BIG YOGA BLOG
Friday, May 24, 2013
by Angela Venegas, Big Teacher Empowerment Program Graduate
I am in a training class for my job, my 8-5 and as we are learning today about making changes in a reservation my Instructor said: After you hit the change key everything is new.
It has an A-HA moment because today is the Monday after the end of my yoga teacher training from Big Yoga in Houston. I can confirm that what my instructor said today in class is so true.
I know this because since February through my Yoga teacher training I have learned that yes; after you hit the change key in your brain & heart everything IS new.
What does that mean necessarily? Well for me it became a path for CHOICE. The choice on what thoughts I kept and what thoughts I send to the trash. I am not saying it was easy for me, sometimes the previous thoughts would try to come back like recycled material!
Then whoops back to the trash, thoughts of doubts like: my legs are strong but my arms are weak, yet I am able to do a handstand and then choosing to acknowledge my strong arms were holding up these muscular legs! Thoughts like discounting family members, even forgetting their existence and running into them in the middle of teacher training at TJ Maxx. Then choosing to say Hi and extend love towards them when before the opposite would have happened, my choice in LOVE resulted in love RETURNED. Wow, true story. Choosing to have a REAL connection with my brother and getting a real connection back. Discovering the ANSWERS I had been frantically searching for were always inside of ME. What?
These things happened, I mean they really happened and the crazy part was it was MY CHOICE. It all comes full circle for me knowing everything I will stumble on will be an opportunity for something new, even if they are not all actually new. What I do know now and can confirm is that YES when you hit the CHANGE key everything and anything is possible.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Good thing I know that these are just my thoughts. And yes, they seem very real, and they are the experience I am having right now. And I know they are just my thoughts. The space behind thought is absolutely limitless. This limitless space is where creativity, personal connection, exploration, and all GREAT ideas have come from. It is the thoughts that run through our heads day after day that keep us from tapping into that limitlessness. Have you ever noticed that the thoughts that limit you are 90 percent “repeat” thoughts? These are thoughts that you have had before (maybe in different forms) about the problems, limits, and situations that are blocking you from your own happiness? Original, creative contributions come to life when action is taken without allowing the limiting, “repeat” thoughts to be enough to hold you back. The tricky thing is, the limiting thoughts sometimes present themselves with the disguise of being “helpful”, or “reasonable”. This is why noticing your repeat thoughts is so powerful! When you notice a thought that has limited you in the past, you can catch it. Even if that thought sounds comforting or safe. An example of this type of thought for me is, “This is not for me. I will let someone else shine here” (and then I may even be secretly jealous of that person who is shining!). Another example is, “I only have enough time to do a few things, I would rather spend my energy on something else”. These thoughts may seem like they are coming from a place of being for others, and myself, when in fact they are coming from a place of fear and lacking.
Holding back, hiding, and jealously are the opposite of being of service. Letting your creativity flow so you can be a contribution (regardless of the potential judgment of others) if being of service. Being of service requires being in action, and selfless action can be taken only when the choice is being made to act independent of unconscious thought. I have wanted to write a blog for years (literally, YEARS) now, and I haven’t. And you know the only thing that has stopped me? My thoughts. The negative, fear-based thoughts I shared in the beginning of this blog. I have had everything I needed to write a blog. There has been nothing stopping me from doing this simple thing, except my thoughts.
One of my teachers once told me “fear is simply the belief that what happens in the future is going to be bad”. I think it is amazing that our brains are so quick to label things that may possibly happen in the future to be “bad”. We are programmed to want things to be easy, come quickly, and to turn out as we plan. We fear that we won’t achieve what we set out to achieve, we fear that someone will judge out work or what we have to offer, we fear that we will lose what we have deemed valuable in our comfort zones. And the thing that makes these things “bad” is that our brains have decided (unconsciously) that things should be a different way. And haven’t most of the most powerful experiences in your life come as a result of the messy, unpredictable, would-have-been-avoided-if-I-had-been-able-to-choose moments situations in your life? It is our fear that defines situations in our life as “bad”. What if we instead could always derive inspiration, creativity, and experience from these situations? What if we could even derive inspiration, creativity and experience from the “bad” thoughts we have had? Yes, the limiting thoughts I have had in the past have kept me from doing what I wanted to do, and yet if I hadn’t had them, I would not have any material to write this very blog!
Fear blocks creativity, and fear can also serve as inspiration. What if your fear is just something telling you that you are on the right track? Your ability to use fear to your advantage simply depends on if you are present enough to notice that you are not the thoughts that go through your head. You are actually the limitless space behind your thoughts. We are blessed to be living at a time where we are getting better and better at this as a society and individuals. We are realizing that it is up to us. We can let fear hold us back, or we can let fear be a sign that it is time to unleash our creativity and move into something new. Your brain may tell you that what you have to offer is not good, not enough, or won’t be well received. Move forward anyways. The thing that you are not expressing may be the exact thing that someone else needs to hear to be inspired. Your expression of the truth is powerful. Let your calling to let your light shine be more powerful than your desire to “get it right” and stay “safe”. Everything you do has the potential to be a creative expression of who you are, because it has never been done before! Change your relationship with fear by taking action, and knowing that you are of service when you are in your fullest, unique expression! I will end my first ever blog with one of my favorite quotes from Marianne Willamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
A big thanks to Mastin Kipp for having the courage to share on his blog, The Daily Love, every day. His blog this morning is what inspired me to write mine. If you don’t already subscribe to The Daily Love, do it now by clicking here!
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I’m a doer; efficient, in control, and futuristic. While these qualities are all great to have, they do, at times, prevent me from slowing down and living in the moment. Yin yoga has offered me the space to do exactly that: slow down and listen.
I began practicing yin yoga at a time when I was dealing with immense heartbreak. They say, “The teacher appears when the student is ready”. And that couldn’t be a better representation of my yin journey. The yin practice created space for compassion, forgiveness, and most importantly healing.
I’ll never forget this one moment in class (and I’m sure Rhia, my teacher, won’t either!) during a “seal” pose. I had the most volatile, irritating, make-your-face-cringe experience. I was downright ANGRY during this 5-minute backbend. I couldn’t find my breath. I didn’t stop moving (stillness is a key principle in yin yoga). And I literally wanted to scream. This lasted several minutes after we released the pose and into a conversation following class. “It was a release in your liver meridian.” (Read: whatever that was…it was WILD!) I soon came to learn that the liver governs growth and development, drive and desires, ambitions and creativity. And, that any obstruction of liver energy can cause intense feelings of frustration, rage, and anger. What I experienced on my mat that day needed to happen in order to move forward in my healing. Oddly enough, “seal” is now one of my favorite poses.
Because yin yoga bypasses muscles and works deep into ligaments and joints, a lot, and I mean a LOT can be stuck in those areas. The long holds help stimulate healing, lubricate joints, and increase range of motion. Along with these physical benefits, yin yoga creates an intimate space for my mind to quiet, my body to be still, and my heart to open more fully.
Monday, February 25, 2013
by Connie Boyd, triumphant 40 Days finisher
It’s Day 41 and there is debris everywhere. There’s been a revolution.
It all started a couple months ago when I felt this nagging sensation that something in my life wasn’t quite right. I did a quick mental inventory - husband, three kids and a dog. Check. Stable job, flourishing career, interesting work. Check. House in a nice neighborhood, two cars, and enough computers, gadgets, consumer electronics and material possessions to pass the time. Check. Family, friends and meaningful personal relationships. Check. Everything seemed so perfect.
So I decided the problem was the “baby weight” I’d accumulated over seven years and three kids, and I signed up for 40 Days. Then, what started out as a way to kickstart a little more physical activity in my life turned into something altogether different and a lot bigger than I had expected.
It started with attention.
I downloaded Baron’s book to my Kindle, right after the first pre-meeting before the official start of Day 1. In just a few pages, it dawned on me that I had just spent the last several years sleepwalking on the treadmill of my perfect life as wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, boss, employee. I saw the pattern of my life unfold, the cycle of five days of readying kids for school, working, and then readying them for bed. The five days leading up to two days of activities, lessons, birthday parties, grocery shopping, errands and laundry. The seven days repeated 51 more times each year. My life as a succession of colored beads strung in an infinite loop.
On my mat, I heard Nancy, Laura, Jenny and all the teachers at Big tell me that I was perfect just the way I was. Here, now, sweaty, uncoordinated, overweight. I eventually let myself believe it, and the first bits of shrapnel from this revolution started to fly. My inner cynic died every time I heard someone say, “Know that you’re perfect, just as you are, right now.”
In my meditations, I learned to recognize that some of the best parts of myself - spontaneity, thirst for adventure, courage - had been dormant, asleep under the heavy burdens of responsibility, achievement and appearances. I also realized that these burdens came with an exhausting regime of self criticism, impatience and expectations. I saw that expectations resulted in frustration, contention and ultimately disappointment.
Surprisingly, I realized that I wasn’t alone. Each week in our group meetings, I heard others shed their Type A personalities and to-do lists. I learned that there were others like me, wrapped up in fear of failure, indulging in a little self loathing, labeling ourselves in ways that we would never label others. Each breakthrough shared in the meetings, whether shared by me or others, helped peel off another layer of debris.
From attention, I moved to intention. Rather than setting goals for yet even more life achievements, I focused instead on acting purposefully, on resisting the mindless flow of habit. The cleanse was a perfectly timed exercise in intention. I noticed the difference between boredom and hunger, stress and hunger, and social pressure and hunger; I let that differentiation guide my choices, I remembered my intention, and when the time came, I didn’t judge myself for that handful of emergency nuts.
Seventeen years ago, I told my then-boyfriend now-husband that I felt like I had been looking out a dirty window my whole life, and that meeting him made me feel like someone had finally wiped a spot clean so I could see properly. I could feel the excitement of that same sentiment start to build up in me again with each new day of the program. And I could see that my budding relationship with myself was helping me to recapture more meaningful connections with the people around me.
Before the start of the program, I earned a promotion at work, and received an internal job offer to move to London. I was on the verge of rejecting the opportunity, overwhelmed by the thought of uprooting my life, moving away from my parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and friends. Of selling my “20-year house,” of moving out of a neighborhood we’d scrimped and saved to get into. Of getting off the treadmill of my imperfect life to venture into territories unknown and unencountered. London? I’ve never even been there. How could I make a change like this?
Then, during the program, I met a girl who inspired me. A girl who trained at a muay thai gym that didn’t train girls. A girl who signed up for the MS-150 before she even owned a bike, and then completed the ride three more times. A girl who hated running but ran a 20K anyway. A girl who barely knew how to swim but went whitewater rafting down the Ocoee River and then learned to kayak. A girl who somehow, after a husband, three kids and a dog, had fallen asleep and forgotten that life’s greatest adventure can only happen when you’re truly awake.
From intention to invention. To creating a new life for myself and my family that allows space for the parts of myself that I love the best, to creating a practice that helps me wake up every morning with the excitement and optimism of Day 1 and to go to bed every night with the triumph of Day 40.
Thanks to all of you who walked this path with me.
Thursday, February 07, 2013
Are these common excuses you make to yourself to justify not getting on your mat? Do you often feel that you’re too tired or too busy to actually make it to yoga? Well, the good news is two-fold: (1) you’re not alone; (2) there are some simple tools to help you get on your mat more often.
First: simplify the process of getting to your mat. For instance, you could always have your yoga mat and yoga clothes in your car. Or I like to pack my yoga bag at night so that it isn’t an additional thing to do each morning (the extra 5 minutes of sleep is necessary!). This could also be keeping snacks (almonds are great!) in your car so that your growling stomach doesn’t deter you.
Second, you ask? Eliminate your exceptions. Your stomach is growling on your way to yoga, what do you do? That’s why those almonds are there. Eat a few almonds, instead of ending up at Whole Foods. (You can always hit up Whole Foods or your other favorite eatery after class). Common exceptions that people (myself included) make are being too tired or too busy or having other plans. However, the trick is not only realizing your common excuses, but determining what triggers them. For instance, my common excuse is a combination of “I’m too tired” and “I have too much to do”. And whenever I go home between work and yoga I notice that this excuse quickly rises to the front of my mind. Going home is my trigger. Therefore, I’ve cut the trigger out and go straight to yoga from work. What exceptions do you make and what triggers them? Once you know, eliminate your trigger and the exception will go with it.
The third tool is, in my opinion, the most useful tool. Get present to what your practice brings you and what yoga means to you. It may just be physical, but notice the next time on your mat or when you’ve finished practicing if there are any additional benefits you get from yoga. I’m not going to list the benefits of yoga here – what you get from your practice is unique to you. For me, stepping on my mat and breathing brings my mind away from the to-dos and conversations of the day; I’m able to turn any bad day around. Once you realize what you get out of your practice, write it down! Write it on a post-it note and place it where you’ll see it. Maybe that's in your car or on your mirror or next to your alarm clock for that early morning class. The more you see it the more you’ll remember that getting on your mat is taking care of yourself! Even better idea? Take a picture of your post-it note and make it your home screen on your smart phone. Then you’ll have it as a constant reminder.
There are some additional things you can add to this toolset. Enroll a friend or family member to go to class with you. Relying on each other is helpful to ensure you both get on your mat. Also, be willing to spend your class in child’s pose. It is still yoga as long as you’re present on your mat and breathing! So on those days when you’re feeling exhausted, just take care of yourself in class…and you may surprise yourself with how much new energy you have when you’re done! If you’re a planner, add your daily yoga practice to your calendar. But (super important here!) give up some control and bring in flexibility in case things don’t go as planned! So you didn’t wake up for 6:15 am yoga. SO WHAT? Take a class later in the day.
And that leads to the most important rule. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. If you miss a class, if you miss a whole week, don’t beat yourself up. Simply get back on your mat.
You now have the tools and the final task is here. Get on your mat today and breathe!
Thursday, November 15, 2012
by Laura Calcaterra
They are the first people you meet when you walk in the studio. They are the last ones to jump in the class after making sure you are properly set up. They keep our space looking clean and impeccable, amidst a swarm of sweaty bodies. Our front room staff is truly made up of some the coolest and inspiring people we know, and we want you to get to know them too! Read more about them below, and be sure to say hi when you see them behind the desk!
Meet your newest front room super hero, Mike!
Do you have a nickname?
How did you find Big Yoga?
A friend told me!
What are you up to outside of the studio (hobbies, other work, school, etc)?
Right now I work in an office downtown, but my true passion is telling stories through video and photography. I also love to travel, be outdoors, try new foods and meet new people.
Favorite Kombucha flavor?
What's on your favorite pre-yoga playlist?
Lately it's been Of Monsters and Men, Fun., Imagine Dragons and some Florence and the Machine. (oh yea, and Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen)
What is the biggest (most rewarding!) part of your job at Big Yoga?
My favorite part about my job at Big Yoga is being able to welcome newcomers to the studio. When I first came to Big Yoga, there was a friendly smiling person waiting to greet me. I love being that person for others.
One more fun fact you would like us to know about you?
My favorite accessory is my backpack. It has traveled with me to countless US States, Mexico, Ecuador, France and India.
Meet your amazing front room superwoman, Jenny!
Do you have a nickname?
no nickname - but when I tell people I am Jenny Craig I either get a laugh and they ask of that's my real name, or if I am related to THE Jenny Craig.
How did you find Big Yoga?
I met nancy through my friend Cristina Houston on New Years 2011. I found out what she was up to and really wanted to be a part of it!
What are you up to outside the studio (hobbies, other work, school, etc)?
I’m a big fan of music festivals, decorating my house, a really good antique find, playing with my two mini schnauzers, dinner with awesome friends and spending time with my husband.
Favorite Kombucha flavor?
My favorite kombucha is the goodness by kickin. hands down. But I will drink any flavor because it is that delicious. boom.
What's on your favorite pre-yoga playlist?
When I listen to music before class I really like songs that I can sing along with and that makes me happy. the head and the heart, Edward sharpe and the magnetic zeros, Mumford and sons, young the giant etc...
What is the biggest (most rewarding!) part of your job at Big Yoga?
The thing I love most about working at Big Yoga is just being part of something that empowers people and helps them do something they never thought possible! I love seeing their faces after class, all smiles and full of bliss.
One more fun fact you would like us to know about you?
I don't take life too seriously and love having a good time. I love making people laugh and will do almost anything to get a chuckle. :V
Sunday, July 29, 2012
by Dan Houston, Big Yoga Teacher
Last Friday marked my second visit to the prison unit in Cleveland, Texas – the future location of my first community yoga program. Once again, my excitement and anxiety upon entering the unit, and hearing the sliding steel doors closing behind me, were palpable.
During my first visit, I had the honor of witnessing a cohort of men graduating from a unique and inspiring entrepreneurship-based program, which was organized and implemented by an equally amazing organization called The Prison Entrepreneur Program (or PEP). So, with a scant understanding of prison life, the organization itself, or the great efforts the men had undertaken, I was privileged enough to meet the men at the end of their PEP journey.
I’ve recently learned that my yoga program will be offered for these new graduates, and will be optional for current program participants. Though I certainly felt a sense of elation and excitement upon hearing this, I admit there was also a latent, selfish feeling of defeat. The misplaced perfectionist in me couldn’t resist the question: “Why not offer the program for ALL prisoners? Surely yoga is beneficial for everyone, right?”
My second visit to the unit presented a completely different set of circumstances and emphatically answered this question. This time I would be meeting and interacting with men at the very beginning of their PEP journey – men who had just arrived to the unit, and who still held a great deal of nervous fear, frustration, and skepticism about both the program and visitors’ motivations for reaching out.
I quickly discovered that the prisoners had a driving question of their own: “Why would you want to visit us, especial knowing that we can’t offer you anything?”
The power and honesty of the question was so incisive that it made my previous disappointment feel juvenile and silly. I quick noticed that, perhaps as a quick remedy to avoid any awkwardness or to reveal any venal characteristics of their person, others offered a rapid-fire response. They’d say, “I come here because I feel so much love,” or “My heart truly loves you!”
While I too hold these sentiments to be true, and attach no judgments to the individuals who offer them, I pray that this truth can serve as a gateway to the deeper elements of my being.
Why then did I return to the unit, and why will I continue to be a “repeat attender”? Again, I admit selfish reasons for visiting the prisoners – namely, they help me understand that all humans are essentially the same; they serve as mirrors into my own humanity, especially the darker areas; and, they encourage humility by forcing me to check my own ego and appreciate my freedom. Amazingly, each of these points was demonstrated through my first conversation with a 28-year-old man named Daniel (who actually looked a lot like me).
The visit to the unit made me soberly aware of the raw and authentic nature of each and every man there. Yet, it was also mentally and emotionally taxing to understand that individuals could know a life of perpetual pain, violence and (in many cases) familial neglect. In trying to formulate and explain my thoughts and experiences of the visit, I became frustrated and saddened. My mind repeatedly ruminated over the great difference between the two cohorts.
Eventually, my wife reminded me of an important symbol in the context of teaching yoga. The Lotus Flower –a beautiful flower grown up out of the mire and mud of the earth – represents the most perfect example that bridged the ground between the transformed PEP graduates and the raw inductees. I’m so thankful that she offered this notion because it helped me to contextualize and dissolve my own angst in dealing with the sadness I had experienced.
More importantly, though, this analogy reminded me of what I’ve always known: It is possible that great beauty can grow up out of great tragedy and pain. I’m so looking forward to creating a space for new seeds to burst up out of the mud of their lives.
“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Why I took my shoes off and walked 3800 stone steps, and why you should not miss Gaura Vani at Big Yoga.
Monday, July 16, 2012
by Sarah Martin, Big Yoga teacher
There's something about India. You've probably heard that. You probably are also in one of two camps: 1. You can't wait to set your feet on Indian soil and are just waiting for the right opportunity to do so; or 2. You don't understand why on earth anyone would want to go to such a dirty, poverty-stricken country. And if you're in 2. you also probably immediately ask people who just came back from India "did you get sick?". I was in camp 2. for a long time. And then, all of a sudden, I was in 1. I was in New York, working on my 500-hour teaching certification, and I was around a bunch of people with open hearts, or at least hearts which were ready to be open...and working on it. One of those people was Gaura Vani. I had heard about him, and listened to his music during yoga classes that I took. I was ready for a trip to India, and I happened to be looking at Gaura's website (why on earth I was doing that, I don't know, but I think it involved the universe and the plan for me)...and there it was, a trip to South India in spring 2012.
Fast-forward, and I'm crying my eyes out on a bus on the way to a Barata Natyam performance in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. India, if you'll pardon my French, has kicked my ass. I won't go into why, but let's just say that the whole experience of being in India will break you down quickly, whether it's the abject poverty, the noise, the cows in the streets, the beggars, or, probably most of all, the beauty in spite of all of this. And I'm mad at Gaura Vani, the co-leader of our retreat group, because I feel that he was the one who set me off. To be clear: he was not, but I needed a scapegoat. The next day, even though Gaura knew, because he knows everything, that my hot tears were misdirected, he came to me and told me that he was my servant, and his goal was to make sure that I had the best experience possible in India. My heart melted, and I let go...or at least I thought I did. I let go of a lot that morning, because Gaura Vani's sweet words and bear hugs let you know it's safe to be open.
Fast-forward again to Tirupati, the home of Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. This is a serious temple--75,000 pilgrims visit there every day. You can drive up to to take darshan (view) the presiding deity of the temple, Sri Balaji, or you can climb the 3800 stone steps to show your devotion. You guessed it, our group was taking the long route. And everyone was barefoot, except me and one other person who shall go nameless. Barefoot?!! Up 3800 stone steps in INDIA? I thought they were *nuts*. No way, man. We stopped at a little area as we began our ascent to make little stone "houses" that look like the cairns you see on a hike to guide your way. The local story is that you make a home in Tirupati so that you always have a home to go to. At that moment, building my "house", I looked up at Gaura, and I felt his devotion, and his openness to love in everyone and everything, and I truly let go. I took off my Merrells, tied the laces to my backback, and took off, barefoot.
I feel so thankful to have spent two weeks in Gaura Vani's company. His attitude of service--complete lack of selfishness and his open devotion to serving others in the name of the divine--inspires me every day to be better, to open my heart, to believe in the beauty of connection. Do not miss Gaura Vani's visit to Big Yoga on August 11 if you are searching. You know who you are.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
by Marcy Kurtz, Big Yoga teacher
At first glance, you may be wondering what the heck these three things have in common, right? Well, if you don’t know that WOO-HOO! is the encouraged expression of choice EVERY time we get into utkatasana, or fierce pose (also know as chair pose by some), during a class, then you just haven’t yet gotten to experience your first class at BIG YOGA! Some smiling happy teacher yells out “UTKATASANA,” and a bunch of yogis yell back “WOO-HOO!”. Of course, not all the yogis are smiling. Some are wearing a serious mask of determination and focus. It may also depend on whether we’re on our first utkatasana or our fifth or our tenth or …well, you get the idea.
One thing is certain though, Big Yoga truly embraces freedom of expression--whether that’s done through our voices when we yell out woo-hoo in utkatasana, or follow a gentle instruction to audibly “sigh out” our breath between challenging poses, or are inspired by example to add our own personal touch to a particular asana or pose. Big Yoga even encourages personal expression by supporting its community of tight-knit yogis in the myriad of civic and charitable endeavors in which they are involved. In fact, Big Yoga makes it a point to also become fully involved in those activities with its yoga family. Paraphrasing the words of a well known yoga guru, Baron Baptiste, Big Yoga is definitely being a “yes” in many ways, but particularly in supporting freedom of expression.
What better month/day to honor that freedom than July, and the 4th of July in particular? We live in a country that can be distinguished from most others simply because of our first amendment right to freedom of expression. A yoga teacher I truly admire (not from Big Yoga) recently told me of an adventure he and his friend set out to accomplish. They wished to attend one class in every single yoga studio in town. So, they sat down and made their list—looking at various studios in the Houston area by searching the internet. The “rules” from the very first studio they examined included the reminder that yogis should minimize loud sighing or making any audible noises with their breath. My teacher friend was laughing as he was recounting that story, as he, too, encourages students to grunt, groan, sigh out their breath or simply do what it takes to make their practice enjoyable. While a rule-based approach to yoga may suit some, my friend was discouraged by this restriction. Simply by acknowledging what you want (and don’t want) from your practice, you are able to create an additional level of freedom for yourself. I told him…COME TO BIG YOGA! At Big Yoga, freedom of expression is highly encouraged!
So, as we celebrate our country and our freedom—especially our freedom of expression-- on the 4th of July and through the month, I am grateful for the freedom of expression right here at home, in my yoga studio where I practice daily and get to scream out woo-hoo (or not :) when I don’t feel like it!), sigh out my day loudly and often, and do whatever I need to do on my mat to work out my day and connect with my soul. I do come to yoga to quiet my mind…but not necessarily to quiet my voice!
Monday, June 18, 2012
by Laura Calcaterra, Big Yoga Co-owner (attended Baptiste Level 1 Teacher Training June 9-16th)
"We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself." -- Lloyd Alexander
This quote appeared fatefully on my Facebook newsfeed as I sat in the Phoenix airport awaiting the flight that would take me back to Texas and my (awesome!) post-Baptiste Level 1 life. It describes my learnings from the training in a perfect, well-written nutshell.
My excitement was BIG leading up to this training, like REALLY BIG- but I soon realized that my excitement wasn’t entirely innocent and carefree. The thing about excitement, I’ve learned, is that it is often based on predetermined expectations. After just 24 hours of sweating, meditating, and digging deep into the trenches of my thoughts, I uncovered:
a) that I had some pretty strong expectations for this training and
b) that these expectations were not serving me and were in fact holding me back
I expected to find answers- answers to questions like:
Am I a powerful yoga teacher?
How can I be a better yoga teacher?
What changes do I need to make in my personal life to be completely happy? What needs to stay the same?
There were even questions that I am afraid to admit I had (all the more reason to share them, I’ve discovered!) such as,
How do I get people to like my classes?
How do I get people to like me?
These expectations are like poison- they have the power to frame every action I take, to manipulate the words I speak in my yoga classes, and most definitely to bring heavy, interrupting thoughts into my clarity-seeking meditations.
It became clear by day 2 of Level 1 that the answers I was seeking would not just magically appear like a quote on Facebook. You might think that this realization would cause me to feel defeated (and I most certainly did, for a brief moment). But then I became present to the more exciting realization that living from a place of uncertainty, trust, and curiosity is a LOT easier (and happier, and more powerful, and more effective!) than needing to know the answers.
This realization brings me new freedom, even BIGGER excitement, and will without a doubt bring joy and success into my post-Level 1 life. I don’t know what joy and success will look like in my future, but I know I will have a lot more fun figuring it out if I simply drop my expectations.
My way of being, rather than my circumstances, will change because of this training. And I’m wildly excited to come back and serve my community from a new, empowered way of being and connecting!
Baron says, ‘Give up what you must in order to be a yes to your life’. What could you give up RIGHT NOW in order to get out of your own way and live a life of freedom and possibility? At Big Yoga we are here to empower you to do just that, both on and off the mat. We are not here to give you the answers to your life- we are here to help you realize you don’t need them. All you need is to live fully and BIG!
- Hitting the Change Key
- My First Ever Blog: Fear Blocks Creativity, and Fear Inspires Creativity!
- Slow down and listen.
- "You Say You Want a Revolution..."
- Get Your Yoga On. Daily.
- It's a bird... It's a plane... It's our front room super heroes!
- Growth of the Lotus Flower
- Why I took my shoes off and walked 3800 stone steps, and why you should not miss Gaura Vani at Big Yoga.
- Woo-hoo! Big Yoga and the 4th of July
- Baptiste Level 1: A Reflection