Last week in my classes, the ongoing theme was knowing your WHY. Why we do what we do? Why do we choose the city we live in? A particular career? Our friends? Our life partners?

It all started with me trying to decide if I wanted to lead a Fall 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training. I kept searching and asking myself why, as this training is a huge task and I just couldn’t come up with enough answers to excite me. I tend to always need to know the WHY to my choices. At the same time, I was very disappointed in the actions of a friend and I kept asking myself, is this friendship worth fighting for? Why would I choose to fight for this?

I had to make a decision by the end of the week about Teacher Training and I had to answer my friend. I noticed how both choices started to steal my peace. So I decided to feed my mind the right things and see if I could switch my perception. For me this usually means listening to a podcast and walking my furry love, Anjali. I remembered my student Rob, who knows me well, had sent a Ted talk he thought I would like, so I put on my headphones, grabbed Anjali and started walking.

Funny enough, the talk was by Simon Sinek on how all successful people know their WHY. Life is funny like that. I kept walking and kept thinking how I’ve always made decisions in a similar way. I knew at a young age I did not belong in Romania. I had to make a decision at the age of 13 about staying in the United States or returning to Romania to compete in the Olympics. I knew why I wanted to move to Los Angeles from Portland. I know why I choose to teach yoga. So I challenge you to know your WHY in every aspect of your life. It’s important to because if we know anything about life is that change is inevitable. Life will kick our asses and make us question everything we thought we knew. Know what it is that you’re fighting for. Make sure it’s worth it. And be honest with yourself about your choices. About your WHY.

One of the many things students ask in class is “Again? We have to do it again?” My answer is always the same: unless you met your husband/wife/partner on your first date you ever had, than yes, again.

Take a handstand for example. A flawless handstand is a perfect balance of strength and flexibility in the body. A perfect balance of surrender and full concentration of the mind. I remind my students that the mentality of an athlete is all I know, and the only way anyone gets good at something is through repetition. The key is repetition with awareness. Each time you are trying to get better at something, you do so by repeating it. In a handstand it translates into the way you place your hands, the focused gaze, core, shoulders, hamstrings, flexibility, and so on.

In this sense, yoga is life training. Off the mat, how much awareness do you bring into your life? First, you must identify what it is that requires your awareness. Are you looking for a life partner? What red flags have you learned to observe from past experiences? Are you looking to be more positive with your thoughts? How aware are you of the words you use with yourself and others?

Whether you’re looking to become the next Michael Jordan, the next Meryl Streep or Frida Kahlo, I guarantee you that those people got where they did by studying their craft. By repetition with awareness. Better yet, look to become a better version of you!