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What Yoga Teaches Me About Life

What Yoga Teaches Me About Life

The lessons I've learned from yoga mirror many of the lessons that I believe are important to learn in life. Most recently, it has taught me so much about patience and focus... And in a day & age where ‘keeping up with the Jone's’’ is no longer just our direct neighbors, but also every other person we follow on social media, I believe patience & focus are skills we could all benefit from honing. Here are 3 ways yoga has inspired me to live:

  1. Focus on your own journey - Although it’s great to be inspired by others, it’s important to remember that their journey is totally different than yours. It’s tempting to look up and compare your stretches and warrior moves to those of others in the class. Thankfully, our yoga instructors guide and remind us that it truly does not matter what others look like… And when you think about it, it’s true. Your only goal should be to improve upon your practice at your own pace and give yourself what you need that day (whether that be pushing yourself, taking it slower, or focusing on your breathing). If you get yourself into a mindset of trying to compete with others, you close off to the joy, learning, and growth you can experience if you focus on being patient with your own individual practice. When you’re in a competitive mindset, the practice can become a chore or a burden, making it difficult to see your own growth & wearing off your momentum... With the guidance of our instructors & some practice, we're led to focus on how we feel instead of comparing how we look … And with some practice, I've found that when I focus on how I feel, there's more space for growth – both mentally & physically. It’s a personal practice, as is what we create in our own lives. 
  2. Focus on what you can control, free yourself from the rest - We’re in a time where we’ve all been reminded of the many unknowns in life… Practicing yoga has taught me to focus on what I can control despite what’s going on around me. It’s taught me to push through difficult & challenging moves while focusing on my breath, and reminding myself that I am capable of more than I could ever imagine. It’s brought me a calmer and more peaceful outlook, not to mention a stronger body. Most importantly, as I've continued showing up in my yoga practice, I'm developing my own inner guide (buried deep down under my fears)... Now more than ever, I can hear my authentic, best self speaking up and guiding my thoughts, just like a yoga instructor would do. 
  3. There is no perfect destination, we are continuously growing and evolving - Yes, as we practice more, we will improve our strength and abilities. However, as I've gotten more into yoga, I've realized that one of the biggest benefits of it is not to have a perfect practice... It's to teach you about life and how to show up for yourself for whatever you need in the moment. It's to teach us that we're all human, and no matter what fancy technology comes out - there's nothing that will magically make you better at yoga aside from your own mind and body. Once we accept this in one form or another, we soften and can enjoy the journey a bit more. We give ourselves more grace and patience to grow continuously. 

As I continue embracing my yoga practice, my hope is for these lessons to mirror themselves in my life outside of yoga, reminding me to be more patient and focused. I am growing my inner ‘guide’ – the one who speaks gently and reminds me that growth is personal, takes time, and I am worthy every moment along the way.

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Personal Agency

Personal Agency

 I always thought ‘personal agency’ was a lofty textbook term reserved for self-development books. After reading the old tale of the Elephant & the Rope (shown above), I was inspired to cultivate a mindset of personal agency. With some practice, I found it to be extremely helpful in motivating me to be more intentional, empowered, and creative.

To me, having personal agency means seeing the best in yourself & your journey while staying aware of areas for growth. Like being your own coach, you start to see things from a fresh set of eyes, removing some of the fear-based conditioning we all have. Once we reframe or better understand those fears & conditioned ideas, we open up to a new creative mindset & a fresh perspective. When we begin showing up for ourselves with personal agency, we allow our individuality to shine, while learning to stay open to learning and growth.

In our modern world, it feels as though we have a constant stream of information coming into our minds. This outside noise oftentimes clouds our vision and distracts our focus away from personal agency. If you've ever spent too much time watching the news or on social media, you may know the negative feelings that usually come with that - i.e. comparison, negativity, fear, etc. It's not always clear what is holding us back and what is helping us grow, which is why I think it's important to be intentional about how we frame our thoughts.

Here are three ways I've started cultivating personal agency in my life:

  1. Filter - Ask yourself 'Is this helping me grow?'... Try focusing on information that improves your understanding and helps you think critically. When necessary, filter out any unnecessary streams of information that are holding you back.
  2. Process & Reflect - Whether you had a good or bad experience with something, let yourself process it. Pick up a pen and write about how you feel, without judgement. Writing things down and processing how you feel can build confidence and resilience. Stay in the mindset of being an agent for yourself by finding ways to grow through the situation. 
  3. Discipline - Whether it's an exercise practice or a commitment to read more, start small and keep showing up. When committing yourself to a new skill, make sure it's something that calls for discipline but is also enjoyable and of interest to you. Self discipline empowers you to believe more in yourself. 

Personal agency has the power to change the way you see yourself for the better. It can help you to reframe your thoughts, feelings, and in turn, your actions & results. If you feel stuck on a problem or unsure of what your next steps should be, try thinking from a place of personal agency. What would you tell a good friend to do in a similar scenario?

Like everything else, it's a practice that will take time to hone and build into a habit, but you'll be surprised by your potential for growth once you start applying it in your own life.

• • 

Personal Agency is your ability, and more importantly, your belief in your ability to affect change in your world. I find that for most people, it is their lack of belief in their ability rather than the ability itself to change their lives, which is actually holding them captive. You must have the skill, ability or opportunity to enact the change that you want to see. The reality is we usually have it or a means of attaining the ability to achieve it... We often hold onto limitations that are mostly a figment of our imagination. - Buddy Rathmell  

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Goals vs Intentions

Goals vs Intentions

Though I believe both goals and intentions are important, I know that setting intentions makes the journey toward the goal much more enjoyable (and in my opinion, more achievable).

Goals are the destination. They're rigid and provide structure for what we want to create. 

Intentions dictate how you want to show up in the day-to-day 'journey,' so-to-speak. They're more open-ended guiding principles for how you want to be in the moment. They are the 'why' behind your goals and they help keep you determined when things aren’t going exactly to plan.  

In attempting to start my own business, I often have times where stress is high. In those moments, it's easy to forget to stop and take in what I’m learning, to be proud of where I’ve come, and pivot from the original plan when necessary. When we are only focused on the goal, it tends breed stress & anxiety, taking us out of the mindset we need to be in to stay determined. Stressful mindsets typically lead to less creativity (which is what we truly need when looking for solutions to problems)... Having clear intentions also helps keep you on track towards your goals, while staying open to evolving where necessary. 

Pair your goals with intentions (guiding principles) and you'll surprise yourself with what you can achieve. 

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