yoga

Rollercoaster by Anita Cheung

It’s incredible how quickly your mind can turn against you. The most important thing I’ve learned is not to ride the rollercoaster of emotions. Tonight, I suddenly found myself spiraling down into the biggest pity party for myself, ever. I remember talking with a hairdresser once and she said “Facebook is so fucked. One minute you’re checking out your friend’s vacation photos while on your laptop in your living room, and the next thing you know, you’re scrolling through photos of your ex’s new girlfriend. WHAT IS SHE DOING IN MY LIVING ROOM??”  That was over four years ago and it seems nothing’s changed.

 

Social media isn’t real life. If you haven’t seen this video before, check it out below-

 

For me, tonight I went from:


 “Man she’s really pretty (random instagram chick)”    to..
“she lives a SICK life!”     to…
“she isn’t the only one living a sick, beautiful life. (looks at other random instagram chicks)”     to...
“Man, life would be so much easier if I was beautiful”    to...

“I’m not beautiful.”    To…
“I’m not beautiful. I lose at life.”

 

Okay so that's a bit dramatic and it sure escalated quickly. And maybe it's partially influenced by my "moon cycle" (sorry, TMI). Still, I HATE that it affects me.  Somewhere in my mind, I KNOW that we all put our best face forwards on social media. I KNOW that.  I know that like I know my name, my address, and my birthday. Yet somehow the negative thoughts still creep in.

Before I dive into anything- let me just throw this out there that I hate all this hype about Beauty. What isn’t fed, will wither. So let’s all stop feeding the talk about beauty, shall we? “Real Beauty”, or fake beauty, whatever.  It doesn’t matter. Why is a woman’s worth dependent on whether or not someone thinks she’s beautiful (conventionally or otherwise). I’m digging movements that are pushing women to strive to be something else… like… innovative, ambitious, and intelligent. Alas, another conversation for another time. Anyway, I digress- 


misscongenality.jpg

My entire life I’ve been told from my mother- “Life is fair. Just because you aren’t beautiful, you’re smart and you have other things going on for you.”
It’s always felt like a consolation prize. The “Miss Congeniality” to the “Miss Universe”. And here’s the kicker- As I’m sure we’ve all realized, life ISN'T fair. The conventionally beautiful girl can also be absolutely brilliant and the sweetest person you’ve ever met. And you know what? We live with the cards we are dealt. Sure there is some upward (or downward) mobility; however, the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” holds true. What’re you going to do with a bunch of lemons? Can’t eat them. Nope. So you make lemonade. It’s for YOU. No one cares about your lemons or your lemonade. But because you’ve now turned your inedible lemons into something tasty and delicious, you can feel good about yourself and feel good in general. And isn’t that what we all want at the root of it all? To feel good and to feel happy?

So it is a consolation prize. But only if you see it that way. 
Just as your mind can turn against you, you can turn things right back in your favour. Maybe your goal the entire time was to win Miss Congeniality. It’s about making a conscious shift. And yes, it’s work- No one said it’s easy. Lasting happiness isn’t a quick-fix. It’s not something you buy or some goal you achieve. It’s making the decision to be your own number one fan, all the time. For better or for worse. It’s a commitment to choose happiness. Once you trust in yourself to be your own number one fan, you’ll be amazed at the leaps and bounds you can make. One of the learnings from an interview I listened to during Mindful May  talked about how when we are self-compassionate, we automatically feel safer. And when we feel safer, we are more likely to be creative and productive. So if anyone calls you out for being deluded (or any other namecalling) for doing this conscious shift business- fuck them. Just kidding, that’s not very “yogic” of me. They can mind their own lives and mind their own thoughts.

Image from a rad Aussie-based initiative determined to fight the stigma of Depression & other "funks". They're called-   One Wave is All it Takes. 

Image from a rad Aussie-based initiative determined to fight the stigma of Depression & other "funks". They're called-  One Wave is All it Takes. 

So how do we make lemonade? Well, I can only tell you what’s worked for me. As I mentioned earlier, I still get negative thoughts. I am FAR from perfect and I am still victim to caring about what other people think sometimes. At least, until I catch myself for having silly thoughts. Just earlier today, before posting about MOMENT on instagram, I thought- wait.. will people think I’m less dedicated to C(OM)MUNITY if I do this? Will people judge me and say I’m spreading myself too thin and thus I can’t be good at anything?

 

These stories we tell ourselves, this inner monologue is non-stop.  It chatters away, day in and day out. The only reprieve we get is when we’re asleep and then we’re just simply unconscious. No fun. During waking hours, the best way to stop this monologue is to consciously silence it.  That is, to “catch yourself having silly thoughts”. Through meditation, we learn to notice it for what it is- Some voice in our head that ISN’T US! We are not our thoughts. Let me say that again.-We.  Are. Not.  Our.  Thoughts. They will come and they will go. Don’t let them take you for a ride. 

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Side Note: Of course, after finishing this post, I received my Daily Truthbomb from Danielle Laporte which said the following: 

How fitting. 

 

Like what you read? Feel free to share with the links below. 

Yoga outside the postures: True Story by Anita Cheung

So I know I talk a lot about "Yoga outside the postures" on this blog and it can sound like one of those things that fits in with all of the other motivational quotes we see all over Facebook and Instagram. You know, nice to think about, but much too hard to put into practice. Recently, I've had the opportunity to practice what I preach and I just wanted to share that experience here.

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Yoga vs. Pilates (101) by Anita Cheung

For the majority of people, yoga and pilates are pretty much synonymous. Both are offered as group fitness classes in gyms and both involve stretching on a mat. So what's the difference anyway?

To save you from googling or walking into the wrong class, I've compiled a quick list to help you differentiate

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What do Yoga, Church, & Drinking songs have in common? by Anita Cheung

The answer is: Not much, really.

Except for this- there is something that happens in all three situations that can have therapeutic benefits. No, I'm not suggesting you tuck a flask into your Sunday best, nor do I recommend showing up to yoga class drunk (I've taught an inebriated person once- it wasn't fun for him).

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Mindgames & Meditation by Anita Cheung

As a self-diagnosed bonafide over-thinker, I admit that I often analyze and over-analyze everything around me. While helpful in academic settings; in the real world, the chattering of this monkey mind doesn't always serve me. The mind is a meaning-making machine and often, the stories I weave in my head about situations are far from the truth. Below are some examples that I'm sure some of you can relate to:

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How Yoga can save your relationships by Anita Cheung

We hear so many great lessons in our yoga classes and yet we often forget to apply them in our everyday relationships. Things like going with the flow and accepting things as they are sound wonderful in theory, but when we have to apply them to situations- like when someone we love moves away-, it's an entirely different story. We say we know all about compassion and forgiveness- until our best friend starts dating our crush.

 

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Why C(OM)MUNITY? by Anita Cheung

C(OM)MUNITY is both a social experience and a weekly progressive yoga class.

The idea behind C(OM)MUNITY came about during my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. Here I was breathing, sweating, and practicing with a group of strangers a few days a week...

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Digesti(om): Yoga for Digestion by Anita Cheung

For most of us, we’ve heard about the relaxation benefits of yoga and deep breathing. However, have you ever considered how you can take your yoga practice off the mat, to the dinner table, and beyond? In this two part series, we discuss how yoga can help improve digestion.

 

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How to: Stop being angry in 3 steps by Anita Cheung

Step 1: Stop beating yourself up for being angry.
Step 2: Let it go. 

Note: This post was originally featured on Girlvana Yoga. While the original audience was teen girls; learning to live with, and let go of, anger is something we all struggle with regardless of age.

 

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Attitude of Gratitude by Anita Cheung

Whether it's Ted  Talksscientific studies, or even inspirational quotes, everyone seems to be talking about gratitude. Why?

..Because it works.

Note: This post was originally posted on Girlvana Yoga and was written with a teen girl audience. However, I figured everyone, regardless of age, can benefit from a little more gratitude. 

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Flexibility and Yoga by Anita Cheung

"I'm not good at yoga.- I'm not very flexible."

I've heard those two phrases above more times than I can count and my response is always- "Nonsense, you can't be "bad" at yoga."

To which I'm often met with laughter, and sometimes an insistent, "No, seriously. I'm REALLY not flexible." 

Why do I think Yoga is not about being flexible? For the following 3 reasons....

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