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Can you have it all?

I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside.
— Rumi
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I’ve always felt a lot of pressure to be a “girlboss” or start my own business and prove something, but what if I don’t want to anymore? I am realizing there is a huge lack of encouragement for women NOT to be a businesswoman, not to work endlessly, and not to work hard/play hard. I’ve felt so unsettled and bad about myself lately because I’ve only considered myself as successful if I was making money doing what I love. Yet, I’ve been doing that for a long time, so why do I still feel inadequate? What does success really mean anyway? 

One of my mentors told me “getting married was (my) biggest accomplishment thus far.” I reacted quite similarly to how I did when Mike proposed to me - initial shock, then total agreement! I am realizing how much time I’ve spent so worried about being successful in my career, that I’ve missed the chance to appreciate the best things about my life so far: a caring husband, a beautiful home, a passion to live. I’m slowly realizing that these are things I can be proud of and feel successful for achieving as well.  My current model of success: “have a job you love,” “work hard,” and “make money,” leave me feeling empty and unsatisfied, which is not the way I want to keep living life. Most people would think that's a great model for success, but for me, there's still something missing. Getting paid to do what you love is great, don't get me wrong, but you'd do it for free anyways, so what's the point? Making money is awesome of course, but is that enough? Is that success? What happens after you've achieved that? The answer is nothing. Nothing happens. You're just left with your thoughts about what it means to have accomplished what you've set out to do and your attitude towards that.  Never have I equated “getting married” with “success” but in a way, I guess it makes sense. It is something in my life that gives me purpose, love and understanding - why shouldn't I feel success in that?

There is a line in the Yoga Sutras, “Mana eva manushyanam karanam band mokhayoho,” it translates to, “As the mind, so the man; bondage or liberation are in your own mind.” Basically it means if you feel stuck, you are stuck. If you feel free, you are free. If I think I’m terrible for not starting a business right now, I am terrible. If I feel awesome about being a wife, I am awesome. The things outside of us don’t hold us down or free us, only our attitude toward them does that. No one else can change my attitude about success but me. 

So starting now, this is my new definition of success: To live a fulfilling and meaningful life. Whether that’s by being true to career goals, family aspirations, or a blend of both, or none of those things at all -  I get to decide. Regardless of whether this type of meaning can be scientifically proven, or redefined in the dictionary, I choose to follow my own belief of what success means, because what I believe to be the truth for myself is both what binds me and liberates me. Next time you’re feeling stuck, take a step back and look at how you define success. Write it down. Reflect upon it. What is it that you want? Is that what success means to you? Think about whether you are truly stuck, or if you’re attitude about it is what’s actually holding you back. I believe you can “have it all” in life, if you’re clear about what it is you want.

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My Top Three Yoga Accessories

Jade Yoga Mat - The perfect yoga mat. Not slippery. Just enough grip. Not too heavy to carry around. Lasts forever! 

Yoga Tune-Up Balls - The best self-massage tool ever. Perfect for working out knots in your back, and massaging out your glutes or legs. Way better than using tennis or lacrosse balls, they have a better consistency and dig in much deeper.

Natural Fitness Bolster - made out of all natural hemp material. Lightweight, strong and stable. Makes restorative yoga poses feel 10 times better! My all-time favorite prop. 

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Lazy in Love

...it’s like any growth. You can’t be ready for it because - it’s growth, it’s gonna be new. It’s gonna be new. You’re gonna have a new life, you’re gonna be a new person.
— Jerry Seinfeld on marriage

My two favorite movies of all time are Hairspray (the Zac Efron version) and The Wolf of Wall Street. Although one is super girly and one is ultra violent and raunchy - the main characters are the same. They are both fully committed to one special skill that makes them remarkable human beings. Tracy is an amazing dancer that will do anything to stand up for what she believes in and because of that she creates an entire movement. She inspired everyone to dance and sing alongside her even if it was a huge risk. Leonardo Dicaprio’s character is an extremely talented salesman. He is able to get everybody on board with him, even if what he was doing was “wrong.” I LOVE that he came out of prison and became a motivational speaker and taught sales classes. Sales is his “thing,” it’s what he’s about. Stories and people like this inspire me. I hope that one day I can be committed to one thing just as much as I am committed to one person. Commitment is what makes people interesting. Constraint is where we grow. Finding my “one thing” in my career is an aspect of my life I am still figuring out and I am enjoying figuring it out with my husband by my side. I don’t feel limited by marriage, I feel empowered. Being married is bliss, like a long, good savasana. Find someone you love. Make them stick with you til you die!! It’s a great life plan, and actually really productive. 

Why should I commit myself to be with one person? Because if I didn’t, I’d wander around this world trying to figure out what love is with a whole bunch of people, places or things. That sounds exhausting! I am too lazy for that and I’d rather spend my time dancing like Tracy or figuring out how to be the Leonardo Dicaprio of yoga. I don’t have time to get to know anyone else romantically, or travel to find love in mother nature blah blah. I have found what I believe is love with Mike, and constraining myself to pursue this one type of love with my husband is what gives me freedom and choice. Limiting yourself is actually really productive. I don't need to be able to date everyone to feel free and in control of my life. I don’t need to live in seven different cities to feel connected to the world. Having too many options makes it hard to focus, just think about how long it takes you to figure out where to go to dinner! Aziz Ansari’s book, Modern Romance, has an awesome commentary about the paradox of choice when it comes to relationships. Marriage isn't "settling," it's choosing to move forward openly and full-force with someone you love. 

I learned a lot about freedom in constraint through yoga. Yoga taught me how to focus on one thing: the present moment. When in the present moment, I realize how connected I am to everything. When a yoga teacher tells you to “Focus on your breath,” they’re not just telling you to do that because your breath is super interesting, (it’s not). It’s because focusing on your breath is one of the simplest, most universal ways for a human being to connect to the present moment. Your attention has no physical form, it takes the shape of whatever is in front of it. Connecting with one thing, like your breath, gives your attention a “shape” and allows you to focus on here and now. When you’re focused on the present moment, it becomes clear how connected we all are. It’s what makes yoga feel so special.

Being married is fun! I highly recommend getting married. Now I know I can count on my husband for anything and everything I need and want to eat. We’ve announced to the world that we’ll be there for each other no matter what. It’s like all of this guaranteed attention. Perfect! Because I am too lazy to try and get everyone to love me. If I can get ONE person to think I’m funny and pretty all the time- that is enough, in fact it’s more than enough, it’s more efficient!

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Why I Hate Sports

No one can give you freedom but you.
— Byron Katie

One night I was walking home from work, super hungry and very annoyed at my fiancé, Mike. He called me at 9pm and asked what I wanted for dinner. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME.” I said to myself, pissed off. Why was he calling me about dinner at 9pm? Shouldn't he have this figured out? He got home early, not me. He should be making dinner and calling to tell me it’s ready. I should come home to a nice meal and a quiet home. Instead, I find myself irritated imagining Mike drinking beer, watching some sports thing, and straight up lounging. This man, ugh! The thought infuriates me. I seriously consider how I could marry a man who likes sports. A man who wastes time sitting in front of the TV - doing what?? Absolutely nothing! Go out and DO SOMETHING. Change the world! Make dinner!! Anyway, I did end up picking up some Vietnamese food and felt a little bit better. I asked myself why I was so angry. What is going on with me? Do I really not want to marry Mike? Should we call it off? How can I do this for the rest of my life? I. Hate. Sports. This simple act of “asking yourself why” is a technique I learned in yoga and it’s one of the ways I practice yoga the most. Yes, believe it or not, as a Yoga Teacher, I’m not smiling in handstands all day sharing inspirational quotes. Although I LOVE that stuff, yoga is about so much more. It’s about understanding who you are in relationship to the world. There’s this amazing book by Byron Katie called Loving What Is, it helps you identify and question the thoughts you have and how they shape the world you live in.  To me, reflecting like this is “real life yoga.” This is where change happens.

So I took a step back, I looked at me. My ravenous belly. The thoughts revolving in my head. I pictured Mike on the couch watching TV. I asked myself, “Why does this make me so mad?” The answer I came up with surprised me, “Because any time spent not making the world a better place was a waste.” This is the belief and judgment I was putting on to Mike. It’s this thought alone that was causing me stress. What purpose does this belief give me? Well, it motivates me to wake up in the morning, it fuels my career! Right?? Right..? Suddenly, something about believing this didn’t feel right anymore, thinking this made me feel anxious and uncomfortable in my own body. What I started to realize is that this thought no longer served me and it wasn’t really true. I continued to ask myself why, 

Why would I ever believe that ‘any time spent not making the world a better place was a waste?'

-Because I want to make the world a better place. 

Why? 

-Because I love helping others be great. 

Why? 

-Because I love it! I want to share my love with others.

I’m not just teaching yoga because anything else is a waste of time. I’m teaching yoga because I love it and I want to give and share my love. Love is my universal truth. Love is what wakes me up in the morning. Not this silly “time wasting” idea! My anger, my fear, my emotions peeled away and all I was left with was what was really there: Mike watching sports. That’s it! That’s literally all he was doing and here I am having a fit. Like, what?? The belief I had let go of me, and suddenly, I felt empowered. My distaste for Mike disappeared. The anger I experienced was about me, not him. I came home, kissed him swiftly, and told him to get out of my way so I could eat. This is what practicing yoga off the mat is like: It’s about your ability to objectively observe your own thoughts and beliefs without judgement. This is where change happens and truth is revealed. The marriage is still on, ladies and gentleman, and I still don’t really care about sports! If that’s not love, I don't know what is… 

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Oo na na What's my name?

Photo by Anna Sodziak

Photo by Anna Sodziak

Do I want to be “Catherine Aldana Sager” or “Catherine Balina Sager” or “Catherine Balina Aldana Sager??” “Well, what sounds better?” I ask, then immediately judge myself for being so shallow. I have to choose what I want to change my name to once I get married. What’s in a name anyway? Why do I even care? I once learned that the universe is made of sound, up until recently, I never really related to this idea, but I’m starting to understand.

Dr. Hans Jenny, a Swiss medical doctor and natural scientist in the 1950s introduced the study of wave phenomena or Cymatics. He made it possible to physically see the subtle, powerful way through which sound structures matter. There’s a beautiful video Nigel Stanford made in 2014 that captures this phenomenon perfectly. In yoga today, it is not uncommon to see yoga classes accompanied by live music or DJs, or studios hosting special gong washes and sound healing therapies. And of course there’s the popular “Om” or “AUM,” a special sound often chanted in classes as well. People may attend sound healing events or practice chanting because they find it healing, or fun, or they love music. The study of yoga and sound is so vast. “AUM” is actually the sound of the universe (creepy video). AUM translates to all possibilities and all probabilities. Any word or sound you can make is encompassed in the sound “AUM.” The “A” is pronounced “Ah” like in “America.” The sound “Ah” comes from the very back of your throat. Feel it, say it. The “U” in AUM is pronounced “Oh” like in “home.” When you say this part of the word AUM, it takes place in the very center of your mouth. The “M” is pronounced “Mmm” as in “Mmm that tastes good!!” “Mmm” takes place at your lips, at the grossest level you can produce a sound (“gross” as in the most absolute/apparent, not gross as in disgusting or sick, ok come on). Linguistically, every sound you could possibly create is produced when you chant AUM - starting at the back of your throat, through the center of your mouth, ending at your lips. Clearly, there’s a scientific & powerful significance to the way my name sounds and the vibration it creates, aka I’m just as important as I thought I was.

In Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages, “Nada Brahma” roughly translates to “The world is sound.” I understand this as sound is everything and all I have. I’m inspired to reflect upon the deeper meaning of choosing my name. I believe that as humans we create our own universe, and if the universe is made of sound then whatever I call myself better be the most incredible and beautiful sound there ever was. I give meaning to what is real and important in my life, in this case, my name and the vibration it sends. How epic is “Beyonce” or “Madonna” or “Chanel” these sounds were meant to be heard!! And so is mine. 

 

 

 

 

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