Unfolding on the Mat
Expanded Content and Thoughtful Guidance
I am so glad to be in Thanksgiving week. I am holding strong here with my fall decor--no red or green in sight, no twinkle lights trying to shine. Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE. So naturally I have a lot to say on the subject of GRATITUDE :)
Before we get to that, though, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to YOU. You, who read this blog and reflect on your life. You, who listen to my podcast and keep it going. You, who show up in class so I can teach. You, who cheered me on this year when things got tough. You, who bring friends to class, forward my blog, and share my posts, THANK YOU. Without you, I would be a crazy lady teaching to an empty room, writing to no one, and talking to thin air. The energy you send me fuels my desire to continue to grow, learn, and build a community that we all benefit from. You have my heart...
In this week's podcast Episode 69: The "Thank You" Breath, I talk about 3 benefits of gratitude, and I want to offer them to you here this week:
First, take a moment.
Inhale: "Thank....." Exhale: "You...".
The "Thank You" Breath is three things for us:
One of the best ways to get the hang of this powerful work is a Gratitude/Acknowledgement Journal, so here's your homework:
Every day this week (or longer!), write three acknowledgements and three gratitudes.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS are what you are thankful for that were because of something YOU did.
GRATITUDES are what you are thankful for that were entirely out of your control.
See what happens when you start paying attention to Life, seeking out the good stuff so you can write it down :)
May you always count your blessings, and live with a thankful heart.
I have to admit, I don't love it when my alarm goes off. I don't spring out of bed ready to start the day!! I use the snooze several times, then I read the daily missive by Richard Rohr, and contemplate sleeping ten more minutes. And when it's cold outside I REALLY want to stay snuggled in under the warm blankets and do the "yoga of more sleep."
But that's not how my best self shows up for the day. My best self shows up when I hit snooze, read, then get out of bed and start my morning routine that leads to my mat with my personal practice. THE WHOLE DAY is better!
And this is the time of year that I have to DOUBLE DOWN.
Every year I hear from sad students who say things were going so well until the holidays, then everything got out of whack. "Oh well, I'll start again in January," they say--on November 29!
This is because change in schedule and routine can take us out of balance. We easily lose our center when our to-do list expands to include lots of shopping, preparing, planning, and visiting.
I do not say this to shame anyone. I say this to offer an alternative to the holiday gluttony-guilt-repent-detox cycle.
It's called the recenter-recenter-recenter-recenter cycle.
I recently met Thea Wood of Backstage Chats Foundation at a meetup sponsored by Austin Podcasters and Austin Lady Pods. We were each talking about our podcasts, and after I told the name of mine (Ready, Get Centered, Go!), she asked a great question:
"What is the difference between centering and meditation?"
I believe the main difference is intention--both the intention of the practice, and that centering, in my opinion, is about intention-setting for your day, week, year, whatever. Meditation calms the mind and teaches focus; it creates change by actively linking to an image; and it can teach you that you are not your thoughts.
Centering with an intention infuses your mind and body with a positive desired experience or state that you can return to again and again and again.
Every podcast (or class opening chat) is intention-setting. We get centered around a theme or idea that we know will improve our lives and lead us towards a happier existence. So my intention right now is borrowed from Nike:
Just Do It.
Just get up. Just go to the mat. Just sit for ten minutes and get your head on straight. Just go to class. I have to leave myself no option! The goblins of "there isn't time," or "but I really need to..." or "maybe tomorrow" are loud, but unsuccessful when I remember to keep my intention.
To make it more than a thought, to breathe life into it as an intention, to start the recenter cycle, here are the three steps:
1) STOP what you are doing.
2) BREATHE deeper.
3) FEEL your intention fill your body as you think it on the breath.
This week's podcast is seasonally appropriate, as the intention is THANK YOU. Once again, I suggest you stop to do this one. Breathe with the instructions, and get recentered as you feel gratitude fill your body. You might just avoid the "holiday cycle" this year.
May you take the time to stop and recenter on what's important, again and again and again.
As many of you know, I am currently launching a beta version of my digital course, "Embodiment." It is the first in a suite of classes I am creating under the umbrella, "Chakra Savvy." Embodiment is Chakra One.
This is a year-long dream finally becoming a reality, and I LOVE it. And this process has been CHALLENGING to say the least. It started in January when I enrolled in Digital Course Academy with online marketing and digital course genius, Amy Porterfield, and has culminated in a three-week course I designed, created, promoted, published. And it involves LOTS of tech. And lots of tech experience I do not have....well, maybe more now :)
From the beginning, I have had to hold loosely to what I thought it should be. I started creating a seven month course, one for each chakra (energy center). Then I realized that was too much.
Then I developed a three-week course on the first three chakras. But that's not enough time.
Then I thought I should do this in person because online is too hard.
You get the idea.
It was so hard to not think of all those wrong turns as a waste of time. It was so easy to slip into letting go of the whole darn thing because who am I to try this in the first place?
"Stick with what you know, Jess!"
From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sutra 1.1: "Now, the teachings of yoga." Or, as my first teacher would say it,
"Now, yoga begins."
Every do-over, every restart, every set it up AGAIN, every crash and burn...Now, yoga begins. And a breath.
And now it's almost done. I have one more week of material to create and publish, and it will be complete. Without the breath, the resets, the letting go and picking up, I'd be stuck where I was. Which was fine, but I knew it could be better. I could do something new and different.
We get to reset everywhere we want. Friendships, career paths, attitudes, wellness goals, breaking habits, testing new waters...
Now (inhale), yoga begins (exhale).
This week's podcast episode 66 sets the intention of RESET on the mind and the breath. (And there's some happy baby pose thrown in, so if you can, find some floor space and join in!)
May you remember that every moment is a chance to reset, whatever it is that needs it.
Jessica lives, has a family, and teaches yoga in Austin, Texas.