By Awilda Rivera
This piece was originally published in July 2016 in Aquarius Magazine
Yoga can be a mystical and enchanting love. For some Yoga is an experience of love at first sight, and yet others have to spend time cultivating their yoga love affair. What happens when you fall out of love? What happens when you no longer have the same zeal for the practice? When all of your favorite teachers bore you? When you no longer have the desire to practice on your own? Have you stopped loving Yoga?
Many Yogi’s suffer from the idea that Yoga is a panacea. I agree that Yoga produces a multitude of physical, medical and energetic benefits. However when all you do is Yoga, all the time, you can get too much of a good thing. Yoga fatigue occurs when Yoga is your only physical practice, spiritual outlet and extra-curricular activity.
Space is key. In every relationship there must be space – between partners, between the creator and their art, the athlete and their sport, the professional and their craft. If there is no space then the relationship is out of balance. When you take space form the activity, person, or behavior that you love then when you come back to it, you are able to approach it with a fresh perspective and renewed interest.
For 48 months I did Yoga, and only Yoga. I learned Yoga Asana, I taught Yoga, I studied Yoga text, I had Yoga meetings, I got involved with Yoga organizations – my life was consumed by Yoga. About 5 months ago I started to lose some of my zeal for Yoga, I had too much of a good thing. I was of the strong opinion that if you practice Yoga regularly then you don’t need any other daily exercise. Yet, I couldn’t deny that I was just not having as much fun practicing Yoga anymore. I knew I needed to take action, but the only action that came to mind was to – take a break from Yoga.
I sat with this deep, frightening truth. It was beyond my comprehension that I could already be burned out. After sitting with the reality that confronted me, I realized I needed to vary my daily physical activity; in short I needed to diversify my exercise. Once I accepted what I was feeling, the resolution presented itself rather quickly: It was time for me to start running. But, was I going to break up with Yoga?
Running is wildly different from Yoga. I was attracted to the speed, quick satisfaction, jock culture and the challenge. Running was like a mistress I was cheating on Yoga with, all the time I spent running I thought about Yoga. As I ran I would sequence my ideal Yoga class to compliment the trauma a runner’s body experiences. The more I was drawn to running the more I was called back to the mat. The space I allowed myself brought me back to the mat.
Allowing myself the space to be honest, take time away from yoga, and be open to other pursuits helped to reinvigorate my love of Yoga. I was able to look at the practice & its benefits through a new lens. Yoga was no longer my only choice, but rather a foundation from which I could create an expansive, safe, varied psychical practice with avenues for spiritual exploration and energetic release.
Love Yoga, Love yourself, love your options. Remember you can have too much of a good thing. Until next month…..
by Awilda Rivera
Have you ever wondered what drives you to want to succeed? This piece aims to shed light on that very question.
Why do we care about Success? Wouldn’t it be easier to let life happen to us, giving ourselves permission to just “phone it in” with little investment in the outcome?
The truth is most people want to experience happiness. It would even be fair to say that the happiness Humans desire is that of joy, contentment and a sense of accomplishment. Moreover, it is this deep intangible longing for a sense of achievement of a stated aim that keeps many going on a day to day basis. But why?
Sure, “phoning it in” sounds easy. One would only need to do the bare minimum. However, this style of passive living comes at cost. Agency & Choice are sacrificed in order to relinquish responsibility for navigating the direction of your life.
But what is success anyway and why are we so enchanted by it?
Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. On a very basic level our days are filled with necessary aims: feed the dogs, do the laundry, get to work on time, finish the project, be kind, get to the gym, etc. However, there is another kind of aim, one that captures your dreams and aspirations such as: getting that promotion, buying a house, starting a business, launching a new product, moving to another country, furthering your education, finding love, cultivating a peaceful spirit, changing careers, etc. We will refer to these as Goals.
Goals are the big ticket items that people day dream about and long for; they are the aims that if accomplished would absolutely create tangible joy and contentment. These are the things that if achieved will bring a modicum of genuine happiness.
Since people are ultimately concerned with happiness, it is easy to see how focusing on being “successful” with out achieving the success you seek can be disheartening. Yet, even in the face of adversity most continue to work towards that success. Why?
Success feels Good
First of all it feels good to succeed. Dopamine is neurotransmitter that is released in the brain when we ‘win’. This chemical floods the brain with ‘feel good’ the moment we perceive ourselves to be victorious over an opponent, challenging task, or obstacle. Some experts suggest that creating smaller incremental wins can have the effect of rewiring your brain for success.  The theory suggests that by increasing the frequency with which you perceive yourself to be winning, there will be a more constant flow of dopamine in the brain which will in turn make it easier for the brain to produce higher levels of dopamine. New discoveries have shown that a consistent flow of dopamine, will also make it is easier for you to take action in the first place.  In other words, we have chemicals in our brain that respond not only to our actual achievement of a goal but that can also help us to take the action necessary to achieve it. The more we succeed the better it feels.
Success happens incrementally & it makes you stronger
Success is cumulative. Each time we complete a minor task associated with our overall goal we are able to move the needle forward. The accomplishment of that minor goal is a success. In alternative we will only perceive ourselves to have Successfully achieved the goal when we have completed all the necessary minor tasks. In this way the minor task and goal are inextricably linked. We need the minor successes in order to realize the major success.
Anyone who has endeavored to do anything can tell you that the pursuit of Success is full of ups and downs. Obstacles and Challenges are simply par for the course, and THANK GOODNESS for them. Each time we overcome the challenges associated accomplishing a task that is necessary for our achieving our goals, we become a little bit more resilient. Demonstrating that resilience helps to boost confidence.
Ultimately, humans like to succeed because not only does it feel good but it also helps you to be more successful. Additionally, when we proactively create opportunities for minor successes on the road to achievement, we are able to accomplish our Goals much quicker . Your level of resilience increases, with each task completed and obstacle overcome. As a result, you inevitably feel more confident. When you feel a confident sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and happiness are a delightful by product.
by Awilda Rivera
Originally published in Aquarius Magazine June 2017
What we think about ourselves matters. As summer winds down, we can reflect on the pressure we place on ourselves each year for the "perfect beach body" . Bathing suits, pools & BBQs are opportunities for us to gather and beat the heat, but instead we spend the summer experiencing these moments as hot beds of anxiety. We place an incredible amount of importance on how we look and that can be difficult for anyone who struggles with Self-image. You might be wondering: “What the heck does this have to do with Yoga?”
Yoga can have measurable effect on one’s ability to establish & maintain a positive self-image. One study found that “Yoga Practitioners are 20% more likely to a positive self-image as compared to the general population.” Yoga encourages one to slow down, look within, be open minded and accepting to what is happening in the now. The presence of mind that is cultivated through the practice of marrying breath with movement has been shown to lead to:
As a result yoga has become a powerful tool for doctors who work with patients in recovery for eating disorders. The great thing about these statistics is that you do not have to have been diagnosed with an eating disorder to begin the practice of Yoga & experience these benefits. A 2016 Yoga in America Study showed that, over 50% of Americans surveyed reported improving overall health as the reason why they started and continue to practice Yoga.
Here are my Three tips for finding an awesome yoga class & studio to get you loving you:
Yoga is about connecting deeply with your Self in the present moment and using that as platform to build strength in your body, mind & spirit. Confidence, Positive Body-Image, Peace of Mind are all by products of the process of self discovery that Yoga helps to facilitate. Here is a few extra tips just for the guys reading this:
Male or Female, if you want to get out of your own head, connect to & love the body you’re in while you get fitter then you should consider incorporating Yoga in to your routine. Once you find the studio and class that both challenges and empowers you, allow yourself to enjoy it. All you have to do is show up open minded ready to be present on your mat and the rest will happen organically.
Enjoy the adventure yogis!! Until next time….Namaste.
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**All blogs written by Awilda Rivera, unless otherwise indicated therein.