You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Life Lesson’ category.

One of the hardest things for me to do is to sit in that awful place of discomfort. Life is chock full of these moments. I get to practice being in this place more times than I’d like. I think I am getting better at it but then all of a sudden I’m back in deep and it seems so overwhelming. For me these moments are usually found in times of confrontation, uncertainty or conflict. I know now to take time to concentrate on my breath. I try not to get to caught up with thoughts as those just seem a method that my brain uses to make sense out of the situation and may just be stories created that hold no real truth. So what do you do if you can’t think your way out? Breathe. Concentrating on the moment at hand through breath is the only truth when things are not clear. It is so simple. Breath can dissipate these uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, anger and stress. Inhale 1. Exhale 2. Inhale 1. Exhale 2. It is as easy as… taking a breath.

Photo by Joe Philpson

Do one thing a day that scares you.

I think about these words of wisdom taken from a Lululemon advertisement often. As a yoga teacher for kids, I see how young children approach new ideas and challenges. They tend to go for it without thinking of being judged or making mistakes or the need to think things through. You show kids an inversion and they are flying in the air without a doubt to hold them back.

As we get older the fear of what people think begins to take hold. Usually this begins around 5th grade and accelerates through middle school. We place self-judgment before action and it stifles growth and living authentically.

Growth occurs in times of discomfort. Allow yourself to stretch into that discomfort and see how you can begin to set yourself free. Learn something new. Be vulnerable in relationships. Tap into your creativity. Push yourself physically. There are many ways that you can spread your wings and take flight in your own life.

When we take a step into risk, whether we succeed or fail, we learn more about who we really are. Jump into risk and find your true self. Take a risk and live life big.

Being both a yogi and runner has been enlightening this last year. As I recovered from a six month-long achilles injury, I increased my yoga practice. As I increased my yoga practice, I corrected a lot of misalignment and weakness in my feet and legs caused by running and increased my hip and hamstring flexibility tremendously. As my flexibility increased, my injury began to heal. Finally I was able to run again pain and shoe insert free!

But something had changed inside me besides my healed achilles tendon.

In the six months of waiting desperately to run, I began to really listen to my body. I realized that for years my body had been telling me things which I refused to hear. The constant pain I lived in from compacting my muscles from running long distances accentuated by stretching these tight muscles with yoga seemed normal. A runner is conditioned to push through pain and disassociate the messages our brain is telling us to run longer or faster because the body will.

The practice of yoga is called a practice because everyday we come to the mat and listen to what our body needs. Yoga helps us become mindful of what our mind and body is saying. We learn to turn off our mind of needless thoughts not as a way to push our body past a point of pain. Yoga helps us be comfortable in our bodies and minds.

I have started running again on trails and for short distances. I walk up hills sometimes instead of charging up them as if my life depends upon it and I really listen to my legs and bring awareness to my stride. I have woken up to what a body free of pain feels like and I can’t go back to punishing my body in the name of a PR. Marathons are still in my dreams but I have woken up and will approach my running with a new mindfulness and gratefulness. I have woken up and I have no choice but to listen.

On the way to teach yoga, I was thinking about the coming year 2012 and how we are bombarded with so many messages about making New Year’s resolutions in the media. I too have a resolution to add to your list. In fact, put this resolution right at the top.

I will find complete self-acceptance in 2012.

Now erase all resolutions that follow. Ah. Doesn’t that feel like freedom!

I completed my Baron Baptiste teacher training this past summer. Baron Baptiste strives to create teachers that come from a true and authentic place. To accomplish this we worked on ridding ourselves of the garbage that we carry—the stories that we believe about being unworthy, unlovable and just not enough. We worked to get to the place where we had 100% self-acceptance. We had to stand in front of 150 other teachers in training and declare that we were 10s. We had to do this with certainty and belief. It was hard.

Our society is accustomed to thinking that we will be a 10 if we lose those last 5 pounds, get that better job, nicer house, faster car or fill in the blank. We need to erase the wrinkles on our aging faces and tighten our sagging bottoms and have washboard abs to be our best.

But it is just not true.

We are all 10s—right here and right now. You do not have to do a single thing but arrive and approach everything that you do as the 10 that you are.

Try on the resolution of self-acceptance. See what the possibilities of believing yourself a 10 bring this 2012.  Treat everyday this year as the special gift that it is and have a very Happy New Year.

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

E.E. Cummings once wrote,”It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.” That quote has hit home hard.

It probably started with my planning to attend a week-long yoga teacher training this summer. Making that week happen took a lot of planning, coordinating and a huge amount of fear facing. I was very present to my fears during training. I made myself get up to speak at the mic the first day knowing that if I didn’t, I never would. Then I made myself go up again. Facing my fear of what other people thought of me, possible rejection and potential embarrassment was a huge step toward being the kind of teacher I want to be.

I was and wasn’t surprised to find so many fellow teachers in the midst of personal crises. I think yoga teachers are a thoughtful and soulful bunch looking to better themselves and others so it was somewhat obvious that many would be searching and evolving. Being very content and grateful for what my life is I really didn’t think that I would have a huge AHA! moment as many around me did. I did have a small ahhh moment however when I discovered that I was a pleaser when looking for an archetype that describes me. I was so disappointed in myself! I wanted something romantic like a dreamer or explorer or someone thought highly of like a pillar or adviser. But pleaser it is. I had been in total denial. It makes sense to me upon reflection. Now that I am aware, I find myself in that role all over the place. The thing about being a pleaser is that I tend to find myself in the middle a lot. The uncomfortable middle place between wanting to please two groups with differing view points. Yoga is great for learning to sit with those uncomfortable moments. But, until I realized that I was a pleaser, I didn’t realize that I had a real say. I reacted without really knowing to sit in the discomfort for a bit to figure out my voice.

All of this leads to my latest uncomfortable middle place. I have recently gone against the wishes of my parental units when they didn’t approve of some personal choices. Don’t most people do this in their teens! Either I never had a need to or never noticed that I pleased without listening to my voice. It has not been easy standing up for my beliefs. I have had to fight through a lot of pleaser guilt to find the strength in my convictions.

I recently read that growth only comes in times of discomfort, and so it seems, that at 42 years old I might have just finally grown up.

Photo by Graham King

I recently completed a week long teacher training with Baron Baptiste. It was intense, powerful and surprisingly life changing. Not only did we practice and learn to teach yoga, but we did a lot of personal exploration. Baron believes that to teach yoga you must find your authentic self and teach from the truth that is you. We talked a lot about possibility.

As the weeks have passed since returning from Menla, I have found that my training hasn’t finished. Not at all. In fact my training seems to have just begun as the lessons that I learned while away are integrating into my life. Change is happening and possibilities abound .

I see how my interactions are different because of learning more about myself and knowing that I speak from a truth that is part of me and can’t be ignored.

I see how possibilities open up in strange ways. My running has been curtailed by injury and in its place has crept mountain biking which I find thrilling, new and very yogic. The more I’m in the trails, the more I see how mountain biking requires you to be NOW HERE (as Baron would say) because if you are not totally absorbed on the trail right in front of you, you will find yourself NO WHERE in a tree or down a cliff. You have to get the stories out of your head and just be.

Being open to possibility also means that I need to be attentive to the talk in my head that makes me doubt myself. I have to remember that we all are full of awesomeness, and with that confidence, I need to approach everything that I do.

I realize now that my training will be a life long pursuit, but if I step up to the edge in my life, the possibilities are there to be seized.

Photo by D. Sharon Pruit

I recently came across a blog post from pigtailpails.com that I shared on Facebook that struck a cord with many parents. The title of the post is Waking Up Full of Awesome. If you haven’t read it, please check out the link as it is short but poignant.

Being the first week of school, most parents have fingers crossed that their children are heading into a year of success both academically and socially. So many self perceptions evolve during those hours away at school.

A friend of mine whos daughter entered 7th grade this week shared that she had heard a principal say that he wished girls would stay how they are in 6th grade – confident, excited, loving life and themselves because in 7th grade self-esteem and confidence drop and peer pressures become more demanding. These girls change.

Many people are still working through traumatic childhood moments in their adult life stemming from messages they picked up from others back in elementary and middle school.

It is heartbreaking to see confident girls lose their authentic awesomeness in order to belong.

I strongly believe that yoga is a pathway for young people to access and proudly display their true selves. Through yoga kids find internal and physical strength, see themselves grow and change and see their life’s path more clearly.

As an adult or child, finding your center allows you to navigate through the challenging moments in life with an internal compass that will not steer you astray.

Whether your child is struggling or not, introducing yoga into their lives will benefit them as they find themselves and head into adulthood.

Photo by Dean Gugler

It’s that time of year again. Many parents are taking a big sigh of relief while others are feeling their own butterflies with the onset of another year of unknown possibilities. Here is a post I wrote two years ago about school nerves followed by a few others about transitions and anxiety. No matter how we feel about the beginning of the school year, it is far better to be present than worry about the future or dwell on the past.

Parenting Is Hard Work – Yoga Keeps It In Perspective

The kids went off to school yesterday…

The night before the big day everyone actually fell asleep easily. My daughter did a little yoga in bed beforehand and it worked like a charm and my son read until he was tired and went to bed at a reasonable time. My husband who is a night owl even went to bed early…. it was just me who had the new school year nerves. Would my daughter like her teacher who is known to be great but strict? Will my son’s high expectations of the 5th grade be met or will there be first day disappointment? There were lunches to be made, notes to teachers filled, asthma medicine to be dropped off. How did school get here so quickly?!

I found myself taking some deep breaths-lying on my back with my hand on my stomach. I allowed those anxious thoughts to pass without bringing full attention to them. I slowed down my breath counting to five as my belly filled. I held my breath for a count and then let my belly fall… and soon I too fell asleep.

As parents, it is so easy to get caught up in the trials and tribulations of our children’s lives. We have hopes and dreams and try so hard to teach them the right things; nutrition, physical fitness, how to be a friend, how to be responsible, how to make good choices. The list could go on and on. At some point we need to just breathe. Accept that although we may have brought these little people into the world, they are individuals with opinions (sometimes different than our own). Like those anxious thoughts that I had last night, sometimes it is better to look at our children and their choices (as long as they are not life threatening) and put some distance between them and our feelings and beliefs.  Be with our children without always turning every moment into a learning experience or trying to control the outcome. Our children’s choices can seem to be a direct reflection of our parenting but sometimes it is just a reflection of our children’s preferences which are different than our own.

Three ways yoga can help parenting:

  • Focus on one’s own breath—let your child breath on his/her own.
  • Find one’s own inner peace so that your child’s life doesn’t become the main focus of your own.
  • Hone your Ahimsa skills by bringing an attitude of loving kindness and acceptance to your own life as well as your child’s.

Other posts about transitions and anxiety.

Help Kids Navigate Through the Stress of Life

Transitions

Positive Affirmations Help Kids

I remember the disappointment I felt when September coincided with the beginning of working full-time post-college and not with the excitement of back to school shopping and all that implies. Fall holds in its crisp air the anticipation of a fresh beginning—a clean slate. Now, as a mother, I can relive this excitement once again with my children. I can even feel the charged energy of the impending first day and am craving the joy of possibility for that is what a clean slate is all about.

This summer I have found that as the first day of school approaches, my mind is getting more and more cluttered. Between planning my yoga class schedule and the kid’s after school activities for the year, organizing the house for the entourage of school papers and homework assignments, redoing my son’s room to accommodate the teen that he has become and getting in the last of the summer activities, I seem to have constant chatter in my head.

The noise in my head has muddled my mind—I’ve become more forgetful and reactive. But I know exactly what I need to create a clean slate, a state of possibility, and the key is meditation. I have found that meditating first thing in the morning helps to clear my mind and begin the day with more intention, focus and equanimity.

Taking the time to sit and get centered creates a calmness that carries me forward positively throughout the day. Meditating does not need to be complicated. Follow these instructions to find daily mindfulness.

1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine.

2. Close your eyes and bring attention to your breath. Notice the cool air passing into and the warm air passing out of your nostrils. Notice the different sensations while bringing your attention to each breath.

3. Return to the sensation of your breath if your attention wanders.

4. Start with 5-10 minutes once or twice a day gradually increasing your meditation to 20-30 minutes.

You don’t need new binders or backpacks to start the school year with a clean slate and the excitement of new possibilities. By clearing your mind of daily clutter you can create a fresh start everyday. Meditation might really be the breakfast of champions.

D Sharon Pruitt

D Sharon Pruitt

In trying to come up with meaningful lessons that kids can take off their mats and into their lives, I recently bought a great book called 10 Minute Life Lessons for Kids. The lessons are divided into categories such as Things We Value, Potential and Self-Worth, Love and Kindness and Attitude to name a few. When applying ideas from other sources into my class, I always try to find a yoga slant.

I decided to give my students a lesson on attitude. I strongly believe that what we think about and what we say influences our perspective and the outcome of different situations. This idea was not one that I was taught as a child but really would have helped me growing up.

I first made sure that none of the children had food allergies. I gave each student a Smartie (I chose this type of candy because it dissolves slowly but quickly enough to move onto other things in class when we finished this lesson). The kids were not allowed to eat it until I gave them the go ahead. We all then got into chair pose or a standing squat with backs against the wall. The idea behind this exercise was that while our legs started to burn from our position, we were to suck on the candy and try to keep our thoughts on the sweetness versus the pain.

There will always be difficulties in life but by training ourselves to focus on the sweetness in life even when things are hard we will create a more fulfilling and happier life in the long run.

Current Classes:

MIDTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB

Mondays:
6-7:15am Power Vinyasa (H)

Thursdays:
6-7am Power Vinyasa

Story Time Yoga
1-1:45pm

Sundays:
5-7 year olds
9:45-10:30am
8-11 year olds
10:45-11:30am

STUDIO MOVE!

Wednesdays:
10:30-11:30 Power Vinyasa

Fridays:
Yoga for Athletes
9-10am

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 114 other followers