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What would I talk about? – by Aida Bielkus

What would I talk about? People often ask this question when they want to find out more about HYL coaching and whether it is right for them.  What that question actually means is I am not ready to change.  I am okay with the status quo. I have grown complaisant and even though I feel a bit stuck I’m just going to stay my course and hope for the best.  If you cannot think of something you would want coaching for then you are okay not to experience change…yet… are you really?

I have been there.  I have held myself back by behaving from old beliefs based on fear.  I have ignored, resisted, blocked, gone complaisant, been lazy, and simply not cared; however, once I found coaching I could never  again go back to avoiding change.  Once you realize through your first coaching sessions that you run your own show, that life happens from you and not at you, you will be bitten by that bug.  You taste the possibility of your own true inner transformation, and there is nothing more rewarding  than the continued processing of that goal.

Let’s walk down “Devil’s Advocate Road” for the hell of it: what is so great about change? Isn’t it easier not to change; change just stirs things up and creates conflict.  This position is a false belief- and deep down inside-  you know it.  The truth is that conscious change releases conflict, suffering and stuck-ness.  By unconsciously making a choice to not change you unconsciously agree to have unconscious change happen to you.  Stuck-ness creates change that is out of your control.  Oh there will be plenty of change happening every day around you; change is a natural part of the world we live in, but your mind, body and spirit suffer in stuck-ness.  Your body gets out of balance and sick.  Your mind forms patterns of anxious thoughts.  Your relationships suffer. Your work goals grow stale or disappear.  With this position there is no growth unless it is somehow accidental.  Like you might accidentally win the lottery. But even in this extreme example,  we see change can be limited. In many instances people who win the lottery return to living as they always had, and change little because the change was not conscious.

I wrote the following quote in my high school in my High School year book,  “the only thing you can be sure of is change.” Not sure where I got it but I just knew it was true!  This idea has been put forth by many philosophers.  The ancient yogi philosopher, Patanjali  (150 BCE) wrote that impermanence and change are the only constants.  Later, the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus (480 BCE) theorized that everything is in a state of fluctuation.  And another example is in Buddhism where anicca, or impermanence is undeniably a factor of life.  A river flows and carves out a bed.  Trees grow by the bank and feed.  They decay and fall into the river.  Our souls are like that bed, being carved out by life. But we have the ability to create conscious choice that would allow our river to flow freely towards the open sea.  Coaching supports conscious choice and change.

Next Steps for Coaching:  Close your eyes and take 10 long breaths.  Think about your life and something that you would want to change. Something perhaps that you only you know. Write this down.  This desire to change, whether it be small or large, is exactly what a certified Health Yoga Life Coach will work with you on in coaching.  A coach will help you re-language, to see that how you describe things to yourself begin to create your reality. To re-language the question in this blog, I encourage you to instead say: I know what I will talk about with my coach. Coaches will then use affirmations to support your change.  This blog post’s affirmation is I create conscious change in my life with support from my coach.

5 Reasons Why Every 19 Year Old Should Take a Yoga Teacher Training. Guest post by Nicole Hicks

Oh yes. I said it. Just like we all read Shakespeare in high school and learned how to make mac n’ cheese in the microwave, I believe that a yoga teacher training (like the one I experienced) should be added to the list of must-do things for all people under twenty. Here’s why:

  1. At 19 you’re just figuring out who you are. It’s better to dive in deep now than when you’re 45 and have to break all of the habits and stereotypes you’ve been working with for so long (not that teacher training isn’t a great thing to do at 45!). Wouldn’t it have been easier to develop your sense of self when you were 19 and had lots of time to mull it over? The path of self-discovery should be introduced to more young people – perhaps the concept of a mid-life crisis could disappear.
  2. Yoga teaches you how to live. But really. Just the physical practice (asana) can help you learn to deal with stress on and off of the mat; not to mention the other seven limbs of yoga that most people forget even exist. Signs of stress, peer pressure, and judgemental attitudes become pretty universal by the time kids are in third grade. Now 19 years old seems a bit late to start a deep yoga practice, doesn’t it? Yoga gives us ways to cope and even avoid the plague of negative feelings that many adults unfortunately consider normal. The younger you learn, the better!
  3. Change is permanent, and any yoga teacher will tell you this. At 19, most people are experiencing dramatic upheavals (moving away from home, starting college, deciding on a career, etc.) and need to be told this. Change is natural and necessary. Life will go on, I promise.
  4. Learning to be open and present will change your life“Hellz no” you say. “I’m fine, thank you,” you say. And that is how being closed just kept you from taking a yoga teacher training and meeting wonderful people. Being open to new ideas is the only way we can grow into our authentic selves. Like everything else, it’s best to start this when you’re young, so you can practice keeping an open mind and heart for the remainder of your life! Being present is incredibly hard to do too – right now you’re probably half reading this article, checking facebook on your cell phone, and pretending to listen to your friend who’s telling you a story. With the insane amount of distractions adolescents face today, it’s easy to get lost in “la la land” (yes, I know, I’m a victim of it too). Teacher training will give you the tools to be present when you’re teaching a class of yogis, and that skill sticks with you outside of the classroom.
  5. Most importantly, you will learn to be authentically you. Any yoga teacher will tell you that one of the highest compliments you can receive is that you taught a class authentically. Being authentic, or “real,” is something that many of us struggle with as we try to figure out just who we really are. What better way to start your adult life than by learning who you are, and how to present that true-you to others?
  6. I know I promised just five reasons, but this one is good – You’ll learn really cool things like how to do a headstand, how to avoid that nickname for Massachusetts drivers, and what breath of fire (pronounced: BREATH OF FIYAHHHH) is and how to do it.

(This picture may or may not be an accurate representation…)

To learn more about the 200-hour teacher training course that I  took, check out!

Wedding Registry – by Siga Bielkus

Most brides find a lot of pleasure in compiling their registries, their wish-lists for future domestic bliss—the copper pots, the crystal stem-ware, the high thread-count pillow cases. Naturally, a lot of the enjoyment is aspirational (“Williams Sonoma Professional Grade Panini Press with Bluetooth Speaker, in Gold”). And who doesn’t like getting presents, particularly ones you pick out yourself? But the real pleasure in selecting registry items comes from visualizing the home that you and your partner are in the process of creating.

This isn’t entirely materialistic. Sure, it’s satisfying to pick out the linens for the master bedroom, or the brand of juicer you’ll be using to make your morning green drink (  But what I enjoy most is the anticipation of the meals we’ll be cooking together over the years, the nights we’ll spend in each other’s company. My fiancée and I dream of a shared life, and by clicking on a set of bath towels, we come a tiny bit closer to that reality. These little material choices — cast iron or nonstick?—are ways of adding texture to our imagination of a joined existence. It’s a way of giving that future a physical presence, of grounding the wonderful experiences to come in the present moment.

None of our registry gifts, no matter their labels or price tags, are remotely meaningful outside of that context. A coffee pot is just a lump of ceramic unless it helps form the background of shared Sunday breakfasts, of morning kisses, of years of intimacy. It’s all just stage dressing for the real act.

In much the same way, one of yoga’s biggest lessons is context. When I’m on my mat, I can clearly see how the externalities of my daily life — all the stuff that’s filling up the breakfast nook of my soul—is just stage dressing. Like the coffee pot on my registry, they’re just the background to the real story, and the real joy, of my existence. That doesn’t take away from the pleasure of the material or routine, but it shouldn’t ever distract. So even when my fiancée and I are scrolling through flatware patterns, I know that they’re just designs on a spoon. What matters is that our hands touch when we click the mouse.

You’ve Got a Friend in You – by Zara Bielkus

Like people and animals, friends, come in all shapes and sizes. Some are strong and always there, some are fuzzy fence sitters who are great when you need to bounce ideas off another person; but often the best thing about friends is that they find you.  This happened to me nearly 15 years ago. Standing in the coat room line, I could see a gentleman struggling to get his arm through a rather elusive sleeve. More than 35 years my senior, I thought to myself that my grandmother would be proud for respecting my elders if I helped him find it.

“It seems your left sleeve is playing hide-and-seek with you,” I said to him, grabbing the shoulder of his coat so he could guide his arm through. When he introduced himself, it turned out that according to the seating plan we were meant to have been sitting next to each other for dinner, but someone had shuffled him to the head table. As a result, I had dinner next to a dull so-and-so, but this chance meeting in the coat room line seemed ever more intriguing. Many years of our friendship elapsed and I was helping my friend collect legal paperwork for his estate. Grasping hundreds of papers, one page slipped from the pile in my hands to my feet – it was his father’s death certificate; it turned out we shared the same birthday.

“Perhaps you and I have been playing hide-and-seek even longer than we thought,” my friend chuckled when I highlighted the coincidence. Well if our spirits had shared a previous life, I, for one, did not remember!  This friend often talks of the divine and all the grandeurs of spiritual understanding. But I most admire his ability to treat strangers and friends with the same level of trusting compassion and I enjoy his wider knowledge base, which generally only the process of aging reveals. One day, after dedicating 10 years to one project, he said he would no longer pursue it. There were many reasons behind his choice, which I accepted, but I could not accept his loss. He felt he lost because now that he decided to stop the project before completion, “everybody will laugh [at me]”, he said. It made me want to cry when his voice trailed on the other end of the phone line. At that moment, I realized his loss was not the loss of the project, but really the feelings of embarrassment from a perceived loss of dignity – measured only against other people’s opinions.

So I said to him boldly: “The greatest loss here is not the project, or the loss of dignity. The greatest loss here is that in the roughly 70 years of your life, you still haven’t found your best friend: yourself.” You are never alone once you have found this true companion. With the hectic life of modern age it is critical to have a relationship with this ‘friend’ because of the high demands expected of individuals.  The yoga mat is a great place to find this friend because the stillness of the room allows you to hear what they need, what they want, what will make them happy. The differences in acts of selfishness and selflessness may be very apparent, but the mental differences between the two are less so.  Sometimes by being a little selfish (like meditating instead of washing the dishes) allows us to act more selfless (like setting aside time to really listen to your partner’s/friend’s day).  Was I being a good or bad friend when I told my dear, old friend to look for himself? Neither. I was being a true friend, because truth holds no judgement.

When you are able to slow down through yoga, meditating, or a quite walk, ask yourself do you have a best friend in you?  If not, why not? What might need to change, what might help you like you as a person more? When you hear a voice criticizing you – which more often than not sounds just like your own – try replacing that voice with one of support, kindness, and appreciation. Look for ways to improve this internal relationship in order to improve relations with others. Having self-awareness will enable you to have better boundaries in your life that support the growth of the true you. Loving yourself unabashedly will ensure the journey of a lifetime.