Friday, March 15, 2013

if you don't have something nice to say... don't say anything at all

A friend and I were discussing the other day a co-worker that has a bad attitude. We were joking that you would think someone in the yoga world would just be happy and yoga blissed out all the time, but unfortunately this person isn't.  I remarked that it is so much easier to be nice than to be mean. I made this comment to my friend in passing.  Days later she and I were talking again and she brought up what I said and told me it had really stuck with her.

It is so much easier to be nice than to be mean or angry. 

Think about it. When you are angry you get worked up. You are unproductive because you are spending your time and brain power thinking about how you were wronged- a driver cut you off, your server is rude, your boss hates you. You can feel the pressure building in your chest, the anxiety, the heat rising in your skin.

Guess what? These are all effects on you, not the person or thing that "wronged" you. So the only person suffering is you. I've held this belief for a very long time. Its a completely selfish idea. If I get upset because of what's going on with another person I am the person that suffers, not the person who did something rude or hurtful, so its easier to not get bent out of shape.

Now, this is a great idea in theory. But, reality check- I'm not perfect, neither are you, so we're going to get upset. We're human, we have feelings. Its been a constant struggle for me to not take things personally.

I'm the kind of girl that if I recommend somewhere for you to get a manicure and you don't like it, I feel personally responsible. I recognize that this is irrational, I didn't give you manicure, I'm not at fault, but I still feel awful.

Likewise I have a very hard time when someone insults me. Even if its the kind of snide comment that isn't really meant to dig deep, it does. A comment about the height of my heels can leave me reeling for a week, thinking of the smart comments I should have made in the moment, speculating about whether there was any truth in the insult.

I know how silly these things can sound, but I also imagine that each of you also has a sensitive spot that when someone pokes hurts. If not, tell me how you've managed to brush these comments off, I'm still trying to learn!

I'll tell you what I've been doing trying to do. I've been nice. As nice as I possibly can be. And not sarcastic, sugary nice, just nice. If a person makes a snide comment I am trying to realize that comment isn't about me, its about them, the tough day they are having, the fight they had with their mom, whatever else is going on in their life. The reality is, its easier for me to be nice than to be upset, be hurt, or be angry.

In the end, I'm taking the lazy way out, which is just fine with me.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SITI's and ICDA's

Whenever I invite someone to my yoga class their inevitable reaction is, "Oh, I can't do yoga I'm not flexible." Of course you're not! You don't go to yoga! If you go to yoga, then you get flexible. This is a mentatlity that I too am guilty of, I'm not good at something so I don't want to do it.

Maybe I've been thinking about this more because I've been teaching more beginners classes lately. I am amazed by what I see as the two categories of beginners, there are the "I can't do anything's" and the "Sure, I'll try its'."  What I'm about to tell you shouldn't come as any surprise. The "Sure, I'll try it's" advance in their practice much more quickly, that's a mind and body reaction.

These yogis, the "SITI's" already have their minds on the mat in a place of non-judgement for themselves and an excitement about learning something exciting. They're ready to sweat their asanas off and maybe look a little silly while doing it. I had a fellow teacher come to my class last night and she said to me that she liked that I gave my students an opportunity to fail. I joke around a lot when I'm teaching and I'm the first to acknowledge that trying things at yoga also means failing at things. Before you pop up into crow, you're going to fall on your face in crow, I regularly fall over and I talk about it in class all the time. One of my beginner yogis did just that last night, she leaned forward, fell down, got back up and nailed her crow. She had permission to fall, and knew it was a possibility, so it wasn't such a big deal.

On the other hand some of the "ICDA's" just stood and watched her. So, sure they didn't fall, which I guess is technically good, but they are no closer to getting a difficult pose. Getting to a place of doing that cool yoga pose, or learning something new, or trying something you've never tried before, is a place of discomfort. We all know that soreness in your muscles is the fibers tearing and rebuilding stronger. I think when you learn anything it is accompanied with similar soreness, an acclimation period to your new skill or knowledge. If you give yourself that space to fail, to be sore, to not know, the possibility for what you can accomplish is endless.

I hope you can find a place in your life where you are holding back and push it a little. Play with your edge.


Sunday, January 20, 2013


I had an amazing opportunity this weekend to practice with some of my yoga heroes Briohny Smyth and her husband Dice Ilda-Klein at, where else but, Green Monkey.  They were two of the sweetest people I have ever met, and I loved every second of their class even when sweat was dripping in my eyes and up my nose. Yes, I was upside down enough that sweat had the opportunity to drip up my nose. This was a special class, not just because of how much time we spent on our hands instead of our feet but because of the level of the people practicing next to me. 

People were doing some cirque du soleil freaky stuff that mere mortals don't can't do. I won't even tell you what Dice and Briohny (who by the way is 5 months pregnant, gorgeous, and still doing handstands) were doing because it was the stuff that yoga deities are made of, but watch their videos and you'll have a good idea. Their version of giving variations sounded something like this: So, you're going to float into a handstand (I'M GOING TO WHAT?), you could then come down into a one legged crow, maybe you want to come back into handstand, and switch sides, maybe a one handed handstand, maybe you want to levitate, OK yogis get to it! Watching my fellow yogis float into poses with ease that I can only hope to one day shove myself into was inspiring.  

Its easy to look up at the beautiful people around you with contempt from your sweaty blob on the floor, but instead I looked up with wonder. These peeps were doing AMAZING things, and one day I'm going to do those amazing things. I had the perspective of a beginner again. I remembered what it feels like not to be able to do most things, to look around at everyone else, and feel that pang of jealousy that what comes so easily to them is the biggest challenge you have ever faced. 

I am incredibly guilty of not wanting to do things that I'm not good at. I was reminded of this the other day when my girlfriend asked me to guess what something was and I flat out refused. I had no idea, so I was bound to be wrong. Why bother to try if you are sure to fail? 

And yet I've never had this perspective with my yoga, I fall all the time in yoga. I tell my classes stories all the time of my yoga failures and I have no shame in them at all. I’ve talked before about how who you are on the mat is who you are in the world, but maybe for me that isn’t true. I think I’m might be a better version of myself on the mat than anywhere else. I am able to practice all of the qualities I most admire true effort, compassion, truth, grace, gratitude and surrender, with ease on the mat, not so much in life. Perhaps a little perspective shift is in order. Rather than let my day-to-day life choices be dictated by a fear of failure, I could take my yoga perspective off the mat and into the rest of my world. 

What if this week you challenged yourself to be a little more like your yoga (or running, cycling, zumba-ing, kickboxing, meditating, or whatever else you do) self and less fearful?