A call to rise to compassion.

I woke up yesterday morning like many of the people in my community: scared, angry, confused, frustrated. 

I teach 2 yoga classes on Wednesdays back to back. People that come to my class describe them as “joyful” and “fun”. Yoga can be serious in many ways, but we can also laugh and share in our vulnerability in the space. I wasn’t personally feeling joyful or fun yesterday. Teaching classes the way I usually do with lightness and jokes and inclusiveness felt hard.

I walked into the studio wondering “how was I going to face the people who come to my class today?” All of the sudden it felt like a big responsibility to be the yoga teacher holding space for such a monumental moment. 

I looked at the options: 

I could speak directly to what was happening, continuing the heightened levels of anxiety and stress surrounding the election. But that felt wrong in my body. Knowing that people come to class not to escape life but to help manage better. 

I could totally spiritual bypass this shit and say we are ok, and to love all beings and choose to be happy even though your heart is breaking. I could make jokes to distract people. This also felt false and like bullshit and totally insensitive.

So I came into the space without a plan. Not knowing how I would act or what I would say. And I allowed the community that entered to help inform me how to hold the space. 

There is this intuition and “spidey-sense” that hopefully we can tap into as teachers, community leaders, etc. which can allow us to listen to the people around us to know what to do. All while still acknowledging our own feelings and process. At least to do our best.

The mood of the classes was much like a funeral. People were just quiet. Stunned. I don’t remember exactly what I said in class, but it was something along the lines of holding space for one another right now to feel what we are feeling, to offer kindness to our neighbors and loved ones, to get close. This felt right I guess. Because it wasn’t denying reality, but it wasn’t feeding into the anxiety, it was something different. It was to offer comfort when things get tough. Sometimes that is the only thing we have control over. Using tools. Self regulation, grounding, trying to remain calm even when things get hard. And this is the off-the-mat yoga stuff that gets me jazzed and hopeful and inspired.

I don’t know if that is the “right” thing. Or what people needed or wanted. I wonder how other practitioners of healing arts are approaching this. If you have any thoughts please share! 

Either way, I know I did the best I could in a situation I’ve never been in. A responsibility that was new. I offered the folks in the room lots of love and respect. Many left my classes crying in savasana. My hope is that yoga can provide relief and healing to our bodies and hearts through challenging times. I know it has for me in a personal big way. And this is why I teach. 

Namaste. Om shanti. Yoga is union. 

Photo: Tim Navis Photography 

Almost a year. 

I just meditated and it is hot as can be in La and I’m about to make a melon banana smoothie with fresh ginger. Ahhh, refreshing!

It has been almost a year since I began a huge transition in my life: a break-up with my partner and best friend. I can feel the date creeping into my consciousness and I can’t help but start to reflect on the year behind me. Here are some things I’m jamming to.

1. At the time of this seperation, I did not think I would survive it. Truly. I thought I was going to die without this person.

2. I felt myself leaving my own body (credit to Jay Fields, my mentor, for this imagery) and clinging to this relationship that was closing and ending. Faced with the possibility of temporary love, death of that love, I was left terrified.

3. My life did not look at all like it does now. I wasn’t taking care of myself during that relationship. I made it the most important thing. I truly thought if I could put all my energy and love into it, then I would be happy and content. This meant I left my career stagnant, friendships and other relationships in my life suffered. I wasn’t writing, reading, going out with friends, even exercising that much. Bottom line, I didn’t feel happy or like my true self at all.

It turns out that none of these things lasted. Time has smoothed and rubbed this tenderness and everyhing has opened and transformed in ways I would never have thought they could. I am sorry to sound trite, but this is true.

I have experienced other short-term romance in between this big one, but felt myself keeping my heart close to myself. Even after a year, not quite ready to dive into that possibility again. And it is ok.

Instead, I have been falling madly in love with myself. Seriously. I am less worried about what I am doing wrong, but celebrating the right. I am seeking to trust my instincts more and more. This exchange of trust within myself has built this big love. A big piece of this work has been the yoga. It helps me check in with myself in this special way that is different then others.

So I come to you now, blubbering with tears, with this self-love that is so solid, I know it is the kind of relationship that ain’t temporary. That doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of self-doubt, berating myself for doing things a certain way, but I am getting better at catching it quicker. I am practicing it. I haven’t arrived anywhere and I don’t wanna. I just wanna practice, wolves.

Love from my big heart.

Please please don’t fake it. It won’t work anyway.

Hey wolves,

It’s almost 1 am and I just got home from going out with my friends. I’m eating some chips (shh don’t tell) with beans and avocado. A little yummy snack to settle down the mezcal I just drank.

One of the topics we discussed at length during my yoga teacher training was spiritual bypassing. This idea of “everything is wonderful”  or “just like that, I am insta-enlightened” or  in other words, “i am gonna pretend everything is groovy to show you how untouchable I am” in other words, for me, “not serving yourself or others”. 

My amazing mentor, Jay Fields, has an article called “don’t fake it till you make it”. And I love this because it is so so much better to be authentic and you then a washed out version of you playing pretend “ok”. (www.Jay-fields.com)

Man, in LA I come across this constantly. Anywhere, I guess. There seems to always be a perception of certain emotions or feelings as being negative or positive vs just being. 

– for example: if I’m bumming out, sad or frustrated, I am told I am negative. Same goes for if I am especially joyful, silly or grateful, I am positive.  what’s up with the judgement? The black and white? The “this or that”? Can we remove the judgement of emotions and let them be free to move through instead of being stuck?

– can we all just feel what we are feeling fully in order to fully experience the next thing? I fear that if I don’t, I will get hard, I will miss something. 

In the epic words of nayyirah waheed:

“Feel it. that thing you don’t want to feel. Feel it. and be free.”

Yes. Let’s do that. (Me talking to myself here) – Let’s not place shiny plastic smiles on our faces and pretend we are ok when our insides are felling apart. Let’s fall and break. And from that place, that fertile ground, rise up and grow into something fresh. 

Ok. Jumping off that soapbox and into bed. 

Me sorta faking it below, couple days before this was taken, I went through a devastating breakup. But I am smiling with my green juice. I was feeling ok at the moment honestly. Sometimes we just gotta work through it the best we can. 
Also, I’m feelin this song hard right now: 

Drink lots of water you guys. 
NAT 

Life hacks I’m learning from a dog

I write to you, a bit sleep deprived, a belly full of 4 coconut macaroons, and listening to a new Gregory Porter song. Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/track/5FfkOi3YUKdB0QoWiEuwP7

I’ve never had a dog. My mom was deathly allergic to cats and dogs, so I had a goldfish named Scooty who lived for 8 years. Recently I moved in with my friend who has a dog named Pumpkin. 

  
Pumpkin is a sweet loving mutt (lab and collie mix?) and I am learning things from her. No seriously. Here they are:

1. Approach it as a winner :

– when pumpkin wants you to play with her, let’s say with a tennis ball, she will come up to you with the ball in her mouth, and throw it down loudly in front of you and wait, smiling. She doesn’t come up, and then apologize for asking you to play. She is like “fuck yeah, I got a ball, let’s do this ” when you ignore her, she will throw is down again, and smile at you. No giving up. 

– and she does it over and over regardless of how many “no’s” she’s received. The approach is always full.

2. Stay focused on your work: 

– when you play catch with her and you are holding a toy you are about to throw, her eyes are locked on that toy. Nothin, I mean nothing will take her attention away. And guess what? She’s pretty damn good at jumping up and catching the toy everytime. 

– it amazes me because as a creative, it is crucial for me to be focused and present while working. I feel the difference in my work and it’s usually a good thing. 

3. Enjoy the little things in life: 

– when Pumpkin eats, she chows down. It actually cracks me up everytime. Her mom puts out her food, she gets right to it and chews so loudly “chomp, chomp, chomp”. It feels like someone who is totally ravenous, eating their final meal. So yeah, eat the hell out of your food, eating is something pretty fun we get to do on this planet. 

4. Love first:

 when you get home and let that pup outta her crate, before she does anything else, she nuzzles you. Like her version of a dog hug, as to greet you and appreciate that moment. I forget to do this with the people that I am closest to, sometimes distracted or just so accustomed to them. But to be on the receiving end of that love feels so good. 

So there you have it, Pumpkin has shit figured out. Don’t give up, stay present and enjoy the little things. She seems pretty content with life at least. Or, maybe I am projecting things I want to do more onto Pumpkin. We see what we want to see anyway. 

Until next time, hugs and hope,

NAT 

A little lotta magic (when you need it most)

Self care Sunday:

Hey, I just put on a “beauty radiance” face mask about ten minutes ago and I’m chillen in the bath with Epsom salts. Basically a much needed Sunday night selfcare. When do you get yours in? Imma stretch with legs up the wall after!

All the magic unexpected:

It rained in LA last night. I had a rough one emotionally, went out with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I needed to go out bc I couldn’t rest, and I just bought a new bodysuit, which begged to be put on.

There I was, sad, with myself, with strangers, ended up at a house of a musician unexpected. Got to lay in an old 1920s beautiful house, and listened to their brand new LP they had just finished after four years.

The music was instrumental and enveloped me in this ornate room full of carved wood and large rugs. I was the most present I had been in a while. I was fully with my sadness and joy from this music and for being allowed to be changed by something all simultaneously. 

I can be everything all at once. I was being cleansed by the rain and the music and myself. That is magic.

Here’s my playlist from this mornings stretch class, if you wanna listen, inspired by my night: https://open.spotify.com/user/122936589/playlist/2AHwp2Qj81kjUQXURRKrAP

Tell me, have you experienced complex emotions like these? How did you receive them?

Until next time wolves, I gotta rinse,
NAT 

Being ready to try. The process of process.

So often I beat myself up when I think about doing things, but don’t actually follow through with them. For example, I will think about, imagine, meditate on, fantasize about a place I want to visit, or something I want to create, or a yoga pose I want to try (being upside terrifies me and exhilarates me simultaneously).

What I am finding might surprise you. This so-called “sitting around” fantasizing is part of the work. At least for me in my process it is. Here is how it is coming out.

I will think about something for a long time. Years even. And then without gradually easing into it, I’ll just jump in and do it. And DO IT well, almost right away. I am a big fan of the Tim Ferriss podcast, he had Scorpion on last week, who is essentially a genius and had competed in coding competitions. He said you might be given 40 minutes to  write a code that is extremely difficult with all sorts of requirements. He said the average people in the room immediately start writing the code, and then have to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, and may not even finish. The pros do something else: they sit and think. He said they might sit and just think for 30 minutes of their 40, then type like hell for the last 10 minutes. What they’re doing in this 30 minutes is writing and editing the code in their heads. They are imagining it. They are working without it appearing so. That way, they do the work already so they don’t have to type it and rewrite it.

I have had this happen to me twice in the last month. For one, I have been dreaming up a script that I wanted to write for myself and shoot for over two years now. I came home after a night of drinking and dancing a few weeks back, sat at my computer and wrote almost the whole thing for about 3 hours. No brainstorming, no outline, no character breakdown. It was just there. And the characters were in my head already, and everything just flowed. Just like that.

Then, tonight, as I was editing my script, I had a vision of myself upside down. I fall a lot in  headstands. I have some neck stuff from car accidents, so I am ultra careful with weight-bearing. But I got up, after I added the final action in my script, “They howl”, went to the wall and used my belly to really lift up my legs and just chilled in a headstand, like I had done it a million times. (I haven’t). And then I laughed. So hard to myself about it.

Watch me going up here:

So there it is. Maybe my process for things is to dream of them first. Dream, so I will be ready. Imagine it, so I can be clear when I am ready. And finally, chill out on myself about what I think my process is supposed to look like just because some one else’s looks a certain way. This is mine.

Please share your experience about your process or if you relate to this or find it is the opposite!

Until next time, friends.

– ~nat

Present-ness whilest sick and suffering. 

Here’s a quick one. I just started heating up an Amy’s canned chili for lunch. I’m gonna cut up some avocado on it, so I gotta be ready to eat in a sec.

Present-being while sick: I have a cold. It is annoying to be coughing and snotting. Can’t help but notice how present I feel while I am sick. It is like magically, I peel layers from who I am to reveal all me. Maybe it is because those layers take a lot of energy to hold and while sick, I simply can’t keep it up. 

I will say, as an actor, the times when I book or feel most authentic are when I have been sick in auditions. There is something to this. You with me?

I have memories of being onstage during chicago winters with walking pneumonia and a fever of 102, sweat dripping down my face, my heart pumping hard, and just feeling so fuckin alive. Balls to the wall, fighting through the discomfort to tell this damn story.

As a yoga teacher, this is when I sometimes feel most present in the room: Like, the most grounded.

That being said, how alive do you feel while suffering? While going through a breakup, or when your leg goes numb while on a long car ride? You are acutely aware of your discomfort.

My question: can we cultivate this awareness while not suffering? If so, how? 

~with snot and hugs,

NAT