Whole Living Daily

Be There for Yourself…Then Really be There for Others: Yoga on and off the Mat

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The New Year is almost here. As a yoga teacher, I love leading morning classes on New Year’s Day. Contrary to what you might think, the room is always packed with students eager to dive into their New Year's resolutions, and positive energy is abundant.

While I firmly believe resolutions can and should be made all year long, I enjoy the ritual of New Year’s intentions. Likewise, I embrace the opportunity to look back at the year before. After all, as we move forward, it’s equally important to reflect upon where we came from and how. I hope the Yoga On and Off posts over the next couple weeks will not only inspire you to look ahead, but will also provide tools and encouragement to sit with and learn from what is and what was, including adversity.

Acknowledging our ability to cultivate presence might be the most important ingredient to look forward or back with objectivity. With this in mind, I’d like to share the following quote from Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Art of Power.” It has certainly resonated deep within my core as I seek to refine my relationships with myself, those I love, and the world around me.

“To love means being there for your beloved, recognizing his presence as important. To be there, to be fully present, to appreciate the preciousness of your beloved, this is the practice of true love. Do you have the time to be there for yourself?"

If you don’t understand yourself, if you are not capable of accepting yourself, it will be impossible for you to understand and accept the other person. The first step in loving communication is for you to go home to yourself. You take the royal way back to yourself through mindful breathing to touch the joy, the beauty, the wonders of life in and around you. The practice of being mindful of your breathing, your walking, and your breakfast-making helps you go home to yourself in the here and now. It helps to be mindful of what is going on in your body, your feelings and your perceptions, to recognize and transform your suffering.

Self-understanding and self-love provide the foundation for understanding and loving another person. This is the first step: going home to ourselves, taking care of ourselves, accepting ourselves, and being compassionate to ourselves."

Side note: I’d like to highlight the profound and highly accessible work of Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. If you are aspiring to cultivate a greater sense of mindfulness and have yet to encounter him, please treat yourself to any of his powerful books.

Yoga brings stability and calm into every discipline of Sophie Herbert's life. She is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student) and a Whole Living contributing editor. She graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art, where she nurtured her passion for documentary photography. It was during this time that she began her disciplined and diverse study of yoga in New York, Paris, and India.

Sophie has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India. She feels grateful to still visit and work regularly with the Deenabandhu Children's Home in Chamarajanagar, Karnataka. In November of 2010, she became an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back www.yogagivesback.org, a grass-roots nonprofit that helps destitute women and girls in India build more sustainable lives. Sophie has also shared her knowledge of yoga at the Prana Yoga Center in Astana, Kazakhstan. Currently, she teaches at the Park Slope Yoga Center www.parkslopeyoga.com in Brooklyn and privately. Sophie is also an avid cook.

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Comments (3)

  • Thank you for beginning this series of blogs on setting intent and knowing one's self. I have recently begun my yoga practice again, and am feeling the physical changes as well as experiencing spiritual changes as I allow myself more time for reflection each day.

  • Thank you for this thoughtful post. It was a message I really needed to hear right now and intend to put into practice.

  • [...] week, I shared two New Year’s intention blogs. One was about better being there for ourselves (wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.com/2011/12/be-there-for-yourself%E2%80%A6-then-really-be-there-for-oth...) and another on embracing adversity, featuring a contribution from my dear friend and teacher Hari [...]

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