Resonating Moments: Lessons From the Week
Welcome to "Resonating Moments." Each week I share one lesson from parenting, teaching yoga, practicing on my mat, and simply living life. I like to think of this blog feature as a conversation about the stuff of life. My intentions for sharing these lessons are twofold: (1) to make a personal effort to record moments that resonate or ring true (Chime) with who I am at my core, and (2) to offer what I have learned in hopes that you can relate and share about your experiences in the comments below.
Here's what I learned this week:
Lesson from my mat: Since taking an immersion course in anatomy this past weekend at yoga therapy training, I've been very focused on my feet and how I connect with the ground beneath them. I learned that, in warrior poses, if I press evenly through the four corners of both of my feet, my legs feel lighter and I can soften deeper into these postures. Give it a try! It's really an astounding moment when you sense your legs lighten and your body slide into the pose. I can't help but smile when I sense it! Let me know if this works for you!
Lesson from teaching yoga: I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can help my clients grow to become the yoga teachers they aspire to be. Lately, I find myself reflecting on my own growth as a teacher. After all, I can't help others explore nuances in their teaching if I am not doing the same exploration in mine. After pondering who I am as a teacher, what's important to me about teaching, and what experience I desire to create for my yoga students, I identified five focus areas that I started working on this week. They are:
1. Be the "respirator" for the class by guiding the breath with deliberate pacing to match the students' natural breathing rhythm.
2. Guide a physical experience and invite and inner experience.
3. Highlight practical physical benefits of poses and share about their deeper spiritual and emotional benefits.
4. Don't tell students what to feel in their bodies. Instead, ask them what they sense and encourage a curiosity to learn through their bodies.
5. Teach to what I see, not from a script or memorization.
I feel renewed in my teaching since defining these goals. If you are a teacher, give this "refocusing" exercise a try and let me know how it goes and what you discover about yourself!
Lesson from parenting: My preschooler, Demetra, has been expressing fear lately. Last week she cried about fear over homework, and yesterday she was very afraid about riding a school bus on a class trip. Homework and school buses are both firsts for her. Ironically (or not), in the recent past, Demetra was ecstatic about the idea of being big enough to do both things, but now that these experiences are present to her and "firsts" are feeling scary. Addressing her fears as well as homework and school buses are firsts for me too! So what did I learn? I learned about my daughter, especially which words and actions help to calm her fears. Hugs and comfort helped some, but what helped Demetra most was sharing with her about fears I had when I was a little girl, which opened up her curiosity not only about me but mostly about how these first experiences might be scary but also a lot of fun. Now, Demetra is counting down until her first school bus ride! How do you talk with your children about fear? Please share your experiences and tips in the comments.
Lesson from life: "Don't underestimate yourself." It's likely we've all been on the receiving and giving end of these words. Funny, I didn't realize how often I underestimate myself until this week. A flurry of goodness in the form of people and opportunities have come my way (I am thrilled, of course). But, in quiet moments, I found myself asking, "really?" "they want me?" "they like my work that much?" Can you relate? Do you show the world confidence but question your abilities, knowledge, expertise, self-worth? I am learning that such moments are powerful opportunities to pause and actively rewire self-doubting thoughts to self-empowering mantras. Next time you hear, "really? me?" or "I am not good enough," answer yourself back with a "Hell Yeah!" and follow it up with an affirmation. At first, positive self-talk might feel odd, but with time, our brains rewire, and it will become more natural to believe in versus doubt yourself. Feel free to share in the comments below—this is a great topic to bond over as well as help each other NOT UNDERESTIMATE our brilliance and innate gifts.
Perhaps some or all of these lessons resonated with you as well. If so, I’d enjoy learning how! Please share in the comments below.
Other Tidbits of Inspiration and Information
Gaiam's Heather Larson interviewed Cara Bradley, author, yoga and meditation teacher, founder of Verge Yoga in Wayne, PA, and my teacher/mentor on the topic of mindfulness. Cara defines mindfulness as "your ability to pay attention right now or show up in this moment. When you’re mindful, you are present, right here and now. When you are not mindful, your mind lingers in the past, future, or a fantasy, if you’re distracted." Cara shares how mindfulness benefits our minds, bodies, and overall wellness, and she offers suggestions on how to bring mindfulness into our daily lives. Through her non-profit corporation Mindfulness through Movement, Inc., Cara offers mindfulness and yoga programs to youth in urban Philadelphia "to cultivate steady minds and bodies to improve lives and communities." Check out Cara's full interview.
On Setting an Intention
I am excited to share that I had an article published in Elephant Journal this week! I discuss possible ways to embody an intention (the practice of "sankalpa") during asana (yoga postures) practice. When we combine sankalpa with asana, we merge the innate power of yoga postures with our innate power to manifest what we want to create in our lives. In my personal practice, I have discovered that holding sankalpa during asana can be a sensory experience, "another point of meditation that is not separate from my breath and movement. I bring together intention, breath, and movement to manifest the benefits that each offer individually and together." I believe that, "Ultimately, we each can find unique ways to practice sankalpa and embody our intention off our mats, so that our words, actions, and decisions align with our sankalpa." I hope some of these ideas resonate with you or inspire other ways to hold an intention during asana.
Do you have any good reads you would like to share? Leave them in the comments!
WORKSHOP ALERT! Save the date!
Yoga in an Overwhelming World: Exploring Sukha and Sthira
November 15, 2015; 3-5 PM; Shine Yoga, Perkasie, PA; $40
I invite you to join me and my dear friend and fantastic yoga teacher, Colleen Clemens, for this special workshop! Learn more and register here!