THE ANTIDOTE TO A STRESSFUL LIFE
Now that the foundation for Ellavate Yoga is in place, I want to introduce you to a concept from my little cranium called Journey with Ella. This is pretty much the idea behind the whole site–a virtual online studio that gives you a glimpse into the different ways I train my body, how and why. If you struggle practicing at home or aren’t sure what class to do when, or where to start, the bundles I created will be there to answer those concerns and help guide you. Suggestions for what to practice next will be given at the end of each one. The classes will be delivered to your mailbox for the course of the bundle. All you have to do is press play.
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.
On my flight back from Norway, I watched Doctor Strange for the third time. Every time I watch this film, something new sticks out for me.
Mordo: “I wanted the power to defeat my enemies and you gave me the power to defeat my demons.”
The Ancient One: “We never lose our demons, Mordo. We only learn to live above them.”
(Doctor Strange. Dir. Scott Derrickson. Marvel Studios, 2016. Film.)
For those of you who don’t know my story, watch “Not So Namaste” on my site and you will get a glimpse into my upbringing. I have a lot of demons and I would be foolish to think they will simply go away, but I will be damned if I allow them to run my life. As I’ve started my journey with plant medicine, and combine that with my ongoing yoga practice, I feel like I have enough tools to battle them.
The biggest tool is awareness. Awareness gives me the ability to pause and reflect instead of going straight to reacting. It gives me the gift to live out of intent more and more, and not simply out of habit. I am able to notice when I’m anxious and in my head, and to choose my breath.
This gives me the power to choose, the power to trust my path instead of my fears, the power to choose me.
The longer we live, the more we realize life is not simply black and white. We collect a lot of baggage along the way but the power to choose yourself over your demons is always there.
Identify your demons. Get to know them. Give them a good kick in the ass and send them on their merry way.
Choose YOU instead. Over and over, rise up above your demons and choose you.
Believe you’re worth it.
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!
I recently read a quote that went something like this; know when to have the courage to hold on and the strength to let go. I haven’t been able to find the quote but I’ve thought about it quite a bit. I have been in my relationship for almost 10 years and my career for seven. They both have had their highs and lows as life often gives you both. When I started my teaching career and often had less than 10 people in class, I had to trust and allow it to unfold without giving up even though, I made less than $20,000 my first year. I needed the strength to hold on. When my relationship was at a low as we were both trying to build our careers and were running on empty, I needed the courage to hold on. In both of these situations, I knew the story was not yet over. My career was just starting and as tough and competitive as teaching yoga in Los Angeles can be, it was what my heart desired most. Likewise, as I had spent the previous years building a strong foundation in my relationship, I had to trust that it was enough as I switched my focus to developing the same foundation in my career. Life is often a juggling act. It’s tough to hold on when you have days or at times weeks when you just want to say it “fuck this” and buy a one-way ticket out or just keep driving. To me, this is when “foundation” comes into play. This is what we strive for on and off the mat. The will to hold on because you didn’t come this far to only comer this far. To remember that you’re building a strong foundation and that takes time. To remember that this is temporary and the work done now will give you the freedom later. In any case, you need to know why you’re doing any of this. You need to hold on to that why and choose your courage so you can reach your potential and not say “fuck it.”
On the flip side, to have the strength let go of something that you know has run its course isn’t easy either. If we’re being honest with ourselves, this often happens in friendships, romantic relationships and careers. Who we were than is not who we are now. Either the energy doesn’t flow with ease (making us feel stuck, trapped, anxious, and angry), or it becomes evident that this chapter of our life is over. We often lie to ourselves a bit longer; it takes time to figure out that a transition is necessary in order for us to continue growing as human beings. It’s tough to accept when a relationship has run it’s course. It’s tough to accept when your career no longer inspires you or fits who you are today. The strength and the trust has to be there to move on to the next chapter of your life.
So I ask: If you look at yourself right now, what part of your life requires you to have the courage to hold on? To patiently wait a little longer? To give yourself a chance you deserve to reach your potential? What part of your life requires you to have the strength to let go? You can lie to others but be honest with yourself? Have any aspects of your life run their course? Are you just holding on due to your comfort zone? You get one shot at life. Give yourself a chance.