yoga

One Simple Way To Make Better Decisions

One Simple Way to Make Better Decisions >> Life In Limbo

Yesterday, I signed up for my yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. This exciting decision has been a long time in the making, and like any big decision, not without its fair share of uncertainty.

When it comes to making big choices in my life, I do not often have a crystal-clear, lightning bolt moment that speaks to me and tells me exactly what to do. Whether it’s been deciding where to go to university, or if I should backpack for three months on my own, or move abroad to teach English in a foreign country, for me the process is not always simple or intuitive.

I do believe strongly in intuition, and I’m always working on listening to my gut and choosing the path that feels most right to me. I try to pay attention to what I feel in my body: does it feel exciting or does it make me anxious?

For me however, things that are exciting can also be extremely overwhelming. Things that make me anxious can end up being exactly what I need to do. I’m still working on figuring out which signals are red flags that I should listen to, and which are just par for the course when you’re making the kinds of choices that push you far outside of your comfort zone.

One Simple Way to Make Better Decisions >> Life In Limbo

Last night when I was turning this decision over in my head, at one point I just Googled “How to make decisions”, and the first result was a TED talk by Ruth Chang. Her talk (which you should really watch) really resonated with me because it articulated something I feel I’ve known and acted on intuitively but never realized it’s what I was doing.

Her idea is that hard choices are hard precisely because both options have major upsides and downsides, making neither necessarily better than the other. She says: it is not that one of the two options is better and we are too stupid to know the difference. Instead, the two options cannot really be compared because hard decisions like these are driven by our personal values, not statistics or objective data.

Her recommendation is to see hard choices as a chance to create our own reasons for making a particular decision. We can use hard choices as an opportunity to express our personalities and become the people that we want to be. 

That was what I subconsciously did when I chose my wonderful university in a vibrant city over the other great one that I also loved the idea of. It’s what I did when I mapped out an itinerary for myself traveling by train through countries in Europe I’d never visited. It’s how I decided to move to another country instead of settling down back home and starting a 9-to-5 job. And ultimately it’s how I decided to travel to the birthplace of yoga in northern India next year to study, even though the idea of it intimidates me.

One Simple Way to Make Better Decisions >> Life In Limbo

All of the big choices I’ve made in my life have not been immediately obvious to me as the “right” or “perfect” decision. All of them have scared me both before and after I made them. And all of them have led me to exactly where I feel I was meant to be. One of my favorite quotes from Marie Forleo is: “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” You may only know what’s right for you once you start walking down the path, after you make the decision and take the risk.

I know I want to be a person who follows her heart, who does things that scares her, who invests in herself, and who pursues adventure despite uncertainty. These are the things I hope my choices reflect.

The truth is, I am so lucky to have had these decisions to make. I try not to take them or myself too seriously, because as one of my great friends says, “I have no reason to doubt that everything will work out just fine”. After all, it always has so far.

The next time you find yourself faced with a big decision, realize that the answer may not be as simple for you as checking in with your gut, and that’s okay. Try using the choice as an opportunity to make a statement about who you are or who you want to be. See what happens when you make your decisions a conscious blend of intuition and intention. Ask:

What do you want this choice to say about you?

24 Before 24: Try Acro Yoga

Acro Yoga

For the past month, I’ve been taking an acro yoga workshop at a studio near me. It has been so awesome.

Acro yoga is a combination of acrobatics and yoga, and in some cases massage and restorative poses. The teacher I learned from, Mindy, studied at AcroYoga Montreal – which I wish I had known about back when I actually lived in Montreal! I am officially putting their teacher training on my wishlist of workshops I want to take, because after only a month I can already tell I would absolutely love to teach acro.

There’s something both beautiful and frustrating about an activity like this, which you can only do with a partner. I’ve found it beautiful in that I am able to totally trust a complete stranger to support my weight or that someone totally trusts me to support them. Not only that, it’s beautiful because it’s collaboration in its purest form. I’ve learned that acro works best not when you’re awkwardly trying to guess what your partner is feeling or wanting to do next, but when you’re talking the entire time about small adjustments and how you’re both doing. I don’t think I have enough of that kind of collaboration in my life, but it really does make me feel connected and happy.

The frustrating part, of course, is that as incredibly fun as it is, it’s not something you can practice on your own. After the class, all I want to do is come home and keep practicing!! Back before my dear friend Dylan left, he good naturedly put up with my demands to practice (even though the button on his favourite shorts was once an accidental casualty) but most of my other friends aren’t yoga people so I can only really practice during class time. I’m not used to this, since most of my favourite activities are solitary ones, but I think that makes acro kind of special.

My work schedule means that I’m probably not going to be able to participate in future higher-level acro workshops until January, but I might just keep going to the beginner’s level to continue learning and having fun. Acro makes me feel awesome: strong and light and giddy and in awe of both my own body and what other people can do with their bodies. It’s just so much fun and a really great workout too!

Ps. I actually did get that mermaid bind I was going for in the last photo, but no photo because very soon after we fell out of it. So, action shot it is! Thanks to the ladies at Kaizen for snapping these photos, and both basing me and flying with me!

4 Easy Bedtime Yoga Poses

Bedtime Yoga

A couple weeks ago, I was approached by Casper Sleep to share my favourite bedtime yoga poses. If you aren’t familiar with Casper, it’s an awesome mattress company based in New York City. I personally hadn’t heard of Casper before, but I was hooked as soon as I visited their website. As a company, they’re doing a lot of things right, like offering a great-looking product, free shipping, and awesome branding. They also have a really funny and informative blog that dives into all kinds of different facets of sleep – think eye masks, lucid dreaming, and of course bedtime yoga!

To me, “bedtime yoga” means a few simple, relaxing poses I can do in bed, mostly because a lot of the time I probably forgot to stretch before getting into bed and am now too lazy to get back up. They have to be able to be done comfortably in my (currently) single bed, without any unnecessary equipment, because the equipment would probably be halfway across my apartment, not in the bed where I plan on staying until morning.

All of the following poses can be done while half asleep in your cozy bed, and require only a wall.

Reclining pigeon pose with a wall: Lie on your back with your feet toward the wall. Put your left leg up against the wall, forming a triangle with your leg, the bed and the wall. Place the right foot across your left thigh, with your knee pointing out to the right side. If this is enough of a stretch, stay here and breathe into it. If you’d like more of a stretch, start to slowly bend your left leg with your left foot against the wall. It should look something like this, but with a wall against the left foot. Keep your right foot flexed the whole time to prevent strain on your knee. After a few minutes, switch sides. This is an awesome hip opening pose! Tip: each day, alternate which leg you start with. I always find that after doing the first hip, I have much less patience for the second hip and so I spend less time on it, so alternating helps me stay balanced.

Happy Baby pose: Lie on your back. Grab the outsides of your feet with your hands and spread your knees wider than the width of your torso. Keep your lower back flat on the bed and start to gently pull your feet towards your armpits. Breathe, and hold the pose for a few minutes.

Legs-up-the-wall pose: Sit sideways alongside the wall on your bed, with one of your shoulders touching the wall and your hip as close to the wall as you can manage. Swivel to lie down on your back and stretch your legs up the wall. If you have tight hamstrings, you can start lying down and scoot inwards until you feel a nice stretch in the backs of your legs. Stretch your arms out to the sides or in cactus arms and relax. This pose is very restorative, slows your heart rate and calms your mind. I like to do this one while trying to meditate or practice gratitude. You can watch an awesome video of how to do this pose from yoga guru Kathryn Budig here.

Gentle spinal twist: Lie on your back with both legs stretched out. Bend your left knee into your body, then gently twist so that the left knee goes across your body to the right. Keeping both your shoulders on the mattress, hold your knee in place with your right hand, and turn your head to look over your left shoulder. After a few minutes, switch sides. This pose is very relaxing, and always makes me feel ready to sleep.

I don’t always remember to stretch before bed, or even when I’m in bed, but I love having these poses in my back pocket to stretch out that hip tightness and back pain from sitting all day, and calm and quiet my mind before I doze off.

Please note: this is not a sponsored post and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are, as always, my own. Also, as I’m not a yoga teacher yet all of the above is a distillation of all the yoga classes I’ve taken and what I’ve learned myself in books or online. Be gentle, and make sure to ask your own yoga teacher if you have any trouble or pain! 

30 Days of Handstands

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I’m over on Guinea Pigging Green today sharing my thoughts on our 30 day handstand challenge. About a month ago, Laura and I challenged each other to do a handstand a day, take photos of ourselves (shameless selfies) doing so, and share them with each other. Of course, true to form, we stopped keeping track of the days pretty soon after we started and we didn’t always take a picture. I for one didn’t even do a handstand every day, and I have no idea if I did 30 days worth of handstands, let alone consecutively.

That being said, the experience was a very positive one, and I’m very happy that we decided to take on this challenge. My handstand has come a long way since the beginning of this challenge, and while I’m nowhere near my freestanding handstand goal, I’ve gotten much closer than I was before. I can now hold my handstand – on a good day – for at least 3 seconds, and that’s with good form and no wall. When I started the challenge, I had to use a wall to kick up against, but of course when you do that you get the infamous “banana back” (which just means “bad form”) and it’s not a very sustainable posture.

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I’m happy to report that my form is better than ever, thanks to all the safe falling I’ve been doing. The absolute best thing for my handstand practice has been to do it outside on grass or sand. I’m lucky to live in Busan where there are beaches everywhere, since sand is probably the most forgiving surface you could find for handstand practice. It helps me not be afraid so I can tumble as many times as I need to – nowadays, that means into a wheel pose. It means that I can kick up gently into a handstand and hold it for longer because I’m not using the wall which can throw me off balance.

Another thing that’s really helped me in this journey has been to learn to breathe deeply as much as I can while upside down. I have a tendency to hold my breath as soon as I get my legs in the air, but breathing helps you regulate your balance which is something I didn’t know before I started this journey.

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If you read my blog, you probably know how much I love challenges, especially short ones. This one, all things considered, was really easy but of course there were still days that I didn’t get it done. Happily, I did get it done more days than not, and ended up learning quite a bit along the way even though I still have a long way to go. I don’t know what my next short-term challenge will be, but I love the 30 day format and I’m sure I’ll be using it countless more times in the future.

You can read more of my thoughts on this challenge over at the Guinea Pigging Green blog today right here.

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