Michelle and I talk about the practice of movement. Focusing on Yoga, she shares how her practice has healed and guided her along her journey. We also discuss how movement connects our mind, body and spirit and how it can be a vehicle for deeper connection.
This is a guided meditation that connects you back to the magic of your body. Love yourself and change your life.
Yin Yoga connects us to our feminine side, our “being” side. It is a deep and passive practice, where yogi’s hold the poses for longer periods to work into the deeper tissue and joints while focusing the mind.
Nadia Engelbrecht talks to Sarah Evans about Yin Yoga and how you can begin your own practice today.
Love yourself, change your life!
Do you have health goals? To drop some weight, just eat more salad or start running again? Do you take pride in your appearance and consider what you’re wearing, how your hair and make-up is done, and do you actively look for situations that make you feel good?
I’m sure you do. Many of strive for some change in ourselves. Some shift in growth or gain that will improve our lives and be that magic button that makes us feel and look incredible all the time.
Now all of this is great when done in a healthy way, but all too often we overdo it or push too hard and then, no matter what you do, nothing feels good anymore. That brings me to the overall point of this piece: Balance.
Remember the Yin-Yang symbol (made famous in the 90’s)? A circle, with one-half black, the other white and a dot of the opposite colour present in the respective half. As you probably know, this symbol represents Balance, but not of dark and light or good and bad.
Yang and Yin represent the two sides/ energies in each of us. Yang is masculine, action, drive, momentum, while Yin is feminine, being, compassion, kindness, love and nurturing. Most of us are very familiar with our Yang side. We set goals and put one foot in front of the next until we get there. It may be painful, but we push through nonetheless.
While this is amazing, the constant drive can also be draining and demanding on us and if you are a type-a kinda-girl, you will know that eventually you just can’t go anymore. You push and push yourself, but then you hit a wall and the next step is either too scary, too big or causes anxiety that paralyzes you.
Why is this? Why can we do so well for so long and then suddenly feel like the world is caving in? The answer is simple: we are imbalanced and before we can proceed (in a healthy and conscious way) we must first restore balance within ourselves. How do we do that? By taking time to nourish ourselves, being compassionate and kind to ourselves and through that love for our Being, we restore our balance, enabling us to once again take action and grow further.
You see, your Being is the part of you that receives love and energy and without filling your cup (so to speak) you end up with an empty vessel with nothing left to give. This does not serve you, your loved ones, your career, your health or any other area of your life. For this reason, it is essential to spend time focusing on nourishing your Being to restore your balance.
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The good news is that doing so, does not require a 6-week retreat in Bali (I wish!) You can start today with these three easy steps to loving yourself and glowing from within:
Step 1: Acceptance:
This first step is the hardest, but it is also the most powerful shift our can make. Your body is a vehicle through which you experience life and the way you experience it is largely determined by your perception of your place in it. If you see your body, face, thighs, skin, personality, hair or your laugh as a curse, you will struggle to enjoy your experience because you will be hiding a part of yourself. When you do that you tell your mind and body that you’re ugly, shameful, not worthy.
By accepting where you are, and embracing the skin you’re in, you do the opposite. You tell your body and mind that you are worthy, you are lovely, enough, gorgeous and worth more. Acceptance does not mean that you ignore our health goals or stop your plans, it simply means that you love and accept yourself regardless of your current state. If you are working on losing weight, you can love your body before you reach your ultimate goal. There is no rule that says you can only love yourself when you reach it.
That brings me to step 2…
Step 2: Appreciation:
The easiest way to acceptance is appreciation, which (not-so-coincidentally) is step 2. Before I tell you how, I want to share WHY you should love, appreciate and celebrate all of you. When you look in the mirror, it is all too easy to judge and be mean to yourself. “My hips are too wide, my legs are too short, why is my nose so weird…” Rather, have you ever thought how incredibly powerful, yet delicate; intricate, yet strong; free, yet purposeful your body is? This vehicle has developed and grown since your infancy, gaining knowledge, experience and strength along the way. Today it is immensely capable. Your senses allow you to experience the world through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In fact, your sense of smell has the power to propel you to a memory from your childhood in less than a second. AMAZING!
Your body and all its parts serve you in ways you take for granted every day. If you are able bodied that means you can walk. That’s right, your two legs, that you are oh-so cruel to are the things that allow you to freely and effortlessly move about. They are a magnificent miracle that adds priceless value to your life. Your hips form part of your pelvis that connects the bottom and top of your body. Because of this part of your body, you’re able to multitask (drink a coffee, while walking, for example.) This incredible part of your body provides stability and strength enabling you to carry and birth life into this world. Your strong arms protect and comfort at the same time. They lift you up and keep those near you close. Your face is where your soul expresses your inner beauty. It is where you shine your beautiful light, allowing those around you to understand you, share with you, be around you and love you.
The very precise way that you are built gives you a particular perspective, with a unique skill set to empathize with a certain type of person, to understand the world in a way only you can and, therefore, to tell a story of the “same experience” in a way that only you can.
With all of this in mind, I want to you stop all of this hate and negativity and shift to love and appreciation. Next time you look in the mirror and you see something you don’t like, shift your focus to what you love about it, what you can appreciate about it.
However, if you’re finding it difficult to suddenly be all sunshine and rainbows about something you’ve been negative about for so long, that’s completely okay. I am not expecting an immediate 180. But girl, there has to be something you can appreciate. It doesn’t have to be something you can see. It can be that you are grateful for the strength in your legs or the fact that you can hear your baby laugh.
Make this a habit. Every time you look in a mirror, choose one thing to love, appreciate and celebrate about your body, face, hair, outfit. I mean every time. In the morning there are a number of moments as you are getting ready for the day, each time you use the restroom throughout the day and as you are getting ready for bed and your make up is off, repeat the following to yourself in the mirror, “Thank you for your beauty and your strength. You are worthy, and I love you.”
Develop mad love for yourself, because you are SOOOOO worth it!
Step 3: Softness:
The last step is to cultivate a sense of softness into the way you interact with yourself. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws and we all fall down from time-to-time. For some reason, we understand this for other people but can be very harsh with ourselves when we make a mistake or slip on our health goals. Think about it. If your best friend makes a mistake, no matter how big or ridiculous, you are there to console her. You tell her it’s okay and that one mistake is nothing to get upset about. You tell her that she is beautiful and powerful and that she will do better tomorrow. This is compassion and kindness and how you should talk to yourself if something doesn’t go perfectly; if you fall down or make a mistake. Forgive yourself and take care of yourself. Be your own bestie.
Following these three steps helps you cultivate mad love for yourself and then even more incredible and unexpected things start happening. When you love and respect yourself, you naturally start making choices aligned with this new reality, because you’ve had a taste of this good feeling and you want more. You eat better food that not only tastes great but makes you feel nourished and energized and you will avoid people and activities that no longer support your new way of being. In turn, you will find yourself with a life filled with more of what you love, more respect and more abundance, purely because you chose to see yourself as a precious, irreplaceable gift to the world.
Listen to your body. Hear the call of your Being and spend time taking caring of yourself: nourishing your soul and your body with love and appreciation. Every time you choose to fill your energy cup with love, you restore your inner balance and you are able to give and do more. You are worth it, not only for you but for everyone your life touches. Love yourself.
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Learning to surrender into “Being”
For the longest time, I feel like the world (and therefore, me) has been in-flux. We are (and have been) chasing massive material and status-driven goals, pushing to win, outrun competitors, see others as advisories and generally push everyone out of the way in order to get to the top.
While there is nothing wrong with chasing big dreams and wealth (please dream BIG!!) the way most of the world goes about it feels very aggressive and cutthroat and if you want to play, you have to be the same.
Why do we deem it acceptable to push others aside, let them fail and fall with the simple justification that we are chasing our goals? Almost as if their falling is collateral damage of our success – regrettable, but necessary loss.
I believe it is because of one reason: An imbalance between Being and Action. You could also see these two sides as Yin and Yang, or Feminine and Masculine. It is the energy that we call on as we move through life.
Human beings have mastered the Action (Masculine). Chasing, pushing, forging ahead. This is a powerful energy that gathers intense momentum and can create massive change when harnessed towards a goal. It isn’t too difficult to understand why we’re so good at it. Men have led the narrative, discovery, and evolution of the human story for centuries. It is through the masculine, the yang, that many incredible discoveries of new land, inventions and more are known to us. It is through this relentless perseverance that humans have intelligent infrastructure and constantly innovate to improve.
That said, it is, I believe, due to a lack on the Being (Feminine), that we also see centuries of hate, destruction, conquering and pushing out of the way for the status and success of leaders. The suppression of the Feminine Voice has, with it, suppressed acceptance, trust, curiosity, openness, and kindness. And while there are glimpses of it throughout our history, it is largely overshadowed.
Now, before we get into a gender debate. I am not blaming anyone living today for the actions of generations past, nor am I (and this is a biggie) saying the men are bad. Not at all. We are all (men and women) a beautiful mix of Being and Action. Allow me to elaborate
I’m sure you’re familiar with the famous symbol of yin and yang (a circle of black and white halves, each half containing a dot of the opposite colour.) The meaning is simple: In every part of Yang, there is always Yin and in every part of Yin, there is always Yang. Men and women are not exclusively Yang or Yin. We all have feminine and masculine qualities. We are all capable of perseverance, taking action and leading; AND we are all capable of kindness, acceptance, generosity, and love.
The feminine side in all of us is where our “Being” resides. It is where our soul/ spirit/ intuition/ whatever you call it lives to guide us along our path. It serves us by keeping us connected and open to ourselves and to others.
While the masculine is an incredible driver, our feminine being is what keeps us on purpose, compassionate and for everyone. We need both.
Today, many of us (men and women) are feeling a call to get closer to Being. We are moving into a space where we answer the call of our soul for experience and connection. At the same time, there is less emphasis on the ego’s need for excess. We seek abundance with joy and for all. We seek connection with new experiences and cultures and the freedom to find purpose in how we contribute to society.
Writing this piece, I could not avoid the current political climate and the feminist movement. In every avenue the movement has taken, #metoo, #timesup etc, you will notice the language of the masculine: aggressive, in-your-face and unapologetic. This is the language of today. It is the language we know and understand. On the flip side of that, you will notice the message is 100% feminine. It is not about taking over, conquering or exclusivity. It is not about eliminating men. It is simply about acceptance, fairness, a call to kindness and openness; a call to love. It is a call to humanity to connect to Soul and see that in order to have a lot, you don’t need to have it all. There is enough for everyone, there is space, love, and abundance for all.
This message runs through me and hits every cord I have. It is something I know I have felt very deeply for a very long time. It is something I did not always understand, connect to or know how to articulate, but I felt it.
Even before my rediscovery of me, when I was deeply insecure and would be judgmental, it always felt misaligned to my core. It felt off and wrong, but I had no idea how to fix it.
Can you relate? That sense that something feels a little misaligned, as if you are being pulled somewhere, but you’re not sure why or how to get there? I think this is a call to reconnect with Being. To let the Action in us relax a little, giving space to the Feminine voice to guide us home. Again, this is not about exclusivity. Men are invited to the party so there is no need to worry about hurting or disappointing the men that are in your life. Being is a part of all of us. This is not a war, but about restoring an internal balance. The female voice must rise up, it must stand strong in order to penetrate and connect with our overly masculine minds. We need to allow our bodies, minds, and souls to reconnect to Being so that we may reconnect with beauty, abundance, and love. It is not about taking over or kicking anyone out, it is about finding an equal and opposite push and pull, that guides us towards love.
How do you raise the Female Voice in you?
The best, most profound thing you can do to join the rise of the Female Voice is to connect to and accept your Being. Allow a sense of softness and femininity to pour into every part of your life. Invite kindness, openness, and compassion where you once responded with aggression, exclusivity, and judgment.
These qualities are powerful and can be deafening in contrast to the ever-present voice of action. Simple daily shifts towards acceptance will change your personal experience and simultaneously allow others to follow your light.It starts with you. Choose to be the light wherever you find yourself. Click To Tweet
It starts with you. Choose to be the light wherever you find yourself. Do this by staying present in your truth and as your light shines, others will feel it and do the same. Embrace your feminine energy, your acceptance, your truth, your deep, loving Being.
In any situation, commit to responding with love Connect to love to embrace your feminine energy, your acceptance, your truth, your deep, loving Being.
Develop your own practice:
A Being practice can take many forms. You can cultivate it through meditation or yoga practice, allowing you to become increasingly connected to self. You can also simply see your practice as simple shifts in your approach and response to the world, choosing to respond with kindness, openness, and softness. It can be spiritual and/or practical, find the balance that works for you.
If you are hearing this call and in surrendering to Being, then I’m sure you are experiencing a deep sense of calm and, at the same time, a feeling of excitement to share and proclaim. As you do share your experience and newly discovered wisdom, please remember the Female Voice does not push or persist, it simply is. It invites light and love and embraces that light towards deeper connection, a softer sensibility and an open heart and mind.
Be patient, allow others to discover their own truth, their own path along this collective journey. Resistance is cultivated from fear and fear is easily fostered by a dominant voice. It is not for any of us to preach or proclaim, it is for us to share our light and be the example for those seeking the shift.
3 steps to discovering an unshakable inner confidence in who you are.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the launch of the Power Women Project in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was such a beautiful day filled with a stunning group of women, committed to making a difference, growing as women and living fuller lives.
The topic was Inner Confidence, a quality we all desire. We all want to be the woman that walks into the room and owns her space. She is someone who seems effortless in her movements, comfortable in her skin and is someone that people want to be around.
Like many people, I am not a naturally confident person and have looked into the topic many times. I’ve been in a room of people psycho-analyzing myself, wondering why I feel so inadequate; I’ve read a variety of books, watched videos and tried to find how to solve this problem. How do I feel and exude confidence?
Over time, I realized that there is no fix, magic formula or switch that would perform a Cinderella-like transformation and make me confident.
The truth is that you cannot feel truly confident until you know who you are. It is in knowing your core, deepest truths, what you stand for, what you don’t stand for and what feeds your soul that you are able to accept it all. Once you accept yourself for all you are, you begin to feel comfortable in putting yourself out there.
In other words, it’s when you know, love and accept yourself that you find your personal truth and your confidence within.
But how do we get there? I mean, it is pretty obvious that this is not an overnight/ quick fix solution. Rather, it is a consistent and life-long practice of self-discovery that yields an ever-deepening connection to self, which automatically strengthens your inner confidence.
So, while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all super-fix, below are the steps I have taken and continue to practice towards developing my connection to self and thereby, building my confidence:
Let go of expectation and comparison
Comparison and expectations are a major cause for feeling less-than, inadequate and even anxious. We look at other people who have some similarities to us and we see all of the ways that they are “ahead” of us. We think, “Oh no, she is so creative… so beautiful… she’s already done it… she’s natural at it… blah blah blah.”
What we are doing is seeing a portion of their story (mostly what we think is the whole story) and then automatically deem it superior in every way. We see her as having an advantage and ourselves at a disadvantage.
Comparisons also lead to us creating arbitrary expectations for ourselves. We define a set of criteria we should meet in order to “be successful” or to simply give ourselves permission to be who we are.
Well, allow me to burst this metaphorical bubble right here, right now! Comparing your story to some one’s else’s is a waste of time. I mean it is a completely redundant exercise.
Let me give you an example by looking at popular actresses, Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone. They are both stunning actresses who bring something special to the silver screen. Each has their own story that led them to their success. They have played very different roles and learned different lessons, worked with different people and all the while, they have arrived at a very similar place to share their gifts with the world.
Comparing them is irrelevant. Their stories, personalities, and presence are unique. If they tried to be like each other, they would lose what makes them special and likely fade into the background. It is because they celebrate who they are and their own stories that they command the attention of audiences across the globe. They do not compete, rather their individual success builds the career opportunities for each other and countless other actresses.
How does this apply? I can’t look at your path for guidance as it will only show me how to be like you. I must look at my own lessons, my own victories, the things that bring me joy and get me excited to be alive. Because it is when I focus on my own path that I achieve my dreams my way, the way intended for me.
Let your heart lead the way
Being unclear about your path can cause all sorts of havoc in your life. For a long time, I bounced around between careers, searching for that perfect job that would give me purpose. It was only much later that I recognized that I was really looking for a connection that I could only find within myself.
This was a difficult time for me. I constantly felt like a fraud and like I wasn’t going anywhere. I would be terrified of telling people what I do because I thought they would judge my indecisiveness or my lack of experience or purpose.When I started my journey towards my true self it was like opening a magic door. Click To Tweet
When I started my journey towards my true self it was like opening a magic door to understanding myself and what I bring to the table. Early on, a yoga teacher of mine shared Gaia cards with us and I pulled the card entitled, “Sacred Mother Earth.” When I read the message on the card I became emotional as it was exactly what I needed to hear:
Sacred Mother Earth:
“We travel the endless corridors of our mind until one day we find a pathway that leads us to our heart.” Who we truly are has nothing to do with your personality, or your achievements, success or failures. The “you” you think you are is an actor, playing a role that your soul has chosen. The essence of you is “soul” – “light” with no beginning or end. You are an eternal spark of pure creativity, unlimited potential that yearns to be expressed and fulfilled. Your potential is your destiny, it awaits your call.
Trust your heart and apply its love and wisdom to all you do.
In this way, all you create or do will be a true expression of your soul. It is through expressing your truth that you create things of lasting value. Be true to you.
This blew my mind and awakened me to the absolute fact that as long as I am true to my soul (my values, my integrity, my joy, my love) I can do anything. I immediately let go of the expectation to be that one thing and started writing. At first, it was just journal entries to somehow give movement to what I was feeling. Over time my musings became more structured, more focused and this blog grew out of that.
I also stopped looking for the pigeonhole career path and instead, focused on what I want my life to look like. (A very different perspective that allows you to choose your career path/ business style so that it feeds your ideal life, rather than picking a career and living for Friday.) Once I was clear on that I designed my business (offering, craft, and model) to make that a reality. I am still in transition towards that goal, but unlike my former self, I celebrate what I don’t know. I celebrate the process of discovery because I trust that as I grow closer to my truth, I am guided towards my vision.
Confidence in practice
Another beautiful soul I met recently, Caroline Hopkins, shared a profound truth about discovering confidence. We instinctively stay in our comfort zones, afraid to stretch. However, it is when we do stretch ourselves into what we don’t know that we grow our confidence in that space.
Why I love this so much is that it encourages you to try, to jump, to risk and subsequently grow. Every time you take a step out of your comfort zone, you learn about yourself. You learn what works for you, you learn about your interests, passions, and things you don’t enjoy. You gain skills and confidence in your abilities, knowledge. Ultimately, you enable yourself to grow into your vision while grooming yourself to be ready for its challenges and achievements.
In this way, you develop an unshakable confidence that is anchored in your abilities and a knowing that you can overcome any unknown challenge. You became more optimistic and willing to take risks.
So next time you want to do something, whether it’s a new career, learn a new skill, take on a project, start a family; and you feel a little fear. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Instead, embrace the risk with a few small steps. You don’t have to jump all at once. Practice moving closer. Before you know it, the small steps will become big leaps as you realize just how strong, capable and courageous you truly are.
As you learn about your interests, where your passion lies and what you want to know more about, lean into that. Follow the spark of your joy with curiosity to learn more and delve deeper. This is where you find your calling, your purpose that will lead you towards your dreams.