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The Power of No - A Story of Living in Alignment


As a yoga teacher, I love holding space for my students. I arrive for every yoga class I teach at SHIFT YOGA Studio in Fulton, MD with no agenda, or class plan. I lovingly begin every class by asking those who are there what they need that day.


I ask them what requests they have, what body parts need love, what poses they would like to enjoy, what qualities would they like to cultivate. I have been approaching teaching yoga like this for years, so my beloved students have come to expect this level of attention when they are in my care.


What has been so wonderful is to watch it really take on a life of its own. Now classes begin with a good 5 minutes of everyone expressing themselves, voicing their needs, making requests, asking for what they want..."Jessie can we stretch our hamstrings?" "I really need to ground myself today." "Can we do banana pose?"


It is a symphony, music to my ears to hear such openness and to experience my community asking for what they need. It is beyond beautiful to gather with 20 people and each voice takes up space, is valued, it is the true essence of what it means to be a community.


The other day - the most powerful thing happened before class. As everyone was gathering in the studio, I logged in to zoom to greet everyone who was joining us on the livestream that day. This day we were gathering to enjoy a Yin Yoga & Meditation class. If you aren't familiar, this is a divine restful practice of long deep release for the connective tissues and creates ease and freedom in the joints. It is our favorite practice at SHIFT, it is so deeply meditative and powerful for not just the body, but the heart and soul are renewed as well.


As the students gathered on zoom I asked everyone what they needed that day. As requests to release the low back, stretch the hips flowed in, one of my longtime students Lori said,



"Jessie, can we NOT do Frog pose?" The whole room erupted in laughter and I said to Lori -"YOU GOT IT." Her words rippled through my bones and I paused to express to my community what a lovely refreshing moment to relish together. I don't think Lori realized what she did for all of us, by expressing the power of NO.


In that simple moment, Lori reminded us that not only is what we want important, but what we don't want it just as important to express. Lori brought us all into the moment with her simple yet powerful request.


As the week went on I kept thinking about Lori's words and how they are an expression of one of our guiding yoga principles. Our yoga practice is anchored in something called the 8 Limbs. Expressed from the Heart of the Yogic Sage, Patanjali, the 8 Limbs lay out 8 suggestions/practices/considerations for a fully aligned life connected to peace, union, liberation and divine purpose.


One of these 8 Limbs are called the Yamas, think of this like how we think in modern life about having ethics to guide our thoughts, words and actions in the world. What Lori was demonstrating, was the Yama of Satya or Truthfulness. Think deeper than just making sure you do your best to tell the truth. Satya asks us to live in alignment with our Truth, to stand up for what we believe in, what we want and as Lori showed us, Truthfulness also includes saying NO.


To live in alignment means we sometimes need to express what doesn't work for us, what is NOT supporting us. I am sure you can recall a time in your life where you tucked away a part of yourself just to fit in, or you decided to forsake a part of your spirit, stuff down your emotions, or hold back your opinion for fear of hurting someone else's feelings.


Lori inspired such a connection to the power of saying No and living in alignment. She expressed the unpopular opinion. Side note - Frog pose is one of the communities favorite hip stretches, and Lori - so aligned in her Truth, spoke up in a room filled with friends, knowing she was going to say something that others would be bummed to hear because they love Frog pose.


Maybe you can see, even through the light hearted story of a request in a yoga class, how powerful it is to stand in alignment with your own Truth.


So wether you are in a yoga class at SHIFT YOGA Studio in Fulton, MD, sitting in a meeting, or in a difficult conversation with a loved one or friend, remember there is power in saying NO and when you do it with love (like Lori did) you light the way for others and help them stand in their Truth too.


 


Jessie Kates is the owner of SHIFT YOGA Studio in Fulton, MD. She shares the practices of Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga with reverence and care.


SHIFT YOGA Studio focus on Spirituality and Self Care. Offering daily in studio yoga classes, self care classes, virtual meditation classes and 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings for ALL bodies.

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