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Ask A Yogi: Body Differences + Pose Modifications

Ask A Yogi: Body Differences + Pose Modifications

Q:  I enjoy doing yoga but I get insecure about my body differences.

When I need help with modifications, I am embarrassed to ask. What can I do to let the instructor know that I need some assistance without disrupting the class?

 

Amy:  I’m so glad to receive this question, and I really appreciate the phrase “body differences.” 

There’s a lot to care for here, so I’m going to break up the answer into two parts. (look for Part Two to post soon!)

 

 

Part One: The Culture of Body Differences: Insecurity & Positivity

 

Because we live together in a society, we grow up learning what is and isn’t acceptable, as well as what is and isn’t desirable or worthy of attention, comfort, or praise from a variety of industries that make up our popular culture.  From entertainment and leisure to fashion and trends, to scores of news outlets, we see, hear, and internalize sets of beliefs that shape our world view and self-image.  In addition to these broader influences, our belief systems are also shaped by our specific family culture, which can include ethnic and religious traditions, shared knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors, as well as the outlook, attitudes, values, morals, goals, and customs shared by our own immediate and extended families.  Because our cultural formation is both broad and specific, we grow into adulthood with a variety of filters unique to our own experience; and to add more complexity, these different lenses might even be in conflict with each other.  

 

You are not alone.  Our unique world view and self-image shape how we function in relation to ourselves and other people during public events and private moments.  We tend to compare ourselves to an internal “ideal,” to other groups of people, and individuls to see where we fall on the spectrum of “socially acceptable.”   

 

It’s helpful to remember that not only are we not alone in the experience of being different, but every single one of us has some kind of body difference, whether subtle or obvious, as well as invisible differences, such as auto-immune diseases, mental injury, complex learning styles, and so much more.  So when we head into a body-based class like yoga, we’re all bringing with us thousands of years of ancestral DNA, our own cultural formation, and all of our “differences” both seen and unseen.  

 

It is natural to experience insecurity around our differences.  And it’s also natural to experience positive emotions around our differences.   The next time you feel unsure about an instruction, posture, or practice in a yoga class, remember it’s not just you; most likely, other students are unsure about it, too.  We’ll get into the details more in Part Two, but briefly, if the style of the class is not too terribly fast, and you can make eye contact with the teacher, trying asking for general suggestions.  For instance, if you’d rather not ask specific questions about a particular topic, consider asking for more general modifications.  Try something like, “Can you offer any other options if this isn’t working for us?”  Remember this, if nothing else: Yoga, and yoga postures, are here in service to you; you are not in class to be of service to the postures.  

 

If you’d like to take this discussion further, if you’ve ever thought, “yoga is not for me,” or if you’d like to explore the possibilities around shifting from insecurity to positivity, here are some great resources:  

  • Amber Karnes & Body Positive Yoga: Amber is the founder of BodyPositiveYoga.com and the creator of Body Positive Clubhouse, an online community for folks who want to make peace with their bodies and build unshakable confidence.  
  • Yoga for AmputeesMarsha T. Danzig 
  • Amputee Yoga Association
  • Accessible Yoga:  AccessibleYoga.org:  A nonprofit organization that believes all people, regardless of ability or background, deserve equal access to the ancient teachings of yoga.  By building a strong network and advocating for a diverse Yoga culture that is inclusive and welcoming, Accessible Yoga is sharing Yoga with all.

 

Part Two – The Yoga Classroom:  Student-Teacher Relationship & Class Agreements (coming soon!) 

Resident MBA Yogi, Amy Secrist, is available to answer questions, give insight and guidance, and help you feel great about your yoga practice. You can email your questions to Amy@mindbodyalign.com or message us on Facebook or Instagram  #AskAYogi  @MindBodyAlign 

You can also join Amy for practice at the Butterfly House on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:30 am. Learn more here. 

 

 

 

How Mindfulness Can Help You Explore Your Perfectionism.

How Mindfulness Can Help You Explore Your Perfectionism.

Hello MBA Community, 

This year at Mind Body Align we are embarking on an exploration into mindfulness and wholehearted living. We began the year by offering some tools for you to use in order to assess where you are at this moment. (see Annamarie’s wheel of wellbeing)  Our intention is that each month we shed light on each area of whole living through our blog posts, podcasts, playlists, and even the resources that we curate for you in our retail shop.  We kicked off the March topic with Coffee Talk guest host, Cindy Biggs. As an accomplished leadership and executive coach, we knew that she would be the ideal person to talk with us about this month’s topic, perfectionism.  Be sure to keep an eye out for Cindy’s blog post called Perfectionism Rewired. It will be in your inbox next week. 

So why are we talking about perfectionism if our year is focused on whole living? Why not just dive into one of the areas on the wheel of wellbeing? Sometimes we need to start with the obstacles. If we begin with them we can open up a dialog to find strategies and solutions. Perfectionism seems to keep coming up when we talk about issues facing our Mind Body Align community. The response to the LunchWISE Wednesday event last month, when we tackled the topic of Imposter Syndrome, truly struck a chord. I have never received so many emails after an event. The idea of being perfect can be a huge stumbling block when it comes to living a life that is fully engaged. For many, trying to be perfect is a way to avoid the fear of failure and, just to be clear, we are talking about perfectionism as opposed to setting standards or striving for excellence. 

Back in October 2018 our guest blogger, Kym Lamb wrote, “I’ve found that Bravery Over Perfection comes when you are willing to inspect your strengths and weaknesses. It’s the willingness to question what you believe and why consistently…Bravery emerges when we embrace failure as taking that one daring step past fear and it’s when we recognize that excellence comes not in being flawless, but fearless.”  

I love this! “Taking that ONE DARING STEP past the fear. 

 

So how do we use and apply the practice of mindfulness when it comes to silencing our inner critic? 

Begin with awareness.

Notice and pay attention to the words and tones that you use with yourself. The voice in our head can work to keep us safe but there are times when we need to simply recognize it and release it especially when it is telling us things that are negative or untrue. Would you speak to a friend the way that you speak to yourself?

 

Notice what is happening.

When we recognize that the voice in our head (our inner critic) is at work or we realize that we have set a standard that is beyond realistic, Mind Body Align founder, Annamarie Fernyak, says you should ask yourself the question, what’s happening now?  What do I see, hear, taste, touch, and smell? What thoughts, physical sensations, and emotions are present?  What do I “sense” or intuit is happening in the world around me?  

 

Move into the present moment.

Once we have done a check-in with our heart, mind, and physical sensations we can begin to release judgments and embrace curiosity. Our thoughts pass by us like clouds in the sky. We observe them rolling past without becoming attached or engaging them.

 

Develop a practice. 

Meditation is a great tool for learning to live mindfully. Like most things worth pursuing, it takes practice and training. Mediation can be done in the amount of time it takes to brush your teeth but it does require regularity. It’s a workout for your brain and the benefits of setting aside the time are so worth it. You would never expect to go running once and then sign up for a marathon expecting to complete it. Mindfulness meditation works in the same way. You’ve got to train the brain.

 

Find Support.

Surround yourself with people and things that support your commitment to living fully. It is essential to your success. Be aware of who you are spending time with, what you are reading, watching or listening to, and curate those things with intention. 

As we move through the month of March and adjust our clocks internally and externally for Spring, our team at Mind Body Align invites you to join us with curiosity, self-compassion, and mindfulness as we explore perfectionism.  We look forward to connecting with you at one of our classes, events or conversations on social media. 

 

Sending you joy!

Jen

P.S. Be sure to keep an eye on your inbox for fresh new content to keep you inspired.

Believe in the Beauty of Your Dreams.

Believe in the Beauty of Your Dreams.

Three years from now, what will you celebrate?

 

If anything you wanted were possible, without considering the obstacles, what would it be? These are the questions we, the Mind Body Align team, asked ourselves this past month. The answers were not what we expected and yet they have spurred us into action in ways we hadn’t previously considered. 

You may be thinking, “how do I translate this into my own life?”  You’re probably already busy simply keeping up with your current obligations, which means, you don’t have a ton of extra time to daydream. But what if it wasn’t just a dream? What if you asked yourself these important questions and discovered something about yourself that allowed you to take an important step toward living that dream?

 

That’s not possible.

 

At first, the process may seem daunting. Your internal voices made up of habits and beliefs will chime in and tell you, “hey, wait….thats not possible because of….” and then if those thoughts go unexplored, you may believe them to be the truth. But what if you pushed back against those voices of doubt? What could you achieve if self-imposed limitations weren’t a factor?  MBA Founder + Life Coach, Annamarie Fernyak, offers her insight on the process. 

 

 

Annamarie’s 5 steps to living a life of infinite possibilities: 

 

1) Notice a dream or desire that you eliminated based on beliefs, habits, limitations, and obligations.

2) Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Do the work and be introspective; inquire into the nature of your choice.

3) Ask yourself the question: What about this dream is important to me?  This question will help explore and discover the value that you are honoring if you live this dream? Then ask the question: What is it about my beliefs, limitations, and obligations that are important to me? This will flush out the value you are honoring by living your belief, limitation, or obligation. Both the desire (the dream) and the expectations or responsibilities (habits, beliefs, obligations) are essential to discovering and understanding your values. Get to know your values so that you can make choices that support you in living your best life

4) Set the intention to listen to your “I cant’s” (“I can’t” usually sounds like, “living in Italy has been a dream of mine, but…” ) and, open your perspective to allow for more possibility and greater potential. A first step is to substitute the “but” in your language for the word “and”.

5) Be authentic! You are given your dreams and desires for a reason; allow you to be you.

 

 

You can read more about infinite possibilities in the blog post where these steps first appeared. You can also follow Annamarie on Instagram at @MindfullyAnnamarie

Looking for more mindfulness tips + techniques?

Join Annamarie, and our awesome staff of Mindfulness Educators,

at our monthly Mindfulness 101 class!

 

 

The Unexamined Life

The Unexamined Life

Many people talk about life as being in balance or, more commonly,  “out of balance”, and yet, I’m curious, how many of those same people have defined what balance is, or means, to them?  Have you? Are you happy, fulfilled, “living your best life?” Would you consider yourself successful, or “living a life of purpose?”  These are very popular questions in an age where more people than ever before have food, shelter, time, and money; enough of each to consider the finer points and purpose of life. And, whether acknowledged or not, the answers to these questions are likely fueling your goals and resolutions for 2020.   So, before you dive into creating your goals, resolutions, and intentions for the new year, I hope you will consider the following things I’ve learned about happiness, fulfillment, success, life purpose, and balance (aka “these states of being”).

  • These states of being are all subjective.  They are based on personal desires, interests, expectations, habits, beliefs, and each individual’s unique way of experiencing the world.  You may think this is obvious, and yet it is easy to forget this very important point when reading and learning from experts who are charismatic, articulate, and learned.  Always “check it at the door” as I say to my clients and students. Check everything the experts tell you (and I tell you) with your own heart and gut. You’ll know when a particular piece of advice is right for you by how you feel when you begin to incorporate it into your life.  If it doesn’t increase your joy or contribute to your sense of purpose, it probably isn’t right for you.

 

  • “Everyone walks their own Camino.”  This is a phrase spoken over and over again while hiking the Camino de Santiago; a 400 plus mile hike that my husband and I walked from France through Spain to Santiago de Compostela.  Another way of putting this is, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” a well-known quote by Teddy Roosevelt. Your best life can’t and won’t look like anyone else’s best life. In fact, your best life today is different than your best life yesterday and tomorrow. 

 

  • These states of being are dependent on whatever is happening in your world at any given moment. Your ability to manage the things life throws at you will change based on factors you CAN CONTROL (nutrition, exercise, sleep, mindset, self-talk, how you treat others, and your choices) and things you CAN’T CONTROL (past, future, weather, change, other people’s minds, other people’s happiness, and traffic).  One of the keys to finding joy and fulfillment is to invest your energy and time on things you can influence; make the effort to control the things you CAN CONTROL and let go of the things you can’t.  

 

  • I’m a big fan of the Peter Drucker quote, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” If you have never defined what a fulfilled, happy, successful, and balanced life is to you, how do you know how to navigate and when to recalibrate?  Use tools like vision boarding and Wheel of Life to create personal understanding and support you in living your best life. 

 

  • Gratitude!  Really, appreciate it, all of it – even the yucky stuff!  This is the essence of life. 

Socrates or Plato (both are credited) said, “The unexamined life is not worth living?”  I disagree. I do believe, however, that the examined life 1) makes it possible to understand your unique self, 2) provides you with information you need to set fulfilling and purposeful goals, 3) allows for compassion when life gets tough, 4) offers structure in order to recalibrate and learn, and 5) encourages gratitude and a joyful approach to everything life offers you.    One morning when I encountered an acquaintance on the street, I said, “Isn’t this a beautiful day to be alive?” His answer still resonates with me, “every day I wake up is a beautiful day to be alive.”  Welcome to one more beautiful day friends!!!   Sending you love and a great big new years hug!   Annamarie

Ditch the Holiday Hustle

Ditch the Holiday Hustle

With the hustle and bustle that surround us this time of year, it can feel exhausting to try to cut through the noise and find a moment of calm for ourselves. I love this post by Lysianne Unruh that asks 5 simple questions meant to help you focus on what matters most during the holidays.
Click here to read Lysianne’s original post and put her wise words to use in the coming weeks.
Living Beyond the Blocks

Living Beyond the Blocks

The age-old question of– “If you could go back in time what would you do differently?” has been asked by so many people.  I’ve asked myself this question many times and others have asked me more times than I can remember. I have replied that, if given the chance, I would definitely change many things. But why did I say this?  Why would I want to go back and change anything? This response says to others and myself, “Boy, I really screwed that up” or “I’m so embarrassed that I keep making the same mistakes over and over” or “What the hell is wrong with me?” 

These thoughts and feelings have plagued me the majority of my life. It’s amazing how our mind comes up with a need to defend why we did or didn’t do something. When we feel compelled to justify something, maybe it’s a decision to stay in an unhealthy relationship, that very need to justify the decision is the body’s way of letting us know it time to release it from our life.  To start anew.  How free would it feel if we could just accept what we’ve “screwed up” in our past? Or not knowing how something will go or what our next step will be and saying, “I love that!”. In this instance, freedom comes from knowing we always have that choice. 

We have two voices that can tell us the next step…the first comes from the body.  Your body says to make a change and release what you’re holding onto, but the mind starts to freak out.  It goes to what we will be giving up or losing because it can’t see what we’ll be gaining. The mind can only see one step ahead and it wants to keep us safe.  So, the body says, “I want to explore Arizona to live.” “I really want to start my own business.” “I want to leave this relationship.” Whatever the inspired feeling is, it is a preview, but the feeling can’t tell you why you should go or what that journey will look like because you haven’t done it.  Learn to love and trust the space of the unknown. Instead, what if you were to say, “I want to explore Arizona to live and grow my business, and I have no clue what that looks like…and I love that!!” or “I can’t take the abuse in this marriage anymore. I really don’t know where I’m going to live or how I’m going to make it on my own…and I love that!!” There’s something in our body calling us to do this – it’s our first voice, our true voice.  But we’ve been conditioned to ignore this voice and listen to the voice in our head, which then causes us to lower ourselves to the mind’s understanding. Every time I listen to my mind I feel confused, disconnected, and overwhelmed. We are not designed to make decisions from our minds because that comes from a limited capacity. Our true potential and capacity lie within the body, and the body never lies.   

Being okay with where we really are creates a new story.  The real story. We have to see and know that we are enough or we’ll always be coming from a place that is lacking. In this place, we may believe we need to be fixed or try to fix everyone or everything around us.  In my life, I felt like I wasn’t enough. I felt guilty and embarrassed for the choices I had made. In my heart I can understand at a true level why I did, but what caused my pain was wanting those around me to understand why.  We are taught that happiness, love, and approval comes from outside ourselves, and so the journey of constantly chasing our tails in hopes of finding the perfect job, the perfect mate, the perfect blah-blah-blah becomes our false reality.  It’s really hard to have clarity when we’re always looking through a distorted lens. Living from a limited perspective creates hidden blockers. No wonder we’re always wishing we could go back in time for a do-over.   

Could you be telling a different story?  Are you carrying your past with you and making decisions from that past instead of from the here and now?  How have you viewed yourself, and are you afraid of what you’ll be losing? Making decisions that you think are in the here and now but are really based on how you view yourself will show up in how things are flowing in your life.  Do you feel alive and performing at your highest level or do feel overwhelmed and frustrated? If you’re feeling the latter that is an indication you’re living and making decisions from your head.  

Be open to being you and creating something new.  Loving the space of the unknown is where the magic happens, and that’s where the byproduct of you living in your highest self resides.  In remembering the body never lies you’ll listen and trust it. Living life beyond the blocks you will perform, excel, achieve, and actualize the life of your dreams.  So, would I ever go back in time and change anything?  Absolutely not, because now is all I have. To go back would be creating a false story attached to some illusionary expectations that were never real to begin with.  I’m right where I want to be and I’m right on time.  

Oh, one more thing…I’m totally free to screw anything and everything up, AND I LOVE THAT!!