Do you struggle to find balance in your life? I know I have. In the past, I have found myself busy from morning until night rushing from here to there, “getting stuff done”, crossing off items off my “to do” list, yet not really feeling like I was living the vibrant and balanced life I wanted to be living. It hasn't always been easy to balance my responsibilities of raising and educating my kids, teaching yoga and wellness, engaging in community activities and finding time for myself. Despite my many years of being a yogi (25 +) and despite all the practices I know and teach, I have struggled a lot in life to feel balanced.
My days involve household work (cooking, meeting the kids' needs, car-pooling), my wrok (teaching, administrative tasks, and personal studies) and personal practices. It's a lot, andI'm sure you can relate to your own circumstances. There are more times than I’d like to admit that in trying to do it all, I have worked too hard, stayed up too late, slept poorly, consumed too many crunchy salty snacks or sweets, wasted time on low-level activities, suffered from poor digestion and neglected my own self-care and fun! Being in peri-menopause doesn’t help either! Ask my husband and kids. They’ll tell you a stressed-out, cranky yoga mom is not a fun person to have around!
For a long time I didn’t know what to do to make my life feel balanced. I wasn’t about to give up my family duties and dedication to raising my kids in the way that I most believed. I wasn’t going to give up the work I love. And, I certainly wasn’t going to give up my yoga!
I’ve been back in Peru for a couple of weeks now and enjoying reconnecting with my community. Since I haven’t been teaching local classes for a couple of months, I decided to reach out to plan a little gathering to reconnect with my Maple Grove Yoga and Vibrant Living folks. I hosted an outdoor yoga class followed by a potluck. It was so fun that I plan to do it again and invite all my yoga peeps, so stay tuned - I have a big backyard!
The women that came to the gathering are all long time yoga practitioners. Most of them have been taking classes at my home studio for many years. Over the years, they have become a strong community. They support one another in learning, growth and life transitions on and off the mat.
I dedicated the yoga class to the power of community. We don’t evolve on our own. Humans evolve best with support and guidance. Whether you are working on strength building, committing to a meditation practice, eating better, improving self-care, parenting better, or aging more gracefully, having community support makes all the difference.
Since we were practicing yoga outside surrounded by forest, I felt inspired to also invoke the elements of nature. I offered a guided meditation on the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, space), how these live inside us, and how different individuals serve as support and guidance to us via embodying these elements.
Try this exercise:
Read the musings below and spend a few minutes in quiet reflection or journaling. Consider how each element is embodied by different individuals in your life who serve to support you in growth, development and inspiration.
Earth – GROUNDEDNESS. Who in your life serves to ground you, anchor you and stabilize you in times of upheaval?
Water – FLUIDITY. Who in your life helps you flow, encourages you “go with the flow”, and assists you when you are stuck?
Fire – POWER + PASSION. Who in your life ignites you, empowers you, and gets you focused on taking action?
Air – MOBILITY + CREATIVITY. Who in your life inspires you to think outside of the box and gets you into your creativity?
Space – EXPANSION. Who in your life helps you expand beyond your limited constructs of yourself, and helps you step into your Big Self?
Are you looking for a supportive community to help you deepen your yoga practice?
Are you looking to find other thrive-seekers to join you and support you in creating habits for a more balanced life?
it’s not fall yet (no, not yet please!), now is a great time to make plans for joining a fall class or program with me (many of these classes fill quickly). You can check them out here.
Greetings from the Andes! I am spending six weeks in the Sacred Valley of Peru and my most recent blog posts are snippets of the lessons and experiences from my time here.
For much of my life, I have been a student, traveler and explorer of many cultures and spiritual traditions. As such, I deeply appreciate this quote by ethnographer, writer and filmmaker Wade Davis:
“Every culture is a unique answer to the fundamental question: what does is it means to be human and alive. When asked that question, the peoples of the world respond with 7000 sources of knowledge and wisdom, history and intuition which collectively comprise humanity’s repertoire for dealing with all the challenges that we’ll face as a species in the coming centuries. Every culture deserves a place at the council of the human experience.”
I have spent a good portion of my adult life as a student and explorer of the traditions of Latin America, particularly the Andes, and the spiritual traditions of India, particularly yoga and Ayurveda. I appreciate the diversity of the human experience and expression, and I love it when I find intersections and common ground between different cultures. Over the past seven years that our family has been spending time in Peru, I have been interested in exploring the intersections between yoga philosophy and the Andean cosmo-vision. I am fascinated with the notion of sacred landscape and ritual offerings in both cultures. As I write this blog post from my home in the Peruvian Andes with a majestic view of the mountains of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, I ask:
What does it mean for a culture to believe that the earth is alive, and how does one act when one has a sacred relationship to the land?
Annie Barrett. Educator, certified health coach yoga instructor.