Release Your Expectations and Embrace Your Inspiration

Photo courtesy of Jody Sanborn/Jay Em Photography

Photo courtesy of Jody Sanborn/Jay Em Photography

“Action based on inspiration and not bound by expectation is truly free.” (from The Path of the Yoga Sutras: A Practical Guide to the Core of Yoga, by Nicolai Bachman)

Staying present from moment to moment, being fully engaged in whatever activity you’re involved in, without anticipation about or stress over the potential reward or outcome…how often do you experience this type of timeless existence in your daily living?

Yoga asana practice can help focus the body-breath-being into one coherent whole, providing an opportunity to enjoy a worry-free, all-consuming experience of being wholly alive and unified mentally, physically and emotionally. Silencing the mental chatter, letting go of stress or concerns about the past or the future and staying present with where and who you are at this exact moment in time on the mat provides an outlet, a release, a freeing space and time in which you get to just be, without judgment from inside or from without. In yoga practice, you carve out a sacred personal space and time in which you do not allow media to bombard and barrage the senses, disconnecting from the otherwise often nearly constant slough of emails and texts and messages and social media that keep our minds hyped up and overstimulated.

Many other activities can provide this same opportunity for release, freedom from the stressors and stimuli of daily living, a chance to “get away from it all” without actually needing to escape to some far-flung island retreat. People find this type of release in running, climbing, dancing, singing, playing a musical instrument, and playing any sport – a wide variety of such outlets exist. These outlets enable you to take the time to honor yourself by making the space in your world to give yourself an experience of just being whole and present and fully okay with who you are in the moment, not bringing extraneous “stuff” into that moment with you.

It’s the “stuff” that can actually violate or diminish your experience – if you invite expectations (thoughts of future gain or reward or frets about a potentially negative outcome) into your current actions, you have already sacrificed some of your experience of presence in the now. Admittedly, it can be really hard to detach from craving certain outcomes or fretting about worrisome expectations. However, if you can let go of such restraints and express and be who you are in each moment – and be okay with it, whatever the outcome, knowing that you are there to experience exactly who you are right now, with all your capabilities and all your human fallibilities too – you will be able to embrace, accept and enjoy whatever each period of practice in your given activity yields, whether it’s a sudden newfound ability to do a headstand without assistance, or an inability to high point your climbing project, or anything in between. Just being there and being present with who you happen to be on any given day, letting your inspiration guide you rather than any future expectations, will be enough.

“…whatever happens as a result of our action is exactly what is meant to happen, even if it doesn’t match what we expect.” (from The Path of the Yoga Sutras: A Practical Guide to the Core of Yoga, by Nicolai Bachman)

Continuing Your Yoga Practice During the Holiday Season

Photo courtesy of Louis Arevalo

Photo courtesy of Louis Arevalo

As I take some time away from teaching yoga to foster my own growth as a yoga practitioner and teacher over the next few weeks, I urge and encourage my students — and all who practice yoga — to continue your practice through this holiday season. Whether this means that you set aside a few minutes a day to do a single restorative pose or you manage to make it to yoga classes every week, keeping your practice going will be one of the most important things you can do to help yourself stay healthy and happy throughout this exciting but often stressful time of the year. To aid you in your efforts, I have compiled the following list of resources for you.

To my students: Thank you so much for your presence in classes throughout this past year. May your holiday season be filled with wonder, joy, laughter, yoga and love, and I look forward to seeing you again in yoga classes in the New Year. Namaste.

10 Suggestions for Maintaining a Yoga Practice Without Regular Classes

1. Schedule at least 5 or 10 minutes of yoga daily (or every other day, or however often you can!) on your calendar, and treat this appointment just as you would an important business meeting with a client.
2. During your yoga practice, turn off your phone.
3. Create or find a quiet space where you can practice without interruptions or distractions.
4. Start by grounding yourself in a comfortable seated pose, lying down, or in child’s pose. Breathe deeply and focus on being present exactly where you are for several minutes. Even if this comprises your entire yoga practice for the day, it “counts.”
5. If you have time for more yoga and you don’t want to make up your own practice, one of the videos listed below can provide guidance.
6. If you don’t have time for a video or prefer not to use a video, see if you can recall some of the warm-up poses/sequences and other poses and sequences from yoga classes.
7. Include poses and sequences that you like in your daily personal practice.
8. Consider exploring a pose or sequence that you don’t like as much ever so often, and see if you can move toward a more comfortable relationship with it.
9. Don’t force yourself to do anything that doesn’t feel good in your body. Honor yourself where you are on any given day.
10. Transition out of your practice with Savasana (corpse pose/final relaxation), giving yourself the time to absorb your practice quietly rather than jumping up and rushing off immediately to the next activity on the calendar.

10 Free Yoga Practice Videos Available Online

  1. Yoga for Seniors: The Whole Body with Michelle Rubin
  2. Full Length Gentle Yoga Class for Beginners and Seniors
  3. Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class for Beginners
  4. Intermediate Vinyasa Flow with Lesley Fightmaster
  5. Vinyasa Yoga 45 min Class with Lesley Fightmaster
  6. Intermediate Total Body Vinyasa Flow Yoga – 60 Minutes
  7. 30 Minute Candlelight Yin & Meditation Yoga for Relaxation
  8. Mindful Yin Yoga
  9. 30 Minute Restorative Yoga and Meditation
  10. Oceanside Restorative Yoga with Melissa McLeod

10 Yoga Books to Help You Expand and Refine Your Practice

1. Bringing Yoga to Life: The Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living
2. The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice
3. The Path of the Yoga Sutras: A Practical Guide to the Core of Yoga
4. Mudras for Healing and Transformation
5. Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life
6. Yoga Beyond Belief: Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice
7. The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice
8. The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling
9. The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: The Philosophy and Practice of Yin Yoga
10. Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times

Move of the Month 9: Breathing (Improve Your Climbing)

Image courtesy of dream designs at

Image courtesy of dream designs at

A number of years ago, as I watched a very strong climber working on a 5.14+, I was amazed to hear this person let out a long, obviously held breath after plummeting off the climb. It appeared that the breath-holding had begun at the start of the difficult section, and that this breath had been held throughout about 12 challenging, explosive moves of climbing.

Does this happen to you in your climbing, too?

If it does, consider putting some time and energy into training an improved awareness of your breath. Harnessing and utilizing the breath to your advantage can make a tremendous difference in your climbing performance – and potentially in other areas of your life as well. For an excellent and detailed explanation on exactly how breathing contributes to athletic and general life performance, read Want to Improve Your Performance? Breathe! and also, check out Waiting to Exhale…and then return here for ideas about learning to use breathing to your advantage specifically in your climbing.

I start my rhythmic breathing before I even step off the ground onto a climb. I liken this to yogic Ujjayi breathing (What is Ujjayi?). When I reach a rest, if my breathing pace has sped up, I work to smooth and lengthen my breath back to my original pace, focusing all of my attention on my breathing. I use breath counts at each rest, meaning that on a familiar redpoint project, I will gradually come to decide on the ideal amount of breaths I need to take at each resting spot to prepare for the next section of the climb, and I will count off these inhales and exhales in my mind as I rest and shake out. If I need more breaths to recover on any given day on a familiar climb, this usually indicates that I’m not fully recovered for the climbing day itself.

If you struggle with breath-holding and regulating your breathing in climbing or just in general, consider taking yoga classes that encourage you to become more aware and connected to your breath and movement working together. Learning to coordinate inhales and exhales with specific and often increasingly complex asanas throughout a yoga class may help you become better at doing this in climbing situations. One nice aspect of asana practice is that it’s not generally performance or outcome-based (unlike sport climbing), so you can really take the time to focus on the breathing aspect of the practice if you so choose, and then work to bring this improved connection into your climbing bit by bit as it becomes more normal and natural for your inhales and exhales to flow smoothly while you move through a practice.

As with all relatively new climbing techniques and tactics, it’s easiest to begin working on them and employing them in non-peak situations, meaning that bringing your awareness to your breathing while you warm up or while you’re climbing more familiar, sub-threshold climbing efforts will be easier than immediately trying to breath in an ideal fashion on the most challenging climbs you’re trying at the moment. This is not to say that it’s not worth attempting to employ smarter breathing practices immediately – it is. But it’s always harder to break old habits when you’re trying as hard as you can. As with all training efforts, rewiring your breathing patterns will take time, effort and patience. Stick with it, and you will most likely be pleased with the results – such improved stamina, focus, and ability to recover on the rock, to name a few.

Climber. Writer. Aspiring Yogi. Climbing Coach/Trainer. Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200). ACTION Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). Avid Lifelong Learner.

Switch to our mobile site

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On LinkedinCheck Our Feed