While I was doing a short morning yoga practice this morning, I found myself once again deviating from what the instructor told me to do. By nature, I’m extraordinarily obedient so if I don’t follow the sequence fully I feel guilty. I don’t know if any other yoga practitioners who read this have felt the same way, but it’s been a battle for me for the last few years.
This morning a thought came to mind that made me stop and ponder. Perhaps I was at a level in my yoga practice where I had a strong enough foundation to be flexible with how I followed along with instructor-led practices. Then another sobering thought came in succession. How did I get here?
Building a foundation in any field is difficult. It’s repetitive, painful at times, and requires a lot of personal dedication. It’s rare to have time to see myself progress far enough to see enough progress in a field to gain autonomy.
I feel incredibly grateful to all the instructors I’ve had in my and my past self’s stubborn dedication to building a strong yoga practice. I don’t need constant supervision or detailed instructions when I practice yoga. This means I can move beyond the physical practice and focus on strengthening myself on deeper levels.
I trained in Ashtanga yoga and have been trying faithfully to develop a physical, daily practice. This practice has shifted quite a bit over the years, depending on my work life and the time of year. All in all, it’s encouraging to see how I’ve grown these past ten years.
If you are currently starting yoga or feel discouraged, wondering if you’re getting anywhere in your practice there are moments like I had today where the clouds seem to open and say, “Look how much stronger you’ve become.”
Realizing this about myself, I finally understand how strength and flexibility work together on a physical and spiritual level. In the Book of Mormon, a prophet wisely said,
6 Now ye may suppose that this is afoolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by bsmall and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
The time has gone by so fast! I’ve read a lot of things, watched some interesting shows, and even found some promising new series. I’ve also finished and started some stimulating projects! Now, I know there a lot of book lovers who come by and read my posts. I’ve definitely read a lot of things, but honestly my brain and attention have been ALL OVER THE PLACE.
So, this isn’t a book update. Its an everything update! Hope all who come here find something they can identify with.
Let’s get started!
For Yoga Lovers
I found a new YouTube Yoga channel to follow! Boho Beautiful Yoga is run by spouses Mark and Juliana. Their YouTube videos are generally no longer than 30 minutes. They now have an on-demand streaming service you can download to your phone called Boho Beautiful On-Demand where you can take special courses or use longer training videos.
Their styles vary between Pilates, Ashtanga, and Yin-Yang Yoga. What I like to do is go over their videos to find new ways to teach certain sequences.
I’ve also been regularly going to Yoga Dose, which specializes in longer, strength building videos. Cici is one of their teachers who I personally know from my yoga studio in Provo, Utah. She is a great teacher who will definitely give you a great mental and physical workout.
What Books Have I Been Reading?
I have several favorite discoveries since last March!
The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe.
When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.
What I loved about this story is the format. Even though the storyteller seemed to only be telling a story, it felt too real to be fiction. Somehow, through its beautiful prose I felt myself fall under its spell from the first page. It made me reminisce about my childhood and how invested I became in the characters’ stories and longed for happy endings.
This story portrayed how even when faced with horrible evil and danger, the characters overcame them and continued to survive. It is also very honest. It doesn’t sugarcoat things. I wouldn’t recommend this story for really young readers but would definitely give it to kids 12+ to read.
Georgana Woodall dreams of freedom—freedom from her past and freedom from her secret. She has been living on her father’s ship for years, disguised as a cabin boy named “George.” But hiding her true self is becoming more difficult, and she yearns to break free of her life on the sea.
Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. Determined to prove himself to his new captain, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the boy under his wing.
Georgana quickly loses her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care, but needing to maintain her disguise as a cabin boy, she is convinced nothing can come of her affection.
I love sweet, Regency Era based love stories. What I enjoyed most about this novel is how it talked about gender-based boundaries, abuse, depression, and (of course) love. Lately, I’ve been drawn to characters who display great compassion in harsh circumstances and don’t let hate override doing good. I also paid special attention to how Dominic and Georgana faced losing sight of their identity.
If you like sweet romances, this is a definite read for you. It is also very clean (which I appreciate) without overlooking realistic problems which inevitably come up in life.
Two weeks into her five month stint at the farm on Harmony Hill, Genevieve Patterson, will be the first to admit she may have overlooked a few important details for the article she was sent here to write. The keys of joy, shared and understood by Pops and Ruby, as well as many of the townsfolk—and the even the neighboring Amish community—are insightful and compelling. Thanks to Matt and Greg, Genevieve’s appreciation for the deeper meaning of these uncommon keys continues to grow, causing her to question the meaning of her previous life in the city. An exploration of these keys and the personal application of them promises joy and liberty, but Genevieve must decide for herself how and if the keys will influence her future. An Amish invitation, a new Niederbipp tradition, Protopian aspirations, and a Sunday homily will all weigh in to tip the scales—but in which direction?
First off, Ben Behunin is one of my favorite authors. Second off, he isn’t really a writer by trade. First and foremost he is a potter and artist. From a literary viewpoint, I’d say his books are rough around the edges. From a spiritual viewpoint, I believe this and his other books carry some of the most important truths we can apply to our lives. This book isn’t really about campers learning how to get married. It’s about people learning what truly invites joy into their lives.
If you are interested in this book or others he’s written, Please check out his website Potterboy.com! His Remembering Isaac series is still one of my favorite reads to take with me on morning walks!
After discovering a hidden chamber inside her uncle’s house, Evangeline Griffon accidentally awakens an ancient being who calls himself Vernon. Bind by the contract, Eva unwillingly accepts Vernon being her guardian as she starts her new life in the countryside.
Vernon is now one of my new favorite characters! (Well, I also really like Evangeline.) I have a soft spot in my heart for gentle, compassionate people. This Manhwa (?) delves a lot in how to positively face trauma, negative emotions, and how to embrace love into your life. I can’t talk about it too much without ruining this story, but it was one of my favorite new finds in a long time.
The art is simplified, but over time the author gets better at character and background artwork. Warning though: Webtoon.com bumped Atelier to originals so it may take awhile for it to finish.
Yuki is a hearing-impaired university student whose world has been shrouded with silence since birth. She has lived in the same place her whole life, and rarely interacts with others save for her best friend, Rin. During her commute one day, she meets the silver-haired and multilingual Itsuomi, a mutual friend of Rin. Unlike most, Itsuomi is unwavering when he learns of Yuki’s impairment; this, along with his experiences abroad, fascinates and touches her. After they part, her fondness of him starts to grow. A new world begins to open for both Yuki and Itsuomi as they learn about each other’s different lives.
I can’t get enough of this light-hearted little love story. I’ve always been fascinated by sign language and watching Yuki interact with her world is just wonderful. I’m a big fan of the anime movieKoe no Katachi (A Silent Voice) (2018), so finding this manga was a lovely treat for me.
This romance is incredibly healthy and realistic. There isn’t a lot of drama, Itsuomi is VERY respectful of Yuki and her personality, and their relationship progresses slowly. Neither gives up their dreams or values for the other. They find each other and grow a little closer in every chapter.
If your preferences, especially for love stories, are more mellow and light-hearted this is the story for you! You can actually purchase the manga volumes on Amazon.com already.
Oh! Morishita’s art style and covers are GORGEOUS. I’m a big fan now!
Doruru’s Koekoi (2020-?)
Finding an adequate overview of this series was hard, so I’ll do it myself. 🙂 This story centers around a girl Yuiko, who is scared to go to school after being sick for a long while, and her unexpected relationship with her class president Matsubara who calls her to see how she is doing.
Once she decides to go back to school so she can meet him, she sees him and is shocked to see he always wears a paper bag over his head. Though it’s confusing, she can’t shake how calm and kind his voice had been when he called her. Their friendship/ romance(?) takes flight from that moment forward.
What I like about this story is how it emphasizes the source of genuine human emotion. It focuses on how Yuiko, Matsubara, and other characters struggle to convey their feelings. Reading this made me realize how superficial relationships can be if they are solely based on what we SEE. It makes me believe a person’s heart can be conveyed solely through their voice and actions.
Now, if you want to read this, you’ll need to get an app called Pocket Comics. You can collect daily tickets so you can read one chapter a day or choose to spend money on coins so you can read more.
What Have I Been Watching?
I haven’t seen any new movies lately (It’s so sad I know!) but I’ve found a few really good shows.
It’s Okay Not to Be Okay (2020)
Moon Gang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun), is a caretaker working at a psychiatric ward who does not even bother to believe in love. He seems to be carrying all the weight and pain in life, and devotes himself only to looking after his disabled older brother.
Go Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji), is a children’s book writer who is clueless about love. She is popular among all age groups, yet very antisocial and indifferent to others.
An extraordinary road to emotional healing opens up for an antisocial children’s book writer and a selfless psych ward caretaker when they cross paths.
Wow. I usually watch Korean dramas to laugh at them. (Because they try to be anime, but can’t because. . . they’re live action.) It’s Okay stole my heart in the first episode. It’s expertly paced, incredibly raw, and addresses various mental issues without tearing down those who struggle with them.
I also really enjoyed how. . . off the beaten oath the children’s book author could be. She definitely walked to the beat of her own drum. I loved the characters, their stories, and the deeply poignant children’s stories showcased throughout the show. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll leave it at that.
The Abyss—a gaping chasm stretching down into the depths of the earth, filled with mysterious creatures and relics from a time long past. How did it come to be? What lies at the bottom? Countless brave individuals, known as Divers, have sought to solve these mysteries of the Abyss, fearlessly descending into its darkest realms. The best and bravest of the Divers, the White Whistles, are hailed as legends by those who remain on the surface.
Riko, daughter of the missing White Whistle Lyza the Annihilator, aspires to become like her mother and explore the furthest reaches of the Abyss. However, just a novice Red Whistle herself, she is only permitted to roam its most upper layer. Even so, Riko has a chance encounter with a mysterious robot with the appearance of an ordinary young boy. She comes to name him Reg, and he has no recollection of the events preceding his discovery. Certain that the technology to create Reg must come from deep within the Abyss, the two decide to venture forth into the chasm to recover his memories and see the bottom of the great pit with their own eyes. However, they know not of the harsh reality that is the true existence of the Abyss.
Made in Abyss has been on my bucket list for SOOOOOO LONG. I finally got around to watching it with my brother and it was a satisfyingly dissatisfied experience. I realized the show isn’t over. . . and thought well drat. I have to wait to find out what happens!
Let me do a shout out for what I loved without spoiling anything.
1.The Animation– The backgrounds had such beautiful depth and coloring! Character animation was also crisp and captivating to follow. It also blended fantasy and reality through its visuals wonderfully!
2. The Characters– Usually in these types of stories the characters have one or maybe two dimensions to them. It is not so in this show! Plus, their motivations and personalities transform as they go through their experiences.
3. The Mystery- I couldn’t figure it out. That is a sign of a great mystery show. It gave me enough to satisfy some of my curiosity but left enough unsaid so I’ll definitely come back for more later.
This show is not for the faint of heart. It has, like the Abyss itself, a dark underbelly with grisly imagery. I had to turn away many times because I couldn’t stomach some of the scenes. But this means Made in Abyss is for sure a story with an important message.
Ever since the death of his father, the burden of supporting the family has fallen upon Tanjirou Kamado’s shoulders. Though living impoverished on a remote mountain, the Kamado family are able to enjoy a relatively peaceful and happy life. One day, Tanjirou decides to go down to the local village to make a little money selling charcoal. On his way back, night falls, forcing Tanjirou to take shelter in the house of a strange man, who warns him of the existence of flesh-eating demons that lurk in the woods at night.
When he finally arrives back home the next day, he is met with a horrifying sight—his whole family has been slaughtered. Worse still, the sole survivor is his sister Nezuko, who has been turned into a bloodthirsty demon. Consumed by rage and hatred, Tanjirou swears to avenge his family and stay by his only remaining sibling. Alongside the mysterious group calling themselves the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjirou will do whatever it takes to slay the demons and protect the remnants of his beloved sister’s humanity.
Once upon a time, I watched Demon Slayer‘s first episode and vowed never to see the show. That was a shortsighted decision. I’ve seen about 10 episodes now and am in awe of how beautifully crafted this anime is! The story doesn’t waste time with filler and fluff. The animation is purposeful and so gorgeous it leaves me spellbound. the characters develop and change in ways that don’t scream at the audience. Their motivations are simply complex and a joy to watch unfold.
I could gush about how in love I am with the show now but. . . I won’t. You should go check it out for yourself! However, this is another show not for the faint of heart. The reason the first episode turned me off the first time I saw it is because of how traumatizing the story is. Tanjirou and his family endure so much grief. Also, the demons are EVIL. Some of them will make your teeth curl.
I hope you enjoyed seeing what I’ve been exploring these past few months! Hopefully, I’ll add to this list as the year goes by.
Happy hunting for books, yoga teachers, anime, manga, and the like!
Today as I did my morning yoga practice, reflecting on the big changes and decisions I’ve been facing, I wondered where it is I need to go. For the past year, I’ve speculated this. Other smaller questions like “What career should I pursue?” or “What talents are worth exploring?” have also frequented my mind.
Because one of my greatest desires is to live in the way I should, I often overthink daily choices and lifelong decisions. I’ve talked before on accepting and cultivating my wants. (See Yoga Inspiration: Day 3, What do you want to do?). But what if I don’t fully understand how these wants play into my daily life?
Earlier today, it occurred to me I may be looking at it the wrong way. There is a saying by Buddha which encompasses how I felt.
It is somewhat similar to a quote from Dreamworks Kung Fu Panda (2009). Oogway, after hearing the character Po frustratingly list all the ways he failed at, and would probably fail later. He wanted to quit, and slip back into his discontented former life. After listening for awhile, Oogway tells him, “
You are too focused on what was and what will be. There is a saying, ‘Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.’
What is there in the present which holds answers for tomorrow? LIVING. When I think of the many times in my life I made important decisions, it was never when I was anxiously searching for it. Revelation came in the small quiet present moments.
If you don’t know where to go, focus on where you are. I feel we find where we need to go by seeing where we are now, and living the moments God presents us through daily life.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with liking my body. It’s hard when one’s body type doesn’t fit the current model of societal beauty. There have been so many moments of shame and guilt, both with how I eat and how I exercise. Several years ago, though, a miracle happened. I lost a lot of weight because of an unknown illness. When sitting and reflecting on my good fortune, these words sprang in my mind: “I’ve given you what you’ve always wanted. What will you do now?”
Since then, I’ve made key changes in how I treat myself.
First, I haven’t weighed myself for three years. I associate my worth with my weight and that is not healthy.
Second, I don’t calorie count. I become obsessed and actually gain weight.
Third, one of my goals is to practice mindful eating. Our bodies know what they need better than we do.
Fourth, I took my yoga teacher training.
.If there is one thing I’ve learned from practicing yoga daily, it is how to accept myself for who I am in the moment. Does this mean I always succeed? No, but the intention is there. True mental healing concerning our body image comes when we stop punishing our bodies for simply being.
Common ways we punish our bodies are overeating, not eating, harmful exercise, harsh language, and even physically harming ourselves.
It is definitely not easy to treat ourselves well all the time because our bodies are constantly changing. So the question I ask myself is, “Will I accept myself for the way I am right now?” This acceptance means we find the balance between loving our current selves and embracing changes that come by challenging our limitations to embrace our innate abilities.
This means we don’t reprimand ourselves for not being able to fully express poses during our practice.
It means we actively choose to become stronger by practicing harder poses.
It also means honoring our bodies when they reach their limit.
Above all, it means we mindfully tune in to our bodies to know what they need.
Thank you for reading! I hope this helped you! May we all continue forward on this journey of discovering and loving our true, divine selves.
My final yoga day has come! I’ve learned a lot about myself this past month and how my yoga practice interweaves with my personal struggles. Since March is upon us and I am focusing on literary writing, I hope this last post for this challenge can convey insights I’ve received as I’ve stopped, reflected, and written about my daily experiences.
I’m striving for balance between my desires and needs. One of my hardest struggles is seeing my desires as more than just personal wants I can sacrifice. On my post Day 3, What do you want to do? I surmised, “Sometimes, it is good to sacrifice our immediate wants for things we need. However, it’s important to have passions, desires, dreams, and wishes as well. Right not in my life maybe, it’s not about what I should do. It’s about what I want to do.”
I’ve thought about this post for most of the month. I’m still unearthing my passions and finding what I really want to do.
It’s okay not to meet my expectations. Multiple times this month, I thought I could do certain sequences, or I should push through my mental anxiety and physical cycles. I’ve learned my health and needs fluctuate almost daily. When this happens, it is extremely important to flow with my body’s needs. Otherwise, no matter how awesome my practice may look, I will harm myself.
I write like a teacher. This actually shocked me. I expected my writing, the more personal it became, to change in feel. True, I talked more about my personal experiences, but my primary goal through writing these posts was to help and teach others.
I value everything my past teachers have taught me. I often quote and draw from my past experiences as a student. I truly value the lessons I’ve learned from more experienced yoga practitioners.
This month of writing about my yoga practice ahs been a wonderful experience for me! Thank you to everyone who has followed me! If you are interested, check out my new post on books I’m reviewing in March.
Since I practiced for one of Leslie Fightmaster’s videos, I wanted to take the time to talk about her and her legacy. Besides Adrienne at Yoga with Adriene, Leslie Fightmaster is the yoga teacher I turn to the most when I practice from home. Adriene’s videos help me remember and apply the basics. Leslie pushes me to deepen my practice and use more energy. After each of Leslie’s videos I feel invigorated and pleasantly worn out.
Unfortunately, Leslie died three months ago in November 2020. I was so shocked when I found out. I’ve been following her videos since 2014, and it almost feels like we were close friends. This post is partly a tribute to what I learned from her after all these years.
How important it is to set a intention for each practice.
No matter which video I choose from her repertoire, Leslie makes sure to remind watchers to set and follow up on their intention.
There are multiple ways to deepen a pose.
As I’ve grown as a teacher and student I’ve really appreciated the multiple layers Leslie adds to each pose and sequence. It’s amazing how many students from different physical backgrounds can use her videos.
Find ways to respect and use various yoga practices.
Leslie pulls from multiple yoga disciplines throughout her videos. This is really useful, especially for practitioners who can’t go to their studio or haven’t picked a favored practice.
How to build strength in order to do harder poses.
She does not shy from doing harder poses during her videos but she shows step by step what students can do to build necessary strength. Even if I couldn’t do the poses right then, she helped me know it would be one day possible.
How to be kind yet challenging as a yoga teacher.
She challenges me, but she has such a gentle loving spirit I never feel frustrated or ashamed doing her videos.
How to end each yoga practice.
She always finds a quote to ponder in shavasana. I also really love her mantra, “Hands to the forehead for clear and loving thoughts. Hands to the heart for clear and loving intentions. Hands to the mouth for clear and loving communications.”
All in all, I’m so grateful for everything Leslie Fightmaster has done for me, as a student she’s never met before. Please check out her videos on YouTube!
Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow for my last yoga post for February!
Now that I’ve shed a lot of anxiety and lethargy I’ve been carrying the last week, I’ve pushed myself to push my physical limits while I practice. One of my hardest and favorite teachers, Sisi, consistently encouraged me to work harder during her classes. I especially appreciated how often she told us, sometimes during our most strenuous postures, “You are stronger than you think you are.”
That doesn’t mean we should pull muscles, break our bones, or hurt our bodies in any way. However, I do think we can always do just a little more than we think we can. Oftentimes the one thing holding us back from becoming stronger is ourselves.
In a B3 class with Sisi, she instructed us to do multiple exercises to practice for handstands. Most of them I couldn’t do very well. I thought more than once to myself, “I’m just not strong enough. I’ll have to wait before I can do this.” Because I had this mindset, I felt ashamed watching so many other students succeed where I was failing.
Maybe she noticed how much I was struggling, because, after a while, she had us pair with each other and conduct a small experiment. She instructed us to go into a plank pose and have our partner grab and hold our ankles. Sisi then had our partner let go of one leg while we tried to keep the released leg upright.
To my surprise, this exercise was incredibly easy for me. My legs and core were in great shape. After we finished the class, I told Sisi about my experience. She smiled and said that if I was that strong, a strong mental block and my fear of failing were keeping me from doing a handstand and other inversions. “If you don’t believe in yourself and your own strength, you can’t progress.”
I think it is vital for any yoga practitioner to take the time to reassure themselves they are capable of amazing things. Whether that means stretching an inch deeper, lifting the knees for plank, or even taking the time to be still in chavasana the principle is the same, even if the journey is different for each person.
As I went through my yoga routine today, I pondered a comment a yoga teacher made while she explained proper Virhabadrasana B (Warrior Two) alignment. She said when we look over the fingers of our extended hand, we aren’t focusing on the hand but the space around the hand. It is fascinating to stop and ponder the Space around us as we move through each posture and how we use space as we live. This idea goes beyond yoga practice.
Every moment of every day we inhabit a unique space in the universe.
Because we take up space, we exist.
Other objects can’t inhabit space where we are.
No person can use space the same way.
No matter my physical or mental state, I’m glad I exist.
Life circumstances today reminded me there are still things in this world I fear. I know others besides myself suffer at times from PTSD. These feelings are rooted in fear and are triggered randomly.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”
I don’t like viewing my reoccurring symptoms as a disorder. The word ‘disorder’ puts my Obsessive Compulsion into overdrive. It makes me want to rid myself of any feelings of fear in order to avoid shameful judgment. Seeing it that way causes me unnecessary stress and anxiety. I view these feelings as they are, naturally occurring feelings I face and overcome sometimes. There is no shame in feeling fear or being sensitive to our trauma.
Sometimes it feels like these emotions and thoughts are me. But one of the benefits of studying yoga is separating who we are from our thoughts, feelings, and other elusive human characteristics. I love how Caroline McHugh talks about identity in her TED talkThe Art of Being Yourself.
You are not your thoughts because you think them. And you can’t be your feelings because otherwise who’s the you that feels them? You are not what you have. You are not what you do. You are not even who you love or who loves you. There has to be something underneath all that.
I featured artwork from Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls to illustrate how giving our fears and traumas a name helps overcome them. Just as Connor needed to speak his truth about what he feared most, we all need to face our monsters. But just like Connor, our monsters take on different forms based on our experiences. As real and frightening as our fears are to us we can overcome them.
There are important truths I remind myself of to help me endure my mental pain and trauma.
My personal worth doesn’t hinge on my experiences. Individual worth is inherent. That is what yoga is for, so we can se our true, glorious selves.
I am not alone. I have friends, family, and other kindred spirits who I can turn to. Most importantly, no matter where I am I can turn to God in prayer.
I grow beyond my fears. I’ve overcome fears before and I can do it again.
Though this may not seem like a yoga post, I really believe facing and seeing these parts of ourselves reflects how we practice and teach others. I hope my thoughts and feelings came across well enough.
I’m grateful I’ve built a solid foundation for myself in my yoga practice. Looking back at my first year practicing, even going through the basics was incredibly challenging. Part of it was I had not developed the right muscles to fully support myself in those poses. I also didn’t have ample experience to believe I could do it.
If we don’t master the basics and learn to solidly hold each pose, we will fall and even hurt ourselves. Yogic experience builds physical stamina, muscles, and confidence in ourselves. I like to think of having a solid foundation as being fully committed in each pose. To be committed means syncing breath with movement. It also means activating proper muscles to deepen each posture. Most importantly, we commit our minds to being in the moment.