We live in a world of chaos and confusion, pain and overwhelming comparison. It’s no surprise how frequently you feel lost and distracted, incapable of distinguishing your vision from the turmoil. This blog series will be a roadmap and through it, you will ignite the visionary core values that empower a life of wisdom and possibility. You’ll eliminate the noise and undo the stories that have been your excuse for too long. It’s time to de-clutter your life and get clear. As you journey through this series, and firmly align with your core values, you’ll connect directly with your greatest Truth, and in that alignment you will thrive.
Having taught yoga across the world, from Los Angeles to India, to CEO’s and maximum security prisoners alike, I’ve seen firsthand how the practice of yoga transforms lives, not just bodies. What keeps you coming back again and again is more than just the physical practice. As you awaken to your greatest potential on your mat, you awaken to the values guiding your life. Much of the time the values are hidden under layers of yogic jargon. While many core values can be gleaned from the 8 limbs of yoga, from the Yamas and Niyamas specifically, these values actually transcend culture and history and are not specific to Hinduism, the Vedas, Yoga Sutras, or the Upanishads.
This series will place 10 essentials core values into simple, easy to understand language and provide you with a 3-step process to apply each value to your body, mind, and behavior. From this inquiry, you’ll be given a roadmap to ensure that your physical practice transcends the mat and enters the flow of your life with regularity and understanding. These values, once understood, are why you don’t just feel better, you live better.
But in order for that to be the case, this series is not only to be read. It’s to be lived. I know because I have lived every single word and every value in each post I share. I’m living proof of the power of the work ahead and I promise you that if you want it, transformation is not only possible, it is unavoidable. In order to experience the benefits you must give each post time so that you can fully embrace each value in your body, breath, mind, and life. Personal responsibility is not only required, it is demanded of you. We’ll deepen this exploration together, learning the history, science, cultural relevance, and useful practices that bring these values to life in actionable ways.
My hope is that these posts go beyond providing information by re-enforcing each concept 3 ways: with a physical yoga practice, guided meditation, and written exercise to ensure each core value is mapped throughout your entire being, not just your mind. This is why commitment is imperative. If you skim through the words and skip the practices you’ll be missing the discipline and vision necessary for a change.
But this series promises more than a change. It promises a revolution. This is not a pledge for a better body, perfect abs, or a thinner frame. Your transformation will be from the inside out, and if in the end your body changes, it’s because something shifted in your soul. I know this because while yoga brought me to the depths of my strength, increased my confidence, and taught me how to live in a human body with grace, balance, and flexibility, it was not the physical practice itself that transformed my life. Instead, it was the values I learned to live off my mat that provided the way. How you move your body might simply be an entry point. The path is much deeper than your skin. Your body has been commodified and monetized enough and a bodily revolution is not the pathway forward to wholeness. There isn’t the promise of a better body in this series but, there is promise of a better life. So let’s begin.
As we begin I’d like to acknowledge a few things. I am a white, heterosexual woman, born and raised with socio-economic advantages. I will do my best to be inclusive and thoughtful as we enter this exploration but I am still learning and I have no doubt I will misstep along the way. I hope in those moments you will share your experiences with me, and our community, so that we can continue to learn, grow, and evolve greater awareness of the blindspots together. I speak through the lens of my privilege and I am not unaware of how these aspects to my life impact perspective, practice, and thought processes but, this is my voice and my experience and I want to be forthright from the beginning.
No matter who you are or where you come from, you can’t hack your way to wholeness. There are no quick-fixes when it comes to your soul. I’m not a fan of gimmicks or lists filled with promises of simple solutions. It takes more than “10 easy steps” to live a life that is integrated and downright vulnerable. So put your earmuffs on, drown out the commotion, and turn inward for some real connection and truth hunting.
Before I got clear on my core values I felt trapped living a life fulfilling the expectations of my culture and family. I was stalled in a comfortable yet loveless relationship that was dispassionate and wonted. I felt lost, confused, and alone. Most painfully, I was caught in a corporate job that while financially beneficial, sucked the life out of my soul. I was unable to perceive a way out and depressed because I couldn’t decipher what steps to take next to change my life for the better and at a total loss as to how to regain happiness. I was caught in unhealthy habits, addictions, and fears. Clarifying and committing to my values, the values you will move through as this series unfolds, shifted the entire course of my life. Today I travel the world, do what I love, help others, and am married to someone I love, and who loves me in return. I would not be here without the roadmap these core values provide and I promise they will help you achieve your unique vision of a life you are head over heels in love with too.
So, what are core values? Core values are principles that guide your life, uplift your purpose, and clarify your path. They determine what you stand for – and what you will not stand for – in your life and in our world. Core values will be different person to person, and may even change every few years as your life evolves and your learning deepens. Examples might include integrity, creativity, or compassion.
When you ignite your values you eliminate regret, experience vast increases in energy, remove the exhaustion of decision fatigue, and arrive. To “arrive” is to live in alignment with your greatest purpose, highest potential, and deepest connection to Source.
Before you embark, ask yourself a question: Are you ready to undertake radical responsibility and initiate a journey of radical change? You will not look at yourself or the world quite the same again. You will learn to see through new eyes, with a heart of compassion, and a soul pulsing with commitment. You will undoubtedly face moments of hesitation, fear, and resistance. Like a detox, these are wonderful signs that transformation is underway, because if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. Like a birth, it will be messy, and it will be so beautiful.
There is a life that is waiting for you. When you come to the final post in this series you will not be the same person you were when you began but, as the Buddha so famously imparted to his students, “Ehipassiko” which means, “come see for yourself.” Do not simply take my word for it. Your direct experience and absorption of the knowledge is what turns the work into wisdom. The core values shared in each post are universal principles that appear across time and history and demonstrate our shared humanity. From Buddha to Christ, Krishna to Allah, east to west, ancient to modern, you will see the ties that bind us as spiritual beings having a human experience. Each core value draws on a culture from around the globe and across history to show you that these principles, like “Ehipassiko,” are inclusive, timeless, and transcendent.
Your values, fully lived, will transform you into a person living life with a resounding “YES” in every single step you take. This series will take you on a journey to awakening. You will be jolted out your stupor and injected with power, force, and unshakeable drive. By consciously cultivating a fulfilling roadmap of your visionary values you will understand for the first time what it feels like to be fully alive.
In our shared time together we will explore the ten core values below. As we dive into each I will provide alternative ways of describing each value so you can explore them with your own interpretation and nuance.
You are responsible for discovering what is important to you in your life and in our world. No teacher can do this for you. Through your own, unique inquiry, and digestion of a lifetime of experience, your core values will begin to surface.
In this first practice, I invite you to unroll your mat, carve out protected time when you can be undisturbed, and see what unfolds in a self-guided yoga practice. Whether you are a new student of yoga, a longtime student, or a teacher, trust your inner guidance system and simply see what evolves without expectation, judgement, or agenda. You might find that you only need to move for a few minutes or, you might find more time is desired. There is no right way. Allow yourself to be surprised. Step onto your mat and witness what arises. While having a teacher is powerful, my hope is that you always know the greatest guide that ever lived is the one inside of you. We are embarking on this journey to empower, enliven, and awaken that guide, the one within.
When I invite students into a self-guided practice, the first response is almost always resistance. You might be tempted to skip this practice. Don’t. Remember, you committed to undertaking radical responsibility. NOW is the time to begin. Your resistance is a beautiful sign that you are bumping up against something that will test your growing edge. Challenge yourself to sit with this resistance and show up on your mat. Remember, whatever arises, it belongs. May it serve to deepen your practice.
As you begin your practice, consider these questions:
How does your body organically want to move without someone telling you what to do?
Can you respond to what your body actually needs rather than moving under the guise of “should’s” or “have to’s?”
What do you value in your practice?
Find a comfortable seat, and have a journal and pen nearby.
Close your eyes, or rest your gaze softly toward the floor. Take 3 deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling out of your mouth. Allow your breath to return to a natural rhythm.
Begin to call to mind a time in your life when you felt a deep sense of peace and contentment. Where were you? What about this moment brought you a sense of ease? Was it because you were in nature or taking time for self care? Were you authentically connecting with another person or sharing a meaningful experience? Allow yourself to reflect on this memory for several moments.
Call to mind a time in your life when you felt accomplished, proud of yourself. What made this achievement so special? What did you have to overcome or learn in order to reach this place? Did you have to try something new? Did you face challenges along the way? Reflect on this memory for several moments.
And lastly, what experiences have been the most meaningful to your life? Why? Give yourself several minutes to return to these memories. Soak in why they had such an impact on your life.
Allow the memories to fade. Take several breaths as you sit in silence. Notice how you feel. As you open your eyes, turn to the journaling exercise.
If you feel inspired, share this series with your friends. Doing this work together, in close community, helps to elevate accountability. We will continue with our first value, Intention, in the coming weeks. In between we might take breaks as I share suggested reading, notes from my kitchen, and more. But, in the meantime, revisit your values, share them with your closest allies, and let me know how your journey is going.
May your practice guide you through everything you are thinking, saying, and doing.
With love and gratitude,