Episode 63 – Yoga with Usher and An Emergency Toolkit For Wellbeing
Listen to this episode here!
In this episode, Rachel begins sharing how she feels this week – elated, joyful and on top of the world. She begins by sharing her recent experience of taking a yoga class with Usher and what it was like being led by a well known superstar, chanting while he sang, and hearing the messages and intentions he brought forth into the space that deeply resonated with her own. Rachel reflects on his words and dives deeper into the responsibility we all have to use tools we can access to heal ourselves.
Continuing on this subject, she lists the tools in her own emergency toolkit for wellbeing. Everyone needs an emergency toolkit to pull ourselves out of a funk! She shares 10 actions she comes back to when she is down that always make her feel more whole and balanced. Finally, she discusses the overall theme in her life lately – it is okay to go into the dark sometimes. Life is cyclical and filled with highs and lows. However, we should always have ways to bring ourselves back to the light, again and again.
[001:40] Hi and welcome to another episode of From The Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl. Boy, oh boy have I had an exciting week, you guys! I don’t even know where to begin right now, holy moly. I can start off and say that this is the fourth podcast I have recorded this week, which is a pretty amazing feat, if I dare to say so myself. I have been a guest on two podcasts, not at all yoga specific ones, but two entrepreneur specific podcasts here in Sweden, one called the Business Podcast, and the other one called The Success Podcast. So, it’s been a really kind of different tone for me, I’ve put on a different hat, getting to talk a little more about my business and entrepreneurship and where Yoga Girl is going as a whole, it’s been super fun. And then I’ve recorded a podcast with none other than Seal! The superstar recording artist … which was just totally amazing. He is pretty much, without a doubt, the most positive (laugh), probably the most positive and uplifting person I’ve ever had the pleasure of having a conversation with. I was smiling for days afterwards. That podcast will be out really soon; you guys are going to have to wait patiently for that. So this is the fourth one that I’m recording this week, so I feel very used to the space of communication, just sitting here with a mic, the mic is my best friend.
[003:13] Also, right now, in this moment, so From The Heart, how am I feeling right now? I’m totally elated. I’m so, maybe you can hear it in my voice, I’m like flying high right now. I just came from a yoga class with, I mean you’re not going to believe me, or you are going to believe me because I just shared it on Instagram, but I just took a yoga class with Usher. (laugh) If I step back from my life right now and look at it objectively, it’s like, what the hell is happening? (laugh) Where am I? Who am I? How did this all happen? I’m not quite sure. But yes, it is true, I took a yoga class not with, like I was next to him in class, but like, by. Like, you know, it was Usher’s class. There’s a really beautiful event, it’s a symposium happening in Stockholm right now, it happens once a year, it’s called Brilliant Minds. You can look it up, it’s very very cool. Really different, really different, just gathering the most brilliant minds in several industries. Everything from music to tech to wellness to, yeah, business and IT, it’s a really cool, cool event. And I was planning to speak at the event this year, kind of last second, and then I’m not, and now I’m just kind of attending, and I’m just a guest at this amazing event.
[004:30] They kicked off the event with a really small, very intimate, it was I think 30-35 people were there, a yoga class led and hosted by Usher! I’m sure you guys all know Usher, the artist, the singer, the superstar man. And when I got this invite I was like, “Wait, what? What’s happening?” I mean, starting off an event with yoga or something within wellness, I mean, that’s pretty normal, nothing strange about that, but it was like, yoga with Usher? Wait, am I reading this wrong? How is this … Is he going to sing for us? Is there going to be a musical component? Or is it a class and it’s all Usher’s playlist? I couldn’t figure it out, how is this … I know he was going to attend somehow, but I just didn’t know … And it was a really beautiful invite, and it came with a secret location thing, so we didn’t know where we were going to go. I was alone, Dennis really wanted to go, but I only had one ticket, so I was like, okay, it’s just me, I’m going to go do this alone. The invitation said to meet in front of Grand Hotel, which is a beautiful hotel here in Stockholm, and then we would be taken to this undisclosed location somewhere for this yoga class.
[005:37] So, I get there this morning, I mean, of course very excited, and also really nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect. I get there and everyone is kind of dressed in suits, I got to this hotel, it’s a really nice hotel, and I’m in my yoga pants with my yoga mat, and everyone is dressed up in suits and going places in this event. I mean, I think it’s a pretty big deal. They have so many people from all over the world that come and speak. So I felt like, wait, for a second I was like, “Is it an April Fool’s joke taking place in June? Is it really true? Did someone lure me here to say, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe you thought you were going to take a class with Usher. You’re so dumb.’” For a second there I was like, “Oh wait, am I in the right place?” And then someone caught me like, “Oh hey, you’re here for the Usher class, great. Here’s your car, go ahead.” And I got to drive in this transportation there with this woman that I’d never met before. She was just here for the event. She was like, “Are you nervous about this? What is going to happen here? How did you … you’re here for the event, but how amazing is this? Is he going to really teach? Is there going to be a down dog? Like, Usher is a yoga teacher?” She was as confused as I was. Because I have never heard anything, I mean, I’m not so into maybe the music recording industry world, but I had no idea that Usher was into yoga. At all. And she was as confused as I was. And then she said, “I talked to someone last night, they said it’s going to be in a forest somewhere.” And then I looked at the map because, I mean, she was from L.A. and I’m from Stockholm, so I know the city really well, and I looked up where we were going with this car, and I was like, “We’re not going into any greenery, there’s no forest here. We’re going to this totally industrial part of Stockholm. A little bit outside the center.” It’s kind of where the ferries go. I was like, “Are we going on a boat?” For a moment I was like, “Wait. What is even happening? Where are we going?”
[007:30] Then we get there and yeah, it was no forest or anything like that, but it was the most beautiful venue. I mean, I gotta say, Brilliant Minds, for putting this together, kudos. Because this was absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous spaced. And of course I was like the last one there. I don’t know how I do that. Even though I’m on time I’m always late, I don’t know how it works. But yeah, there’s Usher, on a yoga mat, in yoga pants. All the way, like, deeply sharing his sacred connection to yoga. And it was such a …. I’m really, I’m at a loss for words right now, because the intentions that he arrived with for this class, because it could easily have been just like a ploy, just some thing, like a little bit of a controversial thing, like some random person is going to do something within yoga, or maybe that it was just a surface thing. But as soon as he opened his mouth and started speaking about his practice and why he wanted to put this class together, and setting intentions, it was so clear immediately that he is on this path, I mean, 100%. It was really … you know, you go to yoga class and the teacher starts talking, you know, where you immediately arrive and you’re almost in the zone of it’s just totally silent, everyone is taking in every single word, and even though you haven’t maybe begun the practice yet, you’re already in practice. That’s what this experience was like, the moment Usher opened his mouth. I mean, what a genuine, really, I mean I’m really impressed. What a genuinely, mind-blowingly down to earth, authentic guy just dedicated to his spiritual practice. It was so beautiful to see.
[009:15] He shared how yoga has really changed him and shaped him and that he truly believes that it’s our duty and responsibility to use these tools that are available to us to heal ourselves and to arrive at a place where we can deeply connect to who we really are so that we can use that to get out there and make a change in the world, so we can all arrive at a place of oneness. He spoke a lot about oneness and sava and giving back, and it was just so up my alley! (laugh) I mean, I was sitting there with probably the goofiest grin on my face, like, oh my god, I’m in love! Like, Usher, can you just move in with me? Can we work together forever? Can we just change the world together? I’m so, so excited to have had this experience, really.
[009:56] And then for the asana portion, he had one of his teachers that he had brought from L.A., this girl Danielle, she was so great, oh my god, really great, super solid teacher. She taught the asana portion of the class, so it wasn’t actually him guiding the asana. But it was still very much his class. It was very clear the whole time. We started off with some chanting, we chanted, it’s my favorite mantra, it comes from jivamukti lineage, but it’s the Locah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu, may all beings everywhere be happy and free, may the thoughts words and actions of my own life contribute to that happiness and to that freedom for all. It’s the mantra of peacefulness, of freedom. So beautiful. So we were chanting that, and she was playing the harmonium, and Usher was chanting. We did one round of mantras, because of course mantras are usually pretty monotonous and pretty standard in tone a little bit, and when we came to the second round of mantras like (laugh) Usher’s voice suddenly he started singing, right? Can you just put yourself in this situation? Your eyes closed on your yoga mat, in the yoga class, chanting, and then all of the sudden Usher’s voice takes over into this beautiful beautiful Sanskrit, I mean, most sacred mantra that I hold so dear to my heart. I’ve wanted, actually, to tattoo this mantra on my body for so long. If I would ever tattoo anything in Sanskrit, this would be it, by far. But it was … I get goose bumps just telling this story, because this is so … it was so beautiful!
[011:29] And then we went on to the asana portion of the class, and it was really just a perfect miss of challenging but grounding and Danielle, just her voice, it was so great! Almost cried at the end of class, and then I just kind of laid in savasana smiling, it was so beautiful. Normally, whenever I go to … I don’t know the phrase here, but a yoga “event,” not an anonymous day-to-day yoga class in the studio that I do all the time, but a yoga event which is also, you know, people are there, they want to network, and this it was only 30 something people, so it was all this VIP list of people going to this very special class, um, I sometimes feel very … what’s the word, like I feel almost looked at, if you know that, in a sense. Like if you go to a place and you want to network and people are looking around, looking to talk, and looking to connect. So, I always have a hard time mixing yoga into events in that way because, for me at least, personally, it’s always hard to really dive deep into my own practice when I … you know, if there’s a camera around and things like that. But for this practice, oh my god, I totally forgot where I was. I forgot there was cameras in the room because of course they were filming some things and things like that. And I felt so in my body and really, when it was time to set our intentions, the one thing that just came up for me right away for today for this practice was “Be kind.” There was something very kind, very humble, and very down to earth about this whole morning that I just had. Contrary to what one might think a yoga class with a world famous superstar artist would be like, it was the opposite of that. It was so so so sweet and chill.
[013:06] Then, of course, I mean I’m sure you guys know this already just by me telling this story but I, since I got this invite, I’m like, “I am going to get Usher on this podcast!” (laugh) I don’t care, I mean, I don’t care how I’m going to do it, I just, I know I’m going to do it. I’m going to make this happen, no questions asked. He’s into yoga, are you kidding? I just had Seal on, I can continue this kind of musical artist line. We go higher and higher and get cooler and cooler people, like, how amazing is that. But then, of course, you know, at the end of practice I don’t want to be that person that rushes up like, “Oh my god, can I talk to you? Can I get you on my podcast and get you on my show?” I don’t want to sell a bunch of stuff because it was truly a sacred class, like, it was really, really beautiful. So I decided at the end, after savasana, I was like, you know what? I’m not even going to … if it’s meant to happen, if it’s organically meant to happen, it will happen somehow. But I’m not going to force it right after this sacred moment and go and kind of talk about my podcast and try to push to get him on the show. Because, of course, I mean, you know, this guy has a thousand people pulling him in every direction, every moment of the day, asking for things. I’m like, no, you know what, that was just … this was beautiful, I’m so glad he held this space, I’m glad that he’s on this path, because we need more people of that level in the world, I think. We really need more people that can actually make a big change to arrive in this practice. I mean, it’s just so beautiful. So, if Usher does yoga, I mean, that’s it. I’m content. So I decided, okay, I’m not going to ask about the podcast, I’m just happy hear. And then I’m going to just enjoy. They had breakfast afterwards and I just assumed he would rush away and go do something else right afterwards.
[014:42] And then (laugh) I start putting my things together and rolling up my mat, and this woman next to me, to my left, she was like, “Hey! That was such a great handstand. Wow! I was looking at you inverting and I was so impressed.” And I was like, “What?! Oh my god, thank you!” I held my handstand in practice and felt pretty good about it. I was like, “Thank you, that’s sweet.” She was like, “So inspiring. What’s your name?” And she was like, “Wait. Are you Rachel … are you Yoga Girl Rachel?” And I was like, “Yeah.” She was like, “Oh my god! I can’t believe we’re finally meeting! I am Usher’s agent, and I had lunch with your agent, we’re both at WME, or we’re connected through WME (which is my agency) and we had lunch not long ago talking about how we could connect, because Usher is so into yoga, and he really wants to move his work into this field! So it would be so great to connect you guys!” And I’m sitting there like … Like, this woman that I’ve been practicing with, I mean, we were on our mats for two hours. This whole time! And I had just decided I’m not going to pursue this podcast idea, you know? I’m just going to, if it’s meant to be, it will happen. And then I turn to my left and I say hi to this woman who randomly happens to be his agent saying that she wants us to connect. I’m like, holy shit, universe! (laugh) I mean, universe, this idea of manifestation, oh, there’s this … how does that saying go? I can’t think of it now, but you know, where attention goes, energy flows? There’s also that. And actually Danielle, who taught the class, she was talking about that, that when we try to force something, and it’s not with the right intentions, usually it doesn’t happen. We stay there banging our heads against the wall wondering why we’re not succeeding. And I think, in that moment, I just completely let go of the idea of trying to force anything, and then, bam! Immediately the universe lands the same thing I was longing for in my lap, right? I mean, it was just such a great moment. And she’s the sweetest woman, and they’re just … everyone who attended was just so down to earth and very much into yoga, which I was so happy to see, because there’s such a trend within yoga now, and everyone does yoga now and yoga is an industry and a business, so there’s people out there wanting to capitalize and market off of that, and just to be in this class filled with people who have big names in different various industries, there was a lot of celebrities there, and they were all just there because they really love the practice! That was so refreshing to see, and so uplifting, like really, truly uplifting.
[017:04] So, anyways, so she goes off to introduce us and she pulls my hand and she walks up to Usher, she’s like, “Usher! Have you met Rachel? This is Yoga Girl, you guys have to meet!” And he hugs me and he’s all relaxed and super, super nice and wanted to find out if he could get my mala beads somehow. He was a totally normal person. And yes I’m going to have him on the podcast. Okay, I’m not going to set it in stone because I don’t have it confirmed in writing, clearly. If you guys only knew how many guests I have had about to come on the show, and then last minute it didn’t happen for whatever reason, I mean, there’s been a lot. So we have a Swedish expression that says [Swedish] (laugh). Okay, I’m butchering this saying. But basically it’s like, in Papiamento, in Aruba, the saying goes [Papiamento]. “You shouldn’t sing the glory before it’s done.” In Sweden it’s like, “Don’t say that you’re safe until you’ve crossed the river,” I guess. So, of course there’s like a thousand English ways for the saying and I’m blanking on all of them! So yeah, we will see if he will come on the show, but that would be such a great thing, because I genuinely want to continue this conversation and learn more. And specifically this dedication to use yoga as a way to heal ourselves so we can take action to help heal the world. I mean, that’s the core for me, my core basis in everything, everything I do is about that, using yoga or meditation or personal development, whatever floats your boat, whatever works for you, but to find inner healing so that we can be whole and then use that to take action and help heal the world, because there is so much healing needed! We can’t heal if we’re not already at a place of feeling whole ourselves. That’s just what it is.
[018:50] So, yeah, very high on life right now, very excited to be here, literally just showered and then sat down to record. So, yeah, I hope you guys feel excited too. I shared on Instagram a second ago that I took a yoga class with Usher and my assistant, or one of my assistants, Courtney, I had kind of put it in our chat group, I was like, you know, whenever I book a meeting or something I have to do, she manages my calendar, I kind of sent off a little note and I was like, “Hey, Thursday morning, 9 a.m., yoga with Usher.” And she was like, “Cool.” And then now she posted a comment in the Instagram feed, she was like, “Wait, when you said to put in the calendar, ‘Yoga with Usher on Thursday, I didn’t think it was YOGA WITH USHER ON THURSDAY.” (laugh) Like, what is going on? Usher teaches yoga? It’s just such a world we live in, holy holy holy cow.
[021:15] Okay, I’m really glad I got to share this story. But, right now, okay, so I’m kind of landing back in, you know, after all of this. And this symposium, or this event, it goes for two days, we actually changed our flights, we were supposed to be in Italy already today. We’re going to another wedding, so many weddings happening. It’s kind of, I guess, wedding season in our lives right now. We’re going to a wedding, Dennis and I, in Italy, actually. And we changed our flights so we could participate and hang out and be here at this event. So, my plan is to go and experience a little bit more of this wild craziness that Brilliant Minds is creating here in Stockholm today. And then I have to get a dress, because I still don’t have a dress, I don’t know what to wear for this wedding. I’m saving everything for the last moment, as usual.
[022:06] But, my energy right now, and this I find is just so interesting to sit with … If I would look at these podcast recordings as kind of … if there was a way to, if someone would put them into a diagram for me as far as my emotional state, I mean, my emotional state is just a roller coaster. Every week is totally different from the week before, which I think is just what it is to be human also. But I actually, I got to spend the past couple of days we were out in the country side. Not really the countryside, but just a little bit outside of Stockholm. Stockholm is all islands, anyone who hasn’t been here, it’s all islands, it’s water, nature everywhere. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world, not just because I grew up here but because it’s one of the few places where you have the big city life, but you also have nature so close all the time, wherever you go. Kind of in Stockholm, wherever you are, you’re always close to water. There’s always water somewhere nearby.
[022:59] We went out to Olivia’s parents’ house on this island and we spent five days there, and honestly, you know when you have a trip, or you have a moment or a day or something that you’re doing and it’s so easygoingly beautiful that you just know when you’re in the moment you’re like, “We’re going to remember this for the rest of our lives.” That’s the weekend that we had with the babies out by the water this weekend. It was just … After two months of traveling and living really tight in tiny hotel rooms and cities, just being out in the grass by the water, swimming every day, forest, trees, Lea Luna and Olivia and Patrick, our best friends, their baby Hunter, he’s three months younger, they were naked for morning to night. They were just naked all day long. We’ve been swimming and playing and running around, it’s just been, with no agenda, really nothing to do, I canceled all my meetings, just nothing to do, no place to be but just here and now. The only thing, for five days straight, or four days straight, the only thing, really, we thought about was, “When is the next meal?” You know? You finish breakfast, and then 30 minutes later you’re like, “Okay, so what are we going to have for lunch?” Like, our whole day just revolved around what food we’re eating next, basically, or if we have enough wine for dinner. Just taking care of the babies and playing, and it’s just … It was the literal antidote to the stress that I’ve been feeling over the past couple of months traveling.
[024:28] And I think, you know, I have a little emergency toolbox that I use when I feel agitated and when I feel stressed. I really recommend creating one, if you don’t have one, if you don’t have one for yourself, I really recommend creating one. You can do this right now, you can do this immediately following this podcast. So, an emergency toolbox for wellbeing. I have mine in my mind, I can just tick them off. You can right them off and just make them really structured and clear, but things or tools that you can use to bring you back into a place of feeling okay when you’re not. I mean, it’s really that simple. And for everyone this is going to look very very different. I started off … I didn’t have this when I was young. It’s something that I think is totally lacking in the school system and how we raise our kids. We learn so many weird things in school. I’m sure you guys see these memes all the time of, like, we learn algebra, or we learn the name of the inside of a cell, we learn these things that maybe aren’t super applicable to day-to-day life when you’re out in the adult world. Like, we don’t learn about taxes, and we don’t learn maybe so much about how to take care of your house and your home, or … there’s lots of things that I feel is kind of missing. And this is one of those really huge things, at least in my book. Like, what do we do when we arrive at a place of feeling totally frustrated, or feeling totally angry and feeling sad? Or if we have a panic attack? Like, shit happens, life comes our way and we’re not really equipped! No one teaches us these things in school. I would love to do this. I mean, yoga and meditation, of course, two huge, big tools, and tools that I use in my daily life every single day. Imagine if everyone was taught yoga or some of these techniques in class? What a different place the world would be, I can only imagine, really, really.
[026:31] But for me what this toolbox looks like, if I arrive at a place of, okay, I feel totally crappy and then it sticks, you know? I can’t get rid of that crappy feeling or that sad moment or panic or fear, and I’ll usually do one, and if it doesn’t work I’ll go through the other one, and I can kind of work my way off the list, like, I work through my emergency toolbox.
[026:54] The number one thing that I do if I’m not feeling well, really, the number one thing that I do is talk about it. So, tool number one from my toolbox is Talk About It. Talk About It, it sounds really simple. Hopefully, I would assume this is many people’s go to. I also know many people who don’t have this as a go to when they’re going through something difficult, people who have a really hard time opening up about challenges, or maybe feel like they don’t have a person in their lives they can trust with these things. My husband, Dennis, is one of those people that if he’s going through something he’ll never tell you. I mean, I have to literally, like, I can sometimes sense that he’s not in a good space, or he’s a little low. I have to drag that shit out of him to find out what’s going on and to see if I can help him somehow. Usually, I mean, I think, yeah, 10 times out of 10, after having spoken about it he feels so much better, but it’s not in his natural state to open up when he feels off. He usually just kind of … he’ll go and sit on his bike, he’ll go out and have a beer with a friend and try to not think about it, and then that thing, whatever it is, can kind of grow a little bit. So, I mean, I learned so much from him, and this is something that he’s in the process of learning from me. We talk about it all the time, just this idea of opening up when something is hard.
[028:16] So, the emergency toolbox for wellbeing, the first thing is talk about it. So what I’ll do is I’ll, if I have someone that I can go meet, I’ll call them up and say, “Hey, I need to talk, I need to get something off my chest.” If I’m fighting with someone or I’m having a hard time, not that person, but someone who’s neutral that I can just kind of vent with a little bit. Or I’ll call someone on the phone or FaceTime and just be like, “Hey, do you have five minutes? Just need to share something.” Sometimes it’s not … usually it’s not that we want advice, so much, it’s just the actual concept of sharing, like, off-loading something that weighs heavy on us. So, I prefer doing a sharing like that where it’s just like, “Hey, I need five minutes, can you just hold space for me? Can you just listen?” I don’t usually need anyone to tell me, “How about you do this or next time don’t do that,” it’s just sharing, just opening up, so talking about it.
[029:06] This goes for everything. And of course it’s important that we have the right person to talk to so that you don’t have, I don’t know, someone judgmental or condescending or someone who’s going to make you feel worse. But if you have that good person in your life that you’re used to venting with or sharing with, what you can do is you can kind of set into motion this structure of when we’re having a tough day or a tough moment, “I need a three-minute sharing,” so calling someone up and be like, “Hey! Do you have space for a sharing?” And then the other person just holds space and listens. You speak for three minutes on whatever’s on your mind, and then you switch, and then you hold space for them to speak. And then that’s it, and then you hang up! (laugh) It sounds very simple, but it can be a little bit daunting because it requires us to be vulnerable and to open up about what it is that’s going on.
[029:49] And what I find is when I get into a place that’s challenging or tricky, and sometimes I’m like, “No one cares about my problems, I don’t want to bother anyone with them.” I had this recently when I was going through this kind of tough last couple of weeks. Normally the person that I share with is Olivia, my best friend. It was right before her wedding and I didn’t want to add … you know, it’s so stressful to get married and so many things going on. And I didn’t want to add any weight or anything of any kind on her plate. So I didn’t share. Then after the wedding we had a deep heart to heart and I kind of cried, and I was like, “Oh, everything’s been so hard!” And she was so hurt! She was like, “Why didn’t you tell me that it was hard? Why didn’t you tell me that you guys were going through this stuff?” And I was like, “Well I didn’t want to bother you with this stuff right before your wedding.” And she was like, “Hey! Nothing is more important than this. There’s always space for us to sit and just be honest and share. You’re my person that I go to immediately when I’m sad or when something is going on. I need to be that person for you always.” And I thought, hey, okay that’s … so grateful for this relationship that I have and that there’s never really a bad time. And it’s true, if I would have maybe just done that earlier, just gotten something off my chest, just shared about, “I’m having a hard time with all of this stuff!” Maybe it would have left me earlier, because now it kind of lingered with me for a little while. So yeah, that’s tip number one, or tool number one is talk about it. Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it, talk about it.
[032:52] The second thing that I do in my own toolbox, and maybe this is not for everyone, I have to say. This is my emergency toolbox for wellbeing. It’s not going to be the same for everyone. You have to see what works for you. Maybe you want to take some of these tools that I have and make them your own. Maybe you can add completely different things that I’ve never even thought about and add them to your own toolbox. But my second thing is Nature. And this is another piece that I’ve been totally missing. In Aruba, when I’m home, I’m outside all the time. Really, I’m on the beach, I’m in the ocean. We have a big garden, I’m always out. We walk the dogs three times a day, we’re on the north shore, nature is around all the time. Now we’ve been in cities, we’ve been, you know, yeah, we’ve been kind of in hotel rooms and airports and stuff like that. So I haven’t been out in nature as much as I would like to. And living in Stockholm, I haven’t taken advantage of the nature that’s all around. Really, I’ve been really in the city city, but I haven’t ventured out. I haven’t been out. I haven’t hugged a tree in so long. (laugh)
[033:52] So, go out in nature. This is really a big thing. And I don’t know why it took me so long to get to this tool just now. Okay, and I’m talking about like, “Ugh, I had a really hard time.” I didn’t have any major trauma or issue or stuff happen, I just had this heavy feeling that’s been lingering with me over the past couple of week. I just had a, I don’t know, like a little cloud above my head, and I don’t know really where it came from.
[034:21] So, going out in nature, and whatever that means to you. So, some people are water people, and you know, if it’s not freezing cold outside, not summer time in most of the world, or half of the world, go float in the ocean if you can, go sit on the beach, put your feet in the sand. If you’re not by water, just going outside, find a park and lie flat on the ground. That’s one my favorite things to do! Just finding a park or a little patch of grass or whatever and just lying flat. With no agenda other than that. Just looking at the sky or trees or whatever you see above your head, and just stay there. It’s so healing, letting the earth support us, letting the earth hold us up. I wish I was lying on the earth right now! (laugh) You know, it has to be outside. I do this if it’s snowing, if it’s cold, just wear the right clothes and just go lie on the ground. Let the earth hold you up for a second. It’s really good for our perspective too, just seeing the sky above our heads, how kind of … whatever problems we’re pondering that feel like the end of the world to us, where they feel like, “It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened.” We are just a very small piece in this very big puzzle that is the universe. And we are extremely important, like it’s vital that we’re here, but we also can’t take ourselves too seriously all of the time. That’s a really important piece.
[035:42] Osho says, “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived and enjoyed.” And I really love that quote because we can get so in our heads and so … and I’m really good at that. I can get totally caught up in something that isn’t working and have to be reminded to shift my attention back to what actually does work. So, nature is a good way for us to feel connected again and to feel part of something greater than just us.
[036:10] Tool number three that I’m going to share, and this one is so simple you can go do it right now. I mean, literally, you can just put this podcast on pause, or bring me along. Drink a ginormous glass of water. A ginormous glass of water. There’s something about … Okay, so of course everybody knows we’re mostly water, our bodies are made up of water. We’re also run by the vibration of water which is why we sometimes feel a little loopy around full moon which controls the tides, and a lot of people feel really drawn and really calm and at peace when we’re immersed in water. I am one of them. But drinking a giant glass of water, just whatever you have in your system, whatever vibration is there that isn’t resonating, think about the last thing you ate, or what did you have yesterday? The vibration of the food and the drink that we put in our system of course reverberates back out into the world and then back at us. So, if you had a really shitty food day yesterday, you ate a lot of fast food, maybe you were out drinking, I don’t know, whatever’s going on, there’s definitely an emotional reflection in what we put in to our system and how we feel afterwards. That’s what it is. I mean, hello, the depression that domes along with having a hangover, it’s the worst thing ever. So it doesn’t even have to be that, maybe you had a great eating day. But just a big, big, big glass of water. Think of it as an internal reset of your physical system. Just a big glass of water, and do it really mindfully. And then, of course, keep hydrating, do it all the time.
[037:39] But it’s part of my toolbox because I tend to, this is one of the things that when I get down on myself or when I’m sad or frustrated, I always forget to drink, for some reason. I can go a whole day, I’m like, “Wait, did I even hydrate today at all? All I wanted to drink all day is wine, I wonder why that is. Oh wait, I’m not feeling well? Oh wait, I did not drink any water.” It’s just a good place to kind of stabilize and bring us a little bit closer to balance. So yeah, that’s number three, easy-peasy, you can do it right now.
[038:07] Then, number four in my emergency toolbox for healing or for well-being, I have Journal. And this is … not everybody is really into journaling. For some people it comes really easy. I know some people who journal every day of their lives, and they just fill notebooks and notebooks with thoughts and emotions and have this library of their past emotional state, which is so beautiful. Kind of like this podcast for me. One day, fifty years from now I’ll listen to this and I’ll be like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I felt all those things.” My twenties were very intense, for sure. But journaling, I kind of float in and out of it. I’ll get into the zone of wanting to journal every day, and then I can’t stop. It’s like I journal so much. I feel like I can just fill a notebook with thoughts and things that I’m feeling and pondering. And then I’ll get out of it and I just like … like it’s hard to pick up the journal. I don’t know. For some reason it just doesn’t flow as well. So I try to go with the flow of that and not force anything. But when you’re having a rough time, and especially if you don’t have anyone to share with, because that’s also true. Maybe you don’t have that person in your life, maybe you don’t have that trust for those people in your life, or maybe you just feel, I don’t know, too vulnerable or like you’re not ready to share whatever is going on with someone else, practicing stream of consciousness journaling, it’s such a good option to sharing verbally. It’s such a good … it can be such a healing thing. And how that works is of course you can just open your notebook and journal on whatever you’re going through, just as you are. You don’t have to have any structure at all. For some people stream of consciousness journaling works really well because it gives you a little bit of structure and it allows your mind to kind of take the back seat, and you can write and journal from the heart, truly.
[039:58] How it works is you’ll start off with a sentence, and it can be something very simple. For instance, “Right now I am feeling …” And then you continue. And then you write about that. But from the moment you put pen to paper, you don’t pick up the pen. So you don’t stop writing, you really just write write write write write. Maybe in the beginning you don’t know what to say. It’s like, “Right now I’m feeling I don’t know what I’m feeling, am I feeling anything? Why am I journaling about this? This is so stupid. I don’t know what I’m feeling. Why don’t I know what I’m feeling?” You know, you can repeat the same thing again and again and again and just write gibberish, basically, just whatever comes through your pen. Before you know it something usually comes up, you hit kind of the nail on the head. You’re like, “Oh wait, I am feeling like this.” So that when you don’t pause to think about what you’re going to write and how to structure a sentence well or make it sound poetic or really think, like, “How am I feeling? What’s going on beneath the surface?” But you just let everything flow through your pen, you can reach another level of depth in whatever you’re going through, whatever you’re sharing. Because it is sharing, except you’re just sharing with yourself and you’re doing it in writing form. So really super, super recommend journaling. Also as a daily practice. I mean, you don’t have to journal just because you’re having a low moment, but if you feel drawn to that, pick it up. Pick your journal up. The last thing you do before you go to bed. I’ll do that if I’ve had an overwhelming day or if I have a lot of things that I’m like, “Ugh.” If it’s hard to sleep, maybe that’s because my mind is really busy with a lot of stuff, and then getting something out on paper can be a really good way of emptying the mind before going to bed.
[041:37] Now, my fifth tool that I use, and this actually, and the way they’re ordered now, they’re not in any specific order, you can just pick whatever works, but for me this usually goes at the top. Wait, talk about it maybe at the top, this is maybe number two. But I’m going to say this is one of the most important ones. Number five in my emergency toolbox for well-being is Move Your Body. I know I talk about this all the time, I mean, I really do talk about this all the time, but not just in this idea of okay we need to love our bodies to be healthy, we should move our bodies to stay fit and strong and toned and whatever. All of that is great, we should move our bodies to be healthy. But move your body to release emotion. Move your body to move energy. Move your body to not become stagnant in whatever you’re experiencing in the moment and wherever your mind is, wherever your emotions are. Move your body to release energy. Our bodies are meant to move, and when we don’t, things get stuck. And also when we feel a lot and we don’t know what to do with emotions, the best way to release them is to sweat, really, it’s to move. And this can be in whatever shape or form really is the most natural to you. Of course yoga is a huge piece, yoga is always kind of my go to. Rolling out your mat and practice and just dive into, you know, wherever your body wants to go.
[043:01] But sometimes, and this happens to me personally too, yoga can be almost a little too structured. I do so much yoga, I practice all the time, I teach yoga, it’s my whole life. I can kind of put my mind on autopilot and just go into a flow, without thinking about anything. Which is good. But when it comes to really releasing emotion that’s stuck, or when it comes to getting back into your body, if you’re having a tough time, I find that sometimes I need to move my body in a little bit less organized way. So, I’ll put on, okay, my favorite song to do this, and I come back to this song again and again and again, “White Lies,” by Max Frost, if you need a song to shake shit out, it’s my favorite song to just, like, in my living room or in my tiny apartment where I am right now, or wherever I am, hotel room, wherever, I’ll put on that song really loud. It could also be headphones, no one else has to hear, and I’ll dance like a crazy person. This song is like three minutes long, it’s not very long, it’s still … I mean, dancing like a crazy person, all out crazy person dancing, it’s exhausting, it really makes you sweat, it takes a lot out of you. It’s like a perfect amount of time to just, like, shake everything loose.
[044:13] I’ll just, you know, kind of challenge my inner child and jump around the room, jump up and down, shake every limb of my entire body, move my hips, make crazy faces, just shake everything and just dance. Dance dance dance. Also because, I mean, that song, specifically for me, it’s such a fun song to dance to. When that song ends I usually cannot remember what I was really upset about beforehand. I mean, really, it works that well. So crazy dance party, and you can also make like a crazy dance party playlist. I have one on Spotify. If you don’t follow me on Spotify already, just search Yoga Girl, you’ll find me. I have a playlist on there called “Dance Party” that just has these types of songs. And I’ll play them in retreats, we have dance parties during trainings where we just kind of go crazy and we dance all out. I have so many of those really good go get’em songs, so you can find a lot there. Or just your favorite one to dance to. Move your body. And if that feels off to your or odd or doesn’t come naturally, then we all have our own ways. So are you a runner? Go run. Are you a biker? Go bike. If you’re a surfer, go surf. Whatever is your thing. If you love CrossFit, go do it. But I really recommend that less structured way, because if you are a runner you know how to run, you run by the mile, and maybe you have a watch, and it becomes this thing of the mind. What we want to do is get out of the mind and into the body, so something a little more chaotic and crazy, like crazy person dance party. (laugh) Highly recommend it.
[047:19] My number six I have, as a tool, and this for me is just … it’s the simplest thing, it’s Child’s Pose. Malasana. Dropping into child’s pose anywhere, any moment of the day, it’s such a humbling shape to take in our bodies. It’s such a humbling pose. Of course it is the pose of the child. I mean, my baby sleeps that way, she sleeps in child’s pose at night. Sometimes she tucks her arms in beneath her little body and her butt kind of sticks up. It’s the sweetest thing. It is a very, I think, a very organic shape for us to move into as children. It’s called child’s pose for a reason. But also it’s a universally shape that we take coming to pray. I mean, millions of people pray in this shape. It’s a shape, a pose of surrender, of just completely letting go, of bowing to the unknown, bowing to earth, surrendering.
[048:13] So, finding child’s pose, just as you’re … you don’t need a yoga mat or anything. Just find child’s pose, forehead to the mat or to the floor, ground your hands, and just breathe. Sometimes, if you’re going through something rough, just that shape of child’s pose is enough to release something. For me, if I’ve been holding something in all day, I’ll come to just child’s pose in the middle of the living room and I’m like … I’ve been like wanting to cry a little bit all day and it just kind of comes out, or it’s a place where you can completely calm your breath, ground, come back to the hear and now. It’s a very humbling, humbling, humbling shape. So, child’s pose is an easy thing to come back to anytime.
[048:56] Number seven, I love how structured I am, by the way, with these tools. I don’t know, it’s very unlike me to really have thought about what I wanted to share before sharing it. But yes, number seven in this emergency toolbox that I use is pranayama or breath work. So, of course, this idea of like, “Okay, if you’re going through something take three deep breaths, slow your breath down.” I usually need, opposite of when it comes to shaking it out or moving the body, when it comes to breath, I need structure for my mind not to take over or for me to tell myself, “This is boring, I’m going to move on and do something else, because I have this busy monkey mind, goes from place to place.” So, for breath work, anything structured that works for you. One of my favorite, favorite types of pranayamas is alternate nostril breathing, or alternate nostril breath, where you inhale through one nostril and then you close it off, and you exhale through the other nostril. Inhale through that nostril, close it off, exhale through the opposite one. So you connect the left and right hemispheres of the brain, balancing the masculine and the feminine side of the body, bringing balance to your entire being. But most important, for me at least, it’s a very structured type of breath, and it requires enough doing on your part that the mind can attach to something. So it’s easier to arrive at a place of silence, at least for me.
[050:25] Actually, let’s practice this for a second, right now, why not? So you can do this, I mean of course best to sit down and find a quiet, calm place, but just where you are, as you are right now. So you take your right hand and you fold it into Vishnu mudra. It’s kind of like, Dennis always jokes that it’s the shakah, you know like the surfer greeting, it’s kind of a little bit like that. But take your index and middle finger and pull it into the base of the thumb, that big fleshy piece of the base of the thumb, and then pinky finger and ring finger connect here. So that’s Vishnu mudra. Just sit up nice and tall, and then we begin by inhaling through the left nostril. So what you’ll do is you’ll just close your eyes, take your thumb and place it on top of the right nostril, and then take a deep breath in through the left side of the nose. [Breath in] And then take the pinky finger and ring finger, close off the left nostril, and exhale through the right [Exhale]. Inhale through the right nostril [Inhale]. Close it off, exhale through the left nostril [exhale]. Inhale through the left nostril [Inhale]. Close it off, exhale through the right nostril [exhale]. Inhale through the right nostril [Inhale]. Close, exhale through the left [exhale]. Inhale through the left [Inhale]. Close, and exhale through the right [exhale]. Inhale right [Inhale], close, and exhale left [exhale]. I could of course continue this. We could do a whole 45-minute podcast on alternate nostril breath. You can, you know, if you feel really good doing this right now just press pause on this podcast and continue as you are, and just sit and do that for as long as it feels good. You can also set a timer for five or ten or fifteen minutes and do this breath work on a timer, so your mind can let go of the idea of how long you’re going to be there. I feel so calm! (laugh) Already. That was three or four breaths, it was really short just to sort of demonstrate. But for me this is one of my favorite ways because it brings us back to the here and now. I mean, it really does. It’s also a very cleansing breath. It’s breath of purification, so everything we want to release energetically can also be released and transformed through this breath work. But your own go to way of breathing, when you’re going through something rough, and for some people it is just closing the eyes and taking those three really deep belly breaths. For me this type of breath work works really, really great. So, find something that really works for you.
[053:22] Number eight on my list I have, (laugh) treat yourself! And this, I’m very good at this. (laugh) I’m good at this in the day-to-day stuff. I’m not good at this when it comes to big, profound ways. But treat yourself, so, id you’re going through something tricky and something hard, having a hard time, do something that bring you joy, right? So, how can you treat yourself today? Go get a pedicure, go get a massage. Buy that cute top that you wanted to buy all week. Go get a really delicious cup of coffee. Go to yoga class, make time to meet a friend that you haven’t seen for a long time, carve out some alone time, have a nice dinner, get a really great bar of chocolate and just really enjoy it, treat yourself. Do something kind. And it can be a superficial thing like chocolate, you know? It doesn’t have to be this big … Bit emotional thing attached to it. Just treat yourself in some way, any way that brings you a little bit of joy.
[054:26] I don’t know, for me it works. For me it’s usually a glass of wine by myself. (laugh) At the end of the day that’s sort of how I treat myself. At home I would take a bath, if I was at home and I was having a hard day. I would really take a bath, light the candles, use bath salts, put lavender oil and do a whole thing, and soak and just really make it a moment for me. So yeah, treat yourself, do something that brings you some joy.
[054:53] And number nine on the list in the emergency toolbox, I have Hug Someone. I wish I had someone to hug right now! If you don’t have anyone to hug, hug a tree, it’s the second best thing. Or hug your dog, you know. Your baby, you can hug anything. But yeah, hug someone. Like a real hug, a hug hug. Not just a hey how you doing hug, but like a huge you can melt into another person. At least a ten second hug. And if you can, hug the person to the right so that your hearts connect. It’s a heart to heart hug. So, you know, a real hug. There’s a whole science behind it I saw, I think a TED Talk, I can’t remember who it was, about the science of hugging and touch, how we long for this human connection of just being touched all the time. And we do this to babies. Babies were supposed to be skin to skin when they’re born and stay as close together as possible all the time, because that’s how we bond and nurture the baby, and then we kind of grow up and we lose that a little bit. I think we crave it the same, honestly. And we don’t have a lot of space for that in our regular lives. So real hugs, huge your mom, hug you husband, your wife, your best friend, your dog, just a real, real, real hug. It’s a good way to give and receive love. I think it lowers our heart rate, it calms us, there’s a whole anatomical thing behind it other than just hugging people. It’s pretty sweet, pretty awesome.
[056:24] Last on my list from my own toolbox is Gratitude. Last of how I wrote it right now. You can use this any shape or form. You can put it first. Gratitude, it can be writing a gratitude list. I love lists of any kind, I love lists. But a gratitude list, sitting down, okay, what are three things that you have in your life right now that you’re super grateful for? If you can find ten things, write them down. If you can find 100 things, write them down. You will be able to find 100 things if you look around, for sure. But sometimes it’s just anchoring back into those three major ones that just kind of come to mind immediately. It will change your whole outlook on life. I mean, truly. It’s really hard to be frustrated and unhappy or unsatisfied with whatever it is that’s happening in your life and be super grateful for all the great stuff you have at the same time. Gratitude usually overpowers that frustration really easily. And if it doesn’t, go deeper, you know? Really, go deeper. And you can be grateful for something simple, like, I have a great glass of water in front of me right now. I’m super grateful for that. I’m grateful for Usher (laugh). I gotta say, I’m grateful for Usher and this bad ass yoga class that I got to take this morning. And I’m really grateful for my baby and the hug she gave me before her and Dennis went off for lunch. It’s so easy, and I can just look around this space. I have a gazillion things to be grateful for. But really feel them, right? Not just, you know, feel them, okay, I’m a little more grateful for my baby than I am this glass of water right now, but I can think about, you know, take it to a bigger space, there’s people all over the world that don’t have an abundance of water, that don’t have clean water to drink. I have an abundance of water, it never ends, out of my tap, that I can drink all day long. If I think about what I have and other people don’t, this privilege of clean water, all of the sudden this glass of water becomes really meaningful. I can really immerse gratitude into drinking this glass of water knowing that there are people out there that are thirsty now that don’t have access to clean water. Like, oh my god. How amazing is it that I have water in my tap? Are you kidding? So it really immerses some meaning and some love into me, into this glass of water, which is such a simple thing that we just take for granted all the time. And then, of course, a deeper space, like I’m grateful for my baby, this ray of sunshine that just … she wakes up in the morning and she just brings me so much joy, all the way until the moment she goes to bed. Like I have a little ray of sun in my life all the time. How amazing is that? I get to live this life where I have this love that’s so beautiful.
[058:56] So do that, and you can do that right now. You can do it on your phone. I mean, if you don’t walk around with a notebook, I usually do, but the notes app on your phone, my gratitude list in my Notes app, it’s sort of, it’s never ending. And I kind of like going back into my gratitude list of a couple of years ago and I’m like, “Oh wait, my life is so different, but the base of my gratitude is the same,” you know? It’s the people in my life that I cherish, it’s freedom, it’s the ability to wake up in the morning and do something that I love. It’s never the material things. I mean, of course they play a part too, this glass of water right now, it is a material thing, but it’s more than that. So, yeah, make a gratitude list, you can do it right now, right here.
[059:36] So that was my emergency toolbox for well-being, and I will kind of … and I know this like the back of my hand, I don’t have to have them written down anywhere. But you can take a moment, maybe after your practice tonight, or with a cup of tea on the couch, light a candle and make your own toolbox. It’s a really valuable thing to do. I mean it really really really is. And you can just copy mine, just these ten, and if you have something else you want to add you do it. If one of them doesn’t vibe with you, take it out, maybe you have ten completely different ones. Maybe you have tools that I don’t but that I would love to have. Share them with me on social media. I would love to add to my list all the time. Because, you know, you might be having a great day today, like I’m very elated and excited for different reasons today. Last week I was not, right? So there’s going to be a moment, of course, this too shall pass, everything is fleeting, and there’s going to be a moment in the near future or far from now where you feel like absolute forking crap. And what you need in that moment is to have a set of tools that you can immediately reach for to anchor you back into what’s good. And not saying that you shouldn’t feel your feelings, obviously, opposite of that. You should feel all of your feelings, just make sure that you can anchor back into this sense that you are okay, right? That it’s okay to be here with all of this, whatever it is you’re going through, it’s valid, right? All the emotions, everything you’re feeling right now, you’re allowed to feel those feelings, you’re allowed to go through this, you’re allowed to vent them, you’re allowed to share what doesn’t work. But use these tools as a way to bring you back into what’s good. So that, you know, we can continue to turn ourselves or to turn our lives back around into the positive or back into the light. And we go into the dark, and we’re supposed to do that, because that’s how life works. Life is cyclical. A word I learned from last week’s podcast. Cyclical. It’s good and it’s bad and it’s bad and it’s good, and we can move through those highs and lows. What we want to do is make sure that we can bring ourselves back into the light again and again and again. Especially if we’re pulled towards something that’s really dark or really deeply painful or really challenging, to not get stuck in it, right?
[061:43] So I would love to hear from you if you have your own toolbox of things, tools you can use to bring yourself to a high, and if you can also share them. Because this is also a thing, it requires a bit of consciousness to sit down and do a practice like this, and also to remember and to know, to reach for them and when it’s important that we reach for them, because sometimes we arrive at that place where everything is hard and we forget all of these things. We forget all of the tools. I have days like that, definitely. Last week and the week before I had a bunch of days like that, where if I could have chosen, yeah, I would probably have had a bottle of wine on the couch with Netflix, headphones, I don’t want to talk to anyone, I could just kind of dig myself into a little pit of despair. And then I’m like, “Ugh, life is just shit.” (laugh) And it’s not, right? But in that moment I really feel that way, and that’s a real feeling that I have. And then I have to remember, or I need someone to remind me, like, “Hey, you have a toolbox of awesome things that you can do to turn this moment around right now, or to feel everything you have to feel, wallow in whatever you have to wallow in, but then get out of it, right? Come back to the here and now, in a place where everything is good, and you’re safe, and you have a roof over your head and so many things to be grateful for.” And we all share that. I mean, if you’re listening to this podcast right now, if you’re hearing these words, you are privileged in just having been able to carve out an entire hour to do something that you enjoy, right? To look for inspiration, to look for connection, to … to immerse yourself in a community that makes you feel good, right? And this practice of yoga or meditation or whatever brought you here. We’re all privileged to be here now. So if you’re going through something, you’re going somewhere, so keep going.
[063:25] I hope to have inspired you with my tools as a way to pull ourselves closer to light again and again and again. And to quote Usher, my new best friend, “Use these tools as a way to heal what needs to be healed on the inside so that we can become whole and then take action to help heal the rest of the world, because that’s the way.” That’s the way. And that’s how I’m going to end my podcast. I love you so much, so dearly, and … I hope you feel. Yeah. Whatever today has brought you, I hope you feel it, all the way. Holding you, loving you, and I’ll see you next week
[End of Episode]
Oatly – oatly.com
Parachute – parachutehome.com/yogagirl
Daily Harvest – daily-harvest.com (promo code YOGAGIRL)
Four Sigmatic – foursigmatic.com/yogagirl