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Why Yoga Is Like Life Coaching

Posted: 09/28/11 09:38 AM ET

Yoga teaches us to live in the present moment. Yes. Certain schools of yoga posit that the present is the only reality, and all else is illusion -- yet our minds manufacture distracting "illusions" all the time. Our inner voices are constantly re-hashing situations, projecting, speculating, doubting. In yoga practice, we train the mind to soften and get more spacious via breathing, postures and awareness practices. Alas, we finish class and the talk is back -- worse, because now that we've practiced listening to the quiet, the inner dialogue seems more pronounced.

The question: What keeps those voices at bay for good? How can we truly take the practice into any situation and approach it all with real presence and true grace?

Life coaching offers supremely-useful tools to practice presence every single day, off or on your mat. The method that I have learned and now teach is like a vigorous flow class: It operates on several levels of our lives simultaneously. At the most basic level, this form of life coaching teaches "Personal Integrity" to all aspects of your being. From your heart, you'll dare to devise a dream. With your mind, you'll translate that dream into plans, and with your whole body, you'll execute.

Often, we're strong in one aspect -- great at dreaming but weak on planning or execution; strong on execution but weak on dreaming big. At this fundamental level, this is about the alignment of heart, mind and body, via an artful system of promises and consequences, which builds that muscle of personal integrity.

Keeping a promise seems so simple, except it isn't that easy. If you have a dream, it seems only logical to make a promise to help bring that dream to life, and then fulfill the promise. But we are human, and our doubtful thoughts get in the way. We all know this, and this method gives us the tools to observe and manage those thoughts. The method of coaching that has helpd me so much places most of our thoughts into one of two categories, that of the "brat," or that of the "chicken." "I don't want to" or "No way, I just can't."

There is one other voice that talks to us -- the most important one -- but it speaks more quietly. That's the voice of our dreams, to which many of us stopped listening long ago -- we're afraid of being vulnerable or failing in our lives. Our work is to let our dreams speak more loudly and allow the voices of the chicken and the brat to kindly retreat. Distinguishing the voices in your head and choosing to act in accordance with your ideals is how you begin becoming present.

Once those voices are familiar, and even funny, we learn to handle the conversations we typically avoid: the ones that involve having to praise, criticize or disappoint others. We train ourselves to be fearlessly graceful in crafting and executing those conversations so we can be heard in new, more potent ways and receive others' truths in a way that is safe and nourishing for everyone in our lives. We become magnets for the truth by learning how to elegantly tell it.

Then, we address the past. Each of us is haunted by a finite number of circumstances. Everyone has their list of memories that keep us afraid, wronged, right or confused. Some memories are replicas of your parents' memories, some are all your own. Together, they tell a story about you that needs unraveling. Partial, mis-remembered memories have been guiding our behavior and leading us in particular directions that all need to be carefully verified. That verification process involves research, letter writing, interviews, apologies and a variety of other acts of healing. On the other side of that unraveling, your true mission is revealed -- and the default mission in which you've been living is laid to rest, along with certain aspects of your lineage, your ancestry, that you no longer wish to perpetuate. Relieved of this burden, your mind becomes clear and can again focus on your most heartfelt dreams.

Yoga, Meet Life Coaching

Our yoga practice gives us feelings of clarity, kindness and awareness, yet we struggle to consistently cultivate those qualities in our daily interactions. This particular method sees yoga as an efficient entry point to greater consciousness and consistency. If we truly wish to live our practice, we have to cultivate its values everywhere in our lives -- especially in our families and our personal relationships. We are at a critical time in human evolution, a time when we can generate true shifts in consciousness. To that end, there is a growing movement of people who want to exemplify truth, caring and consistency in the world. The values we cultivate in coaching, noted below, resonate from yoga practitioners to teachers of all kinds and back.

Oneness: A recognition that everything is universally connected, with a deep regard for how you impact yourself and others, using your thoughts, feelings and actions.

Truth: Not only the ability to know, evaluate and say what you really think, but also living your life in alignment with your truest, highest ideals for yourself.

Alignment: The understanding that wherever you're holding yourself back from being honest, you're suffering the results of that misalignment. And when you're truly living your dream, you're aligned, open, capable of fearless communication and ready for anything.

Love: Truly loving yourself and others means coming from a place of balance, in which you can regard your own truth -- and that of another -- with equal weight and respond from your heart in any moment.

This combination of yoga philosophy and coaching work yields a clarity that will help you be remarkable with your family -- which will feed everything you do. Let's get proud of who we are in every part of our lives.

To learn more about the method that has truly shifted my personal and professional life, please visit the Handel Group online. -- Elena Brower

 
 
 

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