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

Healing Struggles

During my healing process, I feel as though I’ve struggled with several things. The struggle began with the external. For a long time, I would cry or panic whenever someone touched me or when I was expected to touch someone else. It was very detrimental to both my friendships and relationships.

For example, feeling safe and comfortable with hugging people, touching people and being intimate in my relationships felt practically impossible. But that took a good deal of learning to establish and recognize my personal boundaries (and let people know when they needed to back off from those boundaries!) as well.

I also found a lot of help with that through the yoga studio I practice at most frequently. They emphasize partner work during their classes. Being in a safe and secure setting and being touched in ways that are not sexually charged and are really just for healing and yoga and stretching on a consistent basis really helped me to feel more comfortable with my body. With what was going on inside and around my body. And with learning when to say no, and when to say yes, to safe and loving touch.

Learning to trust myself has been another enormous struggle. At first I thought the problem was learning to trust other people. But then I realized that in order to trust other people, we have to trust ourselves first. After all, if we can’t even trust ourselves, then who else CAN we trust?! Again, I felt like yoga was a huge help here. If I could master a new pose and trust my body to support me, and trust myself to make the right decisions for my body and health, then I could trust myself in other areas of my life as well. Travel also cultivated this sense of adaptivity and trust in myself. When we move outside of our day to day circumstances and see what we are truly capable of, we can literally astonish ourselves.

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.

The truth about abuse

Here’s a quote I stumbled across when reading “Into the Wild,” by John Krakauer.  It’s not actually from that book, but it’s in the perspective of a man reflecting on a son’s estranged relationship with his father.  For me, it sums up nicely (if it’s really possible to use that word in this type of situation) the true feelings that come with being abused:

“He is mad about being small when you were big, but no, that’s not it, he is mad about being helpless when you were powerful, but no, not that either, he is mad about being contingent when you were necessary, not quite it, he is insane because when he loved you, you didn’t notice.” (From “The Dead Father”).

It’s not the fact that his father was in control, powerful.  It’s the fact that the father didn’t care, didn’t even notice or take note of the suffering that he was causing his child.  It is this lack of true attention, the lack of kind attention, that is the hardest for me to come to terms with in my own story of abuse.  I just wanted someone to notice that I was being hurt, someone to validate me, someone to look at me with kindness and to forgive the broken creature that they found in me.

Ignoring life, ignoring the truth, ignoring the suffering of others, is one of the most dangerous and heartbreaking aspects of humanity.  Or at least in my life.

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 🙂

 

Suicide

To say there weren’t times in my life when I’d thought about it would be to lie.  A bold-faced, outright, screaming to the heavens type of lie.  The truth is, there were so many times in my life when I just wanted to give up.  Like that year I had to quit ballet because I needed yet another knee surgery.

Or that time when I was twelve.  When no one heard me, listened to me, cared at all.  At least that’s how I felt.  When the world tightened it’s claws around my throat and I couldn’t get out.  Didn’t know what I was stuck in.  Didn’t know that I even had a chance at freedom.  When I was a beaten, broken, abused little birdie with wilted feathers and crippled wings.  That’s when I found myself standing in my parents’ kitchen, all alone, with a steak knife in my hand.  As I remember it, my parents were gone, most likely already asleep or in bed.  And I snuck down to the kitchen during the late watches of the night.

I held the blade, serrated side towards my stomach and just stood there.  I wondered what the knife would feel like as it sank in to the soft, fleshy weakness of my tiny, little tummy.  I wondered if anyone would notice, or if they’d all just step over my dead body as if it didn’t exist.  I wondered if anybody would cry, or if they’d all just exult with jubilation and cry, “Good riddance!”

That’s how highly I viewed myself.  “Good riddance!”  To think about how little I loved myself then horrifies me now.

But the curiosity passed.  And for some unknown reason, perhaps cowardice, perhaps a tiny glimmer of wavering hope, I pointed the knife away from me and slipped it back into the drawer.  I crept back upstairs in my sock feet and tucked into my twin size bed.

I’m so glad that I put the knife away.  Though I wouldn’t be for many, many years.  Maybe it was foolishness, but considering where I am now, I will never doubt it again.

Especially during the holidays, loneliness  and sadness can creep up on you.  If you’re not having the perfect, white and snowy, leave-it-to-beaver, time of year, your thoughts can really get dragged down.  Maybe you don’t have someone to celebrate New Year’s with.  It’s okay.  You are not alone.

There is still hope and there is always hope, even when sometimes, hope is all that we have.

If you are feeling suicidal, extreme hopeless, or depressed about the outlook of the future, I urge you to seek help, reach out to a good friend, stop driving and count all the reasons why life is worth it.  It could be something as simple as the sun shining, a good friend, that you read a cool quote, got a nice hug, did well at work.  But it never hurts to make a list of positive things.  ANY positive thing, no matter how silly or trivial it may seem.

Here are some of the things on my list:

sister, friends, my sweet dog, a warm home, good food, and, with my current cold, cough syrup and hot tea!  Just remember that, in the smallest of things, in the darkest of moments, there’s always some remnant of goodness and joy left.

So put the knife away, little Lauren.  Hope is waiting.