Metaphor for Change

If you know me well you have probably heard me say "yoga could help with that" more than once. You might even be one of the people that has rolled your eyes at me when I've said it because I talk about yoga like its magic. I could hear any random issue that someone is talking about in their life and one of the first 3 things I think of as a solution is yoga; be it physical, emotional, mental - yoga.  Why? Because yoga is a walking metaphor for life. It can be utilized in so many different ways, and it yields profound results when practiced consistently. 

I realize the reasons I get eye rolls is because a lot of people have not experienced yoga in this way before. Even if you've been in one of my classes in the last year or so you may not have had a profound emotional or mental breakthrough because my classes haven't been geared toward that experience in quite some time. However if you come to your mat with those things in mind it is incredible the kinds of breakthroughs and clarity that come come though. Yoga can be a huge catalyze for change. It creates space. Clearing out old, stuck places, aches, pains, ways of thinking, and holding patterns, provides room to let in the new. 

There's a Zen saying - you can't fill a glass that is already full. We often want new things in our life but we are so attached to what we already have or too fearful to let what we have go that we aren't open or available to new opportunities. This is something you can bring to your yoga mat.

"Before you can create a change, you need a true determination of where you are, what feelings it creates, and what choices you're making as a consquence." - Tony Robbins

Something I have been focusing on in my classes over the last year is to become aware of what is unarguably true in your body. Sensations, not the stories that you attach to them. When you can break something down to the truth of the matter, the sensation that arises, you can then look at the feelings that come with them with more discernment, and then you can make a choice of how to move forward from that space. You can dismantle the armor around yourself. It weakens you much like shoes weaken your feet; put in place with the best of intentions, but causing damage that may be hard to see. Breaking that armor is how you create space in your body, mind, practice, and life. You can then fill that space with the new things that you want and you choose.

Naturally this is a challenging process. Creating lasting change takes discipline and deep desire. It takes getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It challenges beliefs and stories that you may have had for years. It takes support. It takes willingness to fall apart so that you can put yourself back together...

So, stay in the pose, breathe, feel, and let the yoga work it's magic. 

in humaness with you,
Nicole

Open the Door to Presence

the door into presence is always open. the goddess breathes her sweet breath from inside this door saying, "come. come closer, come closer." the door she is opening for you is in the experience you are having right now.

pay close attention.

notice the sensations in your chest, in your pelvis, in your hands. feel the flavor of your emotions, the rhythm of your thoughts, the subtle details of your experience. this is your door in. it's up to you to enter it - or not. 


- chameli devi ardagh

When I read the quote I have shared above I think of my yoga practice. It has been a gift in my life - my door into presence..  I also get flashes of different times that students or potential students have tried to explain to me why they can't/won't do yoga. Their words usually form sentences along the lines of, "not flexible enough, not strong enough, no balance, I couldn't do the pose we tried last week."  However, the feeling behind those words is that they are uncomfortable, and don't know how to sit within that space. They are choosing to not enter that door...  We can tend to seek familiarity in life, in our relationships, in our bodies. Even when that familiar feeling is the opposite of our said desire, or even destructive. Pushing outside of that comfort zone and into new territory can be scary. Especially when you think every other person in the room has their shit together, and knows what to do.

All of this is true even outside of yoga, but as a teacher of yoga there is something that I always hope to get across in my teachings. Which is that your experience of yoga is the right experience. The sensations that you feel in your body during a pose is the truth of the matter; its not that a pose should make you feel certain sensations. When you play in poses with curiosity, verses judgement, you get a chance to learn about a piece of yourself. Yes it might be intense, or challenging - physically or mentally - but your response to that is where the experience lies; that your door to presence. Yoga is not about nailing the pose, or which poses you can or can't do. It's about embodiment. It's about embracing each sacred piece of yourself - because all of your pieces are sacred. It's called a practice because you get better at it the more you do it. Not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. 

Personally, I don't practice yoga to become enlightened. I practice yoga to love my humanness. To realize the strength my humanness gives me. To recognize my weaknesses so that I know when to get support. To become resilient. I practice to be present with what it is.

[Life's] about peeling away the prince's armor and loving the human down below. It's about wiping off the princess's make-up and loving her divine humaness. It's about finding romance in the naked fires of daily life. When our masks and disguises fall away, real love can reveal itself. Forget fair tales - the human tale is much more satisfying. We just have to learn how to get turned on by humanness. (Unknown)

The door is always open. I made the choice many years ago to enter it. So, now it's up to you...

in humaness with you,
Nicole

The Hunt for Truth

A couple weeks ago in class I randomly started talking about using my practice for seeking truth. I had no intention whatsoever to theme my class this way, it was just one of those moments where humble brilliance hit me and I ran with it. I went home that night and tried desperately to remember a few of my one liners, but no luck. I have learned that inspiration is fleeting, so this really came to no surprise; however, I couldn't shake the concept. 

I started to explore it more at home. I used to have a teacher that talked about truth seeking in class, and I always found those particular classes profound, yet it was an idea that I hadn't really thought of, at least consciously, in years. I say I haven't thought of it consciously, because I quickly realized during this exploration just how rooted this concept is in my personal practice. I've had at least 3 different teachers drive this home for me in their own ways. It's become automatic for me to work this way now - which was the goal; at least for me it was. The yoga did (and still does) it's work on me. It's lovely. 

Asana provides an endless amount of metaphors for life, which is one reason its so powerful in creating change beyond just the physical aspect. Sure, your asana practice can easily be just a workout, a sweat, or a stretch, but it can also be a mirror, a teacher, a tool. It can show you the stories you make up in your head about yourself. It can guide you through the places where your triggers hide. When used effectively, it offers a playground to learn, understand, and even change the way we respond to ourselves, to others, and to life.

I should mention, you have to be willing. Showing up is half the battle, and sometimes the hardest part, however, truth seeking takes more. Truth seeking requires you to acknowledge what is. To hear the story, yes, but then kindly toss it aside because you recognize that it is just a story. There's no staying power in blaming yourself, or others. No more excuses. Now is the time for forgiveness and personal freedom. Truth seeking asks you to rise up, to let pettiness and fear fall below you. To expand into your vastness, your limitless marrow, your quintessence! 

Perhaps I should also mention, this isn't for the faint of heart. Getting down to the truth of a matter means removing layers, shields, protection. It means there will be times that it gets uncomfortable, and downright scary. It's a pilgrimage; and on going at that. But if you persist; if you stay the course - what a relief it will be. Because in truth you find love, lightness, tenderness, fondness. It feels like coming home. Like a soft exhale. Like watching a sunset. or a sunrise, if your into that whole early morning thing... My point is truth has a special kind of magic and authenticity to it; so make the choice to seek yours.

Be love and be loved; this is truth at its core. The rest is just a story.

lovingly,
Nicole

The Illusion of Control

"we have to face the pain we have been running from. in fact, we need to learn to rest in it and let its searing power transform us."

-charlotte joko beck

You know that saying/idea that circumstances or events will keep presenting themselves to you until you have learned the lesson that is meant for you? Well, I can now say with certainty that I fully believe this concept to be true.

For me, right now, that lesson is surrender and trust. Trust that my world will not collapse around me if I am not in control. That any control I perceive to have outside of myself is an illusion; an illusion that I use to try to protect myself and my loved ones. In trying to create a shield, I enviably build walls. When those walls get high enough, divine will usually steps in and sets them on fire.

Wouldn't you know, I even usually try to control the fires. I often rush to put the fires out so fast, that I don't even give them time to show me their full potential. The fire that builds from pain, suffering, and/or sorrow is transformational. It has the capability of destruction, but with the promise of germinating new life. The need to control what feelings I feel, and when, how vulnerable I allow myself to be, how my life is organized, the timing of it all... it stifles the flames.

Surrendering to the fire, welcoming it in -- its freaking scary. It's challenging in so many ways. However, when you take the drama out, the story created in your head, and just sit in the fire, you come to realize that it's not there to burn you at all. Your experiences transform you, shape you. If you put the fires out too quickly, you may miss out on some experiences, some lessons. Because ultimately you get to decide what lessons you learn.... just some food for thought. 

I would like to just say thank you to everyone who reached out to me over the past several weeks. A quick update on my injury - I ended up doing quite the number on my knees. I tore 3 ligaments in my left knee, and 1 in my right. I had surgery at the beginning of May; it went well as far as we can tell. I am currently doing physical therapy and on the mend! (happy dance) It took me a couple of weeks of denial before I accepted that I wouldn't be back to teaching within a few short weeks after surgery (ahem, control), but I do have that in my sights once again! I sure hope to see you all on the mat sooner than later. 

Much love,

Nicole