Recently I started reading and also doing Julia Cameron’s book called The Artist Way. The book kept showing up in my path so I figured I should listen to that message. From the start of the book, you have to commit to three pages of free flow writing daily which has taken me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. On top of that, you also have to take yourself on an “Artist’s Date” which is another two-hour commitment per week. My initial enthusiasm quickly got replaced by a sense of dread as I had just added another thing to my ever-growing “to-do” list. I’m big on efficiency so I really started questioning if this was the best use of my time before getting started. I’m also extremely curious and curiosity won out. I was interested to see if a successful book like this with such amazing testimonials, would work on me or perhaps for me. By the way, the testimonials I had been reading did not come from Julia Cameron. They came from Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris which is advice from successful people in all different fields. Several of them swear by the exercises Julia Cameron presents in The Artist’s Way.
LIFE IS ABOUT PERCEPTION
I strongly believe that life is about our own personal view on things otherwise known as perception. Here is a quick example: recently I was at the Korean Spa which helps me keep my sanity in this crazy city and a group of girlfriends were coming out of getting a scrub treatment. This is a treatment that I try to get every month and can personally say leaves you feeling like a brand new human. They were asking each other how they felt and the answer was similar to what I stated above. When the last one came out, she hugged her friend and said; “Thanks for making me come today.”
Other friend: “You had to make her come?”
My thought exactly!
Friend: “Yes she did. You know I don’t like to try new things and it sounded weird. But I feel so good. When are we coming back?” They all broke out in laughter. We all do this. We all create a perception of things and make a judgment about people and places we know absolutely nothing about. Then we take it one step further and make the decision that a particular person or event is not for us. When having the actual experience, how often are you proved wrong? Yet, we turn around and do it all over again having learned nothing.
YOUR INNER GENIUS
I decided to take on the same mantra and approach that I ask of my students in class. I would “watch my attitude.” What if I approached the morning pages and the Artist dates with excitement? With curiosity? I figured if by some miracle I had a little genius inside just waiting to explode, this would be worth the investment in time. I can tell you that if a genius does exist inside of me, the little fellow is taking its time! What I can attest to so far in this writing journey is that I feel lighter in both body and mind. I feel more clear and focused when I’m teaching. More rooted and observant rather than reactive.
To encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, pick up a pen and paper and just freestyle write anything and everything that comes to mind. I now think of this process as “throw up of the mind.” An emptying of the mind if I was to be more polite. Below is one page of my morning pages. Enjoy and don’t judge! Who’s ready to take this on for the whole 12 weeks?
Well, today didn’t go as planned at all. Just getting to class/West Hollywood Yogaworks was of course crazy. Bulldozer truck trying to go through Hollywood Hills. Fire trucks by Runyon Canyon. A guy that was just chillin’ in his car at a stop sign that was either unaware of the cars behind him or gave zero fucks. His friend than proceeded to get out of his car and I had the urge to go up to the driver side and choke him slowly and pause right when he couldn’t take it anymore and ask: “Were you unaware of the line of cars behind you or do you simply not care that some us perhaps have to work today?” If I was the hero of the story, I would pause and take a sip of my Cafe Cubano. I wish the Korean Spa, Din Tai Fung, and Adidas would sponsor me. Gotta stay fresh in my kicks! Sal and I took Anjali for a walk on this perfect sunny day. I told Sal that I have to take myself on an Artist Date this weekend as I must follow the rules of the book. A two-hour date it must be!
Sal: Can I come with you?
Me: No, not according to the book.
Sal: Than just pretend that I’m not there.
Me: You know I can’t do that. It will never work.
Sal: than f*ck your book!
All I could do was laugh because he said it ever so cute and he never uses a bad word. This book. This book! De done es little genius? De done es?
I’ve been listening to a lot of NPR’s, “How I Built This,” and what I’ve come to realize is that the most popular and successful household brands had no idea what they were doing when they started. Neither did I with my online classes. I knew one aspect of it which also happens to be my passion, Yoga. When people encouraged me to do it, they said, I would just have to release 14 classes. I never ever thought a blog would be necessary and probably laughed at the people who called themselves bloggers. I never realized I would have to do marketing and learn boring concepts that make me want to break out in a rash like SEO and CTA. Looking back now, I think how could I not have realized that I was starting an online business? How could I have been so naive? I questioned my common sense. But the thing is if you listen to episodes from how Whole Foods, Crate and Barrel, and Lonely Planet got started, none of them knew what they were doing.
They all had a strong burning desire that kept pulling at them all day long until they gave into that energy force and created an action plan. Which brings me to my next point.
All the brands stated above had a choice. They could fold before giving themselves a chance because they realized how much they did not know, or they could take the time to learn it.
As a full-time Yoga teacher in Los Angeles, I spend a lot of my time in my car. I can listen to the same songs on all 5 stations, or I can utilize that time to gain some free knowledge. Everything I need to learn on SEOs, CTAs and online platforms can be found for free on Youtube or other people’s podcasts who have had success and are willing to share their knowledge to you for FREE. It is all available to you if you are hungry, honest and humble enough to realize and acknowledge that you might need help learning about certain aspects of the business.
As I adjusted my yoga schedule recently, I have gained a new group of students who are asking me questions that I have not had to answer in awhile compared to my regular group of yogis. A big priority for me when building this site is to empower the students. To give the knowledge back to them by posting videos on my Youtube channel which builds their yoga practice from the ground up with my own personal cues and tips. In other words, “free knowledge” for those who are interested. What surprises me, is how few of them actually watch it. You are already showing up on your mat. Why wouldn’t you take the time to educate and empower yourself with the free knowledge already out there especially if it’s being offered by the teacher you are currently studying with? In my case and maybe yours, I’ve already started the online platform, and perhaps you have started a new business. So why wouldn’t you take the time to empower and educate yourself?
YOU CAN MAKE EXCUSES OR YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN
I recently took a class with a senior yoga teacher who told me she liked the version of the twist I was doing but she doesn’t know HOW to teach it. To me, that’s just lazy. If you’re going to charge people thousands of dollars for teacher trainings but don’t know how to teach a basic twist, you have no business doing that. The how is not the problem here. In my opinion, it is a question about passion and desire: as long as you have access to the internet or a book, you can learn how to teach that twist. You can make excuses or you can make it happen. You can focus on your lack of resources—and I must admit I often do this and it can be a valid concern especially when it comes to lack of financial resources—or you can find a way to make it happen. Perhaps you feel a bit stuck because you can’t invest in your business in the way that you would want? But how does that mindset help you? How does that help your action plan? Your dream and potential? Or you can keep moving forward one step at a time. Start with the free knowledge that is already out there. Educate yourself on those that have done a version of what it is you are trying to do. Save yourself some headaches and most likely money by learning from their mistakes. This is your life, “so whatever you choose to believe will be the concept that runs your mind.” (Joe Vitale)
What do you choose? Fear or self-empowerment? Excuses and standing still or free knowledge as a step forward?
Let me know in the comments!
Memorial Day weekend 2017, I had the privilege of teaching at lightninginabottle.org
Think Burning Man with fewer drugs and more conscious awareness. I remember, before going, reading a quote about imagination. It was something along the lines of,
“Your imagination is yours and yours alone. With it, you can create your masterpiece or you can create your hell.”
We are all born with so much potential and believe we can create anything but, somewhere along the way, life beats that out of us. Being at Lib was truly like seeing someone’s imagination come to life. The immaculate detail that went into creating this magic world helped uplift people, reignite passion and drive, and pretty much put a smile on everyone’s face. It was truly a Disneyland for adults where you just found your tribe. From spiritual talks to yoga, to house music, to Meditation Lookout Point, to shaman talks, Lib had it all.
Walking around, I just kept thinking about the amount of detail and hard work that went into creating something like this. I became curious about the people who came up with this idea. I have heard that this festival started out several years back with 500 people and now it’s around 20,000!
Think about how many times people must have told the creators that they were crazy for attempting this. That they were wasting their time and money. Yet their drive and dream took priority over their fears and they conquered.
We can all choose to starve our fears and feed our dreams. We can all choose to create a masterpiece with our imagination. But imagination is nothing without drive. It is nothing without action. So get going. Life waits for no one.
Will you choose to feed your dreams or your fears? Let me know in the comments!
Yin allows my Vinyasa practice to be this beautiful fluid moving meditation because my body structure feels stronger and more supported on a foundational level.
Yin has allowed me more freedom in the body by gaining mobility and therefore has removed some of the fights I was putting up before due to the tight muscles and lack of awareness to my approach.
Holding Yin postures for so long has helped my proprioception of the bigger body structure.
Yoga has so many different limbs and approaches to the practice and in the United States, the physical vinyasa practice definitely dominates. Although there is nothing wrong with that, you still need a well-rounded approach if you want to give your body longevity.
This is also where I see so many unnecessary injuries as the body is not being supported on a structural foundational level. What I’m talking about here are the connective tissues, joints, tendons. This is where most injuries occur; shoulders, wrists, ankles, and spine. These are all joints and connective tissues. It’s pretty easy in a public class to move through a fast pace Yang practice without alignment and a good understanding of how these poses affect the body.
In martial artists, many exercises focus on stressing the joints and bones in a similar style to Yin. When I started training with the Olympic Team in Romania, mobility training took place before strength. This not only helps to prevent injuries later on but should they occur, the body heals much faster.
Personally, Yin helps me to go from 100 to zero pretty quickly. It calms me down by stimulating by the parasympathetic system so I can relax. For a type A personality like myself, it is very hard to sit still, let alone relax into the moment. It changes my perception when I’m dealing with a frustrating issue by slowing down my thoughts. This allows me to go in the space between my thoughts where I am the observer. In this space, I can remember to respond instead of reacting. To be more receptive and be willing to receive instead of putting up a fight. To process life as it is and to realize there is beauty in accepting what is. It also helps me notice how easy it is to steal my peace when I’m dealing with a tough pose and how quickly I want to react and get out of an uncomfortable moment.
How often do we have the same reaction to life? In this sense, this has been the best and most honest life training I could receive. An honest look at my somewhat ridiculous thoughts, fears and patterns of behavior that hinder and stop me from reaching my limitless potential. An opportunity to see what part I play in all of this and take responsibility. A change to embrace all of me so that I may grow and put all my effort towards what I’m doing rather than working against myself as I often do.
So much of my identity is wrapped up in a handstand and I receive so much joy, peace, and calmness from that pose so of course I love teaching and sharing the process with my students. However, I always say that I feel most at service teaching Yin. I see students often come in still on a work call. Some of their facial expression gives away their mood. Living in Los Angeles and dealing with a tough, fast-paced, expensive city a lot of us are stressed and overworked.
To see how their face, body and energy changes in that hour is pure magic and a sacred gift for me to experience.
If you know anything about my past, you know it was turbulent and my adoptive father often reminded me that I should be in a mental hospital but my passion has always saved me. I am passionate about sharing the practice of Yin especially to type A yogis.
It is my biggest wish for myself to be at peace and it is a privilege if I can assist someone else to find a bit of peace through the practice of Yin.
What does Yin Yoga mean to you? Let me know in the comments!
THE BREATH OF LIFE
“The deeper we exhale, the greater is our capacity to inhale new, fresh air.” B.K.S. Iyengar
Two years ago, I spent most of my year traveling and teaching yoga. I started to notice that as soon as I returned and stepped back into LAX, the energy of Los Angeles was one of anxiety and chaos mixed with some anger. It is an overpopulated city where a fight over a parking space or allowing someone in your lane on the freeway results in one person hammering on their horn for 10 minutes while the other throws up the middle finger and relentlessly honks back. The city as a whole needs to exhale.
We all need to exhale before we end up being the crazy person going loco in a public place and unraveling in front of everyone. Be honest, we have all been there at least once. As a human being, you can only hold on and hold on for so long. But if there is no letting go process in place, the body and the mind will eventually do a forced reboot. For me, this happened last Tuesday, and I learned an important lesson that day.
The opposite of exhalation would be inhalation. As much as exhales are for “letting go” inhales are about allowing yourself to “receive” while trusting and letting your life unfold. We can receive and draw in energy from the earth, from our environment. Our inhalation allows us to empty the thinking mind so we can live in the present moment, instead of spiraling with thoughts of past and present. The trick is to find the balance of both–inhales and exhales. Letting go and receiving, so we can flow freely through any obstacles placed in our day and lives. In reality, you’re one step ahead if you have just the awareness, which then allows you to fully practice these concepts.
I realized that I needed to give up control for wanting things to be a certain way and just accept the present moment exactly how it is without the desire to change it. The bigger lesson was in understanding that I need to allow myself to “receive.” I’m good at being of service but I have a very much “I’ve-got-this” attitude. The truth is, I don’t always “got this.” I’m going to work on allowing myself to ask for help when needed and to allow myself to receive from my community as I continue to be of service and give.
As you take time to reflect on this, what do you need more of in your life? If it is the need to “let go,” do you have a process for this work to take place? You must not only acknowledge the need but also take action to do something about it. If you need to “receive,” then investigate where from and how you go about creating this?
“Don’t run away from heavy emotions: Honor the anger, give pain the space it needs to breathe. This is how we let go.” Young Pueblo