Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Be Present

As a yoga teacher, yep, you guessed it, I spend a lot of my time driving around town. 

Although much of my teaching time, I find myself repeatedly reminding students to focus on the breath, let outside thoughts go and be present, while driving around town, I go over check lists in my mind or do a self review of the class I just taught or wonder why a student was giving me a funny look and on and on....

Not being present in my daily life. Not being present just driving down the road or walking the dog or even at the grocery store. I've noticed this more recently as I have caught myself slamming on my brakes or almost missing an exit, or not noticing the 2 dogs on my neighbor's f lawns as George (my beloved black lab) and I trot right up to them or the many times that I've forgotten why I went to the store in the first place. 

Even in class. It does happen. There are those days when I'm more distracted than others-taking class and teaching class. But those days when I let the mind be free and focus on the breath, just enjoying being there, those are always the most fulfilling. 

Since the last time I slammed on my brakes, I have made a pact with myself to become more present in my life. In yoga class and not in yoga class. works!

One of my favorite feelings after teaching a class is wondering where the time went, feeling like, even as the teacher, I got a break from my outside concerns. When I get that feeling after a class, it's my way of recognizing and knowing that I was present with my students. Believe me, the students can feel that too and it definitely feels better to them!

Today while walking George, right on my neighbor's lawn, right here in Cleveland Heights, there was a deer. Just hanging out and I am so glad that I was present enough to notice. 

So, my advice is to soak it all in. Enjoy & celebrate each moment. We can't change the past and the future is unknown, and the present, well, it is a gift. Breathe it in and enjoy, it's one thing that we can know for sure. 


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Competitive Yoga

When I found yoga many, many years ago - I was surrounded by no one. With the help of VHS taps and a few books I practiced at home, alone, at least once a day. I would day dream of the day I could go to a "real" studio and study under a live teacher. It was the dream, and one I couldn't wait to fulfill.

Now it's many years later and if you walk down the street of any major (or minor) city you will find yoga everywhere. In studios, in ashrams, in gyms, in apartment complexes - yoga is main stream. If we lived in India I can guess accurately it would be very different, but here in the old United States it has become the "it" exercise to do.

Do you yoga?
Where do you yoga?
What are you wearing when you yoga?
Who do you yoga with?

I like to call this "Competitive Yoga."

I am 100% against competitive yoga, or competitiveness in general. Just like I can guess accurately without ever have visiting India that the yoga scene is very different than here - I can guess accurately that when being competitive in a practice like yoga - you are setting yourself up for failure.

If you MUST be competitive, complete only with yourself.

The practice of yoga exists to help you connect with yourself - the word translates as "to yoke". Combining the breath with the movement of your body and the chaos of your mind - it brings all of your frayed parts back together and units you as one person. By challenging yourself, you can open up new avenues into your life, release past baggage, and expand your wings.

By competing with others you set yourself up for frustration, the need for approval and a long bout of life where you will be angry, aggravated and most certainly - never happy.

Don't be fooled by the glitz and glamor of this over saturated yoga market - be pulled in by the teachers who care and want to help guide you on to your path to find your true self. Let go of the "who, where, why, when, how" and concentrate on the you.

There is no judgement in yoga - only release.