Ahimsa

"In our daily life, our attention is dispersed. Our body is in one place, our breath is ignored, and our mind is wandering. As soon as we pay attention to our breath, as we breath in, these three things - body, breath, and mind - come together. This can happen in just one or two seconds. You come back to yourself. Your awareness brings these three elements together, and you become fully present in the here and now. You are taking care of your body, you are taking care of your breath, and you are taking care of your mind.  

When you make a soup, you have to add together all of the right ingredients in harmony and let them simmer. Our breath is the broth that brings the different elements together. We bathe spirit and mind in our breath and they become integrated so they are one thing. We are whole.  

We don't need to control our body, mind, and breath. We can just be there for them. We allow them to be themselves. This is non-violence." 

                                                             - from "How to Sit," by Thich Nhat Hanh 

 

'Failure'

I was reminded (again) today that it is ok to fail.

I was also told this little tidbit - which I absolutely love:

"Please take my advice, I'm not using it." ;)

In every yoga class that I teach, as the participants grit their teeth and clench their jaws and scrunch their toes and muscle into the poses, I ask them "what would happen if you fail? Truly. What would happen if, at this moment, you are not able to do the pose to the level you *think* you should, and instead you meet yourself where you are. You embrace the current moment, for all of it's glory and 'failure'." And as I watch, I see a softening occur. The breath deepens. A smile touches the corners of the face, the hairline and temples relax. You see, it is not really a failure, more of a learning about ourselves moment - how will we react when faced with 'failure' - can we continue to feel love and be love and spread love.

I had set off with lofty goals for the summer, and as we are now approaching August(!) I can definitely take a look back and think - wow, I have really failed at these goals. And this is where I have been for the past month or so. Now, from an outsiders perspective, I haven't failed at all! A successful yoga retreat a few weekends ago, lots of breakthroughs, an awesome live music yoga class that I taught, connections being formed, bonds being created, truly enjoying the summer :) And yet I have been in this place of feeling like "BUT you didn't get x, y, z completed so..."

So. That's just it. So. I'm taking back my power. I will not be paralyzed by the fear of 'failure' - Every new moment, every new breath, is just that - NEW! A chance to grab the reigns and move forward at the pace I choose, noticing how each moment effects the next. To ride the wave of inhale and exhale, to chose to be present with the 'failures' I have - to always choose love over fear.

 

Look at all these happy yogi's after our live music class with Ley Line on July 26!  

Look at all these happy yogi's after our live music class with Ley Line on July 26!  

Like attracts Like

I was never one to believe right away - I, in fact, prided myself on not being guiable - that was always my sister Kelli's role ;) When I began practicing yoga, there were a lot of things that I didn't "believe in" at first... like om-ing. I thought the om at the end of class was soooo cheesy and weird. Another thing that I didn't love was savasana - "ugh," I would think, "we just have to LAY here? What a waste of time!" And, in all honesty, I still have trouble lying still sometimes, even after 14 years of practicing savasana! 

What I've discovered for myself over time is that I need to do the things that I know will make me feel better - even if I don't want to - instead of falling back into habit of things that won't. And I've just figured out that, for me, those things are: practicing yoga, meditating, eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, hiking in the woods, lying in the sun, snuggling with my animals, and surrounding myself with people that are positive and up lifting. As I've invited these things into my life, other things that weren't so desirable began to fall to the side - relationships that weren't fulfilling, habits that I didn't enjoy, and even feelings of self-doubt and negativity that I had towards myself. I began to notice that as I chose to surround myself with inspiration, I then became inspired. Chose to be around people that are kind, I started to be kinder, to love more. Find people that are enchanted with life, and I became enchanted. Of course, it's a process - as my lovely Healthy Aging yoga student Martha says "We call that L-I-F-E, life" - and it's nice to have the evidence in my own life that the law of attraction is a real thing. I hope you are able to find these things for yourself, and enjoy this crazy journey.       

      

Gratitude

Zoom out.

I learned about the 10,000 ft approach when I was living in Dallas, working for an architecture firm. The idea is, when you're too close to something, when you are really IN IT, it can be hard to see out. Gratitude can be this way - sometimes we forget about the amazing life that we are living because we are in it, every day, every night. Sometimes we just need a little nudge, a reminder to step back and give thanks for the things (even tiny ones - petting a cat, or noticing a pretty flower) that make our day great. It seems overwhelming at first, or maybe even cheesy - and there is evidence that it works!

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"Expressing and experiencing gratitude is an important part of any spiritual practice. It opens the heart and activates positive emotional centers in the brain. Regular practice of gratitude can change the way our brain neurons fire into more positive automatic patterns. The positive emotions we evoke can smooth, destress, and broaden our thinking patterns so we develop a larger and more expansive view of our lives. Gratitude is an emotion of connectedness, which reminds us we are part of a larger universe with all living things." 

- Melanie Greeberg, Psychologist

You can try it out this week - You might even start to see the silver lining in the things that "go wrong" or you don't want to do - it's a practice, just like anything else. The thing that we practice is the thing we will get good at :) 

Journey

"Don't stop, believing... Hold on to that feeling..." ok, not that journey - though they are awesome ;) We're talking about the journey of life, the path, whatever you want to call it. What I've noticed in my life is that the same lessons resurface over and over, until they are cleared out and dealt with. It's awesome, because all of our life experiences have brought us to this point, and the things we are thinking, doing, and acting on now will shape our future. Super cool and powerful stuff! It's sounds so simple - we all know this about our journey, and sometimes it's nice to have that reminder.

photo: Lindsay France for Mighty Yoga Look at all of the smiling faces in this picture! I love it - I love watching each of you on your journey each week :) 

photo: Lindsay France for Mighty Yoga

Look at all of the smiling faces in this picture! I love it - I love watching each of you on your journey each week :) 

This week I've been asking people in class to think back upon the week and, without judgement, think of one thing per day that was just great, and then offer gratitude to that thing. You can do it too! You might even decide to write down each day's thing - it doesn't have to be a giant thing, just something that you feel was a great part of your day.

There's an awesome lady that attends my healthy aging class at Cornell, and after I asked my class to practice this she said "Rachel, is it ok for me to share mine from Monday?" Of course! She went on to describe how on Monday she had finished an afghan she was making for a friend, she sent it out on Tuesday in the mail, and upon receiving the afghan on Thursday the friend called with all of the most wonderful adjectives to describe how the afghan made her feel. <3 <3 <3

I feel so inspired by that :) and also by this -one of my absolute favorite poems by Mary Oliver:

 "One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice, though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. "Mend MY life!" each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with it's stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night - the road full of fallen branches and stones.

But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice, which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do - determined to save the only life you could save."

Have a great week everyone! 

Xo, R

Beginner's Mind

I've mentioned it in class before, it's in my bio for Mighty Yoga, and sometimes I feel it breathing down the back of my neck - I'm a "recovering" type-A perfectionist. I've been thinking about this a lot lately in relation to teaching yoga and keeping in touch with those of you who have left Ithaca - I miss you guys! I love making personal connections with people, sharing this awesome practice of yoga with y'all, and I've got some really cool stuff happening that I want to keep you up to date on. I've been thinking, and processing, and trying to figure it out... trying to make it "perfect" - trying to become "an expert" before I put myself out there. And then I was reminded of this Suzuki quote, one of my favorites:  

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." - Suzuki

So powerful. Beginner's Mind. You do NOT need to know all of the things, all of the time, nor do you need to be doing all of the things at 110% all of the time!

That's what we call burn out ;)

I've created a plan - and I'm really hoping it works - AND it might not. And I'm ok with that! A huge lesson for me in yoga has been to meet myself and my students where we are, on that day, in that moment. I might head to class thinking "ok, I'm going to teach this sequence, in this particular way" and then I get to class, center on the breathe, we begin to move, I read the room and... Listen. Observe. Be in the moment. All the planning goes out the window. So, I am going to try to stick with my plan: keep this blog updated with my weekly yoga themes, yoga tips, inspirations, etc, along with keeping my HeartThreadYoga Instagram account updated, and I've also created a Facebook group where we can all share in our journey together. I'm putting it out there, and we will see what happens. I got some great advice last week: There is no such thing as perfection, so it's useless to strive for perfection. Instead, try for excellence in that moment." 

Thanks for coming along with me on the ride - growing, learning, living!

Much love - xoxo

R