Today was a beige day.
By beige, I mean that it was not bright and colourful. Not particularly eventful. Nothing remarkable happened. It was just ... beige.
Which is different than grey. A grey day, to me, is one that is heavy and laden with doubt, fear, or anger. Grey is a cloud. Grey is a tidal wave. Grey is a mountain and I am underneath it. This wasn't that. This was just a day.
Not that there wasn't colour within. I am very mentally aware of the amount of colour that I have the privilege of taking for granted on a daily basis: I awoke this morning. My loving husband was at my side. I stood on my own two feet out of my warm bed. I hugged my healthy and happy baby girl. There was food in my fringe. I locked the door as I left my home and drove my car to buy breakfast at Starbucks 'just because'. I spoke to and spent time with people who love me ... and so on. This is colour at its brightest!
Isn't that the definition of black though? All of the colours blended to one. Actually (according to Wikipedia) black is "the result of the absence or complete absorption of visible light". But that is two different things. To me, the absence of visible light is a time of deep work. I can bring to mind some times in my life that could be described as" the absence of visible light" and, thankfully, I can count them on just one hand. Those are butterfly-making moments - times when you went in as a caterpillar and, afterwards, it takes a while to get used to the wings (and a looooooooong while before you see them as beautiful). "The complete absorption of visible light" ... yes ... that's a definition that I vibe with. The light is there, but it all becomes kind of blended together and then you forget that you had any light at all.
I digress. In fact, I detoured. That's the definition of black, but black isn't beige. Beige is like ... light that's been dimmed. So, yes, I can still see the light, it just doesn't have the same lustre as it did yesterday. Which, I do not write in order to garner sympathy. In fact, there is nothing to be sympathetic towards. I have a life that is full of light. What's the difference what filter I'm using? You're very right, I know ... I told you, I am mentally aware of this ... it's just how I feel and that's an important perspective. There's room for both of these experiences to weave together within the fabric of my understanding.
Here's the problem I have with beige: I live in technicolour! Beige is the colour of my lighthouse. Beige days are an early wake up call to get on my mat, sit down with a pen and paper, crawl out from behind the screen and look a breathing human in their eyes. Beige is a reminder to connect, reconnect, and connect again. That's what makes me come alive! Sure, I could blow right through beige. I could swim against the current, "power through", and put my To Do List at the top of my priorities, but that is a one-way ticket to grey-dom and I am not. interested. Grey takes days to climb out of. Grey is lots of Netflix' "Are you still watching"s. Grey is stiff and heavy. Not beige though. Beige just blows on through and says, "You okay buddy?". Interoception and experience has taught me to be sensitive to the beige. I let its gentle breeze remind me of what matters, what sets my soul on fire, and what colours my experience. Beige helps give me perspective. After years of practice a little beige is all I need to remind me what my priorities REALLY are and to allow colour to re-emerge. It's a practice though. A practice of mindfulness - present-moment awareness. A practice of choosing to LIVE my life and a refusal to watch from the backseat as it cyclones past snatching my empowerment in it's wake.
After I write this, I will close my laptop and turn my phone to silent. I will pick Isabella up from daycare and spend the afternoon with her at the park. We will move, laugh, kiss, and play. I'll connect with a couple of friends and go out of my way to do something nice for someone I love - have them over for dinner.
Tomorrow, when I wake up, I know what awaits me: Oz! You know that scene in The Wizard of Oz after the twister when Dorothy emerges to a bright and cheery Oz? That's what mindfulness does for you. Changes the prescription. Clears away the fog. Lets all the beautiful light shine through. It's as close to magic as I have ever experienced.
Give it a try! Start right now. We'll, not now. After you're done reading this. It doesn't cost any money. It doesn't mean selling your worldly possessions and living a whole new life as a nomad. It's 'simply' (*not that simple*) an integration of mindfulness into your already abundant life. Call the first loved one you think of. Don't text or message them, call them. Just let them know you're thinking of them and that you love them. The next time you find yourself face to face with a person who is serving you, ringing you through, or otherwise doing their job, look them in the eye and thank them. Call them by their name (the wait staff just mentioned it and the cashier is wearing a name tag). Maybe even ask them how their days is going and fully immerse yourself into hearing their reply. You never know what kind of colour you might just be painting into someone else's day.
Your life is FULL of light. It might just have absorbed together into black or maybe, if your lucky, just got a little washed out to beige by expectations, tasks, deadlines, consumerism, and over scheduling.
Wishing you rainbows and the perspective it takes to see them.
There’s something in the air today … In my community, it’s the first day of school for most children. It’s the first day of the fall schedule at Life Yoga. For me, it’s the first day of a new chapter of my personal and professional life. For the first time in the eight years since opening Life Yoga, I am not on the drop-in schedule and I don’t have set office hours. This was always part of my long-term plan. As my teacher training programs and the workshops that I created are taking me all over the world, it is not reasonable to hold space for myself on the schedule and in the office when, at least half of the time, I am travelling and would need to disrupt any routine and regularity that I’d developed with a substitute. It makes more sense to fill in all the gaps with loving, dedicated, capable individuals. Don’t misunderstand this to mean that I am less connected to Life Yoga. I am still very present in my studio – my first baby. In fact, this space in my schedule will allow me to return to the mat as a practitioner and immerse myself within the Life Yoga community, which is a regularity that I crave.
A few years back, as the studio grew and I began thinking about starting a family, I hired Studio Managers to allow me to step away from office duties and think and act more broadly in the role of Studio Director. I no longer kept office hours, so I could do website updates, payroll, long and short-term planning, outreach, etc. from anywhere and at anytime. This was fulfilling as I find business, marketing, and expressions on social media a form of creative outlet and I still held space a few classes a week on the drop-in schedule.
That is until my second baby (my actual child) came along. Very quickly it became apparent that I could do my job anytime and anywhere, when I was not fully tapped out from baby rearing. That first year of Isabella’s life was a year of adjustment where I learned to trust 100% in the Studio Managers and capable teachers at Life Yoga to keep the ship afloat because after a day of learning how this mother thing works and facing the emotional ups and downs of adopting a child, it was sometimes difficult to do much else.
After maternity leave, I found myself back to the role of Studio Director and Yoga Teacher, but with several tasks and classes off my plate after a year of others taking them over. With a little space, I was able to invest that time to my yoga school, Yoga Teacher Training Kingston. I had assisted in a teacher training program during my mat leave and discovered two things: first, I loved teacher training; and second, I was very good at it. A winning combination!
As fate continued to unroll before me, just a few months later, I was teaching my first 30 Day 200-Hour Teacher Training intensive in Bermuda. This was nine hours a day, six days a week, and I loved every minute. You’d think that I would be exhausted at the end of the long days, but I had so much energy and felt so invigorated. It wasn’t just the beauty of the island or the love I found for my Bermudian family, I saw that I was truly living as my fullest self and blossoming into this role. Deep down, I knew that I needed to follow my heart and follow this path, which was a daunting idea because I knew with certainty that I needed to make some changes back home. Space between me and my routine created a sense of clarity that I had been avoiding. It was one of those times when you see something or understand something and then you can’t go back, no matter how uncomfortable or unsure it makes you. You can’t unsee or unknow what you see or know. But, there is a comfort to routine. There is a sense of safety inherent to never taking a risk. I knew that, to honour what I truly knew was my path, I needed to disrupt this comfort and normality.
So, here I am, just a few months after Bermuda and my dear friend and previous Studio Manager Pamela is stepping into my role as Studio Director at Life Yoga. The blocks on the drop-in schedule that used to be filled by me are now filled with other beautiful offerings and I am left with space. I have successfully manifested and worked my way out of a job. LOL!
Not really. This space was created mindfully, lovingly, and with intention for all of our highest good – including my own. You can still catch me at Life Yoga most of the time, connect with me through my online studio (which is undergoing a HUGE makeover this very moment – eeee!), share space with me in my master classes and workshops, or dedicate time to Yoga Teacher Training. I will be in Kingston, Innisfil, Roslin, Bermuda … and we’ll see where else … that’s what the space is for. For what is space if not possibility? There is no room for growth or change without some space.
Space is perspective. Potential. Clarity. Presence.
And, sometimes, you’re right, it’s really scary.
Why? Because space requires trust.
For a Type-A like myself, trust means total acceptance that nothing is under control. More and more, I am embracing this idea as a whole-body notion. I hold on so tight that my neck, shoulders, and back lose all potential for movement. I stiffen up. Letting go of that need to have everything under control is something I am practicing on the mat and in the world and back again. Take, for example, the breath. In. Out. In. Out. Right? What if I told you that there was potential for pause (about 20,000 potentials per day, give or take)? In. Out. Pause … In. Out. Pause … What keeps us from having this experience of our breath? Maybe it’s just not how we were taught, so we haven’t realized this experience is possible, sure. Maybe, on some deeper level, our need to always be doing something and our inability to let go of control (and to trust) have a role to play. I have to always be in-out-in-out because what happens when we stop breathing? We die! Then what? You don’t know. I don’t know. But I don’t want to find out! In. Out. In. Out. Always in control. I have this theory that all of our fears can be filtered down to the deepest fear that we all share: one day we’ll breathe out and there won’t be another inhale that follows. Lights out. So, what? So, I am going to do everything I can, while I can, to outrun the inevitable. I am in control. I have all the answers. In. Out. In. Out.
I am choosing to walk into this next chapter leaving plenty of times for perspective, potential, clarity, and presence.
In. Out. Pause … In. Out. Pause …
The hardest part for me is that I will miss the regularity of dedicated practitioners that joined me weekly on the mat. I have learned so much from this little family of students, teachers, cheerleaders, advice givers, storytellers, jokesters, and biggest fans. I hope to continue to bear witness to your growth side-by-side with you when I am in Kingston and I trust that I have left your practices in the most capable and compassionate hands. I trust that this stability is more important to the studio, as an entity, than one individual’s inconsistent presence. I am eager to grow my online community as the online studio gets a big makeover. Stay tuned for my workshops and masterclasses to be available digitally, so we can continue to practice together in the pockets of your life from wherever your journey takes you.
So, here is a moment in time. There goes another. And I stand on the precipice of a new phase. A great adventure. The path before me is clear and is sure to be incredible, but I am leaving lots of space for detours. Nothing is under control. How boring would life be if we had it all figured out all of the time anyways?
There are times that naturally create a pause in our routines when you look for them. Your daily commute, a moment just after waking or just before sleeping, the few minutes spent waiting – waiting for a bus, for your kids, for your turn – or, even, simply and perfectly, the space after this next exhalation. If you look for them, the opportunities to pause are there and they become more and more plentiful the more we utilize them.
Wishing you space this week.
"It's all good". "What is it about me that irritates me when I think about that person"? "Turn your face to the sun and you'll never see the shadows". There's a lot of positivity rhetoric out there, especially in the yoga world. And my goodness it’s hard to stay positive all the time isn’t it? I’m sure that people's lives look like perfection on Instagram, but that's because sorrow doesn’t sell, so a lot of the images that we are inundated with on the daily are constructs of a life put together from moments of joy or celebration. This is not reality. No matter who you are, being human has times when it is messy. It can be chaotic, anxiety provoking, sad, and scary and that feels like a lot to shoulder alone when all we see is perfection. The bank account is precariously balanced, your kids just won a screaming fight with you, you don’t look forward to work tomorrow … or maybe it’s less obvious than all that ... maybe you’ve just been working really effing hard. Maybe you’ve been dealing with a lot and you feel like the candle is burning from both ends. Everyone has their own struggles, their own issues to work through, and sometimes things don’t turn out the way you want them to, so I want to remind you that it’s okay if you’re not okay. Your feelings and emotions are valid. ALL of them.
It took me a while to learn this simple fact and the perfectionist in me still struggles with it sometimes. When I was going through my daughters adoption process, emotions were high and confusingly contradictory. No amount of pretty captions on Facebook about looking at the cup-half-full could make that go away. Every mundane interaction, meeting, or milestone was met with the weight of all of these built-up, unresolved feelings and I coped by constantly pushing my emotions down because I felt like couldn’t feel them at all - I couldn't open those floodgates - or it may swallow me up. I watched Netflix or slept a whole day away. I retreated so that people wouldn’t ask me questions. I ignored my feelings, but that didn’t mean that they disappeared. They were still there. They never went away. By pushing them away, I just delayed the explosion. In my case, it would come out at inappropriate times, so I found myself overreacting to things I didn’t care that much about, like sobbing uncontrollably through a sad movie or giving my husband the silent treatment because he didn’t thank me for making the bed, or something really silly like that. I didn’t even REALLY care about those things that I had emotionally exploded over - not nearly as much as the REAL issues - but boy did it look like a sink full of dirty dishes was the end of the world for me.
I get that it doesn't take a big upheaval like that to bring out the blues. Even day-to-day things can be overwhelming for some of us sometimes. We have jobs, bills, families, friendships, and relationships, all of which come with their own complexities. Juggling all of these responsibilities takes a lot of physical and emotional energy. We all have our limits and I don’t think that we have a lot of tolerance in our society for boundaries and self-care is definitely not prioritized as equally important to all those other responsibilities. So sometimes we get pushed over the edge of our limits. Sometimes things don’t go our way. Sometimes we are not okay.
Being vulnerable and admitting that we are not okay when we project the opposite (and are surrounded by the opposite) is scary, but it’s honest. Since Isabella’s adoption became (almost) final - it’s a long process, but we’re in the end stages now where it’s just time and paperwork, but there is no risk of losing her - I have been processing the emotions that built up over the last 18 months. It wasn’t until after I started to do so that I felt more like myself - less anxious, less tired, less on edge. The fastest way to move forward is to move through, as hard as that can seem sometimes. Feeling the emotions you’re feeling is the only way to let them run their course.
I’m not a psychologist or a counsellor, but I know that it’s okay to feel negative emotions; those negative emotions balance out our positive ones. As much as you may feel like you're the only one who struggles in your relationship, to balance your responsibilities, to achieve your goals, you're not alone. Stepping out of the shadows of shame to declare your not okay-ness can also give other people permission to talk about their struggles too. Very quickly you'll see that you're not alone.
It’s okay to be different; it’s okay to feel things. It’s okay to want to cry, to be angry, to feel negative emotions. That was something that I don’t remember hearing much growing up and something I try to instil in my own daughter now, even though she doesn’t really understand at 18-months, but I think it goes in. When you close the baby gate and she can’t climb the stairs (dangerously) by herself, she has her temper tantrum and I let her. I hold space for her expression and say things like, “I know. It’s disappointing when we can’t do things we want to do, but it’s my job to keep you safe. You can express your feelings about it as long as you need to though” and I wait for her to finish - usually seconds later. It’s so easy. It came to me so naturally. I didn't read any books that told me to say those things. With my daughter, it was second nature for me to allow her to express even if her feelings didn’t make sense to me. If she falls and isn’t really hurt but starts to cry, I don’t tell her “You’re okay! You’re okay!” or exclaim in excitement to distract her from her feelings. She is expressing her experience - it scared her, or hurt her and I can’t tell, or even just got in the way of her getting from Point A to Point B - I don't know, but I give her all the time and permission to express that she needs.
Why can't we do that for one another?
Experiencing the full spectrum of emotions and feelings doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human. It’s okay not to be okay. If you start crying, I promise you you’ll stop eventually. It might seem scary because it’s the Devil you don’t know, but the only way out is through. It sucks. It’s inconvenient. It might be painful or scary. You don't even have to understand what you’re feeling and have a map for how to move past it, but the first step to regaining equilibrium is admitting that you’ve been thrown off. If all Is well for you right now, amazing! And if you’re not okay, that’s good information (all my YTTers are rolling their eyes at me and my “good information” right now).
Whenever you need, seek out the support of people who love you or pay for professional support. Treat yourself like you would treat your child. Give yourself as much time as you need to feel what you’re feeling and re-balance on your own terms. Rest, recharge, and reset. You are as entitled to relish in bleakness as you are in joy. All of your emotions are important and valid - even the ones that don’t photograph well on Instagram.
Take care of yourself the best way you know how. You know what you need better than anyone else. I will hold space for all the pieces of you and you can do the same for me.
Hi there. Remember me? It’s been a while.
So much has happened since my last blog post and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Nutshell: I spent the month of May in Bermuda teaching my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training, which was unicorns riding mermaids magic! I’m already busy planning to return to my home away from home in St. George’s for a retreat in November, another 200-Hour YTT in February, and a 300-hour YTT with some amazing guest faculty in May of next year, so stay tuned!
I want to apologize for leaving you in silence while I was away. No excuses, but some explanation: When I first landed in Bermuda, I was surprised by the amount of time I didn’t have! It was a marathon teaching nine-hour days, six days a week, while spending early mornings and evenings on ‘Mom-Duty’ and desperately trying to soak up as much of Bermuda as I could. As a result, most of the rest of my life back home (including this blog) was unceremoniously halted. Things have calmed almost back to a normal pace since then (the 100s of emails returned) and, since I last wrote, my dust-collecting blog popped into my head at LEAST a half a dozen times. Funny though, as more time went by it seemed like the breadth of what I needed to write ballooned. Nothing seemed important enough to break the silence that had bubbled up between us and so, I wrote nothing. Somehow that made me feel. Isn’t that the way? We haven’t called that friend or loved one in a while and it gets harder and harder to pick up the phone. We haven’t been to our favourite yoga class in a while and what once was a regular part of our routine that we looked forward now seems like a chore because we first have to show up on the threshold of our shame and own those pieces of ourselves that we try so hard to hide. On some level, I think it’s easier to pretend that part of our lives never existed because to show up means coming face to face with our humanity - we are procrastinators who don’t like change and would prefer to lose an important element to our self-care rather than face a part of ourselves that makes us feel shame. Funny isn’t it?
I’ve come to see that showing our vulnerabilities to another person by writing that blog post, making that call, or going back to that class is actually where real growth happens. So this is me, telling you that this was always important to me even when my overestimation of ability to wear all my hats and run a full-time teacher training, shame for having missed deadline after self-imposed deadline, embarrassment with every passing week, and stress about what I would say in this blog post got in the way of this connection. This is me owning up to my failure. This is me trying again.
Sometimes we just have to dive in. Incomplete, unsure, vulnerable … just as we are … perfectly imperfect people. How much energy do we waste thinking about that unreturned email or that overdue apology? In my experience, once we pull off that bandaid, take that first step, or put ourselves out there everything just gets easier after that. It feels more aligned than hiding.
And, yeah, maybe this isn’t the most life-changing blog post you’ll ever read, but I sent it. I sent it and it isn’t even a Tuesday! Take THAT perfectionism! I am re-commiting to sending you a little piece of my heart over email every Tuesday and posting it online every Friday. It would have been easier to have ignored my blog baby. If I never sent another blog post out ever again, I doubt many would notice and even less would mention it to me, so I could hide my shame. If we don’t talk about it, it never happened. Except it did happen. I am not someone who avoids. I dive right in. I tell you exactly how I feel and I trust that you do the same with me (though, from experience, I know that’s not always what happens, but that’s fodder for another blog post). I hid from all of you at the risk of highlighting this failure, and now I’m here doing just that for one moment before we move on and move up.
I’m so glad we’re back in touch.
This weekend, I spent some time at Queen Street Yoga with an incredibly engaged and interested group of yoga teacher trainees. I was invited there to present on body positivity and speak to my experience teaching yoga for bigger bodied people as part of a larger conversation about inclusivity within the yoga space (and beyond). It is refreshing to me everytime I am called upon to share my expertise about these topics becuase it signals to me a future for yoga that is inclusive and empowering, which is what we all deserve. Also exciting, early Friday morning, I will be flying to Just Breathe Yoga in sunny St. George, Bermuda to teach my entire 200-hour yoga teacher training program! Just Breathe Yoga invited me there because Samantha, the owner, resonated with my approach to the practice and she wants me to spread that love all over her island. What these experiences are reinforcing for me is, more and more, we are realizing that the spaces that we have built, the language that we use, the assumptions that we have, and the actions that we take need to be considered with as many different lenses as possible. Our life experiences, our family history, our social groups, our workplaces, and our inherent priviledges shield us from some realities of experience that we could live our whole lives without considereing. The problem with this sceanario is that people are being left behind. Not just within the yoga space, but with regards to access, education, and many experiences in our communities. If we only allow ourselves to participate in the world from the safety of that which is familiar, we have no need to change our lens. The more time we spend in comfort, the more our beliefs, paradigms, and gaps in understanding are reinforced and, perhaps, the harder they may be to change.
Let me give you an example of how insidious this is: make a list of the ten most influential people in your life … Go ahead … I’ll wait.
Now, make a different list with some descriptions you could use to categorize people. For example: age; race; highest level of education completed (high school, post-secondary school, trade school, etc.); chosen gender identity; marital status; religion; sexual orientation; convictions; family status, etc. Lastly, fill in the second list with the characteristics of each of your top ten as well as for yourself. What did you find? For most people, those who we spend the most time with and/or who are most influential in our lives not only share very similar characteristics, but also are very similar to us.
We don’t know what we don’t know and we really have to try to know what we don’t know. We won’t learn and grow staying safely within the boundaries of our understanding. We need to read about, follow, and visit people and places that are outside of our own understandings. Want to know how you can best support elderly people? Spend some time at your local seniors centre, call your grandma, or strike up a conversation with a septuagenarian sitting by themselves in the restaurant, waiting room, or on the bus that you’re on. Once you’re embedded within this community, close your mouth and open your ears. You never learn anything new if you’re talking. You see, from our current vantage point, we can never see another person’s perspective and our beliefs will rarely be challenged because those around us are informed from the same histories, education, and influences. When faced with a reality that is completely different from our own is not only how we learn to do less harm as we participate in the world, but also what ought to inspire our allyship.
Allies are people who recognize their privilege and take responsibility for changing the patterns of injustice imbedded within our society that resulted in them earning said privilege (for example, able-bodied people who work to end ableism). Being an ally doesn’t mean that you 100% understand what it feels like to be oppressed. It just means that you are taking on this struggle as your own. A marginalized person doesn't have the privilege of casting away their identity through oppression on a whim. It is a weight they carry every single day. An ally understands that this is now a weight that they must also be willing to carry and never put down, though they have the privilege of doing so. This is a powerful voice alongside the voice of marginalized people.
To be an ally means to listen, be aware of limplicit bias, do research and learn about the history of the struggle that you are participating, do the inner work to acknowledge how you participate in oppressive systems, while doing the outerwork to change those systems, and amplify amplify amplify - you have a voice; use it to share the message of marginalized people and add your voice to the the voices of those who fight without your privilege.
As a fat person facing body shame on the daily, I use the internalized practice of body positivity to participate in a radical global movement that sees the individual right of every single human being to exist and participate in the world and be seen as equal to every other human being regardless of their size or any other characteristic society may choose to label them with. Uncover your own oppression and participate in movements that are working to end this discrimination as a marginalized person. Then, use the same thinking and actions to become an ally with other groups who are struggling against oppression. Is it easy? No. Change never is. Is it necessary? Absolutely. We deserve it.
As Nelson Mandela once said “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who are learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future”
After spending all weekend teaching a yoga teacher training module about Restorative Yoga and the importance of balancing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system (fight-flight-freeze) with that of the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-digest-recover), I was inspired to write this blog post from a conversation I had in the studio with a student. This student and I were reflecting upon how "busy" has become such a meaningless term. Like "fine", "busy" seems to be the empty answer most people will reflexively reply when you ask them how they are doing. Sure, most of us are busy. We are a culture obsessed with multitasking and, more and more, I find people silence deprived. If it isn't music in the car, it's the television in the background or the pings and dings from our devices begging to snap up any free time we find ourselves in. You can't ride public transit or wait in a waiting room without noticing: we are obsessed with busying ourselves. As a result, what do I hear in my profession? "I can't meditate", "I can't sleep" "My mind is too busy". We have trained our sympathetic nervous system so well that it takes an ACTUAL crisis for people to remember the importance of balance. It's only when you really can't get out of that fight-flight-freeze state that you crave the balance that comes with rest-digest-recover. Compounding the issue as well are those around us. In our homes and especially in our workplaces, if you aren't busy, you're not pulling your weight. Tell someone you were in the office all weekend trying to finalize a big deal and they'll idealize your work ethic and tenacity. Tell them you spent the weekend at a mediation retreat (a very difficult emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental process) and the reply is much different ("Must be nice!).
Now, don't get it twisted. Yes, I am a yoga teacher, which is an incredibly magical career, but I don't spend my days meditating and making smoothies okay? I understand busy very very intimately. I am a business owner, Mom to a 16 month-old, wife getting ready to spend a month teaching in Bermuda (with the baby) while running a yoga teacher training program, creating content for my online course and classes for Yogasteya and the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, writing these blogs, supporting my online clients, planning a summer YTT, and making some time to sleep and shower. I. understand. busy. I have always had a lot of balls in the air at one time. I like to keep my mind rolling in creative ideas and fun projects. I have a million on the back burner waiting for my physical form to catch up. When I was in University, I was introduced to the idea that stress is a choice and it was so empowering. I could be "stressed" or I could be "capable, but busy" or "working at max capacity". In my post-grad years, my attention then shifted from being "busy" to being "productive" and my mindset changed from frazzled and out-of-control to awake, alive, and able. That paradigm shift allowed me to get back behind the wheel of my time. We are pulled by dozens of priorities every day and it's unreasonable to think that we'll be able to give 100% to all of them all of the time and that's okay! That's why we're humans and not cyborgs. I say it all the time, but I promise you that you're not going to come to the end of your life and say, "Gosh, you know, I am so glad I spent that time emptying out my email Inbox". We don't care about that stuff, we care about people and we only connect with people in a meaningful way when we create spaces in our lives with which to do so.
You can take intentional steps to break out of this ugly cycle of "busy" (to unbusy yourself). Here are a few to consider:
1. Realize that being busy is a choice. It is a decision we make. We are never forced into a lifestyle of busyness. The first, and most important, step to becoming less busy is to simply realize that our schedules are determined by us. We do have a choice in the matter. We don’t have to live busy lives. If, like me, you have a very abundant calendar, consider changing your language from "busy" to "productive". Without that full calendar, I don't feed my family, so I want to stay productive! What I don't want is all the loss of control that seems to follow when one is stuck in the cycle of business.
2. Stop the glorification of busy. Busy, in and of itself, is not a badge of honor. In fact, directed at the wrong pursuits, it is actually a limiting factor to our full potential. It is okay to not be busy. Repeat this with me: It is okay to not be busy!
3. Appreciate and schedule rest. One of the reasons many of us keep busy schedules is we fail to recognize the value of rest. Start small, set aside one waking hour per day for rest and family. Intentionally schedule it on your calendar. Then, work up to a full day and guard this rest day like gold!
4. Revisit your priorities. Become more intentional with your priorities and pursuits in life. Determine what are the most significant contributions you can offer. Then, schedule your time around those first. Busyness is, at its core, about misplaced priorities. Download an app like In Moment and see how much time you spend on social media and even limit that time through the app. One of my favourite prioritization tools is my "Big 3". I've talked about this tons already, but, essentially, this is a list of three things that I must handle today for my day to be complete. As a creative entrepreneur, I have a growing list of ideas and inspirations along with good ole' To Dos. To try to keep myself on task, I take three of those tasks each day and, relentlessly, focus on their completion. This has become a great tool both to keep me focused on one job but also to draw a line between when my kitchen table is a desk and when it's back to the table.
5. Own fewer possessions. One of the biggest lessons popularized from the smash hit book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (that I'd already known for years - humblebrag) is that the things we own take up far more time and mental energy than we realize. They need to be cleaned, organized, and maintained. And the more we own, the more time is required. Own less stuff. Take a page from my book and intentionally live in a tiny house so that you don't have room to take on stuff. Do you know what's more valuable than things? Time!
6. Prioritize space in your daily routine. Take time to go for a walk over lunch. Find space in your morning to sit quietly before starting your day. Invest in a yoga practice. Find opportunity for breaks at work in between projects. Drive in your car without turning on the radio or music. Even notice the little pause between your breaths. Try it now: inhale. Exhale. Now notice the pause before inhaling again. There's possibility in space. Space is where our creativity thrives. It's where we connect to ourselves and each other. Begin cultivating little moments of space in your otherwise busy day and see how the brain starts to change.
7. Practice “no". Recognize the inherent value in the word “no.” Learning to say “no” to less important commitments opens your life to pursue the most important.
Busy does not need to define you. Unbusy is possible. It’s okay to be happy with a calm life. And, honestly, considering the chaos and uncertainty of our political and social climate, doesn’t calmness sound pretty wonderful?
I wrote this piece a few years ago and, just yesterday, it showed up on my personal newsfeed. It still hits me right in the feels, so I was inspired to share it with all of you.
As a yoga studio owner and instructor, I am always seeking knowledge. I often look in yoga-based magazines, books and online resources to deepen my personal practice and, by extension, what I offer as a teacher. This never ending search has lead me to some of the most incredible discoveries of my life, but it has also lead me to witness a presentation of yoga as a trend; a branded yoga, a sexy yoga, a fashionable yoga, a yoga for "losing those stubborn 10 lbs. FAST!". It sometimes shouts right in my face that I do not belong because I do not look like a 'yogi'.
This is not the yoga that I know. This is not the yoga that fills me with light or the yoga that I crawl to on my knees in desperation. My yoga can't be 'selfied'. It is not owned by a corporation. It is not better than or worse than. It is me ... in this moment. My yoga is unbiased, without expectation, judgement-free. She enables me to live fully and love deeply. To be as grounded in the ebb as I am in the flow.
Once, a long time ago, I forgot who my yoga was. I lost her in the rush of my day-to-day life. You see, my yoga is not always blissful. She can be tortuous, unrelenting, ugly, and uncomfortable. It was easier to be busy than accountable to the steady beat of my own heart telling me to do the work and to keep me on my path. I missed my yoga at first, but it was much easier to get swallowed up by the hypnotic siren virus that is 'busyness'.
Then, one day, I took myself deep into nature. I cut off from technology and creature comforts and I had nothing to busy myself with. There, in a pre-dawn darkness that was so deep, it swallowed and filled me all at once, I was silent enough to hear her softly calling to me. I dove into the blackness. Alone and draped in nothing but the night, I found my yoga again. There was no one to there tell me that this body wasn't right, didn't fit or wasn't beautiful. I could not see with eyes that polarize and judge. I could only feel my yoga. I saw my truest self without vision. I knew her. I was her.
I became overwhelmed with gratitude for this body for bringing my yoga to me. This body a full-fledged bootylicious miracle! This is the body that my parents, the two people I love most in the world, created. These chubby legs ran after my brothers (and, yes, my thighs touched with every stride). These sausage fingers helped deliver a fucking baby! This is the abundant body that the man of my dreams fell in love with. The round face that my community resonates with. The flabby arms that embrace my baby girl every day. Each time I come to my mat and move this body, I am reminded of just how grateful I am.
Your yoga is waiting for you even if you never step foot on a yoga mat your whole life. You are her. She's in there. One day, you will meet her, you will know her, you will love her and you will never be able to live without her ever again.
This week was a particularly stressful one for me. Not that it wasn't full of joys and balance, but for the most part it was overwhelming and left me feeling out of control. One of the insidious ways that I try to regain control is that I become obsessed with perfectionism. It's this awful cycle: stress and lack of control -> perfectionism -> self-criticism -> anxiety -> loss of confidence -> greater feelings of failure and over and over and over and over.
Frustratingly, perfectionism is almost revered! Mention that you spent the weekend doing laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the interior of your car, flipping your mattresses, prepping your family's meals for the week, running errands, Spring cleaning the house, and so on and people will ooo and aww over how you manage to "do it all". Mention that you turned off your alarm clock, read a book you've been meaning to finish, went to a yoga class, and spent some time outside this weekend, and people almost shame your commitment to wellness ("Ohhh, that must be niiiice"). As if the latter isn't work at all! What are we to think about the value of these qualities?
Here's the thing about perfectionism though: it does the complete opposite of what you THINK it will do! When I am wearing my perfectionist hat, I have a certain set of unwritten rules or guidelines governing how things should be done, what the results should be and what they should look like. Any deviation – even if the task is completed properly – makes a good job seem like a botched operation. The end result, of course, is that even if something is done right, it’s still fundamentally wrong. This lack of flexibility makes it difficult to switch gears and try new methods – even if a new approach will save time and effort. Making matters worse, as it does, the stress can spread to those around me because I have the unrealistic expectations and a set of rules for governing yourself that make no sense and that I can't even express and yet, somehow, everyone is breaking the topsy turvy rules. It's nonsense. But, don't try to tell me it's nonsense when I am stuck on auto-perfect because I'm bound to burst into tears or punch you in the throat.
It's so confusing though because, when I am stuck in a cycle of perfectionism, I am undoubtedly good at what I do, people LOVE to compliment perfectionism, but this leads to a cycle of self-limitation. If there’s one thing I fear the most when I'm off balance in this way, it’s making mistakes. I already feel out-of-control and making mistakes can feel like a lack of control. That's just one way to look at mistakes though. You can’t learn how to do something without getting it wrong! I think of my daughter falling about a MILLION times as she was learning to walk. First she moved her arms and legs, then rolled, then crawled, all on her journey towards walking and falling falling falling again for over a year without ever giving up and without losing her enthusiasm for trying either. Not only are mistakes a normal part of our development, but they also often lead to new discoveries. If Alexander Fleming had been perfectionist enough to keep his lab clean, we wouldn’t have penicillin!
The place that I try to relax my perfectionist grip the most is when I am acting as Studio Director at Life Yoga. Any leader will tell you that it's a tough role as you try to strike a balance between being professional without becoming too friendly. The best leaders set realistic expectations and give their team a certain degree of autonomy. Perfectionist bosses? Not so much. Anyone who’s dealt with a perfectionist leader no doubt will complain about micromanagement, excessive expectations, and a low tolerance for mistakes. If you’re in a position of leadership – however small – keep in mind that your perfectionist tendencies (if any) will achieve the exact opposite of what you hope to get.
I am most sensitive to this tendency towards perfectionism now that I am a Mom. I read in Psychology Today, that perfectionists are built, not born. Parents with high expectations – be it academic, social or organizational – often put that strain on their children, leading to a continuous cycle. And while these individuals mean well, they’re setting their kids up for what could be a lifestyle of stress, self-doubt, and poor health. I want to teach my daughter to care about her academic work and practice good habits like cleaning up after herself but, I don't want her to model my perfectionist imbalances as everyday ways of being. She is ageing me so much already - it's hilarious usually - and it makes me hyperaware of what I am saying without saying a word.
When I realize that my perfectionist tendencies are swinging to the side of unhealthy obsession, I do what I always to to connect me back to the truer parts of myself: I practice. Sure enough the further I get from my mat, the more concerned I become with everything being just so. When I take a few minutes to meditate, I remember the truth of things, I see the bigger picture, and I can take the time to deal with feelings of stress and lack of control in a healthy way.
When I was younger, I was always called a “social butterfly”. Flittering between cliques, I had my core group of friends, sure, but I was comfortable in nearly every social situation in a way that was unique in the harsh jungle gyms of adolescents. Always a nerd (in the best possible way), my teachers’ only constructive criticism on Parent-Teacher Night or on my report cards were always variations of “Carly talks a lot in class”.
Throughout my teens, this served me well as I moved neighbourhoods, moved schools, got my first job, and really started to experience the “real world”. In my career now, I realize that what injects me with joy and has shaped my path in the world is my love of community. Whether it’s creating specific classes to create communities (“Yoga for Bigger Bodied People”) or designing the yoga studio to encourage it (benches in the lobby, lots of time before and after classes, etc.), community is always at the heart of what I do.
That’s one of the reasons why I love social media so much! It informs me about places or points of view that I don’t get to see in my day-to-day interactions, keeps me connected to people I meet at conferences or retreats, allows me to interact in pockets of community that may not exist here in my backyard, and has the potential to spread my messages of love and ability to so many more people than just my voice alone. That said, I recognize that social media can be a tool to empower or to demoralize, not only by what we present on social media, but through our relationships with what we see.
I have seen friends and family members make the leap and cut themselves off from social media completely. They delete their accounts because it’s sucking up too much of their time, they are disturbed by what they see, it’s affecting their mental health, or they are, ironically, disconnecting from the people around them and glueing themselves to their screens instead. While I support anyone in their choices to do so, complete separation just doesn’t feel right to me. A big part of my social and professional* life take place online, so here I am, mindfully connected. Over the years I have developed some super simple ways to do so that might work for you as well, so here they are:
1. Be a conscious and vigilant scroller. What we see, even if in passing, has an affect on our energy. It has the ability to raise us up or pull us under. This is why it’s so important to open your senses to what you’re reading and who you’re following. If you follow an Instagrammer because you’re inspired by her perseverance and motivated by her posts, perfection; however, if the negative self-talk snakes slither out when you see that six pack and your Newsfeed makes you scared to leave your house in the morning, you need to protect your mental health. While it can be enlightening to be presented with perspectives in contrary to your own, we have to recognize the ways that we can be triggered. Staying connected - present and mindful - to what you’re reading/seeing AND how it is making you feel is the key here. Remember too, this doesn’t mean an irrevocable decision to remove your source of stress from your life forever. You can always unmute, unblock, re-follow, or re-freiend when you’re feeling stronger if you want to do so. Those algorithms on social media are sneaky little suckers. The sponsored ads are the worst culprits in my Newsfeed for bullshit claims that focus on fast weight loss and promote unhealthy ideals of beauty. I’m aware of and sensitive to the ways that these companies hide behind messages of wellness when they are, in truth, commodifying our bodies and selling the manufactured yoga goddess image. While you cannot control when such triggerring messages slide into your Newsfeed, you can block the ad or, better yet, report it. This will not only get it out of your space, but tell companies like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that you are not interested in scams, propoganda, fear-based advertising, or promoting unhealthy/unsafe ideals of beauty attainable to the few genetically priviledged and harmful to the rest of us.
2. Be mindful about the message that you’re sending. I think that there is great strength that comes with authenticity representing the full spectrum of human experience on our social media profiles if it is connection that we’re seeking. Like the brilliant Brenè Brown says “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path”. Perfect lives don’t exist. When one has excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations, it’s like they can’t ever post their house a mess, or when they’re having a bad day, or even when life is just kind of meh. So, it’s always planned, staged, and edited to present this picture of perfection. Not only is this harmful for the person posting, but it is harmful for the audience. Perfectionism is not attainable because it feeds itself. Studies have shown that this type of behaviour online puts us at greater risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts because we can never achieve perfection because IT DOES NOT EXIST. Post your triumphs - I want to see them and celebrate them with you - but post your failures and hardships as well, so that we can better support one another and connect in a more meaningful way.
3. Follow people who feed your soul (and the ones that feed theirs). When you’re scrolling away and listening to that internal dialogue, cozy up to the people who inspire, motivate, and bring out the best in you. Follow them and, on their Page, set your settings so that their posts will always show up in your Newsfeed. Then, watch for the people they Repost and talk about and look into following those people. This is how you’ll start to surround yourself with influencers and transform your social media experience to one that elevates you and authentically aligns us on our paths.
3. Mute, block, unfollow, and unfriend. Not only can you choose who you follow, but you can limit the voices of people who are triggering you in a myriad of ways. Consider muting, blocking, unfollowing, or unfriending not only accounts who are outright harmful to your mental health, but also the people taking up too much of your time and energy. The people you care about shouldn’t be buried among the people you passively follow. Maybe your Great Aunt isn’t hurting you with all of her posts asking you to “Type YES if you agree”. Maybe you aren’t drawn into her goading you with “I believe a select few of my friends will post this …”. But, all her memes are definitely filling your mental headspace and, possibly, overshadowing the messages from the people you want to see, so why keep her posts on your newsfeed? Same goes for Pages that no longer represent your goals or interests. Be vigilant. Your social media experiences ought to be intentional, focused, and in service to your highest purpose.
4. Turn off your notifications and schedule in social media time. Here’s a big one. I recently turned off all my notifications for email, Facebook, Pages, Messenger, Twitter, and Instagram. This has freed me up from the compulsive checking over and over again every time I see a little red circle over the icon on my phone. Hand-in-hand with this leap to freeing myself from being a slave to the screen, I schedule time throughout my day for scrolling and social media. This idea was introduced to me from my brilliant friend Meaghan who doesn’t polarize her focus jumping in and out of social media every time her phone dings. She taught me to focus on the task at hand and, a few times a day (for a set amount of time), to give myself permission to scroll and distract myself with social media. This time limit makes the selection of who you follow and unfollow so much more important. Is this person going to take up your social media time and leave you depleted or inspire and enliven you? Do you know the average person spends OVER TWO HOURS A DAY on social media? Is that how you want to be spending your time? Maybe. If not, scheduling your social media time may be an excellent idea. Maybe time yourself on social media for a week or so to get a good idea about how much time, on average, you spend online and consider limiting yourself by even just an extra 30 minutes. You could use those extra 30 minutes to treat yourself to a long bath, read that book that’s been on your nightstand forever, call a friend, or catch up on whatever else you’ve been meaning to do!
5. Use that Do Not Disturb function. In your phone settings, you can set up Do Not Disturb daily at certain times. This function silences calls and alerts. Consider scheduling ‘off time’ everyday - maybe from 10pm to 7am. To give your brain a little break. You can adjust the settings to allow calls from certain people, allow calls when people call twice within three minutes, etc., so you’ll still be reached in case of emergency.
6. Don’t let your children see your phone unless you’re making a call. This is a big one for me. More and more I am reading about potential risks of screen media for children (especially children younger than 5 years-old). Most experts agree, in order to promote healthy habits for our children, their early media experiences should be minimized, mitigated, and mindful and this starts with modelling healthy use of screens. For our house, this means that I never want my daughter to see the top of my head. The phone acts as a phone, sometimes a camera (let’s be honest), but SHE has my attention more than the screen in my palm. The best feeling in the world was when she first came along and I would catch myself having no idea where my phone was because I was so present with my wee one. This is what living looks like!
7. Whether you have children in your home or not, set up ‘No Phone Zones’ in your home. Maybe it’s the kitchen table. Maybe it’s the bedroom. Consider the spaces in your home where you want to be fully present and make these spaces phone-free. Stack your phones at the door before entry to safeguard your sacred spaces.
8. (CHALLENGE) Once day a week - or a month to start - go COMPLETELY phone-free. I started to do this one day a week - usually on a weekend - after I upgraded my last phone. My husband took the phone to the store to trade it in and I felt panicked. What if someone was trying to reach me? What if I miss an important email? What if someone messages my business Page? I worked hard for that response rate badge and now it’s getting tossed out the window! After a few minutes, I settled down (not without hearing phantom dings and pings or reaching to my pocket for a phone that wasn’t there). Then, when he came home with my new phone, I was SO relieved and immediately checked to see that I had missed basically nothing. How humiliating. I felt so chained to this stupid piece of glass and plastic … You win Steve Jobs! That’s when I vowed to purposefully go phone-free one day a week. If I am travelling, I’ll just turn it off (in case of emergency), but if I am home, it just lives on Do Not Disturb mode upstairs on my nightstand. If once a month or once a week feels overwhelming, try it for even one day and you’ll gain such an interesting perspective on the world. Not only do you get the chance to actually look at people, maybe even talk to them, to be bored, and to wonder without the luxery of asking Siri to find every answer, but you’ll also see how the world interacts with their devices. Not until I was out of that zombie-like obsession did I see it: dead silence in a room full of people; people scrolling for HOURS and, when asked what they were reading, they were so disconnected from it that they say “Oh, nothing” because there is no substance to what they’re reading and/or they’re not reading in a mindful way; meals being eaten together, but separate with each family member on their own screens; I could go on. Nooooo thank you! I promise, you step away from that world for a day and see it for what it is and your relationship to that phone will be forever changed.
Again, I love social media. i don’t want it to sound like I am in my off-the-grid cabin judging everyone who participates online. I am VERY online and I love it; however, like everything else that we do, i think we need to be intentional in how we participate with it and mindful when engaging in order to ensure that this is a tool that is uplifting us and not one that is contributing to our imbalance and illness.
*Keep in mind that, because my professional life includes an active online presence, most of these rules don’t apply during business hours. These are the rules during my personal/family time, which will likely be most applicable to your life anyways unless you also integrate social media into your work. That said, some of these tips are still super relevant in order to be productive in our work and we still need to be mindful or else you’re in for another embarrassing Parent-Teacher Night.
I am so grateful for the incredible overflow of dialogue that the recent podcast that I recorded with my friend Kathryn Bruni-Young has sparked in the last week.
*In case you missed it, take a listen here.
We talked about everything from body positivity and strength training to the power of language, embodied movement, being present, and so much more! What you heard was an uncut, unedited conversation that Kathryn and I had, face to face, around her kitchen table. It was unlike other speaking engagements or panels that I have been invited to. There was no pre-prepared speech edited to as close to perfection as I could muster, then read and re-read by my editor. I was really proud of this podcast because I think that it is an incredible summation of where I am at this moment in time in my life, my practice, and what I teach. That said, it is chockablock with seedlings of these big, complex ideas. For example, when Kathryn asked me what body positivity is, I gave a super simplified definition applicable to the work that she does and the work that others in her field (thus, likely, listening to the podcast) may resonate with. This is what prompted me to elaborate about what body positivity means to me in my very first blog post "Let's start at the very beginning ...".
Today's blog post was prompted from a great question that my friend and fellow yoga teacher Jane emailed me earlier this week about the podcast. Jane asked, "Hey Carly, I enjoyed listening to you chat with Kathryn on her podcast and have a question for clarification: I think I heard you say you are moving away from using props to adapt poses and towards building foundational strength. Are they mutually exclusive? I see these as different, sometimes intersecting, paths to goals of [strength, stability, and flexibility]".
To clarify, and what we didn't have time to flush out fully in the podcast, here is where I stand on props: I love them. I use them. I think they are incredibly valuable for everyone's practice. What I don't practice (or teach) is the use of props to get into a particular pose.
I don't think that propping to get into a pose is a harmful way of teaching and certainly consider it more accessible (thus, more valuable) than not offering props at all; however, I think that we can do even better if we are working towards transformation and not merely achievement of asana. Even that last sentence isn't a hard and fast rule though because we experience transformation in so many ways through asana practice - not only physically. Let me give you a great example: I used to teach my "Yoga for Bigger Bodied People" drop-in classes as a pre-registered 6-week series. As part of the last class, we used to do partner-supported handstands (see the photo of a badass babe, Meaghan, flipping for it)! Now, were their arms strong enough for this challenging asana? Are their shoulders mobile enough to bear weight in this range? What about their wrists? How accessible is a hip hinge for them? All of these component skills, and more, are necessary for the foundation of a functional handstand. That said, we didn't do this as part of a logical progression as these skills were built, but because I wanted to end this session and leave the participants with a major sense of accomplishment. Very few 20-, 30-, 40+-somethings hear "Today we're going to do handstands" and think "Noooooo problem". The inner dialogue is usually more like "Yea, right!", "I can watch YOU do handstand", and, sadly, "Great (eye roll) another place that my body gets in the way of what the world wants me to do". After trying this with a partner, I don't think that there was ever anyone who couldn't get up in some version of a handstand and it was incredibly empowering! Not only did they reframe what their bodies were capable of but, for most, questions started to come up about what other paradigms might be holding them back in their lives. Turns out, when people flip upside down, they really start to see the world a little different. Now, is this what I would teach today? Likely not. Do I regret it or think that I should be thrown in yoga teacher jail? No. It was really powerful and one of the most beautiful things I had the honour of witnessing.
Do you see how asana can be harmful, or maybe not even harmful, but just not helpful for people's bodies, but be pretty magical for their mind and spirit? In this example, the wall and the other person were used as props to get people into handstands when their bodies were lacking the strength, stability, or flexibility to get them there. This is where most people are with accessible yoga practices. Which, I think is 100% WAY better than offering handstand in class and having a room full of people standing around watching one or two kick up and, when luck and gravity were on their sides, happen to hold their feet over their bodies for a fraction of a second. Using props to get people into otherwise inaccessible asana is empowering. It is uplifting. It builds a sense of belonging within a community. But, does it help people to become more stable, more strong, and more flexible? I don't think so.
So, right now, I am working towards transformation in physical bodies: moving out of pain, getting stronger, becoming, physically, more capable by building the component pieces needed to progress, over time, to conquer a challenging skill like a handstand, but (more importantly, for me) also to live their lives - to play on the floor with their children, to walk in the winter without a fear of falling, to stabilize hyper flexibility, to grow older without losing mobility or bone density, and so on.
If you are using props to challenge mobility, or build strength, or roll out adhesions, I think this is all moving us towards ability from the inside out. If you're using them to help people who can't get into a pose, practice the pose, then - like I mentioned in the podcast - I think we're propping up a house that's built on a sinking foundation. Will the house be able to stay in the neighbourhood? Sure. But, are we ACTUALLY fixing the problem? Nope.
I like to focus on component skills like joint mobilization exercises, movements to strengthen deep muscles, full spinal articulation, etc. because this work both leaves no practitioner behind AND builds our skills from the inside out. I certainly use props, but I don't use them to get into an asana because I don't value asana. I value movement and EVERYBODY moves.
Not everybody handstands.