One Smile can be the Start of a Beautiful Friendship!

“We’re only as good as our ability to connect with each other. Everything else is irrelevant.”

– Jane Chapman-Holt

I grew up in a mining village in Nottingham. I had a great childhood, I felt love everyday and my belly was never empty. During the summer holidays, I’d be gone from my house for 10 hours at a time. My pals and I would walk 5 miles to places like Hardwick Hall. We’d take a packed lunch and a flask of water and be on our way. My mum used to say, “Come back before it gets dark,” and I was off. Strong bonds were tied on those long walks, secrets shared and days were filled with scrapes and laughter. It seemed so easy to make friends back then. I miss those days and I’m sure many of you can relate. 

Today, I rarely see my daughter without her phone in hand, me either, if I’m honest. Instead of taking long walks, kids troll over Instagram to find out more about each other. We are missing that face to face interaction that is so integral to the development of humans. I am currently reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, and this book expresses the fact that like it or not, we are members of a large and particularly noisy family called the great apes. The book explains in great detail that social cooperation is our key for survival and reproduction. We truly need each other in so many ways.

Why can building strong and solid relationships with others seem so difficult? I think it’s because we have to first learn to love ourselves.  I found the path to self love in yoga. I believe spending time on the mat helps us learn to release our attachment to distraction and forge a deeper connection with ourselves. When we draw our awareness inwards, we begin to feel supported, guided and at peace. Like any relationship, the one with ourselves requires time and commitment to build, which will support us in building relationships with others. I am truly grateful for my practice and all the amazing people I’ve met along the way. 

Finding that very necessary connection to others during a pandemic is challenging, but there are many ways we can spend time with loved ones and meet new people during the time of social distancing. Virtual chats can help you stay connected to old friends. Invite a friend out for a walk around the neighborhood or meet at a local park. Walking the dog is a great way to make conversation with neighbors and passersby. As you are walking, smile at the people you see, and remember that making friends takes some work, but is worth the effort.

Yoga is a personal practice but it can be filled with community even during COVID times. Next time you’re in class, once you’re on your mat, take the mask off and gift another student with the biggest smile. He or she could be your new best friend, you definitely share the same interest!

Teacher of the Month: Jane Chapman-Holt

As a yoga instructor, how do you inspire your students? 
I try to bring an open heart to each of my classes. To use that energy to create a sacred, safe space where my students can let go physically and emotionally. I truly believe we need to feel safe and secure to experiment and feel playful.

What are some things students who are having a tough time with their practice right now can do to connect with themselves?
It can be easy to get frustrated or compare yourself to other students at different levels in class. You have to remember everyone starts somewhere and anything new will be a challenge. Find the beauty in the journey, in the tiny shifts your body makes each time you practice. The human body is magnificent and mysterious, you must always remember how magic you are. 

Why is a teacher and student relationship more important than ever during this time?
You get to set the nonsense aside when you step onto your mat. It’s a place where you can shut all the stress aside and fully be in the present. This to me is sacred. Just as my students are learning from me, I am learning from them. The exchange of energy helps us grow, so we can show up as better humans for ourselves, for the people around us, and ultimately for the planet. Especially now, when we are dealing with such rapid and  immense changes, we need a space to balance, to collect our energy and connect to higher frequencies. 

Can you think of a particular moment that a teacher inspired your mind and gave you strength? 
The two instructors that led my teacher training taught me to be curious. When we are in a challenging pose, our nervous system immediately starts screaming for us to quit. To release the posture, to remove ourselves from an uncomfortable situation. But we can never advance or grow, if we pull out of every posture the moment it becomes too hard. We must push past the edge in order to change. So instead of running, be curious about the sensations. Be curious where the mind wants to go when the body is pushed. I’ve found this advice has given me strength not just on my mat, but in my life. When things get hard, I don’t try to run from it, or cover it up with temporary fixes. I can sit and be uncomfortable for however long it takes. I can be curious about these feelings and emotions.

What are some books or online resources that you find to be a source of inspiration?
I’ve recently finished Carla Fox’s self published book called “Traversing the Infinite Now.” She is a shamanic healer and teacher. The book is a beautiful and simply put guidebook to elevating your life. I also follow Yung Pueblo on Instagram, he has daily posts that I absolutely love because they always resonate so deeply with me. He also has a book called “Inward.”

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