Level 2 Day Three: A Post-It Reality Check

dont wish*This week I join a badass group of 120 Spiritual Warriors on the Baptiste Power Yoga path in Sedona, Arizona to work, seek, play, and grow in our teaching and in our lives. Here are my reflections:

After the 5-hour morning practice session I struggled to peel the obnoxious plastic wrapping off the pack of Post-It notes we were asked to bring to the afternoon inquiry session. (Multiple Chatturangas and endless Crow poses will do that – have you cursing at a neon orange pack of Post-Its like a crazy woman.) My intrigue for what on earth we’d be doing with the Post-Its kept me on task, however.

At session the secret was revealed. Our Post-Its were a tool to help us listen authentically. I teamed up with a partner in an exercise in listening. My job was to listen for the statements she makes about herself and let loose with my little square of neon stickies, slapping them all over Rebecca as she shared. And she wasted no time covering me head to toe in the latest office supply room raid ensemble of of fuschia-hued notes. Fun times in yoga land! Until I peeled each Post-It off individually and read exactly what I’d been saying. To her. To me. For a very long time:

“It doesn’t really matter…”
“I wish that…”
“If only…”

The sobering reality is that it really does matter that I’m not teaching as many classes a week I’d like. Wishing for more time to work with the precious rescue dogs I spent all summer with won’t make it happen. Caving to my discomfort with giving powerful assists in class by using the words if only will never, ever, make it happen.

Crazy how the words we think and speak show up in live form. This silly Post-It note exercise made me realize now is the time to admit to myself that teaching more classes does matter if I want to honor my intention of guiding more people toward their greatness. Wishing for more time with my pups is a bullshit circumvention around carving out time in my calendar to make it happen. And no ifs, ands, or buts need get in the way of mastering the Art of Assisting. Time to get my hands and heart onto bodies to share the miracle of discovering how these extraordinary poses can lead us into greatness.

Time to quit hiding behind words and start realizing my purpose. Try it yogis – slap on a Post-It every time you catch yourself saying something that holds you back.


Level 2 Day Two: Keeping It Simple Can Be So F***ing Hard

selfie day one*This week I join a badass group of 120 Spiritual Warriors on the Baptiste Power Yoga path in Sedona, Arizona to work, seek, play, and grow in our teaching and in our lives. Here are my reflections:

“Just point to point cues, yogis. Nothing else,” our practice teaching coach Bethany Lyons¬†instructed the room full of 120 teachers before our small group practice teaching session. Okay then…right foot to the front of the room, back foot presses into the mat. ‘Nuf said. Easy enough!

Until I tried it. From the very first Sun Salutation I rattled off a series of additional cues – rise on the inhale, pull your right hip back, draw your front ribs in – and so on. My small group called me out on it, and I tried to stop. No dice. More cues, more frustration, and a few tears to round out my downward spiral. I quickly went from inspired teacher sharing her love of the practice to pissed off drill sergeant looking for her whistle. Which leads me to the question, why is keeping it simple so f***ing hard?

I don’t know why. And maybe that’s not what’s important here. What I have learned on day two, from experiencing some of the most challenging practices of my life taught by Baptiste Leader Paige Elenson last night and this morning, is that simple is powerful. Impactful. Humbling.

Embodying the experience of grounding my feet and toes into the earth and engaging every part of my body in Mountain pose no longer became simply standing there with my arms in the air. I was sweating, shaking, and inwardly begging her to let me drop down into Child’s pose.

Which got me to thinking about other areas of my life that I’ve been over-complicating. Coordinating in excruciating detail when, where, and how I’m going to see my extended family on a three-day trip to Seattle was a total bust. My plans to meet my pop at a Mexican restaurant (surely he likes tacos and Coronas??) in the city was a total bust (he wasn’t comfortable finding parking in an unfamiliar area). Finding a time and place to connect with another teacher on the other side of town after her class proved impossible. In the end I simply called both upon arrival and found alternatives on the fly (Dad and I chose to meet at our favorite, familiar coffee shop; Tina and I postponed until my next visit). Simple. Without all the drama of hurt feelings or energy spent making reservations and blocking out time slots on the calendar.

So today, and every day beyond, I’m committed to keeping it simple. And discovering how powerful it can be.

Level 2 Day One: I Haven’t Been There Or Done That

JIP*This week I join a badass group of 120 Spiritual Warriors on the Baptiste Power Yoga path in Sedona, Arizona to work, seek, play, and grow in our teaching and in our lives. Here are my reflections:

Just the title – Baptiste Level Two – threw my preparation for this intense week-long training into “been there, done that” territory. I completed Level One. I teach and practice Baptiste Yoga almost daily. I got this already. Been there, done that. Feeling confident (okay, a little cocky) I had the Methodology down pat from last year’s Level One, I tossed my cue card aside until seated in 8D en route to Phoenix. It’ll come back, I assumed. Until I tried to recite the sequence and finer points of True North Alignment in my head. Epic fail. I clearly overestimated my retention skills.

Same story with packing. Tights, tank tops, Advil and a few other items. I got this. What I didn’t get until last night, as I attempted to engineer said items into a single suitcase, was the difference between last year’s road journey vs. this year’s minuscule flight allowance: endless trunk space vs. a single $25 checked bag fee and backpack carry on allowance. What I thought would take 30 minutes turned into several hours of items jockeying for priority – comfy but space-hogging hoodie duking it out with the required yoga block.

The lesson here? The power of perspective. Familiarity can be comforting, but take it too far and it becomes stifling. Adopting a “been there, done that” way of being turns the lights out on discovery, joy, and growth. Familiarity can make us rot. I’m reminded to find newness in every single experience, even if I think I’ve been there and done that. Because I haven’t. Pretty cool way to kick off my Baptiste Level Two training.


Pre-Training: How Baptiste Power Yoga Helped Me Heal

Joy in teaching - at YogaSoul Princeton

Joy in teaching – at YogaSoul Princeton

*This week I join a badass group of 120 Spiritual Warriors on the Baptiste Power Yoga path in Sedona, Arizona to work, seek, play, and grow in our teaching and in our lives. Here are my reflections:

“In order to heal, you need to feel.” This simple but powerful principle of Baptiste Power Yoga kept me moving through an emotional home practice the morning before heading to Baptiste Level Two teacher training in Arizona. I faced fear (handstand – face away from the wall today Shannon), anxiety (you made your decision to quit teaching at one particular studio that wasn’t a fit – now own it), sadness (two more months before you get to kiss your sweet nieces on the other side of the country). But each breath, twist, stretch, and stumble, I went inward. Instead of numbing out. And for me, that’s huge.

I didn’t come to this powerful practice until a few years ago, opting instead to literally run away (ten-mile runs were my antidote) from all that I needed to feel in order to heal. The tougher the life circumstance, the more miles I logged. Ten or 15 miles pounding the wet concrete streets along the waterfront in Seattle. Fifty mile rides on my road bike climbing hills in and around Lake Washington, daydreaming of what it would be like to feel confident, joyful, and free to choose for myself. Flip-turning my way through 1500 meters as an escape from a career path that brought little joy. The only feelings I embraced prior to discovering Baptiste yoga were achy thighs and gasping lungs.

Yoga up until a few years ago was secondary – a way to soothe the physical toll I took from pavement pounding and endless pedal revolutions. But at a low point in life when I could no longer look away from what needed to change – career, relationship, self-care – I stepped into a Baptiste Power Yoga class that was like no other form of yoga I’d ever experienced. Gentle hip circles, chanting and restorative postures this was not.

Sweat poured onto my towel in the 90 degree room as the teacher at BeLuminous Yoga in Seattle smiled and encouraged us to hold Warrior a little longer, twist a little deeper, get honest with ourselves and quit running away from the inevitable emotions that come with a powerful practice. Five years later, as I head into Baptiste Level Two training, I’m ready to share the gift that was given to me during that first practice: a taste of what’s possible when we let our guards down, sit with our emotions, and discover the miracles awaiting on our mats.