Twelve Wellness Perspectives

As a yoga teacher, a strength training coach, and an outdoor educator, I thought I’d summarize some of what I’ve learned throughout my own personal life experiences in the format of my own 12-step outline for personal wellness. I call them perspectives because they are topics to be considered and perhaps explored further (they’ll have different meanings for different people), and because that’s what I’m now calling my Vermont-based coaching work: Perspective Coaching.

So, today I am posting a draft of my outline for my friends to review and to help guide me as I develop content for the next twelve posts.

I come to this effort with a desire to help readers evolve to a healthier – perhaps more sustainable – lifestyle. My assumption is that each of us are struggling to exist in a challenging world, that each of us have our own life-story of hardship and distress, and that each of us is looking for a way to flow through life with a greater sense of ease and common good. I’m also offering these 12 wellness practices from a guy’s perspective… but I’m not intending it to be only for guys.

My preliminary outline is below. Within each topic, my plan is to develop how-to’s which give some options for people to try. Please contact me with comments.

I’ll discuss perspectives my own experiences in Yin Yoga and Power Yoga, indigenous cultures, experiential and adventure learning, therapeutic and adaptive yoga and sports, western strength training and wellness practices, and my own body-mind-spirit explorations.

1. Calm Waters: Finding Safety in the Storm. (I’ll discuss basic practices to help calm the nervous system, including surrounding yourself with support.)

2. Breathe: Our Primary Focus. (I’ll discuss breathing techniques and some visualization practices to enhance abilities to find calmness and focus.)

3. Cultivating Awareness: Being our own Witness. (I’ll bring attention to the concept of observing your thoughts and not becoming attached to them.)

4. Heart Sense: Moving from Head to Heart. (I’ll discuss concepts such as acceptance and compassion, and share practices which help develop intuition and sense of inner knowing… and moving away from a life of judgment and comparison… and moving towards a thriving life, naturally.)

5. Setting Intention: What am I Practicing? (Based on the idea that we become what we practice in life, I’ll discuss goal-setting practices and the benefits of setting positive intentions… and living in a manner as if they are already happening.)

6. Reach Deep: The Courage to be Your Self. (I’ll discuss practices to let go of “what you think should be” and to develop an attitudes of positivity and courage. I’ll discuss the concept of Dharma, and realizing your strengths.)

7. Mindful Movement: Finding Inner Power and Balance. (I’ll discuss basic principles of yoga asana and mindful strength training practices, and developing physical balance and alignment. I’m guessing that this will my focus for further posts too.)

8. Nurturing Harmony: Stabilizing Attention and Intention. (I’ll discuss practices which support finding equanimity and personal harmony, including the benefits of nutrition and regular practice.)

9. Adventurous Spirit: Maintaining Attitudes of Awe and Discovery. (The world is constantly changing. I’ll discuss practices which enhance abilities to learn, adapt, and sustain an awesome life in the light. Live a life full of experiences.)

10. Practice Loving-Kindness: The Karma of Connection. (I’ll discuss the concepts of Karma, Oneness, Gaia, and the importance of feeling connected and engaged in the bigger picture, with others, with nature… and perhaps leading changes within your family and community, one relationship at a time.)

11. Reflections: Strengthening Learning and Self-Regulation. (The learning occurs during the times of reflection. I’ll discuss non-judgmental reflection and de-brief practices.)

12. Starting Again: Life Goes On. (I like to look at my life according to the legend of Kokopelli, bringing joy to my surroundings, one day at a time, planting seeds, then moving on. I’ll discuss this perspective, the power of living in the present, but also the concept of being part of the evolutionary cycle of life. My Soul Lives.)

Be Selfish. Practice Yoga.

When teaching yoga to young people, especially when many of them are new to yoga, I remind them that the practice of yoga is really about learning about themselves and perhaps how they each relate to the world. I ask them to be selfish; to take away from their yoga practice the necessary skills and knowledge that might be relevant to their current lives and their personal goals.

At a fundamental level, our basic instinct is to survive. We can’t help anyone else if we aren’t alive and able. Learning how to adapt and be resilient in a changing world is fundamental to our existence, each of us, individually and collectively. This starts with awareness and presence. What’s going on now? Use yoga to learn present-moment awareness. Use mindfulness-based practices to not let your personal intentions get “hijacked” or disrupted by distractions and unimportant mental constructs. Use yoga-based movements to train your body to be balanced, strong yet flexible, hard yet soft, determined yet adaptable, aging yet youthful. Use these skills to be aware of change as it happens and to survive through, or breathe through, or move through, the inevitable hardships and stressful challenges in your life. Use yoga to re-program your body when stressful or traumatic events happen, to re-wire your neurological circuitry and let go of bodily stressors which no longer serve you, and to build resilient whole-bodies.

In a competitive world, our desire is to perform well. To win a game, we practice playing the skills of the game better. To score well on an exam, we study and learn the information being tested. If we don’t perform well, it’s not a reflection on who we are, the fabric of our being; we just didn’t perform well. Use yoga to learn focus and to enhance personal mind-body-spirit performance. By learning to let go of thoughts and behaviors that aren’t serving you well nor enhancing your overall ability to perform well, you are better able to focus, to see clearly, and to perform naturally as you have learned and practiced. By focusing on the performance of your whole being – body, mind and spirit – you bring your whole best-self to the game of life.

In our modern world, our instinct is to strive for happiness. We tend to be happier when we are well. We tend to be happier when we feel engaged and connected to people in our lives and in the natural world around us. Use yoga to discover your strengths, what makes you thrive, and to learn how your body responds to healthful and unhealthful habits. Use yoga to discover the natural and instinctive needs that our bodies desire for supportive personal interactions, community, time in nature, and feelings of acceptance, compassion, gratitude… and love.

Of course, survival and performance and happiness are all connected. We are all connected. Use yoga to explore the wondrous possibilities of mind-body-spirit connections, the miraculous possibilities of our human existence, and the infinite Oneness of our Universe. Feel connected. Accept possibilities. Have faith. Practice.

Infinite Possibilities

Infinite Possibilities

Yoga is not just about seeing how far you can stretch or push yourself into a posture. Yoga is about learning about yourself and how you relate to everything around you; it’s about finding balance between your desire to strive and your natural instinct to just live; it’s about learning how to move through – and breathe through – life’s rough spots and living well when you’re tested; it’s about being aware, paying attention, and letting your whole-self thrive naturally and holistically.

Go ahead. Be selfish.

Survive well and be happy. For yourself.

Practice yoga.

We’ll all benefit from each other’s wholehearted practice!