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10 Principles About Life to Look at Every Day

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February 19, 2013

Lanzada | Galicia - España

1. Bad situations in life are only temporary.

“If you are going through hell, keep going.” ~ Winston Churchill

Life is messy—bad things happen to good people. We all face hardships, but what makes us human is the ability to bounce back. We can become more resilient than we did before. Some things happen that we have no control over.
You can find strength in situations that you never thought possible if you just keep moving forward.

2. Be open and compassionate.

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~ Albert Einstein

Sometime events occur in your life that cause you to close. You assume every situation is going to occur the same way: if you were hurt once, you will be hurt again. This is not true. It’s better to forgive than to hold a grudge.

 3. Things aren’t going to always workout the way you plan.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ” ~ Shunryu Suzuki

Don’t approach life with expectations of how things should or shouldn’t be. So many conflicts in life occur because someone is attached to a plan on how things should or shouldn’t work.
It’s alright to have goals, aspirations and dreams, but you don’t have to be set on a particular outcome. Sometimes the worst tragedies in people’s life turn out to be the best.

 4. People’s opinions of you are not who you are.

 “If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” ~ Paulo Coelho

Some people might say terrible things to you—who cares!? They might make a comment on your work, or your blog post. There’s no reason you need internalize it. Some people aren’t conscious of the things they say to people. So just be compassionate towards them.

 5. You’re going to fail at things.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fail, fail and fail some more. Find inspiration in children, how many times does a child fail before they get something right, children are constantly trying new things and failing. Learn from them!
Go out and try new things! No one has ever been good at something without failing.

 6. Find a reason to laugh every day.

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~ Charlie Chaplin

I think there is no greater mood lifter than to find a way to laugh every day. Find people every day to have a good laugh with.

 7. Some days are good; some days are bad.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them—that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~ Lao Tzu

I one time was in line at a bank, and I heard something that changed my life. The clerk said to a customer, “How’s business?” The customer responded, “Some days good, some days bad.” Then the customer smiled.
You’re not your car; you’re not your fear; you’re not your feelings. Some days you will have good feelings, some days you will have bad feelings.

8. Do what you love every day.

“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.” ~ Rumi

If you’re a writer, do it every day. If you’re a musician, do it every day. If you’re an actor, do it every day. If you’re a bobsledder, do it every day.
Whatever you like to do—just do it. But make sure you do it every day. Because if you do it every day you’ll become good at it, and when you’re good at something you can make a living out of it, if you decide to.
Who do you need permission from—your friends? This is not their life. This is your life. Do what you love to do.

9. Find some time to do some meditation.

“I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” ~ Gandhi

I don’t care if you hate spirituality and you think meditation is for people that live on top of a mountain and eat plants. You might just feel better if you take some time throughout the day to close your eyes and check in with your breathing.
If you think meditation is weird—that’s your opinion—it doesn’t mean it’s right. There are over 3,000 studies on the effects of meditation and over 2,500 years of Eastern philosophy behind it. I don’t understand why everyone in the world doesn’t at least try meditation. I think the world would be a better place.

 10. Be a rebel—with a cause.

“I rebel; therefore I exist.” ~ Albert Camus

Break the rules. Who cares?! Don’t get arrested or doing anything illegal, but it’s alright to break the rules. Anyone who ever did anything worth doing was a trouble maker. Steve Jobs—trouble maker. Albert Einstein—trouble maker. Amelia Earhart—trouble maker. It’s alright to be a troublemaker and break free from the status quo.
This blog comes courtesy our friends at elephant: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/02/10-principles-about-life-to-look-at-every-day/

Favorite Obscure Cues and Their Translations Revealed!

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July 10, 2012

 

Ever been stuck in a class utterly perplexed by the lexicon of yogaspeak? Me too! Thankfully  I have compiled a cheat sheet for all your mind-bending yoga cue needs. Translation, please!
I took a yoga class recently at an unfamiliar studio as part of my yoga teacher training. Being the practicing yogini that I am, I settled myself down on my mat and tried to keep an open mind. To say that I needed a dictionary to understand the teacher’s cues would be an understatement. I needed a thesaurus, and an encyclopedia. A short tour inside her yogi brain wouldn’t have hurt either! So in order to save you some awkward pauses, and to help yoga teachers avoid confused looks, I decided to share my top 10 translations with you!

 

 

YOGA CUE:  TRANSLATION
1. Blossom your fingers: No, your fingers did not turn into flowers in the few seconds you haven’t been looking. This probably just means engage or spread your fingers. Done.

2. Find your breath: No worries, your breath was never lost – just use your nose and suck in air like you’ve been doing all your life!

3. Puff your kidneys: If your teacher tells you this, you have my permission to give her a perplexed stare until she/he realizes this cue is just plain dangerous. Seriously, if you have puffed kidneys, visit a doctor.

4. Spiral your thigh bones out like a rainbow: I don’t know about you, but this comes off rather kinky. Anusara cue or not, if your teacher is staring straight at you and starts to speak like a leprechaun while saying this…run far, far away.

5. Open your heart space:  The gist here is to broaden your chest, slide your shoulder blades down, expand your rib cage via your breath, relax your neck muscles, pull in your core… THIS is your heart “space.”

6. Feel the river of energy flow through your core:  Huh? Last time I checked I didn’t notice a river flowing through me. I wonder if there’s a forest too?  Maybe some fishes? Hold on let me go check. In short, feel the burn.

7. Allow the back of your heart to curve: Don’t freak out here, I can’t curve my heart either – curve your thoracic spine (behind your heart) and you’ll be good.

8. Flutter your butt cheeks: Pardon? I may be wrong but I believe (HOPE) this means engage your mula bandha. I don’t know about you, but I   don’t flutter my butt cheeks for just anyone. Hug your midline. Engage your core towards the center of your body and don’t forget to breathe! Or go on, hug yourself, it’s your prerogative.

9. Shine the heart forward as if it’s springing out of your chest:  Egads, if my heart sprung out of my chest I would be too busy dying to worry about shining forward. If you see shining and/or springing hearts, I recommend calling 911. Spread your collar bones, chest forward. Safety first.
Well there you have it! I hope you yogis and yoginis are better equipped to handle obscure cues now.  When in doubt just breathe and look around the room to see what everyone else is doing. Odds are, they are just as confused as you so at least you won’t be alone!

A few of my favorites worth honorable mention (and yes, these were all really instructions given in a class):
Remove the fluff from your sitz bones
Make space in your kidneys
Make your collarbones bright
Hug the muscles to your bones
Draw up through the legs as if your are putting on a pair of pantyhose
Let your spine pour out like water
Imagine there are 2 windows where you buttocks meet your thighs, now open those windows

All-time favorite:
I had a teacher during my YTT whose catchphrase was “blossom those buttocks.” And I do believe one teacher of yore instructed us to imagine a lotus blossoming internally from our perineum. I never knew our nether regions were so floral. Maybe my farts really do smell like roses!

Subbing Hell

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May 18, 2012

Ok, maybe it’s not a layer of hell, but it can be really uncomfortable.

If you’ve ever subbed a class for someone else, particularly a very well-loved teacher, you know what I’m talking about. Two days ago I guest taught for a popular teacher for the first time. I felt honored and grateful and excited to share my teaching with her lovely students. But when I sat down in the spot that she normally sits in, I suddenly felt like a dazed deer. The thought, “this is her spot” went through my head, and I had a surreal moment when I felt like I was in a spotlight.

Not in the “Oooh, look at me! I’m in the spotlight!” kind of way. But the kind where I’m trying to quietly sneak out of somewhere and all of a sudden thwak, the spotlight goes on and I’m frozen in my tracks, exposed.

The truth is, a subbed class is an awkward and potentially triggering event for sub and students alike. As a teacher, you’re unfamiliar with the students and maybe it’s not a class time or style that you normally teach, so you’re completely out of your comfort zone.

As a student, it’s not the warm fuzzy blanket of what’s familiar, so you’re also out of your comfort zone. And when everyone in the room is out of their comfort zone, you get a whole room full of triggered people. And the only thing worse than a room full of triggered people is a room full of people who are triggered but don’t know that they’re triggered, or are triggered and are trying to pretend like they aren’t. In my experience, this is often the case in a yoga class with a sub.

Having been a student in a class where my teacher has a sub, I know that being triggered for me means being ornery or being inwardly judgmental of the new teacher, or (yes, I’ve done this, too) just deciding to leave when I see that it’s not my teacher who is teaching.

Given that I know that students must feel some of the same things that I’ve experienced as a student, when I’m a sub and I’m triggered because I’m uncomfortable, my tendency is to try to make the students feel comfortable.

In the past I’ve done this in different ways—I’ve tried to teach more aligned with how their usual teacher teaches than with how I teach, I’ve taught a very vanilla class so as not to offend anyone or I’ve tried to throw the kitchen sink of what I know about yoga at them so they see how smart I am as a teacher.

The common theme of all of those above techniques is of trying to please the students so they’ll like me, of trying to meet the expectations I imagine they must have for me, and doing it in a way that abandons who I am as a teacher. I know when I’m doing that because the general flavor of the class is either lifeless and robotic or kind of spastic and hasty. And during it I feel disconnected from myself and from the students. Most of all, I know when I’m teaching that way because it’s just not fun. In fact, it can actually kind of feel like hell.

Not to say that the class that I taught the other day felt like hell—hardly. But it definitely was not as fun as I normally have when I teach. So I came home and sat with why that was and with what I could have done differently. I discovered that it has to do with expectations—mine and the students’.

When a student shows up for a class and finds that her teacher isn’t there, one of her big expectations has already not been met. And if her tendency is to want to compare me to her teacher throughout the entire class, I will continue to fail to meet her expectations. Guaranteed. Even if I’m a great teacher, I can never be someone else.
I’ve recognized this before, and simply spoken to it at the beginning of class. Essentially saying “release your expectations and be open to what I have to offer.” I did this the other day, but it wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t enough because I realized that I also have expectations–I have expectations of how my students will engage with my teaching. There are ways that I’m accustomed to interacting with students that fits my style of teaching and that is different than the way others teach. I really want people to respond and to find a bit of dialogue to enhance the learning environment, not sit quietly waiting for class to end.

When those expectations weren’t met the other day—people thinking my questions were rhetorical or just not feeling confident enough to speak up—I felt more and more uncomfortable. I left feeling ornery, the way I do when I’m a student and had a sub who didn’t meet my expectations.

What I realized is: not only is it not my job to meet their expectations in relationship to me being like their teacher, it’s not their job to let go of their expectations of me. For better or worse, it’s human nature to have expectations. In fact, I shouldn’t let go of mine either. Instead, it’s my job as the teacher to set new expectations.

So that’s what I did today. I started class by briefly saying how my approach to teaching differs a bit from the regular teachers, and then I asked for what I needed from the students so that I could offer them my best teaching. Then I just dropped in and did what I do. The result: no dazed deer, no sense of being trapped by a spotlight or of enduring 75 minutes in hellish discomfort.

It doesn’t mean that everyone loved how I taught, but everyone did know what to expect. And with all of us having shared expectations, there was more comfort all around, and class flowed with ease. I had fun because I got to be me, and I left feeling good that I had given them the best class that I could. And that’s all I can ever do.
So though subbing a class for someone else might not actually be a layer of hell, expecting someone else to meet your expectations without having conveyed what your expectations are just might be. But that’s for a different post…
Courtesy of Jay at Grace & Grit Yoga: http://graceandgrityoga.com/one-of-the-layers-of-hell-subbing-a-yoga-class/

When are 5 breaths really just 5 breaths?

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November 21, 2011

 

 

Hello Everyone!
This is a blog that my dear friend Ellen wrote and I felt it was quite appropriate for the first blog entry at SSYS! Ellen was probably the most influential of all of my teachers – from helping me develop that “yoga voice” (especially when I am taking you out of savasana) to picking up the props and putting them away for you. I have learned so so much from Ellen and miss her as well as Yoga Madre. Enjoy!

 

 

 

This is a blog all about the caring community that makes up my yoga classes each and every week in and around the San Gabriel Valley area. I hope to feature overviews of the classes I have taught during the week, along with links and cool resources about issues that have come up in our groups.
Namaste,
Ellen Mathews
** To follow Ellen please see: http://yogawithellenmathews.blogspot.com/

When are 5 breaths really just 5 breaths?
I admit it.  Often when I say take 5 breaths in down dog, it really stretches out into 8, 9.  Who knows?
As I look around the room during the poses, some students need to be adjusted, and others need encouragement, and sometimes 5 breaths turn into 8 or 9.  This confession came to the fore yesterday on Thanksgiving.  After teaching at Yoga Madre, while saying goodbyes in the lobby, Ken, a dedicated yogi, mentioned how gentle and kind I sound in class and then keep them in excruciating poses FOREVER!  Okay, that is not be his exact quote, but you get the picture.

I cop to all of this.  In fact, I shared with my lovely, dedicated Thanksgiving students that Martin, my husband, has rightly accused me of the very same transgression.  Once, while in my class at Yoga Madre, he noted that my 5 breaths in dog stretched out interminably.  He battled with his desire to yell out “this is madness…I am going for the door, who’s with me?” and stage a mutiny.  Thankfully he didn’t do it, but I got the point.
Another admission is that I once exclaimed something similar to Martin’s call for mutiny.  While taking a class from the wonderful Erik Rieder, my colleague and friend, he had us in warrior 1 for what felt like forever.  I finally blurted out something like, “Come on man!”  I regretted it immediately and felt embarrassed.  It just came out!  We all had a laugh about it, though.

Seriously speaking folks, if any pose feels too long or inappropriate for your body, seek rest in child’s pose or modify the pose that you’re in.  Always remember to stay safe, connected to how you feel in the pose as so to never hurt yourself.  Playing your edge and exerting the body is different than causing an injury.  Your yoga practice is always an individual experience and you are, no matter what I or any other teacher say, your best teacher.
In closing, I have been accused of liking “bed of nails” style yoga, but I realize that this stuff is not for everyone.  When I do lose track of time and breaths, I do apologize to those who suffer.  To all students, past and future, I apologize for those times when 5 breaths are not 5 breaths…Namaste and see you in class.

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