Back In the Flow

Last year for my birthday, my best friend gave me the book Perfectly Imperfect by Byron Baptiste. It’s not one that I read straight through, but I’ll pick it up here and there when I need inspiration. The other night I read about being in ‘the flow’. We can be in the flow of life just like we can be in the flow of yoga. Things feel graceful and effortless when they are moving along the way we’d like. Body, mind, and energy is harmonious.

But we know the next day, in life or our practice, we can hit a wall or plateau. You have flow in your practice when you hit a wall and don’t react with self-hate or dive into a shame spiral. You trust that you are still moving forward (even if slowly) and things will pick up again. Simply being in the process as it is, is being in flow. Sometimes you hit a wall for long time, other times not. On or off the mat, you stay the course knowing it’s part of the flow. You have flow in your practice when you can accept breaks in tempo or achievement and use the slowdowns as learning opportunities.

I had that opportunity this week with my students. Towards the end of Tuesday’s class, I completely blanked and forgot a piece of the pose sequence on the second side. I honestly almost let it derail my teaching right then, which never happens. But my amazing students chimed in and cued for where we needed to go for the next few poses. They’re the best. I played it off, but I was embarrassed and immediately started that shame spiral of questioning if I was even a good teacher, what am I doing here, you know how that goes… My flow was slowing down.

But throughout the day I came back to what I read earlier this week. Being in the flow doesn’t mean doing everything “perfectly” all the time. It means learning from your challenges and obstacles and moving forward with grace and confidence. So I did just that. I intentionally created a class today that had some complex breath to movement cues and I practiced my instructions out loud. The class was physically challenging and I really had to pay attention to what I was saying as I guided my students through. But I didn’t make any mistakes in my instruction and I felt good about myself as a teacher again.

That’s what yoga is about, taking what we learn on the mat and applying it to everyday life. In this case I was able to practice self-love after hitting an obstacle. I learned from it and my students had a good class. I am back in my flow.

FINDING YOUR YOGA MAT SOUL MATE- IT’S OUT THERE!

If you’re like me, you think of your yoga mat as your best friend. It encourages you through challenges, it’s there to celebrate and share your victories, and it’s that safe space you can come to at any time. It should feel like a little island you want to call home for every practice. Like your practice, your yoga mat should be one that you invest in, one that you keep coming back to, and one that supports you through every inhale and exhale.

The most important features in a good mat includes:

Durability and longevity — A yoga mat’s ability to withstand even the toughest of practices over time.

Comfort and support — Just enough cushioning for your joints can reduce squirming in kneeling postures and provide padding for impact, but not so much that it compromises support.

Stability — A firm, dense mat can help you feel stable throughout standing and balancing poses.

Portability — Consider how much travel you will be doing with your mat. A mat’s weight and size will dictate whether or not it is toteable. Since most people walk, bike, and travel to class, an easy-to-carry mat is an important feature.

Traction and stickiness — It’s important for a mat to provide traction both to keep you from slipping and in staying connected to the ground. The last thing you want is for your mat to function as a Slip N’ Slide.

Texture — Mats have different surfaces, but most yogis agree that it’s best to have a mat that feels most natural.

Environmental consideration — Buying an eco-friendly yoga mat is important to many practitioners. If this holds true to you, consider purchasing a mat made from all-natural materials.

Size — Your yoga mat should cover the length and width of your entire body. Not every yoga mat comes in various widths and sizes, so make sure to check measurements before purchasing.

Reviews.com recently compiled a study on mats that you can see here. Don’t be afraid to test a few mats on your own and ask around before making a purchase—because when a yoga mat feels just right for you, it can make all the difference in your practice, and thus your life. Happy practicing!

Special Projects

A couple years ago I was getting coffee with a friend and he asked me what projects I was working on. Outside of work, what was I doing with my time? At the time I didn’t have a good answer and it got me thinking: from now on I will always have a project. It didn’t always need to be something huge, maybe it was starting (and finishing) a new book or trying a new recipe (that’s a big one considering I cook a “real” meal maybe 4 times a year.) What I didn’t realize at the time was that by not having a project, it meant I didn’t have a vision. I didn’t have an idea or clear picture what I wanted to do with my energy, and that’s not acceptable. Having a vision is important because it gives your existence a purpose. We are only on this planet for such a short time, we should use it wisely.

So consider this, what is your project? What is your vision? Make it BIG. Make it HUGE. The bigger the better. It’s supposed to be so big that it’s almost unbelievable. And what will it take for you to get there right now? In the beginning when you’re setting out on a new journey towards a new, amazing goal, it’s easy to get frustrated with the preliminary steps. You’re so excited and eager and anxious to reach the end point, the brilliant dream that inspired you, that the preliminary steps just seem like they’re taking up too much time. This is natural. If the dream wasn’t so stunning, it wouldn’t be worth dreaming.

So what’s my vision right now? Oh my gosh I have so many. I’ll keep it yoga-pose related. I am working on Adho Mukha Vrksasana, aka Handstand. I have been working on it for over a year now and while some days it doesn’t feel like I am making any progress, I know I am. I practice my handstand every single day for at least 10 minutes, and even if I don’t hold it for very long that day, or some days I don’t even get legs in the air at all, I know that I am at least stronger now than I was before I tried.

As you keep grinding along on your project, know the “small victories” that that are the baby steps of accomplishing your goal (practicing kicking up, reading a few pages of your book, running a mile, etc.)  are actually huge victories in the overall big picture (handstand, finishing that book you’ve been putting off forever, running a 5k or marathon, etc.). For every mortal step you take here, a huge leap, cartwheel, dance party has taken place in time and space, advancing you forward more than you’ll ever know. And the best way to finish this project? Get started on it. No more procrastinating, no more excuses or if/thens (if Sarah calls me to go to kickboxing with her, then I’ll go), that’s lame. Get up, get out, and just START DOING IT. Wherever you are, any progress is good. You’ll finish your project, achieve your goal, just in time to start your next one

Keep Bending,

Morgan

@keep_bending

Another Internet Blog About Goals

There are a million blogs and articles out there about goals. About why you should set them. And how you can keep them. And what to do if you do if you set so many goals that you forget what they are. Well this is another blog post about just that, but my take on it.

The past 4 months I have been studying to earn my personal trainers certification through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). The content is intense, they recommend studying 10-15 hours a week and I definitely do that if not more. There is an outlined syllabus with 18 sections and each section is broken down even further to one or more lessons. Each lesson has chapters you have to read, videos to watch, and quizzes to take. Oh and flashcards. Don’t forget the flashcards! I complete all that, review as much as necessary, then schedule to take the certification course. They recommend taking the test 4 months from when you start the program so the information stays fresh. I am on track to finish studying the material this week (!), I’ll spend all of February reviewing and take the test early March before we go to Mexico. Like I said, this material is super intense. There is more to personal training than just counting out reps and getting paid to wear yoga pants to work. For example, the chapters I read earlier were Exercise Physiology, Fundamentals of Applied Kinesiology, Physiology of Training, etc. As someone who majored in marketing in college because it seemed like “the easiest” major, learning about biology like this does not come naturally. But it’s fascinating! The human body is so amazing and mysterious and strong that I just can’t take it in fast enough. The chapter on nutrition was over 50 pages (front and back mind you) and I read it in 2 days because I couldn’t put it down. I had food strewn out all over our kitchen counters comparing the labels to what I was learning. I already know my next non-yoga certification is going to be in nutrition of some sort. Oh! To further deepen my studying, I try to incorporate saying 3 new muscles and bones a week into my yoga classes so I have a better understanding of what the body is doing. But I digress. This program is intended for the super committed, motivated, self-starter and even though I don’t have a biology background, being intrinsically motivated is in my DNA.

Recently I started teaching yoga at a brand new recovery gym, Fizio, that just opened up across the street. (Funny story how that happened, I had been watching construction happening on the building all summer but didn’t know what it was going to be. One day a sign went up saying that it was going to be a gym. Me, being the inquisitive (ok let’s be real. Nosy. I was being nosy.)  person that I am, started rattling on the doors and peering in the windows, trying to find a way to get in so I could talk to someone. A man quickly came around the corner, like anyone would who sees someone trying to break into his building. Long story short, he and his wife were the owners and after a few weeks of getting to know each other they invited me to their staff to teach yoga. They also asked me if I had ever considered getting my personal training certification because they would love to bring me on in that capacity down the road soon too. They suggested to go through ACE and “the rest is history”. That was back in September 2016.

Up until this point I knew I wanted to do something with fitness/yoga/wellness/life coaching/etc. but wasn’t sure what. I had kind of been wandering aimlessly. I knew I wanted to teach yoga full time, but that by itself isn’t super realistic yet. Now, thanks to this amazing couple who saw something in me and recognized I had the qualities of someone who would make a successful personal trainer, I finally had a clear goal and idea what I wanted to do with my life professionally. They have inspired me and encouraged me to build myself up and increase my value as a human. I have a clear goal and vision, one that is defined and realistic. Short term- in March 2017 I am going to pass my certification to become a Certified Personal Trainer. Long term- by December 2017 I will be doing yoga/fitness/wellness/health/nutrition/life-coaching full time. And in the meantime, I am going to start getting certifications in as many of those other categories as possible.

#BuildAnEdge

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We had our first staff meeting at Fizio the other night where the owners shared their vision statement with us and brought us all up to speed on the ‘why’ behind the Fizio brand. The photo is a bit blurry, but the message is clear. Set a goal, Build an Edge.

I feel so fortunate to teach at a gym that sets, encourages, and embraces our aspirations and ambitions. The owners, staff, and coaches at Fizio all live with the mindset to continually build themselves up and keep working towards the greatest version of themselves. The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. We become like our friends and they help us to become the best versions of ourselves. These are just those kinds of people and I know 100% they will continue to support me on my professional fitness journey.

I had a fun thought the other day. In the beginning when you’re setting out on a new journey towards a new, amazing goal, it’s easy to get frustrated with the preliminary steps. You’re so excited and eager and anxious to reach the end point, the brilliant dream that inspired you, that the preliminary steps just seem like they’re taking up too much time. This is natural. If the dream wasn’t so stunning, it wouldn’t be worth dreaming. Know that the “small victories” that that are the baby steps of accomplishing your goal, are actually huge victories in the overall big picture. For every step you take on Earth, a huge leap, cartwheel, dance party has taken place in time and space, advancing you forward more than you’ll ever know.

Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation so that you can make the very most out of your life. Goal setting is the first step in successful goal achievement. It marks your first point toward success. It’s when you switch from a passive state to being actively involved in your life. Because this life is so, so good.