No Matter the Noise

With the weather as nice as it is, I’ve spent most of my free time practicing yoga outdoors. It can feel so freeing to move and breathe in the face of a sun setting. But it can also be intimidating to practice something so intimate in full sight of others.

Tonight, a group of guys walked by me as I practiced at Edgewater Park, overlooking Lake Erie at dawn. Though I never saw any of them, I heard them snicker in my direction: “What is this?” I heard one ask. “GAAAY!” Another responded. They erupted in laughter.

As they cackled, I happened into eka pada koundinyasana (pictured), the part of my flow I’d be working up to with various hip openers and core strengtheners. I balanced there for a while, deeply inhaling and exhaling. By my third breath, their laughter fell completely silent.

“Oh, shit,” one guy said. “Damn,” replied another with a tone of incredulity.

I jumped back to a vinyasa, and by the time I’d finished my flow and had the chance to look around, they’d already walked away.

I used to feel embarrassed by my yoga practice, often the only man in the studio at any given time. Tonight, I felt no shame, only strength and freedom. And, maybe, just maybe, doing my own thing–no matter the noise–helped those guys feel a little freer to be themselves, too.

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Photobomb

Perfectionism — the art of believing there’s something at least a *little wrong* with everything — has gotten the better of me this week.

To honor this and the many other things I need to work on (lol), I thought I’d share this epic photobomb. As you can see, what I’d hoped would be a “perfect” photo is, well, not? Or, maybe it is. Maybe it’s perfect just like this.

Kinda funny either way ūüôā

Is there something you’re having trouble letting go of this week? How can you breathe into the discomfort of imperfection and create space for authenticity?

Photobomb

Enough

Shelly's Dinner

A colleague retired this week after 20+ years with the foundation where I work. Since our office is now down two staff, I have absorbed most of her portfolio, even though I still feel so new to the job. Predictably, my insecurities have swelled, and this whole week I’ve felt deficient:

“I don’t know what I’m doing!” I’ve said to myself. “There won’t be enough hours in the day! I can’t possibly do this!”

Today, with 16 grant proposals in tow and a long weekend to chip away at the mountain of work, I decided to shift the narrative of deficiency toward one of abundance: “I am enough.”

If you’ve ever felt deficient — at work, in your relationships, or even with your yoga practice — maybe this week you could try focusing on a sense of abundance.

You are enough, just the way you are.

Walking Distance

Moon Salutations at the Lakewood Park Solstice Steps — I haven’t felt breath course through my body like this in a long time.

Recently I’ve been finding balance by walking a couple miles after dinner. Tonight I walked a new route and inadvertently challenged my assumption that Lakewood Park (just a mile from my doorstep) wasn’t within walking distance. Take a look at all the beauty I was missing out on because I’d created a narrative that a mile is “too far away.”

Forgiveness

During my time away, I struggled to keep up with a regular asana practice. After 2+ weeks off the mat, guilt and shame have crept into my consciousness. I feel weaker, not myself. Frankly, I’m a little afraid to get back into the studio.

This morning, I sat with myself in quiet meditation for just 10 minutes: forgiveness, forgiveness.

Maybe we could all take some time this week to forgive ourselves for whatever it is that weighs us down.

What barriers are you creating? How can you let them go?

Forgiveness

Simplicity

Venice

Happy to be home (and to have heard the last half of the Cavs game on my drive into town!).

I took this picture on my last evening in Venice as we wandered through the city, checking out a few spots that inspired us. Venice is amazing because, no matter how many times you walk through a neighborhood, there always seems to be something new and beautiful to discover. Here’s a photo from an alleyway we stumbled upon, which dead-ended into a courtyard we’d never seen. The vibrancy of the colors and the simplicity of drying clothes in the open air took my breath away.

I hope my yoga practice and teaching this week will open space to explore the ways in which wandering down old, familiar alleyways with an open mind can uncover unexpected beauty and simplicity.

Antelao

Feeling blessed to have taught an intimate class beside Mt. Antelao this morning. It’s amazing how full of breath your lungs can feel when you’ve got so much to be grateful for.

Can hardly wait to teach for the whole community tomorrow morning and in years to come!

Antelao

Nothing to Fix

Yesterday evening, I taught a very special group of yogis at The Source Yoga Studio.

For some, it was their first time on the mat. Others had been at it for years. The diversity of experience in the room helped me remember that the asana practice isn’t about looking like the people on the cover of Yoga Journal; it’s about self-compassion and radical acceptance. These themes translated to a mantra we used throughout the class: “Nothing to say, nothing to do, and absolutely nothing to fix.”

Today, fewer than 24 hours before I leave for Italy for two weeks, I find myself probing that mantra more deeply.¬†“Nothing to fix. Nothing to fix.”

I wonder what it will feel like to have nothing to fix for two whole weeks and how, if at all, I can continue cultivating this notion in my life here at home.

What are some lessons or mantras you’ve learned while traveling? How have you shepherded them into your life back home?

Showing Up

Last Tuesday, a colleague asked me what I did over the long weekend, and I was embarrassed to say I couldn’t remember. This week, I dedicated my yoga practice and teaching to showing up — to not simply visiting the mat but to making something of each breath, something particular and real.

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“…When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

— When Death Comes by Mary Oliver

Winging It

This past week has been discouraging. I’m six months into my job (and in Cleveland), and still I don’t have a clear sense of what I’m supposed to do. Impostor syndrome burrows deeply into the core of¬†partially-legitimate¬†questions about my competence. The familiar, stinging sound of the Peter principle rings in my ears: “We rise only to the level of our incompetence.”

Over coffee this morning with a colleague, I was reminded that I’m not alone in figuring it out. She’s been in her current position a few months more¬†than I and has just recently gotten a sense of what she’s supposed to do and where she’s headed.¬†The words of my dear friend Sarah returned to me from more than a year ago: “None of us know what we’re doing.¬†We’re all¬†just winging it.”

She’s probably right. And, I might add: those who don’t feel they’re winging it are probably just good¬†at lying to themselves. (Or maybe not. No reason to hate on the folks who have it ‘all figured out’.)

Regardless, the winging it narrative is one I plan to keep in my pocket with me today. Using narratives for good rather than creating stories for self-sabotage: I like the sound of that!