• Mysticism

    Post-Eclipse Manifestation Journal

    Hello, everyone!

    I wanted to take a little time today to reflect and make some goals for the remainder of August, especially since the eclipse and new moon has recently happened. I encourage you all to join me in reflecting and goal-setting too! You can answer the questions I raise on your own, but I’d also love if you share some of them in the comments below.

    How do I want to feel until the next new moon?

    I want to feel content.

    I’ve been complaining a lot since there has been loud construction at my house which has disrupted my daily flow, but I want to learn how to deal with distractions like this. The reality is that life is full of distractions, so that’s where my meditation and yoga practice gets applied to my daily life. Meditation and yoga are tools, and two of the limbs of Yoga, turn into yourself completely to reach Samadhi, or bliss.

    What do I need?

    I need to continue moving toward my goals.

    Those goals include getting a job, teaching yoga, making my room my sanctuary, and completing competitive grad school applications. I was making a lot of progress until the construction started because I have allowed the disruptions to disrupt my inner state of being. Whenever I start working, I will be more tired and I will have less time to work on other goals that I have, thus, I’d like to maintain sufficient energetic movement as much as possible for the next 30 days.

    Intentions to repeat to manifest

    1. I am content where I am at.
    2. All distractions slip away.
    3. I can balance all of the goals that I want to achieve.
    4. I energetically move toward my goals.

    I’m going to repeat these intentions during meditation, which I have completely fallen off of the wagon with. Ideally, I’d like to do it in the morning, when I wake up, but I spend most mornings on social media instead. I will try to replace social media with an intentional meditation instead though!

    What are some of your intentions until the next new moon?

    xx Vic

    This journal post is inspired by Well+Good’s post as well as The Journey Junkie’s post.

  • me sitting on a tree stump
    Speaking My Mind

    Life Update: Jobs, Doctoral Programs, and Teaching Yoga!

    I wanted to take some time to update y’all on my life because although this whole website is about my life, I don’t really post details of my everyday life anymore. Some interesting and cool things that I’ve been writing about since my senior year of college as well as in my oracle reading posts have been happening though!

    As of this week, I have two job interviews. One of them is today, and I have another one next week. The cool thing is that I’m actually interested in these jobs! It’s so exciting to have some potential opportunities in jobs that I actually want to do. I spent so much time my junior and senior year trying to put myself into a box of what I thought I was supposed to do and want, but it didn’t fit at all and it also didn’t feel good. While I am still on my dharma journey, or I’m still figuring out my purpose in life, I feel more excited about the jobs I’ve been applying to, and perhaps that’s translating into getting some interviews! I’m interested in research jobs because I’m a naturally curious and studious person, and I believe I’d have the most content life doing research. This brings me to my next update…

    …I am officially preparing to attend a doctoral program next fall! I am aiming to finish my GRE books by the beginning of September to provide ample time to practice until I take the test sometime in November. I reached out to my mentor from my first gender studies class, and she was super helpful! She’s doing an art history PhD program now and she knows someone who’s doing a gender studies PhD program that she’s going to put me in contact with. I’m eager to converse with the other woman about her experiences in the field thus far! I am still a little wary that I won’t be prepared in time for the applications, but I’m going to do my best by making some deadlines and goals for myself.

    The last update is that I have an audition for a yoga job at a studio near me! I’m excited and nervous, but hopefully, it’ll go really well. The MindBody App is an app that most yoga studios use for scheduling, and I’m listed as a teacher for the class I’m teaching, aka my audition. It was surprising and awesome to see my name there! Then, next week, I have the community class I’m teaching in NY, which will be good practice for me.

    The discipline and structure I’ve incorporated into my life, as well as the insight provided by my oracle cards, have been really helpful toward having these opportunities. The oracle cards have encouraged me to look at my life in a more positive light, and because they are so useful for reflection, I feel like they’ve facilitated the growth and positivity that I’ve harnessed. Daily yoga classes at a studio have also been helpful because it forces me to get up and start my day. I’m also forced to be around other people, which is super important for me to stay in a more positive headspace. Then, I added the library and Starbucks to my routine to do my GRE studying, PhD program research, and job applications. This forced me to get out of the house and encouraged me to focus, which has allowed me to make some progress towards my goals, which makes me feel better overall!

    So, that’s what has been going on with me these days. It’s nothing too crazy, nevertheless, it’s exciting and rewarding. Hopefully, some of these interview opportunities will become job opportunities, but if they don’t, that’s okay! I’ll have other interview opportunities coming my way. In the meantime, I want to be patient, be grateful for where I am now, and accept what is. I want to practice santosha, which is the Sanskrit word for contentment. It’s so hard to be content when things are going awry, but that’s when it’s most important to be content. Find contentment in discontent.

    So, I want to know…how can you practice more santosha in your life? I feel like this is a hard question, but it’s important to ponder it.

    xx Vic

  • Mysticism

    No Matter What, Stay Open – An Oracle Card Reading

    I’m excited to share a second oracle spread reading with you all! If you’re interested in your own card reading, please email me at hello@unziptheselips.com or comment below!

    Anyway…I’ve been feeling a little more confident in myself and more positive this week. Despite my more optimistic attitude, I value the insight that my Ganesha cards provide. Regardless of whether you believe in their mystical properties or not, I feel like these cards require me to be introspective, which is always important. So, let’s commence with the reading!

    Whispers of Ganesha Oracle Cards - A Spread
    Whispers of Ganesha Oracle Cards – A Spread

    The first card, Achievement, represents where I am in my life right now. I was a little surprised by this card because I tend to dismiss or undermine my achievements, which include graduating from college as well as graduating from yoga teacher training. This card reminded me that I have achieved many things in my short life thus far, and it reminded me that I will continue to achieve.

    The second card, Surrender, represents my next task. I smiled when I saw this card because I’ve been devoting many of my yoga classes to this theme since it comes up in my life frequently:

    I want to want a conventional 9-5 job in business, but deep down, I want to earn a PhD. I want to pursue a PhD in economics because it seems practical and “safer,” but in reality, I want to earn a PhD in gender studies.

    So, I’ve already been practicing surrendering to who I am. I’ve also been practicing surrendering to where I am in my life. Instead of being miserable about not working and being home all of the time, I’ve changed my perspective and I’ve taken advantage of this free time, which honestly, I may not have again until I retire. I’ve opted to go to the library or to Starbucks to devote my time to job applications, studying for the GRE, and looking up doctoral programs. Whenever I start working, I’ll have less time to focus on future academic plans, thus, I might as well do as much as I can now. While I feel like I’ve made significant progress in regards to surrendering, this card is indicating that I can surrender in other aspects of my life as well.

    Ganesha is pictured relaxing on this card, which I may need to do a little bit more of. I have been stressing myself out a teeny bit because I’m balancing these tasks that would enable me to reach my future goals, so this card is a reminder that while it’s important to do the work, I should also allow myself the opportunity to surrender by relaxing. This can include spending time with friends and family as well as spending some time on myself.

    The third card represents an obstacle I have to overcome, which for me is Openness. I agree that this is an obstacle I need to overcome because at the yoga studio that I’ve currently been going to, I have not talked to anyone. When I initially took classes there, I told myself I was going to talk to instructors after the classes I took with them. Well, three weeks later and I have not talked to any of them. I’m not mad at myself about it, but I suppose this card is a reminder that without being open to people, my opportunities are limited. The card description in the manual for this deck was about the importance of human relationships and how being open with others is valuable. I do understand its value but I don’t know…I feel like I don’t know what to say or ask and a lot of times the instructors are talking to regulars after class. I feel intimidated. So…since I only have about a week and a half left of attending this studio before my membership expires, I might as well try to interact with the instructors a bit more. Even if it’s just me introducing myself to them and thanking them personally for leading the class.

    The fourth card, Steadfastness, is my strength and resource for overcoming my Openness obstacle. By persisting, by striving toward my goals, I will need to open up because networking is one of the most powerful tools for achievement. I find it interesting that this card is now not something I need to work on, but it’s a resource I have. I suppose it’s because I’ve devoted most of the summer toward unwavering. Even when I want to give up, I persist. It still is a lot of work to do this but some days it’s easier, especially when I surrender.

    I initially thought it’d be easier to be steadfast when you resist forces, but similarly to how I approach meditation, it’s easier to be steadfast when you surrender to what is and to who you are.

    It’s very interesting how these two themes work together. I find it so interesting that I developed a yoga class to these themes! It’s a community class at the yoga school I graduated from, and I’m really excited about it. I want to continue to create yoga classes as if I have a teaching gig, and I also want to teach them, even if only to myself, to my mom, or to stuffed animals. Perhaps I will film some classes to share on YouTube. Ideally though, I’d rather teach people in person because that is what I find to be the most powerful.

    The final card represents my new goal or outcome, which is Embrace. This can take several different interpretations including, by overcoming my Openness obstacle, I will be able to embrace others. This doesn’t mean to embrace them physically necessarily, but to embrace them into my life. Perhaps I will make a mentor or a friend by being open. It is important to embrace the people around me.

    Another interpretation could be that openess is indicative of fully embracing myself. By connecting with others, it means I am more confident in the future I want for myself…which means I am being more true to who I am. I am surrendering to who I am.

    I will definitely be taking the insight from these cards into my life over the next couple of weeks. These cards have facilitated changes in my life and they have provided interesting journal prompts. In addition to using these cards as a method for introspection, I also love using them as themes for yoga classes I make.

    Do any of the cards that I pulled this week resonate with you? What is an obstacle you want to overcome this week?

    Comment below and let’s chat!

    xx Vic

    I realized today that this post, which was supposed to post this weekend, was never posted. I believe it’s a WordPress scheduling error, which is surprising because I’ve been using WordPress for five years and I’ve never had an issue before…anyway, my apologies. I will be posting three posts this week to compensate!

  • Speaking My Mind

    Steadfastness

    Be focused on your purpose and know that your effort isn’t futile. Don’t give up.

    This card from my Ganesha oracle deck makes me emotional every time I pull it, despite how often I’ve pulled it (which is a lot). This card feels extremely applicable to my life at the current moment because I have been struggling with questions of my purpose and prosperity again, which make me feel like giving up. I’ve been crying about how futile anything I do seems, but…whenever I get this card, I remember I have to refocus and shift my perspective. As one of my new yoga teachers has said, “like attracts like.” If I’m applying for jobs and thinking “what’s the point? I’m not even gonna get an interview,” I’m definitely not going to get an interview with my attitude.

    It seems so obvious but it’s sooo hard for me to actually do. It’s hard for my girlfriend too, who is constantly grounding me when I get too caught up in my head with my pessimism.

    In fact, my girlfriend helped motivate me to actually accomplish some of my seemingly daunting goals! I made a list of eight graduate school programs I want to research more and plan to apply to. I also researched yoga studios local to me to contact to try to get a yoga job.

    I felt pretty excited with these small accomplishments because I suddenly felt like my big dreams were feasible. I have a ton of more work to do but I’ve made some small steps in the right direction.

    I am excited to continue practicing steadfastness and to make more progress toward my goals! I’m definitely going to make the theme of the community yoga class I’m teaching in August about steadfastness…and whenever I get to audition for a studio, I will use that class as well! It’d help ground me and inspire me while I teach because I feel so connected with the concept.

    What does steadfastness mean to you? How can you apply steadfastness in your life? Please share below!

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Decisions, Decisions

    I’m now a certified vinyasa yoga instructor! I’m so proud of myself and so grateful to have been able to earn this certification. It has been life-changing and eye-opening.

    I’ve been wanting to write about my experience for forever, but the last two weeks have been unusually busy. Two weeks ago it was July 4th weekend and I was studying for my yoga final and spending some much-needed quality time with my girlfriend. Last week was the final week of my training and then we had a party to celebrate on Friday. Saturday I attended my step-grandma’s nephew’s wedding (weird? I know, but it was fun!) and then my parents left for a 10-day vacation. My weeks aren’t usually this eventful.

    Now that I’ve graduated both from college and this training program, my days have slowed down a bit, thus I’ve resumed the arduous and depressing task of applying for jobs! Also, yesterday I spontaneously purchased a new member pass to a local yoga studio to become more acquainted with the yoga community. I also am hoping to teach at this yoga studio. I have some other studios in mind too though in case it doesn’t pan out.

    Something needs to pan out though because I desperately need to work. The stress that comes with job applications has unfortunately returned, despite it being managed better due to Yoga as well as my wonderful girlfriend’s insight. I’m so pleased I got a month pass to attend an unlimited amount of yoga classes though because it will provide some much-needed structure until I figure out the job stuff. Plus I love yoga and I am trying different styles of yoga through this studio! It’s awesome.

    Some things I’ve been thinking about lately, other than jobs, have been doctorate programs and whether to create a website just for yoga stuff.

    In regards to the first thing…I still have to look at program curriculums but right now, I am interested in pursuing a doctorate in Women’s and Gender Studies. I feel nervous for being interested in that type of program though because it’s a relatively new field and aside from academia, I imagine job prospects to be bleak. That may not be the case but considering I have been having a difficult time getting a job with a degree in economics as well as WGS, I expect to deal with similar or worse challenges if I specialize in WGS only. On the other hand, because it’s a new field, I could be part of groundbreaking work such as helping to establish it as a notable field as well as being one of the first teachers in WGS to have studied WGS (currently, most WGS professors have diverse backgrounds of study ranging from Africana studies to economics to sociology).

    The other thing I’ve been pondering about is the development of a professional website. This website that I’ve been using for four or five years now is quite personal, so I feel uncomfortable sharing it with people that I know and using it to advertise my business…it’s not a business website anyway, it’s my personal website. I should probably make a professional yoga website but websites are not cheap and as I’ve mentioned before, I need a job.

    The lack of a job is making me nervous for next month because I don’t know what I will do. Will I be working a 9-5 an hour away from home? When will I have time to do yoga then? Will I get a job that will force me to relocate? How can I advertise for my yoga services if I can’t afford to make the website and if I have a job and can afford to make the website, how will I provide services if I’m working full-time?

    I’m uncertain when I should invest money to make money and when I should save it I guess. I mean..I invested money to get the training so maybe I should save it now and make a free yoga website until I am able to upgrade? Any thoughts?

    I keep revisiting my dream life scenario where I have my PhD so I am able to conduct research and teach, and then also teach yoga. To achieve this dream life though, I’ll definitely have to undergo some uncomfortable shifts of time-management and I’ll also have to do things I don’t enjoy. Or…as what Yoga philosophy argues…I may not expect to enjoy it but I should find contentment in what I’m doing regardless.

    I really want to write posts about yoga, which may be more suitable for a yoga-focused website. One cool thing though is that I will be able to write for a yoga teacher’s website! I was introduced to her through the famous yoga Facebook group I always mention and she was looking for guest writers! Whenever my article is posted on her site, I’ll let y’all know!

    xx Vic

  • Mysticism

    I Am Where I Need to Be (An Oracle Card Reading)

    A couple of months ago, when I was at the beginning of my yoga journey, I had asked in the yoga Facebook group I’m part of about tarot cards. I was interested in learning more about them and possibly integrating them into my practice. As someone who is not particularly spiritual, I wanted to learn about different spiritual practices. The members of the group responded that in order to get tarot cards, it is recommended that you go in person and that you purchase the cards that call to you. Well, I don’t frequent spiritual shops, in fact, I’ve never been to one, so I looked on Amazon for a couple of days to see what types of decks are available, but then I forgot about it and moved on…

    Until I was in the back of the cluttered East Meets West with my girlfriend, looking at crystals and books. It was then when I came across an amazing deck of cards that seemingly chose me. The cards honor the Hindu god, Ganesha, who has the body of a man but he has an elephant head.

    Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards by Angela Hartfield
    Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards by Angela Hartfield

    I was drawn to these particular cards because I had learned about Lord Ganesha in my yoga training. I found the tales about him and how he got his elephant head rather amusing thus, I was very attracted to this deck. I checked on Amazon to see if the cards were cheaper there, which they weren’t. The cards were actually the same price, and out of 103 ratings, it had 5 stars. Then I immediately purchased the deck.

    When I returned home, I eagerly opened the cards up and read the manual (which I believe is rather thorough and well-written). I became more excited about the deck when I read that Ganesha is revered for removing obstacles to allow people to achieve success. He is also a god of cleverness, learning, and intelligence. I did not know this beforehand but it made me feel like I needed this deck because of where I currently am at in my life AKA a recent college graduate who is still figuring out what to do now that I’ve graduated.

    One of the suggested spreads called, Ganesha’s Horseshoe Spread, is precisely about discerning what your next step is and what obstacles are in your way, so I did that one. Interestingly, the cards I pulled were topics I write about on my blog all of the time.

    Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards Horseshoe Spread
    Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards Horseshoe Spread

    (Underneath is my wooden picture of Baymax from Big Hero 6, so don’t mind that. Aren’t these cards beautiful though?!)

    The first card, which for me is “Positive Outlook,” represents where I am in my life now. While I always struggle with maintaining a positive outlook similarly to everyone else, I believe that I have made great strides in achieving this as a more permanent state of mind. I’ve been working on quieting my negative outlook by meditating and/or using breathing techniques. By changing my outlook on life, I’ve also been inspiring others to change their outlook. A recent example is when my dad was complaining about a meeting he had the next day, and he was already saying it was going to be horrible. I suggested that he change his perspective because if he went in with that mindset, it definitely would be horrible. I didn’t think he would heed my advice at all, but the next day he surprised me and told me he tried what I had said and his meeting actually went well! It was a cool and inspiring moment.

    The second card that I pulled is what my next step or task is, which is “Perseverance.” This resonated with me because my mind has been so focused on my previous “failures,” which makes me want to give up entirely.

    Despite applying to at least thirty jobs this summer, I have not even had an invitation for a phone interview. Why bother applying to jobs then? What’s the point of this yoga teacher training if I’m not part of a local yoga community? Is it just another avenue for interminable failure? Is it just another degree where I still won’t be able to get a job?

    It is important for me to maintain my positive outlook so I can continue to persevere, which would look something like this…

    Okay, so I haven’t had any job interviews yet. SO WHAT? When this training is over, I’ll buckle down and keep applying. I will apply to jobs I actually want to do. I will get a yoga teaching job too. I will go to different yoga studios and try out their classes and find my place somewhere. It is an accomplishment and a blessing to be able to have my Bachelor’s as well as a yoga teaching license. They will provide me with opportunities I will otherwise not have. I will keep going because I have all of these skills and so much knowledge, and it’d be a waste to not share it with others!

    The third card represents an obstacle I have to overcome, which for me is “Nurture.” When I first flipped this card over, I thought that it meant I needed to overcome my family. To me, this could mean that I need to worry less about how they perceive me and that I need to have difficult conversations with them when/if necessary to be visible. When I read the instruction manual’s description of what the card meant though, I realized the card could be referring to an obstacle that is greater than my family. The card represents taking care of yourself before taking care of others and being more resourceful and practical. I feel like this description is applicable to my life as well as how I interpreted the card because I have been rather exhausted lately with the intensive yoga training. While I have had some alone time…it hasn’t been sufficient because when I’m not doing yoga, I want to spend time with my family or with my girlfriend. So…I will work more on nurturing myself which means to prioritize myself, and that can be expressed by overcoming obstacles I encounter with my family.

    The fourth card indicates that my strength and resource for overcoming obstacles and for discerning my next step is “Cultivation.” Without reading the meaning of the card in the manual, I thought that this card was about how I need to focus more on what I want to cultivate in my life than on what I cannot do, which relates to the previous cards I described. The manual gave an interesting description of this card though, which I think is valuable to me as well. The manual describes this card as indicating how music can heal, encourage, and nurture the soul. The manual recommends listening to soothing music to inspire me and to gain more clarity about what I am creating in my life. For anyone who has read my blog and has seen the music I include with poems and stories and/or knows me, my taste in music is not calming. It is the complete opposite. I’m just a sucker for gravel-y voices, screaming, emotional lyrics, and heavy drums, what can I say?

    Regardless, it may be beneficial to integrate calming music into my daily routine. We’ll see what happens!

    The last card tells me what my new focus or outcome is, and mine is “Acceptance.” This kinda surprised me because while this is something that is certainly important to me, considering it is a major theme of my blog and in my life, I thought I had achieved it. But…upon a second reflection, maybe I haven’t.

    I’ve been primarily focused on what I don’t have when comparing myself to everyone else: I don’t have a job opportunity, I don’t have any interviews, I haven’t taken the GRE’s, I don’t have a clue what I want to study for grad school, if I even want to go to grad school…I don’t live on my own, I don’t have a car, I don’t have a clean room. I’m not hanging out with my friends in my spare time and I’m not doing the summer activities I want to do, while everyone else is. I don’t have any answers to questions anyone asks me about my aspirations!

    Or at least I don’t think I do.

    I’ve tried to refrain from social media to reduce the comparison trap, but lately, I’ve been spending my spare time on social media. How does that make sense?? Of course I’d be complaining about what I don’t have and how I don’t have any answers to my life when all I’m doing in my spare time is mindlessly scrolling through what everyone else is doing.

    So, I need to stop. I need to focus on accepting where I am now, and only focus on myself. That’s how I’m going to get to wherever I need to be. Plus, it’ll make me happier overall.

    Even though it may feel bleak when I wonder how I will achieve success, and what that success will even look like, it’s only bleak because I’m not practicing the most yogic lifestyle. I will heed the advice from my card reading as I make these changes.

    I decided that instead of looking at Instagram first thing when I will wake up, I will pull one card and gain some insight into what I should focus on for that day. I will make that card my daily intention. Then, whenever it feels right to do a horseshoe spread again, I will do it and I will write about my experience.

    What obstacles do you feel like you need to overcome to achieve a new outcome? Please let me know in the comments below!

    If you are interested in a card reading, comment below or email me at yoga@unziptheselips.com!

    xx Vic

     

     

     

  • Speaking My Mind

    Doing My Dharma (Rat-Race Chronicles)

    I’m taking the train instead of driving today, which is pretty nice because I can relax and write a little bit about what’s been on my mind lately.

    The yoga training program has been exhausting me, thus I missed writing this week. I also have been really missing my girlfriend. We have conflicting schedules at the moment so we only get to see each other for about three hours once or twice a week. I realize this is more contact than some relationships get but regardless, it’s still difficult.

    In addition to these emotional and physical stressors, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do after this training more because the graduation date is near. I’ve also been thinking about what I need to do to support myself. I want to apply to part-time positions and to teach yoga on the side while I apply to graduate schools.

    I’ve really been procrastinating the graduate program part, not because I don’t want to go to grad school but because I wish I didn’t want to go to grad school. I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work, regardless of the field I pursue. It’s also going to take a lot of work to get into a program. My girlfriend believes I’m afraid, which I definitely am…so this is where the “capital-Y, Yoga,” as my instructor calls it, comes in. I need to start taking the lessons I’ve been learning through Yoga philosophy and my asana practice into my everyday life, particularly into my dharma.

    Dharma is a Sanskrit word that means something along the lines of purpose or duty. Right now, my short-term dharma is to do the work to figure out what my next move is. Additionally, from my perspective right now, I believe my over-arching dharma is to teach.

    Next week I only have two days of yoga training so I will have an ample amount of time to study for my exam as well as to apply for job opportunities and take my higher education more seriously. Next Sunday is my deadline for graduate program research. I want to find three programs I am interested in.

    Is there anything you’ve been procrastinating that you want to work on too? Let me know in the comments below!

    xx Vic

  • A woman doing camel pose on a yoga mat in an apartment.
    Yoga

    Yogi-in-Training: Cultivating Confidence

    I wrapped up my first week of yoga teacher training on Friday, and tomorrow I am beginning week two. Thus far, the training has been an emotional experience because I keep having to confront my low-confidence. The areas where my confidence has been challenged the most are 1) inversions, or poses where your head is below your heart, and 2) teaching.

    I’ve noticed just in my first week of training how most of the time, whether it be in asanas (poses) or in teaching, confidence is essential to success. While physical ability and knowledge are important too, confidence is mandatory. I think this holds true in most areas of life.

    This theme of “confidence” became apparent on the second day of training when I was trying to do an L-handstand. First of all, I did not expect myself to do any types of handstands throughout this training, but I surprised myself by trying it and successfully doing it on the first day with the guidance of the instructor. On Thursday, I attempted to get into the inversion on my own, considering that I’ve been executing it everyday with the help of someone. Unfortunately, when everyone was doing inversions easily, I became nervous and afraid to do it on my own. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I was strong enough, I just didn’t feel confident. Eventually, the instructor helped me but I spent the remainder of the class silently crying. I was upset that I was too afraid to do something I know how to do on my own. On the last day of training that week, during the inversion portion, I had the instructor help me the first time and the second time I got into the inversion on my own!

    The doubt I have in my abilities is probably a combination of the unfamiliarity I have with the poses as well as the intimidation I feel toward the challenging postures. A majority of the class consists of dance students, so they are probably more comfortable with contorting their bodies into different shapes and they are also more comfortable with physical challenges. Although I’ve been practicing yoga daily, I haven’t even been doing it for a year yet and aside from yoga, I have not had to be this in-tune with my body. I spent most of college not doing any physical activity. Before college, I played and taught tennis, but that type of physical exertion is so different from dance and yoga.

    The second time my confidence was challenged was when I taught my first mini class on sun salutations. Once I thought I messed up in my instruction, my lack of confidence consumed me, causing the rest of my instruction to be quiet and full of uncertainty. I know from my experience with my thesis, job, and public speaking courses that I gain confidence from being an expert and with tons of practice. By the end of the training, I expect to be a confident and loud-spoken teacher.

    For my first week of training, I recognize how everything I’m doing is out of my comfort zone, but I am doing it anyway. That in itself is admirable, and I need to give myself more credit. In fact, on the first day of training, one of the dancers found out I wasn’t a dancer so she asked me why I was doing the yoga training. I don’t know if she was asking from a place of cruelty like…why bother doing yoga if you aren’t a dancer? Or if she was asking simply because she just wanted to know how I found out about it and what drew me in but…it’s cool that I don’t have a dance background because I bring something unique to the group as well as to future classes I teach.

    I am proud of myself for continuing to try things I’m scared of and for having an adventurous spirit. I’ve never followed an expected path such as being a dancer with a side gig as a yoga instructor or studying economics with a math/finance/stat/accounting/business minor. I studied economics and women’s and gender studies, and I’ve never met anyone else with that combination before. I’m also a “normal” person (a non-dancer) that is aspiring to be a yoga instructor because I wanted to learn more and deepen my own practice that has transformed my life and continues to transform my life. That’s amazing.

    Anyway…I want to write a blog at the end of every week to reflect and to set an intention for the upcoming week. I’m doing this specifically for the yoga training to ensure that I gain the most from my experience, but perhaps I’ll continue to do it afterward too.

    My intention for the second week is to practice confidence and to meditate on the confidence I want to cultivate. I also want to practice teaching sun salutations and study the asanas so I feel more comfortable with them from a teacher’s perspective.

    Do you have any reflections for this past week? What are your intentions for this week?

    xx Vic

  • Yoga

    Living with Uncertainty

    Despite how heavy my foot was on the gas, it felt like we were driving in slow-motion. I was weaving around the cars in my way and tailgating them as my dad clutched his side and dry heaved into a plastic bag. I had never driven so recklessly and aggressively.

    I pulled to the front of the emergency room and he pulled himself out, hobbling toward the door. I quickly parked in the deck and with shaky hands, I put on my sweatshirt and sprinted to the ER after him. He was already inside, sitting in a wheelchair and checking himself in when I arrived. He had stopped shouting in pain and was relatively calm as he sat there.

    They told him a room would be available in a few minutes as they wheeled him to the side to wait. Suddenly, his calm expression broke into one of agony and his mouth opened wide to verbally release the torture his body was causing him. I rubbed his back and reminded him to breathe deeply, hoping it would pacify him. It did not. He continued to cry and shout in the waiting room while people checked in. Then he started vomiting into a plastic bag. I got him tissues to wipe his face and I asked the administrator when the room would be ready. I was impatient at this point.

    Fifteen minutes later, a nurse slowly meandered over and wheeled him to the room he would spend the next six hours in. Ironically, it was the same room he had spent nine hours in, the same time last year. That time was for a different emergency though.

    After several hours, multiple doses of pain medication, and many tests, the doctor diagnosed him with kidney stones. He was able to pass it in the hospital and be released the same day.

    Life is obviously uncertain, but it didn’t use to scare me as much as it does now. My cousin’s death has completely transformed the way I perceive the world and it has caused me to raise questions that I otherwise wouldn’t have asked or even considered. While I feel like I have more compassion and gratitude for life, I have also come to recognize as life as being very fragile. This has caused me to develop fears that I did not use to have. Some of the fears are silly while others make more sense but… I haven’t seemed to overcome them all yet.

    The terrifying experience I had with my dad on Monday as well as the volcanic tragedy in Guatemala, among many other tragedies that people experience, has caused me to reexamine the reality that life is fragile.

    I had shared this realization with the grief group I used to attend about two years ago now. Many of my peers had solemnly nodded their heads in agreement as I shared my concerns and worries about this fact. The therapist, however, raised the question: how do you deal with uncertainty?

    One method for coping that my peers came up with included acknowledging the challenges we had faced previously and that anything that comes next can be overcome too. Another idea was to focus on the present rather than worrying about what might never occur.

    Since I’ve been learning more about yoga philosophy for my yoga training, I’ve learned another effective method for challenging my fears is to be in a state of mind that is described in the Yoga Sutras, which is upeksha, or “indifference.” I learned about this idea in an article from The Yoga Journal written by Frank Jude Boccio titled, “Calm within.”

    Boccio deems it is more apt to regard upeksha as “equanimity” rather than “indifference.” He defines equanimity as “a state of even-minded openness that allows for a balanced, clear response to all situations, rather than a response born of reactivity or emotion.” He adds that it is a balanced state of mind and heart. It allows one to experience pleasure and pain without clinging to it or condemning it. In other words, equanimity is about experiencing life and different situations without judging it as good or bad and therefore, maintaining an emotional detachment from it.

    For example, my dad had kidney stones and needed to be hospitalized. It’s not good or bad, it just happened. He was able to get the care he needed to alleviate his pain through hospitalization, and he was working from home that day which enabled me to drive him there. So..while it may seem unfortunate that he had to be hospitalized for this condition, it was actually perfect timing and everything panned out well. In the moment, however, it was scary and awful but it needed to happen this way. If he was at work, he would’ve been taken to a hospital that was further away and it would, therefore, take the rest of my family longer to get to him.

    Equanimity is also about realizing that while you can’t be responsible for nor can you control what happens in life, you can control your reactions. I controlled my reaction by driving him to the hospital, and I let the doctors take control of the situation.

    The last aspect of equanimity as Boccio describes it is that you have to open your heart while simultaneously letting go of expectations and attachment to results. This aligns with what I’ve been reading in the Bhagavad Gita, which is Hindu scripture traditionally written in Sanskrit. It is part of several books of epic poetry.

    The god, Krishna, tells a warrior, Arjuna, that it is important to act for the action’s sake, and not for the results, whether that be success or failure. This equanimity is yoga. (The physical aspect of yoga that is the most popularized is only one limb of yoga philosophy. Yoga is actually a more comprehensive philosophy with eight limbs).

    I believe this type of mindset and state of being would be beneficial to me and it is something that I would like to practice in both my asana practice as well as in meditation. This way I can keep a level head when difficult situations emerge and I can also live with less fear than what I live with now.

    How do y’all feel about equanimity? How do you live with uncertainty?

    xx Vic

  • Yummy Recipes

    Chickpea Sandwhich – Healthy Lunch On-The-Go

    This sandwich makes an excellent and satisfying vegan lunch! Plus, it takes only 20-30 min to prepare, and there is no cooking involved! I actually made it for the first time when I was on a time-crunch in the morning, and it was so easy to make. It’s essentially a vegan alternative to tuna sandwiches, which I love deeply but I don’t eat them anymore since my mom told me tuna has high mercury levels so I should refrain from eating it.

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    Aside from this being delicious and akin to a tuna sandwich, I also love it because there is no meat involved yet it is packed with protein! I haven’t been cooking meat lately because the last couple of times I did, most of it ended up in the trash. The meat was not as fresh as it was supposed to be. I have also been finding the preparation of meat severely unpleasant. I’ve since decided that I will primarily eat vegetarian when I am home and when I go out, I will consume meat if I want to. This has been a great solution thus far, but when I move back with my parents in a couple of weeks, I may consume more meat because my mom may prepare it for me. Otherwise, though, I’d like to eat more of a vegetarian diet when I’m responsible for my food.

    Chickpea Sunflower Sandwich Recipe – How I made it:

    I never follow recipes exactly, which may be why I have some mishaps sometimes. For the chickpea mixture though, I followed the recipe to a T except I used regular mayo instead of vegan mayo. This wasn’t due to anything other than being unsure where vegan mayo is in the grocery store and also pretty certain that it would be more expensive than if I just got a giant jar of regular mayo.

    Oh, I also squeezed some lemon and added garlic powder and basil to the mixture because it sounded like a good idea, and it was! So I guess I didn’t follow the recipe exactly…

    The second time I made the mixture is what is pictured above and I didn’t use lettuce because I didn’t have any at the time, but the first time I had kale so I used that in addition to tomatoes. I also didn’t add onions the second time I made it…if you like onions, add them! Otherwise, it’s not necessary. It’s delicious regardless!

    I’ve never made the garlic herb sauce they recommend to try, but I’d like to try it! There wasn’t any dill at the grocery store when I went though, hence why I added lemon and garlic to the mixture instead.

    Please let me know if you decide to try it let me know how it is!

    xx Vic

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