breathe.

Driving into Ubud yesterday I found I often had to remind myself to breathe. The driving is something I’ve never experienced. Scooters flying around on both sides. Constant games of chicken with oncoming traffic, luckily it ends safely (at least it has so far). Everyone seems at ease. There doesn’t seem to be road rage here, or at least I haven’t experienced it. It’s just an understanding, I’m faster than you so I’m gonna go around you and when I flash my lights or put on my blinker or calmly honk my horn I’m just preparing you for my move.

It’s almost like a dance. The cars and scooters are just gliding down the highway, weaving in and out, speeding up, slowing down, taking a moment to breathe rather than moving forward with rage, they are grateful they are moving. It took us just under 2 hours to arrive in Ubud and I found as we got closer I had started to breathe again, I was at ease, taking it all in. Breathing in a new culture, a new perspective.

It’s amazing how different their highways, markets and housing is from the United States. I had a similar eye opening experience 3 years ago when I spent a month in South Africa and Malawi. One thing I noticed that aligns both places is people are happy, people are content and people here are breathing. They are soaking in every experience, every interaction and they want to make sure your time here is memorable. Every single person working at this resort knows my name. Not only mine, but every single person I am here learning with. Incredible.

What has made me sad though is the volcano activity has driven much of the tourism out of Bali. A lot of people that live here and that work at this resort have been evacuated from their homes and they are living with other family. They don’t complain about it, they don’t want your sympathy, they are just grateful that they are safe. We are the only people (minus one other couple) at this resort due to the warnings, warnings that aren’t even affecting our area, but warnings that are affecting the wealth of this resort, the wealth of this island. They could be angry, they could be rude to us, but every single person I’ve encountered shows pure gratitude. It has me thinking about the interactions in America, how could we be more like the Balinese, how could we be more grateful?

Breathe it all in and think of what you can be more grateful for, even if it’s just for that moment that you stop and just breathe.

observations.

There is a beautiful connection between movement and breath. Inner thoughts occur. Worry. Faith. Doubt. Belief. Strength. Weakness. Fear. Fearlessness.

Day seven has arrived in what has already felt like a month of time here, yet has only felt like one day has gone by. There are so many vibrations going through my mind. The fear of being authentically myself on arrival and being accepted. We got delayed on our journey so we arrived a day late. Our first day started off with 4 hours of silence. First off if you know me personally you are probably thinking how on earth did you stay quiet that one. It was tough. I met 15 new people via silence. We connected just by a simple smile and movement. There was a lot of curiosity on both ends, who are these people? Will they like me? We meditated in each other’s presence, we flowed in a two hour vinyasa class and then the silence was broke and we met. I immediately felt a connection with many of these people if not all of them. That is just the beginning. 

We are all here on a different journey. We are here with a different story. We are here to find our own path. Yet we are all connected as one and we are all facing different fears. What I truly love about the practice of yoga is that it comes in all forms. It doesn’t matter the success or the struggle that you bring to the mat. What matters is that you show up and you grow from the experience. A lot of people fear yoga. I think it’s because you know you’ll have to stop and listen to yourself, you’ll have to feel movement in your body and you’ll have to listen to your mind and the chatter that exists within. I relate it to how I feel about writing. This scares the crap out of me. I was told once I need to blog because I have good stuff to say. But I constantly doubt my abilities to do it. I was also told to never go back and read it, cause I’ll over analyze, correct and not actually say what I mean. They were right…about that last part anyway.

I am finding this experience is a lot like the volcano that erupted just a short seventeen miles away from us. We expect by nature of a volcano at some point it will erupt. I came in full of expectations of what an advanced teacher training could hold, yet I was ready to dive into the unknown. The people that had to evacuate didn’t know what to expect. They knew that the eruption could be life changing, but how life changing was unknown. This training is opening several doors of thought and life changing experiences. In just seven days my mind has been filled with so many new ideas, dreams, goals and it has also allowed me to let go of a a few things that I have been hanging on to.  I have noticed things that I need to change and it feels good to acknowledge. Twenty five days left and I’m sure we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Pause in the moments of unknown. And breathe. Don’t think of what’s next. Think of what is now. – Cailee

surrender and be fearless

The last two days have been a test. I have broke down and cried several times. Over fear, over generosity, over worry, over gratefulness. Back and forth I have felt sad tears and happy tears and all of it is because I am fifteen days away from the journey of a lifetime. I need to surrender and be fearless, God has great plans for me on the road ahead.

A few months ago I toyed with the idea of going somewhere for my 500 hour training for yoga and just two weeks from now I will find myself in a quiet seaside town in east Bali. Who would have thought?

I have often looked at life as an adventure, and I have been fortunate to take many trips through out the US and I’ve visited countries that most can only dream of. I went to South Africa and Malawi in 2014. It was my first time leaving the country. I got to meet people who live a completely different life than me. It was humbling, and the first time I realized that I have a bigger purpose in life than working 9-5 at a desk.

Shortly after, in 2015 I went to Mexico. Also eye opening – but I got to live in the luxurious tourist part, but man it was different than home, and it’s so close to home. I have been back to Mexico a couple times since and each time I have been able to experience culture at a deeper level.

2016 was Germany where I got to explore European life, sports and travel by train and bus where I visited Prague, Czech Republic and Salzburg, Austria. I explored castles where I wondered how it felt to be a princess, drank beer just like the Germans (it was Oktoberfest in Munich so I had to play the part) and tasted what makes European cities so amazing.

Here we are wrapping up 2017 and I am lucky enough to continue the adventure in Bali. I know that what I am about to learn will be life changing. Something their website said that made me believe this was the right training for me, “When it’s done you’ll be a different person…not a person who’s changed, but rather a person who has a clearer, truer understanding of who they really are…a person who sees the beauty and grace inside of themselves, and know what it’s like to feel a connection with others that’s so strong it can never be broken.”

I can’t wait to bring this feeling back to my students – I am ready to keep changing lives and I’m excited to better understand myself so I can make a bigger impact in this world. It’s tough what we face everyday in this world – in the news, in our jobs, in our communities. We can make a choice how we feel in our lives, even when bad things happen around us. We can surrender, we can be fearless and we can make a choice to be our best selves.

I am going to do my best to blog at least once a week while I’m gone – maybe even twice. But for the most part I’m staying technology free which is scary and exciting all at the same time. Be sure to follow here for updates 🙂

For more information on where I’m headed and what I’m doing Click Here
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No script

Over the last 6 months I feel like I have found a whole new meaning behind my teaching. I have become a teacher, rather than an instructor. Just yesterday someone told me about a class they took with Judith Lasater. They said that she was describing the difference between an instructor and a teacher. An instructor reads from a script, a teacher teaches from their own words, there own experience, they connect with their students. This is what has happened for me. I have let go of the script and I have became me, a teacher.

I have feared taking that next step in teaching. I have feared teaching the higher level. Who am I to sequence a powerful yoga class that students enjoy. Who am I to share my own experiences. Who am I to allow my students to open up to me or share their world with me, with themselves, right there on their mat.

Who am I not to do that?

Certain experiences in life can instruct us or teach us. When you buy something new it may comes with instructions. This is how you are “supposed” to use it. Sometimes you should stick to the script, but do you always have to? In some cases, yes, but in some scenarios when you use the script as a guideline and use life experiences, observations, teachings to step away from that script you may discover something new. This discovery could be life changing. It could be the difference between instructing and teaching.

The other thing I have learned is not all experiences are the same. Some teachings may resonate with you better than others. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept what doesn’t resonate, but maybe look deeper as to why it is affecting you negatively. It could be a fear, something pushing you out of your comfort zone, something that is offering a challenge that you are afraid to accept.

I hear many people say what I am teaching is not Yoga. I understand it may not align with ancient teaching of yoga, but I also understand that yoga can be described differently for everyone. One type of yoga may resonate with you, and another may not. Yoga means to “yoke” or to unite. The whole idea of yoga is to connect mind, body and spirit together. Your choice of how you do that is up to you. For some it is meditation, it is quiet, it is time to self reflect with the entire world shut off. For other’s it is dripping sweat and getting your butt kicked to the sound of Rihanna or Calvin Harris. Neither is wrong. We all find a different way to connect with our self. It will be a different journey for everyone.

Start somewhere, maybe even with a script. No matter where you start remember it is a long journey of ups, downs, egos, judgements, love, hate, but most importantly self discovery. I know myself more today than I ever have. I will continue to learn, I will continue to grow. I will continue to use a script as a guideline, but I will always use life experience to be my true Self and to continue to teach others to be theirs.

 

Self Battle

I’m in a constant battle with myself. My mind is on a continuous cycle of thoughts.  I feel like I come up with my best ideas when I am somewhere I don’t have a pen or can’t write it down. Why is it that when we are in our showers, on our yoga mats or sitting through a church service that these ideas run rampant through our minds?   I am a constant dreamer, but I find that when I am in front of a journal (or my blog for that matter), I find a sudden writer block. All those ideas I came up with when I had nowhere to write it down have disappeared into some locked space in my brain.  I turn to my mat often to quiet my mind of all the distractions and (hopefully) find clarity on certain thoughts or goals.

Last night I started another teacher training program. This one is for hot yoga (bikram), and just like previous training I was asked to complete a one page definition of what yoga is for me. Since I have had this task before just over a year ago I decided to go back and look at what I wrote. What I found is that in over the course of a year I have changed a lot. I have grown into my own skin so to speak. I started yoga as a physical practice, which I believe most do, but it has transitioned into a practice of my mind connected with my breath and my body.  I began to write my definition without thinking, I let it spill out. I am trying to take the organic approach on things lately, and not over think anything. Maybe this will help all those thoughts that have locked them self away to just spill out (or so I hope). This is what came to my mind on how feel yoga is for me:

“Finding peace within myself, allowing my breath to take control of my mind. Inhale. Exhale. That is yoga for me. Yoga has become my sanctuary for my body and mind to escape to. It is a space I give myself to focus on Self discovery, to focus on clarity. I originally came to yoga for the physical practice and that was what it continued to be for me until I enrolled in teacher training. I found a deeper connection through training, not only with my peers but with myself; someone who I had been afraid to become friends with, who I was afraid to be alone with.”

How true is this, “someone who I had been afraid to become friends with, who I was afraid to be alone with. ” Like I said, I am in a constant battle with myself. I have been afraid to be alone, afraid to be my own friend. I have discovered that being your own friend is one of the most important relationships you can have. If you don’t love yourself, how can anyone else have a relationship with you?  This is why I am content in my single life. I don’t think I am personally ready to let someone else love me, until I fully love myself. Whenever I think about this I turn back to Sex and the City and the ever wise Carrie Bradshaw, “But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”  It gives a heart warm feeling that let’s you know a relationship can’t be rushed. It has taken me 28 years to become my own friend. I am really starting to like the person who I am becoming, and I am enjoying this friendship.

Intention

Intentions. We all have them. Good ones, bad ones and sometimes we don’t even really acknowledge what our intention is right away. I never really thought about intentions until I was told to in yoga class. “Close your eyes, take a moment to set your intention for your practice.”  I also never knew how powerful this moment was until I really started to set intentions for my practice. I remember the first time I really felt an effect from it. I was in a class where the teacher told us to set our intention, generally the cue is to set it for someone who needs extra energy, even if that person is you. This time the teacher told us to set our intention towards someone that we thought negatively about, or someone we were mad at. In the 2 seconds I had to process that, I thought, “this is interesting.” I did it though. I set my intention for someone who was constantly on my mind, but not in a positive way. Someone who often made me upset. I set my energy towards that person in class, I was surprised by the results. After sixty minutes of sun A’s, sun B’s, standing, balancing, twisting, inverting and stretching I found myself completely light in my final savasana.

What I thought was sweat dripping down my face were tears. I was letting go. I felt so light and not angry at this person anymore. I felt content. It was the most amazing feeling. I kept with this trend my next few practices and each time I felt lighter and lighter, I let go more and more. I repeat, It was the most amazing feeling. I started to focus on my intentions more after this.

Not only did I set my intentions with greater focus, but I started making every movement with intention too. I started actually using my breath to guide my practice. The connection with intention became a big part of my practice. I had already completed sculpt teacher training, and my intention going into that training was to teach. I found after sculpt training I had a deeper connection with my practice, not necessarily ready to teach, but I loved what I was discovering about myself. This is when I had my moment of actually setting an intention in my class. It made me hungry for more self discovery, I finally saw the power of my yoga practice, not just the physical side of it. That is when I stepped into 200 hour power teacher training. This time my intention was different. I went into power training to learn more about the practice itself, more about who I am in this world and just maybe I would come out a teacher, but teaching was not my intent going in this time.

This training was emotional. It stirred up a lot of past feelings that have been burrowed for so long. Training allowed me to connect with other people that had similar pain, it allowed me/us to let go and be free of the past. We were able to make a connection with the present and move forward with intent.

I have now been teaching for just over a year and I am about to dive into another 200 hour teacher training. This time for hot yoga. My intention is much different this time. It is inevitable that I will continue to have self discovery in this training, but I also want to soak up every ounce of information I can on postures and the connection to our body and how the posture influences change or detoxification for our body.  Coming into this training as a teacher and knowing the classroom environment will give me a much different perspective this time. My goal is to fully immerse myself in training and utilize my vinyasa teacher voice to make my hot teacher voice come through earlier than it did in past training.

Power teacher training changed my life. It changed my perspective on many aspects of life and has allowed me to grow spiritually, emotionally and physically. Throwing yourself into something challenging, something that you may even fear is how you allow yourself to grow. Going in with an intention gives you a guide of what your objective is. It may change slightly, but it keeps you on track and gives you purpose. Find your intention. Move forward with intent. Do all with intention.

When life gives you a {__________}, how will you use it?

11 years ago I was given a yoga mat. It came from my mother. I decided to take one of her yoga classes she taught. Yoga was just starting to become a fitness go to, and I was a mere 17 years old, just trying something my mom was doing.  My mom has been in the fitness world for over 30 years, so as much as she thinks I don’t, I look at her for guidance with health and nutrition.  I remember my first class, I remember my first downward dog, I remember feeling so weak. My mind raced, it was not still, it was not calm. It had plans, events, thoughts, worries, pain, happiness, all rolling through at once. I couldn’t stop it. I wasn’t breathing, I was judging. How was that lady next to me (twice my age) holding this dang downward dog. I wanted to collapse, I wanted to run out. I didn’t like yoga.

But, I kept going. It got better. I could hold longer. I realized I wasn’t breathing. I noticed I was holding on too much in my upper body. I wasn’t using my bodies strength equally. I wasn’t using my core. I remember the first time I had a quiet mind in yoga. It was the first time I really felt the benefit of the practice, it was the first time I let go of the judgement that surrounded me.

I took a long break from yoga once I went to college. My mom continued to teach. I would make it to classes every so often, but it wasn’t part of my routine. I was too busy and didn’t think it was important enough to keep in my life. I kept lifting, playing hockey and I added running to my workout routine.  Running started to become a bigger part of my routine. It started with friend asking me to do a 5k, then a 10k, before I knew it I was running several half marathons and 10 miles races. My body was starting to feel it, and it needed something more, something different from all the running. My friend suggested yoga, so I decided to join her. This was just over two years ago, and I sit here today with just under a year of teaching experience. Walking into the yoga studio 2 years ago, once again grabbing my mat has made a world of a difference in my life. I have transformed personally in so many ways. I have grown into my own skin. I have decided to use my mat as my “getaway” and also as a tool to evolve into a teacher of the practice.

Life hands us many things. We all use what we are given differently. I chose to take my practice deeper and it has given me a new perspective in life. I have spoken with many people that want to try yoga, but there is a tiny bit of fear keeping them from the studio. I encourage you to eliminate that fear, step into a studio, challenge your fear. Maybe it’s not yoga for you. Maybe it is school or a new job, or maybe just a life goal you have set. When life hands you {_______},  how you will use it?

 

Self

In teacher training I learned a lot about Self discovery, that’s right Self, not self. Capital S means a connection with your true being, really understanding and knowing your true Self. I have had many Self moments lately. Last weekend I taught a free class at the St. Paul Union Depot to an amazing amount of new and seasoned yogis. It was an incredible experience to say the least (an experience I was honored to have, and experience where I was able to connect with my Self).

I had a woman come up to me after class and she told me the last time she was at the depot she was a little girl and she was with her mother who had since passed away. She remembered being there shopping with her mom. She began to tear up a little and said that during class she felt her mothers presence with her. It was a feeling of comfort and being in the moment that she had never felt on her mat until that exact moment. As an instructor it was a great story to hear and I was more than honored she shared it with me.

I have had many of my own moments over the last couple months. They have allowed me to let go and find my Self. With that I am starting to make many changes, one being my blog. I will still be writing, but my focus will be changing slightly. My goal is to bring the everyday things that create happiness in my life to my blog, in hopes it will send a new idea, challenge or happiness into your life. The big addition will be food! Yes, I love food. I think this is a hidden talent of mine that I don’t share nearly enough. So stay tuned for fun recipes that I usually just randomly throw together, and yes they randomly taste amazing!

xoxo

C

Be Still

Stop…… Just for a moment.

How difficult was that for you? How often are you just still? It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it can be the most powerful feeling.

This is how I end my classes. I tell my yoga students “be still just for a moment, give your body and your mind one minute of quiet, of silence, of stillness.” This can be really hard to do. I can tell which students are truly there in stillness and others that fight the quiet. To be still is completely rewarding for your body. It helps you recover, giving every muscle a little break. It also helps to give you that restart we often need in our chaotic lives.

I have noticed many teachers say this to their students. I am sure I picked it up from my training or my peers at some point because really it’s the most refreshing feeling that you have when you come out of that stillness.

I encourage you to find stillness with in your own body. Give yourself at least one minute, whether it is at the end of a workout or just sitting at your desk. Encourage yourself to be still. Let it help you to let go, to be refreshed.