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Posted on 11-10-2015
My grandparents were probably the best role models and teachers for my life in many ways. Not only did they do the typical grandparent things of spoiling me and giving me the things that my mother couldn't, but they also raised me to be a responsible adult. My grandfather taught me how to do my own taxes when I had my first real job. My grandmother actually gave me my first paying job at the age of 8 or so in her antique shop. From them I learned about immigrant families, growing up in the depression, appreciating what you have, working hard for what you want, and taking care of those you love.
But there's a difference between being taught life lessons and being given good advice. To be honest, I can't say that they really ever gave me good advice. No. I take that back. My grandmother was the first to learn I wanted a divorce. The first words she said after I told her? Don't get pregnant. Smart woman. But, those are words that can be applied to everything.
Good advice can be applied to just about any situation. Over the years I've been pretty bad at taking advice, but part of the problem is that I never asked for help. I'm 39 and only, in the past 5 years or so, did I learn to humble myself enough to ask others who were more experienced or more knowledgeable for help. I suppose "Ask for help when you need it" should be the first piece of advice. But, once you get past that point, what is good advice?
Here are the 3 that have stuck with me for nearly EVERY situation.
1) Have Fun.
I had just started running and was a day away from my first real race. A 1/4 Marathon. 6.6 miles. I was FREAKING out about everything because I didn't know what to expect. What do I wear? Where do I park? Where do I meet my boyfriend at the end? What if I get lost? What if I miss the starting bell? Are my shoes good enough? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!
So, I went into the shoe store where I had purchased my running shoes just a couple of months prior. The man who sold me the shoes was a veteran runner and spent about an hour with me. Meaning; they were the right shoes. I hadn't been training much, so I barely had 50 miles on these things. I had read somewhere about making sure you had fresh shoes for the race. So, I thought, "Oh dear god! What if my shoes aren't fresh enough?!"
I handed them to the girl at the counter so she could look at the soles, explained my situation and even pointed to the Count Down To The Race clock behind the counter in a panic. She could see I was a wreck. All she said to me was this. "You shoes are perfect. Have fun!"
What?! Fun?????? Really??? That was a THING in running? I had no idea! I thought I was just supposed to run like hell, kick my own ass, and then die at the end. Seriously.
Her name was Nicole and I will never forget her smiling face. I'm sure what she really wanted to do was pat me on the head condescendingly because I was freaking out over a 1/4 marathon when there were people in the store right then who were going to finish the 1/2 marathon before I crossed the finish line. But, she didn't.
And you know, I did have fun. And I've had fun ever since. AND, I apply that to everything. Yoga, for sure. Have fun with it. Dinner. Have fun with it. Life. Love. Sex. Blogs that get people to your business website. Have fun! Because otherwise...what the hell is all of this for?
2) Take it slow
Technically this is very good advice for starting a race, and yes I've heard this from my running coaches, but this advice was given to me by my cousin's wife when I told her I was quitting my job to open a yoga studio.
She's of German ancestry, has more pragmatism in her pinkie than I have in my entire body, and had already owned a yoga studio.
Anyone who knows me is acutely aware of my Piscean nature. I'm a sensitive person. I lead with my heart before my head ever gets in the game. I'm truly a child of the fantasy world. I believe in EVERYTHING. All the gods. Fairies. Goblins. Hogwarts. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
When I decided to make the biggest decision of my adult life and leave my 6 figure steady job to become a yoga teacher and open a yoga studio, she told me to hold my damned horses. Take this one slowly and don't screw yourself because you want this so badly. Think on this for a while. Still meander in that direction, but don't just run full force at a thing you aren't familiar with yet.
And so I listened to her. I didn't open a studio right away. I taught around the city for a year. Got my face, name and teaching style out there. And then, the universe sent me a studio space a block from my house, and I have students who want to follow me there. Had I done it my way to begin with, my boyfriend, 3 cats and I would be living out of the shoe box he said he would happily live in with me as long as we were together.
I have always had a slower yoga practice because it allows me the time to understand the pose, get the most out of it, and truly feel it. I start slow in a race to conserve energy (and finished my first full marathon in 4 hours 14 minutes!). I eat slow to help with digestion and to appreciate the full flavor. I read slow to really become absorbed in the story. It truly can work for everything.
3) Do it only if it feels good
This one I gave to myself and it was originally intended to be a comment on an emotional feeling, not physical, but I do apply this to everything.
There are many times in life when there are situations and options made available to you and they seem to be so great! Maybe seemingly perfect! But this is where you must employ all three pieces of advice (it's like those few poses in yoga where you can engage all three bandhas). When you're presented with something, move slowly into it or towards it. Like a tiger. Like a sloth. Like a gentle breeze. Feel it all around. Try it on in your mind. Work through the pros and cons. Feel the thing in your heart and mind.
If it feels good to your heart and it feels good in your mind, then go for it and have fun with it.
I've been presented with many options over the past year and a half as it pertains to business, both the business I left behind and business I started. Marketers. Potential partners. Potential clients and students. And I've made a lot of really bad decisions. Why? Because I didn't listen to my heart AND mind. I didn't take it slow. And because of that, the decisions weren't fun.
Applying this emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and socially is very important. These are things that are potentially more damaging to you if done without mindfulness. Of course, physically, you can certainly get into a lot of trouble if you do things to the point of true pain. As we learn in yoga teacher training as well as fitness training, pain is your friend. It tells you when to stop but also when it is OK to keep going. But you must listen to all of the signs.
In my personal yoga practice as well as the way I teach, I find the edge of discomfort. That point where you know it's not bad pain but the kind that means if you stay here you will grow stronger. This pose, like Double Pigeon, will help me but I must acknowledge the discomfort, know it isn't harmful pain, and breathe. You cannot grow without a little pain, but you must only do it if it feels right. And if you don't know if it feels right, ask for help!
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