Life is often a juggling act.  It’s tough to hold on when you have days (or weeks) when you just want to say, “Fuck this,” and buy a one-way ticket elsewhere.  But you didn’t come this far to stop now.

Courage is knowing when to hold on, realizing that all this work is temporary. 

To remember that you’re building a strong foundation, which takes time.  To remember that the work you put in now will give you freedom later.  You need to hold on when things get tough—and choose your courage.  

On the flip side, it’s also important to have the strength to let go when you know something has run its course.  If we’re being honest with ourselves, this can occur in friendships, romantic relationships, and careers.

Who we were then 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.  Yet, we often lie to ourselves a bit longer; it takes time to accept the fact 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 its course.  It’s tough to accept when your career no longer inspires you or fits who you are today.  It’s certainly tough (and sometimes scary) to step out of your comfort zone and figure out the next chapter of your life.

So I ask: Looking at yourself right now, what part of your life requires you to have the courage to hold on a little longer? 

What aspect of your life has run its course and requires you to have the strength to let go?  

You can lie to others—but be honest with yourself.  We get one shot at life.  Don’t play small. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about life and destiny lately.  Thoughts like, “How much of our path is already determined for us at or before birth?  In the end, how do our choices impact and determine the course of our lives?”

What’s the next step in my life and career?  Do I take the road less traveled and follow my intuition or do I play it safe and continue on the path that seems to be working?  “What’s the calculated risk?” is a question I keep asking myself.  

I trained in gymnastics at a high Jr. Olympic Elite level and my path should have been the Olympics.  I gave up my childhood, my family, and endured both physical and mental abuse for this dream—but life had other plans for me.  

Gymnastics ultimately led to my career in yoga and gave me the inner awareness that a 500-hour certification never could have.  Through being of service to others, I continue to heal myself and also see where I still need to do my own work.  

What I’m learning is that a lot of us share similar stories, not always realizing that it’s that same dark time in our lives that ends up helping us stand in our power.  That at times ends up giving us our careers, our strength, a way to heal, and illuminate the path for others.  

Lately, I seem to have more questions than answers, but what I am certain of is that the struggle is part of the story.  We will never understand all that happens in our lives, but I do believe things happen for a reason.  

In what we consider to be our darkest times, there’s usually a seed of light being planted.  When that seed comes to fruition, give yourself time to grow into your purpose, your gift.  Allow that gift to develop.  Be patient with your own healing.  

ellavate yoga blogI’ve been observing myself and noticing what thoughts I allow into my mind.  What mental images and stories that go along with my thoughts do I entertain?  Do my mental images line up with my bigger picture of staying in the flow of life?  Am I helping create my future or hindering my own process?  

As I was sitting with these questions and observing myself, I noticed how ridiculous my thoughts can be.  Just this morning, while playing fetch with Anjali in our backyard, I heard an airplane go by—this is pretty normal where I live.  For a moment, I decided that the next thing to annoy me will be airplanes.  In the future, I will be annoyed by the noise of airplanes and therefore I will need to move from this little back house that I currently love so much.  In the future, I have decided that I will be annoyed!  I laughed at how ridiculous this declaration was on this beautiful morning and placed my attention back on the beauty surrounding me.

There’s a story about a student asking Socrates how wisdom might be attained.  Socrates took the student to a fountain and told him to submerge his head in water—whereby Socrates continued to hold the student’s head down until the poor guy was struggling for air.  When the student finally managed to escape, Socrates told him that when his desire for wisdom is equaled his desire to breathe, wisdom would follow. 

The gift and the curse of life is that you have the power to choose.  The power to create.  What thoughts are you entertaining?  

You must observe yourself and become the gatekeeper of your mind.

-Ella

Where do you look in Bakasana?

 

After spending my day teaching “the importance of looking down in arm balances and inversions,” I happened to go on Instagram and see a teacher say exactly the opposite.  “If you look down, you go down” seems to be the popular opinion in yoga.  To be fair, I have heard this same cue my whole career and used to teach it myself.  But if you know better, you do better.

 

In my opinion, during an arm balance like Bakasana, the gaze should be the same as in Cat pose—which is down, not forward.  Looking forward forces the body into Cow pose.  

 

I explain the gaze in Bakasana to my community by likening it to the concept of “crawl before you walk.”  We all know babies first learn how to crawl—which helps develop necessary upper body strength and coordination.  The next natural progression is learning how to walk. Slowly standing up, grabbing onto things, testing balance and falling back down.  Eventually we get the hang of it. From there, you learn how to run, and so forth.  

 

No one questions this natural progression.  No on says: “Hey, stop that baby from walking, it’s only allowed to crawl!  It must not evolve past this stage.”  

 

So why don’t we allow this natural progression in Yoga?  Why don’t we understand that something which once helped us will stunt our growth and progress if we’re unwilling to evolve through a natural order of progression?  

 

Looking forward in Bakasana is useful when learning the pose because you naturally tend to be more comfortable when you can see in front of you.  In this version, your chances of falling forward are slim because the gaze doesn’t allow you to really move past a certain point.  

 

To me, practicing this version makes me feel like I just ate a big greasy meal.  The pose feels heavy in my body, with too much pressure being placed upon my shoulders.

 

Take a look at the picture below of me demonstrating Bakasana with the gaze down just as in Cat. 

 

This single action alone has allowed me to push the floor away, once again, just like in Cat Pose.  I can now straighten my arms and round the upper back—thereby making my butt the highest point.  From there, I can easily transition into a handstand if I wish.  

 

I hope this helps you understand how looking forward to learn Bakasana is fine at the very beginning—but also that you’re not meant to remain at this beginner’s stage forever.  Just as the baby keeps learning and advances from crawling to walking, you too must keep growing. While looking forward initially helped you build confidence, it eventually hinders your continued progress.  

 

Life is meant to be a natural progression of many sorts.  Allow yourself the gift of growing! And remember that yes, you must crawl before you walk—but eventually you should walk if you are capable.  The transition needs to be made from caterpillar to butterfly.

 

Are you ready?

 

Watch the Tutorial on YouTube here!

 

-Ella