Thanking the rocks [a toddler lesson]

Hey there,

Bodhi has gotten into this remarkable habit of thanking everything. He says “Thank you” when you give him a cup of cereal (his favorite treat EVER). He says it when you take off his mittens. He says it when he takes off his coat. He says it when he piles up toys in a corner. We’re not always sure who or what he’s thanking, but it’s always with deep sincerity (and it always makes me smile).

The other day, we were outside in the backyard. There’s about 20 trees out there, and one in particular has a sturdy trunk with one of those divets in the root where water pools and rocks have collected over the years. Bodhi has gotten in the habit of diving his little fingers into the pool of water, retrieving the rocks, piling them up on our patio, and then walking them back over to the tree.

Bodhi in the rain, playing with the rocks at the root of the tree

Bodhi in the rain, playing with the rocks at the root of the tree

I watched him do this the other day. He’s so methodical, sometimes walking over to me to say “See ‘em” to the rocks or have me hold them. On this particular day, he started to place the rocks one by one back into the tree saying “thank you” to each one as he returned them to their home. It was one of the most precious things I have ever seen. Bodhi Bear, barely a toddler, thanking the rocks, caring for them as gingerly as we would a baby. It has gotten me thinking:

When was the last time you thanked the rocks?
When was the last time you thanked the trees?
When was the last time you thanked the sun?
The moon?
The clouds?
The ocean tides?

And, to take it further…
When was the last time you thanked a friend?
A parent?
A spouse?
Your body?
Your heart?
Your spirit?

I’ve had this theory for a long time now that babies and toddlers are so wise. They are born with a higher sense of consciousness and intelligence than maybe many give credit for because they are still learning to talk, move, express. Their wonder is great. Their instincts are pure.

Bodhi showed me that day how connected we naturally are to nature. How what we see on the outside is often a reflection of what’s going on inside. He sees wonder in nature. He sees wonder in his own hands and belly and now his elbows are especially intriguing. He’s continually inspired by the outdoors and he reminds me of our natural connection to it, too.

Try spending more time outdoors and express your gratitude. As you head to a river’s edge, thank the water for the life it brings. Go outside, stand under the trees, and feel gratitude for the fresh air. Stare at the stars in the inky sky, and thank the Universe for its beauty and its mystery. As you start to feel gratitude for the natural state of wonder that’s around you, I’m betting you’ll start to feel it within, too. Thank you, Bodhi, for thanking the rocks. You teach me so much everyday.

With love,
Leanne

I'm just so surprised

Ganesha, the remover of obstacles ; Photo by  Laura Olsen  on  Unsplash

Ganesha, the remover of obstacles ; Photo by Laura Olsen on Unsplash

Hey there,

I recently had the chance to work with a very new to yoga student up here in Rhode Island. We had a one on one session, taking it very slow. For many of us, poses like downward facing dog, plank, and child’s pose are incredibly challenging, so we focused on safe alignment and breathing throughout the hour together.

Aside from the poses [asana], we talked about how yoga views us as multi-layered human beings - that yoga is beyond the physical experience and is really a science to be lived in many different aspects of our lives. That’s just one of the reasons I enjoy working privately - you get to dig into which postures will support your body right now (you don’t need much) and which components of the philosophy could support your heart.

We walked out of the studio together, chatting away, when she stopped, looked at me and said, “How did you get into yoga in the first place?” And, then she said, “I’m just so surprised…it seems like yoga teachers are so…smart.”

Wow. I could take that in a multitude of ways, right? But, I get it. We teach “yoga.” We do yoga because we’re already flexible, we already have perfect lives that we sail through with ease. We drink our green smoothies, diffuse our oils, dry brush before showering, and everything’s fine. I’m totally being sarcastic here. We come across as going with the flow, maybe not being super ambitious, because after all it’s “yoga.”

But, here’s the thing. She’s right. Yoga teachers AND yoga students are the smartest people I’ve ever met. Why? Because they are learning the process of becoming AWAKE. It can seem like we’re chill, flippant, on another planet, but many yoga teachers feel so strongly about teaching because they’ve walked a tremendously difficult path before.

They know firsthand the healing that takes place when you start to roll out a yoga mat and get quiet, and so we share the practice. We’ve left big careers to open businesses, moved across country, go back to school, essentially deciding to believe in ourselves. Yoga knows no bounds - we are women, men, doctors, lawyers, teachers, stay at home parents, carpenters, musicians, flexible, not flexible at all, wobbly, graceful. We let yoga infiltrate our lives, because it WORKS. But, there’s struggle. There’s been pain, there might still be, and there will be again. There’s been fear. It’s just…we’re learning different ways of viewing the world and how to interact with it. We’re becoming conscious.

***

This weekend, Yoga Dear celebrated her third birthday. WOW. We’ve grown in ways I never imagined, teaching over 1500 students in our time with a brick + mortar space in little Lewisburg, Pa., and continuing to have newsletter readers from Rhode Island to Hawaii to New York to California to Florida.

Sharing these letters, teaching, studying yoga, and learning from you has been one of the greatest gifts I could have never imagined. YOU are among the smartest people I’ve ever met, because you’re choosing to challenge yourself. To get uncomfortable, which starts with those beginner yoga poses, but really spills over into allowing discomfort in your life. You’re realizing your infinite potential, you’re listening to your inner voice over your inner critic (or at least you’re aware of it), you’re making decisions out of love rather than fear.

I toast you, each of you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing your words and practice with me. Thank you for studying with me. Please thank yourself for how far you’ve come, for how much you’ve learned. And, remember, we as yoga students and teachers still have much work to do - on ourselves and in our communities. Happy Birthday to all who’ve called Yoga Dear home as a studio, and as a place to read a weekly letter with a hot cup of tea. I bow to you. Namaste.

With love,
Leanne