New Journey: Yoga Teacher Training

I have always loved yoga, ever since the first time I accidentally stumbled upon it while at my dad’s house alone, watching TV before school. It was like 6am and my dad had already left for work, and it was too early for me to go to school, so I was just flipping channels on TV when I found this one station (The Oxygen Channel), and saw some people doing this weird exercise that I would later come to find was yoga. It looked interesting, so I began to try some of the poses. I’ll never forget the joy I felt while hanging upside down in the living room. I was 15. I’d found something to grab onto that totally changed my way of being, and I began practicing nearly every day after that.

Ten years later I started Bikram Yoga and fell in love all over again, and for the past five years my practice has grown stronger and stronger.

Now I’m 30, and doing my 200-hour yoga certification. Fifteen years later, I’m still just as curious as I was as a little teenager. I just started my training over the weekend and at first I was very nervous, one because of the money, and then two, because it’s a LOT of work. We have to do this daily meditation using mala beads and a mantra given to us by our instructor. Mine is pretty intense. The first day I did the meditation, I felt HIGH, like I was either drunk or just ate like ten weed brownies. The feeling made me almost sleepy. It’s weird. But it was this feeling of wholeness, completeness, like there was nothing further I needed to do. I swear it opened me up. I went to my Bikram class immediately after and was able to do so much and go super deep in certain postures, even though I hadn’t practiced in a week.

The training calls to me. I feel as though it is necessary right now, to heal, to grow. My mantra essentially is about coming back to the self, that which remains intact after everything ends. So essential to me right now. After all the things I’ve been through, relationships, jobs, things that we think define us. That’s not who we really are.

So the training is pretty intense. I have to read six books, meditate daily, practice daily, and actually log in 80 teaching hours, all within 10 weeks. Heh, if you are in the L.A. area, I can give you free yoga! I’m going to be practicing with friends and family but I’m totally down to practice with people I don’t know. SO…HMU if interested.

Of course I will share all the things I’m learning. It’s challenging for me not to write about what I’m excited about and is changing my life and helping me heal myself, and inevitably others. That’s what I choose to dedicate my life to: healing and love. There is nowhere else I need to be.

 

A new Job, new day

So last year I decided that if I was going to teach again, it was going to be something more focused, something that I really cared about and felt would make a difference. I found this organization called Enrich LA and started interning with them as a garden assistant. Fast forward to eight months later, and I’ve been hired as a Garden Ranger!

The interview was super unconventional and totally personal, you know, all those things that are against the rules to ask, but I find it rare to meet people who have the courage to go there, to find out the truth about others. The executive director of Enrich LA, Tomas, is this high energy Irish dude who immediately told me that he had two goals: to meet me and to scare me away. I was totally drawn to that because I get scared away easily by a lot of things actually. I’m pretty intuitive and I find that I’ve often interpreted my trepidation as fear rather than that gut feeling that I know better. This feeling has steered me into one of the most unexpected directions in my life but the freedom I experience everyday is beautiful, free, and essential to my being as an artist, dreamer, and spirited individual.

So I accepted the job and I’ll be teaching kids about gardening. Gardening has been one of the most essential learning tools in my life. It has taught me patience, kindness, consistency, dedication, how to identify things, when to let go, etc. I’m so excited to share this passion of mine with kids and with some adults even. I knew that I was in the right place meeting Tomas and working with this organization. Tomas says whatever he means with no filter. I have a huge filter and I asked the universe to guide me and I was answered with the opportunity to speak up, to voice my opinions, to be heard and appreciated for my heart’s efforts. I have a huge heart and I love to give. I am just so excited to move forward with this endeavor.
I find it interesting that all these really awesome amazing things have been happening since my breakup. It’s like the universe is reaffirming me that my life is way more important and there is way more for me to do than to dwell on some dude, even if I love(d) him. I think meditation has a lot to do with it as well. Every morning I wake up grateful and set the best intentions for myself and others, just by saying that I love myself, I am fulfilled, and I’m worthy. I really do wish the best for everyone. We all deserve happiness and love. It’s the only way to go around thinking.

Meditation & lunch in a Koreantown church

Today I started a new job with Aids Project Los Angeles, located in the heart of Koreatown. I had been in a weird head space for a full 24-hours due to a recent breakup with an old love I tried making a relationship with. Even after meditating, I still felt weird. So I hadn’t really been eating and it was lunch time and I couldn’t imagine putting food into my body, so I kinda just sat there with my feelings, in a business courtyard right alongside Wilshire Boulevard. I looked around, debated calling my best friend, but decided to just sit down and feel what I was feeling. I started thinking about food and eating natural.

I just couldn’t imagine putting heavy food into my body like carbs because I knew that if I ate carbs, they would make my pain go away and I might miss this feeling that I have and not learn anything from it. Food has always been something that has helped ease my pain. Growing up I ate because I was sad. I dated because I was sad, but yesterday I decided that I wasn’t going to use food to feel better after my breakup. I was going to feel exactly what I was feeling and if I got hungry, I was going to eat something healthy and nourishing to my body. I had dinner with my best friend yesterday at our favorite Korean restaurant, but I only ate the vegetables, light broth, and tofu. It was so funny. He almost spoon-fed me because I couldn’t bring myself to eat, but eventually I was able to and I felt better.

So today at the APLA office, I began thinking about my late uncle Paul, who had HIV and kept himself alive for so long because he ate healthy and meditated. I knew that the universe was speaking to me, saying, that this was a way to deal with my pain and trauma. So after a while, I snapped out of it and began thinking of what I could eat that would be healthy. That’s when I saw a lady selling fresh fruit. Perfect. I got in line and began rehearsing in my head what I would order in Spanish. My Spanish isn’t so great but everyone thinks I speak Spanish because I look Hispanic (And I am), but I’m very Americanized.

So I managed to order a large plate of fresh fruit, topped with lime, chili, and a little salt. It was perfect, all I needed. I thought about where I wanted to eat this and saw a Catholic church across the street. I sat on the steps in the shade and slowly savored the fresh fruit, thinking about what nutrients each piece had and how I was actually getting protein from the coconut. After I got full, I decided to go into the church. I sat down in the back and closed my eyes, and began to meditate. I began to say to myself, “Heal. Release. I am loved. I am guided. I am safe.”

Since I’ve been meditating, I’ve become more in tune with my deep rooted pain from childhood, you know, the kind of pain that we all carry our whole lives and may not really realize affects us still, but does. I can almost see my pain and trauma and it’s rooted in my stomach, deep in my gut and lower back. Every day I grow closer to healing that pain. Meditating is like the lifeline to God, and I know and feel that the more I meditate, the more I can trust myself and be true to what I’m meant to do here. All I know is that it has something to do with giving back to the community, to being intuitive and empathetic, connected, because that’s who I am. That’s what I have to give.

I must feel what I feel right now to break through and create some real shifts in my life. I give myself permission to feel and know that I am safe.

Meditation and the present moment

Okay, so I’ve been meditating every day for the past five days. Things have already improved, mostly in my awareness of my present moment. I have this Lulu Lemon bag that has all these uplifting statements on it and I am reminded of the one that says, ‘creativity is maximized when you are living in the present.”

I find that things haven’t bothered me as much as they usually do. I just connect to myself and my breath and whenever I close my eyes and breathe in, it’s like I’m connecting with something that always says “thank you. Just be here. Stay here. Everything is happening as it should.” When I close my eyes, I feel this. When I hear people’s problems now, I am not affected as much.

I am the kind of person who can find the positive in most things. That’s how I get through some pretty atrocious experiences and go about my business. I’ve heard people’s problems lately and just let them talk, listen, and offer up the best possible understanding I can come up with that might help them think of an alternative way of experiencing their distress.

Meditation has helped me prioritize my responsibilities as well. For some reason, I feel like I can do everything that’s on my plate. There’s a switch that has been flicked on that keeps telling me, you can do all your projects. You just have to devote a little bit of time to all of them every day, even if it’s just thinking of them. It’s because I’m thinking in the present moment, feeling my priorities and dreams as if they were already living outside of my mind and heart, knowing that getting them out into the world is something that is happening, essential.

Meditation challenge: at the beach, off the phone

So today I decided to turn my phone off completely for hours. I got a text early in the morning during my drive to my friend’s house and ignored it because I didn’t feel like responding. I was thinking, driving, just being in my present moment.

I got to my friend’s house and we took off to go hiking in Malibu to see some waterfalls (something I’ve been wanting to do for years). Once I got to my friend’s house I decided to turn off my phone as more text messages flooded in. I only turned it on to take some pictures once we reached our destination, then turned it back off again.

We spontaneously decided to go to the beach and I wore my pink underwear and her tank top because I didn’t have a bathing suit! It was this little hole in the wall location totally away from most people. We had to climb through a hole in a fence and down some cliffs to get there but it was totally worth the danger and spontaneity. I laid down after enjoying the water and closed my eyes. I remembered how I am doing a meditation challenge and decided that I wasn’t going to let my location stop me.

I remember my late uncle, Paul, meditating any place he could. He would do it while riding in the back seat of cars, just anywhere he could. So I closed my eyes and started my deep breathing in and out and began counting. Any time thoughts came into my head, I decided to say to myself that I am loved, that I’m here. I love myself, I kept saying. I’m taking care of myself, I kept saying. I let myself take in the warm sun and the soothing sounds of the ocean, and was grateful for the spontaneous day, for my lively girl friend, and for the opportunity to be where I was. I took care of myself today. I kept my phone off. I did what my heart wanted and it felt so great.

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Meditation Challenge: Body Insights and being present

So I think I know why I don’t like meditating. It activates the core and my core isn’t that strong. I mean, my back is strong, but the front half, nope. I ain’t even gonna lie.

I learned a technique over the weekend that really worked for me. We were guided in a meditation to breathe in for four counts and breathe out for six counts. Focusing on the counting helped me to block out all other thoughts for a bit, but they still came through. I would just go back to my counting and breathing, getting more and more into my present moment. Yea, and my present moment brought up uncomfortable sensations like tension on the right side of my back and neck. I guess I hold tension more so on that side? I became aware of that, as well as thoughts about relationships and work. They were things that were really bothering me though.

So I began to ask for guidance. I kept hearing a voice say, “you are here.”

Yesterday I experienced so much worry because I wasn’t being present. I was thinking about things that weren’t affecting my present moment, mostly things from the past that had bothered me. Today, it was the same thing, but the difference is that I became aware of just how much I was letting my past influence my present and it literally hurt.

So, just being here, with what I have right now is how I must face the rest of the day. Anything that is bothersome to the mind comes from memory and it can ruin the day to continue living there. I ask myself these questions: What can I learn from my present moment? How can I serve in my present moment? How can I strengthen my core in my present moment?

Meditation Challenge

I like regimented things because I’m anything but. I’m a total free spirit, messy, spur of the moment kind of girl, but when I actually make a commitment, I’ll follow through to the end.

Over the weekend I attended a yoga teacher training and as part of the training, we of course did yoga and meditated. I am a regular yoga practitioner, but not a regular meditator. I’ll meditate when I get really stressed out and have no choice but to close my eyes and attempt to shut my mind up.

Meditating this weekend felt absolutely magical. It’s like real medicine. I’ve often heard that some of the brightest minds meditate, like one of my favorite comic writers/storytellers, Grant Morrison. I admire his work so much and I think that it’s probably meditation that has allowed all those crazy, out-of-the box ideas to flourish and become raw, new, thoughtful stories.

When I write I try to organize my thoughts before I even start writing, and sometimes I get really caught up in the outline, so much so that the story isn’t allowed to breathe or have a mind of its own. I think with meditation, a project is given the freedom to be what the universe wants it to be, not what I want it to be, or what some editor thinks it should be.

So my new challenge to myself is this, to meditate for ten minutes every day, for oh, maybe a month? Think that’s enough time? Yea. A month.

I meditated this morning for ten minutes and asked myself these questions that I’ve heard from the Course in Miracles: Where will you have me go? What will you have me do? What will you have me say and to whom?

I know the meditation is working already. I feel a bit more directed in my day.

Living my yoga

This week has been one of those weeks. A great one! So many things are coming together and it feels amazing. My energy is brimming over and my light is strong within, so with that spirit, I write today.

What I’m experiencing lately is releasing expectations and attachment to result. When we hope for the best and forget the rest, life becomes quite magical.

So, I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga consistently for over five years now. It’s the great love of my life. When you love something, you want to do something more with it, like give back to your community.

So, I was planning to go to teacher training this year, and it’s still one of my goals, but now the Bikram trainings are in different parts of the world, like last year they were in Thailand. I applied for a teacher training scholarship but didn’t get it so I know that I will have to pay for it out of my own pocket if I plan on going, and I just don’t know if I want to fork out that much money right now. I am planning on traveling and I just bought a car, so I’m kinda, eh about it. I would totally pay the money if they were going to a country I wanted to visit like India or Bali, but not Thailand. It’s just not a place I want to go right now, so I’m waiting to see where the next Bikram training will be, and planning accordingly, but I still want to do something with yoga in the meantime.

One of my favorite yoga instructors started this organization called Uprising Yoga that brings yoga to incarcerated youth in juvenile hall. They held a teacher training this weekend and I went. I can’t tell you how inspired I was this weekend by all the yoga teachers and social service and medical professionals who are committed to making a real difference in people’s lives.

When I was fifteen years old, I fell in love with yoga and ten years later when I stepped into the hot room, I fell madly in love with Bikram yoga. So here I am, at 30, ready to take on a new avenue in my life and that’s teaching yoga. I never thought that one day I would be a yoga instructor. Life really is about embracing passions and being completely open to the universe. It’s so funny, my old passions are surfacing lately. I’m embracing something I fell in love with at 15: yoga. I’m also dating someone I was in love with at 15 as well and that’s going good too. We go through life and we do what we do, learn what we need to. It might not always make sense but we just have to be open to it.

Nothing happens by accident. I’m just very grateful to be where I am, working in the holistic health field. Things are coming together slowly but surely.

I’ll be honest though. This weekend I did a lot of meditation as part of the training and it really opened a doorway into my soul in that I am open to many possibilities for my career, so I know I need to make a choice soon. Something is brewing within me. I’m going to try something and that’s meditation every morning and see if that helps my clarity. One of the things I learned in the training this weekend is just how powerful mindful meditation is. We can be ruled by our minds. As a writer, I live in my mind with my characters and worst possible scenario plot points. It’s enough to drive one wild, so meditation is my new experiment.

Again yoga has opened doors for me. I’ve said it many times before and after this weekend I am sure that yoga is the great love of my life.

A Course in Miracles Lesson 10

Today’s lesson in the Course in Miracles was “My thoughts do not mean anything.”
This was a hard one to wrap my head around but so far it’s been the lesson I value the most. It immediately took me out of a negative head space.
I have been debating moving back to California to help take care of my grandmother and my head has just been all over the place, but as soon as I started doing the exercise for today, I was brought back to the present moment, of just existing as a blank slate. My mind felt clear, as though I had no thought in the world. I didn’t have to wonder why I thought what I thought, because I would keep saying, “my thoughts do not mean anything,” or “my thought about__ does not mean anything.”

Basically I felt like an empty vessel that was more able to receive messages and a clear plan for my existence.

All the frivolous little thoughts that came up in my head like “why is that girl talking so loud next to me?”, or “my hair is frizzy today” all of the sudden didn’t mean anything. You almost get to wondering where those thoughts even come from.
Another part of the lesson is after saying “my thoughts do not mean anything,” you follow that by “this idea will help to release me from all I now believe.”

This part I viewed as being both good and bad. Good because you want to release certain thought patterns, but do you really want to forget everything you believe? Like seven years of college and graduate school?

I’m going to have faith in the Course’s teachings. It may not make complete sense to me right now but I am hoping it will. Most people I look up to like Louise Hay, Gabrielle Bernstein, Wayne Dyer, are all students of the Course, and I want to walk the same path, or one very similar.

Here’s a link to the Course in Miracle’s website I’ve been looking at. It’s less intimidating to me than that huge blue book: http://acim.org/Lessons/lesson.html?daily_lesson=10

Day 11 of 21

Alright! 10 more days to go and this cleanse will be complete. Today involved eating a Ginger Mango Shake for breakfast and as a snack. When I was at work I had the Spring Sauerkraut Salad with Thermo Dressing. Seriously, the Thermo Dressing is one of the best dressings I’ve ever had. When put over any bed of greens, it provides a superb flavor that totally eliminates any cravings one may have for junk food. Seriously, every time I eat this dressing over a salad, I forget completely about what I craved before. I become completely satiated physically and mentally. The thermo dressing is listed in Ani Phyo’s book “15 day fat blast” and it includes miso, raw soy sauce, ginger, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. It’s so refreshing and fulfilling, and full of nutrients. I am so proud to say that I finally bought Braggs Liquid Aminos raw soy sauce alternative. I used to buy the regular reduced sodium Kikoman brand and thought it was okay but really the Braggs has such a mild flavor and still has the taste of soy sauce without the head rush of sodium.

My uncle who was really into health food used to cook with raw soy sauce and I never knew it. Braggs totally reminds me of him and the dishes he used to make, like this one really good dish which consisted of brown rice with tofu, zucchini, and broccoli that he would simmer with raw soy sauce and garlic. Omg, this was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. My uncle is HIV positive and has been so for over twenty years. He was probably my biggest inspiration growing up in regards to health food. He always seemed so strong to me since he used to do so much for his health like work out fiercely and meditate daily as well as make juices and smoothies, and put veggies in everything. I remember as a kid being weirded out that he would put broccoli in all our food, even ramen. I didn’t get it then but I do now. Today, he doesn’t really eat like that anymore because I guess he’s going through some things mentally but I’ll never forget the way he inspired me growing up. I would love to include a bio about him in my inspirational people section. He really is an inspiration and would inspire anyone so they can see that eating the right food, meditating, and exercising really can keep you alive and healthier more so than medicine will keep you alive.

All tangents aside, I’m having the Red Pepper raw soup tonight. If you are interested in the recipes in the book “Ani’s 15-day fat blast,” by Ani Phyo, I can list them as I go on, or you can check out the book, which is so worth the buy. It makes eating raw so much easier and not such a foreign concept for hippies and eco vegans, since many of the recipes only include a few simple ingredients. The book utilizes staples like coconut oil, miso paste, and a variety of common fruits and veggies that you can find anywhere.

Day 11 is nearly over and I’m stoked about it. My uncle inspires me to go on even if he doesn’t eat this way anymore. There is always some inspiring person who leads the way and the rest of us will carry on the torch.