Party Tricks? (Maybe.)
Asana is just a small sliver of the Yoga pie. At the same time a tricky pose may offer a gateway of possibility, and a microcosm of the entire Yoga experience in one small but complicated package. Challenging, stressful, and complicated poses require both detachment from the destination, and discipline for the journey has the potential to unlock a vast array of experiences every time it comes up in class.
With skill a teacher can help a student go beyond handstand selfies and get more out of tricky poses.
In this blog I am going to share with you my method for organizing sequences that progress a student intelligently towards their posture goal.
This article should not be taken as psychological advice and is strictly written with the intent to raise awareness, inform, and address an interest in shared human experiences. If you are experiencing distress please reach out to a mental health or medical professional. Resources can be found here: https://www.samhsa.gov/
In the Yoga world the designation of 'trauma-informed' or 'trauma-aware' or 'trauma-sensitive' have become more prevalent in the marketing of classes, programs, and trainings.
Perhaps you're wondering what these words mean and are curious about the type of experience they are trying to convey. If so, it's important to understand why Truama is a body-related experience.
Helping someone find more ease has always come naturally for me - offer a block, touch a bound muscle to encourage awareness and softness, provide a wall of support when needed.
Using the methods I had been taught up to that point felt forceful as if I was manufacturing the pose for the student, and rarely yielded lasting results.
It dawned on me about 50 hours into my 300/500 training that I needed a more well rounded background in anatomy, an approach outside of the world of yoga. So, on top of 300 additional hours of yoga training, I dove into additional studies in personal training, group exercise, cycling and kinetic mechanics. It may have been overkill, but what came from that headlong (and wallet thinning) dive, and a crazy number of miles on my car bouncing from jobs at studios, gyms and the homes of private clients is my own personalized approach to assessing a client’s anatomy, teaching movement, and offering assistance.
Admittedly I started this process as a rigorous (and naive) search for the ‘best’ method. But as is generally the truth when working with the human body my quest became a continual proving and reproving of one truth - everything is contextual. How frustrating it can be to sit squarely in the middle of gray shades, when so desperately I just want to know what’s best!
One concept in particular has transformed how I train students to awaken muscles, and develop awareness around patterns of compensation, and I find it crosses over exceptionally well in the yoga room.
This ONE technique offers a method that
Efficient and personalized?
So, what is it?
If you're anything like me I'm willing to bet you've read your fair share of self-help books or have followed influencers over the years that laud the importance of authenticity.
I'd also guess that you've heard, or even have given, the advice, "Fake it 'til you make it."
Now, I've got to tell you, when I hear those two pieces of advice put up next to each other, it sounds about as harmonious as a two year old on a keyboard. If I had to pick one route I'd probably pick the authenticity route.
No one wants to be fake! Am I right?
However, I'd be wrong. And you might be too.
Authenticity Isn't Enough
In truth the advice of being authentic to ourselves isn't wrong. And 'fake it 'till you make it' isn't either. In fact both of these seemingly sage pieces of wisdom are actually neutral statements. However, it's the mindset in which they operate that makes all the difference.
You see we can get ourselves in trouble riding the 'authenticity' train if we are operating with a cognitive landscape that is relatively change-resistance, and a sense that one's identity is set. When we operate from that lens, authenticity might mean staying congruent with an already established sense of self leaving little tolerance for learning, mistakes, and evolution
In fact research finds that people who genuinely view themselves as works-in-progress believing that skills can be learned and that they are able to learn new things ultimately do better in school and work (don't believe me - ask the smart folks at Harvard).
Yogic Philosophy Agrees
In Yoga one of the basic principles is that misperceptions are key contributors to suffering or mental distress. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras outline causes of suffering in the Klesha model. Klesha can be loosely translated to clouding or coloring, and a Klesha is a shading of a thought process. In other words Patanjali proposes that there are 5 basic shadings that contribute to unclear perception. The misperception contributes to suffering and our inability to be fully liberated.
One of these Klesha's is dvesa or aversion. Very often this comes up as change-resistance, a key contributor to suffering or mental distress. Of course within the Klesha's themselves you can see how they are all branches of the same tree and operate in concert. Within an aversion to change you might also identify ego-attachment (raga), ignorance of one's true nature (avidya), and even fear of death (abinivesah). (You can read more about how the Kleshas interact here.)
Growth Mindset Isn't Just Open Mindedness
Operating from a growth mindset is the contextual key to making both authenticity and Fake it Til You Make it idioms work. This manner of being goes far beyond being open to new ideas or experiences. A growth mindset is one in which someone believes that they have the ability to learn new skills, and inherent in learning new skills comes a willingness to embrace the discomfort of becoming skilled. When we prioritize skill building over innate talents escape the trap of personalizing our failures.
For example if you believe that in order to achieve the highest job at a company a person must display strong leadership, and you believe that leadership is a talent that you are born with, then you might not pursue that position simply because you failed in leadership positions before and that must mean you don't have the talent to be a leader. On the other hand, with a growth mindset, if you believe that leadership is a skill that can be learned, then you might see your past difficulties as simply a demonstration that you leadership skills are still in development and can continue to be honed as you work your way up to that dream job.
Both Work Within Context
In truth the advice of being authentic to ourselves isn't wrong. And 'fake it 'till you make it' isn't either. In fact both of these seemingly sage pieces of wisdom are actually neutral statements. However, it's the mindset or schema in which they operate that makes all the difference.
Can you do it all?
There is NO productivity tip that will turn you into a super human.
Nope. None. Nada.
Yes, you can give have empowering and purposeful work, and yes you can have passions and interest. You absolutely can (and MUST) nourish and exercise your body. And of course you've got to take care of your family.
But take a moment to look at your list. Because I have got to tell you most of us have our list so far out of whack that no wonder we feel like frenzied f-ck ups!
If you're juicing all you can out of life but still aren't satisfied trust me I know what that feels like. And like so many people you just might be stuck on the hedonic treadmill.
Here's the jist. If you're going to find more satisfaction in life you have got to start disappointing people immediately. And sometimes the person you are disappointing is the fake, unattainable version of yourself that you've been constructing in your mind. With the highlight reels of people's lives (ahem: social media) blasting away at us 24/7 and a world that seems to speeding up resource consumption at a break-neck speed, it's not our fault that we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. BUT it is our responsibility to recognize the trap and immediately begin to untangle ourselves.
Maybe you're asking yourself, "How do you maintain the balance pursuing your passions and maintaining a healthy body and mind, and a thriving home life?"
News flash. Balance is a myth. And doing it all is a trap.
There are seasons for all things. So if you are hoping to raise 4 kids, launch a multi-million dollar business, run a marathon, and travel the world all at the same time - it might be time to get very good at disappointing people.
Here aer some strategies, habits, and insights that you need to employ NOW if you want to move from FOMO & frenzied into YOLO & loving life.
Are you a fitness, nutrition, or mind-body wellness small business owner or solopreneur that needs help clarifying and activating your purposeful business? I help wellness-focused entrepreneurs get focused, and move into action with more abundance. I only take 5 business clients per year.
Email me if you want to grab a spot.
Body. Mind. Business.
Hi there! You found me. My name is Julia Marie Lopez. For 20 years I have studied meditation and mindful movement as my primary tools for healing. For the past 10 years I have worked as a wellness business owner and I am the Founder of Practice Everywhere.
Since I offer you my experience and perspective, share my writing about life, love and wellness, and offer a bit of unsolicited advice, I think you should also know that I do include affiliate links and promotions in some of blogs. If you make an action (such as sign ups, memberships, or purchases) I might earn a commission. I promise to use this income to support my love of coffee, dogs, yoga, and my family (in no particular order).💜