the llama blog
practicing yoga off the mat.
At the beginning of the summer, my Wednesday class agreed to take on a new challenge - to float into handstand. As scary as the pose may sound to a beginner, I was even more scared as a teacher to instruct it.
Gulp. I came home, and almost immediately regretted offering to teach such a challenging pose. It was in that moment I realized I was terrified. Anxious because I’m not strong at this pose. Terrified someone may get hurt. Afraid of what I didn’t know.
“When fears are grounded, dreams take flight.”
I opened up my teaching manuals, and read lots of articles while taking notes (I’m a bit of a bookworm). I took these notes to my mat and practiced what others suggested. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. And then a light bulb came on. I didn’t have to teach handstand on week 2. I could continue to learn and grow while sharing my knowledge with my students over the entire summer.
Each week, I brought a new sequence of core strengtheners and arm balances. I added a dash of handstand how-to’s to each class such as holding downward facing dog to build stamina and practicing more Pilates-inspired exercises to support the core. Learning about handstands became fun and exhilarating. I couldn’t wait until the next week to bring a little more knowledge to my students.
In addition, my own handstand practice got stronger. I warmed up the abdomen, opened the shoulders and practiced both kicking and hopping into handstand against my front door. Some days my legs seem to float in the air while other days they felt like lead. I would sit and contemplate what was going on in my body (and my day). On most of these “bad” days, I realized I was in my head too much. I needed to be playful and okay with falling.
As the summer came to an end, it was time to practice handstands at the wall. When I noticed my students didn’t seem as scared of the idea, my heart filled with joy. I had succeeded in overcoming my fear and created a safe place for them to explore. Each chose his/her own option of handstand, and I hope felt the same sense of excitement I felt for them.
I thank you all for joining me on this ride. Let’s kick off September with a new journey. Your choice!
Work-Life Balance: a concept of proper prioritizing between work (career, ambition) and lifestyle (health, pleasure, leisure, family, spiritual development). It is believed that if we find this balance, we will find happiness. But is it really that simple?
I feel it’s hard to balance anything when life is always moving. At most times, we have 4 or 5 responsibility balls in the air, and only 24 hours to allot to any of them in a given day. We can even look at different times in our life to see how our priorities shift. Work-life balance is constantly changing, but that doesn’t mean it’s harder to achieve.
Bronnie Ware, the author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departed, lists these as the top regrets dying people make:
So, how can we balance the scales?
Slow down. Our society believes in moving nonstop. We work 40-60 hours a week. We shuttle kids to 3-5 practices and games a week. We try to prioritize and the things that get left off the list are just as important such as our health, our wellbeing, our happiness. Slowing down gives us the opportunity to savor that thirty-minute lunch break or ten minutes snuggling kids at bedtime.
Shifting into a lower gear doesn’t mean you are less driven or motivated. It actually means the opposite. By not filling our day full of activities and responsibilities, we are conserving our energies for what really matters. And with this new focus, we perform better, see with more clarity and live with more love and happiness.
“It doesn’t take courage to stay on the treadmill. It takes courage to step off, and live the life we want to be living,” said Dr. Claudia Welch. I encourage each of you to slow down one aspect of your life from your morning routine to children’s activities. Choose just one and notice how rich and full your day becomes.