How Do You Want To Feel?

OM4We’re coming to the new year. In the newsletter I’ve been asking people to focus on how 2015 felt, find words to describe the feelings, identify events and activities that were fun and activities that you’ll never do again. Setting intention is what I always focus on this time of the year.

While I work hard on staying in the moment, which can be hard for someone with anxiety, this year I’m purposefully looking ahead a bit. I’m starting to get focused on 2016 already.

Thanks to Danielle LaPorte I’m thinking about the new year a little differently this year. So often we’re thinking about what we failed at that we want to do better-lose that 15 pounds, or what we want to quit-smoking, eating junk food, etc. This year I’m focusing on how I want to feel.

It’s so funny that in my 15th year of teaching this is finally my focus, because in some subtle way this is always what yoga practice is about. Yoga is never about what poses you can do. It’s always about what happens when you practice. Where does your brain go? What sensations arise in your heart space.  What’s happening in your body? Those are the things that are most important when Om3we’re on the mat.

Really, though, aren’t they the most important things as we walk through life?

A few years ago I took a bunch of workshops with the inspiring Erich Schiffmann. There are two things I’ve taken away from his teachings.  In one training there were a lot of people very interested in the technical details of poses. They wanted to know exactly where the weight should be, exactly which way the toes should be pointed and Erich’s answer was “How does it feel? How do you feel you should balance?” That was the ah-ha for me. That’s the point of yoga- How Do I Want To Feel? The point isn’t all the details.

We teachers know that you can learn down-dog from ten different teachers and you’ll learn ten different ways to practice down-dog. It’s not about the right way to do it. It’s about how it feels. You’ll find that you gravitate to the teachers that make you feel the way you want to, not the ones that are most technically proficient.

A few years later I took  another workshop with Erich. We worked hard, but didn’t move fast and didn’t do advanced poses. Erich is a whiz at guiding you to get deeper, lift higher, increase the intensity in even the most basic poses. He teaches a true all-levels class, guiding beginners in the basics, while challenging the more advanced students to open even more, lengthen with each breath, relax even deeper. I try to teach all-level classes like Erich does. A class isn’t about what the teacher teaches, but how the yogi practices. The teacher is just guiding. The practice is all about you.

And that brings me back to 2016. It’s not about what happens to me in 2016. It’s not about the events I create or attend. It’s not about the money I make or spend, the weight I lose or gain or even the illnesses I fight. It’s about how I feel in each and every one of those experiences. I get to choose that. I get to choose how deep I go, how high I lift, how gentle or intense it all is.

So, I’m meditating and journaling about how I want to feel. How about you? How do you want to feel in 2016?


If you’re in the Lawrence, KS area I’m teahing New Year’s Yoga where we’re going to focus on letting go of 2015 and opening up to 2016, We’ll meditate on How Do You Want To Feel and work on embracing that feeling body, mind and spirit through our practice. Sunday December 27th at 4p. We’re meeting at the gorgeous Cider Gallery. Bring a mat and a friend! If you need a mat, let me know.  Also, I’m working with people long distance. Emil for  more info!




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