The thing isn't always the thing.

Hey there,

There was a time when I woke up every day with a racing heart and sweaty palms. EVERY DAY. For years. And, as so many of us do, I pushed through it. I got up, ran with my dog, took the metro into work, changed jobs, changed jobs again, started practicing yoga, moved (out of state)…a few times, and then really started getting into yoga.

And, then one day…it clicked. I didn’t feel free.

The racing heart and the sweaty palms weren’t something to stop or cover up. They were a signal. A symptom asking me to dig a little deeper and to get honest with myself. The thing wasn’t necessarily the thing. As I say in class, “Does this make sense?”

I was living a life of “should’s:”

  • I should have this wardrobe and wear my hair a certain way.

  • I should run and work out intensely and only do power yoga because that’s what counts.

  • I should only eat “clean” foods.

  • I should outperform at work, move up, and make way more money.

  • I should talk and speak a certain way.

  • I should never slow down or take breaks or show weakness.

That’s not freedom. That was [and sometimes still is] a bondage of my own making nestled into the inner workings of my mind. And, this sense of freedom, even if students don’t say it in class, is the number one reason I see so many seek out yoga. We long to feel free.

Because, innately and deep down we know that:

  • Waking up tired is not freedom.

  • Rolling out of bed with an already racing heart and short fuse is not freedom.

  • Feeling sluggish and constantly sore in our physical bodies is not freedom.

  • Rushing from task to task is not freedom.

  • Believing that we are a diagnosis is not freedom.

  • Feeling like we have to lift/run/whatever to get in a daily workout is not freedom.

  • Feeling insecure of our abilities is not freedom.

  • Living in constant fear or negativity is not freedom.

  • Doubting our deepest desires and dreams is not freedom.

  • Denying the divinity, beauty, and self-love within our hearts is not freedom.


***

When I started to recognize my patterns that kept me locked in a cycle of feeling like a hamster on a wheel (which I’ve heard a handful of times already this week), I started to ask better questions. The first being:

What makes you feel free?

And, I couldn’t answer it. I cried. I didn’t even know. You may not know.

***

What steadiness and ease can look like. If even for just a few moments…

What steadiness and ease can look like. If even for just a few moments…

There’s a Yoga Sutra that reads:

Sthira Sukham Asanam. —>> aka the Sanskrit

—>> Translation: The posture (yoga pose) should have steadiness and ease. And, through that steadiness and ease within the physical body, the natural comfort and joy of our being is discovered. How beautiful, yes?

Practicing yoga as a fully integrated path can help us get off the hamster wheel and open up our hearts and arms to all the freedom we seek. And, it can start with the poses. As you move through a yoga practice, does it feel easeful and steady? Can you breathe through the poses? Here is where we cultivate steadiness into our lives. We know we’ve gone too far in a yoga class when our breathing becomes short, tight, nonexistent, or when our faces are beet red. So, we back off. We come back to steadiness and ease. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a challenge to the practice, but rather we pay more attention and move with intention.

Sounds simple, right? That an entry point to freedom could be through the body? Indeed.

As we practice we start to unlock doors that have been sealed off for so long. Perhaps we start to recognize what it feels like to feel free. Perhaps we remember those pieces of our lives that bring us immense joy and love and that wonderful kind of laughter that makes us cry. But, we need to practice. I need to practice. You need to practice. Every. Day. And, I don’t necessarily mean for 60 minutes every time.

***

So, coming full circle…remember this: The thing isn’t always the thing. Your sweaty palms, your racing heart, your feelings of heaviness, your chronic low back pain, your overwhelming fatigue…the symptoms aren’t the end point. They aren’t something to be ignored. How can you pay more attention to what is happening within your body and your mind? What is it that you need? What is your body trying to tell you?

As always, I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing from you. Is there a chronic condition you’re experiencing? Do you have a question about it? I can’t say I have all the answers, but I’ll certainly be a sounding board and maybe even a guide.

With so much love,
Leanne


P.S. If you’ve been following along with this series that has been introducing Yoga Therapy, please know how immensely grateful I am for you to be here. For years, I have sought to share yoga teachings that help to spark a curiosity of your own body and mind’s ability to heal. And, I truly want to support you on that journey. Please write to me if you’re curious about yoga therapy and have questions about how it may support you. I enjoy a good Whats App or Zoom date and would love to connect with you! I’m also dropping a testimonial here:

I came to private yoga therapy after a severe shoulder injury and surgery. What I gained in the sessions was much more.

I felt safe and secure in our time together, and gained important knowledge about my limitations and abilities
moving forward. Leanne has an inner balance and confidence that is part of her being. She understands the connection between the body, mind, and spirit of one’s self.

She helped me explore my post-injury balance on the yoga mat and also helped me discover some more personal things affecting me off of the mat. Leanne helped me to express parts of my grief, insecurity and struggles when the time was right for me. In the physical practice she gently encouraged me to be confident in stepping out of the familiar.

After our private sessions, I returned to community based practice with Leanne and her team at her former studio. Leanne leads with grace, and clarity of purpose across the board. I enjoyed what I was learning so much, that I decided to enroll in teacher training led by Leanne. It felt as if the process came full-circle.

In whatever capacity one works with Leanne, know the work will not be easy. Leanne will challenge you to explore things for yourself, to listen to yourself, and to trust yourself and sometimes that isn’t easy. I can truly say the work Leanne and I did together, changed me as a person and allowed me to see myself in a stronger, more compassionate light.
— N.

A new [but, actually very old] approach towards well-being

Hey there,

As I type, I’m elbows deep in books, papers, and notes, preparing for Yoga Teacher Training this upcoming weekend. I had another letter in mind for you, but I decided to hold on that and share this:

There is absolutely nothing WRONG with you. You are not broken. You don’t need to be fixed. You are already whole. Your ability to heal is within you. And, that’s what yoga + ayurveda aim to do. To support you on your journey back to your Self. Back to your wholeness, your whole being wellness.

***

That’s not to say you may not need some help on the journey. And, here is where we can seek out the support of trusted care providers (acupuncturists, doctors, therapists, yoga teachers, chiropractors, herbalists, nutritionists, health coaches, yoga therapists, etc.) to help guide our way, to encourage it. Emphasis on guide.

There’s another path of study I thought you might be interested in, and that is Ayurveda. Ayurveda is something we’ve been studying in teacher training as well as a layer of yoga therapy that I’m practicing. It’s known as the “sister science” of yoga (because yoga is actually a science…but you knew that, right? Insert wink).

“Ayur" means life. "Veda" means knowledge. The practice was recorded 5000 years ago, and is one of the world’s original forms of medicine. What I love about it is that it's particularly tailored to YOUR needs. You won't find a one size fits all diet, exercise regime, or meditation practice. You won't find a "demonizing" of wheat or dairy or fruit or legumes or meat. You won't find workouts that preach high intensity or low impact or cardio. Nope.

Ayurveda takes into consideration your unique make-up, your unique way of moving throughout nature (and how it moves in you) to figure out what foods, movement, and other practices would serve you and your body best. Isn’t that beautiful? To know that you don’t have to eat or move the way “everyone else” is moving/eating in order to find wellness? Ayurveda is such a specialized and personal journey that for me and I know many, many others has been profoundly healing, especially coupled with a yoga practice. I find it hard to separate the two now.

***

Are you intrigued yet? I hope so, and I’m happy to write more about ayurveda and using it as a tool in your wellness journey. But, the point I’m trying to make here is this: Eat what’s right for YOU. Move how your body is asking YOU to move. Listen to what’s happening within your mind. Use your yoga practice as a way to check-in with your needs at any given moment (maybe a stronger practice today and a gentle one tomorrow). Let it be a reminder of your wholeness, your amazing-ness, your ability to heal. And, know that there is a science of health that goes hand in hand with yoga to start to explore if it speaks to you.

As we embark on a month that’s wrapped around the concept of love, please remember to love on YOU today. Remember that you are unique. You are beautiful. You are not broken. You are already imperfectly & perfectly whole. Try not to let anyone [or thing] make you feel otherwise.

With love,
Leanne

P.S. If you’re intrigued by Ayurveda, check out this article here. And, if you’re a bookworm like me, consider picking up a copy of Eat, Taste, Heal (a favorite of mine!) or Eat, Feel, Fresh (a recommendation from a Yoga Dear student). Please know, at the moment I receive zero $$ for sharing posts and books with you. This is 100% based on my own study that I want to pass on.

P.P.S. Really, how are you?? How is your yoga practice? What are you working on/with? How is your body feeling? What do you think about Ayurveda? If you have three minutes, send me a quick message. I love reading them and learning about how yoga is supporting you in your life.