Start Yoga, Change Your Life

The facts are out there. You can google them, look them up, find them anywhere. The benefits of a yoga practice are powerful and life-changing. Not only does it provide your body with all the benefits of physical exercise, but it can also help calm your mind, body and spirit. It can help soothe depression and calm anxiety.

And most importantly, it can help you to enter into a relationship and conversation with your body after years of ignoring it. Or worse, after years of someone else having power over our bodies. It’s time to reclaim our bodies. Reclaim our lives. Reclaim our own power over our own futures and reclaim our health – both physical and mental.

In case you’re not sure where to start, in case you feel overwhelmed by all the launching pads for yoga out there, I’ve created this easy-to-follow guide for starting a yoga practice.

Want to start a yoga practice but have no idea where to begin? Have you taken a yoga class before and felt lost and confused – like you had no idea what was going on? If you answer “yes” to either of these questions, The Beginner’s Guide to Yoga Basics is the book for you!

Through humor, stories from my own practice, good ole fashioned practical tips, and over 2.5 hours worth of online video guides and content, I guide readers through the fundamentals of a basic yoga practice. In this book geared towards beginner yoga practitioners, learn how to, step by step, set up and practice a set of basic yoga poses.

I have been practicing and teaching yoga for 11 years and have over 500 hours of yoga teaching certifications. Through simple, direct and kind descriptions, I can help guide you to setting up your own, best yoga practice. Start your yoga journey now with this easy-to-follow guide!

Help me help you to reclaim your life.

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Check out my NEW website!

Hey there everyone!

So at long last, after years of procrastination, dreaming, overwork, dreaming and more procrastination, I have FINALLY started my own website. Officially. With a blog this time.

Check it out at: labringle.com . Follow me there!

While I’ve had several blogs throughout the years – the one about my travels in Paris about a million years ago, the one about healing after a lifetime of abuse, and one about searching for what comes next – I’ve decided to combine all my various interests under one header. The only thing that describes how it all comes together…

Me.

Moi.

Myself.

I.

Narcissistic? Really hoping not. Just simplest I believe.

The other blogs provided me with opportunities to hide myself behind my writing. To take shelter behind my words. To not really admit that it was me saying those things. Me writing those things.

They provided me with beautiful opportunities to spread my wings. To test things out. To push myself further. To open up my voice without all the fear of rejection and recrimination that comes sometimes when you really attach your own self to something.

They were my blogs for crawling. But now I’m ready to walk.

Don’t worry, you’ll still get to read my stuff – I haven’t changed and yet I’m completely different all at the same time.

I’ll still try to post the struggles, the inspiration, the yoga and the triumphs of life. I haven’t forgotten you.

It’s just time to start spreading my wings. Time to start trying to turn this whole writing thing into more than a side hobby I sometimes can’t seem to make time for and into something that actually supplies…dare I say it?…an income? 

Ooo that word gives me chills.

The truth is, we writers need to eat too y’all!

So join me on my search for food – through words.

See you there.

Lauren

Be Kind to Yourself

Recently in the blog, I’ve been exploring the idea of forgiveness.  Of forgiving yourself, and of forgiving the people who’ve hurt you.  Here’s something to keep in mind as you struggle with the issue of self-judgment:

“My beloved child

Break your heart no longer.

Each time you judge yourself you break your own heart.

You stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality…

Let go.

And breathe – into the the goodness that you are.”

Post that above your bathroom mirror, so that every time you see yourself, you’ll view yourself with kindness.

Forgiveness

I spoke in an earlier blog about the need to forgive yourself.  In terms of healing, forgiving yourself is the most important thing.  As I spoke of already, the biggest challenge and most radical change we can make sometimes is just to love ourselves.  So if you haven’t already read those blog posts, I recommend you start there.  If you have, or if you are exploring the idea of forgiving someone else, read on.

If you’re anything like me, you were raised in a conservative church atmosphere that preached forgiveness as a necessity to being a good Christian.  Growing up, I was taught that I am required to forgive someone, no matter what they did.  No matter how they wronged me, or how sick and messed up they are.  In this version of forgiveness, I was told that it was my job to tell that person that I forgave them, and then it was their decision whether or not to accept my forgiveness.  That view was then supported by my abusers.

“You have to forgive me, or otherwise you’re a bad person,” my brother would say after he’d hurt me.  No wonder I viewed forgiveness as a terrible, horrible thing.  Forgiveness was essentially a license awarded to my abusers that allowed them to continue hurting me with a cleansed conscience.  No wonder I, for the longest time, refused to forgive.

Well guess what?  I’ve got a bone to pick with that type of forgiveness.  Maybe I wanted to explore my confused views about forgiveness.  Maybe I wanted to know if that’s really all there was to this big, overused, misunderstood word, “forgiveness.”  I couldn’t shake the feeling that some people really found peace through the action of forgiveness though, so I had to look into it.

The following is what I discovered in my search for forgiveness:

The most important was the radical idea that forgiveness is not for someone else.  It’s not so that my abuser’s conscience can be assuaged.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean that I give someone permission to hurt me again, permission to be in my life again, or permission to do anything at all, honestly.  Forgiveness is for myself.  Forgiveness is a way to let go of the past a little bit, to find some peace, some release.  It’s something I will never let my brother know that I’ve done.  I will probably never tell him that I forgive him.  Because again, my forgiveness is not something for him to accept, it’s something for me to let go.

Forgiveness is not easy.  It’s NOT required.  And honestly, if you’d like, you can go your entire life without ever forgiving someone or some situation.  But that’s not how I want to live.  I feel like if I cling to something my entire life, whatever it is, a bitter thought, a tragic flashback, my childhood abuse, anything negative, that I will allow that negativity to permanently have control over my life.  And I don’t want that.  I choose to take control over my own life.

But forgiveness didn’t come naturally.  Like I said, I had to forgive myself first.  I had to find healing within my own life first, compassion for my situation, kindness to my body, mind, and soul.  I had to go through counseling, support groups, yoga therapy, travel halfway across the country, start dating again, read countless self help books, and talk to what seems like a hundred other survivors before I could even consider the idea of forgiveness.

So what made me finally decide to forgive my abuser?  It was the blinding knowledge that I knew he couldn’t defeat me.  The realization, again after years of healing, that what he did to me would not control the rest of my life, because I wouldn’t allow it.  It will not ruin the rest of my life either, because I refuse to let hurt and bitterness govern the rest of my days on this planet.  I am confident now that my life from here on out will be ruled by love, by compassion, by my ability to set boundaries and stick to them, and by my ability to recognize red flags and avoid allowing negative influences into my life again.

Ultimately, forgiveness is my way to finally, finally, be free from his control over my life.  Forgiveness does not mean that my brother is back in my life.  It does not mean that I will ever allow him to hurt me again, because I most certainly will not.  It doesn’t mean that I trust him, that I’ll talk to him all the time.  In terms of outward manifestation, my decision to forgive him will not change how our relationship of hardly seeing each other or ever communicating works.  But that’s okay.

Because I have forgiven myself.  I have forgiven him.  And the feeling is one of beautiful, sweet release.  My life is now completely my own.

Battling Loneliness

I’ve written before about how to finding an antidote to loneliness, but now I wanted to pass along a few ideas of my own about the subject.  I especially like to write about this topic around the holidays (ie Valentine’s Day), because I feel like it’s when many people  feel the loneliest.  Or feel like a “failure” because they maybe don’t have a romantic partner to buy them flowers and a card.  You are not alone, even though you may be feeling lonely right now.  Here are some different activities that I’ve been able to think up that can help you get to know some new friends, and maybe eventually a special someone.  Instead of viewing “Single’s Awareness Day” as something you’ve somehow failed at, take the day as a challenge to put yourself out there again.

First and most importantly, do what you love.  It sounds cheesy, but if you are out and about doing what you love, chances are you’ll meet other people who are doing what you love as well.  That’s just a piece of general advice, but here are a few more specifics:

Volunteer.  That’s right, get out and help your community.  Some great places that always need volunteers include animal shelters, local hospitals, museums, churches, community tree-planting/clean up projects, Habitat for Humanity, wildlife sanctuaries, local parks, community gardens, food pantries, homeless shelters, retirement homes, local libraries.  Find something that sounds interesting and start getting involved.  Even if it’s only for an hour or 2 a month.  Get out there and give back.  I’ve found when I’m connecting with people or places in need, and other volunteers who enjoy helping out, I feel a lot better about myself.  I feel like I have a mission in my community, and I’ve met some of my best friends by getting involved in local organizations.

Get involved in the arts community.  If you are at all interested in theater, art, ballet, etc., then start going to see shows!  There are community theater organizations, poetry slams at coffeehouses, live music all over the place, at bars, restaurants, music venues and more.  Even if it’s just you, go to an upcoming art show, join a museum as a member and start going to the different events.  The arts community is a small world, and eventually you start seeing the same people.  Familiarity makes it a lot easier to build friendships.

Become a regular somewhere.  Whether it’s a restaurant, coffee shop, bookstore, bar, wherever.  Go there on a regular basis and eventually people will start to recognize you.  You can make new friends and have interesting conversations.  This is a great way to make new connections.

If you have a dog, take them to the dog park.  You’ll meet other dog friendly people, loving pet owners, and people who just like to go outside in beautiful weather and enjoy the sunshine.

Join a gym.  Or a yoga studio.  Or a crossfit class, the mallwalkers, or just start going on a regular schedule of runs through your favorite park.  Even if you just go to a gym and do 15 min of walking on the treadmill, you’ll eventually start to recognize people, talk to people, hang out with people.  Start going to yoga workshops, meditation workshops, or any other workshops around town.  Sometimes different gyms have groups that meet up to play basketball a few times a week during lunch as well.

Take a class.  Take a class at the local university or community college.  Take something that sounds interesting.  Whether it’s formal or informal, you can meet people for study groups and get to know people who share common interests.

Join a meet-up group.  This is a great way to meet people who share common interests.  You can participate in groups that are just for social purposes, groups that like to play board games, hike, rock-climb, groups based around certain age groups, etc.

Join a religious organization.  If you’re religious, get involved in whatever religious community you believe in.  Whether it’s a synagogue, mosque, church, ashram, buddhist temple, or anything else.  Get out there and start meeting people who believe the same things as you!

Join a book club or writing group.   A lot of local libraries have book clubs, or local bookstores.  Check in the classifieds section for writing groups.  Start attending lectures at book festivals, or at a nearby university.  Expand your mind and your social network at the same time.

The point is, the possibilities to end loneliness are out there, you just have to put on your confidence pants and go take advantage of them!  It can be scary and intimidating to start tackling your loneliness, because at first you might have to go places by yourself, but what you can gain and discover in the process is completely worth it.  So go on, try something new.  Ultimately, the best advice I can give is to find something that makes you feel fulfilled, hopeful, helpful, and happy.  You’re bound to make new friends when you’ve got your own inner light shining out your eyes for all the world to see.

And hey, the worst that can happen is that you don’t like the activity you tried first.  In that case, you can just try something else.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, after all 🙂

 

Fresh Start

New Year’s resolutions.  For many I feel like it’s simply an exercise in dieting: lose weight, don’t eat this, don’t eat that, shed the holiday fat, miraculously become a new person.  As if during that 10 second countdown on New Year’s Eve before the clock strikes 12 or the ball drops, your life will change completely.

And maybe, for those lucky few, their life really does change.  Good for them.

But perhaps we put too much pressure on ourselves.  Too much pressure to say, this year I will forget about what happened, move on, “be healed.”  Especially in this day and age, we expect to see results fast; to be able to measure them with rulers and goals, awards and achievements.  When it comes to healing though, our bodies and minds may not quite work that way.  We can’t force ourselves to be “over something.”  We can’t snap our fingers, wave our wands, and forget.

But we can’t give up either.

This year I challenge you.  I don’t challenge you to force yourselves or to reach enlightened, nirvana like healing.  I challenge you to be kind to yourself.  To accept yourself for exactly who you are now, in this moment.  To see your beautiful flaws that only make you human and to forgive yourself for them.  To forgive yourself for what happened to you when you were younger.  This year, I challenge you not to change yourself, just to change how you view yourself.

It’s easy to get caught up in the new year – new you, you’re not good enough, rush.

But this year, become radical enough to love yourself.

Forgive Yourself

So I try, dear readers, to write about 2 blog posts per month.  Sadly, I often fail in achieving this goal.  I could go on to talk about how life and work and distractedness get in the way of this, but instead I want to talk about the idea of failure.  I’ve found, when you’ve grown up abused, that failure often translates from the people who’ve failed you in life (failed to love you, failed to protect you, failed to be kind and compassionate), to an intense, deep seated feeling of failure within yourself.

That’s how I feel.  After all this time, all this therapy, all these years, I still struggle with the concept that I’m a failure.  A big, fat, awkward, failure.  Sometimes the feeling of unworthiness makes my body physically hunch, as if then I could hide from the most tormenting judge of all; that of myself.  That I will never be good enough.  Never be kind enough, and yada yada bla bla.  All the mean things that my inner voice tells myself.  All the lies that echo in my head from the shouted torture of the brother that originally abused me, of the boyfriend who used to hurt me and then tell me it was all my fault.  Sometimes, the failure of my relationships come crashing down around me and my heart feels a little bit crippled.

Maybe it’s all the rain lately, but sometimes my thoughts turn a bit dark, turn a bit inward.

It is at these times when it is most important to forgive ourselves.  This month, I’m going to be exploring some themes from a book I read recently called “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach.  If you are interested at all, I highly recommend that you read it.  The quotes and sources that Tara pulls from are really powerful, and it really helped me to look at my life with a new type of, believe it or not, acceptance.

Like this one exercise she gives, it seems so simple, yet it can be so hard.  So straightforward, and yet for me, so powerful.  A type of meditation, this exercise doesn’t have to be undertaken in a contorted, seated yoga posture, with eyes closed and zenlike nirvana attained.  This exercise can be done at your computer screen at work, before bedtime, upon waking up in the morning, in the shower, making breakfast, going for a run.  Wherever and whenever.

I want you to look at yourself.  Not in a mirror, but inside of yourself.  Into that big, warm, loving, wounded, magical space some cultures call your soul.  Look at every scar that mars the lining of it, every fear that drapes around your shoulders like a heavy cloud, your flaws, the awkward moments, the facial feature you wish you could change, your concerns about work, your weight, your shortcomings.  View them all, embrace them, and then say “This too.  Forgiven.  Forgiven.”  Just take a minute, and as each new hurtful thought arises, give yourself permission to forgive yourself.  Embrace that thought and then let it go, like a light feather floating on the breeze, or a bright leaf on the autumn wind.  Forgiven.  Forgiven.

You are forgiven.

In the words of one of my favorite poets, Anis Mojgani, “You always were.  You already are.  And you still have time to be.”

So take a moment to thank yourself for exactly who you are now.