My American Dream: A Full-Circle Story of Realizing Success Without Stress, Part II

The person who I am today is a sum of my successes and failures. The past 10 years of my career have catapulted me to success, have plunged me into failure, and have lifted me to success once again. This is Part II of my story of expanding my relationship with yoga to expand the American dream and to expand my life. Read Part I and Part III.


From Failure to Freedom

My second superpower is my intuition. I do not analyze before I act. I just get a feeling – and go for it.

Within six months to a year of taking my first yoga class, I knew that I wanted to be a yoga teacher.

My practice had evolved from excruciating to emancipating. I remember forming triangle pose one class and thinking: “Huh. This is no longer miserable.” I developed flexibility, strength and body awareness. As I witnessed how quickly and deeply yoga was transforming me, I wanted to share it with others.
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My American Dream: A Full-Circle Story of Realizing Success Without Stress, Part I

The person who I am today is a sum of my accomplishments and mistakes. The past 10 years of my career have catapulted me to success, have plunged me into failure, and have lifted me to success once again. This is the first post in a three-part series that shares my story of redefining my relationship to stress using yogic principles to redefine the American dream and to redefine my life. Read Part II and Part III.


From “Success” to Stress

In early 2006, I found myself working my way up the corporate ladder. The only things on my mind were money and status. I had graduated from a top business school and was primed to become rich and powerful. I was also well on my way to becoming an asshole.

I have always known that I was born to be a leader. By my early 20s, I also had the car, the beach apartment, the clothes and the attitude to prove it. I felt as if I were on the path to achieving everything I had ever wanted.

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Tapas: A Recipe for Transformation

Yoga. The word and its practices carry different connotations and attachments for each of us, mainly because of its diverse portrayals in sacred texts versus social media and the countless forms and spin-offs available.

But, if you listen closely, there is a common thread: It works.

Most teachers I encounter do not know why it works, and most students are not interested in knowing how it works. Some people may see this as a tragedy. I see this as an opportunity. An opportunity for those who are asking the questions to earn the right to learn the answers.
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Let Go of Your Past, Change Your Future

Spring is a time of change and creation. The weather promises warmth, joy and freedom. Even if you do not follow the changes of the seasons, something is shifting, and you know it.

With change on the horizon, there is something that you can do today to prepare yourself: Let go.

What is between where you are now and where you want to be? This is a powerful question, one that I ask my students and myself often. Before we can make big shifts in our lives, it helps to clear out the old to prepare for the new.
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Happy or Bust!

It is taking over the Internet. It is creeping across the walls at yoga studios. It is infesting the TV and books that we consume. And we are pouring time, money and energy into catching it: HAPPINESS!

The signal pulsing the following message at us is becoming oppressive: If you are not happy, something is wrong with you.
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Stretching: The Key to Your Athletic Potential

Flexibility is the most important component of fitness. Yet, it is the most neglected. Stretching is now your new best friend.

My yoga practice began as a form of torture. My hips, hamstrings and back were weak and tight from nearly 20 years of playing sports and a decade of lifting weights without stretching. I was immobile and injury-prone. A few years ago, I realized why I stuck with yoga through the discomfort: I was benefiting from increasing my flexibility.

As an athlete, I frequently had heard that if I could not touch my toes, I was not reaching my highest athletic ability. I knew this was true, but I did not know to what extent.
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Stretch Past Your Comfort Zone

“Reach for your toes! Stretch your hamstrings! Now, stay there and breathe through the discomfort.”

Sound familiar? If you have attended a yoga class, and especially if you have tight hamstrings, you know the internal frenzy that can arise when the teacher cues the class into a funny position, then, with the softest voice, invites everyone to relaaax into the discomfort and even to enjoy it.

When I started practicing yoga, I could barely reach past my knees. It made practicing anything but relaxing. At times, it was borderline torturous. For the first few years, I got so uncomfortable and wound up that I used to look around the room and get pissed off at everyone. I judged the teacher and the flexible women. Hell, I even judged myself for being in class.
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Backbend to Mend Your Mind and Change Your Life

Last week, I highlighted the importance of filling yourself up first so that you have the energy to truly care for others. I embraced yoga’s narcissistic appeal because it lures us onto the mat, where we can begin to evolve our relationship to ourselves and to the world. This week, I will teach you how to use asana, the practice of yoga poses, to generate the physical and mental energy to power this transformation.

It’s taken me about a decade of practicing yoga to figure out what we’re really doing on our mats: manipulating our bodies into specific positions to calm the mind. The mind and body respond differently to each pose, challenging us to learn to be OK with the varying energies and discomforts they elicit.

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Ground Your Yoga Practice To Grow

This month’s blogs and teachings encourage building strong and stable foundations, whether in yoga, exercise, nutrition or even goal-setting. These facets of wellness do not need to be separate. To build a strong body and mind through any of these practices, you must have a solid base.

I see many yoga students, exercise enthusiasts and people in general wanting to rush to the end. They want to achieve advanced poses, lift heavy weights or overhaul their diets before they have mastered the foundations. Not only is rushing to the end unsustainable, but it also can be dangerous.

This week, we will explore the foundations of building a strong yoga practice. In the following weeks, we will examine the foundations of exercise and nutrition.

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5 Big Takeaways From 2015

2015 was a big, powerful year for myself and as a result for many of my students and private clients alike. I’m not saying that to brag but to highlight the main theme of “The Big Yogi”;
Inspire, Move and Transform. My perspective and teachings revolve around the principal of filling yourself up first in order to be of greater value and service to the community and the world. The power to make change starts with the ability to inspire yourself to move towards transformation. You have got to get clear on who you want to be and how you want your life to be, then you can take this energy and purpose outward and share it. This blog represents my takeaways and personal experience with these principals and teachings over the past year and is in the first person for this reason. I offer myself as a tool for you to reflect on your own big takeaways from 2015.
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