Letting wonderfulness find you

The other day I was reminded of an idea worth sharing:

“The key to keeping your balance in life is knowing when you’ve lost it.”

In today’s world, we’re so great at chasing all the wonderful things in our lives that we sometimes forget to slow down and let that wonderfulness find us

I must admit – I’m particularly good at doing the chasing and not particularly good at letting it chase me. and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

Finding balance in life is tough for the best of us.

So perhaps we should all remember to let wonderful things chase us once in awhile??

Balance, yoga, Dubai, DIFC, Urban Yoga, Fitness, Kimberley, Stokes,

Living life in baby steps

A healthy respect for enormity has been a constant companion in my adult life. The enormity of decisions, the enormity of finding & staying on my path, just the enormity of the world going on around me. The incredibly beautiful and inspiring, yet daunting concept of enormity.

In the last few years, there have been a lot of days where I wake up and say “omg, I’m SO overwhelmed”. I’m this little speck of a human being trying to do something and there is this big, massive world all around me that is constantly moving and changing. Whoa.


Enormity, Baby Steps, Kimberley Stokes, Urban Yoga

It’s the downside of being an entrepreneur and it’s the downside of being in a constant state of transition. I’ve never been one to settle at anything in my life. I’m constantly doing new things or moving to new places or picking up new hobbies – all very fun an exciting.

but there’s a fine line between just the right amount of fun and exciting and too much..

Maybe its because I’m a bit (ok, a LOT) type A personality…

and I like (ok, NEED) to feel at least mostly in control of my life….

or maybe its just the fact that as we get older, the options we have are bigger and harder to evaluate. There are life-changing consequences to these decisions. I could live in Dubai and open a yoga studio or I could move to London and be a management consultant or I could move somewhere else and do something completely different. And these questions are supposed to have an answer??

The resulting life in any of those scenarios would be massively different.

Cue the inevitable reaction: Waver, waver, worry, procrastinate, ignore = Indecision.

First world problems.

I’m certainly not going whine about having too many choices in life. But lucky as I am to have choices, they can sometimes be HARD to make. Especially when you’ve got one of these minds where you always want to make the BEST choice and you always want to get the RIGHT answer on the FIRST try.

And the moment you make a mistake, you’re looking over your should to see who noticed. I mean who wants to make mistakes and have to backtrack in life? or allow it be known that they don’t actually have it altogether??


Do we really need to take ourselves soooooo seriously?

How boring.

When you take a step back and really think about it, it’s almost worth LOL-ing over. I mean, OF COURSE people don’t get things right all the time. and OF COURSE we don’t all have it altogether. And OF COURSE we don’t know everything… and heres the big shocker that we always forget: People also don’t expect you to know everything all the time. and what’s more, most of the time, people don’t even tend to LIKE people who always know everything.

What crazy person thinks that having everything altogether all the time is a better life?

That crazy person is the one who hasn’t thought through the implications. When you know everything, you don’t have “a-ha” moments, you don’t feel that gut-level determination to figure something out or to learn something new. You are only executing on a perfect plan. You don’t really experience highs or lows. The highs ARE the LOWs and everything is flat. Ugh.

That will stay satisfying for about 5 minutes. And then you’ll be left to wonder.

Like so many “lucky” people in this world who have every thing and every opportunity they could possibly want, but find themselves bored and depressed.

They are missing the spark. The creativity. The “je ne sais quoi” that keeps your mind engaged, switched on and curious.

So back to the point. The world IS enormous. And life IS full of options. And we can DRASTICALLY CHANGE our lives with very small decisions.

And that is REALLY COOL.

And it doesn’t need to be scary.

Without trivializing the effects of the decisions we make on ourselves and others, we can make this act fun & empowering. Instead of scary and overwhelming.

Mistakes, bravery, Kimberley Stokes, beautiful

Give yourself a break and quit taking yourself so seriously! (yes, I’m taking my own advice too)

We might not get the full right answer on the first try. But life is a complex equation and the beauty of it is that we can make small adjustments as we go. We might not be able to go back to the way it was before. But we can go on to something a little new and a little different.

Life is full of baby steps.

Baby steps add up to the amazing differences in our lives.

And how cool is that?

Forget lowering expectations

… why set expectations at all?

People often say we should lower our expectations to avoid disappointment. This makes a lot of sense to people… don’t expect too much and you’ll more easily achieve what you expect. It’s the path of least emotional volatility. and that’s good.

… or is it? Isn’t it sad to lower your expectations? When you do this, “expectations” become synonymous with “standards” – and I would certainly rebel against anyone who suggests lowering my standards!

Outcomes, disappointment, expectations, Kimberley, Stokes, Yoga Life, Yogallery, Urban Yoga, Scient of expectations

but there’s another way to look at it: Why set expectations at all?

I recently went to an all-day workshop event.  During a break, one of the organizers and I were chatting when he asked “Is the workshop living up to your expectations?” A very standard question, but I was taken aback for a second and didn’t know how to answer. After a few moments, I recovered and stammered out the truthful, but rather un-eloquent response of “Well I guess so – but I didn’t really have any expectations… But its great and I’m really enjoying it!”

It wasn’t a conscious decision, but it seems over the years that I’ve developed the habit of not forming expectations. I hadn’t realized it, but now that I’ve had a chance to reflect on it, I think it’s a good thing.

In yogic theory, we talk about the “kleshas”**. Klesha simply means obstacle or affliction – the inborn hindrances we have that hold us back. There are 5 kleshas – wrong understanding, fear, selfishness, hatred and attachment. Part of the reason to practice yoga, according to yogic theory, is to reduce the effect of the kleshas in holding us back. By doing yoga, we can slowly overcome our limitations.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Now a little disclaimer: Theory is theory. You may buy into it or not. You may be able to identify with an element of it, or not. And that’s the beauty of it – it’s completely up to you. For those of us that love to intellectualize, it gives us something to work with.

But lets not get carried away – even Pattabhi Jois, the father of modern day Ashtanga, is famously quoted as saying “Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.” So there isn’t exactly an overwhelming amount of pressure for a yoga practitioner to subscribe to the “right” theories or believe in only the “right” things. Your own experience will teach you what you need to know.

Coming back to the point – expectations are just a form of the last klesha, the limitation of “attachment.”

Danger, expectations, Kimberley, Stokes, Yoga Life, Yogallery, Urban Yoga

On one hand, setting goals or ambitions can be highly motivational and give you something to aspire to. It’s the land of positive momentum and second chances. You’re always looking ahead and you’ll keep trying until you get there. And this is a good thing.

Expectations, on the other hand, are harder and less flexible. When you develop expectations, you somehow become much more emotionally attached to this expected outcome. Achieving anything more than your expectation creates a high, a source of pride and may even make your day or week. Achieving anything less than your expectation is a disappointment and is just not good enough. It might actually ruin your day, your mood or even your sense of momentum. “Did not meet expectations” can be a very bone-chilling evaluation, whether in your personal or professional life.

Life is bumpy. Things happen. You win some, you lose some. You may perform better or you may perform worse. Friends can be doting or distant. At times, it seems rare for things to go as planned. There are so many variables to that affect the events in our lives, and here’s the real heart of it: We have very little control over most of these variables.

So why attach expectation to things that you can’t control?

If you expected expensive presents when you met your spouse for your anniversary dinner and all you got was a Hallmark card with a memory or a joke inside, are you disappointed? Would you be disappointed if you hadn’t gone so far as to formulate an expectation of a present exchange?

Why not take a step back and see where we can take out some of the burdensome aspects of our lives.

We can just look forward to an event or change in our lives without setting expectations for exactly how it will be when we get there. 

Things will just be as they are. Most of the time, we don’t need to know exactly what that means in advance. There is beauty in just going with the flow.

We can evaluate our situations based purely on the experience we have and how we feel about it when we arrive at that moment. In doing so, we smooth out our experiences, smooth out our emotional rollercoaster rides and smooth out life in general. Cooooool.

It’s certainly easier said than done, but an idea worth thinking about…

** Kleshas come from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which for the non-yogis out there is a set of almost 200 sentences, organized into 4 chapters or books, which are meant to guide a yoga practitioner in yogic thoughts and behaviours.

Shakespeare, expectations, Kimberley, Stokes, Yoga Life, Yogallery, Urban Yoga

Traditions are on my mind

How important are traditions? To our sense of celebration? To our sense of importance? To making memories? To building a feeling of solidarity with your loved ones?

I’m a pretty informal person. I live in tank tops and comfy pants (yoga pants, sweat pants, leggings… pretty much anything that someone would like to sleep in). I grew up in Vancouver – that’s just how I roll. I’m a coffee carrying, flip-flop wearing, zip-up hoody kind of girl.

So it probably comes as no surprise that I don’t put a lot of weight into formalities. I address all my emails “Hi _____”, never “Dear ______” (even when my old boss told me too). I really insist on being myself and interacting in a way that comes naturally.

When I worked in the corporate world, I got to a point where I refused to wear button-up shirts since knit tops were not only much comfier but also less stuffy-looking. I cringe at black suits and white shirts. I cringe at girls walking in heels that are clearly killing their feet. I cringe at any action that is a response of society telling you to do something/be something that you’re not.

But I digress… Back to the topic: All this revolt against formality translates over into tradition.

I’m not big on tradition either.

Having recently gotten engaged, I’ve found myself wondering a lot about this. At 31, I’m definitely in the tail-end of my friends getting married. Weddings are so 2-3 years ago, now its babies that are all the rage. I’m no trendsetter in this area. And I’m perfectly content to lag behind.

I have been to maybe 20 weddings in the last 4 years.

and I’m  tired… is that weird?

Let me be totally honest: I love weddings. I love the love, the hope, the emotion and all the happy vibes that come from a wedding. They make me happy. It’s an event about love, how can you go wrong?

But I’m loathe to organize my own wedding. Is it wedding fatigue? Or am I just lazy?

BeachI kinda just feel like getting married on a beach in a flowy dress, a few hippy-esque flowers in my hair and where the guests come in shorts and no shoes. Just a gathering of all my favourite people – no more, no less. No politics. Just fun people, having a fun time on a beach. With music, dancing and hopefully some impromptu singing. That sounds like my kind of scene.

No running order. No timekeeping. No throwing the bouquet. No garters. No cutting of the cakes. No drama. Most importantly, no bridezilla.

But there’s a little voice in my head (I have no idea’s whose voice it is!) who keeps nagging at me: “If you don’t do a proper thing, you might regret it later.”

* sigh * Really?

A few months ago, I went to a wedding – I had been hearing about the preparations highs and lows for months. I was almost scared to attend because I had witnessed the amount of emotional investment in achieving this perfect event… and I just REALLY didn’t want anything to go wrong. I just did not want to witness any disappointment from the bride or groom after all their efforts.

Nothing did go wrong. It was a fabulous event, very personal, and very moving. Everyone was dressed to the nines, I felt like I was at the Oscars. There were fireworks. There were also tears. My tears. Even when the speeches were made in a language I didn’t understand, there were still tears flowing down my face.

And it brought me back to that nagging thought – maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to do the princess-wedding thing after all.

Oh dear. Decisions get harder when you waver.

Hasn’t it always a dream of mine of have a big white wedding with a big white wedding dress? I’m not sure, I can’t remember. Is that dream mine? Or something I picked up from TV?

My mum once told me she had always expected that my sister would get married on some lost beach somewhere and I’d have some big flash wedding (to go with my big flash corporate life). Well, my sister got married on a dude Ranch (but that’s a story for another day) and me… well… I left the flash corporate career behind

… does that take the flash wedding with it?


The truth of it is that big flash wedding was me once. I would have fit in perfectly into that scene, into that dream. I would have wanted it. I would have felt at home in that space.

But it’s just not me anymore.

And oh-em-gee, how quickly that changed. If my fiancé had asked me to marry him 3 years ago, this might have been a very different blog post. Who am I kidding, I never would have been blogging back then. It’s all part of the change.

I think part of living life is recognizing who you are at any given moment.

And recognizing that we change and we evolve.

And knowing that changing is a good thing. A really good thing. We should ride that change with eager anticipation of where we go next.

And finally, knowing also that the most important thing is to act in a way that reflects our best understanding of ourselves.  Who we are right now, not who we were 3 years ago.

Now I need to take my own musings to heart and translate this no nonsense idea into some sort of festivity…


Courage: Fake it till you make it

Ah courage. That old story. It never gets old does it?

That’s because most of us haven’t mastered the ancient art of Courage. It’s a tough one. One of those things that falls under the category “Easier said than done”

Despite the fact that I’ve been teaching yoga for awhile now, I recently took another 200-hour teacher training course. YogaWorks and Laurel Beversdorf came to Dubai and since they are such anatomical-yoga rockstars, I simply couldn’t resist. Plus, you get a lot out of the second go-around.

With about 5 days left to go in the course, we got onto the topic of the business of yoga and how to carve a teaching career. I looked around at a room of 18 nervous faces. Just about everyone had that expression which says “You want me to do whaaat??”. Nevermind that this was the name on the tin – afterall, it was teacher training course. People were expecting to come out as teachers. But most of the trainees looked like they had just been asked to climb Mount Everest. It was a look of pure overwhelm at the daunting task ahead of actually teaching real students.

The thing is that in real life, we are often asked or expected to do things that we in no way feel ready for. I remember when I gradated after almost 6 years of university, having completed two reasonably challenging degrees and I landed myself a great job with a prestigious company (and thankfully a great paycheck). And everyone kept congratulating me… but all I could think was “How on earth am I going to fake my way though THIS??” and that was the real feeling – that I needed to fake it. Because clearly, I had no idea what I was doing. … or at least, that is how it felt.

Because no matter how much you prepare, you always feel a little bit like a fraud at the beginning.

And so no wonder these teacher trainees had a fearful look in their eyes.

And the answer?

Fake it till you make it.

I’m not joking. It has been statistically and even chemically proven that if you put on that brave face and tackle your challenges with confidence and gusto, not only will you will be more successful, but those around you will find you credible.

If you’ve prepared and done your homework, then it’s all there – it might just be a buried deep. Under those layers of tough self-talk “What can I tell them that they don’t already know?”, “Everyone will see right through me” or even “What if they don’t like me?”

Amy Cuddy had a lot to say on this topic in a recent Ted Talk. It’s 20 minutes. But its 20 minutes that may change your life. If there ever was a “go get ‘em” speech that actually works, this is it. Watch it. (link below)

At the end of the day, we are all learning our way through life. Prepare as much as you can, but take the plunge and start actually doing it at the first opportunity.

Put on your power pose.

Fake it till you make it.

And take Amy’s advice and Fake it till you BECOME it.

Because you will.

Watching the same old movie for the second time

In this world, there are two kinds of people. There are the kind of people who never watch the same movie twice, and there are the kind of people who are happy to watch for the second (or even third) time around.

I’m definitely in the second group. Have you ever noticed that if you watch a movie for the second time, you see all kinds of things you didn’t see the first time?

The movie seems more complete. You understand it more. You get the subtleties woven into the writing.

Learning, Yoga, Namaste, Kimberley Stokes, Urban Yoga, Dubai

Like any registered yoga teacher, I started off my teaching career with training. And as a stickler for standards, I dutifully ensured that my training school was registered with Yoga Alliance and that I would earn a Yoga Alliance 200-hour certification upon completion. I passed my course and boom! I was then a qualified yoga instructor. And I started teaching.

And then, time passed and I heard that YogaWorks was coming to Dubai and would offer a 200-hour teacher training course. Whoa. Coooool.

This presented me with a predicament – should I participate?

On one hand, YogaWorks are basically like rockstars to me. I must admit that I got a little weak in the knees when I head they were coming to town. They teach a very well-thought through, anatomically-driven style of yoga. They call it intelligent flow – and they are right. YogaWorks looks at the body and how it moves and using that information, deduct what movement is good for you and what movement is not good for you. They respect tradition, but above all, they respect the body.

And that resonates with me, big time.

It seems a ridiculous number of times I have been in classes where teachers would push or encourage me in positions that crunch or bend my body in a way that felt very bad for my body. In these cases, whether it’s the teacher who had it wrong, or my interpretation of the instruction, I didn’t know. All I knew is that something felt off. But then one day I tweaked my lower back and felt like a 90-year-old woman for 10 days. It really scared me – and I got my first understanding that doing yoga badly is really bad for you.

So the chance to learn basics from YogaWorks, who would arm me with more knowledge to help prevent my students (and myself!) from being injured was very tempting.

On the other hand – a yoga teacher training is a significant investment in both time (one month straight, full-time) and money. It’s no small undertaking. You need to use up all your holiday allowance (and then some, for some people). Who has that kind of time? And what yoga teacher has that much cash?? I already have this certification, why repeat a training I already have? But the promise of new insights and new takes on old theories was too tempting, so with mixed emotions, I signed up.

In June, Laurel-the-trainer showed up in Dubai and brought her magic with her. She not only re-inspired me with her passion for anatomy and the way the body works, she imparted invaluable knowledge on how each nugget of anatomic wisdom relates to each key yoga asana. Gold.

I learned a ton. This is exactly what I needed.

To be honest, this is probably what every already-teaching yoga teacher needs too. A back-to-basics tune-up.

For me, it’s all about learning. I’m a bit of a geek that way.

Learning doesn’t always mean you have to take on the next level higher. Sometimes the best ah-ha moments come from going back to basics and reviewing what you “already know”.

Going deeper.

Letting these basic nuggets really sink in. Because there’s a lot more to what “we already know” than what we remember and what we can apply.

And there’s so much reward in really truly understanding what you know. To experiencing it.

So put the surround sound on and watch that great movie a second time. Maybe even a third.

and my advice?… definitely watch it again before watching the sequel.

A little holiday from the chaos

My life recently has been crazy. Absolute mayhem. A new project has come up and it’s just totally taken over my life. Nothing too drastic and it’s been really fun, but this new project has definitely rocked the boat. My days are a little less organized, a little more intense and I feel like I’m constantly running.

Not only have I not posted in awhile, but a lot of the little things in my life have been put on hold – my inbox is out of control, my laundry hasn’t been taken off the drying rack in over a week, and when I walked out of the kitchen the other day, I noticed a dust-bunny starting to form by the door (very common when you live in the desert) and I didn’t “have time” to clear it away. Gross.

A period of unbalance in my life is actually nice. As long as it is just that – a period. A finite amount of time before I can reign everything back in again and feel under control.

… but during the chaos, I think it’s important not to lose sight of the calmness and awareness of being plugged into the bigger picture in life. There are times when we just need to be reminded of all the amazingly awesome things we are surrounded by. You might be living at tree-level for a time, but don’t forget the vastness of that gorgeous forest all around you.

My dad sent me a video link over the weekend. Typically when my dad sends me links, it takes me aaaaagggges to watch them. He only sends good things, so I never delete them without watching – but I often don’t have time to watch 10 mins here and 8 mins there so I save them up for a rainy day.

but this video was 3 mins.

and despite my day being jam-packed today with the adrenaline pumping (will I be late? do I have enough time to get everything done?), I forced myself to click the link.

I watched the whole thing. and I swear it was like a meditation. It was just so unexpectedly beautiful and calming that I needed to share. Maybe you too can take 3 minutes to watch the whole thing, slow your heart rate down and take a little holiday from the chaos of your day.

4. Buy groceries 5. Yoga 6. Pick up kids

There’s a mere 24 hours in a day and a piddly 7 days in the week… and the average person has about a bajillion things on their to-do list. Yikes.

to do, list, yoga, Kimberley, StokesQuick question: Is yoga on your to-do list? Is it an action that you’ll tick-off your list? Is it one of a number of actions that will determine how “productive” you were today?

I keep hearing things like “I really need to do 5 sessions this week or else my practice is going to start declining” (can you hear the fear?) or “I’m so sorry, I can’t believe I had to miss yesterday’s class!” (can you hear the guilt?) Now, don’t get me wrong: Growing your practice is good, setting goals is good and healthy determination is good… but if your focus is all on the metrics – how many hours you clocked up this week, how many sessions you checked off this month – are you able to really let go and be “in it”?

It shouldn’t be about longer, harder, more often. How can you go deeper into your yoga when your mind is so focused on the fact that you are only on the 5th pose, and you’ve got 17 more poses to do today but you only have 37 minutes left before you have to get back to work? “Shall I cut back on the sun salutes? Maybe I’ll only hold each pose for 3 breaths instead of 5.” I’m sure we’ve all said that one before! While we are often encouraged to aggressively pursue our goals at work or in other areas of our lives, there is no need to aggressively pursue your yoga. It’s actually counter-productive.

Everyone has their own way of doing things – my advice is to stop trying to cram yoga into every available slot. Instead, set aside a nice, sustainable amount of yoga time that can fit into your life each week. Maybe it’s two sessions. Maybe its only one. Step 1 is to show up on your mat physically. Easy, just do it. No excuses. Then, step 2 is to show up on your mat mentally. Give yourself this time, this guilt-free (oh yes! let it go!) time away from all the other things in your life. Give yourself this space, this mat and work your yoga magic. and for those one or two sessions each week, this is the most important thing you could be doing.

In a hectic and crazy world, we get a lot more benefit by putting the emphasis on the quality of the yoga. Come to your mat ready to focus on each breath and each pose. Disengage the automatic pilot we sometimes float through life on, and be there in present moment.

Allow yourself to get lost in the depths of your practice. This is where the real growth happens. Not to mention, the magic.

The Art of Breathing


If you do yoga, fitness training, or even just live a stressful life, you probably hear this all the time. Breathe in! Breathe out! At first you may think “Well, duh! I’m breathing. I’m alive aren’t I?” But over time, as you learn to deepen your breath (which is really hard at first!), you realize that focusing on your breathing actually does you a world of good.

I’ve been doing pranayama in various forms for years. At first, it was the 5 or 10 minutes of “breathing exercises” in a yoga class, or the OMG-I’m-about-to-scream deep breathing I would do while locked in the bathroom on a stressful day at work. Then last year, I had a month of pranayama training as part of a yoga teacher training I attended at Yoga Thailand.

Time-out: What is ‘pranayama’? Pranayama is a yogic discipline with its origins in India. It is a composition of two Sanskrit words that basically mean ‘the extension of the breath’. Pran means ‘life force’, ‘vital energy’, ‘breath’ and ayam means to expand, extend or pause. Pranayama is the fourth of the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and is recommended as part of a yoga practitioner’s regular practice. To call it “deep breathing” severely understates the complexity of this practice – pranayama is much more than just deep breathing – but for the purposes of this blog post, let’s just keep it simple. Time-in.

“Breathing deeply” has been recommended to us time and time again… and I think we all intuitively understanding that breathing deeply is good for us. But understanding that at an intellectual level, and actually KNOWING that at an I-really-notice-the-difference experiential level is something completely different.

I only came to fully understand the benefits of breath in the last few months – and that’s because I stopped doing it.

I didn’t just skip a few sessions; I totally and completely fell off the pranayama bandwagon… for a good 6 months. Wham! Fell off the bandwagon and hit the ground hard. After having carefully and mindfully set myself a pranayama habit/practice over the course of almost a year, I stopped cold turkey.

I have a wonderful excuse for this, really I do: I went on a long, extended holiday with my lovely boyfriend. He who is very active, but doesn’t do much yoga, definitely doesn’t do any pranayama and isn’t very good at sitting still waiting for me to finish doing it.

Now, on one hand, if I’m ever going to stop doing something that’s important to me, it seems slightly less tragic if it’s because I replaced it with something else that’s important to me, i.e. time with someone I love.

… But on the other hand, making excuses doesn’t do you any good because, in this situation and in the rest of your life, at some point the holiday is finished. You emerge at the other end of a mesmerizing, consuming and fun experience having lost your practice along the way. You’ve lost the habit that you’ve worked hard to build and develop. That’s sad – but in my case, it taught me something I didn’t understand before.

After being back in the real world for awhile, I noticed a difference. The difference was subtle but undeniable in my feeling of balance, of direction, of stability, even of confidence. Different. And not in the good way. I just felt shakier.

Pranayama doesn’t just have a long list of physical benefits, but so many emotional and mental benefits too. So, once I managed to put my finger on what was missing, what was different in my life, I slowly clambered back on the pranayama bandwagon. Bit by bit, I rebuilt my practice. Now I understand what I’m doing and more importantly, why I do it. It’s a crazy world out there and little things like “breathing deeply” can really help you stay focused. Knowing that makes it easier to stick to.

And doing it makes a noticeable difference in my life.

So for any of you who have ever considered starting pranayama, I encourage you to try it for a period of time and see how you like it. You may not notice the difference right away, but trust that bit by bit the benefits of pranayama are becoming a part of who you are. It’s slow and subtle work – and it serves to help you stay connected to yourself. And that’s a good thing.

To learn more, check out this, this and this

And if you really want to jump in and develop a practice, talk to Paul and see what he suggests.

Kimberley, Yoga, Breathing, Meditation, Art of Breathing, Stokes

Collecting nuggets of wisdom

I was at a yoga workshop recently with the amazing Mark & Joanne Darby. On the last day, there was a session focused only on backbending. I was really looking forward to but also dreading this session because backbending is a total enigma to me. Total enigma. I have been patiently working on my backbends for what feels like a long time now, and not making much progress. Arms straight in Dhanurasana? Not happening.

Frustrating as it may be, I’ve used my best “things happen for a reason” philosophy to convince myself that even though I don’t know why it won’t work, there must be a reason backbending is hard. I just have to figure out what it is. There’s something I need to learn. Maybe it’s patience. And to do that, I need to practice. and practice. and practice. and one day the answer will come. Right?

Well, no.

Generally, if you’re working hard, consistently and patiently at something and its still not working, you’re doing it wrong.

My advice? Look for an easier way out.

There’s a saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And while you certainly need to practice in order to improve at anything you do in life, there comes a point where you need to see if there is an easier path than the one you’re on. Life is too short to spend it struggling.

Darby, Mark Darby, Yoga, Ashtanga, Kimberley, yoga dubai, Yoga workshop

Back to my yoga workshop – I raised my hand and asked a question about Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose). In order to answer, Mark had me come to the center of the room to be the example to the other 45 yogis in the workshop. Instantly, I balked. Knowing that I struggle so much in this pose, I certainly didn’t want to do it in front of everyone. But it would be ridiculously silly to say no to an offer of help from someone who really knows their stuff, so making a bit of a scared face, I settled down in the middle of the room.

In a matter of nano-seconds, this yogi with more than 30 years of experience had diagnosed my backbending blockage. It was physical. Tweak here, tweak there and I was in a much better Urdhva Dhanurasana. I was literally in a part of my shoulder I’d never been in before. And it was almost comfortable.

When I came out of it, a friend mentioned that I looked like I’d seen a ghost. Honestly, I felt a bit like I had. I had convinced myself that there was something about me (physical? mental?) that made backbending especially hard. But no – the ability has been there all the time. I’ve spent ages blaming tight shoulders and lack of strength, but really I just had a small fault in technique. The technique I was using just wasn’t working for me. It’s a relatively easy fix. Now I know what to work on.

I expected to be sore the next day. I mean, anytime you go into un-chartered territory in physical activity, you almost always feel sore the next day, right? But not this time – I spent all of the next day rolling my shoulders and marveling at how open I felt, how light, how clear. Amazing. I’m inspired.

So here’s what I learned:

  1. Whether you’re a yogi, a writer, an office worker, an entrepreneur, whatever it is that you’re working on – go out there and see if there is an easier way. Consult with others. Ask people. Try something different. Don’t spin your wheels struggling on one thing.
  2. Don’t be afraid to look silly. We all have stuff to learn, even if we are considered experienced, advanced or knowledgeable. Put your insecurities aside. Life is a learning journey. In order to become that inspiring experienced person in the future, you need to be a sponge today.
  3. Seek out mentors or teachers. Those people who really know their stuff. Experienced people just ooze useful bit of information. Not only will you be inspired, you’ll pick up nuggets of wisdom just by being with them. So hang out with them at every opportunity and thank them for sharing.

…And keep practicing.
Darby, Mark Darby, Joanne Darby, Yoga, Ashtanga, Kimberley, yoga dubai, Yoga workshop