Navasana Doesn’t Happen On Its Own

As we continue the exploration of creating a space for healing, let’s briefly recap some of those tips. First, we ensure that we find somewhere that we feel safe. This can include talking with a trusted confidant, a community where you can be yourself, or simply moments of quiet in your own private corner. Eventually it may be all of the above but take your time finding what fits for you.

Within those safe spaces we allow ourselves a regular, even daily practice to invest our time and energy to explore where we are. This can be journaling random things that come up, sharing your thoughts or story with others, or having a regular yoga and meditation practice to be present and observe. This is the time to open ourselves up to feelings of vulnerability to practice compassion and not judge what comes up. This is where we find the steady calm among the chaos around us.

We allow ourselves to experience that which this safe space cultivates with the intention of healing and meet ourselves as we are, where we are. Maybe it brings up old wounds. Maybe trauma we thought was healed has new layers to explore and address. Maybe this is where we finally see the shame, guilt, or fears we hold on to in the dark not wanting to share or let anyone see. Now is the time to do the work and this is what we’re discussing today.

Halfway through the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga we arrive at Navasana, also referred to as “boat pose.” Depending on how much effort has been put into the first half of this practice this posture can feel incredibly tough. In fact, this pose can show up in lots of different physical practices at different times and it IS tough! It just seems to stand out in the Primary Series as it is only the halfway mark–a lot of work has been done to get here and there’s still a lot more work to go before rest.

I have wonderful and inspiring groups of regular students who come to my classes on a weekly basis and they really put in the effort. It is a beautiful and humbling experience to watch them explore, focus, and grow. What’s important to remind all of us and anyone who begins the practice of yoga, of self-discovery, of personal growth, is that we all have to start somewhere and it doesn’t matter what that looks like…but none of it will happen on its own. These students really work and what they can do now physically, mentally, and emotionally they could not do the first time around.

There is a tendency when faced with this posture to not want to try. There are so many variations we can attempt to work where we are but for some reason this one makes people want to give up completely. This pose like so many others for most of us just won’t happen on its own and the same goes for our own healing. It takes time, energy, and consistent effort. In our Western Culture we much prefer the quick fix. We want the pill or procedure that “corrects” the problem. We want things to be “easy” and when it isn’t we see it as a “bad” thing and therefore anything that requires effort is something that has to be endured rather than explored.

If we waste our time concerned about how much work is required to see any results we will stop ourselves before we can start. If we waste our time worried about the judgement of others it is just another excuse to not take care of ourselves. If we waste our time finding explanations for not trying our best we are still making a choice. It’s important that we are honest with ourselves about this. We will always make the time and put in the effort to do the things we really want to do no matter what.

And once we arrive to do the work every moment in this space is an opportunity to try. We begin where we are, we make the effort to do hard things, we pay attention to our physical, mental, and emotional responses so we can address them as necessary and most of all we just keep going.

A child learning to walk doesn’t suddenly begin walking—they work for it. They don’t worry about what they look like or that they fall over, they just start and keep trying. It doesn’t occur to them that there’s an option to not try or to give up. The desire to move forward motivates them to pull and push and lift without the muscle to hold themselves up and this is exactly how they build the strength. It is quite simply the process of trying over and over and over again, it is in the effort, it is in the journey that yields results.

Whatever it is we’re searching for, reaching for, hoping for, we have to be willing to do hard things. We have to be willing to put effort into the journey to build strength, flexibility, and resilience of body, heart, and mind. It doesn’t matter what it looks like to others—you matter. It doesn’t matter if others hear you cry, see you struggle, watch you fall—you matter. Decide that you matter for yourself, commit to being the best version of yourself and once and for all just do the work.

This is My Body

When I arrive at the top of my mat I am granted a moment of self-reflection. It is here that I can quiet the outside world and begin to focus on what I am bringing to my practice–my body, my breath, and my mind just as they are. It is also here that one can begin to tailspin into a thought process of attaching to whatever comes up and the chances of that can continue until the very end:

I’m so stiff. This will be tough. Why am I so tired? I shouldn’t have eaten so much last night. I can’t do this….but I know I can do this! Why is this so hard?? I should be able to do this. Am I doing this right? This is so frustrating. What is wrong with me?? It’s because I’m too fat. I’m too weak. I’m too tight. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. What am I doing here? I’m not good enough for this. Why am I even trying? I look ridiculous. I should just give up….

Initially these thought patterns come up without us even noticing them. When that happens our behaviors and reactions to them will show us where our mindset is and then we have to work backwards to figure it out: We quit before even trying. We make excuses for ourselves. We resist the things that seem too hard, too difficult, too challenging. We give up before anyone notices that we have failed. We make jokes at our own expense.

If we want to change anything about the life we have created thus far, we have to draw these self- sabotaging patterns up and out of the dark. For many of us, this is why we practice yoga.

There will be a method of yoga asana that sparks something within you and the result will be a desire to seek out your truth. It will force you to see yourself so clearly that your choice becomes whether to keep going and dig deeper, stay exactly the same, or walk away. It will mirror your choices and the patterns you repeat and it will give you a chance to practice a different way of being, of seeing, of living.

What do you do when you feel challenged? What do you do when you feel threatened or afraid? Do you compare yourself to others to determine your value? How do you respond when you feel insecure or believe you are not enough? What do you do when you don’t believe in yourself?

I encourage you to listen every time you tell yourself “I can’t.” Hear yourself every time you say “but it’s hard.” Hear yourself when you settle for bare minimum or make excuses for why you do what you do and why you are where you are. When you do, I encourage you to explore where that thought process is coming from and shine a light. Bring it to the surface so you can recognize it for what it is: a thought process that does not serve your journey for growth.

Then take that next moment to pause and slow down your breaths as you continue your practice. Make each breath more intentional and make them deeper to still your mind as you move. Feel what comes up in your heart and with that pure light of awareness, shift your attention to the thoughts that can serve you: This is my body. This is my practice. This is where I am today and I am doing my best.

Protecting Your Energy

It has taken many years for me to recognize within myself the amount of energy it can take to do relatively simple things. I believe it was reading Caroline Myss several years ago which first introduced the idea to me that we only have so much energy within ourselves to maintain our own physical, mental, and emotional health. Because of this, it is our responsibility to draw back that energy that we expend on anything or anyone that does not support our journey in living our best life.

So what does that even mean? It wasn’t until discovering Ayurveda and putting its principles into practice as much as possible on a daily basis that I really understood it myself.

Ayurveda is a sister science to the philosophy of Yoga. With these practices, we learn how to use a self-care lifestyle to maintain a healthy state of being. It teaches us–or reminds us–that we are all made up of some degree of all of the elements as is everything else on Earth. Each of those elements function in a variety of ways and then work together within us which is then reflected in our daily life.

Our goal when practicing Ayurveda is to consistently find and maintain the balance of each of those elements and their functions within ourselves. This is where our Western mindset can get tripped up with this practice. Because each of us have a different elemental make-up, both in nature and in any current balance or imbalance of those functions, there is no blanket rule to say what one can or can’t do for optimal health. There is no way to generalize that one should only eat/drink/do/etc. ____________ and shouldn’t ever eat/drink/do/etc. ____________ because it’s going to be different for everyone, even at different times from day to day.

This puts the onus back on ourselves as individuals to get to know exactly who and where we are at every given moment in order to work towards our own version of what optimal health looks like for us. One simple way to implement this without countless hours of studying such an ancient practice is to begin to pay attention to and learn to protect your own energy.

If we can accept the concept that we are more than just physical beings, we can begin to observe the use of our energy in a variety of situations. When I was at my unhealthiest state I was also the most disconnected from myself and my body. I was in relationships with people who I could feel drain my energy away from me just by being around them but I didn’t see that as clearly as I do now–hindsight being 20/20 and all.

Oftentimes we’ll have to learn to deconstruct the use of our energy after the fact to recognize if something or someone energized us or left us feeling lost or depleted. This is where awareness and then acknowledgment comes into play. When it comes to the work you do, the activities you engage in, and the connections you have, consider how you feel afterwards and what that might mean. Again, there aren’t any hard and fast rules to say “If this, then do that.” You have to decide for yourself what is worth your energy and what isn’t.

Keep in mind, this isn’t to say that there is anything to judge as we make these discoveries. It isn’t that some people, places, or things are either “good” or “bad” for us necessarily. Life isn’t that black and white and neither is Ayurveda. What we can do is determine, objectively, what is happening with our energy (physically, mentally, and emotionally) in any situation and then decide what that is saying about where we are. Only until we have a clear picture of that can we determine if it is in line with who and where we want to be.

Barring any extenuating circumstances that are truly out of our control, there are plenty of ways from day to day, even moment to moment, that we can conserve and ultimately protect our energy:

  • In Ayurveda we learn that a consistent daily routine that fits our current lifestyle to the best of our ability is key. Trying to wake up, go to sleep, eat and drink at the same times every day will go a long way.
  • Remember that if something becomes stressful–even the attempt at doing something “healthy”–it is no longer beneficial. The ability to minimize and manage stress well is an integral part of Ayurveda and an individualized self-care lifestyle.
  • We can observe our body’s physical reaction to conflict and challenges to begin gathering the data we need to learn about ourselves. Signs like our heart rate increasing, or palms becoming sweaty, or even lethargy can tell us a lot about how we are receiving an experience.
  • Once we recognize physical sensations, we can turn our attention to our mindset and how we feel about something in our hearts. Is my heart rate increasing because I’m excited and anxious to do something that I really want to do? Am I over-thinking/worrying/feeling lethargic/etc. about something because the habit/experience/relationship isn’t really serving me anymore?
  • Being truthful with ourselves and then taking action as often and as much as we can will help us create a lifestyle that protects our energy. Once we are able to set up and maintain those boundaries with compassion for ourselves and others, only then can we truly be there for that which we choose to invest our time.

These are about the broadest strokes that can be made on a practice as vast and expansive as Ayurveda. Just as the practice of Yoga requires us to simply show up and do what we can, so is the practice of self-care.

Busting a Few Myths About Healthy Living

When I started this blog six years ago I was just looking for a platform to share my thoughts on healthy living. As a young teenager, I watched my dad suffer from Type 2 Diabetes and then suddenly pass from Pancreatic Cancer and so I became impassioned about the idea that I could have helped him in some small way. Because I remember fleeting moments of his attempt at “healthy living” and the sadness and misery he seemed to experience in the context of my naive perspective, everything I have searched for in regards to health has been to improve and create balance with more than just the physical quality of life but also the mental, emotional, and spiritual as well.

As it is my passion and, what I believe to be, my life’s purpose to share ideas and hopefully inspire others to live in a healthful way I often find myself in conversations about the idea of health. What I realize more and more is that our society is filled with myths about what healthy living looks like and until we can let go of these false beliefs, we won’t all see the potential we have to live optimally.

Myth: Being healthy means being skinny.
Truth: At our healthiest, overall state we will all still have different body shapes and sizes.
It is inaccurate to assume that a skinny person is a healthy person and vice versa. People lose and gain weight for lots of reasons including mental and physical illnesses I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Because we are all unique in how we build and store muscle and fat, judging a person’s “health” or “fitness” by their weight or even BMI is insufficient and simply doesn’t tell the whole story. This is why I see little worth in celebrating or congratulating someone on any amount of weight-loss. The truth is, it’s not always obvious how one loses weight and I would never want to encourage someone to damage their body, heart, and/or mind with extreme methods just to wear a smaller clothing size or feel valued in such a superficial, insignificant way. I truly feel that treating ourselves and others with kindness is a much better measure of healthy living than the shape or size of our bodies.

Myth: Healthy eating means consuming foods and drinks you don’t enjoy.
Truth: Foods and beverages are meant to nourish us, provide satiety, AND satisfaction–it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
I personally don’t believe there is anything “healthy” about eating something you don’t want to eat. The effects on our psyche when our body, heart, and mind are in such disagreement is just the beginning of why diet culture has messed with our society for far too long. Conversely, the idea that you aren’t being “healthy” if you decide to eat something you do enjoy is just wrong. The way we demonize food just adds a sense of taboo that makes us want to indulge in it more and then we punish ourselves with over-restriction and negative self-talk and the cycle of dieting just goes on and on from there. Sound familiar? I know it does for me.

Myth: I should work out to lose weight even if it sucks and I hate it and I keep getting hurt and it makes me miserable, etc….
Truth: Being physically active is more effective and sustainable when it’s something that makes me feel good and something I enjoy doing.
Similar to eating for nutrition, fullness, and pleasure, I don’t believe there is anything “healthy” about any physical exertion that isn’t in some way enjoyable. The thing is, some people will try being physically active for one reason–to lose weight–and then that creates a series of pitfalls that will cause them to suddenly stop. By being motivated just to lose weight some will go too hard, too fast and then injure themselves rendering them unable to continue for some time and so a steady, healthy habit is never created. In other cases some won’t lose weight fast enough and then they feel discouraged to keep going at all because they are only motivated by that one thing.

It takes time for our bodies to figure out what we’re doing when we change our lifestyle and going from one extreme to another won’t ever change us overnight in a safe and healthy way. What’s more effective is for us to try as many physical activities as we can and explore ourselves and our bodies. If we get to know who we are again with an open curiosity as we once had as children we can then keep doing the things that spark something inside of us because it’s fun and we feel better because of it. Becoming physically fit, whatever that looks like for each of us, will then be a side effect of the self-care lifestyle we have created by searching for inner joy instead of something as meaningless as weight-loss.

When I recall memories of my dad and the little time I had with him relative to my years as an adult, I try to remember him at his best. I envision him at his happiest, with the most joy, and peace as I can. But the moments that I remember him in pain, sad to be measuring out food he didn’t really want to eat, and as I think about all the things he could have invested in during his last few years are what motivates me today. I do not wish that misery on anyone. When I recognize the physical, mental, and emotional challenges I see in others I want nothing more than to help inspire and encourage any amount of change. As a teacher, writer, and advocate for truly healthy living, it is my hope that I do.

We Are All Victims of Diet Culture

As I continue to speak out as an advocate against diet culture it’s clear to me that it may be helpful to simply list the signs of its effects so we can all better identify its existence in our lives. In order for us to truly change what’s acceptable in our society we have to first see what’s woven into our shared beliefs and understand how it effects our behaviors.

Every single one of us has experience in suffering from diet culture. To know this for yourself, please read through this list. If you have ever done, said, shared, repeated, believed, written, posted, or even thought any of the following about yourself or others you have suffered from diet culture:

  • Gone on any diet NOT due to medical reasons or advised by a physician, dietitian, or nutritionist
  • Been a serial or yo-yo dieter
  • Counted calories, carbs, fat grams, etc.
  • Valued your weight over yourself as a person
  • Joked about your eating habits
  • Joked about your food choices
  • Joked about your body shape
  • Joked about your fatness or skinniness
  • Joked about your “body rolls” or “chicken legs,” etc.
  • Deprived yourself from foods or drinks you enjoy
  • Consumed foods or drinks that you didn’t enjoy
  • Valued the numbers over how you feel (pounds, inches, clothing sizes etc.)
  • Hid from taking pictures
  • Hid from being seen at all
  • Judged yourself for eating or drinking anything
  • Skipped a meal or worked out to make up for a previous or future indulgence
  • Worked out to lose weight rather than to feel good or have fun
  • Felt ashamed by how you look or how you eat
  • Preferred to eat alone so no one else sees the choices you make
  • Denied yourself a social outing because you didn’t trust your ability to make choices based on your food restrictions and rules
  • Felt like the size of clothing you wear matters
  • Believed that you are not good enough or capable of something unless you lose weight or change your body first

As I stare at this list I know there are many more that could be added but I will leave it there and hope that the message has come through loud and clear. The thing about this list is that it is mine. It is a list of the debilitating thoughts and behaviors that impaired my quality of life for so many years. And even if any of the above hasn’t been part of your own life’s experience, if you have agreed with or laughed along with someone who did think or behave this way you have, along with all of us, supported and perpetuated this painful culture of dieting.

What we can do now that we’ve called ourselves out for our own habits is to just begin noticing them in action. If you can find that extra breath and pause when you hear or see it come up, make the choice to no longer support them.

So many of us think that we need something big to happen to change our lives. We feel like some grand gesture is the only way to be our best self, or experience growth or enlightenment. We feel like if we can only achieve that peak posture or float in our yoga practice, or wear that size 2 dress again, or get that job instead of this one, or be in that kind of relationship, or have that person, or have that kind of money, or drop 50 lbs, or look good naked, and on and on, only then are we worth this kind of love and attention.

Brahmacharya is considered to be the conservation of or the “right use of” one’s energy to maintain one’s path towards God or enlightenment. We waste so much of our energy on worry, judgement, fear, and anxiety that we hold on to beliefs that do not serve our path towards living our best lives. In truth, it is the small habits, the minor, over-looked uses of our energy and focus that matter the most. It is the work and effort towards those achievements we reach for that matters more than what we think it “should look like” in the end. It is the moment to moment practice that you invest your time and attention on every single day that creates real change.

We may all be victims of diet culture, but together we can help end it. We start with ourselves with every word we speak, every single use of our energy, every thought and belief brought to the surface. Then we listen. We listen to each other as we learn to listen to ourselves and we actively, consciously, and diligently change the narrative between us. It is time. We deserve it.

A Life of Gratitude

Only with gratitude can our hearts take flight.

In the beginning of each asana practice I first work to settle my nerves. I calm my thoughts and begin to let go and just before opening my eyes I say a prayer of gratitude for this body, this life, and this practice.

The beauty of the Ashtanga method is that it is a set sequence, a constant, and the only variable when we arrive is ourselves. Whatever we bring to our mat is what shows up in our practice for that day. Whether it be physical ailments or ability, insecurity, shame, pride, or self-judgment, it will show up. How we choose to handle it when it does is then also up to us.

For many years my practice felt very heavy. I chose to ignore that feeling of heaviness by just skimming the surface as I moved with my breath. I wouldn’t let myself go very deep or try very hard. I only did what felt fun to do and ignored all of the rest. I had all the excuses lined up if I was ever faced with the idea of going deeper but for the most part, I simply avoided it.

This is why the guidance of a teacher and being part of a community is so important. We can move into postures and do all of the things we think we’re supposed to do but having a teacher who knows me and my habits and a community who can bear witness and see through the stories I choose to hide behind is essential to growth.

With guidance and when I was finally willing to go deeper I was faced with some very difficult truths. I had never felt so broken as very old and buried wounds were brought up to the surface. For one thing, I finally realized that I first began my Ashtanga practice already injured and unknowingly kept tearing myself up. Simultaneously, I had to face very dark emotional and mental truths about myself in order to see my physical body clearly so I could begin to heal.

What that looked like for me just earlier this year was to start my practice over from the very beginning, as if I was a brand new yoga student, because I was. As only Vajrasana, a seated position sitting on my heels, was accessible to me for the first week or so of coming back, I had to start with stillness. I came into the mysore room, set up my mat, and sat in silence, eyes closed, in contemplation of my current state. I watched all the thoughts and feelings rise to the surface and stayed with them all, just breathing through it.

This experience was in complete contrast to the year or so before when I spent many, many, many moments in this space at Hamsa that we call home flooded with tears. Clutching myself, trying to breathe, unable to speak, and sobbing so loudly that it bounced off of the walls, and echoed down the hall. I fully invested in pushing myself forward, creating space for me to be vulnerable and for all of that to be seen by my teachers and those who practiced around me. I understand now, it is simply what I needed to finally open my eyes.

As I transitioned from a practice of seated meditation to finding movement again I went in with that same intention of seeing clearly. I began an open communication with my body regularly checking in. I went in with the intention of finding the subtle strength and grounding required in each posture and each transition not taking any sensation for granted. I allowed everything that needed to come up to surface with ease because I no longer judged myself for what I saw.

I am still on this journey of recovery now. What’s important to recognize is that it’s not that I no longer feel heavy in my practice or that I don’t have experiences that feel difficult or challenging. The difference now is that I can experience the challenges and have learned to adapt. I do not waste my energy on creating stories around the heaviness or pain I experience. I do not feed into anything that makes me want to hide, ignore, make up excuses, or avoid feeling whatever I have to feel to live and practice more truthfully.

I do not judge what comes up, I do not compare myself to others or to my past, or attach myself to what I want to look like in the future. Through this practice I have found and finally understand Santosha, the practice of contentment and in essence gratitude. The ability to recognize all that we have, all that we are, and embrace every part of ourselves no matter what it looks like to others or some made up ideal. The ability to not only accept and appreciate the memories and things about ourselves and our lives that feel “good” or be the way we think it’s “supposed to be” but truly all of it.

Every moment, every feeling, all of the darkness and all of the light makes us whole and who we are. When we step onto our mat or out our front door, when we begin and end our day, whatever we are faced with, and we choose to reflect on that which we are grateful we shift our perspective away from illusion and darkness and doubt. When we live a life of gratitude, peace and contentment is what fills our hearts. This is what leads to liberation and allows us to truly soar.

Redefining Self Worth

In my early twenties I worked in a bank. I was opening a new account for an elderly Chinese couple one day as the husband stared at me. Finally he shared what he was thinking and asked, “Why do you look Asian?” I responded proudly and with a smile “Oh, because I am!” He then responded in disbelief, “But…’re so BIG!?!”

At 18 I went to visit family in the Philippines with my mom. I would pass strangers as they turned to get another look at the Pinay (Filipina) American. Comments that included “laki” or “taba” in Tagalog which translates to “large” and “fat” would often follow complete with hand and arm gestures pointing in my direction.

On this same trip I was able to meet new family members who were just babies when I last visited as I was only 6 years old during that time. As we were getting to know each other one of them made sure to tell me, “You would be pretty if you weren’t so fat”….as if it would be helpful for me to know. And these are just a few of the “you’re too fat” references that have paved the way for my journey today. It doesn’t even include all of the similar memories I have from my childhood and none of the experiences since.

Maybe your history includes a different story but I’m sure you can draw up something you were repeatedly told based on others’ beliefs and perceptions about you. Maybe for you it was about being too skinny instead. Maybe you were told (directly or indirectly) that you weren’t feminine or masculine enough, too good or too bad, too tall or too short, too sensitive or too cold, not smart or talented enough, or just “not enough” period.

These memories and experiences have all made imprints in our mind. Impressions that have stayed with us and shaped us known as samskaras. The power of recognizing some of these imprints and how they influence who we are from day to day is to, over time, recognize that these stories we were told were just that—stories. They are illusions based on other people’s beliefs and perceptions of what should be valued. They are NOT based in truth. They are the subjective opinions of others and we DO NOT have to own these beliefs for ourselves.

The initial reaction to hearing stories as my own, I can imagine, may feel horrible. People may feel pity for me or just sadness. If it hits a samskara of their own, feelings of rage at the audacity might come up or even shame in the recognition of what it probably felt like to be on the receiving end. But the first thing to practice in any situation that might elicit strong reactions is to remember that we do not have to take anything at all personallythe second agreement.

Armed with the practice of separating these stories from our own truth, and also not judging anyone else for whatever issues they carry themselves and instead choosing equanimity, we are now ready to begin changing the narrative of the ideal.

Diet Culture has told us over and over again that beauty and now “fitness” and “health” has one acceptable physical standard. It says that unless you fit within a certain box of long and lean, slender with maybe a little curve but not too much and only in the right places, defined muscles or at least a flat tummy, and preferably toned arms and legs then you are not good enough. Diet Culture says that because you are not good enough you must lose weight, go to the gym, stop eating carbs, work out harder, count your calories and your steps, put down the fork, never enjoy dessert or food in general, make fun of yourself and others who are also not good enough, and oh yeah, celebrate, glorify and continue to covet those bodies that do fit in the box while you look on in shame.

If the previous paragraph did not convey enough obvious sarcasm I will state as clearly as I can now and again and as many times as I need to in order to get this across: Diet Culture is BULLSHIT.

Diet Culture has made it possible for a billion-dollar-plus industry to exist only because those who buy into it keep going back. Entire lifestyles are centered on these false beliefs and have become a breeding ground for eating disorders and general behavioral patterns that perpetuate this cycle of not valuing who we are and not seeing our worth beyond our body’s shape and size.

It’s time to redefine self worth and stop buying into the B.S. Save your money, save your heartache, save your mental anguish, and let’s begin to heal the wounds that have created this world where it’s okay to talk trash about yourself and others.

Stop sharing stupid jokes or memes that are self-deprecating and reference your body, dieting or anything that you “should” or “should not” be doing. Pay attention to when others make similar comments and don’t engage in that type of talk anymore. Don’t support the idea that your worth, or anyone’s worth, is defined by your weight, the size or shape of your body, and whether other people can accept you and see you as beautiful. You are not ugly. Your are not stupid. You are not disgusting. You are not a joke. Self-acceptance and self-worth can only come from within—we have to stop looking outside of ourselves to find it.

In the practice of yoga, we have whatever time we spend on the mat to still our mind, whether sitting in a seat for breath work or meditation or moving through postures that help us to be more in our bodies and in the present moment. Take that time to let go of anything outside of yourself and be with your body and your breath. Meet your thoughts and feelings with openness, compassion, and most of all curiosity.

Begin to identify that this is the practice of self-care and self-love. Allow yourself as many moments of stillness in body and mind to begin creating a new reality—one that is pure of heart, honest, and clear. One that is not influenced by those around you but rather developed by standing in your own light and finally owning your power.

And as you do, one day with consistency and determination, you will not feel hurt or struggle to look back on those impressions that once caused you pain and sorrow. Instead you will be able to reflect on those memories with neutrality and even in gratitude. You will learn to embrace all of those experiences knowing that each one of them helped you to grow into the person you have become.