The Currency is Energy

Your personal currency is your energy. Spend your energy wisely.

What experiences do you “buy into”? What kind of people do you “invest in”? Are they experiences and people that have a positive return, that inspire you to be a better version of yourself, that allow you to be fully you?

No? Then stop spending your energy!

It’s very simple. This can be applied in yoga asana, relationships, workplace and family drama, your personal development, and your reactions to other people’s actions. Think about all the reactions and interactions you had in the last week: How many positive returns did you earn? How many people were enriched by your presence? How many times did you walk/drive/hang up from an experience with negative feelings?

Start writing down daily how you spend your energy. Remember to take into account how you spend your energy physically, mentally, emotionally/intuitively, and then write down what you use to fuel your own body (like food/drink, hobbies, books you read, music you listen to, e.g.). Make this a habit for thirty days.

Become more aware of your energy expenditure, and you may just find you improve it simply by using the journal to become more aware of yourself.

There’s only one way to find out – start tonight before you hit the sack 🙂

Namaste, readers.

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Giving Direction in Class

It’s easy to become nervous and speak too much or trip over your directions in class. I use these simple concepts (and often fail, but I am a work in progress) to help direct students concisely:

Verb, Body Part, Direction

Write up a sequence, then write down every cue to transition from pose to pose with this formula. It’s a great exercise for your mind. If you have time, perform the sequence and say it out loud. Remember not to add alignment corrections; this is an exercise to help you tell your students where to go.

This list is short and to the point. Try to find good synonyms once you become comfortable with these words so you can spice up the language.

Words/Phrases to create Action 
  • Press, as in “press your heels”
  • Squeeze, as in “squeeze your right thigh”
  • Push, as in “push your thighs back”
  • Reach, as in “reach the arms skyward”
  • Stretch, as in “stretch the spine long”
  • Lengthen, as in “lengthen your spine”
  • Lift, as in “lift your knee”
  • Open, as in “open your collarbones”
  • Feel, as in “feel your spine elongate”

These are less intuitive. I for one do not like using “rinse”, since it’s pretty misleading and if anything, your CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) is being stimulated to refresh its supply, not actually “clean” and “rinse” itself. Also, the idea of wringing your liver like a dishcloth makes little sense to me. I prefer the idea of “squeezing” one’s liver or spleen, because that is far closer to the truth of what your body does during twists. (I may or may not approach my yoga cues with a Spock-like set of glasses).

  • Rinse, as in “rinse your spine”
  • Wring, as in “wring your liver/spine”
  • Tilt, as in “tilt your chin towards the chest”
  • Tip, as in “tip your shoulders forward”
  • Wrap, as in “wrap your elbows in”
  • Spiral, as in “spiral the underside of your ribs to the sky”

These are mood changers when in the midst of a pose that poses a challenge to the students. It also reminds people to release tension in different ways.

  • Soften, as in “soften your shoulders”
  • Let go, as in “let go of your arms”
  • Drop, as in “drop your head”
  • Release, as in “release the gripping of the jaw”
  • Gaze, as in “gaze gently”

Let’s face it though, guys – you need to develop your own voice. If using a particular word or set of directions doesn’t sound like you or resonate with you, don’t use it! Using these softer, crunchier styles of language have really only developed very recently. I dare you to find a traditional Iyengar or Ashtanga class that uses all of these (or half of these) words and phrases in their classes. Verb, body part, direction makes sense in any teaching setting, but the more “New Age” terms have been picked to create certain moods and elicit sensations in the body and brain. If you like the concepts but not the words, use a thesaurus. Practice “teaching mode” when doing simple tasks like making toast, taking a shower, or getting dressed. Learn how to give simple directions to yourself when doing things that are automatic to you. Seems silly, and you’ll be talking to yourself a lot, but it really helps develop your own voice, just with better editing for the amount and quality of words.

Remember, there is no ONE RIGHT WAY. Pick what suggestions work for you and incorporate slowly. Students tend to gravitate towards teachers that are themselves, even if their personality is somewhat grating. Raw person = authentic person, and if your students don’t like your true personality mixed with yoga, they’re certainly not going to like your fake personality mixed with yoga. And remember, the best teachers are perpetual students. Namaste!

That Awkward Moment Between Birth and Death

It’s called life. And yes, it can get awkward. How much more free and less stressed would you feel if you could never get embarrassed, never feel “stupid” for making a mistake or misstep?

It’s a choice. When you fall over in tree in the middle of class, you can merely set yourself back up and try to pinpoint the problem and fix it, or you can feel bad about falling, as though you’re putting on some kind of show for those around you and you disappointed them, and then beat yourself up about it as you get back in.

A fall, or doing the other side of a pose, or hearing the wrong pose altogether, is merely part of the learning process. Once done, smile at yourself and forget about it, staying mindful of the next step or the next incarnation of the pose.

When you take your day out on a loved one, trip and fall while walking on the sidewalk, and fail to detect an error in an important work email, it’s all just part of being human. If other people seem intent on focusing on your missteps time and time again, that’s not necessarily about you – it’s their inability to move on, to see their own faults, and feel compassion towards the qualities you share. We ALL share the quality of not being perfect – we never will be, and the journey will only end when we take our last breath.

So show up, breathe through every pose, smile when you and others triumph, dismiss the start of disparaging thoughts, and encourage yourself the way you would a child, a partner, a friend or loved one when they endeavor to do something as challenging as yoga. In other words, DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF, and enjoy every step on your path, even the ones that leave you in the mud.