Love starts with self

love yourself

You’ve heard it before in any number of ways, you must love yourself before you can truly love others.  By genuinely loving and accepting yourself, your mere presence brings happiness to others, and the love you exude is infectious.  I start and end every class by having my students express love to themselves first.   Here’s that very exercise;  you can start and end every day with love.

Close your eyes and place your right hand over your heart.

Feel your heart, your center.

Now, place your left hand over your right hand.

Connect with yourself, the center of your being, the source of your love.

Send yourself love, compassion, affection, forgiveness, patience, acceptance.

Breathe in and receive that love.

Now, bring your hands together in prayer at your heart.

And, send out the same love, compassion, affection, forgiveness, patience, acceptance.

Breathe out and send love.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Photo: Pinterest

More Charmed Yogi posts on love:

Kindness is always possible

I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately.  What does it mean to be kind?  Am I kind? How often do I show kindness to others? As I think about these questions, my mind starts to kicking up dirt, and out of curiosity I Googled kindness just to see what came up.  Along side Wikipedia’s definition of kindness and numerous quotes, I found an article on the health benefits of kindness on a website called, “Pathways to Family Wellness.”   Hmmm.  I’m intrigued.  So I read on.  Here’s an excerpt from the article.

“Being kind has a profound impact in the lives of others but you may not know how much of a positive health benefit it delivers to you as well.

People who perform acts of kindness would agree that being kind to someone else makes them “feel good.” Scientific research shows that it not only can make you feel good but being kind has a significant health benefit, both physically and mentally.

Allan Luks, the former executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Health and executive director of Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of New York City studied kindness and documents his findings in his book, The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others.

Luks’ study involved more than 3,000 volunteers of all ages at more than 20 organizations throughout the country. He sent a 17- question survey to these volunteers, asking them how they felt when they did a kind act. A total of 3,296 surveys were returned to Luks, and after a computerized analysis, he saw a clear cause and- effect relationship between helping and good health. Luks concluded, ‘Helping contributes to the maintenance of good health, and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders serious and minor, psychological and physical.'”

Interesting.  I knew that it felt good to help others, but I didn’t realize there were actual health benefits.  Bonus.  Another one for my recent post, “Selfishly be someone else’s miracle.”

I continued mining through the returned results from my search, and stumbled up on the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website.  Aaah, sweet inspiration.  Just reading the stories people have posted about acts of generosity and compassion began to fire up my tenderness tapas.  The thing is, random acts of kindness don’t have to be award-winning gestures of selflessness.  Merely being there for another human being in any form IS kindness.  And, sometimes kindness simply means NOT harming another. Not cutting someone off in traffic.  Not voicing your frustration to the customer service representative.  Not winning an argument.

“It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to resist from harming them.” The Dalai Lama

Kindness is always an option.  How will you show kindness today?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Photo Source: Sara on Pinterest

A letter to yogis with chronic illness

meditation for chronic illness

Since I started this blog, and started telling my story, specifically, “When Breathing isn’t Easy – A Cystic Fibrosis Adult’s Journey to Teaching Yoga,” I began to get emails from people with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) or parents of children with CF from all over the world. I’ve done my best to give advice based on what I’ve learned and on my own personal experience. I often hear from yogis with CF about their struggles with practicing yoga without being self-conscious, which I don’t think is unique to people with CF.

So, here’s a letter to the yogis who have expressed doubt about pursuing yoga because they are afraid some aspect of their illness will be bothersome to other people in a yoga class.  While this one is targeted at someone with CF, the message is applicable to all of the yogis out there battling chronic illness.

“Dear Awesome Yogi,

I certainly understand what you’re going through, and your concern about starting a regular practice in class out of fear that your cough will distract or irritate other students.  As people with CF (or any chronic illness for that matter), we don’t ever want to be a bother to anyone or be pitied, etc., right?
 
The thing is, our cough is really a bigger deal to us than to anyone else.  I used to struggle through savasana because it was hard to breathe lying flat on my back, and I didn’t want to disturb anyone.  So, I started taking savasana on my side or sitting against the wall.
 
For the yoga teachers whom I saw regularly, I let them know about my challenges, and the modifications I chose to make.  None of them ever have a problem with it.  In fact, all of them had additional, helpful suggestions on how I can modify my poses so I can get the most out of my practice without adding mind struggle to the mix.
 
I also had the same reservations about teacher training.  I thought, “what if I start coughing during meditation?”  “what if I have to miss a week because I’m sick?”  “what if I get made fun of because I’m too thin?”  Turns out,  it was the most loving, welcoming and accepting experience I’ve ever had.  It literally changed my life, and my preconceived view that people judge me because of my illness.
 
In training, we had several check-ins during the day in which we went around in a circle and discussed what we were feeling, anything that was on our minds, etc.  Right away, when it was my turn, I shared with my fellow students.  I told them about my disease, my struggles, my  triumph, my concerns, and no one responded with pity or disgust.  I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders as I unburdened myself from this “secret” I was harboring in an effort to protect myself.   My fellow teacher colleagues were understanding, and it actually led more people to open up about their own issues.
 
The coughing was rarely an issue.  In fact,during meditation, if I had to cough, I realized that they were all probably deeply into their meditation or just understanding because no one acted ‘disturbed.’
 
Yoga is about cultivating acceptance of exactly where you are right now.  It’s also about silencing the mind despite what’s going on around you.  So, maybe our cough serves as outside noise to someone who’s working on their personal meditation practice and needs to learn how to focus inward despite what’s going on outside of their space.
What you have to recognize is that EVERYONE has some hangup about themselves.  Something they’re self-conscious about that they either flat out with didn’t exist, or something they’re working through.  So, you’re not as alone as you think.  If you have to cough, cough.  If it causes you so much anxiety that you can’t focus on your practice, step outside.  Have your coughing fit, and come back to class.

Yoga, pranayama and meditation will help your lung capacity as well as your self-acceptance, and help with anxiety.  Use your anxiety about your illness as an opportunity to grow, spiritually.  when you feel a wave of emotion or fear begin to rise up, simply let it go.  Or better yet, ride it all the way to shore and know that you’re not alone.  
 
Keep in touch, and let me know if you need anything else.
 
Sincerely,
Lisa”

Again, while I know this is slanted for someone with a respiratory disorder, the message is the same. Don’t be ashamed of who you are, no matter what. If you have an illness that you’re battling and someone in your yoga class is ‘disturbed’ by it. That’s their problem to work through. Allow you to be yourself, and all that comes with it. Accept yourself with the same unconditional love you would show a child who needs you.

Love starts with you.

(Photo: The Conversation)

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Related posts:

Always lead with your heart

“Love… it surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be.”

– Khalil Gibran

Always lead with your heart.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Photo credit: Pinterest

The importance of friendship

Friendship..........

Most of us go through life not realizing just how much love and support we receive from our friends.  Friends are there for us when we don’t even want to be around ourselves. Friends help us see how courageous and talented we are, especially when we have a hard time seeing it.

When we go through life altering changes, our friends are there to help us get through the bad and cheer us on through the good.   “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”  ~Albert Schweitzer

Take time today to tell your friends you love them and appreciate all that they’ve done to help you be who you are.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Rumi’s love

“Reason is powerless in the expression of Love.” ― Rumi

May your day start and end with love.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Photo credit: Pinterest

Selfishly be someone else’s miracle

My mom used to tell me that you may never know the impact you’ve had on others.  A smile to a stranger,a touch, or just listening to a friend in need may seem trivial young hands holding elderly handsto us, but at the moment it’s given to another, it could be quite grand.

In graduate school we dove into the topic of altruism.  Does it or doesn’t it actually exist?  Some theorists believe it doesn’t exist because the person performing the selfless act may still derive joy or satisfaction from the act of giving.

I recently came upon this argument again and started to think about whether or not I’ve ever truly been altruistic.

I thought about the times I’ve volunteered my time, or given money to charity, or helped out a friend in need.  And they all felt awesome. Dammit.

I thought about how I’ve rescued two (now three) dogs from shelters.  But in truth, I sought out these dogs for companionship.  Dammit again.  So then I thought, you know what?  Who the heck cares where the motivation comes from so long as you’re giving of yourself and receptive to love.

Selfishly give of yourself to others; be someone else’s miracle and enjoy the feeling of an open heart. Then you both feel awesome.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Photo credit: Woodland Care & Rehabilitation

My dad’s favorite poem

In honor of my dad on this Father’s Day, I thought I’d post is favorite poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.My little horse must think it queer 5
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake. 10
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, 15
And miles to go before I sleep.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.  I love you.

-Your Kid (and Charmed Yogi)

Photo Credit: Poetik Line Sense