Balancing Action and Surrender

 

Show Up. Let Go.

Most of my books are in storage. They have been for an embarrassingly long time, considering I’m a writer. I blame endless renovations. But even though my copy of the Bhagavad Gita is in a bin somewhere, its wisdom continues to guide me, particularly on one vital point.

And that’s this: the fruits of our actions are not under our control.

The most powerful teaching of the Gita, for me, is to do your best, then let go of the results. Because when we’re not fighting with something that’s out of our control, we can find inner peace.

I’m all for inner peace, but good Lord, is this a hard one! As someone who overthinks things on a regular basis, I’m not always great at letting go. It’s something I think all of us struggle with learning, let alone perfecting.

But yoga isn’t something you perfect, it’s a practice. And since yoga is the way you live your life, that makes life a practice as well.

It seems like everyone is all-too-busy, and most of us are stressed out for myriad reasons, trying to find the balance between action and surrender.

My soul-sister, Tara Findlay, summed it up well when she said, “As a busy Mother, it is my ongoing quest to find balance in the chaos of everyday life. Sometimes I find it with grace, sometimes I have to hit the floor to remember what it is I’m reaching for, and why.”

We don’t always remember to let go. And we don’t always show up fully, either.

How often do you go through the motions without focusing on what you’re doing? Happens every day for me. But I want to show up fully, especially for my family. So I practice this remembrance, again and again. Show up. Let go. Show up. Let go.

Do the best you can, be present, and at the same time, surrender.

So. Hard.

But it’s a practice. I still fall out of poses I’ve done thousands of times. When it happens, I know what to do:

Reconnect. Focus. Execute each pose (or task) with as much skill as possible. And breathe.

Isn’t it interesting, that every single breath is a release? We’re letting go all the time. Every inhale is an opportunity to show up. Every exhale is a reminder to let go.

This lovely piece was sent to me by a kind friend, Krystal Williams, taken from the book The Tao of Motherhood, by Vimala McClure.

Truth is in paradox:

Surrender and you get everything. Bend and be strong.

When you reach your limit and are exhausted, new energy rises in you.
When you release others, they come to you.
The wise know this: Let go in order to preserve.

Be empty and fulfilled.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna to fulfill his dharma—to do the tasks that must be done, those that are before him right now—and then to let go of the fruits of those actions. Take action, but don’t try to control how it turns out. Surrender the fruits of thy actions to the Universe, allowing things to unfold as they will. In other words, trust.

Show up. Let go. Trust. Repeat.

Life is a practice. Sometimes we live with grace, and sometimes we end up on the floor. Whatever happens, keep showing up and letting go, and know that—like Krishna guided Arjuna—you are held by love. For me, trust is coupled with faith. So whatever you believe, when it gets hard to let go, turn to your own truth. Show up for yourself, and let go of anything that doesn’t serve you. Give it to Grace.

“Show up. Let go.” One of my first teachers, Shane Perkins, said these words often in our training, and the mantra works well for me.

How does it feel for you?

Show up. Let go.

Show up. Let go.

Show up. Let go.

Blessed be. 

P.S. This will be the theme of my next Sunshine Sunday on Nov. 26th (click for details). I’d love to see you there!

 

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Adapting your Yoga Practice

It’s amazing how adaptive yoga is—how you can come to your practice wherever you are in life and always find something of benefit.

In the past four years my personal approach to yoga has changed drastically. The advanced poses that used to be common in my practice have moved over to accommodate the basics.

I’ve simplified. I focus on core stability (still recovering physically from having twins), and stretching the places that need it in the slim time I carve out every day to breathe, move, and connect with myself. It’s humbling, to have my body and practice change so much. A challenge and a gift at once.

If you’ve been practicing yoga for any length of time, I’d guess you understand this concept. You’ve probably modified to accommodate yourself, perhaps to protect an injury or strengthen in specific ways. Maybe you’ve been more gentle when your energy wanes, and more bold when you’re feeling strong.

As I prepare to teach my first yoga class in years, the humility of having this changed body comes with me. It informs how I want to create a space where each person who comes to my class feels they have absolute freedom to practice in the best way for them. I’ve always given modifications. Now I’ll be giving even more, on both sides of the spectrum.

That may mean your practice looks very different than the person next to you, but we’ll still be on a journey together through breath, movement, and intention.

There are countless ways to adapt your practice. Here are some tips:

  • First and foremost, always listen to your body. You are your best guide. Trust yourself, trust your intuition, and follow what feels right for you in each changing moment. Don’t be afraid to do your own thing, or choose your own pose—even in a classroom environment.
  • You can modify anything in yoga, especially when it comes to asana (the physical poses). Choose variations that honour where your body is right now, whether that means you’re doing a more challenging version of a pose or a more gentle one.
  • Sun salutations are common in flow classes, and some people thrive on them, but this varies widely from person to person. If up-dog or cobra doesn’t feel good on your lower back, perhaps sphinx is better. Perhaps standing mindfully in mountain pose or resting in child’s pose is more beneficial.
  • Get creative! Each yoga poses has so many versions, so find the ones that naturally come to you.
  • Don’t know how to modify? Ask your teacher and/or feel what your body wants.
  • Feel good in a pose and want to take it to the next level? Go for it!

Even if you’re not able to make it to class, I hope this message encourages you to be even more true to yourself in your approach to yoga.

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Give Yourself Permission to Rest

We often measure success based on productivity. There are always too many things that need to be done, and the sense of accomplishment when you complete a project (even if it’s just getting the kitchen clean) can be wonderful!

But I think there’s another measure of success that’s worthy of note, and that’s the way you feel.

My body has been craving rest in a big way lately, and sometimes it’s hard to balance the things I want to do with my very real need to stock up on sleep. It’s why I haven’t sent out a message in a couple of weeks. I’ve been going to bed soon after my kids, and sleeping as long as they’ll let me. And it’s been SO GOOD!

Today’s message is a reminder that rest is important. Vital.

It’s okay to go to bed early, in fact, it’s a gift you can give yourself that costs nothing at all. When you get enough rest your cells regenerate, your body renews itself. When you feel well rested, you have more to bring to whatever projects you’re focusing on in your life.

I invite you to give yourself permission to rest. That might mean a nap, an early bedtime, legs up the wall pose, or a long savasana (maybe even all of the above). And, if you’re honest with what your body needs, it might mean you give yourself these things on a regular basis, not just once in a blue moon.

Enjoy that rest. You deserve it, and your body will thank you!

With kindness,

Katrina

P.S. For an alternate source of energy, inspiration does the trick! You might like my latest blog post on Wonder Woman.

P.P.S. When you’re tired in the middle of your day, sometimes a few deep breaths can give you that renewal you need, at least for a little while. Maybe try it now. Take your time. Let your breath lead.

Deep breath in . . . deep breath out.

Deep breath in . . . deep breath out.

Deep breath in . . . deep breath out.

So nice!

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Slow Down Already! Applying Yoga’s Wisdom to the Infuriating Illusion of Time

We, as humans, live within the overarching structures of time and space. Though both have their issues, time seems to be the real problem for most of us.

There’s never enough of it.

It’s been a year since I last wrote on this blog. It’s been over three years since I stopped teaching yoga classes (though my book Yoga for Dragon Riders keeps finding its way into the world, so I guess my legacy lives on).

My twin boys are two and a half. This picture, with the Mini Cooper I used to race around in at speeds I wouldn’t dare now that I’m a mother, is at least 6 years old! (Probably older, but let’s not nitpick.)

In some ways, time has flown.

In other ways, time has flown and things set in the dimension of space have stopped. Like the addition we’ve been putting on our house for three years. (OMG! Three f’ing years of renovations. AHHHHH!)

Time drags when something is unpleasant, and skydives when you’re having fun.

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A Sweet Reminder – Any Time Will Do

crystalcaveOne of the best things about meditation is that absolutely any effort can be beneficial.

Five minutes a day is fabulous. Ten minutes before bed is lovely. Sitting in your car (parked, of course) for three minutes of silence and calm is totally worthwhile.

Did you do your meditation this morning? I didn’t. But, as my twin toddlers played happily by themselves, I found a few minutes this afternoon to sit, breathe, and re-connect. It made a big difference, even if the room was nothing like silent.

This is a sweet reminder to take the time you have and reconnect with your whole self.

Sit. Breathe. Relax. Reconnect.

Do you have two minutes right now?

Close your eyes. Turn inward. Breathe.

Ah, that’s so nice.

The same rule goes for the asana side of yoga: any effort is worthwhile.

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The Wild And The Sacred (Mini-Meditation)

shiva-shaktiInvite yourself to drop all ideas of what ‘sacred’ looks like, and how ‘enlightenment’ is bestowed, for the divine is revealed in the most curious of places.

You can have wild fun and still be immersed in the most sacred of practices.

The union of deep devotion and profound play is one of the joys of embodiment. Yoga is about being fully present, engaged in your own authenticity.

It’s how you live, not just how you meditate and move on your mat.

Balancing the study of the Self and the myriad worldly experiences can be a wonderful game! When you are able to be mindful of the source of the blessings in your life, gratitude pours fourth and more blessings appear. When you can rest concerns on the healing bed of truth, knowing that all truly is taken care of, the current of Grace carries you.

When you can give yourself over completely to the dance, to the music that moves you, letting thoughts dissolve into the ecstasy of the heart, you move into union. This is yoga.

This connection can happen in the silence of nature, in the busyness of work, and at the loudest of parties.

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Pranayama Yoga: Even Breathing (Ujjayi)

leavesbranchAs you take this breath, can you feel your body respond to it?

What if you rise up taller and make more space for your breath – what does it feel like now?

Breath is the movement of life. It is a gift offered in each moment, one that we are often not aware of receiving. Breathing is the act that connects each and every living being to one another. It is a beautiful flowing guide.

So much of yoga is based on the breath. When you do an asana practice, you lead with your breath. Pranayama, an entire branch of yoga, is the practice of dancing with the breath using techniques that can cleanse and heal the body, focus the mind, and connect with the spirit.

It is very important that you never force or strain when working with your breath, and always let go of a technique if it creates any anxiety or strain, returning to your natural breath. Working with the breath is all about being aware and co-participating in the act of breathing; of being in the flow of nature.

Turning your awareness to your breath is a secret of finding peace on every level, allowing you to align with your true nature and tap in to the vast, loving energy of the universe.

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“Thank you, Universe, for taking care of all the details.”

What do you think of the following quote?

“Thank you, Universe, for taking care of all the details.”

I’m pretty sure I got this from Mike Dooley, but I’ve used it so often it feels like my own. Every time I find my mind focusing on minutia, or worried about something, I fall back to this statement of trust.

gold buddha budLife, according to the wisdom of yoga and other traditions, is a pattern of showing up and letting go.

For me, one of the most important ways to show up is to set intention every day. I sit quietly each morning (even if there is toddler mayhem happening around me), and choose the qualities I want to bring into my day. For example, “Today I choose joy. I am a patient and loving mother. I am healthy, creative, and choose a day full of goodness.”

Something like that. My intention is generally surrounded by gratitude music, as well. Setting intention and bringing forth an abundance of gratitude help me train my mind to show up to the present moment.

But, no matter how often you envision what you want to happen, the crucial piece is letting go, and trusting that everything will unfold perfectly. Especially when things don’t look like you think they should.

Here is one way to do that…

Mini-Meditation:

Adjust your posture so you are tall and comfortable.

Take several deep breaths, pressing pause on the rest of your day.

Bring your mind to the moment by thinking of a few things for which you are grateful.

Now, what is your intention for today?

Be clear, as you invite your higher self to help you, and set the tone for your day.

Once you’ve stated your intention (silently or out loud), let it go. Know that the energy is even now rippling out to manifest.

If you like, you can end with the affirming statement: “Thank you, Universe, for taking care of all the details.”

Sit for a little longer, enjoying the stillness of meditation.

 

When you take just a few moments to do this every day, it is AMAZING the difference it can make!

If you play in the realm of social media, please click the button below so we can tweet/facebook/youtube together. 🙂

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A Surge of Creativity

Happy New Year!

I love fresh beginnings, don’t you?

One of the best things about starting anew is the invitation for creativity. So, what are some of the ways you enjoy expressing your own personal creativeness?

pink flowerWhat do you do that, when you’re in the thick of it, fills you with excitement and joy?

Do you sing or play music, cook up wonderful meals, paint or draw, garden, dance or play outside?

Any activity can be creative (even dusting the leaves on your plants can create happiness for you, and for them), so it’s really about finding the bits of life that feel the most juicy, and diving in with your whole heart.

It could be rolling out your yoga mat and dancing with your breath, creating peace and harmony, mind, body, and spirit.

For me, one of the most enjoyable things is writing. In fact, I just finished writing a novel. It feels AMAZING to be creative in this way.

So today’s exercise is to think of something that brings you joy, and do it!

Maybe you can start right now, or maybe you can write down when you are going to engage in this creative endeavor, but give yourself that gift.

You deserve it!

“Begin today. Declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach

“The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams today, in every little way you possibly can.” -Mike Dooley

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3 Minutes of Yoga, 3 Minutes of Meditation – VIDEO

3min-meditationThe following video helps you fit a quick, high quality yoga and meditation practice into a busy day.

By moving with your breath, you get in tune with it, and release tension in your body. The easy, seated yoga practice at the beginning of the video increases circulation and vitality.

Then, once you’ve done a bit of movement to help your body and mind feel more at ease, the three minute meditation takes you into a place of calm centeredness.

As always, please be sure to adapt as needed in order to make the practice right for your body and circumstance. You want it to feel great!

Do you know anyone who could benefit from this short practice? Share the love and send them the video!

Thank you for visiting. Have a great day and I hope to see you here again soon!

Katrina

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