This past weekend, we had a remarkable event at Bikram Yoga Hamburg; a seminar with Diane Ducharme. One of my main take aways from the weekend was in learning how to work smarter, not harder.
My father was born in Calabria, Italy. He is one of nine siblings. My kids and I, along with a couple of my siblings and their families were fortunate this past summer to be able to go with my dad and visit his hometown of Reggio, Calabria. Over the years, he has shared with us many stories of his childhood and of his journey from Italy to America, but to see it in real life and to try to imagine what it was like living his childhood in the way he did, was very humbling. It allowed me to understand that one of the biggest gifts he passed along to me was how to work hard and to appreciate the people that we surround ourselves with. Being one of nine siblings myself, I believe I had an extraordinary advantage in learning how to work within a community from the very early ages of my life. I look at how, within our large family community, we had to learn to share and cooperate. We had to learn who was in charge and how to trust and follow that lead. We had to do our part and sometimes more than our part. And as an older sibling, I also had to learn how to take lead in order to help out my parents with the younger kids and jobs around the house.
My dads' drive to work hard was driven mostly out of need to survive while he lived in Italy. Once in America, his survival was about learning how to make his way in a country as a teenager without knowing the language or the culture.
I have always known that I was fortunate in growing up the way I did. While, many things were a struggle for many reasons, I had an incredible opportunity to learn how to grow into myself because I was taught how to work hard and not give up.
As a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sibling, a friend, a teacher and a studio owner, I have always tried to give complete effort to the work that I do and the relationships I am in. I have found myself exhausted many times and simply unable to do my best because I was trying to be more than my best.
I've shared many times that I began my yoga practice in hopes of healing a knee injury. And I did do that in a short amount of time. But, what surprised me the most throughout my practice was the mental and emotional healing and growth that I gained. All of these benefits were gained through my willingness to show up and put the effort in.
This practice is one that we use to not only heal our bodies, but to heal ourselves from the inside out. We are using our bodies to make us stronger, more flexible and more balanced. As much I know this and teach this, I gained a much deeper understanding of what this means to living a more quality life by practicing my yoga in a way that is useful, not hurtful.
And it is by trying to do less. It is by working in a way that does not hurt my body. It is by listening to the words of the teacher, getting into set up correctly, keeping proper alignment, and then finding more depth which allows my body to open up. Then this allows me to be calmer, more trusting of myself and able to do more with less effort.
If I am willing to practice in a way that is honest and well for me, then I can accomplish great things, little by little, step by step. One of the most impactful things I heard from Diane this weekend was, "Differentiate between pain and discomfort. Pain is sharp. It stops us in our tracks and takes our breath away. Discomfort is change."
Next time you are in class, I invite you to really listen to the words and allow your body to practice in a way that is not hurtful to you, but healing. For many of us, this will be a great learning process, but one that I can promise will change the way you appreciate your practice and it will change the way you live your life.