I really don’t have to talk to any of you about embracing change because I believe that we have all been doing a pretty good job at it in the last year. But what I can probably talk to you about is embracing bigger changes.
The last few months have trained us on accepting and embracing change in our daily lives. But there are some changes that are harder to accept and embrace, especially those that impact the grander scheme of our lives: education, jobs, relationships, and long term health.
Without going into specifics, I believe that changes are not random. Change happens for a reason, even if it is not our personal reason at the time. We are naturally and inevitably moved towards our dharma or purpose with or without our knowledge. Energy spent on resisting change is energy wasted.
Conscious change through personal work (“tapas”) is one of the three important components of our yoga practice that can bring us closer to fuller self-realization. This is accompanied by self-study, which means learning from our experience and putting it into action, creating wisdom. But aside from wisdom and work, the last important component of our yoga practice is faith and surrender.
For change that we cannot accept or embrace just yet, we just have to surrender.
- Teacher Ben
I started my yoga practice when I was in college at around 19 years old. As a physically active person, I was always so used to being pretty good at whatever new activity I got into. Yoga was something I found difficult because of the mindset it took to “perform” it but also because it didn’t come naturally to me.
I worked hard to do asana well. And like most of you who are probably reading this, it didn’t take long for me to feel that Yoga was more than asana. There was a shift in the way I practiced over the years and while I found a new level of depth in my mindfulness and intuition, my practice grew in physical technique and skill as well.
I’ve been practicing Yoga for around 16 years. Hitting my 30’s was different when it came to my physical practice. I found myself going through a phase of insecurity as I felt my body and what it could do were starting to change. And while I found a brand new level of equilibrium in my life, that old familiar feeling of having to “perform” was starting to rear it’s ugly head.
I had to go back to my intentions and my why’s for being in this practice.
I realised that just like Yoga itself, our relationship with it evolves as we do. This practice has been around for so long because of exactly that. It adapts to each person’s life and serves as a guide to live our lives mindfully and that is exactly what it’s become with me at this point in my life.
The minute we realise that this practice will always meet us where we are, we begin to see that the asanas are just a medium for us to get to know ourselves better. As our bodies get older, it becomes another way to figure out the way we work through the way we relate to our bodies and our asana practice. I started to see how I dealt with my ego, what I placed my self-worth on, and my intentions for why I do what I do.
My practice has come to a point where asana is not the scoring system that I base how good I am at Yoga. At the end of the day, it boils down to finding a sense of compassion and self-love. My Yoga practice has grown to shift along with who I am as I age. I find so much beauty in it and it’s been such a passion of mine to cultivate that change in the classes I teach.
For any of you going through the same thing, don’t worry. Enjoy the process of your body changing and embrace it! There is value in age and value in figuring out how to navigate your life through your practice. All you have to do is let it in and see what happens.
- Teacher Rianna
Hello friends of Inner Power Vinyasa! I am happy to see on social media that some of you have already been vaccinated against COVID-19. Many are still waiting for their turn and until then, we have to stay safe by observing the minimum public health and safety standards.
We were optimistic about holding an in-person teacher training in August 2021, but after the surge in March and April, we thought it best to do another round of online teacher training. I am personally loving this setup because the advantages of being at home and online add more value to the training. We also get to reach people we otherwise wouldn’t meet if we didn’t do it online.
Sadly, we can’t do in-person training until we get to herd immunity. Who isn’t excited to go outside again and explore nature with your fellow trainees after a day of lessons? Until then, let’s stay safe and keep demanding for an efficient vaccine rollout.
While we wait for that day, we can do some exploration within. I know it’s been more than a year but you will not believe how vast your inner universe is until you start on deepening your journey towards self exploration. Start with the small techniques: how about a body and mind scan while you do your asana practice? Or start your pranayama or breathwork practice? Maybe start meditating for a few minutes?
Yoga offers a vast array of tools for inner self-exploration. All you need is a teacher to guide you on how to get started. Find a teacher by following us at @innerpowervinyasa on Instagram and talk to the dozens of Inner Power Vinyasa graduates we follow. There will surely be one who resonates with you! Namaste.
- Teacher Ben
I used to have the misconception that Yoga was something strict and unchangeable. When I was a newer practitioner, I had so many misconceptions about the kind of person you had to be to be “legit” – vegan, celibate, in an endless good mood, strong in asana practice, and physically lean like most yogis were. Yoga felt like an impossible standard that I was trying to achieve. It took a good amount of time before I realized what Yoga was really about.
For anyone who has truly dived into Yoga’s history and Philosophy, part of why It has been around for so long is because it has adapted to the changing times and cultures. Yoga doesn’t need a prerequisite for anyone to take part in it because it exists for us to figure ourselves out. We do Yoga to connect to ourselves and peel away the layers what keep us from realizing we’re already complete. If you practice Yoga to “add on” to who you are, believe me when I say this might not be the route. Yoga is a practice that helps you explore and realize that you are more than enough exactly as you are. The practice teaches us to burn away what keeps us from seeing ourselves as whole.
It is definitely a process. And over a decade into this practice, I still have a lot of things to figure out and let go of. One thing that keeps me going is remembering that I have to take things one moment at a time. Mindfulness in my asana practice, my ability to be non-reactive, and a steady sitting practice helps too. Yoga doesn’t need us to be perfect. It doesn’t ask us to be anyone else except who we are. And the truth is? It’s a pretty fun process.
A TikTok video recently trended on Twitter, portraying a person who doesn’t trust his partner. The gist of the monologue in the video is as follows: “You already said good night and that you are going to sleep...But why are you still online in Viber and Telegram? And you even commented on a new Facebook post...”
The ensuing Twitter debate centered on two arguments: one against the invasion of personal space and another one against lying. The personal space argument says that people need to learn to respect personal space, even in romantic relationships and understand that your partner is not obliged to report to you 24/7. The lying argument chides people to just say what they mean and mean what they say.
The root of the issue really is trust. Lack of trust leads us to thinking that we will be taken advantage of if we are not on the lookout all the time. It prevents us from fully expressing what we mean out of fear of being misunderstood. Left unaddressed, this may lead to trust issues that can be detrimental to our relationships and personalities.
Trust needs to communicated openly and agreed upon freely. The French word for trust is confiance, a very close cognate of “confidence”. Confidence connotes the ability to say what we truly feel to someone, as in to confide in someone and be someone’s confidante. So before things get blown out of proportion, have an open and honest conversation about how you feel about certain words, actions, or situations. This applies to any relationship that requires trust.
Trust requires both parties to acknowledge their roles and responsibilities and be accountable for their own actions. It also requires faith that the other will do their share and acceptance of things that are outside our control. This attachment with control is one of the reasons why there is mistrust. To a certain degree, we have to surrender and let go.
Yoga teaches us trust in many ways: in trusting the process, trusting our teachers, trusting our bodies, our minds, and our breath. If you need a practical way of exercising trust, you need not go further than your yoga mat.
- Teacher Ben
I’m the type of person who likes knowing the exact outcome of anything I do. I love when things can be measured, are precise, and are predictable. It’s evident in the way I teach and that is a source of comfort in my life.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga are meant to be a guide on to how to live a life free from attachment to what doesn’t matter in the end. I’ve been thinking of Isvara Pranidhana much more in this pandemic lately — it is the surrender of your ego to your higher power. I have never been a religious person, but I truly believe that there is more to this world than me and us. I feel it.
COVID-19 sent all our future plans spiraling out of control. I went through a lot of anxiety over the loss that it brought and how unstable I was feeling. I had many moments of doubt because I didn’t know if the hard work would pay off. It was so easy to hold myself back because not knowing felt crippling so many times.
I had to muster up the courage to keep moving and find ways to take care of myself as a Yoga teacher. Trust in the process and surrendering the effort was one of the biggest things I’ve learned because of all this. Yes, “the universe has got your back” but we need to do our part too. I worked hard to gain skills, create good content for classes, and build connections to my students.
Work hard, study, have good intentions, and then LET IT GO. When we focus on the process instead of what we’re getting out of something, the Universe supports what we direct our energy towards. When we surrender the attachment to the outcome, we surrender what holds us back from reaching our fullest potential. Having faith and trusting myself has made me more confident in what the future has in store.
- Teacher Rianna
I’ve gone through quite a lot in my life. Family problems, financial struggles, losing people I love, and trying to find closure from things I never got a sorry for by myself - a lot of times that rile my nervous system up whenever I get reminded of these events. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my own fair share of mistakes and moments I can’t say I’m proud of. While all this feels like a really long time ago, I sometimes see how these have created an effect in who I am today.
I used to think joy is something I had to continually keep chasing. That it was something I needed to find. A constant thought was how lucky some people had it compared to me and I always wondered how much points I needed to rack up with God to get on his good side. Thinking this way left me consistently exhausted and mentally drained that It was easy to find temporary fixes. I spent a lot of time trying to look for joy in places outside of myself.
Stepping onto the mat changed that.
A couple of months in, I was able to find a sense of solace on my mat. Without ever being told how to, the practice brought me back to me. Being with myself and coming face to face with who I was and the life I had wasn’t easy. But I learned that what I go through and for the most part, the thoughts I didn’t define me. Who you are on your mat is who you are off of it. The opportunity to spend time with yourself is valuable because you see exactly how you work and put that into perspective. I felt really happiness within myself - something I hadn’t for a really long time.
We usually talk about Yoga as something that brings you harmony. I’d like to challenge that by saying that this practice is an unveiling -that you are whole, complete, and beautiful. It leads you to the steps that help strip away what keeps you from realizing that. The secret was that I never needed to look for joy outside of me, it was never gone in the first place. I never even had to look for it, I just had to see it was in me all along.
- Teacher Rianna
Today is April Fool's Day, a day that is celebrated with pranks and trickery and the ensuing laughter that comes after the discovery of the deception. It's probably one of the few days of the year when we allow ourselves to be completely duped for the sake of a few goodnatured laughs. And the appeal of the activity is almost universal.
Historians trace the roots of the April Fool's Day to various places: in ancient India in celebration of the coming of spring and in ancient Rome, where citizens exchanged fake gifts to commemorate the transition from the Julian Calendar (which starts on April 1) to the Gregorian Calendar.
Regardless of its roots, April Fool's Day revelers have one objective: to find joy in the small things. Whether that's sharing an obviously satirical article to close friends or staging a full production of a prank, we are all motivated by our search for the joy of laughing together, even on the smallest of things.
So today's lesson is: joy doesn't have to come in big packages. And joy is not found in faraway places. Joy can be right here at home in the smallest of things. Try to find that joy in everything near and dear and then you will learn that true joy is just within.
- Teacher Ben
I have been living with my boyfriend for a couple of years now. And in this pandemic, we made the decision to purchase a condo together. Unlike a lot of things I hear about diving into this level of (legal!) commitment, I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t think twice or doubt my decision. It was easy. Despite my confidence, people around me worried about how stable that was since we weren’t married. That something in me should be feeling scared. It made me think a lot about my views on marriage, and what that means when it comes to love.
Commitment according to Merriam-Webster is “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future”. I’m 35 years old and I have always been taught that the ultimate proof of commitment was a ring and marriage. And while I have no problems with it, I don’t believe that love and commitment is limited just that. I’ve grown to learn that commitment is an action. Beyond an agreement or pledge and yes, even paperwork or religious obligation, it is the choice to choose who you love on a daily basis. Marriage is a symbol, not the definition or assurance of it. I believe that we all have the freedom to express love our way.
Our practice gives us the tools to become aware of how we work. The choices we make, why we do what we do, and our intentions come from a place we need to understand. Yoga has given me the space to plant two feet in who I am at this point in my life. Coming from a broken family, I’m aware that my aversion towards marriage comes from this. But I also believe that trust and faith in your person can be bigger than what hold you back from being all in when it comes to love. People joke me about being commitment-phobic but I really disagree. The beauty about love is that it is what you and your person define it to be. And maybe for us, this condo is the symbol.
I recently joined the online 21-day workout challenge by Jordan Yeoh, a YouTube fitness coach. Yoga can be a great workout but lately I have been looking for something more intense. Jordan Yeoh’s workouts consist of high intensity interval training (HIIT) using your own body weight. I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of HIIT, which is exactly why I’m in yoga training. But I know that this is the challenge that my body needs at my age.
Jordan has an introductory video which he wants us to watch before we start the challenge. In the video, he said that he had misgivings about doing daily challenges before. He thinks that people are often more focused on performing and getting immediate results and end up being frustrated or disappointed if they feel they did not meet their expectations. So he has set the expectation for this challenge, which is commitment and consistency. He said that if we want to succeed, we should commit to carve out time to workout everyday for the next 21 days. What we are aiming for is commitment and consistency.
This really resonated well with me.Sometimes, we are so distracted by the end goal and our own expectations that we often forget about the process. Not being at par with our expectations frustrates us to the point that we lose motivation and forget about our commitment. It helps to think that commitment is as simple as showing up. Regardless of how you feel about the process, regardless of how near or far you are from your targets, you just show up, trust the process, and learn from the experience of those who have done it before. Based on my own experience, I have so far not regretted showing up, even if the workout is physically demanding.
The same attitude can be applied to our yoga practice. It may be challenging. It may be tough both physically and mentally. But it is worth it. Just keep working on your practice, enjoy the process, and its fruits will manifest in their own time.