Top 10 Ways Teaching Yoga is like Social Media

I’ve been having a blast helping Innerstellar Pilates and Yoga studio out with their social media. It’s a wonderful marriage of my two careers and two things I love: yoga and social media. Maybe it’s just my tendency to see parallels to yoga in everything, but I find a ton of commonality between teaching yoga and working in social media.

Top 10 Ways Teaching Yoga is like Social Media

10. You get to touch the lives of others, be it a juicy yoga class or a helpful response to a user on Facebook.

9. Just as your yoga practice changes and evolves over time, social media is always changing. You have to adapt and progress forward.

8. There’s no shortage of workshops on both subjects and so many people to learn from.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7. You get the opportunity to share information and information with others whether it’s through teaching or tweeting or a Facebook update.

6. There’s no “right way” to do social media or yoga. There are guidelines and best practices, but ultimately you have to be the one to discover what works.

5. In both practices, you give, but you can be overwhelmed with how much you get back from others.

4. Opportunities to be creative abound!

3. As you do them more and more, you begin to find your own voice.

2. You must be willing to experiment. If something falls flat, problem-solve, try something else, and change direction as you need to.

1. The best part of all is the personal connection with others.

Social media and yoga. It’s a damn good combination.

The Cell Phone Clutch

phone-yawn

The act of taking out a cell phone from one’s pocket or purse, resulting in other people in the vicinity taking out and checking their phones as well.

From Urban Dictionary

This would be even funnier were it not so true. There’s that awkward pause at a party or work event when suddenly someone starts checking their phone. Of course I feel compelled to pick up mine. I want to look important and busy too, even if all I’m doing is checking out Facebook.

Now the distraction of a mobile phone can be a glorious thing. It’s made me a much more amenable passenger in a car, particularly in traffic when I can pass the time or catching up on blog posts. Being able to respond to a time-sensitive email right away without having to worry about getting back to a computer to answer eliminates a lot of unnecessary stress. I like the security of knowing that if I lock my keys in my car or forget my wallet, I can call someone right away. (Not that I’ve ever locked my keys in the car. Or forgotten my wallet. Or both. Or both on multiple occasions. But I digress).

As much as I kid (kinda) about being surgically attached to my iPhone, I think it’s important for me to be aware of the flip side or shadow side of my smart phone. I’m noticing how whenever there’s waiting: waiting in line at the grocery store; waiting for an event to start; waiting for another person, my automatic impulse is to reach for my phone. Do I really need to anything that important? Am I really enhancing my life by whatever I cram in doing on my phone for five minutes?

So my relationship with my iPhone? “It’s complicated.” But here’s where I can draw on my yoga practice for relationship advice. Yoga is a process of paying attention and becoming aware of our habits and learning new ways to work in ways that are beneficial for ourselves. I can use this same approach to look at when my cell phone is beneficial and where it isn’t serving me well.

The point of being conscious of my cell phone habits is not to denounce technology (“Cell phones are making us an unfeeling, detached, self-absorbed society”), nor be judgmental (“If only I were more yogic and practiced greater non-attachment to object, I wouldn’t be so glued to my phone”). Rather, it’s a matter of paying attention and observing my behavior. Sometimes I notice grabbing my cell phone makes me happy, such as sending a funny text to a friend. It brings a burst of connection in my day. Other times I see that I use my cell phone as a way to procrastinate that task I’m avoiding. The constant checking (be it email, Facebook, Twitter, or the latest news) makes it hard for me to settle down. I will try to read a book and I’ll feel compelled to check something online or I remember an email I forgot to send, and then realize I haven’t followed anything on the page that I just read.

Striking a balance between making the most of the ever-increasing cool stuff you can do on a phone and taking time to be unplugged is a common juggling act most of us are negotiating these days. Being aware of the clutch is the first step in determining what kind of relationship you want to have with your cell phone. My iPhone and I are still working on ours.

 

A Mighty Wind Horse Conference A-Blowin’: Sunday Reflections

What gifts do you have to offer the world?

It’s a worthwhile question to contemplate and one that Ana posed to us this morning: “What’s keeping you blocked off from sharing your gifts? If you notice you go into thinking that you don’t have anything worthwhile to offer or that you’re worthy enough of receiving love, can you recognize these thoughts as the lies they are?”

As we moved through the morning practice of backbends, we focused on connecting into what gift we have to give and working to remove the blockages that stand in the way of our doing so. Since I’ve been in a state of being confused on exactly what I want to achieve and have my career life look like, this was a helpful way for me to work on getting out of my default mode of feeling incompetent and hopeless. Instead, I started looking at how I can use confusion as a way of getting curious about what feels right in my life.

We did a lot of new variations of backbends with neck traction. I found that dropping my head back in many of these backbends felt great on my neck. Even though Ana was not cueing us to do so, I felt empowered to go with what felt good for my body as long as I wasn’t compromising my breath or my intention to do so. The backbends built to an apex of two strong poses for me: king and queen pigeon poses. It was empowering to me to feel successful and proud of the persistence and long work it took me in my practice to get to the full expression of these poses.

I was eagerly awaiting the afternoon sessions and they did not disappoint. The first session taught by Brian Campbell was on anatomy, bodywork, and yoga. We learned a number of different techniques for releasing the low back and hips. After a brief presentation and demo, Brian had us work in partners to practice a number of hands-on bodywork adjustments. Hands-on assists are the biggest challenge for me and I’m nervous about trying to replicate a move even after I’ve just watched a demo. However, Brian made it a comfortable environment for experimentation. “Anyone can do bodywork,” he said and encouraged us to have fun with it and meet our partner with the breath and explore what works in each other’s bodies. It helped me to explore with an understanding partner, both as a receiver and a giver of the assists.

Through Brian’s teaching, I truly got a sense of the parallels between bodywork and yoga. With an assist, you hook in with the hand and when you meet the first point of resistance, traction with the hands. Gradually you may be able to work in deeper as the body releases. The same is true in a yoga pose. You go into the pose to that edge of resistance, breathe there, and perhaps deepen into it as you release into the pose. Brian also pointed out how bodywork is a form of meditation. Rather than shutting off the mind or staying in the “thinking mind” that is scattered all over the place, bodywork focuses the mind by connecting in with another person in a beautiful way. Keeping this in mind helped keep the bodywork a learning and explorative process instead of a nerve-wracking, “am-I-doing-it-right” experience.

The second session of the afternoon was on empathing and seeing energy with Willow Ryan, Kelley Rush, and Suzi Zorbist. The three both have an engaging and playful style and good rapport with one another. First off, they explained that everyone is an empath, although we all have different strengths and ways we perceive energy. People tend to be very visual (“I see”), auditory (“I hear”), or kinesthetic (“I feel”) with how they empathy. We looked at the five different means of empathing (hands, eyes, inner ears, heart, and overall sensing/empathing).

Some signs you might be very empathic: “Have you been told you’re too emotional or overly sensitive? Do you find you take on the feelings of others?” We explored ways of honing our empathing skills to strengthen the areas in which we aren’t as empathetic, yet at the same time, finding a way to use our empathing strengths as gifts without depleting ourselves in the process. For example, using your compassion and intuition to connect to a person, without taking on their feelings and emotional baggage. Through partner exercises, we practiced using empathing skills and then shared with our partner what we observed. “Even the best healer only gets it right about 70% of the time,” Kelley said. Empathing is not a perfect science, but it’s a way of practicing and refining our intuitive skills.”

I really related to Willow’s comment that often people who are sensitive to the emotions in an environment tend to close down and zone out as a response. Zoning out and going into “doing” mode is a common coping pattern of mine. A big part of my work in Forrest Yoga is to keep myself from spacing out and staying in my body and present in the moment. This workshop helped me to think about techniques that can help me strike a balance between keeping emotional boundaries without closing myself off to powerful emotions. Both sessions were good compliments to each other for exploring ways of focusing the mind on one of the most worthwhile focuses out there: connection with other people.

Speaking of connection, one of the observations my partner shared was that she sensed I was connecting big time this weekend. She was stunningly accurate. From hanging out with my roomie to chatting with new folks, to looking around a workshop room and being excited by the folks there who’d been in teacher trainings with me, I felt my fingers tingling with charges of connection.

And connection is what yoga is to me.