Welcome, new Yogi

I watch you cautiously enter the studio – a place that at first glance can seem so intimidating, I know. You’re not sure what to expect or if you wore the right thing, or if you’ll even be able to make it through the hour you’ve set aside for you. I can see you are nervous, almost timid.

You’re greeted with warm smiles from the volunteers and instructors gathered hospitably around the front desk, waiting to help you sign up for a class, answer your questions, show you where the facilities and different tempered rooms are. These friendly faces put some of your fears to rest, at least for the moment. You can feel the shift of energy in the air as more students flow into the studio.

I  keep observing you from across the airy, open, sunny front room. I see your shoulders relax down your back slightly, ease entering your eyes and recognition of something almost home-like about this place  flashes in them. We catch each other’s gaze and share a small, but sincere smile.

You wander down the hall into the change room, where I am sure you’re talking yourself into class. Not sure what to expect, not sure if you’ll like it, not sure if it’s for you. Scared of the heat, the poses, the unknown.

I know this feeling all too well. I think every new yogi does.

What I want to tell you is that what you will find in the heated yoga studio upstairs is going to surprise you, maybe even scare you a little.

I want to tell you of the life-altering feeling you are about experience, the wash of emotion, the shift in perspective, the gains in confidence, compassion and strength you will feel.

health and happy

I want to burst at you with stories and antidotes of feeling yourself truly shut your brain off for the first time and the exhilarating calm that comes with that freedom.

I want to tell you, that if you just let it, this practice, those poses, this studio, will change your whole life and lift up your soul in ways you didn’t think were possible.

I want to tell you that it will only take a moment for you to fall so deeply in love with your practice and you’ll know exactly when it happens.

I want to tell you that it is okay to let go, especially here, and sometimes that very act might even come out as laughter or tears in class – and that’s okay.

asana

I want to share with you that the people that live, work and love here will become a second family to you, this studio a second home, if you let it, if you welcome it with open arms.

I want to calm your fears with tales of the incredible lives that have been changed by this bit of magic you’ve found, allowed into your life.

I want to warn you that you are about to challenge your ego, but it will be the best thing you ever do for your soul.

I want to tell you that you’re going to find out things about yourself that you didn’t know existed, had forgotten once were, and feel more you than you ever have in that 60, or 75 minutes of pure bliss.

self acceptance

I want to tell you about the calm in your soul that will come when you become more aware and more present, at first in class, and then soon every area of your life.

I want to tell you that you will feel more in control and out of your mind in the most calming way, at the same time, in that room.

I want to tell you that when you adopt the true practice of yoga in areas of your life outside of the studio will be when you will truly understand what you’ve found.

I want to tell you to breathe your way through class and that you’ll soon realize that it’s necessary to breathe through life in the same way.

breathing

 

I want to tell you so many things about what you’ve started by stepping onto your mat for the very first time.

But I don’t.

Instead I share one more silent smile with you as we both enter the room. I watch you find your place on your mat, sprawl out on the floor, fidgeting a bit as you start to relax. As I settle onto my mat myself, I say a little prayer for your practice and mine today, sending a little love, light and energy your way.

I can’t wait for the journey that lies ahead of you, the breakthroughs and breakdowns, the freedom from what is resting on your shoulders. I am so excited for you and your practice to unfold and the blessings it will so abundantly bring.

Welcome, new Yogi.

~ Toni

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It’s all a bunch of labels

Labels are a funny thing.

The ones we give ourselves, the ones we’re branded with, with or without knowing, the ones we hear in our minds day in, day out, the ones we’re taught, the ones we assume, the ones we accuse.

Labels of love and understanding, labels of hurt, fear or hate.

I have to wonder how many of us walk through this life as someone we don’t really like, or that doesn’t feel genuine because of what we have been told to be throughout our growing periods. Because of what we have seen, been shaped to know, raised to understand.

How many of us would shed certain parts of ourselves if we could, in a heartbeat, because we didn’t know any better that there was a choice, an option to change it, to accept or reject them?

29 has been an interesting year so far – only a few months in and already bursting with change, possibility, excitement and challenge.

I almost expected this year to play out like this; after all, ‘they’ do say that after great heartache and turmoil comes great change and growth. The trick is staying open to the lesson, and not falling into the role of eternal-victim.

I think know my great teacher so far has been the absolute battering of my ego.

ego

Taking the very picture of myself, who I thought I was because of who I thought I ought to be at this point, and watching it disappear into thin air, with really only the important, core-stuff, staying, sticking it out and still showing up in the end. You know, the stuff about yourself that you would think about when your mom used to tell you to, “remember who you are” as you left the house with what she could only assume were extreme hooligans – that’s the important stuff that stays.

It was horrible.

It was AWESOME.

It takes a certain pit-fall up-shits-creek type of life altering situation to really get yourself to take a deep, LOOONG look at yourself and come up with the truth.

And then sit with it.

And sit some more.

And then see some things you like…and some you’d rather not have to admit to, that you really, honestly, deep down, cannot STAND about yourself.

That’s when the magic happens.

love

I sat with my ‘stuff’ for a while before I figured out that I was the only person who created this very unflattering mess in my hands, and, therefore, I was the only one who could change it, or at least attempt to improve it. And not another soul in the world could have helped me get there.

So, then there you are, with this pile of ‘stuff’ in your hands that you get to decide what to keep and what to get to work on, and you realize then:

It’s all a bunch of labels.

A bunch of labels that you’re so used to that you’ve forgotten to make sure you like them all, that you’re all right with them all, and if you would like to continue along this path of life with them all.

For me there were a few labels others had given me that I knew to the core of myself were not truly me. These labels were the easiest to deal with. These labels lost their power when I looked at the people that had branded me with them and considered the source, and if their opinions of me truly mattered at the end of the day. When I asked myself that question, the answer always came back absolutely not and those labels came off.

Then there were the labels about myself that I had some pride in before, and was having a hard time watching be worn off with time, with change. Eventually when I started to realize I have needed a LOT of what I didn’t ask for, I saw that my pride in them were only bolstering my ego (the cause of this whole debacle in the first place, really), which was hindering the growth of my soul. I had to let these labels go and be okay with what I was left with underneath.

Then there were the labels that were true, but that I did not like. Certain things about who I had become didn’t sit right with me, certain aspects of my personality and demeanor I knew were hindering my growth, but that I had clung to – like anger – as a security blanket, a thick skin appearance. These labels are still a work in progress, probably always will be. The hardest part I am finding about these ones is feeling and living the growth so much that others start to see it in you too, so they know you are not the same version of yourself that you might have been in the past.

And then there are the labels I love.

I call them the important stuff. The stuff that at the end of the day is what counts. I loved most of my important stuff.

This love, however, is not in the sense of traditional love, faltering or weakening during hardship or struggle. This love is a deep-soul kind of love, filled with acceptance and understanding. You see, some of the labels I love about myself may not appeal to the masses or anyone else in my life at all, for that matter. The important stuff counts because it’s the stuff about yourself that even if it makes you less popular with more people, you don’t care because it is what make you, authentically YOU. I see these things about myself that I know grind people’s edges, and make them uncomfortable, and maybe even cause them to misunderstand me, but because I love these labels, I do not care. They are the things that make my soul sing, my heart swell with joy and my mind be quietly at peace. I am okay with them, even if no one else is and that is a little slice of freedom I’ll take any day.

~ Toni

Authenticity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of being authentic.

It may have to do with my beautiful circle of friends growing once again as I slowly meet more of ‘my people’ by living more like how I feel inside, regardless of what other people’s opinions, judgments, or expectations are. It’s amazing what you attract when you like who you’ve become and know that the right people will love you and stick beside you, the wrong ones will eventually drift away.

It may have to do with realizing the toll my recent employment took on me and being able to reflect on how down it made me – the lesson being that I do not want to ever feel that way again about a job.

It may have to do with the added free time I have had to actually slow down and enjoy life a bit while I am off – not to say it has been a walk in the park to not FREAK OUT about not having a clear direction set out for this next chapter, but Michael and my Tuesday day adventures have been pretty fantastic and plentiful.

One of our many adventures <3

One of our many adventures ❤

It may be my unquenchable thirst to learn, to see more than what we are provided easily in today’s western culture when it comes to news, health, way of life – this bubble we’ve grown accustomed to because it’s comfortable and familiar, filled with distractions from what life is supposed to be. As I grow, my soul desires to be more self-sustaining in all areas of physical life and the knowledge to do so is just as accessible, if you just look for it. There are big plans for greenhouses, chickens, a bit of land and a tiny house for Michael and I.

Whatever the trigger, I feel as though our society is losing their authenticity. I feel as though too many people are acting, playing a role, presenting something they do not authentically feel to the world. Too many people worried about how their lives look, and not enough concerned with how they feel at the end of the day. Bigger houses, newer cars, the latest phone, more money, more things, less love, less touch, less authenticity.

I felt this way when I over-heard antidotes from two young women at a local coffee shop, of the strategic moves being made to secure a second, third and fourth date – covering off the silly things they were pretending to like or be interested in to seem more attractive to the potential mate. I found myself wondering if that is really how some people find a life-partner, or if I’d stumbled upon a more (thankfully) rare breed of singleton. Would it not be more advantageous – if the goal truly is to shack up with a life-mate – to be purely authentic from the get-go?! Okay, okay, maybe not allll of the crazy cards at once, but at the very least being straight about who you are, what your interests are, where you came from, where you’re going, where your heart lies and having the confidence to know that you’ll be okay whether or not the stranger across from you likes it or not. Wouldn’t you rather the person who loves you for life know YOU, all of you, the dark and the light in you? I don’t know if I could trust a love that didn’t know and accept the whole package. I feel we need more authentic love.

BeSeen

I felt this way during an interview where the interviewer seemed surprised at how many questions I had prepared. I let him know that I prepare for all of my interviews by making a list of all the details that are important for me to make a good decision in where to invest my time and talent. It opened a conversation about the shocking number of candidates that they have interviewed that did not understand it is as important to interview the company you’re applying to as much as they interview you; it helps to ensure the company matches your requirements as well or it will be a waste of both the company and employee’s time. I know I am a good self-advocate that can land a job by selling my skill set and experience, however I know first-hand the importance of being authentic in your work and wanting to make the best decision for your life goals. You give up so much of your life to your work, I believe you should somewhat love your life’s work. I feel we need more authentic work.

greatwork

I felt this way when I began to get more involved in the Moksha Yoga Cambridge community and had multiple ‘aha’ moments with the beautiful souls I have met there. The ‘aha’ of my soul as I recognized so much of myself – my true self – in them. That second family feel that reminds you that you’re not alone in the desires you have for the world, your communities, your family, friends. It made me realize that by living more authentically and searching for those outlets that feed my soul, I have in turn started to attract the kinds of people, opportunities and lifestyle I have been craving my whole life. It also made me realize how rare it is to find what I have found, that many people will never allow themselves to be open enough, vulnerable enough, and authentic enough to let who and what is meant for you, find you. I feel we need more authentic lives.

Amen!

I feel if we all followed our hearts a little more, learned to trust the universe a little more, searched for knowledge a little more, and especially lived a little more authentically, there would be a lot more fulfilled and happy souls in this world.

~ Toni

Sisterhood Spotlight: Greatist.com

When it comes to finding support for leading a healthy lifestyle, it’s hard to find a reliable source that isn’t pushing their own agenda or selling their own brand of get-fit-quick propaganda. While information is accessible everywhere from Google to Pinterest, I’ve come to know and love one particular fitness blog that seems to satisfy all areas of a healthy me – mind, body and soul.

Greatist.com is a blog that covers all areas of living a healthy lifestyle. It’s not focused on being skinny, losing weight, pills, quick fixes or fads. Greatist.com strictly focuses on over all health be it mental, physical or spiritual.

Greatest.com home page, May 23, 2014

Greatest.com home page, May 23, 2014

This specific blog is suited for anyone who is looking to live and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Every post is vetted to make sure the facts are based on a legitimate scientific study, that they are fun and easy to read, and that the information you are receiving is real. If you are interested in yoga, crossfit, running, healthy recipes, tips on how to manage stress, depression, a bad stroke of luck, tools to train your brain and help you ace that test, or even a daily workout, greatest.com is the site for you.

Personally, I opted in for the daily email – it’s a daily digest of posts containing an array  of topics and I find it a great reminder to get up and do something physically active, everyday (yes, even though today’s daily email was about drinking…).

The daily email - May 23, 2014

The daily email – May 23, 2014

I recommend greatest.com to anyone looking for tips, tricks and support on their journey of improving their overall health – you won’t be disappointed!

Happy, happy Friday from the Sisterhood!

~Toni