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May Newsletter: Fuel Your Creative Tank!

Hello friends, welcome to May! With our second 200-hr Teacher Training program coming to an end this month, I’ve been wanting to set aside time to draft up new plans for the next half of the year and 2020 at Yogaleena. Over the past few weeks, I’ve tried several times to get at least one of the thousand ideas I usually have floating around in my head down on paper. But no matter how cute the coffee shop or pretty the colored pens and journal in front of me, inspiration has yet to strike. With all of the moving and doing characteristic of the first quarter of the year, it seems my gas tank is running a little low.

When we feel stuck, our first reaction tends to be to simply try harder. Or to just give up and give in to hours of Netflix watching/Instagram scrolling. But these are precisely the times when we need to not only take a break, but actively nourish ourselves with experiences, conversations, thoughts and ideas that can help restart our creative engines. We can’t possibly expect continuous quality output if we never give ourselves quality input. And if we’re looking to increase creativity, that input should be varied enough that it engages different parts of our brain and senses to help us develop new connections and conclusions. My lovely and talented friend Leanne Peterson compared our creative potential to farm soil in one of her podcasts. Farmers rotate crops throughout the year in order to infuse the soil with a variety of nutrients that keep it fertile. If they only planted one type of crop year-round, the soil would ultimately get depleted and produce less-quality fruits and veggies. Similarly, exposure to the same environments, people, and content often limits our capacity to yield innovative results.

Reflecting on the past few months, I can tell you that I’ve felt the most vibrant, positive, and excited about teaching yoga after participating in events that are not part of my typical routine…or have anything to do with teaching yoga! Back in March, Dave and I went to see a performance by the Houston Ballet (if you’re shocked Dave agreed to go with me, that makes two of us!) It was so refreshing to witness such different movement patterns and fun to discuss the performance afterwards with Dave (even though neither of us had any idea what we were taking about) that I woke up the next morning invigorated by the experience. A few weeks later, I attended a viewing of the RGB documentary put on by Ellevate, a women’s professional networking group in Houston. Up to the very last minute, I considered not going – even the word “networking” sends chills up my spine after my time in Corporate America. But I did go, and I so thoroughly enjoyed it! I (somewhat awkwardly) connected with a few women there and the documentary was truly fabulous. I was so inspired by RGB that I derived my intention for that week’s class from her quiet strength and focused energy. Even less culturally-intense events can trigger new thought patterns and ideas. I was in Philly visiting my family last week and had the chance to visit a really sweet organic farm and the Philadelphia zoo with my sister and the kiddos. Being outside surrounded by nature did wonders for my soul, and re-sparked future dreams of one day owning a retreat center in beautiful, sustainable farmland (yup, Joanna Gaines – style.) Oh, and this newsletter? Written in my head during a long walk with my Bella along a different route than our normal stomping grounds.

I know what you’re thinking – who has time to deviate from their efficient routines or attend “just for fun” stuff when life is already so busy? Well, the alternative is to keep on trucking with less and less energy, and ultimately burn out completely. Oh, and to be less productive despite the extra effort you might put in. Most great inventions did not come from people sitting at their desks thinking and thinking and thinking for hours. They were sparked by observing nature or studying a completely different field than theirs, or by exchanging ideas with people from different backgrounds and perspectives. Did you know that Velcro was invented by a Swiss engineer who found a bunch of burrs stuck on his dog after a hunting trip and was intrigued by how they adhered so well to fur? And who can forget the scene in The Internship where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson take their team to a bar and then come up with the brilliant idea of an app that will prevent drunk texting? Einstein (supposedly) said, “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” As counterintuitive as it may seem, next time you’re stumped on a problem at work or in your life, you might be better off spending a few hours outdoors or painting or going to a comedy show than just replaying it in your head over and over again.

The good news is that you don’t have to start buying tickets to anything just yet, there are plenty of inspiring activities you can do without spending much or taking a whole week off. Driving the scenic route home, joining a book club, trying a totally different yoga class than you’re used to, or taking an online course that’s not related to your current line of work are just a few ideas. One of my favorite things to watch instead of TV are TED talks, which you can access for free and offer plenty of inspiration in 20 min or less. Here are my favorite TED Talks of all time in case you wanted some recommendations to start:

My top 5 Ted Talk Picks

Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are

Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

There are plenty of interesting and fun things going on in Houston, especially around summer time, so there’s really no excuse to stay stuck in our habits. Shameless plug here, we have a ton of interesting workshops at Yogaleena planned over the next few months that will certainly offer you a new perspective (check them out on our Workshops Tab!) The key is to stop assuming working harder is the only way to achieve your goals and start recognizing the value in the arts, nature, and the community around us as catalysts for greater innovation, productivity, and joy in our work and life. This month, I invite you to set an intention of playfulness and curiosity and allow yourself to experience something new. I just bought tickets for Dave and I to see a play at Main Street Theater next Friday, maybe I’ll see some of you there:)

Namaste,

Carolina

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