Intentions vs. Goals

PicCollage(2)

An intention is a thing intended; an aim or a plan.

A goal is the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

I believe there is a subtle difference between the two. I look at intention as a way of being and a goal as something with an end result.

For example, I have the goal to practice at least 15 minutes of yoga every single day. It’s measurable and I can easily hold myself accountable.

During a recent yoga class I set the intention of ease. Ease is not something that can be measured. Rather, it is a way of being. During that class I was sweating my tush off in utkatasana (chair pose) when I started mentally complaining about burning thighs and achy hips. I reminded myself that my intention was to find ease in every single pose. Just the thought caused me to relax. Although the pose was still difficult, I did actually find ease.

If I can find ease in 90 degrees, then what else is possible?

I’ve been playing with setting intentions in my everyday life.

The other morning I had the goal to be out the door with my toddler at 7:15 a.m. I’m usually stressed by this type of goal but I decided to set the intention of creating a calm morning. He still smeared cream cheese all over his face and refused to wear his shoes, but instead of getting worked up I laughed, snapped a pic and tossed his shoes in my purse.

IMG_0839

Goals can be powerful catalysts for change. 

This year I set a goal to become a confident and knowledgeable yoga teacher with four scheduled classes per week. I worked my way there by participating in Grow’s Yoga Teacher Training program, registering as a 500-hour teacher with Yoga Alliance, and teaching my first workshops: Prenatal Yoga with Tarin and Yin Yoga 101. I was scared to teach at a busy studio, but my goal pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.

Intentions can be powerful catalysts for personal transformation. 

My intention for this year was to create joy in every aspect of my life. When I set this intention, I felt grief about my health.

Since I was nowhere near joy, I started with the intention of acceptance. I cultivated acceptance by talking with a therapist, opening up to friends, blogging and practicing yoga every day. Through acceptance I lost the grief.

Goals vs. Intentions

As a yoga teacher, I have the following goals:

  • safety. My goal is that no one gets hurt. I work toward this goal by teaching and checking for correct alignment.
  • empowerment. My goal is that each student cultivates their own practice. I work toward this goal by offering choices, asking meaningful questions & lovingly nudging my students to step out of their comfort zones. This also means continuously stepping out of my own comfort zone.

As a yoga teacher, I have the following intention:

  •  to share what I love. With this intention I can let go of self-doubt: Do they like my class? Are they bored? Do they think what I’m saying is dumb? None of that matters because my intention is to share what I love. This intention also fits my purpose in blogging.

I spent the first half of 2015 empowering myself. Now my intention is to share empowerment with you. You have the power to create anything you want in your life.

Go ahead… what are your wildest dreams? What goals have you/will you set? What is your intention for today? This month? How will you cultivate your intention?

How have goals and/or intentions shaped your life?

Interview: Hannah Gorman of the Grow Collective

Meet Hannah Gorman, Director of Finances and HR at Grow Yoga, CFO of the Grow Collective, dream chaser, inspiring yogini and all around amazing woman!

Hannah is the first interview in a forthcoming series of people living wholehearted lives.

hannah

Photo by Magi @ MKCaptures

 What drew you to yoga initially?

This is going to sound so cheesy! Honestly, people on Instagram and them posting their pretty poses. I’m like “I want to be able to do this” but… I didn’t feel like I matched what yoga was supposed to be.

Hannah followed Beach Girl Yoga for inspiration, but it wasn’t until she saw a friend’s wife, Stephanie, posting yoga pics that she started to believe she might actually be able to do yoga herself.

Suburban Gypsy’s covered in tattoos. I got to see her family and I got to see how yoga was shaping not only her body, but her life. She didn’t really fit what I thought yoga looked like. That’s what inspired me to be myself and practice this.

Yoga wasn’t just the pretty poses and the beach lifestyle but it was about being the best version of myself and how that can translate off the yoga mat.

How has yoga changed your life?

I really think yoga makes me a nicer person. I didn’t realize that I was a bitch before, but (my husband) Shawn says I’m different now that I practice. I’m definitely less reactive. In that regard our relationship has grown and we’re much stronger. After years of begging, he finally took his first class at Grow. I think he actually practices more than I do.

I’m always really concerned that I am authentic and practice what I preach. If I tell other people how it’s benefited my life but then I’m not being that way than that’s kind of being a fraud. I really try to practice what I do on my mat in other aspects of my life like forgiveness, compassion and self-care.

It’s been really, really good and I’m enjoying the journey so far.

What are your passions?

Obviously yoga! Being of service, people that are in service, and inspirational leaders… anyone that’s passionate about what they’re doing. I really feed off that type of energy. Also, people that take amazing photographs, draw, create mosaics…

I believe that we are pretty fortunate and if I can do anything to help someone else I will try my best to do that.

What is the Grow Collective?

The Grow Collective has three components.

Grow Your Goals: Grow Your Goals helps inspiring business owners to create a business plan, seek out funding and become a legitimate business in the state of New Jersey. We give them the stepping stools to help them do something they love, which I love. It’s passing that love to someone else.

The Bright Light Yoga Project: The BLYP works with survivors of sexual violence in Bolivia. The statistics in the United States say that one out of every four people will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, while the statistic in Bolivia are one in every two. It’s mainly children that are experiencing this type of abuse and violence.

Hannah leaves tomorrow, June 27, 2015 for a service trip to Bolivia.

I will be teaching yoga every day to children in Spanish, trying to create a safe space for them to be able to comfortably move their bodies and make them stronger, more consciousness people. Our hope is that we can pass our love on to the survivors and empower them to carry on our message in Bolivia when we’re not there. Our goal is to create powerful people to stand up and fight against the sexual violence.

Youth Yoga Initiative:

Initially we (Tara and I) developed the Teen Empowerment Program (a program offering teens free yoga at the studio in exchange for a volunteer internship at a community location).

The only two kids that showed up for the Teen Empowerment Program were two boys who were unable to volunteer on their own. I set up their internship at Seashore Gardens Living Center in Galloway and went with them once a week to volunteer with senior citizens.

The Youth Yoga Initiative has since evolved to include several projects.

I wrote a grant for Absegami High School. Other schools have asked us to attend their health fairs and then that became “Hey, we want you to teach yoga here.”

The Covenant House yoga program is part of the Youth Yoga Initiative.

At risk and homeless youth…these are children that have either run away, been kicked out or have been homeless on and off for an extended period of time. The Covenant House provides residency for them. It (The Grow Yoga program) is mainly teenagers and young adults doing yoga because they want to. We strive to create a safe place.

How did you become involved in grant writing?

I went to school for criminal justice and public administration. I took a couple of grant writing classes. Follow-up depends on the company. It’s really about knowing who your potential funder is and developing a relationship with them, even prior to submitting an application. That’s why I reached out to Vans first and then they invited me to apply.

I had photos done (as part of Grow’s Yoga Teacher Training) wearing my Vans, which I wear pretty much daily. I sent my picture to Vans to let them know who I am, what I’m doing and where I’m going. As a grant writer by trade, I’m always looking for opportunities for funding.

Several other places in the community have reached out to Hannah with an interest in yoga. Hannah has begun developing a team of volunteer yoga teachers to meet the needs of the community. She continues to apply for grants through various companies so that the Grow Yoga Youth Yoga Initiative can pay yoga teachers for their time and provide yoga students with supplies such as workout clothing and mats. Gaiam has donated yoga mats. Hannah applied for a significant grant from Lululemon. She is currently waiting to hear back about a $3000 grant from Vans and $3000 worth of Vans workout clothing.

I can see my position as CFO merging into a volunteer coordinator, corporate partnership manager…just to be able to keep track of everything we have going on in the community. It’s really nice these places have reached out to us.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be of service but doesn’t know how?

My advice would be to identify your skills and reach out to an organization that directly aligns with what you feel strongly about.

There may not be an opportunity already present, but it doesn’t hurt to put yourself out there and ask, “Can I offer some type of services?” Worse case scenario they’ll say no, but you can always go somewhere else.

What would you like to share about your life?

I’ve had a traumatic past. I grew up in a very abusive household where I was physically and emotionally abused for a very long time. It (the abuse) doesn’t have to shape who I am today. I don’t need to continue that violence or abuse, or place blame on myself. I’m working on forgiving myself on my mat and learning to forgive my parents.

Harboring anger creates more anger and frustration and I’m not allowing myself to heal. I should forgive them because it would be beneficial to me, not because I’m going to develop a relationship with them.

What would you like to share about your health?

I feel strongly with women’s reproductive health because I have had issues since I was 16. That’s part of my self-care.

I need to speak up about how my treatment is going. I get Lupron injections for a uterine tumor. I also have pretty aggressive endometriosis. For a long time it was very painful and I have received countless surgeries at this point. Really it’s about sharing my experiences and frustrations with the health care system. Maybe by sharing my story I can be relatable and give someone else the push to speak for themselves and be an advocate for their own self-care and health.

The Lupron injections can cause osteoporosis. They may me very sick, my whole body hurts, and my bones hurt for a week. The injection puts me in a menopausal state so that the endometriosis stops growing.

Hannah would like a hysterectomy, which would remove the tumor and endometriosis. A hysterectomy would ultimately be cheaper than injections long term, but her insurance will not cover it because of her age. She currently continues her injection treatments.

What advice do you have about self-care and the health?

Have great open dialog with your healthcare professional and really speak about what your health goals and objectives are.

What’s your favorite yoga pose?

I love Utkatasana! I feel beautiful, powerful and at the same time it’s a real release to twist it out and open up. It’s not just a physical pose, it’s mental as well. I’m opening myself up and exploring what I thought I couldn’t do. There’s room for an advanced pose like side crow. I really like the playfulness and how the pose makes me expand. I’m opening myself up to possibility and creating that in my practice.

I chose to interview Hannah because of her selfless dedication to service. She does not let her past or her health issues shape her life. She is a constant source of inspiration for me!

Click on the following links to learn more about the Bright Light Yoga Project and it’s partnering organization A Breeze of Hope.

Reason #8: Yoga Makes Me Smile

Reason #8 Yoga Makes Me Smile: Meeting like-minded friends

I’ll start by saying that I dearly love all of my friends, even the ones that don’t do yoga…

but when it comes to making new acquaintances these days I’d rather shop around a yoga workshop than at a local bar.

Yogini friends Wania and Liz (taken in Mexico last March)

Of course meeting someone at yoga doesn’t mean there will be instant chemistry, but it sure is fun to meet others with the same interests.

What do you love about yoga?

Click here to read reason #7 why yoga makes me smile, with links at the bottom for the previous six

Have you made any friends from yoga?

I’ve met tons of social friends and one new best friend.

Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Bramacharya

This week we’re talking about the fourth Yama: Bramacharya.

Quick refresher: The Yamas are found in The Yoga Sutras. They provide a guideline for social behaviors. Click on the links below for thoughts on the first three:

  1.  Ahimsa: non-harming
  2. Satya: non-lieing
  3. Asteya: non-stealing

Not many people can argue with those, but then comes Bramacharya. It’s been translated as continence, celibacy and control of the senses. Obviously there are a lot of different ways to look at this one. I like these words“it means responsible behavior with respect to our goal of moving toward the truth”. 

My teachers have said that Bramacharya means respect for sexual energy. That might mean keeping your distance from a friend’s hubby or covering up around certain people at the beach. The first and most important Yama is Ahimsa, non-harming. It’s kind of like the rest are sub-categories of non-harming. It’s great to enjoy life, but it’s our job to do it in a respectful, loving way. And of course this applies to yourself as well. Are we staying true to ourselves? Are we holding ourselves with the highest regard? Do we expect the same from others?

Thoughts on this one?

Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Satya

(picture found on pinterest, originally from here)

Satya = non-lieing = truthfulness

Satya is the second yama/guideline for social interaction laid out in the Yoga Sutras. We all know it’s not nice to tell a lie, but let’s dig a little deeper. Here are a few topics that may be challenging when it comes to the truth:

Finances

Yes, I’m going there first. It’s one of the most uncomfortable topics ever, and I personally hate to talk about it. So what to do when asked a question you’d rather not answer? This article on Yoga Journal addresses the issue in an honest way (hehe). Basically, being truthful doesn’t mean sharing your tax return or divulging your monthly finances but it does mean painting a picture that’s honest. For example, have you ever had a friend say they didn’t feel like hanging out and later you found out they actually couldn’t afford the restaurant you were suggesting (or maybe you’ve been the friend counting change). Back in my college days I remember more than a few times where certain friends treated me to dinner or a few rounds of bowling. It’s been a joy being able to return the favor. True friends tell each other the truth even when it’s uncomfortable, and it usually leads to more love and support than expected (at least if you have nice friends).

Relationships

While on the topic of friendship, I think we’ve all had the bestie who’s dating the dud. So what do you say about him? Well here’s where it doesn’t hurt to say the truth in a nice gentle way. “I’m not sure he’s making you happy” is a lot less judgemental than some other choice words you might be thinking. Telling the truth doesn’t mean getting a license to say mean crap. My rule of thumb: I try to give my opinion as kindly as possible once or twice and after that I keep my mouth shut. Once I’ve told the truth there’s no reason to say it again.

When to skip the truth?

How about if it will cause more harm than good? For example, my beloved Yia Yia (Greek for grandma) was terminally ill with cancer. My cousin was supposed to be studying Spanish in Costa Rica for college credit. He hopped on the next plane home during her last few weeks. She asked about his class and he said he finished early. Perfectly acceptable lie (in my book) because the intention came from a place of love and non-harming. Plus the lie came from a place of higher truth: saying what’s in the heart. In his mind he was done. There was no possible way to concentrate on his studies when he could be by her side.

Denying the truth when it’s uncomfortable

Advertisers spend a lot of money to convince us to buy stuff we don’t need. The truth is that eating a lot of meat is damaging to the environment and it’s not healthy. The truth is that scientists have proven our bodies don’t need cow’s milk to build strong bones. The truth is sugary cereal does not make a nutritious breakfast for our children. Most of us know the truth but find it easier to push it away. A common thought is “I’d rather not know.” I’m guilty of this, especially when it comes to leather and fancy purses. Part of the yogi path is aligning your values with what you do everyday. By becoming an informed consumer, we’re able to make choices that speak our truth.

What are your thoughts on truth? When do you find it hard to tell the truth? How have you aligned your actions with your own truth? When is it ok to skip the truth?

I debated about writing those sentences about meat and milk in this post. I don’t want this to be a condescending blog that comes off as negative and judgemental. I deleted them so that things would be more cheerful. I thought about coming up with different examples for telling the truth when it’s uncomfortable. Then I realized that I’m being ridiculous. I’m not judging whether you eat meat or drink milk. I still eat desserts on brunch buffets, so who am I to say anything? Believe me that everything I write I apply to myself. Not to sound corny or anything, but life is a journey and we all get a learning curve. So please don’t think I’m accusing you of anything or that I want to boss anyone around. I’m just pondering the truth. And that really is the truth.

Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Ahimsa

Saturday Morning Sanskrit is back with a plan. I’ve briefly mentioned some of the most important parts of yoga philosophy (like Om, Lokah Samastah and Savasana). I also touched on the first of the eight limbs of yoga on Earth Day. Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to live following these guidelines. One of the best parts about yoga is that (in my humble opinion) it’s not a religion. You are free to believe in anything you choose while pondering the basics of yoga philosophy. This week I’ll start with the first branch of yoga, found at the start of this chart (I got the graphic from Pinterest, it was created by Alison Hinks):

Yama = self restraint = guideline for social behavior


The yamas can be decribed as ancient wisdom, rather than a strict list of rules and regulations. The first yama is Ahimsa~ non-violence. It means kindness and consideration. It’s the yogi word for the Golden Rule (click for an awesome blog post with simple tips for living by the Golden Rule). What exactly does it mean to live without harming anyone or anything?

I think it means pausing before taking action. And that’s one of the greatest gifts of a yoga practice: learning how to pause. It takes a moment to decide what the best choice is. It also means being kind to yourself. This article talks about self-love. If you’re generating negative thoughts about yourself (whether it’s your appearance, career or whatever else), how can you practice non-violence towards others? Ditto for aggressive exercise or forcing your body into a yoga pose it’s not quite ready for.

Ahimsa stems from an awareness of how thoughts and actions effect others; whether it’s buying cute clothes made from slave labor or supporting companies with questionable practices. It can be overwhelming in our fast-paced society to make compassionate decisions. That’s where the pause comes in. Ahimsa is taking each decision as it comes and starting with the intention of choosing the least harming option. Ahimsa doesn’t mean being a pushover. Parents know that it’s not always pleasant at first to do what’s right. A simple example involves putting the kids to bed. They may whine and complain, but in the end it’s better for all involved when the kids get sleep and the parents get down-time. The same goes for exercise, meditation and cutting out fast food or gossip. Each non-violent choice elevates us, making it easier and easier until it becomes the norm.

Click on any of these for further reading:

Ahimsa by Sharon Gannon

Be Kind to Yourself in Finances

Thinking about others

What does Ahimsa/non-harming mean to you? How do you practice it in your everyday life? Feel free to share any thoughts or links.

I choose not to eat eggs anymore. It’s not really a health issue, but I can’t enjoy them with a clear conscious. This letter really affected me.


Focus on Yoga

Happy Memorial Day weekend! It’s Friday and I’m getting ready for tomorrow’s start to campground yoga at Belhaven Lake RV Resort. Last summer I taught three classes every Saturday: relaxing, flow and children’s. It was a blast and I’m thrilled to be going back this year. Click on the link for the post from my first yoga class ever.

Meanwhile, since an elementary school teaching job hasn’t panned out yet I’ve got the summer to focus on yoga. The other day I had fellow yogi and friend of friends Joe Longo take some pictures of me in my new Jersey hometown. I would like to put together some business cards to promote private yoga classes in the area, and pictures are necessary. People want to make sure that the person on the other end of that number or email is really a yoga teacher… Here’s a peek:

Crescent pose overlooking the Great Egg Harbor River

What are your weekend plans? Any advice for humble self-promotion?

Fun in Philly

Yesterday morning I went on a job interview. Teaching gigs are very hard to come by these days, and the competition is fierce. I’m still waiting to hear back so my nerves are a little rattled. The quickest way to chill out when something’s on my mind is head to yoga so yesterday afternoon I went to class at my favorite studio in Philadelphia. I was a little spaced out about the interview, so it wasn’t until 20 minutes in during sun salutations that I noticed the gorgeous shirtless guy diagonal from me. I’m usually not one to check out dudes at yoga (I take my zen time very seriously), but this guy had chaturanga muscles to the max. So guess who the cute guy was…

Colin Farrell (not my pic)

Yes, the chatter in my mind about the interview subsided as I realized an A-lister was three feet away. He’s in town filming a movie and apparently he’s a pretty devout yogi. Who knew? At least this distraction was a little more fun than the other.

Tomato soup minus the cream in Old City

Iced green tea at Cafe Ole

What helps you to chill out? Who’s your celebrity crush?

Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Abhyasa

“In the beginning you have to make room for yoga in your daily life, and give it the place it deserves. But after some time, yoga itself will pull you up by the hair and make you do it.” ~ Vanda Scaravelli

Sun Salutations

Today’s word is Abhyasa. It’s loosely translated as practice, and you can read all about in Sutras 1.12-1.14.

Basically, the more you practice something the better you become at it. The purpose of yoga is to calm the mind and who doesn’t want more peace? Patanjali suggests we practice yoga every day:

“Practice becomes firmly grounded when all attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.”

Sutra 1.14 translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda

How do you find the time to practice yoga?

I set my iPhone alarm message to “wake up beautiful, practice yoga”. It’s the first thing I see when I crack me eyes open and it reminds me why I should get out of bed early enough for at least a few minutes of deep breath linked with movement.

Savasana Songs

A Costa Rican sunset

Yesterday I posted about Savasana, corpse pose and how wonderful it is. Here’s a list of songs that help me get into the relaxation zone:

Long Time Sun by Snatam Kaur

Dedication-center & Calm the mind by SatKirin Kaur Khalsa

Bliss by Soulfood

He Ma Durga by Donna De Lory

Suni-ai (Slow) by Snatam Kaur

Chakra Groove by Soulfood

Home Again by Drala

Purnima Namashkar (Homage to the Full Moon) by Chinmaya Dunster

Hare Krishna by Wah!

She has a voice from heaven

Any other Savasana favorites?

Happy resting!