The Yoga of Quitting (or Future Suffering is To Be Avoided – Sutra 2.16)

Two years ago I was holding it down as a mother to a 5 year old, a yoga studio manager and yoga teacher, a full time safety professional, a part time housekeeper, a sometimes Pintrest mom and I started losing my hair. It fell out in clumps. I was doing way too much and my body was clearly communicating the flashing red sign of STRESS. So I quit doing it all. I QUIT.

c6a2cad04bd5924188ad918b5a512219I didn’t quit all at once, because I still had the wrong headed modus operendi of achieving. I quit small things first – like I quit having fun or I quit socializing or I quit enjoying life. But as my hair kept falling out, and I looked at a big clump of it one day, I decided to quit trying to be all the things. Because WHY? I was bringing suffering into my own life, caused by my own wrong efforts, and exacerbated by a need to always be more.

It was more than hair loss – it was also manifesting as infertility.

After years of struggling to achieve conception and dealing with what I thought was infertility – it turns out I was dealing with stress. Stress was leading to hormone imbalances and medical issues and what I discovered was I wasn’t allowing the joy of living to filter into my body – I was actually blocking life. I was doing that to myself; I’m sure I’m not the only one.

If you read this because you Googled “fertility, yoga, stress, pregnancy” or something similar – what are you so busy doing that you could quit? What’s blocking your life force?

I’m 36 weeks pregnant, about to birth a baby in a month and the busy-life is here calling me again. I’m not answering it. I’m cocooning. My meditative focus is simply on my family. What does this have to do with yoga?

I still look to the Yoga Sutras for those answers:

  • Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind – 1.2
  • When that is accomplished, the yogi abides in their own true nature – 1.3
  • The changing states of our mind can be harmful to our focus – 1.5
  • Yoga practice is the effort to be fixed in concentrating the mind – 1.13

I could go on and on with the sutras supporting us to assume a role in life with full force and focus. I can rewrite these sutras to suit my circumstances and goals. Personally, today, I want to still the mental fluctuations and focus them onto birthing and raising this new baby. Right now, my true nature is mother and life vessel. If I take on too much, I might harm my primary focus, which should be a healthy baby. The effort to stay focused on this process is challenging.

Yoga is never the poses you are doing, it’s not a physical exercise, it’s a mental way of living. The Yoga Sutras can teach us about motherhood or painting or dancing or postures or meditation or anything we wish to do well. And yes, we can indeed do more than one thing well,  but we can’t do ALL the things well, ALL of the time, ALL at once. Something will always break down.

If you discover that you begin to do some of your tasks poorly or that your health begins to suffer, you cannot really be truthful to yourself that you are living your life well concentrated – you are then bringing harm to yourself and ignoring what is one of my favorite yoga sutras:

  • 11849790_1642484662630447_540587482_nFuture suffering is to be avoided – 2.16

Bottom line, don’t be afraid to quit something that isn’t serving your highest good. Listen to that nagging voice in your head that is asking you why you struggle – maybe that something doesn’t matter as much as you think. Maybe you can let it go and let yourself be ok without it.

Takeaway: Settle in and take stock of what’s not serving you in life. Make a commitment to quit ONE THING – it can be small, but declutter your life of unnecessary tasks, people, things, or feelings.

Rediscover Joy.

To My Readers and Students: Thank you so much for sticking with me in my absence. Thank you for finding ways to practice and keeping connected even while I’m on a break. I never forget you, I never quit you, and you always inspire me, even when we aren’t face-to-face. 

7 Ways to Wish Yourself a Happy Birthday

I love birthdays. I’m never ashamed to get older. I’m fiercely aware that the alternative to getting older is to die young. So every year, rather than be afraid, ashamed, wistful, or have a regret – I try to spend the day incorporating all the things I’d like to achieve or focus on for this one day. If you want to reframe your birthday celebrations and welcome in the wisdom of age – try these practices.

  1. Wake Up EARLY. Earlier than normal. This indeed is the year you can put your health first. The first thing you do upon waking is drink a glass of water and go work out. I prefer yoga, obviously, but this can be a run or whatever gets your body moving. Moving the joints keeps them youthful.

    Wake Up and Yoga!

    Wake Up and Yoga!

  2. Luxurious Shower or Bubble Bath. After your sweat session, you want to smell better. Use those products you “save for special occasions,” and then use them every day because you deserve to feel special every morning. It makes getting older much more pleasant.

    Happy Birthday Bubble Bath

    Happy Birthday Bubble Bath

  3. Play with your animals or kids or both! Sink into that feeling of play, let yourself enjoy playtime without a “to do” list or agenda. Just be free with them.

    Play with and like a kid.

    Play with and like a kid.

  4. Read a book. Maybe you have a goal of more spiritual study, or tackling a fiction novel or an autobiography. An engaged mind is a key to staying curious and attentive, which is a cornerstone of youthful living. Not everyone is a bookworm, maybe your brain training is Sudoku or a cross word puzzle – the key is brain train.

    Yoga Sutra Study

    Yoga Sutra Study

  5. Eat good food. Dessert is certainly acceptable on your birthday, but surround your cake and ice cream with very good nutrition. Eat an epic salad, load up on good protein, pick up some fresh herbs. You are what you eat and if you are intending on an active life well into older years, you probably don’t want to be fried chicken.

    Garden Salsa Sounds Good!

    Garden Salsa Sounds Good!

  6. Treat Yourself. Think spa or manicure and pedicure. Reward your body and skin for carrying you for all these years. Say thank you to your muscles and yourself. Stress relief is shown to keep you feeling younger longer.

    These are the actual products I use. I get them at Senara Health and Healing Center.

    These are the actual products I use. I get them at Senara Health and Healing Center.

  7. GRATITUDE. You absolutely must end your day thankful. Take a moment to reflect back upon your past year, make a haphazard list of every single thing you can think of to be grateful about. It doesn’t have to be a big thing – small things matter too, like fresh water and blue skies. Studies show that an attitude of gratitude reduces wrinkles.

    And I'm Thankful for YOU!

    And I’m Thankful for YOU!



Mondays: 7:00 pm @Senara on Willow Knolls

Fridays: Noon & 4 pm @Senara

My Personal Practice

Alignment Authenticity Anatomy Junkie Spiritual Flow Mantras Mudras Continuous Education Practice What You Teach Progress Not Perfection Guiding Teachers: BKS Iyengar Pattabi Jois Shiva Rea Daren Friesen (Moksha Chicago) Marinda Stopforth (Prairie Yoga - Lisle, IL)

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