Episode 43: Fearless Self Love with Andrea Catherine

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"There is no one straight path"

This nugget of insight seems to be a recurring theme throughout the conversations that I have with my marvelous guests.  Their paths are colorfully weaved with discovery and changes.  For the most part, their stories don't follow a linear trajectory.  In fact, it's the dynamic quality that brings so much inspiration and aliveness! Restaurant owner turned yoga teacher, engineer turned yoga studio owner, law professional turned shaman....

I think what's so alluring about these stories is that these people stopped to ask themselves somewhere along the way "what do I truly want in life?" and then mustered the courage to try and figure it out!  "What do I truly want in life?" and "How can I be happy?" are questions that we eventually ponder.  Growing up, we're taught to pave our lives out in one straight path and to fear the unknown, but the heart desires truth and purpose, and those things might not be on the pretty paved road.  That's why stories of daring leaps perk us up.

With the last few interviews, there seems to be another layer emerging. That is: 

"What you desire can change."

Ah yes, life likes to keep it exciting doesn't it!  Just when we think we've figured it all out, the tides turn.  The key is to continue tuning in and pivoting as needed.

In this episode, we get to hear about just that as Andrea Catherine opens up candidly about her next leap in life.  Andrea is currently a yoga teacher, yoga health coach, Ayurvedic health counsellor and host of the podcast, Fearless Self Love.  Her new calling is calling though and she's in flux to move toward her dream of creating a space that's a destination for travelers, locals and folks in transition.  We also talk about self-love - what it means, how to do it, and how the practice of it has helped Andrea arrive at where she's at today.   

Key Nuggets:

  • Andrea talks about ideas and how some ideas come strong and fade quickly but then some stick around.  Her new dream stems from the latter - an idea that's been close to her hear for some time.  Now she's ready to pursue it!
  • Self-awareness in what kind of environment you would thrive in is important.  After 8 years of creating on her own, Andrea has discovered that she loves creating with a team.  Knowing this, she will try to achieve this with her new endeavor.
  • Because Andrea kept asking questions like “what really matters to me?” she was able to identify when it was time to take on a new trajectory in life (ie. from being a yoga teacher to pursuing her dream of opening an inn).  To her, this self-reflection is a form of self-love.
  • Transformational moment: when she said “I love you” to herself and really meant it, her life changed.
    • Before that moment, Andrea thought that loving herself meant eating well, exercising, and treating loved ones with kindness.  While those are acts of self-love, it didn't encompass the whole truth of self love.
  • Is self-love selfish?
    • Acting on what you need doesn’t take away from what somebody else needs
    • You need to value your own time and practice as much as you value others’
    • For me, I think selfish shouldn’t even be part of our vocabulary especially if it holds a negative connotation for you (more on this in a future episode!)
  • Andrea's practices to cultivate self-love:
    • Making space for herself by riding her bike. That's the one time that she doesn’t check her phone
    • Have a practice of movement
    • Keeping a practice that’s different and new that her work can’t provide
  • Self practices with non violent communication
  • Being in a creative space in the kitchen
  • Writing
  • Being in nature
  • Surrounding herself with people that she trusts and asking for help when needed             

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

It’s okay to wait and it’s okay to change your mind.  A yes or no decision doesn’t need to be made right away.  Take time to sit quietly to discern what you really need and keep some space for the unknown.

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

Don’t compromise your growth.  Choose to surround yourself with people who are going to be supportive of your growth.

Links:

If you have any questions for Andrea or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.groundedhere.com

Facebook: Grounded Here FB Group

Instagram: @groundedhere ; @fearlessselflove

Episode 42: How Founder of Yoga Boss Babe Combined Two Opposing Passions to Create a Successful Business w/ Elizabeth Nguyen

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Elizabeth Nguyen is a yoga teacher and founder of Yoga Boss Babe, a subscription box to help yoga teachers grow a thriving business.  This girl works with a stunning amount of dedication, authenticity and passion!  She is in love with her business and life today but like all great creators, there was quite a bit of travelling to get to this leg of the journey.  In fact, the first business she ever created was one that she didn't totally love.  She eventually went with her gut feeling and searched for an idea that made her feel excited and passionate.  One thing led to another and she came up with YBB!  There are so many rich lessons in Liz's story including how to know when an idea is truly for you, what challenges to expect when you pursue what you love and what it takes to succeed.  Plug in those headphones and get the idea juices flowing!

Key Nuggets:

  • Liz's story highlights the many different paths that you can take your yoga career.  She first founded Beyond Namaste to bring yoga to corporate workers but then realized that it didn't completely align with her passions.  This didn't mean that her life as a yoga teacher was over.  She kept searching and eventually came up with the unique idea of Yoga Boss Babe, a yoga box filled with tools to help yoga teachers in their businesses.
  • One of Liz's favorite quotes is “Yoga isn’t about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down”.  We were referring to how the quote helps new yoga practitioners take their practice in strides but this quote is also an important reminder to you that it's about the journey!  So take your own personal journey in strides. 
  • One of the biggest transformations that Liz has experienced through her yoga practice is to have more conscious responses rather than reactionary.  To take a step back, look at the big picture and understand the lens that the other person sees the world in.  She’s also learned to let go when something doesn’t matter enough to hold onto.
    • On that note, oftentimes when somebody has a certain response, it’s not about you.  It’s a result of their personal situation
    • Perhaps even reflect on this question yourself: “How has your yoga practice changed your approach to life?”
  • Why Liz's first business wasn't the right one for her:
    • Long process for approvals and pricing plans
    •  It didn’t feel right and she no longer liked to speak in corporate lingo
    •  She wanted to find a space that she felt more natural in
  • How Liz created a business that worked for her:
    • As she searched, Liz began to feel the desire to start a new business that would integrate her strength in curating products (shopping 😉).  The idea continued to brew. She read Carrie Green’s book She Means Business and Liz decided that she wanted to do something online.  The last piece of the puzzle was figuring out who she wanted to serve….and that came quite naturally as well.  Liz wanted to serve yoga teachers! She understood that there are many teachers who come out of YTT with the desire to make a career out of yoga but aren’t sure how.  That was how she felt too.
    • With all the ingredients in place, it was just a matter of coming up with the right idea.  On a car drive home one day, the idea came to her: Yoga Boss Babe!  A subscription box that helps yoga teachers improve their businesses! 
  • After hearing Liz's story, here are the factors that led to Liz's success:
    • Awareness that her passion (shopping) was also a strength
    • Using the right resources (the book that led her to decide she wanted to do an online business)
    • Keeping herself open to opportunities - once she had a sense of direction then the ideas could start forming 
  • Liz's story with her business is an inspiring reminder of the many paths that you can take a yoga career.
  • Starting something is hard whether it be a business, new career, passion project or piece of art.  Here’s more about her journey:
    • She had completely different experiences when she launched Beyond Namaste versus YBB
      • With Beyond Namaste, she had a lot of reservations, self doubt and doubting abilities to speak with upper management.  Everything felt like work.
      • With YBB, the idea first came to her on a drive to San Diego.  Once the idea came she couldn’t stop thinking about it.  She absolutely couldn’t wait to research it, buy the domain name and begin working on it.  She felt so confident that she just launched and has never looked back.
  •  Biggest challenges:
    • The quote “build it and they will come” is not true.  Liz learned how much hard work it takes to bring awareness to a business.  
    • Time management and being her own boss
      • Need to be disciplined to do what you need to do
      • Aligning expectations with reality (what you want to do versus what you can really get done are so different)
        • Work life balance.  Figuring out when to stop working and when to enjoy life
  • Tips for the challenges
    • Takeaway for yoga teachers is that you need to differentiate yourself from other yoga teachers.  Do that by firstly finding your ideal student (the student who you just love teaching the most). Secondly, find what is unique to you and integrate it.  For example, Liz found her "zone of genius" (that sweet spot where your skills meets your passion) for shopping and yoga with YBB.  Kelsey Delane from episode 35 found her unique space through her passion for the Yoga Sutras.  Most importantly, be authentic in what you do.  
  • Time Management:
    • Liz is still working on it but her current strategy is to prioritize the most important items and then leave white space in her schedule to allow for unforeseen items (b/c not everything always goes as planned)
    • She uses a whiteboard to capture her ideas so that she doesn’t get led in different directions 
    • Take times for breaks and prevent burnout!
    • For me, the best advice I’ve received is to not stuff your schedule and only pick 3 things to accomplish in the day.  Finishing 3 of the most important things will feel much better compared to doing 10 things that aren't high priority.  If you don't do the most important items first then it's highly likely that you'll feel like you "got nothing done" by the end of the day.
  • If you find something that you’re passionate about and you feel excited to do it everyday, then you need to find a way to do it

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Trust your instincts and your gut.  It will lead you to the right direction.  For Liz, this knowledge served her well when she was running her first business and heeded to the deep feeling that it wasn’t for her.  In the end, she launched a second business that she is wholeheartedly passionate about.

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

Find your passion and what you love to do, then do it!  Trust yourself to run with it when the great idea comes along.

Resources:

Books:

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – inspired Liz to slow down and come up with more of a mindful response vs a reactive response; and to let go when it doesn’t matter enough.

She means business by Carrie Green – the book that helped Liz come up with the idea for Yoga Boss Babe

Episodes referred to (create hyperlink)

Episode 2: A Healing Journey with Alison DuRussel

Like Liz, Alison was interested in helping people via the healthcare system.  And like Liz, she started to wonder if there was a natural remedy that could alleviate the number of pills that patients ended up relying on.  Listen to Alison's story of how she went from pharm tech to massage therapist to yoga teacher and to sound bath healer.  

Episode 3: Mastering the Business of Yoga with Amanda Kingsmith

There are so many paths that you can take your yoga career.  Like Liz, Amanda is also helping yoga teachers flourish via their own unique path.  Listen to this episode for the three key items that you need to have for a successful yoga career.

Links:

If you have any questions for Elizabeth or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  yogabossbabe.com

Email:   liz@yogabossbabe.com

Instagram: @yogabossbabe

Episode 41: Searching For True Desires and Manifesting It To Life with Awilda Rivera

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Awilda Rivera is a yoga teacher, spiritual advisor and success coach who has dedicated her life to help empower others to succeed.  She’s navigated a few twists and turns in her own life as she transitioned from being a law professional and into the world of spirituality and wellness.

A cardiac episode in her late 20's brought Awilda to face a very real truth in her life.  Ever since the age of ten she’d been committed to becoming a lawyer.  She took a sense of responsibility in being the first person in her family to go to college and held high expectations of herself to not disappoint.  Yet as she lay there in the hospital bed, with only one and half years of law school before graduation, she could no longer deny that this wasn’t what she wanted anymore. 

The question that surfaced after admitting this to herself was “what intention do I want to live my life with? What kind of intention do I want my work grounded in?”  She pinpointed that her passion was to help others.  The journey that ensued was onerous, messy and wonderful.  By following the thread of "wanting to help people" Awilda was able to hone into exactly how she could help.  Today, she’s not only living her dream by helping other people live their dreams, but she’s also an inspiration for the multi-passionate soul who loves more than one thing and wonders how it could possibly come together. 

Tune in to hear the rest of her story!  In this grounded conversation Awilda shares valuable wisdom about pursuing what you love and how to manifest it to life including mantras and mudras that you can use.

Resources:

Book to learn more about mudras

 Mudras Yoga In Your Hands by Getrud Hirschi

 

Key Nuggets:

  • Dreams change - sometimes what we thought we wanted isn't what we want anymore and that's OKAY.  We go through so much growth in life that we may not be the same person as our past.  For Awilda, it was recognizing that her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer no longer resonated with her. 
  • Identifying your natural talents is one thing but then you need to figure out how to strengthen it and choose how you want to use it.
  • In listening to Awilda’s story of finding what she wanted to do, I noticed that she had a different method for honing into each skill:
    • Awareness of natural skills - for the longest time, she thought that her clairvoyant abilities were part of her culture and that everyone else who grew up in that tradition had it too.  Eventually she realized that this skill was unique to her and worked to sharpen that skill.  
    • Discovery – just trying things can get you somewhere.  Awilda tried yoga and loved it, which brought her down the path of becoming a yoga teacher. 
    • Keeping eyes opened for opportunities - if Awilda hadn't been diligent in looking into coaching training, she may not have come across the opportunity for a scholarship to a coaching program.  And if she hadn't reached out to the scholarship coordinator, she may not have realized that she still had a chance to make a submission to the scholarship.  Then she sat down, worked her tushie off and lo and behold actually got the scholarship!!
  • Multi-passionate souls are making way for themselves and Awilda demonstrates this with successfully being a spiritual advisor, coach and yoga teacher.  The old adage "jack of all trades, master of none" seems to be going out of style ;) 
    • Here's her advice in pursuing more than one thing that you love:
      •  Depending on what your passions are, you may need to branch out separately.  In her case, all three passions weave together nicely.  Her partner's passions, on the other hand, do not.  He's a real estate agent and a gifted actor.  In his case, he needs to create a separate brand for each passion. 
  • One of her hardest lesson in chasing her dreams is that it required a lot more hard work and consistency that she thought.  She knew it’d be hard but it required much more consistency than she imagined, which ended up being a lesson in patience. "It’s a marathon not a sprint"
    • This lesson can really be expanded into all the different pursuits of heart callings whether it be finishing up that yoga teacher training or  clearing your junk drawer of emotions.  
    • No matter the journey, EFFORT, CONSISTENCY and PATIENCE are key. And you gotta do it with COMPASSION and SELF-CARE.
  • According to Awilda, if your business is really aligned with you (ex. your beliefs, values and intention; and mental and emotional well being) then the business will kind of take on a life of its own and could actually guide you.   
    • To listen to her business, she first looked at the biggest spectrum of who her passions can reach.  For her, this is what drove her because she’s always looking to improve the quality of what she has to offer and how she can add value to ultimately fulfill her why of trying to help other people succeed in what they love.
  • Yoga brings you closer to your own truth.  This is one of the biggest lessons that Awilda has learned.
  • Awilda is all about manifesting desires.  She explains that we can use the “whole package” of yoga – poses, meditation, philosophy (ie. 8 limbs) and mindfulness to help us
    • The practice helps you to slow down and become present.  She gives an example of a guitar - when you strum the right chord, the music radiates and attracts a sense of beauty.  With the wrong chord, well it just sounds all wrong.  
  • Mantras for manifesting what you want.  Here are a few of her recommendations.  The best way to do this is to use the ones whose energy resonates with. Say it out loud or silently to yourself.
    • To plug into the universe: SO HUM or I AM
    • For abundance:  Om Shri Maha Lakshmi Omaha

  • Mudras are like yoga for your hands and are also powerful ways to help you align your vibe. 
    • For abundance: Apan Mudra - Press your middle finger and ring finder to your thumb. Visualize planting seeds, watering them and growing bountiful crops and express gratitude to the universe.  You can also use the mantra “I sow seeds, nurture them and reap rich rewards.  With the universe’s help, I gratefully accept”.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Trust in yourself and believe in the mission of helping others.  Awilda finds that as long as she stays true to this and embodies it, she ends up growing and become more successful.

One nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are also on this journey of growth and transformation:

Be authentically you.  Your journey won’t be everyone’s cup of tea every single step of the way.  As long as you’re not hurting anybody and are living in truth, it will work itself out.

Links:

If you have any questions for Awilda or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:   www.awildarivera.com

Facebook:  Awilda Rivera Coach Yogi Spiritual Advisor

Instagram: @missawildarivera.com

LinkedIn: awildanrivera

Episode 40: What does Yoga Have to Do With Body Image? A Lot More Than You Think with Melanie Klein

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Melanie Klein is an empowerment coach, professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Moorpark Collect in Venura County, California, speaker, writer and thought leader in the areas of body confidence, authentic empowerment and visibility.  In addition to many other books she’s also the editor of the recently released, Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body.  She is passionate about the topic of contemporary body image politics and is making waves in creating a healthier, more positive perception of our body image.  She's been featured several times on Yoga International to talk about this topic and co-founded the Yoga and Body Image Coalition in 2014.  YBI strives to provide accessible, body-positive yoga and reflects the full range of human diversity.

What an absolute thrill to talk to Melanie!!  This conversation expanded my understanding of how I relate to myself and I even had a breakthrough Aha moment (you'll definitely recognize when this is as you listen...I was ecstatic :) ).  I used to think of body image as a social issue and never considered its relation to yoga.  If I practice yoga, mindfulness and acceptance then surely I have a healthy body image right? No need to extricate this one specific thing from the big picture of accepting the whole self....right?  Turns out I was wrong.  Our body image is not only an outcome of our internal relationship with self but is also a product of the society, politics and history that shapes us.  It's so powerful that it dictates our self-worth.  It can even hold us back from reaching our full potential.  Yoga can be one of the most powerful tools to help us disentangle our distorted body image from our identities.  In this episode, Melanie and dig further in-depth into the topic of contemporary body image politics - what it is, how it affects all of us and what we can do about it, including how an authentic yoga practice can free us from the war we wage against our bodies.  Buckle in.  This one's a good one. 

Key Nuggets:

  • In taking a women’s study course in university, Melanie came to understand that the relationship with her body (a negative, distorted one marked by a lot of punishment and guilt) was not a defect of herself but rather something that she’d been taught all her life.  Not only was she influenced by the role models in her life, she’d been influenced by what was considered normative based on media. 
    • Media messages to be the right height, weight and shape encouraged her to buy happiness by purchasing products to "fix" those flaws.
  • When we compare ourselves to digitally photo-shopped bodies, we end up thinking that the difference between us and what we see in magazines are flaws.
    • So again, our relationship with our body image isn’t just us and our bodies.  It’s been influenced by a variety of factors:
      • The female role models that we grew up with.  How they related to their bodies may influence how we’ve developed a relationship with ours and even shape our perceptions of what the expectations are, even if they never explicitly shared their outlook with us.  As young people, we absorbed what we observed.
      •  Media – the portrayal of beauty in media is intoxicating and ubiquitous.  It becomes difficult to imagine anything different when that’s what we ever see.  This is especially true for young people who are just developing their identities.
        • This effect is even more prevalent in today's digitally connected world.  For Melanie, growing up in the 80s and 90s, there was an “off” time when you closed the magazine or turned off the tv.  Today, media is even more saturated with the growth of social media.  Facebook was only created in 2006 so when you think about it, a 16 year old today only knows of this world of 24/7 social media.  Makes it even harder to shift perceptions.
  • Melanie found her yoga practice to be a reprieve from the world of media.  Soon it became a sacred place for her where she could apply her knowledge of media, body image and socialization and actually shape a new reality when she practiced on the mat.  Instead of just thinking about what it’s like to be present, she’d practice it.  Instead of just thinking about body acceptance, she could just practice it on the mat.
  • One of the biggest shifts in Melanie’s perception that changed the way she related to her body was the realization that “I can be comfortable in my body”
    • Up until that point, she was always so uncomfortable in her body.  She kept thinking that she had to change or fix something.  There were insecurities and disappointments.   And then she realized that she didn’t have to be constantly at war with her body.  That it’s okay to be at peace; and the practice of yoga helped reinforce this new place.
  • This conversation spurred a major Aha Moment for me!  I realized that up until this point, I wasn't even able to disentangle my body image from my identity!  All my life, it seemed okay to constantly feel like I needed to change something about how I looked.  It was okay because it’s not like I hate my body, I just wanted to make it "better".  I didn’t even realize that, that's considered being uncomfortable in your body.    
  • So many women and girls don’t realize that they don’t need to be caught in the cycle of body dissatisfaction and that we can come to a place of satisfaction even when we carry a bit of extra weight, wrinkles, scars….
    • WE CAN ACCEPT IT RIGHT NOW
      •  We don’t need to “change” or “fix” anything.  We don’t need to buy the miracle product.  We just need to make the choice to stop waging war on ourselves and come to peace . Right. Now.
        • In turn this will change the perception that our self worth is determined by the number on the scale.  Change the value system.  Accept the truth of the moment.
      • When we say “perfect” or “want more” we’re usually measuring it against a conventional level of standard that doesn’t honor the diversity among human bodies.  It’s based on a certain body type, age, physical ability and race.  We are taught that we should strive for it and it’s normal.
        • By accepting rather than judging what we still need to work on, then we can open up ourselves to insights and move more deeply into our authentic power.
  • If we’re committed to a growth based life, we can expect that there’s always some area that we’re working on.  And if we can expect that, then we can meet it with joy and enthusiasm rather than see it as a failure.
  • Where the practice of yoga came in for Melanie is that it gave her the embodied component.  To her, yoga plus her intellectual understanding of body image politics went hand in hand.  
    • Loving your body isn’t just something you think about, you need to practice.  Yoga helps with this practice.  Linking breath and movement, giving you a new sense of your body.  Allowing you to experience your body in a different way.  Tunes into how it communicates to us; we learn our own natural rhhythms.
    • Then we come in to a relationship of mutual respect and trust with our bodies.  Yoga is one effective tool to help create positive body image and body peace.
  •  What’s important for us to know about the topic of contemporary body image politics is that our bodies are not separate from the world that we live in.  The way that our society operates and its politics impacts us physically. The social, political and historical realm that we exist in.  Our body image is a result of the role models around us as well as the larger systems.  It's stamped with the expectations of our society.
  • The false representation in media of the “perfect” body makes us feel small and insignificant.  It lowers our self esteem and self value.  That transfers to our entire being because then we end up keeping ourselves small, silent and we don’t show up the way we would if we would if we felt radiant, confident and at peace.
    • An important question to consider is: What are the costs when we have a negative self image of ourselves?
  • If we’re feeling bad about ourselves, aren't we taking time to cultivate our gifts and sharing it out to the world.  If we’re feeling self-conscious and lamenting over all the parts of us that need to be “fixed” and that becomes what we put our main focus on.  We become invisible and unwilling to show up for ourselves and the world.  We don't reach our full potential!
  • For people who really want to reach their full potential and become self actualized, it’s difficult if they're at war with their bodies.  If we become at peace with our bodies then we can work on all those other things.
  • We’ve been told that our primary worth is how we look (especially girls).  Being exposed to this from a young age, we’ve internalized it. But there's a way out!  Reject those standards and values.
    • Consider that we live in a world of social constructs and that we can deconstruct and reconstruct.  We’re not doomed to live in the way that we’ve grown up with – hating our bodies, feeling low self confidence…
    • The change in conversation about body image has already brought change.  For example, retailers are offering larger sizes and shifting their standards
  • We get to choose our own value system and choose our own beauty paradigm
    • One way to do this is pay attention to the media that you’re taking in.  When Melanie started to bring awareness on what media she was consuming, her definition of beauty broadened - for herself and how she saw others’ beauty.
  • Yoga can also be a powerful tool in developing a positive body image.  The  yoga that you choose to practice (meditation, vinyasa...) will be personal; but the key is coming to present moment and accept it for what it is. That’s where the peace begins.
  • Also important to understand the difference between yoga practice, yoga culture and yoga business.  We need to understand these differences to access the true gifts of what yoga has to offer.
    • Yoga practice is the authentic practice. The practice of mindfulness, present moment, breath...it's accessible to everyone and does not exclude body size, age, or physical ability.
    • Yoga culture includes everything around the practice – the products, memes, clothes, representation.
    • Yoga business is how corporations, advertisers and product developers have monetized from the practice.  Ex. Practicing in exclusive spaces, representation of the yoga body.
    • Yoga culture and business makes us seem like we can buy our identity as a yogi.  It takes us further from the authentic practice of awareness.
  • The most important thing we can do in shifting the body image is to be an open and receptive listener. Allow yourself to be moved by others’ stories and find points of connection with the rest of humanity.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Allow yourself to receive the beauty of your lived experience.  The beauty includes the good, the bad and the ugly - see it all as a gift that you are alive and here now and make the most of every moment.

One nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation:

The continued effort, work, challenges and obstacles are all worth it. Once you reach the other side, it opens you up to a realm of new possibilities.  There will always be something to work on and each step you take will open you up to more joy and possibility.

Interview Links:

If you have any questions for Melanie or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website: ybicoalition.com 

                yogaandbodyimage.org

              yogarisingbook.com 

Instagram: @melmelklein

Episode 39: Yoga-ing Even Before It Was Cool with Marla Meenakshi Joy

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Marla Meenakshi Joy, Owner and Director of Downward Dog Yoga Centre, spent years in the Himalayas studying Meditation, Sanskrit and Yoga Philosophy.  She’s been studying meditation and the philosophy of the Vedas since 1988.  She began teaching in 1999 in Teacher Training programs across Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia, as a teacher of Philosophy and Sanskrit, Chanting and Meditation, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga, and Restorative Yoga.  Wait, there’s more!  She’s also a celebrated song-stress and leads Kirtan with her band SWAHA. 

What a pleasure it was to have a conversation with this soul that’s been steeping in the wisdom of yoga, continuing to expand her growth year after year.  What’s really interesting is hearing what the yoga scene was like 30 years ago.  In this episode, Marla shares her yoga journey from being a young 19 year old who went off to the Himalayas and finally found “home” in her yoga practice to the influential teacher/yoga studio owner/songstress that she is today.  We catch tidbits of her wisdom along the way as we take dips into understanding ashtanga vinyasa yoga, the Vedas, Kirtan and more.  Amongst the tools she shares are mantras to help clear the way, remove fear and reconnect to your true nature.

Resources:

Books recommended by Marla:

Yoga Mala by Pattahbi Jois

  • Knowledge on Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
  • Understand the cleansing process in the body as a result of practicing this type of yoga

Learn more about mantras: Thomas Ashley-Farrand's Books 

  • Marla’s mantra recommendations:
    • To Ganesha, the remover of obstacles.  Use this to clear the way for your day: “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
    • To Durga, the protectress goddess.  Use this to help remove fear: “Om dum durgayei namaha”
    • An abstract mantra that’s not associated with any deity or any form.  A universal mantra – the mantra of the breath. It repeats itself on every inhalation and exhalation naturally.  Use this one to be reminded of your true nature and reality: "So Hum" Translated, it means “all that there is, is me or I am all that there is”
      •   Inhale: SO
      • Exhale: HUM

Key Nuggets:

  • Part of the practice of yoga is to contemplate the question "What is my true nature?"
    • Once you find the answer of what your true nature is then it becomes about deepening that understanding at all levels; and that’s where our practice of meditation practice comes in.
  • Advaita Vedanta – non dual philosophy of yoga.  Based on this philosophy, there's an underlying oneness despite our perception of duality.  How do we get to that core of the oneness in nature?  Everything that we sense in the world will tell it that it’s separate from us.  To get to the core, we need to go within and get silent to understand it. If we don’t do the deeper practice, we end up wit intellectual knowledge but not experiential wisdom.
  • Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
    • Richard Freeman brought the first exposure of this type of yoga in 1995
    • Consists of six series of movements, each series more advanced than the next.
    • Involves cleansing of the organs for each posture, concentration through your gaze, pranayama (breath practice) within the movements and vinyasa to link each pose elegantly
    • As a result of this practice, it changes the energy in your body and nervous system
    • One of the advantages of practicing the same sequence over and over is that it allows your mind to shut off and you can just get into the moves
    •  If you want to do more of a free flow class, you can create a sequence around the primary series.
  • Marla’s top concepts that she tries to live by everyday:
    •  Come from a place of love
    •  Begin day with Sadahana (a daily spiritual practice) so that you give yourself space to fill your cup (and in turn have enough to fill others' as well).
      • Marla’s Sadahana: puja (ritual offerings) to deities, meditation, pranayama, asana 
    • Continuation of expansion on the path of self reflection
  • The Vedas
    •  “Vedas” means knowledge
    •  It comes out from a time period where the great seers revealed wisdom that they channeled. 
    • Overtime, many different branches of philosophies has blossomed but ultimately the teaching comes from the well of knowledge that we are all one. 
    • Where vedas and what we know as yoga in the western world connects is that the asanas (the poses), which serves as a great start into the more heart centered aspect.  Once the seed is planted, the community, teachers and practice that you surround yourself will eventually lead you to bloom into the deeper inquiries.  Usually the next inquiry is the breath work and then meditation. Maybe even eventually getting into chanting and mantras.
  • Kirtan
    • Comes from the root word “kirt” which means to celebrate, glorify and describe.  That’s why there is a sense of story.
    • Usually done as a call and response performance
    • Joy and bliss comes from the practice
    • Bypass the mind and transported into the heart
  • Kirtan versus chanting
    • Kirtan is specifically a collective call and response performance.  On the other hand, chanting can be done in a variety of ways - you can chant a mantra, sutra, scripture or a prayer; they could be short or long; they can be done alone or with others.
  • Mantras can help shift our energy, and the shift is different depending on if you're chanting externally versus internally.  Can help bring you deeper into meditation when done internally.
  • Marla’s mantra recommendations:
    • To Ganesha, the remover of obstacles.  Use this to clear the way for your day: “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
    • To Durga, the protectress goddess.  Use this to help remove fear: “Om dum durgayei namaha”
    • An abstract mantra that’s not associated with any deity or any form.  A universal mantra – the mantra of the breath. It repeats itself on every inhalation and exhalation naturally.  Use this one to be reminded of your true nature and reality: "So Hum" Translated, it means “all that there is, is me or I am all that there is” 
      •   Inhale: SO
      • Exhale: HUM

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

This path of enlightenment is something that really takes daily work, effort, and practices in order to allow it to unfold within yourself.  Have humility along the path because we are human and we mess up.  Be humble enough to reflect, apologize first,  and grow.   

One nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are also on this journey of growth and transformation:

Keep finding ways to open your heart and drop the monkey mind into your heart as much as you can. Cultivate compassion for yourself and in turn you’ll be able to turn it to others.  The practices that yoga gives us should be melting the heart.  If your yoga practice seems to be hardening you, take another look at it.  Unhappiness comes from disconnecting with self.  

There are two choices in this world: love or fear.

FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real                  

Links:

If you have any questions for Marla or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Websites:  

Music: www.swaha.ca 

Yoga Studio (Toronto, Canada): www.downwarddog.com

Email:   info@swaha.ca

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marla.m.joy

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meenakshiswaha

Twitter: https://twitter.com/meenakshiswaha

Episode 38: Stop Shoulding Yourself. How to Go For What You Truly Want in Life with Anna Lundberg

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This soul searching business isn’t easy!  As we travel this journey to the heart, we're asked to take leaps, look fear in the eyes and move with great courage and unfold into who we really are.  Stories from each other can hearten this experience - the mere fact of knowing that we're not alone and that somebody else has done it too is uplifting.  In this week’s episode Anna Lundberg shares her story of breaking through - from neatly living the life that she was expected to (being a “good girl”), to busting into the success coach/author/business strategist lady boss that she is today.  There are so many golden nuggets of wisdom as we talk about shedding external expectations, finding success for ourselves and trialing the many different paths to figure out how what we truly want from life.  Anna shares her Guiding Star model that can help you figure out what you want, or if you already know, can help you stay on track to get it!

Before we dive in, a little bit more about Anna - Anna is a success coach and business strategist who helps people create businesses and build a lifestyle that allows them an unimagined sense of freedom, flexibility and fulfilment. She works individually with a select number of clients to help them reimagine success in their personal and professional lives and runs a group programme that helps people take their ‘One Step Outside the 9 to 5’.

Resources:

onestepoutside.com/finding-your-guiding-star

 

Key Nuggets:

  • Anna's Story:
    • Grew up as a “good girl” and was motivated to meet up to the expectations and standards that were expected of her and to not make mistakes.
    • As a young student she wanted to change the world by working in international development (thought she was going to move to Africa to help ppl) but ended up in private sector in marketing.  
    • Eventually she saw the dissonance between her original desires to change the world and work for the UN or something versus where she currently working in marketing, selling perfumes.  There's no regret in the time spent in her marketing career as most of her opportunities present day stemmed from the skills and connections she made at her time there.  However, seeing the disconnection between what she really wanted versus what she was doing did create unhappiness in her life.
    • Eventually Anna ended up taking a sabbatical.   
      • Transformational experiences in our lives like taking a step back or a big travelling trip expands our vision of what the possibilities are.  For Anna it was the sabbatical that she took.  She used that time to travel to South America and realized that there were so many ex-employees and retirees who are now living a life “out of the ordinary”.  In that moment her view was expanded and she quit her job.
  • The expected path is like a conveyor belt, but at one point in our lives, we do find ourselves asking “what is it that I really want?”
    • Another spin on that question is “what do you want from life?”
    •  It’s a hard and arduous journey to figure that out but Anna’s principle that she lives by is so grounding: “What you want is just one step outside of your comfort zone”
  • One important lesson learned in Anna’s journey is that a new job isn’t the answer.  Work is not life and there are so many different facets to life as well – relationships, health, spirituality…
    • There are so many paths to your best life.  It's not just a matter of quit your job or not - there is no straight path and sometimes we just have to try.  We also need to look at the big picture and take all aspects of life into our happiness - relationships, health, spirituality....
      • In Anna’s  story, she took a few turns before landing to where she is today.  She tried consulting, living as a free bird and along the way she collected information as to what she liked and didn't like and then moved from there.
        • This story shows that it’s okay to try.  You’ll make turns and shifts as needed. There is no “right answer” or "wrong answer" for that matter.  There are many paths that can take you where you desire.
  • Once you figure out what you want, you need clarity and commitment to push forth.
    • This goes back to the wisdom that intention will anchor you.  So know what your intentions are going into it.  Another way to put it is to “hone into your why”.
      • I love Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map because it helps you hone into how you really want to feel, and at the end of the day all of the goals that we create is because we want to feel a certain way.
        • Anna’s take on this is to break it down even further.  For example, if you want to be a writer, why?  And what kind - for example, are you aiming to be a famous writer? For herself she knew that she didn’t need to get famous from a book or anything but she loved writing and really desired engagement with people through her work.
        •   When it comes to intentions, when Anna says "intentional" she means that you need to remember that you have a choice in whatever you are doing, whether it be a certain client or the job you’re in. 
  •  Anna’s own model that she created to help create transformation in your life and strip away the “should” is the: Guiding Star 
  • Use these five points to carve out what you really want
    • Feelings: how do you want to feel?
    • Values:  What values are important to you ex. freedom, stability, security...
    • Strengths: understand your strengths and in turn gain confidence
    • Characters: there are many different characters within us ex. A business woman, a rebel hippie…and all of them need space to play out.  Identifying all of them will help you better understand what needs to be expressed.
      • Figure it out by answering: what kinds of roles are you playing in the moment?  What kind of roles will you want to play in the future?  Who are the people that you admire and what roles do they play that make them so special?
    • Environment: envision and develop an environment that can nurture you; to help you thrive rather than drain you.
      • It can be even as simple as knowing that being by the ocean will help you thrive.  If that's the case then go take a walk by the ocean (if it's available to you)
  • In Anna’s experience and work, the biggest things that hold us back are:
    •  The “good girl” “good boy” syndrome where we keep trying to meet the expectations of somebody else’s definition of success
    • Beliefs about fear – fear of failure, making mistakes, looking foolish
      • A quote that helps: “discipline is remembering what we want”.  So the first obstacle is figuring out what we want and the second is actually going out to get it.  So you know that you want to be a writer but you don’t take the time to do some writing.  Or maybe you want to leave your job but you don’t take action to actually leave.
    • We falter when we don’t understand why our goals are meaningful and why we want it in the first place.  It could be that we don’t have the right goals, in which case it'd be wise to re-evaluate with the guiding star.
  • Tools to overcome these obstacles:
    • Take some time away from your regular life whether it be a sabbatical or simply a day off in the mountains or something.  Gives yourself time to daydream and dissolve out of your regular rut.
    • Try new things – you’ll meet new people, learn new things and eventually the possibilities will expand.
    • Surround yourself with people who inspire you, lift you up and ideally are a few steps ahead of you so that you can learn from them.  You can do this in a variety of ways – the podcasts you listen to, Facebook communities, and even life coaches.  

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Success means ‘the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose” - and that means that you get to decide what that aim or purpose is! So be curious, try new things, strip away all those ‘shoulds’ and get back to who you are and what you really want - and then go out and take steps towards creating that as a reality in your life today.  Live out what your aim is any little way that you can right now.

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with everyone who is on this journey of growth and transformation?

Anna bases her work on the quote

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone”

and there are two key elements of that. First, in order to grow and transform you need to get out of that comfort zone - ‘scary’ tends to come along with ‘exciting’.  Anything that is worth achieving is bound to bring some discomfort and fears. But the second part is the ‘one step’ - you don’t need to take a massive leap, you don’t want to push too far into the ‘panic zone’, and taking imperfect but consistent action is going to get you much further in the long run.

Links:

If you have any questions for Anna or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  onestepoutside.com

Facebook: FB group  One Step Outside  

Episode 37: Take Back Your Freedom with Little Rituals with Stacey Irvine

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Stacey Irvine is a yoga teacher and registered nurse at the Alberta Children's Hospital.  Her yoga journey began ten years ago when she experienced injuries as a triathlete.  Unable to continue with her regular workouts with the sustained injuries, she was encouraged to practice yoga to rehabilitate.  She quickly fell in love - at first with the physical practice and then eventually realized that is also a great form of self development and self inquiry.  Yoga became a haven as she worked through anxiety and an eating disorder.  Soon, she dived into further learning by taking her first yoga teacher training. 

A number of years later, Stacey found herself in another challenging situation when her father and grandfather got into a tragic car accident.  This marked the first time she experienced going through the traditional healthcare system.  In doing so, she noticed some gaps.  The system didn't seem to take the human into consideration.  Yes, it healed the body but in addition to that her father was in need of somebody to hear him, hold space for him and help with the emotional side of recuperation.  That's where her passion for advocating for a more integrative healthcare system (between Western and Alternative medicines) was born.  In this episode Stacey gives us further insight on this as well as dives deeper into her story of her journey with yoga.     

Key Nuggets:

  • When you start your yoga journey, take what you can out of it .  Remember that it doesn’t have to be one way or another.  There is a depth of knowledge to be learned when it comes to yoga and the self; trust that it will reveal itself to you as needed.
  • What happens on the mat becomes a quick reflection of how we’re living our lives.
  • When Stacey experienced the traditional healthcare system after her father got into a tragic car accident, she found that there was something missing.  The system was robotic and didn't take the whole human into account.  Aside from medical requirements, her father was in need of  somebody to hear him, hold space for him and help with the emotional side toward recuperation.  Eventually Stacey and her family sought out alternative medicines like yoga therapy and meditation for her father - tools that could be implemented to help regulate the nervous system and aid steadiness of the mind.  But this had to be done independently and outside of the traditional healthcare system.
    •  This experience is what spurred Stacey's passion to advocate for a more integrative healthcare system that bridges the gap between Western and Alternative healthcare systems.  She wants to help people remember their freedom to restore their bodies back to health.  
    • What’s happening in the mind can also delay healing too.
  • As for health, Stacey herself has had to deal with bouts of anxiety.
    • When anxious one can feel scattered, like there’s no choice or there’s an overwhelming amount of choice.  
    • Holistic approaches that she used to deal with this:
      • Constantly coming back to center and place of stillness
      • Consistent growth, practice and leaning onto other people who are further along that path and can help support
      • Developing sense of trust again to remember freedom that she can choose how she felt
      • She found reprieve in a consistent yoga practice
      •  Dialed up self care – daily ritual to have at least a few minutes in a day where she got to be on her mat, sitting with a journal & coffee or listening to a podcast.  Some sort of physical or mindset training that would allow her to shift and let her come back to the center and remember once again that the noise being experienced is not her real essence.
      • Even 2-3 minutes count as something!
      • Little rituals that she put together and became the pillar of her feeling good 
        • These things can be simple.  (She reminds us that it doesn’t have to be Instagram worthy) 
        • Stacey's rituals for feeling good:
          • light a candle while working
          • be present when coffee is brewing
          • planting succulent (feels so nice to have life around the house)
          • Particularly loves journalling to help get through noise

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Our greatest challenges are also our biggest blessings.  They move us toward our wisest selves.  In the thick of the challenging times, there’s always somebody that’s just a little further along that can help support you until you’re able to use the challenge as a blessing.  We are very capable of healing ourselves and if we are committed to doing the work, we can look at ourselves honestly and question our choices with curiosity and grace.                         

What is one nugget of wisdom that you have for fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

Stay steady and consistent within your own growth and being the maker of your own happiness.  Progress over perfection.  Cultivate rituals or daily habits that help you return back to yourself.

Stacey stays consistent by committing to teaching yoga classes.  She knows that she can’t teach it unless she’s practicing, learning and totally embodying it.  Also, “The only way to be a light in this world is to do the work” – that entails making time for herself a non-negotiable.  If she doesn’t do it then her whole world feels it.   

Links:

If you have any questions for Amanda or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.staceyirvine.com

Facebook:  Essential Collective (FB group about aromatherapy)

Instagram: @staceyirvineyoga

Episode 36: Creating From a Place of Calling. Yoga Festivals, Community, and Yogi Entrepreneurship with Robindra Mohar

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This one is for everyone who is trying to start something out there!  A movement, a business, a whole new life....

Robindra Mohar is an Edmonton based educator + festival producer + DJ.  He and his wife Myrah are the creators of the Canada based It’s Time To Bloom Festival and Together We Bloom Society.  He is also the catalyst for Yogi Entrepreneur School where he helps entrepreneurs design heart led businesses.  He himself has been an entrepreneur for almost two decades.  Aside from allll of that, he's also a new dad, chef, yogi, chai & music lover.  What a multifaceted fellow!

In this episode, Robindra gives his insights on the importance of creating from a place of dharma (calling) and shares his story on what it was like to create a nationwide festival - challenges, rewards and lessons learned.    

Key Nuggets:

  • For Robindra, one of the biggest benefits of yoga was that it helped him move from achieving (always striving) to allowing.
  • A quote that he lives by and helps him through the tough times is  
“what you work, works”
  • There are two worlds: one of creating or one of destroying
  •  “All rivers lead to the ocean" – it’s about getting onto your own path and the river of creativity
  • Own your calling.  Sometimes you just need to choose, and once you choose then the path can unfold for you. And keep choosing it [that calling that you committed to] again and again.  Take comfort that if this isn’t your calling, your calling will show up. 
"if this isn't your calling, your calling will show up"
  • Your dharma isn’t about you.  It’s about how you want to leave that world and how that lights you up.
    • There are non complicated ways to live your dharma so don't psych yourself out by making it have to be this whole big thing.
    • There are many avenues to live your dharma and find flow.
  • Entrepreneurship
    • Robindra's take on entrepreneurship is that creating something on your own should answer the key questions: how can I make my life happier and healthier; and how can I help others make their life happier and healthier?
    • His biggest challenge for the It's Time To Bloom Festival:  starting this thing that wasn’t creating financial abundance right away and the uncertainty if it will at all (as with all businesses when they start off).
      • To get through this challenging times as well as others that he's faced, he goes back to what he lives by which is "what you work, works".  If it's not working then maybe you're not working it.
      • Another thing that helped was to remember to slow downThere’s this shift when you are acting from a place of your calling.
  • Biggest reward:  The impact that his creation has on participants' lives.  The example that sticks out is that there was this one participant, a young boy, who wasn't sure if he wanted to continue to live and was contemplating taking his own life.  Then he attended the Bloom Festival and his outlook was completely turned around.  To Robindra, impact like this is invaluable. 
  • ·         Look at psychology and design.
    • One lesson from creating the festival -  in the beginning Robindra focused on creativity, intention and everything else except for designing it for himself.  When he thought about how he wanted this to serve him as well, that’s when it all shifted.  He designed his festival so that he no longer had to expend the energy to do the take downs himself and he made sure that the it was financially abundant.   
  • Creating a community takes patience.  Most importantly you need to have clarity on who you're serving and how you can serve them.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Be 100% responsible for the results in your life.  For Robindra, he finds that the more responsible he is, the more he finds that self love shows up.  Doing things like honoring commitments to himself is part of that.  For example, if he decides to wake up at a certain time then he is going to do it.  The more that happens, the more the relationship with self is nurtured and that's one place that confidence stems from.

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with everyone who is on this journey of growth and transformation?

Simplify life in all ways. Look at your environment and clean it up.  Create a beautiful environment for yourself to be in to start to find alignment.  Once you’re in alignment you will become more magnetic and powerful in this world.  You’ll start to be in the flow.

Links:

If you have any questions for Robindra or want to learn more, connect with him through:

Website:  www.itstimetobloom.com

Instagram: @robindra       @itstimetobloom

Episode 35: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - How To Use Them In Your Life with Kelsey Delane

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Kelsey Delane is a Yoga Mentor & Reiki Master who guides fellow Yogis & Yoga Teachers toward more sustained joy.  She has completed an impressive 1,000 hours of yoga training ranging from kids yoga, to trauma informed yoga, to Yoga Philosophy.  Her most passionate subject is the teachings of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  She shares this knowledge through one on one mentorship, online platforms and in-person workshops. Kelsey also shares her love of Yoga by training upcoming teachers throughout Orange County, and working with teen girls through the UPLIFT Yoga Foundation.

Kelsey has a radiant and serene way about her, and it's hard not to absorb some of that goodness when talking to her.  In this episode we talk about how yoga transformed her from a distraught college student with severe chronic anxiety and depression into a radiant being who who enjoys a strong and peaceful relationship with her inner world.  Of course, we also dive into her area of expertise - The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  She gives us some tips on how to learn the teachings and how we can use them to become co-creators of our lives.

Key Nuggets:

  • The practice of yoga is the practice of the mind
    • One lesson that brought Kelsey through her toughest times is the recognition that we are not our minds.
    • The teachings of the sutras say that yoga is the ability to harness the fluctuations of the mind.  That we aren’t defined by our mind (Prakrati (physical world) vs. Purusha (unchanging light, the highest self radiates joy))
    • When we realize this (that we are not our mind) then we are able to choose what thoughts we want to entertain and allow to grow roots, and which thoughts we want to allow to just pass through.
    • What helped Kelsey with this understanding is that she began to recognize the impermanence of her feelings.
      • When she practiced yoga and gave herself a chance to sit in stillness, she became aware of the thoughts in her head (ex. Mind seemed to be moving a million miles per minute).  That is key because many people don't even realize that these thoughts are happening in the first place
      • She began to formulate that if she's able to notice these thoughts speeding by, then she's separate from them and ultimately she is not her thoughts.  As she continued to practice sitting in stillness, she also began to notice a stillness , a kind of calm, beneath all the thoughts.
  • Life will always have challenge and there really isn’t an arrival point.  With that in mind, joy is a choice not a destination.  It is liberating that you can choose santosha (contentment) at anytime.
    • To clarify, joy is not necessarily being happy all the time, but it's about embracing all the different experiences that come our way.  Without the fullness of different experiences and emotions it would be difficult to feel true joy.
  • Another perspective that helped Kelsey through her challenging times is that rather than figuring out how to avoid pain and suffering, she shifted her mindset to asking herself how can she love and support herself through the unpredictable nature of life.
    • Kelsey's tool recommendations to cultivate a supportive friendship with yourself to get through tough times:
      • Journaling – when you’re caught up in the moment, flush it out on paper.  Let the thoughts freely flow – don’t edit or filter.  This will give you a clearer picture of what’s really going on and see where you can be gentler with yourself.  It allows you to re-evaluate if this is the attitude that you want to take and to see if there’s something that you need to ask for.
      • Ask for help from others. Share a struggle with somebody that’s safe, that you know and love and receive support from them.
      • Practicing Yoga
        • Make use of the mind body connection and bring movement into life so that you can allow the emotions to move through you.
        • Physical practice can help soothe your nervous system.  As you calm down, you’re able to find discernment to where you can be more gentle with yourself.
      • Pranayama – breathwork to anchor
        • Kelsey’s favorite pranayama (breath) practice is belly breathing - breathe deep into belly to connect back to body and out of the mind.  Place a hand on belly to help physically feel and root into the breath 
    • Practice above tools so that you can apply it easily in the moment.  You don’t need to wait for some scheduled time. 
  • Yoga Sutras
    • The Yoga Sutras are part of the Vedas and are the foundational texts of yoga.  Written by Patanjali. 
    • Sutra means “thread”.
    • There are 195 threads of wisdom that show us practical ways to reduce suffering and bring about more sustained joy.
    • The sutras teaches the broader set of tools available to us for the practice of our mind beyond the asanas.  
      • “to say that asanas (the poses) is yoga is like holding up two eggs and saying that it is a cake”
      • Yoga is about the transformation of the mind 
    • There are four chapters in the Yoga Sutras:  Chapters one and two are practical wisdom while chapters three and four are more abstract.
    • The sutras provides an accessible trial and error approach.  Allows you to test out the tools and see how it works for you.  Teaches us to become our own guide.  It’s intended to be customized for each individual; it’s not about following somebody else’s instructions blindly. 
    • New to sutras?  Kelsey’s advice on where to start:
      • Self study by reading a book with quality translation.  Read it slowly, one sutra a day and maybe even meditate on it. 
        •  If a sutra falls flat it’s okay.  It might not be ready to be unfolded for you at this time.
        • Kelsey recommends finding a teacher or a community to discuss the concepts because someone else may be seeing it through a different lens and may be able to shine light on it for you to look at it with a different perspective
      • On that note, Kelsey teaches that Sutras is wisdom teaching which is different than informational downloading.  It's meant to be consumed and digested with a teacher and/or community.  Studying in this manner moves you from intellectual knowledge and into realized wisdom.
        • Find a teacher or mentor in your area by starting to look and ask.  If you know somebody who has what you’re looking for, reach out to them.
        • Keep eyes out for courses
        • Find a community in your area and if you can’t find one perhaps you want to start one.
        • Find an online group to discuss sutras (Kelsey has a free Facebook group available call Sutra Sanghas)
      •  “as soon as we open our eyes and ears and are willing to put ourselves out there, the relationships that will nourish us and the communities that we’re really yearning for will arise”
    • The sutras that Kelsey tries to live by everyday:
      • Prakti Prasha Bhavana: “If you are suffering, try to look at it another way”
        • A reminder of the choices that we have and that we get to choose how to perceive a situation
      • The beginning of chapter 2 where it teaches the final niyamas of the 8 limb path
        • Tapas – discipline required for new behaviour
        • Swadyaya – self reflection
          • Iswara-pranidhana – surrender
        • Theses three steps helps us create change, one step at a time, in any areas of our lives.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

You are a co-creator of your reality.  Although you can’t control many facets of your life, you can make choices that can support you in arriving to more joy.  In the face of adversity remember that you are a participant of the experience.  Ask yourself: What can I do to co-create a more joyful experience?

One nugget of wisdom you can share with fellow seekers who are also on this journey of growth and transformation:

Enjoy the ride because there is no destination.  There won’t be an arrival point where we don’t need to be on this journey. In accepting this truth, it allows us to indulge and savour the process rather than keeping our eyes on some imaginary destination that doesn’t exist.

Links & Resources:

If you have any questions for Kelsey or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.kelseydelaneyoga.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kelseydelaneyoga

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/kelseydelaneyoga

Book Recommendations:

The Yogasutra of Patanjali LIBERATING ISOLATION by Frans Moors – Kelsey’s favorite translation because it includes the original Sanskrit but also dives in to a deep discussion of what each concept is about

The Heart of Yoga by Desikachar

Kelsey also has a Sutras Facebook group called Sutras Sangha where she discusses one sutra every week. 

Episode 34: The Basics of Ayurveda with Susan Weis-Bohlen

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In this episode, we get to talk about a topic that I've been long intrigued by - AYURVEDA! 

Susan Weis-Bohlen is an Ayurvedic expert and author the book Beginner's Guide to Ayurveda: Essential Ayurvedic Principles & Practices to Balance & Heal Naturally.    On the Ayurvedic side, she's officially a Chopra Center Certified Ayurvedic Consultant; but she's also a meditation teacher, vegetarian cooking teacher and leads sacred site tours around the world.  Oh yea, she also owns a quaint bookstore cafe in Baltimore, Maryland.  While there is much wisdom to be shared, we focus on Ayurveda in this episode.

Ayurveda is considered to be the world's oldest medical system, dating back to be 5,000-10,000 years old.  I gravitate toward it because it's a holistic approach to health - mind, body and spirit.  It’s an intelligent system that leverages our natural functions to balance and heal rather than using force to create desired outcomes.  But it’s also a complex system that has many layers to it.  Traditionally the knowledge has been passed down by song and word of mouth.  Understanding it can be difficult and for me, it was hard to know where to even start.  That's why this conversation with Susan is sooooo good!  She shares the basic essential concepts that you need to know so that you can start applying concepts of Ayurveda to your benefit right away.  To name a few nuggets, we go over the framework of the constituents (doshas - kapha, pitta, vata) that rule this practice, how our doshas affect what foods are right for us, and guidelines for Ayurvedic eating that is beneficial for everybody.

Key Nuggets:

  • Panchakarma  - an ayurvedic therapy that combines a number of modalities including herbal oils, singing bowls, massage….
  • That Sticky Feeling (Susan talks about feeling "sticky" before she did her very first Ayurvedic treatment)
    • In Ayurveda, it’s called “Ama”.  A sticky substance (toxic residue, undigested food) in the body that blocks your circulatory channels (“shrota”) and prevents you from absorbing nutrients in your food.  Also blocks your mental system of absorption of ideas, creativity and manifestation.  In summary, a lot of Ama blocks your ability to move forward   
      • Symptoms of excess Ama:  generalized fatigue, coating on your tongue, don’t feel rested in the morning and don’t sleep well, sour smell to skin
    • The opposite of Ama is “ Ojas”.  As Susan puts it, “The liquid essence of life”. 
      • Result of strong Ojas: Feeling light no matter what weight is, good complexion, feel rested when you wake up in the morning, ideas and desires are manifested, excited about life, absorbing nutrients in food. 
    • In talking about Amas and Ojas,  Ayurveda aims for a subtle detox 24/7 – building new cells, muscles, absorbing nutrients and then eliminating.
      • When we’re not healthy, waste products build up and we get sick mentally and physically.  We need to constantly get rid of Ama and build Oja.  Techincally, our body does this naturally but we need to do our part and make sure we’re eating right and minimizing the amount of toxins that we take in  
  • Ayurveda: “the science of life”
    • Considered the oldest medical system in the world, between 5,000-10,000 years old and was devised in India.
    • Takes on all aspects of medicine (ex. Pediatrics, surgery…..)
    • Comes from the Vedas, which is a system of life (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) and is also 5,000-10,000 years old. 
      • Vedas includes meditation, yoga, Ayurveda, astrology…..
    • Knowledge passed down through sutras (threads) and are often in the form of song.
  • Doshas  - means imbalance
    • 3 doshas comprised of 5 elements
    • Elements: space, air, fire, water, earth
    • Doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha
      • Vata: air and space
        • Dryness, changeability, spontaneous, creative, ungrounded
          • Tend to blame themselves
            • Routine is very important.  If unbalanced, will forget to eat.
      • Pitta: fire and water
        • Hot, intense, sharp, good communicators, opinionated
        • Tends to blame others
      • Kapha: earth and water
        • Like a big hug. Soft, sweet, everybody’s best friend.
        • Tend to take care of others at their own expense.  Withdraws because they don’t want anyone to worry about them.
        • Everyone has all 3 doshas but oftentimes one dominates
  • Tastes: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent, bitter
    • Use different tastes to build doshas
    • Vata: eat sweet, salty and sour. Dense calories and warming foods to ground.
    • Pitta: sweet.  Reduce anything that adds heat like spicy foods and sour foods (ex. Coffee, yogurt….)
    • Kapha: lighten up with bitter, pungent and astringent foods.  Also need warm foods b/c they are usually cold.
    • The discernment of these tastes in food is complex (ex. a raw onion versus a cooked onion are considered different "tastes") so guides are recommended.  There are plenty of food lists available online to help understand how to eat for you dosha.  Susan herself includes a list in her book, The Ayurveda Beginner's Guide.
  • It’s good to know your dosha but don’t lead with it.  The goal is to be the healthiest that you can be and lead with that.  
  • Dosha is part of everything (ex. Time of day , seasons) so you need to look at big picture.
    • SEASONS:
      • Vata = fall and early winter. Dry, leaves fall to the ground.
      • Kapha = late winter and early spring.  Snow melts, heavy wet earth.
      • Pitta = spring and summer.  Everything is super hot and things (like plants) need a bit more water.
      • During transition phases from seasons, you need to give your digestion a break because it’s so changeable.  Look for easy meals on the body – light and warming.  
      • If we are in va t a season then everybody needs to pacify for that dosha no matter what theirs is.
  • We have doshas for everything: time of day, time of day and time of life.
    • TIME OF LIFE:
  • Kapha = Babies.  .
  • Pitta = Puberty onward. Hormones going crazy and then we are driving to move forward with life
  • Vata = Senior years. We get creative, take time to do things we love.  Synovial fluids also begin to dry up, skin dries up.
    • TIME OF DAY:
  • Pitta Day = 10am-2pm: When the sun is highest in the sky.  Have the largest meal of your day because it’s good time for digestion. A good meal will help you sail through Vata time.
  • Vata Day = 2pm-6pm: If we had a good meal, we can be super focused and productive.  If not, then you crash and you feel like you need coffee and junk food.
  • Kapha Day = 6pm-10pm: have a light meal.  Kapha doesn’t have as much heat and doesn’t digest food as quickly as it would during the day.  Great time for exercise because it helps you get through this time.  Also a great time to get ready for bed.  Don’t do things that excite the mind too much.
  • Pitta Night - 10pm-2am:  A very important time because it's a time for digesting everything that happened throughout the day including food, people, experiences….. Also a time where there is preparation for elimination.  Getting to bed at by this time is important!
    • This is where Ama (that sticky build up of toxins) begins.  If you have a heavy meal or you don’t give yourself the time to sleep during this time, it will start to clog up.
  • Vata Night = 2am-6am: If you're still up, you'll feel like you got a second wind or renewed energy.  If you don’t sleep on time then the vata time will take over and it’ll be hard for you to sleep.  If you're asleep then this is a time where you have vivid dreams to help detox mind.
  • Kapha Night = 6am-10am: Try to get out of bed before this time you can use the winds of vata to help you get up.  Otherwise the kapha energy gets you all groggy. 
  • Tips for Ayurvedic eating for every dosha.  Practices that you can take into your life right away!
    • Eat veggies within season. 
      • Ex. Winter = root veggies.  Our agni (digestive powers) is high and root veggies are really hearty and filling. 
      • Spring/Summer = agni decreases (we’re not as hungry) and the foods that grow in that season are lighter like melons.
    • A meal is considered 2 handfuls (2/3 of stomach for most people).  We only fill part f the stomach to make sure to leave room for digestion!  Susan gives the analogy of a fire - if you stuff a fire up with logs, the logs will smother it and end up putting out the fire.
    • An easy way to tell what foods you should avoid: FLUNC
      • F = frozen foods and meals that are loaded with preservatives, chemicals and sugar (frozen organic veggies and berries are good though).  Also no ice in drinks – too cold will reduce digestive fires.
      • L = leftovers.  The longer food sits, the more nutrients it loses.  Susan suggests leaving food for 24-36hrs max. 
      • U = unnatural foods.  Processed foods. 
      • N = nuked.  Avoid microwaving food because it kills the nutrients in the food.  Better to heat up on stovetop or oven.  Using a thermos is an option if you want to bring hot food to work.
      • C = canned.  Store bought canned food and sauces that have a lot of sugars or chemical coating on the can (bisphenol A is carcinogenic).  (Home canned foods are good though)
    • In summary, 3 meals per day, 2 handfuls per meal and avoid FLUNC foods.
    •  E ven small changes like the ones Susan suggests can have big impact on how you feel.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

 Notice what’s right for you.  Know that you don’t need to push yourself.  That you can sit back, listen, and take time to figure out what the next move might be.  Don’t forget to miss all the wonderful things around you that’s along the way.  Be humble and restful.  Everything can be fixed, everything will have it’s time.  Relax into it.  Be present and available with what is.                                                       

Links:

If you have any questions for Susan or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:   www.breatheayurveda.com

Email: susan@breatheayurveda.com

Facebook:

 https://www.facebook.com/susanweisbohlen

https://www.facebook.com/breatheayurvedaandmeditation/

https://www.facebook.com/vediccounselor/

Instagram: @susanweisbohlen

Call or Text : 401-979-2096

Resources:

Susan provides food lists, food guidelines, and a quiz to find out your dosha among much more valuable information about Ayurveda in her book Beginner's Guide to Ayurveda: Essential Ayurvedic Principles & Practices to Balance & Heal Naturally.   

Websites she recommended to learn more about Ayurveda include ayurveda.com and banyanbotanicals.com

Episode 33: Lessons From A Yoga Studio Owner with Jeff Mah

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Jeff Mah is an engineer turned yoga teacher and yoga studio owner.  He and his wife owns the ever so popular The Yoga Lounge in the mountain city of Canmore, Alberta.  His journey has been a series of unexpected twists and surprises, at one point being an engineer and then later considering to maybe even do his MCAT to become a doctor.  In this episode, Jeff shares his story with yoga and what finally inspired him to leap into an unconventional (at the time) career path because it truly resonated with him.  And of course I had to get the scoop on what it's like to own a yoga studio!  Jeff gives us a glimpse by sharing the challenges, rewards and the hard work behind the scenes.

Key Nuggets:

  • What helped Jeff decide where to take his career:
    • Seeing somebody else take the path that he aspired to was an inspiring example for him.
    • The feeling of his two choices were different.  One made him feel anxious when he thought about it and the other made him happier the more he did it.
  • Lessons learned from opening a yoga studio:
  1. If you're taking over a studio, you don’t have to change everything right off the cuff.  The community that’s already built is invaluable along with the staff who has been serving the community for so long.
  2. Don't do something for somebody with the expectation that they need to do something back or they owe you.  Work on creating meaningful relationship instead.         
  • So far, the biggest challenge of running a studio has been to stay relevant.
    •  By relevant he means bringing a style of practice that’s meaningful to students
    • Considering the age group of your students and any challenges that they are meeting
    • A constant evolution in your offerings to the students, be willing to change
  • Behind the scenes: moving pieces that need to be considered as a studio owner
    • How to hire the right people
    • What kind of relationships you want to develop with staff
    • Cost structure of your passes/memberships 
  • What helped Jeff with success:
    • Listening to feedback from students
    • Realizing that teaching awesome classes doesn’t cut it.  Needed to start learning the business skills as well.
    • Be willing to get help.
  • Biggest rewards from running studio:
    • To be able to hold space for community and create  a community.
    • Constantly being surrounded by people you love.
  • What motivates him to put in all the hard work into the studio and into teaching:
    • Being part of the evolution as he grows and his students grow
    •  Advocacy is also something that he is passionate about.  Jeff states that as studio owners or yoga teachers, recognizing that you have influence and you have the ability to help shape a conversation is so important.
      • How to advocate with love and positivity:
    • Get informed
    • Keep checking back with your motivation
    • Have your stance but look at what shakes your opinions a bit

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

The more you practice, the more personal it becomes.  Remember that your practice is fluid - evolving with it allows you to evolve and grow.

Your One Piece of Advice:

Come from a place of service and see the big picture.  Let that guide you.

Links:

If you have any questions for Jeff or want to learn more, connect with him through:

Website: www.theyogalounge.ca 

               www.jeffmah.com

Facebook:  @jeffmah

    

Episode 32: How Mindfulness Awakens Our True Selves with Julie Seibt

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Julie Seibt is a yoga teacher with plenty of credentials under her belt - IAYT Yoga Therapist, Anahata Yoga Teacher and iRest Teacher to name a few. But it’s probably more accurate to just describe her as an ocean of knowledge.  This is one lady who is well versed in the matters of the heart and her unshakable truth shines through the entire conversation.  In this episode, we dive into a rich conversation about mindfulness and how you can apply it to live a life of freedom and of course more joy.  Julie provides clear examples and tools that can be simply applied for more peaceful living starting right now.  We hear her insights on how to create better relationships with ourselves (because one thing I’m learning is that it all comes back to self love folks!) and touch on my favourite topic – how to tap into that inner wisdom.  We begin and end with a beautiful meditation so if you’re able to set yourself up in a comfortable position, please do so and join in.  Alright, plug those earplugs in and let’s let the good vibes roll.

Key Nuggets:

  • We can’t stop the difficulties in our lives but we can change the relationship with it.  We can come to a point where we surf the waves and almost welcome it.  Finding the lessons that are to be found.
  • Once again we are reminded that yoga is more than the asanas (poses).  It in essence is a heart practice.
    • With that said, yes there’s more than just the body but also, while we’re in these bodies, we should learn how to take the best care of it.  After all, this is our vehicle for this life. 
  • The mind body connection: tuning into it helps you see if you’re driving yourself for something that’s lacking.
    • For example, sometimes we force our bodies into what it “should” be like.  I'm "old" or "young" or "a yoga junkie" so it should work this way or that.
    • The mind body connection allows you to come back, moment to moment and hear what your body needs now.  Listen to its messages. As Julie says, to “heed the wisdom of our body”
  • Listen to your body and ask kind questions:
    • Put your hand on your heart and ask “what do you need today”
      • You might not hear words, but maybe just a feeling.  The feeling is your answer, you should sit with it.
    • When you come into a challenging pose and you’re stretching yourself to find your edge, ask yourself “is kindness here?”.  And then take this question to the rest of your life – in meetings, at the grocery store….
  • Mindfulness
    • Through the many definitions, as long as your intention for mindfulness is heart based, side by side with compassion and aligned with joy and equanimity, you are on the right track.
    • To Julie, mindfulness is also about seeing more clearly.  We’re all in a trance due to our conditioned minds – what happens to us in our childhoods all the way to what happened to us yesterday conditions our reactions and responses.
      • Mindfulness helps us see our conditioning more clearly and breaks us from the trance with our habitual self. It buys us space between reactivity and a wise response. 
    • An empowering realization is that we don’t have to act the way we were before.  We don’t even have to believe our thoughts.
    •  When we become less reactive, we are able to expose ourselves to our deepest truths, deepest yearnings
    • This is hard work!  Working on mindfulness means needing to sit with uncomfortable feelings, you need to make space in your mind to what the raw truths are and become vulnerable to what your heart’s true desires.
  • Thoughts: 
    • We are not our thoughts.  We can’t control our thoughts, we don’t need to listen to it!
    • Mindfulness is when we can see the thoughts but not judge it.  If we take action on it then it’s a different story.
    • Julie shares an acronym from her teacher Michelle McDonald
      •  RAIN (a tool for anything that you're noticing - thoughts, emotions, feelings...)
        • R: recognition of the thoughts
        • A: acceptance that the thought happened (not necessarily that we condone or endorse the thought)
        • I: Investigation.  See what is going on there.
        • N: Non identification.  Don’t personalize the thought as yourself.  See it as a movement in awareness and in the mind but remember that the home ground of who we are is a form of wholeness, untainted.
    • We aren't our thoughts but what we can look at is how the thought feels, b/c behind every thought there’s a feeling. It could be something that needs to healed and once that’s paid attention to then the thoughts that you’re not happy with will come up less and less
    • Tip: You can make a date to investigate the thought if you can’t attend to it right away.  Put your hand where you feel it and sit with it.
  • We want to be able to feel the most uncomfortable feelings like shame
    • Shame only thrives in secrecy.  Empathy is the antidote.
    • The Buddha taught about healthy shame and unhealthy shame.
      • Healthy shame comes with self-compassion.  
      • Unhealthy shame is one that you get stuck with and identify with.  You get hooked into thinking that, that bad thing is what you are.
  • Our attachment to an outcome results in burnout.  When we accept and let go we are able to care for ourselves and loved ones much more.
  • Awakening is waking up to the truth that we are not our thoughts, we are not our conditioned selves and that we are way more than that.  Waking up to these little truths.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Soften into the inherent grace that’s within you from moment to moment.  It’s when you soften that you allow ease and well being to come through.  Rather than trying to fix something or force something, sit with the not knowing.  Allow and release.                                     

Links:

If you have any questions for Julie or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.bodymindease.com

Email:  julie@bodymindease.com

Episode 31: To Live Your Best Life Practice Self Care and Self Love with Melissa Jay

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Melissa Jay is a registered psychologist and yoga teacher who has melded her two loves into Yoga Psychology.  The hard work she puts into her psychology practice and yoga retreats are all done in purpose of her mission, which is "to empower compassionate souls to love themselves unconditionally".  When we take good care of ourselves and ensure that our cups are filled then we are better to be able to show up and be present with the people that we care about.  The result?  Deeper connection, true connection. 

To live your best life you must practice self love and self care.  Part of that is to tune into your inner world, understand how you relate to others (because we relate to each other differently), realize what it is that you need and then ask for it and receive it.  The last part is where many people trip up.  There seems to be a resistance to receiving and it holds us back.  Plug in those earbuds and listen in because Melissa helps us understand four different ways we relate to each other, how to make use of that information (breaking beyond "what's wrong with me?") and gives a compelling case as to why it's important learn to receive what you need from others.

Key Nuggets:

  • We’re all just seeking for lives that feel good on the inside.
  • Self care:
    • They are the little moments throughout the day where we integrate mind, body and spirit.
    • Checking in with your mental wellness is just as important as checking in with your physical wellness.
    • Self care strategies:
      • Can be something simple like a cup of tea
      • Yoga
      • Seeking a counsellor to help get out of our heads and into a place of unconditional self love.  You don’t have to wait until something is terribly wrong.  It’s self-care in up-keeping your mental health
  • There is a difference between empathy and sympathy:
    • Empathy is feeling with someone.  Can take perspective of somebody else and stay out of judgement.  Allows you to stay connected to yourself and ultimately builds your capacity for being kind to yourself when needed.
      • “help me understand”
    • Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone and it does come with a tone of judgement.
    • Brene Brown has an awesome video that helps explain the difference.
  • Breathing and mindful meditation helps create space so that you can understand what you need.
  • Our barriers to connection include worry, guilt, sadness, hurt, fear, stress and overwhelm
    •  Usually it’s one theme that keeps coming up
  • Attachment (psychologically speaking) is connection and we need connection from birth all the way to the end of life.
    • We have different ways of relating to each other. These patterns can change but sometimes it
    • The four attachment patterns (Mary Ainsworth):
      • Secure: when we’re together everything is great and when we are apart it’s still great.  You know that the person you’re connected to has your back
        • Essentially true connection, one with unconditional love. 
        • It doesn’t mean it’s perfect – there are times that you get hurt but you get through it together and you get to be safe to  be your authentic yours.
      • Anxious attachment: needing to be close most of the time and difficult to be independent.  There’s a fear that if you’re away from that person you’ll lose them. Looks like neediness and always wanting to be close.
      • Avoidant attachment: keeping someone that you care about at an armslength.  Fearlful that if you let that person close to them you’ll lose them.  Feelings of anxiety, actually even more anxious than those with an anxious attachment.
      • Disorganized attachment: a small portion of the population where it’s a mix of all of them.
      • Attachment types can be different in each relationship.
      • Depending on where you are in your life you may develop a pattern that keeps showing up.  Ex. You can have an anxious attachment keep showing up in romantic relationships but have secure relationships with your family
      • Awareness of attachment type allows you to better ask for what you need
    • When we are aware of what’s getting in our way then we can as for what we need
    •  Practicing secure attachment
      • Melissa recommends reading the book "Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find - And Keep - Love" by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. It gives real life examples of how the attachment patterns may play out in your life and what to do with the awareness of your attachment type
  • Self love:
    • A practice where we’re able to be kind to ourselves and step into a place where you’re unconditional with yourself.  To check in with yourself often and understand what you’re needing. 
    • Knowing that it's great to give to others and that it’s okay to receive as well
    • The more we give to ourselves, the better we can show up and give to the people that we care about.  Leads to fulfilling relationships
    • The primary ingredient to self-love is self-care ultimately connecting to our hearts
      • Getting to a place where you know what you need and being able to honour that
    • The most common place people falter when trying to practice self love is getting caught up in our brains – all those thoughts.  It’s either projecting us into the future or living in the past.  Moving into the heart is constantly coming back to present moment
      • The question is “how can I stay connected and keep coming back to the present”
      • Melissa’s favorite practice to coming back to present moment is as simple as three cleansing breaths: inhaling fully through your nose and exhaling fully through your mouth
  • Moving through guilt is better than resenting something.
  • By saying no we are actually empowering ourselves

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Take what fits and leave the rest. 

Links and Resources:

If you have any questions for Melissa or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:   www.canmorecounselling.com

Facebook Group: The Self Care Community

Instagram: @yoga_psychology

Resources that were mentioned in this episode:

Brene Brown’s video on empathy

Book: "Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find - And Keep - Love" By Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

Episode 30: Messages from our Bodies and How Anahata Yoga can Help You Listen with Anne Douglas

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Happy New Year! We kick off 2018 with an episode about the significance of tapping into your body's intelligence.  Anne Douglas is a teacher and yoga scholar who has had over three decades of experience practicing/studying in the field.  She is the creator of Anahata Yoga Therapy, which is a path for self-inquiry, loving kindness and the integration of what she calls "the issues in the tissues".  We spend the hour talking about Anne's journey through different forms of yoga, the relationship between emotion and body symptoms and how Anahata Yoga Therapy can help.

Key Nuggets:

  • Anahata Yoga
    • Anahata is the heart chakra, and translated from Sanskrit it means“unstruck" like a bell singing out in its true nature
    • Anahata Yoga therapy is coming into the heart to find authentic expression
  • Kripalu Yoga is the practice where it all started for Anne.  It is a spiritual practice rooted in Kundalini Yoga (energetics of yoga) and comes from the Kashmir tradition which embraces a nondual view, going beyond the teachings of Patanjali. 
  • Body Intelligence:
    • Sometimes body pains are a reflection of our emotional world.  As Anne calls it, "the issues in the tissues". 
    • There can be trau.mas experienced or false beliefs built in our childhood that needs to be released
    • If not released properly, emotional traumas go underground into tissues and can get stuck in body.  In psychology it’s referred to as “bound arousal”
    • Initial shutdown usually manifests as symptoms in the diaphragm but can show up anywhere ex. hips, back, hamstrings…
    • There is a form of training called Wavework training which studies the energetics of emotion.  Based on this study, emotions move.  They need to move.  Wavework helps access emotions as energy and as emotion is felt, it is released and integrated through the body.
    • Allowing the emotion to move through is counteracting our developed behaviour of holding in our emotions.
  • Two views on yoga: dualistic and non dualistic:
    • The classical teachings of Pantanjali is dualistic, the two sides being:
      •  Prakiti – all of nature, the potential of all that’s to manifest
      • Purusha – seer, witness
      • In this view, pure consciousness is separate from all of nature. 
      • In practice, it looks like a yoga practice where you try to work your way out of the body.  The belief is “I am not this body, I am pure consciousness”
    • There is also a non dual path which recognizes that there’s one reality and prakriti arises out of purusha.  The two are one (ie. The iconic figures like the Shiva Shakti being in an embrace). 
      • In this view, there is no split between the seer and nature.  We are all one.
  • How to start applying the healing powers of Anahata Yoga:
    •  During your next yoga practice, make an extra effort to tap into the body. Notice the dominant sensations. Dialogue with it....you can start by saying “hello”.  This will give your body a sense of unconditional presence. 
    • By using phrases like “I’m going to be with you for ____ minutes”,  “I am here, I will stay with you”, you build a relationship with your inner self. 

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Your body is your vehicle in this lifetime.  Maintain it like you would a car with high octane fuel and anything else it needs then you can achieve a lot.  Perfect timing, quantity and rhythm beyond what you can imagine.           

Links:

If you have any questions for Anne or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.anahatayogatherapy.ca

Email:  anahatayoga@telus.net

Episode 29: Wisdom of 2017: Year In Review

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It has been a wonderful year on Curious Monki! I am SO grateful for everyone who tunes in and for all the amazing souls who have graciously shared their wisdom.  The conversations have been heartfelt and rich with knowledge.  In this episode, I look back on some of the lessons shared. Among them are powerful messages like:  trust your intuition; life won't always take the path that you want it to and that's not a bad thing.  You must trust that something better is in store for you; self love and self compassion are the gateways to true happiness; you're a life long learner, that's what all these life experiences are for!  

I love having these conversations and it has been an absolute dream to share them with you.  As I've said before, this is a journey to the heart.  It's the discovering of all that we are.  Let's do this together and learn to connect deeper within as well as with the world around us.  Ultimately, you'll live the life of your true self and true happiness!

I sincerely hope that these conversations have been inspiring to you....maybe even illuminate something that you haven't discovered before. 

Now, I'd like to hear from you! 

  • What has been your greatest lesson this year?

  • What topics do you want to hear about in 2018?  I'm listening. 

Leave a comment below or go to the contact page and email me.

 Happy holidays and have a wonderful New Years!

 

    

 

 

 

 

Episode 28: Mastering the Business of Yoga: Three Key Items You Need To Succeed with Amanda Kingsmith

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Amanda Kingsmith is a world traveler, yoga teacher and also the podcast host for two shows:  The World Wanderers and Mastering the Business of Yoga aka. MB.OM.  She's passionate about helping yoga teachers discover careers they love and enjoys working 1-on-1 with yoga teachers to help them build their business.  In this episode, she tells us how she managed to create a life filled with travel and adventure; all while doing what she loves from anywhere in the world.  We get business savvy as she shares three key concepts that will help you succeed in creating a business out of the thing (or things...yes, you can have more than one) you love!  This episode is for you if you're a yoga teacher, yoga teacher to be or if you're in the business of succeeding in doing what you love.  Plug in those earbuds and listen in!

Key Nuggets:

  • The world is so much bigger than you think, which is great because it also means that there are so many more opportunities than you think.  Travelling can help broaden your view of possibilities.
  • There’s not one right path in the world of teaching yoga.  Hone in on what you do really well. Your unique skills. And bring that out to the world
  • The first step in teaching is to teach!  Try all sorts of things and see what resonates with you.
  • In choosing your teaching path, also meditate on the lifestyle that you want.  That will help you determine your path as well.
  • Amanda’s 3 most important concepts in the business on yoga:

1. Ask for help.  Don’t try to wear all the different hats.

  • Hire people who can help alleviate your time so that you can focus on what you’re good at
  • Think about the time that you’re giving up when you're taking on a task instead of getting help with it and consider if it's worth it.  For example, you can choose to use your time to do your own accounting or that time can be spent reading a book to sharpen your skills in yoga.  
  • The form of asking for help doesn't always have to be a monetary value.  Energy exchanges are an option too - for example, Amanda exchanged private yoga lessons for her logo to be created.

2. Define your niche

  • Take as many opportunities that you can when you’re starting off so that you can see what you like and what you don’t.  In Amanda's words “Say yes until you get your no”
  • Narrowing in on what you offer will better position you to become the expert in that area.  It's important to note that this doesn’t mean you’re pigeonholed into just that specialty.  Ex. If you specialize in prenatal it doesn’t mean you can’t teach vinyasa

3. Diversify your portfolio and expand your offerings

  • Consider all that you want to offer, from classes all the way to retreats.
  • Imagine your offerings as a funnel and each layer of that funnel will attract a certain portion of your students.  Each layer of that funnel will also be a stream to bring in revenue.
  • Funnels don’t always have to be just one thing.  For example, Amanda does yoga teaching but also business and website development.  You can couple a few other things that you like to do.
  • The opportunities are expansive!  Don’t limit yourself to what you think it has to look like.

 

  • Financials – how to make this business sustainable
    • Start by figuring out your budget and looking at what it would take to meet that budgets.  Ex. If you find out that you need to teach 40 studio classes every week, are you willing or even physically capable to? 
    • Yoga teachers need to understand their max.  Self-care for yoga teachers is pertinent.  There is such thing as a burnout point, make sure you take self-care and don’t overextend yourself.  Each person’s own burnout point is different.
  • Amanda’s advice for new yoga teachers or yoga teachers to be:
    • Go ahead, do it!  Dive right into your own personal practice and journey.
    •  Delve into your own journey and
    • If it doesn’t become a business, you won’t lose out!  You’ll gain something.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

You aren’t going to know it all but that’s okay!  We’re all human and it’s okay to make a stumble here or there, we all do.  Don't hold back from diving into it because you’re afraid of the stumble.  Hopefully they’ll love you anyway but if not, that’s okay too.  You’re not going to be for everybody, and that’s fine.  Just remember, if you try to please everyone you’ll please no one. 

Links:

If you have any questions for Amanda or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Websites: www.mbomyoga.com

www.amandakingsmith.com 

www.theworldwanderers.com

Email:  info@mbomyoga.com

Facebook: @amandakingsmith and @masteringthebusinessofyoga 

Instagram: @amandakingsmith and @masteringthebusinessofyoga 

Resources:

Amanda is co-hosting a retreat in Nicaragua in spring 2018!  Click here if you're interested in taking this adventure with her.

Episode 27: Chronic Illness and Yoga: What it's like when our bodies don't work the way we want w/ Brittany Zeer

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It’s one thing to develop a well-oiled routine and have the discipline to follow through but what happens if our bodies aren’t cooperating the way we want them to?  It’s excruciating to get through a trip to the grocery store let alone make it to a yoga class where you have to bend yourself in all sorts of shapes.  Each day is a toss-up – maybe you’ll be pain free, maybe you’ll be bed ridden…..or maybe you’ll think it’s a pain free day and then bam! just when you’re about to make it to an important appointment the pain hits and everything’s a write off.  It’s frustrating – how do you plan your day? How do you maintain a yoga practice?  How do you keep up a social life??  This is what life is like for somebody who has a chronic illness.  In this episode, Brittany Zeer is back on the show and we discuss chronic illnesses.  An accident three years ago left her with chronic migraines and now pain management is on her daily agenda.  She sheds light on what it’s like to live with a chronic illness, how loved ones can support, pain management tips and how to continue a yoga practice despite the obstacles. 

If you have a chronic illness listen in because you’re not alone!  If you don’t have a chronic illness, listen in anyway because it’s a chance to flex that compassion muscle.  The struggle isn’t always visible and there’s a huge part that we can play in supporting our friends.        

Key Nuggets:

  • If you have a chronic illness, know that you're not alone!  There are communities like Migraine Mantras ready to support one another.  Sometimes sharing your story can help alleviate the pressure, and who knows, your story can end up helping somebody else! 
  • What it's like to have a chronic illness:
    • It's a constant battle for balance.  They want to be able to go out and do regular things like running errands or coffee with friends but sometimes the body just doesn't allow it.

    • There's a great deal of guilt when they have to cancel plans.  Kind understanding can go a long way.   

  • How can you support somebody who has a chronic illness:
    • The best support is just to listen.  You may not be able to offer a solution but that's not always what they're looking for or needing anyway.
    • Just being there is also a great one.  Again, there might not be anything that can be done about the pain but your presence in itself is comforting.
    • Release judgement of what you think person with chronic illness can and can’t do.
    • Don’t be afraid to console in them.  They want to support you as much as you support them!
  • Brittany's rituals for managing pain:
    • Firstly, know when to say no and know that it’s okay to say no.  Listen to your body and don't push yourself too far.
    • Bubble bath with something soothing for muscles like lavender oil and relax.  Warning against peppermint!  Doesn’t feel so great in a bath. 
    • However, peppermint oil is great for around the head to alleviate some pressure if you have a headache or migraine. 
    • Breathe.  Link breath with song in the bathtub or wherever you are.
  • There's a program called Love Your Brain that provides yoga classes especially for those who have a traumatic brain injury

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:                   

Share your story because you deserve to be heard – there is something that you can share.

Also, ask for support and be okay receiving support.    

Links:

If you have any questions for Brittany or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Instagram: @beezee89

Facebook: Brittany Zeer

Blog Posts at Migraine Mantras

Resource:

Love Your Brain – a non profit program specially designed for yoga with brain injuries.

Episode 26: How to Take the Healing Path and Live on Purpose with Nicholas Pepe

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Nicholas Pepe is one inspiring individual who has dedicated himself to doing what I’ve decided to call “heart work”.  Work that is soul centred with the intention to help provide a positive impact on other people’s lives and the world.  In specific, he’s an Energy Healer and Personal Development Coach who specializes in helping women who are ruled by fear, doubt, and “low confidence” learn how to master their emotions so that they can live with Courage, Confidence and Freedom

Nicholas is the author of Courageous Acts of Self-Love, creator of a self-help channel on YouTube, and has been featured on MSNBC as well as several magazines.

In this episode, we have a heart to heart about some provoking life questions such as why is it important to heal?  What’s holding people back from joy?  How do we live our purpose?  Nicholas shares lessons and insights gathered from the work he’s done with clients as well as himself.

Key Nuggets:

  • Healing where you’ve been hurt the most is where you can affect others the most.
  • We’re all healers for our own life.  The external healers that we seek are guides that help bring us back to our own inner power.
  • People are merely skimming the surface of their lives.  In other words, many people live with a lot of unresolved patterns and the same issues keep coming up over and over for them.  Nicholas urges you to be a submarine and go deep into the places that you were hoping to keep stashed away.  Oftentimes we don't even know ourselves at that deep level and that not knowing blocks us from our true selves.
  • Healing can begin as easy as a moment of acknowledgement to yourself.  Nicholas uses the analogy of a stubbed toe - when we hit our toe against something, we hold onto it to soothe it rather than ignoring it.  We should do the same for our internal selves.  For example, if somebody said something to you and it triggered a negative feeling (ex. shame, guilt), acknowledge it rather than stash it away. There’s a part of you who is hurt that needs to be heard
  • Saying “yes” is also a boundary to set. Say yes to yourself, yes to the parts of you that need healing, yes to taking more time for yourself.
  • Most common obstacle that Nicholas sees that is holding people back from true joy is not having felt joy in it’s entirety.  The more things we need to heal, the less we can feel.  It takes energy to repress uncomfortable emotions. It’s like looking at a sunset and not experiencing the full beauty of it.
  • Numb is still a feeling and holds a frequency.
  • Feel your emotions through you body.  Oftentimes we add a label to how we're feeling and rationalize it out with our minds.  That's fine but we're missing the other part, which is how it feels in the body.  When we don't look at the whole, there is a disconnect.
    • We give words feelings.  In essence, feelings don’t require words.  Labeling is a limitation in itself.  The real emotion comes in shades....shades of anger….a ball of feels that can’t be explained in words
  • We all have a purpose but sometimes we forget.  Perhaps we get lost in meeting the expectations of others or the expectations we've set for ourselves.
  • Become aware of how you’re investing your energy.  Is there too much energy invested in too many places? When we don't think about how we are investing our energy, we can end up with not enough energy for ourselves
  • You’re here on purpose, spend your energy on purpose, so that you can live from a place of more purpose
  • The work we do on ourselves ripples out into the world whether we realize it or not.  We are being felt in many ways that we may not be able to see.
  • What’s in your mind isn’t necessarily true.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:                   

Every single thing you do matters.  You need to give more credit to yourself for the amazing things you do each day.  Just you being you is a victory.  You are much bigger than you think you are.

Links and Resources:

If you have any questions for Nicholas or want to learn more, connect with him through:

Website: nicholaspepe.com

Instagram: @ _nicholaspepe

You can get his FREE E-BOOK, Courageous Acts of Self Love at nicholaspepe.com/lp/

Episode 25: Meditation to Reset

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It has been a mad busy month – vacation, a pending move (finally happening this week yay!!)  and hours of planning for my beloved father’s birthday.  I am so grateful for all of these wonderful happenings in my life but also kind of exhausted.  My mind seems to match the erratic positioning of the half-packed boxes in my little apartment.  There's a slight undercurrent of anxiety and even as I type out this plain and simple truth, I find myself on trial with self-judgement.  “There are NO excuses in life.  Pull it together, there is no room for FALTERING.  You are so lucky to have any of this, if you want it you’ll push through, power through, and deliver….and it better be a damn good job”.  And the usual soundtrack plays on, words dripping heavily.  Geeze, this harsh type of motivation is a whole different kind of exhausting.  Why do we need to be so hard on ourselves?  As I ponder this question the saving grace of all my lessons come flooding back to me.  The answer is that you simply don't. My logic mind rejects this idea but I've now developed a new voice that gently says "It's okay to rest".  If it's one thing that I've learned through my study of yoga and interviews with so many amazing souls, it's that all of this is a journey to the heart.  As the brilliant Rumi puts it

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."

It's easy to continue with the familiar obligation to power through.  It's so much harder to stop in the midst of a tornado and find stillness despite the anxiety.  When life demands become overwhelming it's instinctive to descend into the spiral and try to get everything under control.  The only trouble with that is "control" is an illusion and the calculated descent quickly turns into a hard tumble.  I'm not going to lie, there's a part of me that totally rejects what I just said.  It prefers to maintain my old patterns.  It desperately wants to make life look effortlessly perfect (whatever that means).  But I've been down that path before.  Many times.  Self-care falls by the wayside, self-judgement becomes king, and the true self closes.  Another thing that I've learned is that "effortless" is achievable but doesn't look the way you expect it to.  It looks different depending on who you are but it holds the same lightness.  In essence, it's that glow that you see in people who live mostly in joy; and people who live in joy don't speak harsh words against themselves.  That's what I really, truly want.  This is a journey to the heart.  So there.  I will work against the nagging feeling to follow my old habits of continuing to produce even though I feel like a tired zombie.  I will tolerate the thought that if I choose to rest, my world will most probably crumble into a disastrous scenario so bad that I haven't even thought of yet.  And I will take on the challenge to rest hard because I feel a sense of relief just saying this, albeit a bit anxious.  To take a lesson from another brilliant mind

"I have so much to accomplish today so I need to meditate for two hours instead of one".  Ghandi

I'm willing to take a bet that I'm not the only one who has had a crazy few weeks.  That's why for this week, I've written this blog post plus I put together a ten minute meditation.  If you're on the same boat, let's breathe together, reset and re-calibrate.

~ Namaste  

Episode 24: Deepen Your Yoga & Heart Centered Living with Alice Hong

 
 
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Alice Hong is a growth and transformation facilitator that guides others to listen deeply, love fully, and live wholeheartedly.  This travel junkie has her home base in Calgary, Alberta but she holds Yoga Teacher Trainings, Retreats and Women's gatherings all around the world like in Iceland and Bali.  Her ambition sweeps her away toward inspiring projects such as her recent endeavor to help women live more heart centered lives.  Despite the travelling and jam packed schedule, Alice walks with a steady air of centered-ness.  How?  Because she lives by the philosophy of Tantra which is the philosophy that everything weaves together.  A graceful dance of balance and harmony.  In this episode, we talk about the philosophy of Tantra, it's core concepts Shiva and Shakti (masculine/feminine energies) and how to deepen our Yoga practice beyond the poses.  

Key Nuggets:

  • Alice's take on what yoga is: Yoga isn’t necessarily the physical practice.  It’s about learning to be as emotions arise.  It's a is a state of being in the present moment, of being attuned to what’s happening in that moment right now.  When we allow the chatter to fall away, that’s where the magic happens because then all there is presence and presence is love.  So all there is, is love. 
  • The philosophy of Tantra.
    • Tantra means“to loom, or to weave” . It is the philosophy of everything weaving together.  There is no one way.  We can live through the lens and perspective of others. Shiva and Shaktiare at the core of this philosophy. 
      • Shiva: Masculine energy.  Everything is present, the stillness
      • Shakti: Feminine energy. The dance, the movement, the feeling; activating your senses
      • So Tantra is to have awareness (shiva) as we dance (shakti).  Aka. The centered-ness as the world turns.
    • About being in your body and celebrating it.  Sees the body as a beautiful gift that allows us to experience the nectar of life.  
  • Our bodies communicate with us and we communicate back to our bodies.
    • To learn the language of the body, you need to learn as if you’re learning a new language:  First listen and understand the nuances of the body. Only then can you begin to respond. 
    • Incorporate breath, sound and movement to become attuned to the body.
    • We are also communicating to our body.  Depending on what’s going on in our minds, we are also communicating that to our body. (ex. If you keep thinking I’m too weak to do this, the body will respond accordingly). 
  • A yoga practice: The practice itself is life.  It's about becoming present to the moment.  There are many tools to help with this:
    • Asanas – the poses help us work into our physical bodies and shaking off things that no longer serve   
    • Meditation – teaching focus and concentration, letting go and keep coming back to present moment
    • Pranayama – control our breath, our life force. Allowing us to let to and to let in
    • Mantra – using vibrations for resonance
  • If you are searching to deepen your practice, remember that there is no one path.  When you don’t know where to direct your search, try a few different things to see what tool works for you.  Different teachers, a new workshop…   

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Don’t be so hard on yourself.  The only person that you need to live with is yourself.  For the rest of your life.  What do you want your inner world to look and feel like?  You’re the only one who has the power to create the space of inner self.

Links:

If you have any questions for Alice or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website: alicehong.com

Instagram: @alicehong108

Facebook: Alice Hong