Archive for Perfectionism

Happy 2016, and Setting Daily Intentions Rather Than New Year’s Resolutions

Wishing everyone a peaceful, happy and healthy New Year!

I am away this last week in December 2015, and will be taking a writing course New Year’s weekend at Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires. Hopefully, I will learn how to deal most effectively with writer’s block and procrastination – traits I have been experiencing since college and law school! Can anyone else relate to these issues?

In part, I believe that for me, both writer’s block and procrastination stem from old, deep-rooted patterns of perfectionistic goals – ideals which of course, run counter to all that is taught in yoga; i.e., that the journey is more important than the result; that yoga is an exploration of the self, and not a perfect pose (“asana”); that we value the means, over the ends; and as the Bhagavad Gita teaches, it is the integrity of the process that is most important, and thus to let go of attachments to the outcome.

If you, like me, were raised in a traditional Western upbringing, these concepts are antithetical to messages we received at both home and school. Westerners tend to be very results and achievement oriented. I came from that type of background, coupled with the perfectionistic standards of a professional ballet training from a young age.

When I first read the Gita (Eknath Easwaran’s edition) in my first ever yoga teacher training, it was life-changing. I was amazed at how the concepts written about thousands of years ago, still directly applied to our lives in the the 21st Century. I still have to remind myself that staying in the present moment and enjoying the process, as well as valuing the process, is paramount.

Results cannot be controlled, as they are often beyond our mortal individual powers. But we can have control over the integrity of the process, and then let go of attachments to outcomes. Speaking and acting from a center of truth (“satya”) in seeking an environment that is just, peaceful, and non-violent (“ahimsa”) for all is a yogic ideal; we don’t know if that ideal will ever manifest in our lifetimes, yet that unknown does not negate the importance of those sattvic actions and state of being.

Many people create New Year’s resolutions, but often finding they are unable to fulfill those resolutions, become disappointed with themselves. Resolutions tend to be overly ambitious and focused on an unrealistic result, rather than small, step-by-step intermediary goals.

Before teaching the asana portion of all my yoga classes, I like to offer students and myself the opportunity to set an intention for the yoga practice, the day, or further out in time. In this type of practice, we are basically setting mini-resolutions throughout the year that are practical, timely, and manageable. Maybe they are attainable, maybe they are not. The important thing is setting that intention, breathing into it, and then letting go of the attachment to the result.

If we do this type of practice throughout the year, I believe it obviates the need or desire to set unattainable New Year’s resolutions, such as “I will never procrastinate with my writing ever again.” Once a year resolutions that set us up for failure and disappointment may not serve a useful purpose; instead having an intentional daily or weekly practice throughout the year helps us focus on the process over results.

With that in mind, wishing you all the very best for 2016! May we continue to teach one another life’s myriad lessons and support one another in the process!

Nutcracker Ballet Arts

Feb. 2015 – Children’s Yoga

Recently, I received my Children’s Yoga Teacher certificate after a wonderful training with Yogi Beans.  As many of you may recall, I had taught children’s ballet as an assistant ballet teacher at Steps on Broadway for many years and did my kids’ ballet teacher training with American Ballet Theater.  But I had never been trained in children’s yoga before, and something deep within me had been calling me to teach yoga and qigong to children.  I am glad I listened to that inner calling, as I absolutely loved the Yogi Beans training!  It was fascinating to learn how to teach the younger generation all the benefits of yoga (including the physical poses, yoga theory, relaxation, breathing exercises, and concentration skills).  With the use of play, creative movement, storytelling, and games, we learned how to pass on the wisdom and teachings of yoga to children even as young as two- years old.  As a teacher who has specialized in yoga for adults and seniors, this was a very new experience for me – but one that I found fun and expansive.  As we practiced the children’s classes,  we all became more free-spirited, and released any concerns about what we looked or sounded like.  It was never about doing the poses “perfectly” – even though we already know that goal is not realistic anyway.  The children’s training helped to reinforce that very important concept of letting go of perfectionism.  In fact, one of the Yogi Beans’ mantras is “Yoga is a Practice, Not a Perfect” – a mantra that I will definitely use for myself, as well as in both my children’s and adult classes!  The other aspect of the training that I enjoyed was the creativity required to teach yoga to children.  It pushed my creative juices as I learned to use different games (all with a specific teaching purpose) and to create stories and themes around the yoga poses.  One of my sample class themes was finding and connecting to nature (even in NYC), and creating a yoga pose storyline in Central Park!  Taking this training, also reminded me of the fun and importance of non-competitive play – something we serious and driven adults no longer do, and yet it is so liberating.  I now see the value in play for all ages, the importance of reconnecting to one’s inner child’s wide-eyed and wondrous view of the world, and the possibility of taking life less seriously at least some of the time.