Elevating Self-Care to Self-Compassion

Yoga by Paige in Joshua Tree, California | Wearing:  Alo Yoga

Yoga by Paige in Joshua Tree, California | Wearing: Alo Yoga

As you may know, I teach several classes during the week while balancing a full-time day job. Sometimes things get a little crazy maintaining such a full schedule. I definitely don’t have time for anything to go wrong or to be sick. I feel very accountable to many people whether it’s at the yoga studio, in meetings, and most definitely toward my husband and pup.

This week just so happens to be one of those weeks where the pressure is building, I’ll be running our annual Sales Kick-Off meeting in Phoenix in just another week, which means I’m running on all cylinders, more so than usual. I’ve been craving alone time (that’s my introversion showing) and quiet. Ironically, when I’m so busy and doing more than ever, I begin to feel isolated and very, very alone. I’ve learned that when I’m moving too fast or have taken on too much that I’m not as present and connected as I want to be. My meditation practice has helped me to stay grounded, but there’s still this small voice in the back of my head urging that I can do more (and should be doing more).

Then the Universe steps in, several interesting things happened in my last classes this week—reminding me to chill out, do the work, and simply show up.

Self-Compassion is Strong

One of my students shared a very personal incident that has filled her with significant grief and hurt—yet I was struck by her strength to continue showing up for herself, making the time to listen to her body and connect. She is allowing herself to be completely immersed in her feelings rather than stuffing them down or numbing her experience. She allowed me to hold space for her, to support her, and to love her when she needs it most. Her self-compassion is helping her grieve and accept the love she needs at the hardest of times.

It’s okay to share our weaknesses

I witnessed three freeway accidents in a 20-min drive while on my way to teach a back-to-back class in another city. A huge reality check that driving while in a hurry is definitely not worth saving a few extra minutes to be “on time.” I ended up showing up three minutes late and having to be honest with the students waiting. We made a deal that if I’m a couple minutes late—it’ll be alright. I will still show up and they will too. What a relief to be open about the situation and have my students meet me where I needed them. As teachers, there is this unspoken rule that we are there for our students and we need to check our stuff at the door, which I most definitely agree with. But the support I received back this weekend was beyond my wildest expectations.

Trust the Practice

All of the students in one of my classes spoke English as a second or third language—talk about barriers! I had to adjust the flow I intended on teaching, needed to pay closer attention to their body language, and physically do more of the class allowing my students to follow along. Afterward, even though I had a harder time reading the room, each of these ladies was beaming. It was a huge reminder to trust the yoga. Our practice doesn’t have to include fancy transitions and advanced asana to facilitate the mind-body connection. Our yoga practice is potent and provides exactly what we need every time we step onto the mat.

Compassion is something that I believe is so much easier to extend to those around us. But if I’ve learned anything through these lessons it’s that just like self-care, compassion actually begins with ourselves. Take it easy on yourself, do your best, and trust.

xo, Paige

Staying Inspired as a Yoga Teacher

I knew I wanted to teach yoga since the very first class I took way back in 2005. There was something so healing about the experience. Rhonda Martin, my first yoga teacher, will forever be with me. She quite literally set my life on a trajectory that wasn’t even on my radar. I had big plans of going into architecture and designing sustainable and beautiful homes. Flash forward fourteen years later, and here I am quite literally living a dream that was born out of those first weeks of learning about yoga at a community college.

After eight years of teaching yoga consistently, starting first with one class a week then slowly working my way up to the eight that I’m currently offering. I’ll admit, I’ve always been afraid of hitting a burnout point with my teaching but am pleased to say that hasn’t happened (yet). Sure, some weeks it takes a little more effort to produce a yoga sequence with a theme that feels fresh and relevant. Other weeks, I feel as if I’m on fire and the down weeks like maybe I should retire my yoga mat (kidding!). Teaching and showing up for our students is absolutely an ebb and flow as with anything. Here are a few strategies I’ve worked into my process to remain inspired for my students:

Continue Learning

Never ever let your personal practice slip. Take as many classes as you can with as many different teachers as possible. Try my Go With the Flow class on YouTube to shake things up! This one bit of advice helps me maintain the eye of a student. I have to actively turn off my “teachers brain” and tell myself to arrive as a student, to tap into the feeling and sensations in my body. You never know what kind of sequencing or music played might shake you out of a funk. Attending workshops and even continued education yoga trainings always helps to inspire our teachings. Since I began teaching, I have attended at least one of these each year to keep things fresh and to stay on top of continued developments.

Stay Connected

Listen to what lessons are coming up in your day-to-day life. I often find inspiration in my feelings throughout a day or week. If I’m dealing with contentment or have stress/anxiety more than likely so are my students. Remembering that we’re all in this together and more connected than we realize is a great tool. Sharing your life lessons in a relatable way with your students will also humanize you allowing them to connect with you more deeply. Meditation can be a powerful tool. Sometimes the best thing we can do is tune in to the Universe. If we can cultivate a relationship with our higher selves, often the answers to our questions become more and more clear.

Tap into your wonder

I’ve long held a deep desire to see as much of the world as possible. Traveling to unknown (to you) places can be so inspiring. Experiencing and interacting with different types of people, regions, experiencing varying climates, it all adds to this sense of wonder and endless possibility. I often find that it’s easier to feel more connected to the human side of things when I’m traveling. There is no routine, you are forced outside your comfort zone, and you get to choose the type of experience you want to have. All of these feelings so easily translate back to our yoga mats as students and teachers. Inevitably, after a trip, I come home with a fresh perspective to share. If you’re looking for a way to step out of routine, look into our Joshua Tree Spring Renewal Retreat coming up in April.

After some time you’ll be able to find inspiration almost everywhere! Good luck to you! Teaching yoga is an incredible honor.


New to Yoga?

Are you new to yoga or interested in getting started with a practice? I’m often asked what’s the best way to get into yoga… and my answer is always the same, read on for my opinion. The beautiful thing about yoga is that all you really need to get started is a yoga mat (my favorite linked here) and your body.

My best suggestion for beginners is to go to a beginning level or Hatha yoga class at your local studio and touch base with your teacher beforehand. By letting the teacher know you’re a beginner, he or she will keep an extra eye on you and most likely provide more thorough cues than usual. I started with a community college class that met once a week back when I was still in college. Then I dabbled with class offerings at my local gym before feeling comfortable enough to go to a “real” studio. Most studios offer an introductory package, two weeks of practice for $20-$40 or even a week free of charge. Take advantage of these opportunities to find a teacher and style that fits your needs.

If that’s too intimidating, (formerly Yogaglo) is also a great resource. I believe you can sign up and get one month for free; after that, it’s a mere $18 a month for unlimited class access—the price for one studio drop-in class. This will give you an opportunity to feel comfortable with the names of yoga poses, what they should look like, and you’ll also begin to understand how your body feels in the different shapes. Glo is excellent, too, because you can filter down the level of class 1, 2, or 3 as well as the class duration, and teacher. My favorite teachers include Tiffany Cruikshank, Kathryn Budig, Jason Crandell, and Dice Ida-Klein.

If you’re looking for another online resource, I recently filmed a brief yoga warm-up aimed at yoga beginners to feel comfortable in Sun Salutations, a sequence that most flow or vinyasa yoga classes begin with. This short 8-minute warm-up is great for waking the body in the morning, before a more vigorous practice, prior to more intense movement or after as a cool down post-workout to stay limber.

Yoga can be life-changing. I’d love to hear about how YOU got started with yoga.


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