The Glasses

16 Apr

My glasses broke last week. I’m always carrying them around in my pockets because I hate wearing them. They bother me and I don’t like the feeling of them on my face. I’ll put them on to drive or to see in class but that’s about it. My vision is pretty bad, but I’d often rather be blurry then wear my glasses!

Until yesterday, when my friend suggested I glue the glasses back together. She gave me a tube of superglue and I did just that. Like magic, my glasses were fixed. And also like magic, the gratitude I feel like them is multiplied. My glasses allow me to see. They save from eyes from the stinging and redness caused by too much contact use. They’re easy and they work and they’re pretty cute, too.

What can you find gratitude for today, where you had none before? An excellent way to find out is to get on your yoga mat.

Love and Namaste!

Ellie

How to Stay Positive

2 Apr

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a new friend, a security officer at my school who works out at the gym a couple days a week. He’s an incredibly friendly guy, always smiling and often jokes about the “crazy” stretches I do on the mats. Today, as we were chatting, he stopped smiling for a second and asked me if I thought this year’s freshman class was “weaker” than previous classes. I asked him what he meant, and he went on to explain that this year alone, twelve members of the freshman class have attempted suicide. My jaw and my stomach dropped. Twelve freshman?? That is an unbelievably massive number, and it doesn’t even include cases where students have been taken to the hospital because of excessive drinking.

To answer his question: no, I don’t believe that the class of 2016 is any “weaker” than other classes. Since Kenyon is only getting more competitive and harder to get into, I imagine they average higher test scores and GPAs than previous classes, so by most standards they’d probably be considered “stronger.” So why the unbelievably high number of suicide attempts? What’s going on here? My guess is more pressure. More stress. More expectations. More anxiety. More desire to “succeed” and more fear of “failure.”

The reason I’m writing about this is because I feel that I have something to add to the dialogue that needs to happen about this issue. Throughout my freshman year (and most of my sophomore year as well) I went through stages of binge drinking, anorexia, anxiety, depression, and a whole lot of other darkness that I won’t go into the details of because its not necessary, but lemme tell ya, those years were dark. I would to go to bed every night dreading the next day, and say a four-letter word as my feet hit the floor in the morning (see my previous post if you struggle with this as well!) So to anyone struggling and feeling like there is no way out, let me tell ya: I get it.

I started practicing yoga to lose weight. I was used to fighting against my body on the elliptical and during meals, so I thought: why should this be any different? Deep down, though, I hoped that yoga could be a way to change, for real. My New Years Resolution that year was to practice every day, no matter what. I would wake up early, go down to the KAC and either listen to a podcast or play music and go through the poses I had learned from taking classes at home. In those days, there were only yoga classes at my school’s gym once or twice a week, so I mostly practiced on my own.

The yoga instructor Baxter Bell once said: “Yoga has a sly, clever way of short-circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety.” This is true to my experience. Yoga taught me to train my mind to think new thoughts. My ego brought me to the mat, but that is also where I learned to let it go. Yoga taught me to talk about my problems and to seek counseling. It taught me to be more authentic with my friends and in my relationships. It taught me to breathe deeply in moments of stress and anxiety. It taught me that I am the creator of my experience, and that I create everything in my life, both the good and the bad.

Yoga taught me to notice my thoughts, and as I started to notice my thoughts, I realized that I’d been primarily beating the drum of what I didn’t like, what went wrong, what sucked, etc. By doing so, I was drawing a whole lot more of that to me via the Law of Attraction. The key, for me, when something really sucks, has been learning to take responsibility for it and to ask, “What do I need to learn? What can I do differently?” When I’m able to do this, I always come out on this other side with more relief, more clarity, more joy, more love, more flow, and more happiness.

Now, several years later, I know that it is my purpose to be happy. And from a place of happiness, growth and expansion is inevitable. So its not, “If I do x and get y, then I will be happy,” but instead, “I am happy now and so therefore everything I want to be, do and have flows effortlessly to me.” My intention, day in and day out, is to use my mind to focus on what I do want and not the opposite. Taylor Wells of Prana Power Yoga says, “As we do so, we become the master of our minds (its all about the power and focus of the mind), and the contrast becomes less frequent. We live a lot more of what we do want. Start now by learning to find gratitude in this moment for something. Anything.” Maybe Pierce was really good tonight, or your bed is particularly warm and cozy. Whatever it is, focus on it and allow yourself to really feel that positive energy. The more you practice it, the easier it gets.

I believe that I chose to come to Kenyon for a reason. I believe that this is exactly where I needed to be so that I could see very clearly what I do not want, and therefore know more clearly what I do want. Is my life without upset? Grief? A little anxiety? Heartbreak? Absolutely not. Those things are a part of life because they provide us with contrast, which shows us what we do not want so that we can know more clearly what we do want.

So, how do you stay on a path of positive thinking when you often feel stressed out, competitive, negative, and overwhelmed? One thing you can do right now is to get on your mat. If you’re a Kenyon student, classes are offered at the KAC five days a week. Show up and we’ll help you breathe, move energy, and remember who you are. We need to come together and support one another so that no one feels that there is no way out.

Love and Namaste,

Ellie

How to Get out of Bed in the Morning

2 Apr

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How do you get out of bed in the morning? Do you lie there and stare at the ceiling, cursing in your head? Do you press the snooze alarm five times?

I used to be one of these people. I’d lie in bed for a good half hour, messing around on my phone while dreading the moment my feet would hit the cold, hard ground.

This is a metaphor, and the Universe loves metaphors. What you put out there is what comes back to you, always. So if you are refusing to get yourself out of bed, you might as well just tell the Universe outright that you don’t really have a lot of interest in being all that you can be. That you’d rather not live fully. That you don’t feel a lot of excitement for the day ahead, brimming with its pure potential. No, you say. I’d rather press the snooze alarm just one more time.

Think back to an amazing day in your life. It could be your wedding day, or the day you starred in the school play, or had an art showing, or were going to visit your best friend across the country, or had a second date with the guy you thought might be the love of your life.  Whatever it is, try to think back to how you awoke on that special, amazing day. Did you have to drag yourself from your bed? My guess is no. My guess is that you leapt from your sheets, brimming with excitement for the day ahead and pure, positive energy.

I’ve got some news for ya: Everyday can be that special. Every day can be that exciting. Every day can have that magic.

The truth is that none of us knows, really, what will unfold in the day ahead. Every day in your life can be an amazing day unlike any other, if you believe. And if you want to create everything you want in your life, you’ve got to set that intention first thing in the morning and get going! As Will Rogers says: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

So tomorrow, when you hear the sound of your alarm, sit up immediately and get out of bed. Just get up! It will suck for about three seconds, but now we’ve gone over the alternative so you know that it’s worth those three seconds of discomfort.  Jump out of bed like you mean it and shout to the Universal Forces that Be: I am up! I am awake! I am ready and excited and positive and blissful and grateful and happy and ready for the day ahead! Say it like you mean it.

And watch what happens.*

Have an amazing day!

Namaste,

Ellie

*Full disclosure: I used to be one of these people until today, when I jumped out of bed and created this blog. For more inspiration, watch this video:

http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxSF-Mel-Robbins-F-YOU-How-To

Hello world!

2 Apr

Hi! My name is Ellie and I am thrilled to be sharing my stories, ideas, the occasional yummy recipe, and lots of inspiration through Yogi Ellie.

Here’s my story:

I grew up in Boston during the years when was yoga was exploding all over the city, and as a kid I’d occasionally tag along with my Mom to class (and leave halfway through to go to the bakery down the street!) I started practicing consistently at a time in my life when I felt very trapped. As a sophomore at a small college in Ohio, I was seeking more happiness, freedom, and peace in my life, so I set the intention to practice every day. At the time, I felt like I wasn’t “good enough” and wanted to improve myself. My ego brought me to the mat – the same ego that told me I had to “succeed:” to get straight A’s and be the “best” at whatever I was doing. This was my “purpose.” So I started practicing every day, no matter what.

My ego brought me to the mat, but little did it know that was where I’d learn to let it go. My daily practice has transformed me and enriched my life in so many ways. I now know that my “purpose” is to be happy. I am more patient, authentic, calm, happy, excited, open-minded, grateful, courageous and strong since I started practicing yoga. This year, I started teaching yoga classes at my school’s gym, and it feels incredibly natural to me to serve others in this way. I love sharing the practice with my classmates and helping them to relax, let go, and remember who they are. The experience of teaching has confirmed my belief that there is a real need for yoga in our society, and my experience of yoga has grown from a personal practice into a larger commitment to spread the light by teaching and writing about my journey.

Thank you for reading!

Love and Namaste,

Ellie