Karla Treadway, Author at MVMNT Studio | Yoga | Fitness | Community

Posts By: Karla Treadway

group of people on the beach doing yoga

Anxiety. I said it. We all feel it, whether it’s obvious for you, or not right now. The world is reactive. WE are reactive because that energy is contagious. While planning and preparing is helpful…. worry is not. Worry gives us a false sense of preparation when in fact it does nothing but set us up for unnecessary pain. 

 

Yoga teaches us to live in the present moment. That you never actually have a problem in the present moment. We’re either anxious about the future, or regretful about the past. The time and space right now has many of us alternating between these two extremes and many are ignoring all the things that are good right now. We are spending time in worry… when we could be enjoying all that is good. 

 

Worry puts us in fight or flight……when there is no real imminent danger. If you’re a constant worrier, imagine the fatigue that your body is facing. Stress can be a helpful emotion when there is real immediate danger. We need that sudden influx of energy and chemicals to send us sprinting away from the danger. Think of saving a child from an accident or running from a wild animal….we need a lot of energy to successfully avoid a big problem. 

 

When we worry (even over little things), that worry sends the same chemical responses to our body that the bear attack does, slowly but surely using up all of our precious energy that we need for real and immediate problems. We simply can not live in this state forever. It drains us.

 

My teacher Abbie Galvin used to say “you don’t want to learn how to swim when you’re drowning in the ocean.” If you don’t train yourself daily and strengthen your techniques to handle stress, you’re in a big pickle when big life events surprise you. Practice your stress reducing techniques daily so you can handle the world. 

 

How do you get yourself out of constant worry?

 

1) Ground yourself first:

 

How you start your day will determine the rest of your day. Wake, water, meditate, write or yoga will drastically enhance your day. Wake, worry, caffeine, social media, emails and news……will crush you. 

 

2) Practice mindfulness:

 

Notice emotions in the body. What do they feel like? What does stress feel like in the body? Where do you feel it? The more you are able to tap into physical sensations, the quicker you will be able to respond and get yourself out of unnecessary stress states. 

 

Notice the third cup of coffee, the stress eating, the yelling or any maladaptive behaviours that are tied to the stress response. Ask yourself if you really want to do these things and if they’re helpful.

 

3)  BREATHE:

 

Practice pranayama. Even 5 minutes a day will change you and recalibrate your central nervous system to better handle life’s stressors. 

 

4) Watch your poisons:

 

Media, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gossip, overeating, overworking, poor sleep, poor company, etc can all lead to a very anxious you.

 

5) Add your vitamins:

 

Positive thinking, faith, affirmations, writing, meditation, yoga,  movement, nature, nutrition, vitamins, water, good supportive company will save you.

 

Remember that “I am just an anxious person” is a lie. No one is born this way. We learn these behaviours. And the good news is….they can be unlearned. Practice good techniques daily and you can handle this….ALL of this. 

 

“Your emotions are important, you should have them, but they are not a good source of measure. You have better techniques than that.” – Abbie Galvin

 

There’s a lot of good things going on right now. Summer is here. Supportive programs are here. We are able to see people right now. Some of us are becoming scared of people. Did you ever think you would be scared of people?! We NEED people. We need community and NOW is the chance to see them. Now is the time to gather. Now is the time to practice together and now is the time to enjoy all that is good. There’s no need to worry about what might happen in the future, hiding away from others when we have the go-ahead, right now, to be together. We never know what the future holds for us and human connection is necessary for us to thrive. Go be with your people. Hike with your friends, visit your family, go to an outdoor class. Relish in the now. The now is good. Stay in the present moment, its all we have. 

With Love, Karla
xoxo

We often think our freedom and joy is tied to having choice. We want more options. More friends. More opportunities. If you were to ask almost anyone I bet they would say that more is more. We think that more will make us happy.

 

The science though, tells a different. While having NO choice can lead to feelings of helplessness or lack (think communist regimes or controlling spouses/employers), having too much choice leads to dissatisfaction and stress. 

 

Sheena Iyengar studies choice. In the Jam Study by Sheena Iyengar she discovered that when given 24 samples of jam to try vs 6 samples of jam – people were more likely to stop at the booth with the 24 samples but were more likely to buy if they only stopped at the stand with 6 samples. 

 

When people have traveled the world they report more dissatisfaction when deciding where to live than people who have visited very few countries or stayed in their hometown. 

 

People who have had multiple lovers and partners have a harder time staying happy in relationships than people who have stayed with their childhood sweetheart or stay in long term relationships. 

 

We see how choice and too much opportunity affects us with social media especially. We may think that all of those happy perfect travel photos, recipes, puppies and the like are harmless photos but people report more feelings of dissatisfaction with their life and person when they spend more time on social media. Why? Comparison. A feeling of lack when we see what others have – instead of paying attention to what we already have.

 

I for one have been feeling much better as of late and I’m not alone. I’m not on a hectic schedule. I’m taking more joy in the mundane tasks of everyday life. I’ve developed new eyes for my home, my hobbies, my work, my pets, and my relationships. Life is simpler. There’s nowhere to go. My one outing a week to the grocery store or a my socially distanced hike with a friend is very fulfilling. 

 

We think we want the hustle and bustle. The endless travel, the many lovers, the busy social calendar, the 340 flavours of ice cream. But do we really? Does that…did that…ever make us truly happy? 

 

One of my personality characteristics is I am a MORE person. Whenever I have something that I like – I want more of it. Good times, wine, food, work, anything. I have the tendency to strive, to obtain, to create non-stop. While I do like what I’m doing I’m never all that happy or satisfied – because I’m always looking for more. Always looking for the next thing. Now I have way less and I never knew that I would be so happy. I feel gratified. I feel sustained. I don’t feel the need for more. 

 

I’m using what I have. Every last bit of product in my bathroom. I’m making things from scratch if I run out. I’m cleaning and organizing my space, my home, and my yard to get it just right. I didn’t realize my need to consume everything was insatiable and deeply unsatisfying. I have way less now. I’m buying less. I’m using less. I’m going nowhere and here I am deeply satisfied with what is.

 

Even as this new online world sprouted forward and I had the opportunity to take classes from my favourite teachers from all over the world I found myself choosing none of it. I am someone who loves online classes, online workshops, and the like and I’ll pay for it! And here I sit with thousands of options of free and paid content out there and guess how many I’ve taken advantage of? Not one.

 

I chose to stick with our studio. It feels good to give myself one option. To practice with people I know. The thousands of choices I had were simply too daunting. I couldn’t choose. There was too much choice. It was stressing me out a little. So here I am doing the same classes I’ve always loved with the same people I’ve always practiced with and I am deeply satisfied. 

 

More isn’t more. The solution isn’t always to try a new program, or a new diet, or to buy a new outfit. It’s to appreciate what you already have. To use what you have. To find gratitude for what is. If anything new is going to arrive in your life right now make it new eyes. New eyes to see the abundance of what life has already offered you. This is your life. You’re missing it. Be here now. The joy will follow.

 

With grace and grit,

Karla Treadway

 

I can’t help to think that this entire crisis was intentionally and intelligently created as a means to restructure society. We were a society of “doing” instead of a society of “being.” The entire world pushing, forcing, making shit happen at every moment of every day. We were multitasking, a-type, success stories who were accomplishing so much yet missing everything. There was no appreciation for the sacredness of life. We were too distracted to notice that we were missing everything.

 

This is reflected in the current state of our world. Our population size, our climate, our endangered animals. In our pursuit of financial success and gains we have missed out on everything that we already have. In our pursuit of doing, we have lost the joy of being.

 

In eastern philosophy there is yin and yang energies. Effort and ease, grace and grit, force and flow. No element is seen as bad – both energetic sides of the coin are necessary parts of the whole.  In Taoism it is believed that when we are unaware that the two sides of a polarity support one another to form a whole, we identify with only one side of the polarity. This in turn leads to suffering and self-destruction. When we understand how the two poles support one another this leads to a peaceful and integrated life.

 

Instead of seeing this situation and state as bad – can we look at it as means to balance us? This way of living is at odds with our old ways of living. We put the breaks on. Even if you’re still working….I bet you feel it too. You may be working but everything else is gone. The responsibilities, the social life, the travel, the doing.

 

Many of us were stuck in force. Content creation, financial gains, activities, accomplishments, social gatherings. The emphasis here is on doing. On making shit happen, on gaining, acquiring and accomplishing. When we were forced into stopping – stay home, work from home (or not at all), be by yourself…….many suffered. It was an energy pole that we were not used to. We labelled it as bad. All of a sudden it was just us. There was no need to push with work, we threw out our 2020 agendas, we had no social calendar and maybe even the desire to workout for that perfect body…. gone.

 

It was just us. Our home. A handful of people perhaps. A cat. What now?

 

We reflected on what we needed to catch up on. We rested. We went outdoors. We read. We made food. We did yoga. We meditated. We called our parents. Old friends. We relaxed. So much yin energy. While many resisted this forced relaxation – many were surprised to notice……..this is exactly what we needed.

 

While I don’t downplay the seriousness of the situation and the bigger stresses at play, I for one feel that this is a positive shift. This pace feels natural. This feels like I’m in flow with nature. I am working and I am at home with my children and there are still chores to do, projects to finish, work to get done…..but it’s manageable. The day to day tasks are stressless. For the first time in a long time.

 

How did I ever call what I was doing before…living? I’m not constantly running out the door. I’m not glued to my phone. I feel no need to push, to create, to sell, to reinvent the wheel in my business. I’m just in being. There is balance. There is flow. There is gratitude and appreciation. 

 

I feel more gratitude and appreciation with less. I have less right now. I have less work. Less finances. Less friends. Less opportunity. Yet here I am feeling abundance more than ever. I have never felt like I have more than I do right now. It’s this grace that sustains me through the fear of the unknown.

 

Everything in nature is temporary. The seasons. The temperature. The cycles of life. An animal does not label things as good or bad. They’re just seasons of being. Everything is temporary and for that reason there’s no need to label it as good or bad.

 

In the ultimate book of Taoist teachings, the Tao Te Ching, a text which embodies Lao-tzu’s teachings, it is explained that “when the world knows beauty as beauty, without knowing that it depends upon its opposite, i.e., ugliness, then beauty turns out to be ugly. Similarly, when people know goodness as goodness, without knowing that it co-exists with evil, goodness tends to become evil.”

 

Instead of labeling our current state as bad, can we see it as the other side of the pole. The yin and yang brings us back into balance .The Tao Te Ching teaches that ugliness teaches us beauty. Pain teaches us ecstasy. Suffering teaches us joy. Without knowing one side, we cannot fully appreciate the other. Both are necessary parts to the whole.

 

May we use this time to reflect on how to bring ourselves back into balance. What polarity are we missing? How can we join in with the rhythm of nature? Can we find more flow, balance and ease amongst the force and accomplishment? 

 

Go outside today and revel in the beauty of nature that you may have missed during your years of doing. Go outside and just be. Notice how much of life you were missing. Notice the natural pulse and rhythm of nature. It’s through this appreciation and gratitude for life itself that we will relax into being. I guarantee we will all start treating the earth a lot better when we can simply stop and appreciate it for all that it is. Take some time today to simply be. 

 

With grace and grit,

Karla Treadway 

woman laying on yoga mat stretching her arms

The covid-19 pandemic has been a time of fear, upheaval and change. Never before has the entire world stopped. Never before has the entire world united together for one purpose. With this great discomfort and change has also come…….awakening.

 

I don’t know about you but I needed this awakening. I needed this forced pause. It has been a gift and giant shining light on the missteps of my life. It’s been showing me what I’ve been suppressing for a very long time. What I’ve been ignoring.

 

I need to slow down.

 

I can’t do it all, and the way my life was going wasn’t all that healthy. It was rushed. It was forced, and there were simply too many moving parts. I didn’t get enough sleep. I took on too many projects. I drove too much. I purchased too much and I spread myself too thin. My kids needed more time with me. I needed more time with me. The solution to more was do less.

 

Now everyone’s lessons in this will be different but these are mine. Some of you may be reconsidering your chosen career choice, your place of residence, your financial planning, your health, your friends or any other matter.

 

My lesson is slow down.

 

I simply see how much happier I am when I have to do less. Now bare with me here, I’m not bored. I’m working from home and my kids are there with me to “undo” any work I try to do so I’m blessed with the gift of tasks right now where others are feeling lost or bored. I’m not bored. Far from it. I will welcome boredom if it comes.

 

My new temporary normal is much much slower than my usual reality. I get enough sleep. I actually spend time in my home. I cook really good food from scratch. I don’t waste time driving to and from activities, work and school ( which used to take about 2 hours of my time each day). I’m gardening and taking care of my animals better.

 

This slow is showing me immense amounts of joy in the small and mundane. Really looking my children in the eye and listening to their stories without distraction. I’m starting to really get to know them in ways that I hadn’t before. I appreciate them more. I’m loving them even more.

 

I’m loving my animals and how they show up for me. How they greet me and teach me little lessons like how exciting it is to go out in nature and go for walks. How nice it feels to give and get a little attention and the importance of play.

 

How food is meant to be enjoyed. Any remnants of a “diet” is long gone and I’ve rediscovered the love of food. The growing, the preparing, the cooking and devouring. How eating for vanity is a worthless pursuit for me and eating for joy can be a simple and worthwhile pleasure. I’ve also noticed how when you take restrictions away from food, and eat and prepare slow – you eventually start eating more intuitively and the fear around overeating goes away.

 

I’ve noticed that my old friends are still here for me and that borders and oceans may separate us but we’re never that far from each other. That this global community continues whether we are stuck in our living rooms or together at functions in big groups.

 

I’ve learned what’s important in work and community….and what tasks continue to just keep me busy. I’ve learned that offering services with the sole purpose of SERVING, will always make me happier than the pursuit of profit. I’ve learned that I don’t have to try as hard as I think. I don’t have to constantly re-invent myself, my business or the brand but I can continue to offer what I know and am skilled in and that’s enough. There’s no need to force.

 

I’ve learned that opening a yoga studio has meant much more computer time than practice time and my body is hurting because of it. I’ve reconnected to the power of practice and how it can save me from suffering both physically and within. The simplicity and intricacy of repetition, inquiry and awareness as a path to wholeness and joy.

 

I’ve learned that detaching from media is important and that books are better. Writing is better. Practicing yoga and going within is better. Anything really.

 

Don’t let this time slip past you. Whatever your lessons – looks for what’s good. It’s there. Notice what sustains you during this time period and what deserves to stay. Notice what you don’t miss. Notice your body, your relationships, your work and your head space. What feels better? You may never again get this opportunity to so clearly see what should stay and what should go.

 

Stay healthy, stay connected and keep practicing yoga.

With grace and grit,

Karla Treadway

My practice has changed and ebbed and flowed throughout my lifetime with it. It started with a hot yoga class in freezing cold Winnipeg on a gross carpeted floor with a shirtless man sitting in the back of the class like it was a sauna watching the yoga show. I was mortified and didn’t return for awhile.

 

Then it was an overly incensed Jivamukti class where we roared like wild jungle animals and I almost passed out from the vigorous movements and breath work. I was intimidated by the teacher and was scared not to come. I wasn’t sure what we were doing but was intrigued by the process.

 

This was followed by a more white-washed version of yoga with anatomy as the central concern. I learned many of my arm balances here and my love with anatomy, intelligent sequencing and the body began.

 

Then it was Bikram in another hot yoga room but this time the energy was different. The teacher was skilled, the room was packed and energized and the vibe was good. I was promised a whole new body if I dived into their 30 day challenge so I dove right in. My challenges at this studio felt so good, the sweat was amazing but I didn’t feel or look like I had changed all that much. I didn’t get especially more flexible and I didn’t lose weight (my primary concern at the ripe age of 21).

 

While I played with various lineages of yoga, studios and teachers I also skied, ran, swam, surfed, did pilates, went to the gym and dabbled in crossfit. I’m a lover of movement. While I understood from the get-go that yoga was meant to be different from exercise I still treated it as such. I was there to stronger, leaner and more flexible.

 

I would do hot power yoga as a way to melt these two worlds. I could exercise and work on my spirituality – all in under 90 minutes – how perfect.

 

It took many years for me to understand what the practice could actually do for me. How it could change me. This evolved as I grew and matured both in my practice as well as my age. The more I experimented, studied, and practiced, the more the lessons started to take hold.

I could be a better person. I could be happier. I could serve the world. The body was just a tool. My spirit was always supreme and the light within me was more important than any physical goal I could possibly ever attain.

 

Like many yogis, I would fall in and out of love with my practice over the years. A new fitness program would emerge and peak my interest and yoga would be pushed aside for a bit happening only intermittently throughout the week. If I only had an hour a day to move I wanted to make sure I got a good sweat on. Sometimes even those hot power classes were not “enough.”

 

The more I faced my practice with this mentality – the less I loved it. It become less than. Not good enough. A performance. Entertainment. The further I stepped away from yoga – the worse I felt…….always. Because I was neglecting my spirit and my spirit is where joy comes from.

 

As a lover of movement I’ve learned to satisfy my cravings for sweat but I now balance it always with daily practice. I see them as two completely different but complimentary activities. I work out 3-4x a week and treat it as good solid exercise. I run, I lift weights, I take a fun fitness class. My workouts are for my pitta fiery nature. They are for my abs. For my butt. For my athletic pursuits. For my outdoor adventures. For my postpartum core strength I need after having children. They fuel me. They satisfy me and I just really like to sweat this way. They can be shallow, I can listen to party music or some loud heavy metal and sometimes that just feels so right.

 

But my practice…. is sacred. When I burn through my anxious and fiery nature through exercise I can fully enjoy and sit still in my practice (vigorous or not). I can appreciate fully what it actually is. I can connect to spirit, to the sacredness of ritual and breath and I can strengthen what really needs to be worked on…..

 

My heart. My soul. My spirit.

 

I remove any expectation of my practice to be my exercise. We all love to move for different reasons. We all practice yoga for different reasons. My practice always changes and evolves but right now this is the perfect balance for me. I have removed any trace of “exercise” from my practice. My practice is about awareness, love, healing and spirit. I still move, I still strengthen, I still sweat. But the intention is completely different. Sometimes I just breath for an hour in a single pose. The goal is not exercise. It’s to unite and become whole.

 

Notice if practice has become less appealing to you. Do you make physical goals your primary goal of yoga? How does that feel? What if joy was the goal? What if union and love was the goal? How would that feel?

Make your butt the goal of exercise and just enjoy that. Work on that butt. Run to burn calories and enjoy that. If you struggle with the need to turn your practice into exercise…. try exercising more! My commitment to practice yoga every day stays more true when I also add in exercise a few times a week. My daily practice is now non-negotiable. Its my route to joy.

 

With Grace and Grit,

Karla Treadway

Embodied Yoga

March 10, 2020

What does it mean to embody your yoga practice? An embodied yoga practice means that you make it relevant and real to your life. When you really learn the material and practice and integrate it more into your life. When you realize it’s not just a physical practice and you see it as transformational work.

Yoga is so often practiced as just exercise. We work our bodies so we can become stronger, heal an old injury, become flexible or attain those picture perfect poses we see on Instagram. You’ll get all of these from your practice but I guarantee you you’re missing out if this is where your goals stop.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years for a reason. I know for sure that no sport or exercise program is going to stand up to the test of time like yoga can. People come to yoga because they are looking for something more. They are searching for meaning, they are searching for god they are searching for themselves. You don’t need to practice religion to come to yoga but those who stay in the practice are there because they are searching for something bigger than themselves. They are up to something bigger than just landing a handstand or losing some weight.

Yoga is rich with life lessons that will save us from suffering. Yoga provides us with tools and techniques to heal ourselves. To elevate ourselves. To become powerful. The techniques and tools are taught again and again because they work. If you feel like they’re not working for you ask yourself if you’re really doing the work.

Do you practice daily? Do you apply the philosophy? Do you go within? Do you investigate? Be honest with yourself. Life is busy, this is a discipline and it’s not always enjoyable or easy to commit to getting on the mat each and everyday.

If we use the tools, if we follow the map, if we commit…….the techniques work. It’s been proven again and again. You’ll free yourself of your physical pain. You’ll free yourself from mental struggle. You’ll get over yourself and your laundry list of complaints. You’ll feel powerful again.

If……you do the work.


There’s a thing out there right now called “spiritual entertainment.” It means we are attracted to esoteric, spiritual work, books and practices and we might read and consume the ideas……but we don’t apply them.

Then we wonder why they don’t work.

And this is us just us being human. We need to hold space and compassion for that. No one has to do this practice. No one has to apply it, that’s a choice. But if you’re complaining that the tools aren’t working it’s important to ask if you’re actually doing the work.

We’re opening up our doors in a new way this year. We want to help you really integrate this material. Starting this September is our Embodied Yoga Program. A 12 month yoga teacher training for those who want to learn, or those who want to teach.

You’ll commit to one weekend per month at the studio. You’ll integrate your learned material into your everyday life in between the weekends. You’ll get the chance to dive in a new way. You’ll learn the techniques, you’ll practice the tools, you’ll integrate and apply the material.

By the end of the year you’ll feel empowered, you’ll feel clear, you’ll feel integrated.

Space is limited. Inquire at the studio or email us for more information.

karla treadway strong yoga pose in the sunset in front of a lake

People’s goals for choosing yoga as a movement practice vary greatly. No reason is wrong. No chosen style of yoga is wrong. But the most benefits will be achieved when we see what it can actually do for us when used the way it was intentionally created. A holistic, disciplined, spiritual practice that saturates all aspects of our life.

Yoga teaches us that we are POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE.

That we are one with the divine.

That we no less than or greater than others.

That our thoughts and actions are powerful but that we are not them.

It is an empowering physical practice rich with philosophical musings.

Anyone can practice yoga. We are all seeking the same goal – everlasting love, unity and peace. We will all get to that goal eventually. How much we suffer along the way is a choice we will make.

Modern means of dealing with life’s painful issues can sometimes DISEMPOWER people. We tell them because this has happened to you, because this is your condition – you are no longer capable of choosing for yourself. So here’s your diagnosis, your label, your pill. Here’s something to numb. You are no longer in the drivers seat.

We give people labels. This is your condition. This is who you are now. You are a victim. It’s not your fault – but you will forever be here. We are aiming for compassion but we are unknowingly taking their power away.

Now Medicine – has an important and lifesaving place for people. No one is discounting the very necessary intervention of medicine at times to support imbalances in the body. There are times when we need to numb, endure, cope in whatever way possible. We need to re-balance if chemicals are off. We need the support of medicine or therapists. We need community. We need supportive programs, teachers, coaches, doctors. There is no doubt that these interventions can be LIFESAVING.

But at some point – to heal ourselves fully, those around us and this world – there needs to be internal healing. There needs to be a re-wiring of our thought patterns. There needs to be action.

What differs between yoga and modern medicine:

Modern medicine treats the symptom not the cause and labels a patient as their disorder or condition. You are depressed. You are anxious. You are a victim.

There is a difference between being victimized (this has happened to you) and being a victim (this is you). This is not just semantics. “I have been wounded”, is very different than “I am the wound.”

When we believe that we are the wound, this becomes our label, our identity and the lens in which we now view the world. When we can shift our belief from I am the wound to I have been wounded we can begin the process of healing and moving forward.

Yoga aims to uncover the root of who we are. Through meditation we see that the body is a tool and we are not the body. We see that we are not the mind. We are not the anxious thoughts, the depressive symptoms, the physical discomfort in the body. We are the divine voice behind it all. Things may have happened to this body. To this mind. But we are not that. We are the light behind it all. Our true state is love and nothing about are real selves is ever broken. Its just been clouded by an event or a series of events.

The voice behind it all has no label. We aim to not over-identify with the body or the mind. That causes suffering. Its our dissociation with the mind and body that brings harmony. We are not our thoughts. We are not our condition. We are not this body.

The yogi’s take it a step further…..ACTION

In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna said:

Perform your obligatory duty,

because action is indeed better than inaction.

Even the maintenance of your body

would not be possible by inaction.

Labels can cause inaction. We feel helpless in the face of them. They were meant to provide us with a diagnosis so that we will then take action and pursue the right tools. But unfortunately the label can be so disheartening that we sit with it in inaction.

The truth is we as human beings always have CHOICE. The choice to change is a powerful one and the only one responsible for our lives is us. The truth is that no one can save you from suffering. The only one who can save you……is you.

You can be in control of your thoughts
You can be in control of your actions
Your connection to spirit
Your conscious control of your thoughts and actions, in alignment with spirit – will lead you to grace
This is work. It’s not the easy route. Its brave work. Courageous work. And it’s the path to your own salvation. The yogi’s have laid out a plan for us to free ourselves from pain and suffering.

We practice this in yoga asana when we work to remain calm during challenging poses.

We practice this is in meditation when we can notice our maladaptive repetitive thought patterns and see their source.

When we work hard out of reverence for life – and not show or ego

When we take our yoga practice off the mat serving others and the world.

When we adhere to the guidelines in the yamas and the niyamas learning to treat ourselves and those around us with loving compassion.

When we commit to the discipline of daily practice to heal ourselves.

When we heal ourselves we heal the world.

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate…our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” – Marianne Williamson

For anyone who suffers from past trauma, anxiety, depression or any other affliction….know that medicine can help, therapists and doctors can help but there is also a very powerful set of tools that you can utilize each and every day yourself. You can break the repetitive thought patterns that cause you to suffer. You are not your thoughts. You are not your labels. You are stronger than you know. The people around you that are suffering – are stronger than they know. We can begin to empower each other.

Healing is always possible. Love for yourself is always possible. You are more powerful than you know.

With Grace and Grit,

Karla Treadway

Living Yoga

February 19, 2020

Many of us start yoga for a variety of reasons. Maybe we’re trying to lose weight, gain strength, touch our toes, eliminate some physical pain or help reduce our daily stress. All are great reasons to begin. There are so many benefits of starting a yoga practice and we are all seeking different things.

Whether you came to yoga to improve your mobility, physique or mental state, know that there is an enormous pool of tools and techniques that will benefit your quality of life.  Yoga is rich with life lessons. It provides us with a blueprint to follow so we can avoid unnecessary suffering.

In its original creation – yoga was solely about meditation and the mind. The body was seen as unimportant. An empty vessel. Over time practitioners discovered that it was difficult to stay still and present when their body was uncomfortable. If it was uncomfortable to sit still – they wouldn’t be able to meditate and reach the states of bliss they were after.

The goal was inner peace, mental clarity and union with the divine. The body was in the way though. The creation of asana was the solution. The yogis discovered that their body was in fact not a useless vessel in the way – but an important tool on the road to self discovery. When they took proper care of the physical health of the body they would then be able to sit comfortably to meditate. Asana literally means “a comfortable seat.”

Once the body was taken care of they could focus on what was actually going on in the mind. It was through this disciplined practice of asana and meditation that much knowledge about the human condition was discovered.

Patanjali wrote the yoga sutras, 2 centuries after the life of Jesus. The yoga sutras were threads of wisdom about the human condition, the nature of the mind and how to live a life free from suffering. In the second chapter Patanjali presents the ashtanga, or eight-limbed system, for which he is now famous for. Many students of yoga are only familiar with yoga asana (the postures), which is only a small part of the whole picture of the 8-limbed path..

In the second chapter of his book Patanjali presents five specific ethical precepts called yamas, which give us basic guidelines for living a life of personal fulfillment. The yamas are rules for us that will also benefit society. How to behave in relation to others and out in the world. He makes the case that if we don’t follow these rules….we will suffer.

The third limb, the yamas are really the first step in a practice that addresses the whole fabric of our lives, not just physical health or solitary spiritual existence. The Niyamas are cause and effect guidelines for us and with us. Our thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and personal care.  Following the yamas and the niyamas help us avoid suffering. The rest of the limbs are pranayama; breathing exercises; pratyahara; conscious withdrawal of energy away from the senses; dharana, concentration; dhyana, meditation; and samadhi; self-actualization.

The Yoga Sutras are not meant to be an attempt to control our behavior based on moral imperatives. The sutras don’t imply that we are “bad” or “good” based upon our behavior. It’s more of a cause and effect story. They are simply lessons in if we do (a) then (b) will happen. If we engage in certain behaviours, we will get certain results.  The sutras are meant to help us understand our own ways of being and how we can alter our daily behaviors and thoughts to obtain a more desired result.

The Yamas (us with others) are as follows:

Ahimsa – Non-violence

Satya – Truthfulness

Asteya – Non-stealing

Brahmacharya – moderation, celibacy

Aparigraha – non-greed

 

The Niyama (us with us) are as follows:

Sauca – Cleanliness

Santosha – Contentment

Tapas – Discipline

Svadhyaya – Self Study

Ishvara Pranidhara – Surrender to God

By following these guidelines of conduct we open ourselves up to a world of possibility. That possibility is living in peace. Free from suffering and one with the divine. What I love about the yamas and the niyamas is we have a crystal clear plan of how to avoid suffering. It’s all so simple. And if we are ever feeling at unease, or in turmoil – we can turn to the yamas and niyamas to see where we might have fallen off course. Adjust the thought and behavior – and come back to alignment and peace. These lessons are timeless. From thousands of years ago – today and still relevant.

No one likes “rules” no one likes being told what to do. Which is why the yogis simply recommend you read these threads of wisdom. There’s no forced cajoling – just “pssst, hey you….over here. I think you could find more truth over here that can lessen your load.”

They emphasize how everyone can work through these at their own pace in their own time and enlightenment is available to anyone either now, or in the next life.

I’ll follow rules for joyful living any day.

With grace and grit,

Karla Treadway

How often should I practice for best results?

Short answer? More is more. The more you practice, the greater the benefits. A little everyday is better than a lot every once in awhile. Just like any habit, physical practice or skill – the more you do, the better you’ll be at it. Your goals for your practice may differ. Some of us need to chill out more, some may need to lose weight, some are wanting a spiritual practice or more mobility. Whatever you’re searching for – aim to be consistent and disciplined with it for the best results.

While Discipline and Freedom seem like they sit on opposite sides of the spectrum, they are actually very connected. Freedom is what everyone wants — to be able to act and live with freedom. But the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline. If you want financial freedom, you have to have financial discipline. If you want more free time, you have to follow a more disciplined time management system. You also have to have the discipline to say “No” to things that eat up your time with no payback—things like random YouTube videos, click-bait on the internet, and even events that you agree to attend when you know you won’t want to be there. Discipline equals freedom applies to every aspect of life: if you want more freedom, get more discipline.        – Jocko Willink

Does everything feel great when you first start? Not always. Change is difficult. It takes to time to change our fascial system and build muscle and cardiovascular endurance. This is normal.

Start slow and easy – but be consistent. Keep trying. Keep coming and keep putting in the work. Even a meditation practice is hard in the beginning. New habits take new skill sets. Be gentle with yourselves along the way but know that the only one who can make the change… is you.

How to stay disciplined with your practice/movement plan:

Get your family and friends on board. Bring them, or let them know you’re new plan so they can support you (your spouse can cook dinner, friends who can watch your kids, or a sweat support friend that comes along with you).

Write out your classes in your agenda for the week and pre-book them on your mindbody app. If it’s in there in writing – you’re more likely to do it.

Take a yoga workshop or immersion to educate yourself further and help yourself deepen your practice.

Journal daily – put your reflections on paper (how have you been feeling – how have things changed or shifted for you because of your new plan?) This is done best early in the am. Put the negative stuff down there too. Your limitations, nasty thoughts and anything you’d like to get out of your head. Better on the paper than in your head.

Then swap the negative for the good. Write down your positive affirmations – your encouraging words and the things that are actually true!

“I am strong”

“I am supported”

“I am healing”

“I am proud because I _______”

“I’ve completed _______and I should celebrate”

Celebrate the good. Celebrate the struggle. Celebrate the fact that you are making leaps and bounds towards a YOU 2.0.

A healthier, happier, stronger you. Celebrate each step along the way.

Strong Back Soft Front

February 6, 2020

In the struggle to find a place for us in the world we sometimes fall into one of two categories – the push over or the dictator. The vulnerable or the strong. Neither energy or demeanour is wrong when we possess both. We need to balance these two energies.

A true sense of belonging and a sure sense of self comes from being both vulnerable and strong. As Brene Brown calls it – a strong back and soft front. This means that we are strong and forceful, yet soft and receptive. We can speak up for ourselves and set boundaries, but also humble ourselves and serve others. We can lead and follow. We are the polarities of strength and ease.

If we show a soft front to the world but don’t have the strong backbone to stand up for ourselves – we get walked over. We don’t speak up for ourselves, we don’t advocate for ourselves and we end up taking on too much, martyring ourselves for others. We care too much about what others think and put others needs above our own. Our self esteem becomes dependent on what others think of us. We end up being taken advantage of. Treated poorly, manipulated. The result? We feel weak, unloved, unseen.

If we have a hard front and a strong back – we come across as too forceful, aggressive. We close ourselves off to relationship, love and interpersonal communication. It’s our way or the highway. We end up always putting our needs first and neglect the needs of those around us. The result is we end up hurting our relationships and end up hard, lonely and isolated as others eventually step away from us.  Strong back, armoured front Brene Brown calls it. We have trauma, pain or some other self proclaimed weakness that we are furiously protecting with our harsh demeanour. We don’t want to be seen, we don’t want to let others in.

“All too often our so-called strength comes from fear, not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence.” ~ Roshi Joan Hallifax

None of these examples are ways to live.  Neither allow for vulnerability. Vulnerability is the ability to feel and express those feelings. This is the birthplace of love and belonging. We have to find the middle ground between these two to have a good strong sense of self love and belonging in the world. We have to love ourselves so fiercely that we would never let others treat us poorly. We have to love ourselves so deeply that that love spills out onto others from a place of joy – not out of resentment or fear.

“Belonging is so primal, so necessary, the threat of losing your tribe or going alone feels so terrifying as to keep most of us distanced from the wilderness most of our lives. Human approval is one of our most treasured idols, and the offering we must lay at its hungry feet is keeping others comfortable.“ ~ Brene Brown

How do we find this balance? To be vulnerable means to be honest. To become in touch with our feelings and be able to speak them out loud. To listen to the needs of others and hear them out. To come to a common ground. We feel, we express, we listen….we are receptive.

Then we act. We act in accordance with this belief. We treat each other well and we treat ourselves well. This is how we can live in the world with other. Loving ourselves, and maintaining that sense of belonging. Take brave and courageous action.

We find our strength through action. It’s not enough to just feel and express. Action is the backbone. The strength. The desire to do what is challenging or hard.  There are so many suffering from mental illness in modern culture. We have created a vulnerable culture in response to a society that was too hard. We are now saturated with images and stories of suffering. We have access to too much negative information. We share our pain, our grief, our problems with the world. This is placing a heavy blanket on our shoulders. Some are immobilized by this heavy blanket. We identify with that pain in the world and internalize it. It causes many great grief.

There is a time to sit in all feelings. There is a time to grieve, to wallow, to hurt. A ceremony of tears if you will. There is no deadline or timelines around this. But there is also a time to talk, to share, to problem solve. Eventually…..there needs to be action for progress.

I was reminded of this during Bell’s Mental Heath Day. Heaps of people sharing their personal struggles of mental health urging others to get help. This day is meant to normalize seeking help. Its meant to normalize action. But what often happens is the audience misses that part. People end up sharing the wound instead of the scar. People sharing their pain without the understanding that at some point the healing will have to come from action. It creates a culture of vulnerability without the hope that healing could be on the horizon.

I speak about this because I’ve been here. I know what that kind of pain can feel like. Crushing. Immobilizing. Fear. Despair.

There was a time for me to ignore my feelings. To numb. To protect myself. There was a time when I wallowed. There was a time when I overly expressed myself and was vulnerable. When I shared my story again and again. There was a season for each stage.

All were a part of my healing but I never got out of that hole until I rose up. Until I summoned my strong back and took action – even if I didn’t feel like it. My vulnerability was the first step. My strength is what carried me through to the end. Both were necessary.

There are more depressed and anxious kids, teenagers and adults than ever in the world and I believe its from the culture of sharing the wound – but not the scar. A culture of enabling without encouraging action.  If we are already feeling down – then only hearing about how others are suffering will paint a pretty bleak picture and increase those feelings of loneliness and fear.

We need more people sharing the scar. Here I am putting my most vulnerable story out there – and the brave action steps I took to overcome it (or even the things that I have started working on). That is a story that will help. That is a story that will heal. Even if they haven’t figured it all out yet.  Healing is a long and complicated journey that requires us to initiate action steps along the way.

I worry that some are just waiting. Waiting for the healing to miraculously come their way. Maybe in some cases it does. Maybe time is the cure. But for many – we need to actively seek out this new way of being. Vulnerable and strong. Feeling our feelings then creating a plan to overcome them. We need to encourage this. Feel your pain, share your story……now act. Just like a parent would encourage their child who’s learning how to walk to keep getting up. After every fall we say “you can do it!” We don’t suggest they stay down.

How do we support others in this? Give them space to sit in whatever stage they are currently in. Maybe they need to numb, maybe they need to wallow and grieve. Offer your support to them here. Simply let them know you are there for them. Then at some point can you encourage them to act. To be brave. To step forward into change as scary as that can feel sometimes. Can you encourage them to share, to be vulnerable, to share their truth, then offer them alternatives to their pain.

Change is scary, action is scary – but necessary for growth. Be soft and receptive enough to feel the pain that requires you to change. The painful emotion you feel is the necessary jet fuel you need for action. Then use that jet fuel to step into a new way of being. Be strong. Take action. Stand up for what you need and do what can seem scary…….taking action and responsibility for your one precious life.

The only one who can change your life for the better is you.

There are many routes to self love and belonging. To the absence of fear. But all involve action. Whether that’s through relationship, medical interference, therapy, yoga, meditation or any type of healing modality – know that there is a way. There is a place for you in this world where you can give and receive love. Where you can be receptive to all that is good in this life, and stand up for what is right. Where you can be soft and strong. Where you can heal and have good loving relationships with other. Where you can belong again.

With Grace and Grit

Karla Treadway