An Open Letter to My Yogis

"Inhale, accepting all that you need."
"Exhale, releasing what is no longer serving you."
"Take care of yourself in your breathing"
"Be mindful of the way you are moving"
"Feel what you're feeling where you're feeling it."
"Accept the present moment for what it is."

You see above some suggestions I often make while teaching a yoga class. When you come to my class, I'm continuously asking that you take care of yourself. This is because after practicing the skill over & over & over, the hope is that your self-care practice on the mat will begin to show itself in your self-care practice off the mat. Why is this important? Why do I care?

Off the mat, life is busy. I use that phrase as a way to validate the things we all feel from time to time: overwhelm, stress, lack of control over our lives. It's the American way, right? Work your ass off until you can't anymore, right? Generally, when we work this hard, we stop taking care of ourselves. We forget to slow down. We forget to breathe. We start feeling all sorts of feelings but we are 'too busy' to attend to them and to notice where they're coming from or why we're even experiencing them. Where am I going with this? 

DEAR Yogis: 

I want you to know that I appreciate you (yes, YOU) because you have allowed me to move with grace through the greatest experiment of my life. Through you, I have been able to find confidence that I'm not sure I would have ever found had I not started teaching. 

I recently observed that I'm talking the talk, but not really walking the walk. Those things I say aloud in class, those statements at the beginning of this post? I'm telling you to do them and I'm not doing them. I am alive in the whirlwind of life, and just like all of you, I need to be reminded to feel what I'm feeling where I'm feeling it. I'm forgetting to breathe and be curious about my emotions. I'm forgetting to be accepting and mindful of my responses to the circumstances in my life. This is where it could all start to fall apart - but guess what? I'm not going to let it. 

I'm going to scale back on teaching for awhile. It doesn't feel fair to teach something that I myself am not living. I'm down to one class a week, and we'll see how it goes. I'm doing it because like in my post about ditching "busy" from our daily vocab, I suggest saying "NO" more often. Taking things off your plate, rather than piling things on. By scaling back on how many classes I'm teaching, I'm making more time for me. To get on my mat and to take all of my own advice: inhaling all of the love and acceptance I need, exhaling any burdens or negative thinking patterns that aren't helping me. 

Teaching yoga showed me a brand new level of "feeling feelings". As a new teacher, I was forced to face all sorts of new emotions. Showing up and being so worried that it wasn't going to be good enough. Being scared that I'd say the wrong thing. What if *gasp* someone didn't like my style of teaching? I realized a few months into teaching that I had two choices: believe these thoughts and let them win, or to choose alternative thoughts and jump in the ring with both feet. Show up, do your best, let the rest happen on it's own. 

I chose the second option. Despite feeling scared, I continued to plan for class, crafted sequences that I thought would be challenging but fun, and created a class atmosphere that I would want to be a part of as a participant. Guess what? People showed up. Some came back (again & again), some didn't. 

All of this is okay, and to anyone who has ever shown up to my class: THANK YOU. Thank for letting me practice vulnerability and courageousness with you. Thank you for letting me be my slightly awkward self. Thank you for letting me get to know you in a way that helps me feel comfortable enough to be honest about my thoughts and emotions.

Sometimes you have to pull back the reigns on life - even the things you love the most. This is because nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is more important than getting your mind right. A healthy mind space allows for you to continue showing up to your life with an intention to live with your whole heart and soul. To feel all the feelings and not attach judgment to any of it.

I'm making it my intention to get back on my mat and to continue to absorb the lessons that yoga has taught me. I'm going to make time for my personal practice because I know that without it, I am not my whole self. 

So...maybe you'll see me at the front of the practice space, or maybe you'll see me on the mat next to you in class. I'm going to keep showing up and taking care of myself because that is what I want YOU to do. 

When I am in the calm space in me, and when you are in that calm space in you, we are one. 

See you on the mat,
XOXO Natalie 

P.S. Yoga & Hops is ON. Through the summer and until further notice. :)