In order to be in balance and to stay grounded with what is around us, we need to seek or find grounding and balance within ourselves…the best we can. Create a ritual for yourself – maybe something as simple as a 10-minute mediation to steady the mind. Or, start your morning with some gentle sun salutations and balancing postures to invigorate you and prepare you for your day. Finish the practice with a forward fold and a cozy Savansana.
It can be challenging to stay aligned on a path. Even if you know what you want and where you are heading…there are always distractions…or plans change…or you change. And of course, there is ‘the grass is always greener.’
I’ve always known my greater purpose as a teacher. However, a few years into my teaching I started feeling a little scattered and sometimes lost in where I was heading with my work. I often stumbled with mental distractions. Either my brain would prematurely jump to get onto what’s next, or the allure of the outside world or social media would pull me into a time-sucking vortex. Then it was suggested I needed to brand myself. I started questioning what I was doing. Was I doing enough? Was this what I wanted? Was I staying true to my path?
When inside or outside chatter becomes too distracting, particularly to the point where I see what someone else is doing and think, “should I be doing that?” even when the answer is no, I do two things. One is to look at my many notes that evolved from branding/marketing meetings with Robyn Tosick, Marketing Specialist and owner of www.savvyyogi.com. I don’t consider my work a brand per se, but meeting with Robyn was a wake-up call for me that I needed to refocus on my message and my higher purpose as a teacher. The second thing I do is go back to my teaching journals, which includes my many Break Through and Renew Workshop notes. I have a little ceremony of mine where I go through what I present to others and explore where I may be stuck for misaligned on my path. What presents itself isn’t always so simple, for my ‘brand’ is always in progress, but it’s one of the reasons I created this workshop. It speaks true to the real me and is part of my personal work.
If you’re curious about a personal check-in or exploring your path, I’m getting ready for my fourth Break Through and Renew Workshop on October 22nd, 1:15pm-3:45pm, at Union Yoga. This workshop is about creating a ritual with yourself, to unwind and detox physically and mentally, to see if or where you may be off-track or holding you back on your own personal path. It may be just what you need before the holidays and to prepare for the New Year. For more information of this dive into the Svadhyayah, or study of the self, go to my website www.juliewatsonyoga.com or register: http://union.yoga
I like to cook. When I get or make the time, cooking is a cathartic experience for me. When I’m motivated or inspired, I look in the fridge to see what I have, or think about for what I’m in the mood. Sometimes I follow straight from the recipe; sometimes I change ingredients or steps based on experience; and sometimes I follow a desirable color palette. Grazing through cookbooks or magazines of various cuisines and diets, and even online, I begin to anticipate what may be created next. I also love excursions to the grocery store or farmers market, seeing what’s fresh and in season to determine what colorful dish can be prepared.
I think my cooking interest really began in my early 30’s while living in Seattle. I had a group of friends, some who cooked and some who just enjoyed food. When I met my husband he worked in the service industry and also enjoyed cooking, and the foodie adventures continued. Including the major holidays, dinner parties, barbeques, restaurant excursions and take-away gatherings were the norm. My favorite experiences, and most of the time the dishes, were prepared at each other’s homes. I loved having themes and searching for new things to cook. I even enjoyed the challenge of meeting everyone’s dietary restrictions and preferences. Well, almost always…
Some of my more recent curiosities were inspired by a vegetarian cookbook full of international recipes, which was referenced in a book about Ayurveda. That led me to dig deeper with Sachi Doctor, an Ayurvedic practitioner based in San Francisco. Sachi has taught me to understand how to eat (and live) in a way that is more aligned with my mind-body constitution (dosha) and with the seasons. Thinking about reviving the group meal experience and combining it with my passions for teaching and cooking, Sachi and I collaborated to teach workshops that applied Ayurvedic principles on the mat and in the kitchen. Our next endeavors are in the works, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, I plan to share my own experiences in the kitchen. Here’s a tasty salad idea that I created for Summer/Spring.
Vibrant Quinoa Salad
Combine the following chopped herbs in food processor with 1/3 cup or more olive oil. Add lemon or vinegar if desired,
- 1 bunch cilantro , packed
- 1/2 cup parsley , loose
- 1/4 cup each dill, mint & tarragon
Mix with the following:
- 2 cups (more/less as desired) cooked quinoa
- small sautéed onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 to 1 serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 3-4 green onions, sliced
- generous handful of arugula, chopped
- salt & pepper to taste; I also added cumin
- feta, optional
If you don’t like the taste of tarragon, you could skip it or experiment with another herb…basil, sorrel, lemon thyme.
A teacher of wise words once told me, if I didn’t share myself with others, I’d be robbing others of who I really am. So, here is my story of becoming a teacher.
Like many yoga teachers I came from the corporate world, 17 years as a civil engineering to be exact. For the first few years, I designed fuel systems for fire departments and emergency medical service (EMS) sites in NYC and then worked on water and sewer pipeline design in Phoenix, Seattle and the Bay Area, providing conduits of clean, purified water to serve people and conduits that dispose of the ‘crap’ people no longer needed.
There was a point in my career when I started experiencing pain in my hands and arms. At first I told no one, not wanting the pain to hold me back. Then, it got so bad where I couldn’t even turn a door handle. During that same time my yoga practice was on a hiatus. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there; I was just too busy feeding my ego, making good money, and meeting deadlines to meet others’ needs. When the pain became so bad, I had to change my work habits and started going back to yoga. As I practiced regularly, the pain would lessen until the following work day. I realized yoga provided a healing element that over-the-counter pain pills couldn’t offer and that my body needed more overall movement. Once I was able to balance out my work schedule with a yoga and exercise schedule, I got the pain under control.
Then, upon a geographical move and a shift into a new role…the workload changed…the pain returned…it continued to get worse…until I would rest and practice yoga…then it came back…it became so it wouldn’t go away… I lived in this continuous pain cycle that turned into 2 surgeries and a career change.
When I realized that yoga lessened my pain and as the practice continued to heal me at so many other levels, I had this desire to become a teacher. My hope was maybe I could help other office bodies prevent physical issues or even supplement others’ lives with a mindful body awareness.
So here I am, now a teacher. Although the pain isn’t entirely gone, I have the capability to keep it mostly under control. I call it a blessing in disguise. I’m loving what I do…I’m teaching public, private and corporate classes, offering yoga that caters to the lifestyles and individual needs of the individual bodies. I had even found my way back to a wastewater treatment plant and an EMS facility, providing a conduit that gives them a healthy source of nourishment, and offering a conduit to get rid of what they no longer need. Maybe I’ve come full circle? I’m not entirely sure. However, now finding this bridge back to my former life I have the confidence to stand up and teach with my purpose. My purpose is to Align + Persevere + Progress, which to me means the following:
Align – Offer a safe, sustainable practice that meets the lifestyle of the individual body.
Persevere – Teach others to use their inner strength and a little muscle to improve endurance.
Progress – Help practitioners of any level meet their needs and goals, also allowing room for growth.
I’m happy as long as I move with my purpose and teach with my purpose. I’ve got this one life and I’m living it.