our minds are bastards sometimes

They throw us into panic mode at the first sign of discomfort.
They activate our "fight or flight" response when we DON'T need to fight. Or fly. 
but that would be cool.

They tell us we are "stuck".
...we are "helpless".
...we are "unworthy".
...we are "never going to be ok".

Some days our minds are binoculars, enhancing our failures, and somehow simultaneously blocking out any light trying to break through.
Some days, our minds feel stronger than the Light.

This week has been like that for me.
I posted a picture on Instagram, reminding people that it's ok to ask for help sometimes.

AND THEN I ASKED FOR HELP.

I called my people. I wrote in my journal. Mostly incomplete sentences and random words, but it made sense to me. 
I made an appointment with a therapist.
And I got on my yoga mat.

I mostly just sat there. My movement was slow and minimal. My breath was shallow, and everything between my body and heart felt like a dull pain. 

What I realized is this: it's not the yoga that fixes you, it's the surrender.
It's the letting to. 
It's the "Shit is rough right now, and I don't see the way out, but I know it's there somewhere."
It's the "I just need to come clean about what's bugging me..."
...and the "I understand. I'm here for you" on the other end.
And it's days like today, where I decided I'm not going into work. I've got other "work" to take care of, and that comes first.

I hope you know, I got your back. <3
 

non-linear

It's pouring rain as I write this...

The rain comes in waves. Thick, heavy sheets of side-ways moving rain, then drip drip drizzle, then back to heavy downpours, then back to drizzles. Back and forth like that, until it stops.

The rain knows very few things in life are linear. 

Like learning, for example. And growth. And healing.

That's been a big lesson for me lately. Healing. Isn't. Linear.

I had surgery 2 weeks ago and haven't shut up about it. I'm not ready to shut up about it either, because I'm still healing. My incisions are healing, but my mind is still trying to find comfort. Every day I wake up with a new pain in my body, AND a new scab that's healed. It's possible to be fixed in one place, and broken in another.

I wanted to make a video for you guys this week, but I'm not as physically comfortable as I'd like to be, so I'm going to wait. I keep thinking I'm better, and then something else starts hurting. 
It's frustrating and challenging and makes me REALLY appreciate when my body was pain-free.

It's not linear.

Very few things are.

You can mourn a loss long after you've made peace with it.
You can revisit the basics of a pose long after you've achieved it.
You can love someone long after they broke your heart.
You can gain and lose and gain and lose and gain weight again, long after you've lost it.

Knowing how to re-start is a superpower. Even that isn't linear. Some days you'll forget how to re-start. Other days you'll re-start 8 times before you even leave your house.

Take some of the pressure off yourself and know that you're exactly where you're meant to be RIGHT now. You will move forward, and you will move backward, and you will be stagnant, and none of that will be permanent.

You're doing a great job.

Om Shanti, Om Peace
Cortni

just stop.

Put both feet on the ground, take a deep breath in. 
Release tension in your face, forehead, and jaw. Let that breath out.
Stand a little taller. Breathe in.
Now smile, and exhale.


I spent Memorial Day weekend in Tennessee, hiking, splashing in waterfalls, kayaking, and listening.
Deeply listening. Deeply feeling.

It was the first time in months that I. Just. Stopped. 

The quieter I got, the more I tuned into the life around me. The waterfalls crashing. The gravel crunching. The birds mating. The fish plucking food from the water's surface. 

While hiking Burgess Falls, I looked down and saw I had been walking on empty shells. THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of empty shells. I squatted, and looked at my husband. "All of these used to hold life."

Life above us, life below us, life within us.

I don't know if there's a word for the feeling when you realize just how small you are in this much bigger picture, then simultaneously understand that you are PART of that picture. 

You are co-existing. Co-living. 

You exhale. Nature inhales.
Nature exhales. You inhale.

We are involved in a much bigger cycle. Pause for a moment and simply listen.
What do you hear?

Om Shanti,
Cortni

Just Freaking Do It

I'm currently doing two online trainings to enhance my teaching and overall badassery. I told you about one of these trainings in my last blog, but the other training is on a whole other level. It's rocking my woooooorld, y'all. 
This training is basically all about keeping it real. Without going into too much detail, it's teaching me to JUST DO IT.

Jump to 2 weeks ago when I started Rabbit Hole training, and I'm told to make a #randomtalkingvideo and not worry about whether or not it looks good...to just freaking do it. I used my first #RTV as an opportunity to rant about people bagging produce at the grocery store. It was dumb, but got a TON of engagement! Believe it or not, people could actually relate to that frustration. Posting that gave me the confidence I needed to record my first yoga video. Literally, posting a 60-second rant was all I needed.

Honestly I spend SO MUCH TIME worrying about not looking stupid. I have wanted to create yoga videos for about a year, but kept postponing it because my camera quality sucked, and I didn't know how to edit videos, and my house is too small and janky to film in...I basically came up with every excuse in the world not to record. But after my #RTV, I felt confident enough to just do it.

So, on my lunch break WEARING MY WORK CLOTHES I recorded and uploaded my first youtube video, and emailed it out to my mailing list. (<-- Click that if you want to join.)
My video got a ton of great response, but the most common response I got were comments on how people loved that I was wearing my work clothes! I felt so silly and insecure about it, and that was what people resonated with most. People said it made them feel more comfortable because I took the pressure off of perfection. 

PEOPLE WANT TO RELATE TO YOU. They don't want you on a pedestal, they want you to be HUMAN, and transparent, and keep it real.

I just recorded my second video. It's uploading as I type this. I fell over a few times in the video, and ran out of breath a lot. The room was SO HOT so my face was hella red. Old-Cortni would have just deleted the video and tried again in a few weeks. But new-Rabbit Hole-Cortni decided to keep it and upload it as it is.

Maybe the people who see it will also run out of breath. Maybe they will also get sweaty or fall over. Maybe they are also imperfect humans who just want to do yoga with someone who doesn't try to be impressive or flashy. Maybe they don't need me to wear $100 yoga pants, or have perfect lighting and editing skills. Maybe they don't need me to nail every balance pose.

Anyway, my point is I think people just want REAL. So, if you've got something to share with the world, share it. Don't worry about the lighting, or if you trip over your words, or if you are sweating or wearing the wrong clothes.

JUST. FREAKING. DO IT.

And when you do, tell me about it. I'll sign up for that shit.

Om Shanti,
Cortni

 

Inclusion in Western Yoga

I just registered for a new training that I'm SUPER excited about and can't wait to share with you guys. It's called Yoga For All and it is a training designed by Dianne Bondy (check out her Instagram HERE.) This training will teach me modifications, queues, new postures, language considerations, and MUCH more. With this 6-week training, I will be able to offer safe, inclusive classes to demographics that are currently not represented in "mainstream yoga".
In Western yoga, we see fitness magazines, clothing ads, famous Instagram yogis, big-label yoga clothing lines, and general "spiritual" culture that represents thin, young, predominantly white, mostly female, cis-gendered, hyper-flexible yogis. You hardly ever see yogis of color, queer yogis, larger bodies, or anyone over age 30. (Obviously are some exceptions here and there, but it's a very apparent theme.)
While Yoga Teacher Training is valuable and necessary, most 200-hour trainings don't offer enhancements or queuing for yogis that don't fit that norm. So what does it mean to practice and teach yoga INCLUSIVELY? How do we create a welcoming space for yogis in all bodies, of all ages, from all backgrounds?

I think we can start with recognizing and confronting our own biases. We can eliminate the idea that "doing yoga" means being bound up like a pretzel, zenned out in booty shorts, or nailing the "perfect" handstand. We can choose not to glorify yogis that only represent the hyper-flexible, or the multi-million dollar yoga clothing corporations. We can choose not to support companies that show lack of representation and diversity in their media and advertisements. We can call out discrimination when we see it, rather than spiritually bypassing. 
More importantly, we can ACTIVELY LISTEN to yogis of color, yogis of the LGBTQ comunity, seniors, and larger-bodied students when they share their experiences of bias and judgement in the yoga studio. Their stories are valid, and discrimination within the yoga community happens more often than we realize. Finally, if you teach yoga or own a studio, please consider taking additional training that uses an INCLUSIVE approach to teaching students outside of "the Western yoga norm." (It doesn't have to be the same one I'm doing - although it would be rad to study together! Plus Dianne is uhhhh-mazing.)

After all, the word yoga means 'to yolk' - to bring together, to bind, to commune. May the lessons we learn on the mat reflect the lives we live off the mat. There is no point in bettering yourself if you aren't bettering the community around you.

How will YOU practice yoga inclusively? Share below!
Thanks for being here.
Om Shanti, Cortni


 

 

I Broke My Promise...

...and I owe you an apology. Remember last August when I promised you yoga videos and monthly content? Well, I dropped the ball on that commitment, and completely abandoned my responsibilities as a yoga teacher. I can give you excuses like "my camera sucked" and "my editing software was too difficult to figure out" and "I couldn't find the right time of day"...all of which are true, but don't make up for my lack of follow-through. For that, I apologize. But within that, I learned about the importance of hiatus...
See, I always come up with great ideas, and elaborate plans, and the best intentions, but I am notorious for not following through on those ideas. I pour everything into my plans and then get in over my head, take on WAY too many responsibilities, then fatigue and burn out. It's not something I'm proud of, but recognizing it is the first step to working on it.

So, after recording, editing, and failing (multiple times) something told me I just need to TAKE A BREAK. No more teaching, no more output, no more expending energy...I felt a deep need for stillness and receiving rather than giving. I find that when you attempt something over and over and it doesn't work, the Universe is sending a signal. So I listened to this signal and decided to hold off on yoga videos. 
Instead, I dedicated time to fully immersing myself in my yoga practice as a student, rather than as a teacher. I took more yoga classes, dedicated time to my home practice, and prioritized workshops that supported goals I wanted to accomplish. I studied under incredible  teachers, like Dianne Bondy (co-creator of Yoga For All), Cassandra Justine (co-founder of Inner Sense Healing Arts collective), Kristi Taylor (co-founder of Global Body Health). I actually followed through with my resolution to practice inversions every day (and found some breakthroughs!) I worked on pushing myself as a student rather than playing it safe, and I now have a clearer vision of the way I want to teach. 

You see, being a great teacher requires you to BE A STUDENT FIRST. I can't stress that enough. So many of us lose our own practice, and our openness to new information. We believe that we know what we need to know, and remain stagnant in our teaching because of this. We forget how to learn. We forget how to receive. We forget how to humble ourselves and become the student, so that we can teach from a place of DEEP, APPLIED UNDERSTANDING rather than simply repeating something we thing sounds correct.

My hiatus was a Divine-led break, and practice of svadhyaya (the yogic practice of self-study). I appreciate the patience and support of my friends and students while I disappeared for a while. Although I'm not diving back into teaching regularly, I am excited to announce that I'll be subbing a weekly class for a few months this summer (info about that HERE) as well as continuing to offer regular workshops (which you can find HERE).

Thanks for sticking around. I look forward to growing WITH you in our journeys as a teacher, and as a student.

Om Shanti,
Cortni