Category: Life and Yoga

“New Year’s” Resolutions

Well, I am officially back at school and my senior year of college is about to begin.  I can’t stop thinking about my desire to really make the most of this year.  I love my school and my friends so much… I want to make the most of every last moment I have here.  So, I have decided to make a few New (School) Year’s resolutions.  And I am sharing them here to keep me committed and accountable.

1. Practice yoga at least four times per week.  It happens every year, classes start, and my yoga practice becomes low priority.  I am not going to let that happen this year.  Yoga needs to be a priority, too.  It keeps me sane and happy and healthy.  If it means I need to stay up two hours later, then that’s what I have to do.

2. Eat healthy!  I have just stocked my food with so much fresh healthy food.  I want to focus on maintaining this healthy eating throughout this year.  Fueling our bodies is so important and I need to learn to focus more on food as energy and nutrition, rather than something that I eat to feel better.

3. Meditate.  For someone who really appreciates the calming, energizing effects of yoga, I am very bad at meditating.  I want to mediate.  I just don’t.  I want to take time this year to learn about meditation and commit to a consistant practice.

When I started this blog post, I thought I would have more than this, but I guess these three resolutions are all I have for now.  But, hey, that’s okay.  It will certainly be plenty to work on and maybe its better to have a few goals you can really focus on than many goals that will inevitably be forgotten.

Here’s hoping to a great year!

My “boyfriend”

In high school, I was “that girl”.  You know the one, clingy, jealous, insecure.  And my boyfriend at the time was probably the root of all of these unhealthy, unproductive, and frankly, unflattering traits.

We dated for years, and let me tell you, we did not have a good relationship.  Everyone knew it.  My friends and family tried to convince me to leave him over and over again.  I was a bright student, on her way to the Ivy League, ready to reach for the stars, and he, well, wasn’t.  We couldn’t be on more opposite paths.  I wanted to change him, because I loved him so much, but knew he wasn’t the type of partner I needed.  He was constantly annoyed by my nagging.

And then somehow, I got away.  We split shortly before I left for my first year of college.  I have grown into myself since then.  I have flourished in my new environment and am much happier than I ever was in high school.  I feel accomplished, proud of my self, at peace.

But somehow, this summer, I have gotten involved with him again.  Now a college dropout, living at home with his parents, I know with every fiber of my being that I do not belong with him.  Could not belong with him.  He already has me resorting to more destructive ways.  I have been less committed to my yoga practice since his reappearance.  I have been blogging less.  A myriad of other equally disappointing habits have resurfaced.  I could not be more disappointed in my back-slide.  But I “love” him.  Or at least, I thought I did.  I think I may be confusing the joy of having someone care for me again with true love.  In fact, I know it.

But honestly, the longer I am spending back in my old relationship, I’m finding that I do not want to cling onto this comfortable, reliable thing just for the sake of having someone around.  I want to find the someone.  Doing all of these things with the wrong person just doesn’t feel right.  It isn’t comfortable or reliable at all.  I thought I would be happy just to have someone to hold.  But I was wrong.  It feels off.  Unbalanced.  And there is nothing more taboo to a yogi than being unbalanced.

So I have learned an important lesson.  This person is not the be all or the end all for me.  What I have known for ages has finally been accepted in my fickle heart: he is not the one for me.  No amount of love or comfort can change that.  I am finally ready to say goodbye to this man.  And if this little rendez-vous with my past was what it took for me to learn this, then for that, I have gratitude.

If you let it, the world can teach you powerful lessons.  They may not be the lessons you were looking for, but they are usually the lessons you need.  Just putting all of this down in writing, I know that to be true.  I hope you all will learn the lessons to help you let go of the things that are holding you back.  It is a freeing experience.  It gives me hope and excitement for the future, like I am finally ready to really live.

The Power of Breath

Breathe

Breath is yoga.  It allows us to unite the movements of our bodies with the intentions of our minds.  It allows us to control ourselves.  It helps us to push boundaries both physically and mentally throughout our practice.  It is more powerful than any muscle, bone or organ.  It is our lifeline, figuratively and literally.  Without it, not only would we be lost, we would be dead.

Today I learned an important lesson: our breath can serve us when we are off of our mats, as well.  I suppose, in theory, I already knew this, but I had never relied on my breath quite like I did this morning.

Last night, I had a horrible fight with a loved one.  We both said some very hurtful things.  It hurt that he would say such things to me.  It hurt that I would say such things to him.  I am holding back tears just thinking about it.

When I woke up this morning, I had a short moment of peace before remembering the pain of last night.  I think that may be the worst part of going to bed in an unhappy place.  It makes the pain even worse when you remember it.  I was devastated.  It was all I could do to get myself out of bed.

But I had to pull it together.  I had a busy day at work to get to and I was already running late.  So I grit my teeth and got ready to go.  This was not exactly the best strategy.  I snapped at my mother during breakfast.  I was short with my father on my way out the door.  But I did manage to hold back my tears until I made it to the privacy of my car.

I barely controlled my tears on the way to work.  But the closer I got to my office, the more tears slipped through my eyelids (good thing I vetoed the mascara this morning).  I parked my car and paused, staring into space, tears dripping down my face.  How was I going to get through this day?  Face my coworkers?  Hold my meetings?  Meet my deadlines?  With this emotional breakdown written all over my face?

Well, I didn’t come up with an answer, but I couldn’t really afford to sit in my car any longer.  So I began to make my way into the building.  As I was walking, I felt the tell-tale tightness in my throat and I could see it all falling apart.  I took a deep breath.

Aha!  There it was.  My old friend.  I began to harness my ujjayi breath as I walked.  I moved rhythmically with my deepened breathing.  I instantly felt a bit stronger.  Like I would be able to handle the next nine hours.

In that moment, breath had saved me.  I was reminded of its power.  It is a source of strength.  It allows us to control our emotions.  Fosters a mental toughness.  Helps us to focus on the present moment.  This morning, my breath patted me on the back, held my hand and walked me into work.  And I am not exaggerating when I say I literally could not have done it otherwise.

If we let it, our breath can help us handle the daily difficulties of life.  It is a tool.  A friend.  A doctor.  A spiritual guide.  Breath is power.  With it, we all can have power, too.

!!!

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has been reading and commenting on my blog!  As a new blogger, it is so exciting to know that I am reaching people.

And now for the big news: I am so excited to have my most recent post, ‘5 Ways Yoga Makes You Love Your Body,’ published at doyouyoga.com!!!  Check it out 🙂

Things I Want

“Happiness comes when you overcome the most impossible challenge.” -Yogi Tea

Lately, I’ve sort of lucked into a new practice in my journey of self-exploration.  About a month ago I found an old note on my phone entitled “Things I Want”.  The list contained a few high-tech gizmos, some fashionable must-haves, a ring.  Clearly, yoga’s emphasis on the importance of detachment from the material world has been one of the harder concepts for me to embrace.  I promise, I’m working on it.  Anyway, I found that list at a time when I was particularly susceptible to philosophical thought.  I had been reflecting on the current state of my life for a few weeks by then, wondering how I’d gotten so far down this dispassionate path, how I was going to find my way before losing myself entirely in a world obsessed with worry, security and quite frankly, money.

So when I found this list, I started thinking about what I really wanted in life.  And what I didn’t want, or what wouldn’t serve me (this part has been tough).  I revised my list of wants and created a list of un-wants to include these new things, the things that really mattered.  The lists include all sorts of things, from short-term goals to profound life ambition; I do not allow judgment to be present in these lists (and I hope you won’t either!).  And here is what I’ve got so far:

Things I want: more yoga, to meditate, strength, peace, self-compassion, water, side plank, side crow, patience, acceptance, appreciation, financial calmness, confidence, interesting books, to blog (one of my most recent additions), committment.

Things I don’t want: judgment, stagnancy, ignorance, anxiety, insecurity, materialism (like I said before, this list has been a lot harder because it has involved looking deeply at what I don’t like about myself and my life).

I try to keep my senses attuned and actively looking for new things I want or don’t want as I go through my daily life.  They are constantly growing and changing.  Some things are easy to find.  Others involve a bit more self contemplation.  Sometimes it’s not easy for me to accept that something I enjoy could be a thing I don’t want, but I have been trying to be honest with myself, even when it’s hard.

But this has only been the first step.  The true beauty of my lists are in their ripple effect.  They have been diffusing through my thought processes.  When I am trying to make a decision, when I am trying to motivate myself, when I am on a distant musing, I’ll remember the lists.  I’ll ask myself, “How does this fit in with the things I want?  The life I want?” and I am able to refocus.  Just that moment of checking in – as so many of my yoga teachers have recommended – is all it takes.

Let me give you an example.  Today.  It’s an overcast Sunday, too muggy to do much of anything enjoyable outside and my plans to spend the day with my aunt and uncle at their pool have been looking less and less appealing.  My first instinct was to take to the couch. And I have to admit, I did spend about two hours there watching a movie, but after the movie ended I paused.  I knew I could easily spend the rest of the afternoon watching mindless TV.  You can’t get much less yogic than mindless.  So I thought about what would help me get closer to the things I want.  I am now sitting in my kitchen (one of my favorite places in the world) with a delicious cup of coffee, listening to a great playlist, writing this blog post.  And it’s great!  Why does our laziness sometimes keep us from the best parts of life?  Not only do I feel like I’m being productive and proactive in my quest to find the life of my dreams, but I’m actually much happier than I was just thirty minutes ago.  Think of how much happier our lives would be if we chose to live like this all the time.

I have also begun to think that these lists may someday help me find what I’m looking for: the career I desire, the life I deserve.  Maybe through the process of constantly refining these lists I will stumble upon a career that will give me everything I want.  Or maybe not.  Either way, I like the path I’m starting to head down.  I feel more hopeful and confident that I have in a long time.  I feel like I’m getting somewhere.  And that’s a lot more than I could have said to you at the beginning of the summer.

When Inspiration Strikes…

I have recently been inspired into the world of blogging.  It’s a bit of a long story, but hey, isn’t that what I started this blog for?

The background

I am about to begin my senior year of college.  It is truly the most surreal phenomenon I have encountered in my life.  So much of me is so excited to start a new life on my own, but another, much bigger, part of me is feeling pretty lost.  I am completely aware that this is a normal thing to be feeling, but it’s a pretty scary concept for someone who has spent most of her life with a plan.  And a pretty epic plan, at that.  But recently I’ve been realizing that that is where I had it wrong.

I was not, by any means, your typical child.  I told my dad that I wanted to go to an Ivy League school before I even knew what that meant – I thought “Ivy League” was synonymous with “prestigious institution” for a long time.  I spent most of my adolescence researching the nations best colleges and universities and planning out how to get into one of them.  And just to give you a full view of my neuroses, my parents played no part in this.  Granted, they were very supportive and did everything they could to help me with my goal, but my obsessive determination was completely self-inflicted.  The only problem was, I was so driven toward excellence that I didn’t take any time for self-exploration.  I didn’t give a moment’s consideration to what sort of life would make me happy in the long run.  So, in my ignorance, I decided to apply to engineering schools.  This decision was based on two really horrible things to base a decision of this magnitude on: first, I thought I could I could “play” the admissions system by harnessing my inner female engineer; and second, money.  Needless to say, this is not my proudest moment.

So, here I am.  I’m about to graduate from college with a degree in Operations Research Engineering… and I have no idea what that little girl I used to be was thinking.

So what next?

Lately, I’ve turned to yoga.  While I have been a fairly avid yogini for almost three years now, I have found new meaning my practice this summer.  It sort of happened by accident.  I am working as a summer intern and, away from the stresses of academic life, I simply have more time for yoga.  As the summer progressed, my practice began to speak to me in new ways.  I found comfort in the inspirational words of my teachers during my time of confusion.  I began to seek more actively for what my teachers spoke of.

One night, I couldn’t sleep, and, reverting into less evolved ways, I opened my computer.  Lucky for me, a Facebook post from an old (and beloved) yoga teacher caught my eye.  I was then led on  a yoga journey through the internet.  I found blog after blog after blog.  I read with fierce intent the words of fellow yogis around the world.  I was so happy to find this pocket of wisdom and inspiration that had been hiding right in front of me all along.  I was hooked.

At first I had no desire crossover from reading blogs to blogging.  I am generally hesitant to share my philosophies (when I have them) with the world, especially when it comes to my yoga practice.  This all changed when something caught my eye on doyouyoga.com (one of my favorites): the simple line “guest bloggers welcome.”  I don’t know if it was fate or dumb luck, but this sparked an idea in my mind.  So I decided to write a blog post.  Just one.  I wasn’t even really intending on submitting it, but I had always like writing and thought I would give it a try.

Well, any of you who are bloggers yourself probably know where this is heading.  As I thought of ways to translate my jumbled thought processes into concise, (hopefully) eloquent sentences, I figured out what I really needed to say.  What I was really thinking.  How I was really feeling.  It was so educational!  Therapeutic, even.  Which, given my current emotional state, was greatly needed.  So, shortly after finishing my first paragraphs, I knew I wanted to start a blog, more for my benefit than anything else.

And here it is!

I know that was a bit of a long way of saying “I want to start blogging to find myself,” but I hope you read it anyway :).  I promise, future blog posts will not be as long-winded or self centered.  I hope you will stay tuned to find out for yourself.

Namaste