Even the smallest of changes can bring on learning, re-ignite a spark or become a big reminder as to why you started something in the first place. It amazes me the lessons and discoveries in life the universe brings so that it can teach us, humble us and remind us of the directions that we come from so that we can continue to walk our paths, learn and grow.
Many of you know that the seed of my yoga practice, my “many” current chosen paths in life initially derived from the fact that I had become ill. As part of my recovery, (let’s call it that because life is so different now for me), the gift of yoga was given to me by a dear friend well over 17 some odd years now. The journey at first was very difficult, and it humbled me many times along the way and to this day still it manages to do so and my friends the act of being humbled is a good thing. The struggles in my practice, my teachings, in my life in general, work as a reminder that I am not done, there is more I need to learn, more I need to challenge, more I have to accomplish and more I need to help and share.
As an example… last week, during Karma Week I went off my path, not big, but definitely off my path. What lead me to this deviation in not important, I chose the path of “reaction” as opposed to standing strong and keeping my course and going with what I know and believe in.
Brief personal history for those that don’t know, I am not listing them as badges, because they do not identify me as who I am… over 18 years ago, I was diagnosed with Chronic, pain, stress anxiety, depression, fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Scleroderma, Psoriatic Arthritis, Irritable Bowl Syndrome, migraines, hyper-chemical sensitivity, just to name a few. My body had broken down, to where I was incontinent, both bowl and bladder, it took me hours just to get around and move, I was on eight different medications, and felt pretty helpless and out of control. That was THEN…. This is NOW, I no longer take any of the medications I was once prescribed, I believe that my Chronic illnesses are at bay, I have moments of stress, depression, anxiety… I would be lying if I said I didn’t, I am human after all it is normal. However, I have learned tools that help me to keep my life in balance. Am I perfect? Oh heck no… but I think that is what brings the beauty and strength out in all of us… we stand, we fall, we get back up and we go again…. (side note… never give up, you’re worth it). Back then, I made a list of what I needed to “regain control of in my life”, and worked with the priorities that were at hand and as those priorities came up on the scale of importance. When I started, I was a “round-body”, today I am a bit smaller, but still a “round-body”, but a pretty darn healthy, strong, energetic one. Lists change. There are two current priorities on my personal list. One is to sort through my “round-body” a little, and the other is to do something for me… I can’t say what that is yet, but I am excited and promise I will share as soon as I can.
I digress, let me go back to what I learned or was reminded of.
What initially sparked me to open a studio was that I had learned tools that truly helped me to feel better and regain a quality of life that I had once lost. Having a business is difficult when it comes from the heart, because of real world obligations (paying mortgages/rents etc.,) you can sometimes allow that to take over a little and get caught up in what’s happening in “outside” world, rather than what is going on within.
Having a business that derives from peoples “residual” income can be difficult at the best of times let alone the not so best of times. So keeping that in mind, I changed the structure in which students can pay to make it easier, more affordable, and have held strong to the philosophy that, “if a student really feels that they need yoga and cannot afford but is willing to commit to a steady practice, we can always work something out. Never let cost become the factor, of if you should or shouldn’t look after you. There is always a way, to work things out.”
HERE IS WHERE I WENT OF MY PATH… in a fear reaction of what is happening in the outside world with cut-backs, layoffs, more studio’s in the area, a community that is offering free or almost free classes everywhere, I panicked and allowed fear of changing times to alter my morals and values as a teacher, and did not honor what I have been taught and learned so many years ago on my own. I changed the time length of my restorative class, because I noticed a change in attendance and I panicked thinking, that I was either not doing a good job, or that people were not happy with the studio, I allowed fear to guide me. When I started to ask around, a couple of comments were that compared to other studios my classes were longer, and that most people cannot commit an hour and a half to themselves, because life was too busy. It was also mentioned that cost was a factor, that the fees are a bit more expensive, so as you know we changed things to a class pass to better accommodate people, now giving you 6 months to use your pass up, instead of session per session. In reaction to accommodate feedback that I was given, I changed the class time to 70 min… FOR ME, THAT WAS THE MISTAKE!
IT FELT SO WRONG. I COULDN’T GO AROUND AND ASSIST THE SAME, AND I DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO TAKE CARE OF, AND HELP EVERYONE WHO WAS IN THE CLASS. I FELT AS A TEACHER THAT I DID NOT GIVE ALL THAT I SHOULD BE GIVING, THAT I WASN’T OFFERING THE TOOLS THAT OFFERED ENOUGH TIME FOR THE BODY AND THE MIND TO TRULY CONNECT, AND ALSO FIND PROPER INNER BALANCE SO THAT YOU THE STUDENT RECEIVE MAXIMUM BENEFIT. I FELT LIKE I HAD JUST BECOME PART OF THE “FAST FOOD WORLD OF YOGA”. I WAS ASHAMED AND SO UNSETTLED… I HAD STEPPED OFF MY PATH!
There are appropriate times, for each and every type of yoga class and style… and I am not cutting down any of the styles I am really just talking time and self-value. For me as a teacher, I have chosen to be of service to others, and I truly felt that I was de-valuing myself, by not being able to serve others as well as I could.
In order to properly balance the body and the brain, to allow yourself time to heal, relax, de-stress you need to settle into proper alignment so that you can move towards your goal of being both mentally and physically healthy. I believe and for almost 17 years now have taught a 1.5 (even 2hr) hour class. This is the way to go and personally the only way I want to teach a “Restorative” class.
In order to “heal” the body we need to be doing this 2 to 3 times per week or combining it with other types of activities. There are no “Quick Fixes” no “Quick Changes”. After all it took how many years to get into the “state” that you are in at this moment? The saving grace is that with determination and perseverance it will take you less time to get out. But rest assured, there are no quick fixes, no snake-oils, it is only through self-kindness, understanding, compassion and self-love, combined with the acceptance and understanding of where we are at this moment that we can bring on change… AND YOU ARE WORTH IT!
This was a great reminder for me, of how far I have come, how I have grown from not being well and dealing with many diagnosed illnesses to, where I could do and want nothing more than to learn more, share, and help those around me.
Am I a fixer, a healer? lol no… but I do have tools, years of personal and external learning and experience to offer you so that you too can move towards peace of mind, better health, continued personal growth and wellness.
As many of you know when you step into the studio, it is a safe haven, a sacred space specifically designed and filled with love, compassion and soul; I so dearly respect and love all of the students that walk through our doors. Our teachers and practitioners are also certified and hold many years of experience so that we can offer a wide variety of classes and services, so that we can assist you towards your goals of wellness.
Remember, we cannot take everything on all on at once. We need to make sure that we take care of ourselves, so that we can truly take care of others. Taking on everything all at once, becomes too overwhelming and discouraging. When I first started I had a list of things I wanted to “fix” or change, to get back into my own feeling of “control and well-being.” Once I wrote it down I was able to prioritize based upon the importance for my wellbeing. One of the major things that I have learned through this process is that like life and everything else, allow the changes to take place, and even the best of lists change. We need to adapt, bend and curve with those changes. But if it goes against your values and beliefs and makes you feel uneasy and not satisfied, then don’t change the values.
My journey towards wellness and service to others still grows both personally and externally. My personal and professional practice is still growing, and for me the spark that my yoga practice gave me long ago, still burns deep inside me like a flame. The initial plan was to be able to teach 6 people a week and share with them the many benefits of what I have found to be my “saving grace” my path to wellness. The practice of 6, turned into a studio, into a wellness centre, and now into multiple outreach programs in our community in the mental health field, workplaces, groups etc., teaching yoga classes, doing wellness talks and sharing the many tools that I have learned. I am still learning as I walk my path, reaching out, and letting people know that we are not alone. Whether it is a goal towards peace of mind, physical wellness, finding life’s balance or what have you, my love for people and humanity is still my strongest spark!
I have a rewarding life that has brought me to a place of gratitude for all that comes my way, bringing incredible joy, as well as many challenges… but mostly joy.
My family’s journey to date has been an incredible one, and I am so very proud of all of the challenges that we have overcome and are still working on. My boys (husband Darren & son Cole), have made many sacrifices in their lives for my dreams to help and assist others. Many times I have turned our lives up-side down because of my need to share, teach and give to others. I am fortunate to have such giving and caring men in my life.
Life is full of gifts; good & bad… accept them, experience them, hold them dear and cherish them, for everything can change in a moment’s notice. Realize what you have with a full heart of gratitude. When I look back at the path that has lead us/me to where we are today, it brings a wave of excitement for the future and what it may bring.
I smile and think of the words of our son, during a time when fear and darkness had stepped in. Cole was only twelve at the time, we had just finished building Ohana and both Darren and I had lost our jobs, same time, same place and it felt so devastating and like the world as we knew it was crashing around us… Cole looked at me and asked why I was so upset… “Mom you have wanted to help people for a long time… don’t look at this time as a failure, look at it as if you are about to go onto the biggest adventure of your life.”