Workplace Evolved is yoga on the move… we have mats, and we will travel! So this got me thinking about the many ways that I take yoga with me as I go through life. Little moments, and little ways that my practice comes along and supports me throughout my days. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Man, there is very little I love more than stretching in public. Pretty much anytime I am waiting (to cross a street, in line for coffee, meeting a friend…), I’m stretching. Getting in those hips and hammies. I will literally rock a forward bend, or a figure four if I have enough time. If I’m being really honest, it doesn’t even stop with stretching. I secretly engage in some core work too. I will balance on one foot, engage my low abs and pulse my knee up ever so slightly. So hopefully no one notices. But they probably do! And actually, I hope it gives people a little more permission to be IN their bodies. Because consistent stretching keeps me open to the flow of life.
It feels great to let out a long loud SIGH. Seriously, try it right now! Inhale through the nose, exhale “ahhhhhhh.” I do this a lot. I learned how awesome it feels outside of yoga to let out a big sigh when I was training for a marathon. It shifted the way I was receiving breath, and let me reset mentally too. So, why wouldn’t I want to do it all the time? I sigh while I’m working, I sigh when I’m walking, I sigh in the shower and especially the bath, I sigh right before bed. I could go on. It feels great. Try it! Start with a sigh every few hours (set an outlook reminder if you need to), and then I dare you to stop!
Low Stakes Living
So one of the greatest things about yoga is that it’s fairly low stakes. As practitioners we try all sorts of things– from Warrior II, to Headstand, to figuring out how to actually stack our joints while standing. And if we’re off, or don’t have a perfect 90 degree angle in our front leg (confession: I don’t), it’s okay. In yoga I fall plenty, have a good giggle, and then get back up and try again. The concept of practice takes over, and it’s okay that we aren’t there and perfect. So here’s the newsflash: it’s true in life also. Whoever you are being, and whatever you are doing, it’s okay. We work towards goals– ways we want to improve ourselves or our actions– and just like headstand or Warrior II, it’s the journey that matters. When this piece of yoga comes with me out into my world, it’s amazing what I’ll try. And, it’s amazing what I achieve. What could you achieve if you were willing to fail?
So how do you take your yoga with you out into your life?
Giving back and volunteering is important to me. To my great pleasure I found an identical loving spirit in Dia, and it has become a foundation for Workplace Evolved. We both feel that education opens the door for children to experience a brighter future, so we both volunteer with local schools. We also serve on different non-profit boards, as well as jump in for individual volunteer opportunities as they come up. Giving back fills us up.
And now we are overflowing with gratitude from the opportunity to give back using the skills we have teaching yoga and meditation. We are teaming up with the new Wounded Warrior Project office in Colorado Springs to give yoga and meditation to the wounded soldiers and their caregivers in our community. As a military wife, I truly connect with and respect the struggle these soldiers and their caregivers face every day. What a gift for me personally to be a part of their healing process!
Last Sunday was a yoga class and mini-health workshop for just the caregivers. These ladies are simply amazing, and it was an honor to be there to provide a sacred space for their healing. They are moms and wives, caring for wounded spouses, many with traumatic brain injuries, full-time. I felt so many emotions as they explained to me how challenging it was to have a husband with memory loss, chronic confusion, and PTSD. I felt grateful for my husband’s safe return from deployment, humbled by the sacrifice these families had made, and inspired by the tenacious and tender love these women give every day. I wondered to myself how depleted each of these caregivers might feel, with the constant demands of their spouses’ conditions. I questioned whether I would have the strength to do the same. My sense was I couldn’t begin to understand how important this yoga class was for them. It was a rare opportunity to care for themselves.
One caregiver said she was driving 4 hours round trip just to have the chance to do yoga in a caring and supportive environment. A few other caregivers said that they left their children home alone with their husbands for the very first time since their husbands came back home- again, to be able to do yoga in a healing, nurturing, and supportive place. This commitment reaffirms the power of yoga, and of sharing space not just for fitness, but for healing and reconnecting with self. Having the chance to talk with these women and understand how important this project was for them made the class an exceptionally rewarding experience for me.
Of course I still feel so blessed to be able to teach yoga in a studio, corporate environment, community center, or fitness club, but in those classes I mostly wonder what each person struggles with. (We all struggle with something, don’t we?) What was exceptional about this class was that we all came together in a way that outwardly honored each person’s struggle. We were able to put words to the pain, and movement to both the hope and the sorrow. We were able to be still and quiet in a way that provided support and encouragement for a specific, and shared, struggle.
Last Sunday was powerful and inspiring. And it filled me up beyond words to be a part of it. I’m looking forward to giving back to these families who have given so much already.
Friends: What fills you up? Let’s engage in a dialogue about what really matters to us. Please post below causes dear to your heart, how you are involved and why. Is education a passion of yours? Or do you find motivation in helping those with illness such as MS or Leukemia?