to stories about ourselves, fear of letting go, and the need to be ‘someone’ keep us from being free to be completely ourselves and present in the life that we have.

On and Off of the Mat

For the past few months I have been speaking to the importance of savasana in my classes more and more especially when I can sense students want to dart out of the room before this final resting posture. Since lying still and breathing can often be one of the hardest things to do, especially with a mind full of chatter. What I offer to students, is to think of the time as conditioning their internal peace, tuning into the mind, heartbeat, breath and body and observing what physical, energetic or emotional sensations may be lingering or rising to the surface after practice.

Just as we do the work on the mat to condition our minds and bodies, we must also be able to tap into the sense of peace we feel in savasana when we are off of the mat and need it most. If you are looking for a way to explore yoga, I would love to see you in a class or have you join me on a retreat. Please reach out with where you are on your journey in yoga and life.




Five things teaching Yoga has taught me

Yoga. I love it. I love reading about it, practicing it, and teaching it to others that attend my classes. I continue to be both a teacher and a student, sometimes unsure of which I love more. While yoga has enriched my life tenfold, her are the top 5 things I have learned from teaching yoga.

You Get What you Give

Such is life; you get back what you put out. In regards to teaching yoga the same applies. If you show up frazzled and unprepared, it shows in your class and your students will feel your tension. I have learned that I cannot physically do everything I want to do in a day sometimes, and that is OK. For many students, their yoga class is the 1 hour they look forward to most in their day, and I make sure to bring my A game so they can get the most out of class. They showed up for me, so I show up for them. I practice what I preach my grounding myself before I lead a class. 

Your Vibe Attracts your Tribe

Have you ever met someone and instantly clicked OR instantly gotten the heebie geebies?

That is the vibe they are giving off. Being in tune with yourself and those around you guides you to people and places you want to be. When I first started teaching I was running all over the city teaching everywhere I could, and I thought I had to please everyone. The fact is, once I found my authentic teaching voice and style, students that related to the quotes I share or lighthearted approach at a handstand started to show up.  I have become less concerned with being liked, and more concerned with providing challenging and thoughtful sequences for my students. Working from a place that makes sense and sharing it with others has made me a much stronger teacher then worrying about what I ‘should’ be doing.

Consistency is Key

You never know what people are dealing with when they enter your classroom. They may be coping with a tragedy, or be nervous to practice yoga around other people. Staying consistent by showing up to your classes week after week, or informing regulars when you will miss a class goes a long way. Building on past classes, and holding space for students to feel comfortable with you is important for both parties to grow. You can observe their progress, and they will be more comfortable with you assisting then and continuing to challenge them. 

It's not Personal

The first time a student was 'doing their own thing' in my class I was crushed. I thought my class must have sucked so bad that she was making up her own instead. The fact is that sometimes people are going to do what they want to. Take charge of your class - you are the expert in the room, and if a student doesn't like your style of teaching and doesn't come back, another person will. If you put together a thoughtful class and take time to care for your students that will shine through and they will return. 

Teaching feeds my Soul

While I have many other interests in life, teaching yoga and connecting with others is truly the #1 thing that feeds my soul. Sitting at a desk working on tasks that did not excite nor challenge me was a waste of my time and energy. Since taking time to teach yoga more and more, I have learned that it is not only a creative and physical outlet for me, but a spiritual one as well. It keeps me accountable to my practice and myself.

Yoga is the grease that keeps the wheels of my life turning. Yoga has given me the tools necessary to be the best me I can me. As winter is just starting to settle in, I am even more grateful that I get to enter a warm room and stretch and breath with my fellow yogis forgetting it is freezing outside for an hour and being present on our mats. 

What have you learned from practicing and/or teaching yoga? I would love to hear from you...Namaste.