(you can apply this even if you don’t like yoga)
I used to think yogis were weird. I thought in order to do yoga you had to have armpit hair, be a vegan, sit crisscross, OMMM for 12 hours a day, and drink kombucha. I didn’t want anything to do with those freaks. My first yoga class was 13 years ago at a Bikram studio after my daughter was born. I wanted to lose my baby weight, and I heard that you sweat so much doing hot yoga that you can lose a lot of weight. I lasted about 20 minutes, and I had to run out the door and throw up!
But, just in that 20 minutes, I heard what the breathing was doing for your body, and what concentrating on yourself does for your brain the rest of the day, and I just knew it had to be good for you. I kept going back, and I kept getting stronger and stronger. I got addicted to the feeling I had after the class was finished. So good! So accomplished! So stretched out, So SORE, and SO STRONG! And why am I smiling? My mind feels good, my body feels amazing, and whatever they just said made me feel good about myself! This is the best thing ever. In 2009 I started practicing almost every day and eventually went through teacher training. Now I’m a certified yoga instructor even though I’ve never taught a class. I might in the future, but either way, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Last year I took a 10-month sabbatical from yoga because I had a freak incident where I got vertigo in a forward fold and ended up in the emergency room the rest of the day and couldn’t get out of bed for a couple days after that. It was really traumatic…I guess there were about 12 firemen in the women’s bathroom watching me puke and then wheeling me out in a gurney. I had no idea because I couldn’t keep my eyes open since the world was spinning and I couldn’t stop vomiting. I heard later that the reason why there were so many is because the firemen in the City of Tempe saw the call, and the firemen in the city of Chandler saw the call, and they saw “yoga studio” and both came running. Kinda sorry I missed all the fun! But, I was afraid to go back and do yoga again. And since I’ve started practicing again I remembered how much yoga has taught me. And I realize now that the lessons I learn practicing yoga and applying them in every aspect of my life is a massive part of my strategy for manifesting my husband. So that’s why I want to write about it. Whether you ever do yoga or not, the lessons are legit happiness life hacks! When I apply these everything every day, it’s easier for me to keep peace in my brain and stay grounded and feel joy for no reason. I realized these lessons I learned doing crazy twisting and turning and sweating my butt off in a super hot room apply to everything! They help create our own joy from the INSIDE. No one can give you joy. No one can GET to you be happy. That’s the gift we give ourselves, but I’ve also learned it’s a daily (hourly/minute-by-minute) practice. These are lessons and tools we can all use to help us when we’re stuck.
Lesson 1: If you compare yourself to anyone in the room, you’ll literally fall over.
Seriously. These standing poses are no joke and it takes all your concentration to stay off your ass. I learned really quickly that when you’re doing something hard, and you focus on anything except what you are doing, you’ll fall over. You’ll be miserable and frustrated. Some of these crazy poses I can’t even do at all. Handstands, flip overs, crazy backbends, not even close. When I focus on what I can’t do (yet), I feel bad. When I compare myself to someone 5’2” and 20 years old, and not from Viking decent such as myself, I feel bad. When I compare myself to what I was able to do 10 months before my hiatus, I feel bad. When I compare my body now to what I looked like on my wedding day, I feel bad. I was skinnier then. I feel like I’m not as beautiful. Someone came into my house and looked at my wedding photo and said “Is that you?” True story. I wanted to slap in her face and say, “No, it’s my younger skinnier sister…I have a 20” x 20” canvas of someone else on my wall.” Comparison kills us! Comparing ourselves to our previous selves steals our JOY! When I’m on my yoga mat working hard, I focus on the hard work I’m doing. I remember to be kind to ME! It reminds me not to compare, and instead to say “you’re doing great!”, “you’re progressing!”, “You’re getting stronger!”, “You can do hard things!”, “Thank you, body, for being able to come and do this thing that makes me feel so good!” Take the focus on our work and our PROGRESS, and stay in our OWN LANE! That’s what creates joy. Kindness starts in the mirror.
Lesson 2: Using support is a sign of strength.
Asking for help or support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Your ego tells you you don’t need any help. That’s a lie. Thinking about support as a sign of strength keeps your mind on being strong. I had a teacher that said “If you need support from Mother Earth release your knee to the floor”. I thought that was such a wonderful way of saying it. You’re building strength. Every day we’re just building strength doing what we have to do, and as we’re building strength, you might need to put your knee on the floor for support! You might need a hand to hold you steady! Isn’t that a great way to look at it? If you need help you need support asking for it is a sign of strength. It takes a strong woman to ask for help! And we all need help, so let’s just ask for it when we need it! One of the best quotes I’ve heard in my life is “Never deny someone else the opportunity to SERVE.” So good, right? Someone else would feel so good because they helped YOU! So, you’re really helping each other. WIN WIN! That’s why I started a support group! If you live in the Phoenix area, come meet up with us! We’re going to have so much fun and support each other.
Lesson 3: Listen to your body, not your mind.
Your mind will tell you “keep going”! Your mind says “Don’t be a quitter!” “Only losers take breaks!” But then if you listen to only that mind of yours, and not your body, you will injure yourself. I’ve done it several times. Your body will say – I need to take it easy for a minute. I’m sore here. Becoming an expert on YOU and your body is so powerful. Your sleep and your food control almost everything that happens to your body! (So you’re your stress level, and as it turns out, the best things to do for stress is to exercise meditate, and sweat in a sauna…hmmm…) I started noticing patterns. On the days I felt strong, I had eaten a healthy filling dinner the day before and got plenty of sleep. On the days where I felt weak and tired, I hadn’t gotten enough sleep, and I hadn’t had a healthy dinner, or I had drank too much or not eaten dinner at all. When you do yoga at 5:30am, you KNOW you’re going to feel like crap if you didn’t get enough sleep and ate certain things, and drank too much. You can become an expert on your body without doing yoga. But it helped me become an observer of this body of mine and how certain things affected me. How do you feel after you eat certain things? I started noticing that I would have to blow my nose a lot on the mornings after I had eaten a lot of dairy the night before. That doesn’t mean we have to make strict rules about our favorite freaking foods on the planet and never enjoy them again, but I learned that for THIS body, if I eat cheese sparingly, I won’t have any sinus issues. Once you really pay attention and learn how our bodies respond to certain foods, we can craft our own diet based on how different foods make us feel, instead of trying to follow someone else’s diet. Following someone else’s regiment or diet never worked for me long term. I’d always quit. I think that’s a miracle in and of itself that we can listen to our own unique body and let our body tell us what to eat. I did no carbs for years and it’s such a buzz kill! It’s totally lame and no fun at all. Carbs give us energy. Froyo gives me happiness! I like treating myself with my faves, and I’m not denying myself any of my favorite foods anymore. I just eat them sporadically!
Lesson 4: Our bodies are so amazing that we can literally calm ourselves by breathing.
When someone would say “breathe deep” I used to think that it was such mumbo jumbo. I would blow it off; I’ve got stuff to do. But then in the yoga studio when I’m working so hard my heart rate is super elevated and it’s hard to catch my breath, I learned how to slow down my heartbeat just by intense slow breathing in and out. This is an actual tool that can be applied anytime! We have a tool we can use to calm ourselves when we’re feeling fearful or anxious. I use this tool all the time. We all have extremely busy full lives and 1000 things on our to do list every day, and sometimes I look at list, and I can feel my heart start to race. This tool that I learned in yoga to take deep inhales and deep exhales the same counts in and out works anytime you start to feel overwhelmed. I can lower my heart rate and my anxiety lessens! Amazing!
Lesson 5: Doing hard stuff makes you feel like a badass!
When I did teacher training, one of my favorite teachers told us this story. There’s one pose called standing big toe where you stand on one leg and you lift your other leg in the air… You bring it over to your side while you’re holding onto your big toe. It’s hard as hell. (and PS it’s 100 degrees in the room) She was asked what her favorite pose was and why, and she said in front of a bunch of yogis that it was standing big toe because she felt like a bad ass when doing it! They all acted so superior and appalled that a “yoga teacher” would say something like that. You’re supposed to be cross-legged and saying OM at all times. But I couldn’t agree more. I think that’s the magic of doing yoga because it’s so freaking hard when you do it you feel like a bad ass. Isn’t that true of everything?! Doing hard things immediately makes us feel good why don’t we do more hard things that help us feel like a bad ass more often? Then we learn that we can do hard things! BOOM.
Lesson 6: When you’re overwhelmed, don’t quit, just take a break.
Taking a break is also a sign of strength. You listened to your own body and your body said take a break and gather strength! That’s what’s good for you right now!
If something is really hard, or if any to do list gets too long and I start feeling anxiety about finishing it all, it’s ok to take a break. Don’t quit, just take a breather! That’s strength. If it’s nice outside, I take a quick walk, go get the mail, walk the dogs. I do anything that gets me out of my office for 10 minutes. If it’s summer, no one does anything outside, (it’s Arizona) so I might jump in the pool for 2 minutes, or let one of the pups come into the kitchen with me, put a load of laundry in, make some tea. I also love essential oils and I put serenity on my temples. I just feel like these lessons I learned practicing yoga are life hacks, and I love life hacks! When something seems insurmountable, doing one thing to change your state and taking one break can change the course of the entire day! And if one break can change the course of an entire day, then it can be applied over and over again until you realize you’ve just had a wonderful week! Learning to love yourself and giving yourself some LOVE also attracts more love into your life! You’re teaching your future beloved what you need and how you need to be treated! With care.
Lesson 7: Gratitude is not some “feel good pot-smoking hippie” idea. It’s as essential to creating joy as water, food and sleep.
You can focus on what you’re not good at, or you can focus on your strengths. Guess which one feels better.
Why do we feel like we have to be good at everything? No one’s good at everything. Steve Jobs was dyslexic and couldn’t spell a damn word. No one cares! We all have strengths. We all have unique gifts, and learning to focus on what you HAVE, instead of what you DON’T have creates a more fulfilling life! In yoga we remember to say thank you body! And thank ourselves for taking the time to take care of our bodies and our minds and then we remember that we have a heartbeat and strong legs that work, and lungs that breathe, and abundance to come to class, and a car to drive to class, and SOOOOOOOOOOOO many things. We’re not all good at all the same things! Nor would we want that. That would be very boring. What are your strengths? What are you really good at? I start every day (and did this every day during my preparation season while I was preparing to meet my soulmate) by writing three things I’m grateful for. Doesn’t matter what they are. Most of the time I think of a few more things and I keep writing. I find myself smiling. I find myself being able to think about what a gift this life is more easily no matter what happened throughout the day. Keeping that focus changes EVERYTHING for me, and a big part of the reason I manifested my soulmate.
Lesson 8: Everything is practice
Literally everything we do is practicing. Not perfecting. There is no perfect. If we want to do 10 push-ups, we practice push-ups, if we want to do a headstand, practice headstands. If we want to be more kind and attract kindness into our lives, we just practice kindness. If we want to attract a soulmate who is a great listener, just practice being a good listener. If you want to be able to do the freaking standing head to knee pose, you practice it. You fall down, hurt your knee, come back tomorrow and practice it again! I love looking at life like a practice field where we constantly practice and improve. There’s no finish line. We just always practice and improve in every area of our lives! Fall over, say something stupid, lose our temper, practice again. Fail, learn, practice again!
Lesson 9: The only things I’m good at are the ones I’ve practiced a thousand times
Why do we always forget this? Why do we expect to be great at something the first few times we try? I love yoga because it reminds me that the only poses I do well are the ones I’ve done a thousand times. I couldn’t do ANY of them 14 years ago. I can’t do a handstand yet because I spent most years in Bikram and Sumits yoga – so we never did handstands. I haven’t practiced hand stands enough to be able to do one yet. That’s true of everything. We ‘re only good at the stuff we’ve done a million times, so you will always suck when you first start out! But so what? Keep practicing!
When I practice these principles and these little strategies, I feel happier and less stressed. Practice focusing on what I already have, practice taking breaks, practice asking for support, and practice deep breathing when I get overwhelmed. It’s the little practices that add up and really make a huge difference for me when I feel overwhelmed or stuck.
I hope some of these things make sense to someone. It’s therapy for me to write about it either way. I write about what I struggle with. I was struggling with comparing my weight to my wedding day weight. But focusing on being strong and working hard eliminates the urge to compare and makes me feel good. I want everyone to feel good! I truly believe that learning happiness lifehacks and practicing them over and over is the way I changed my limiting beliefs and strengthened my self worth. Strengthening my self-worth is what raised my standards for who I would allow into my life. Strengthening my self worth and my overall strength is how I finally drowned out that inner b*tch and felt like I was truly doing great and on the right path. I believe that is part of the strategy of how I finally found love. So hey, you could try a couple of these life hacks. You might even like yoga and feel amazing after every class like I do. You might meet an awesome new friend at a yoga class (or any class you really want to take), and you might meet your weirdo soulmate at one of these weirdo yoga studios! You never know! Why not try it?
And please come to our single mom support group! Here’s the info.