Monthly Archives: February 2014

Why I don’t love the “do what you love!” mantra

The “do what you love!” philosophy seems to be the work mantra of our time. But there’s a growing resistance to it’s message. Perhaps a growing realization that it’s not as easy or even as desirable as it sounds. And today, as I contemplate the ancient text The Bhagavad Gita I feel called to write about why I don’t buy into this message.

In yoga, “doing what you love” isn’t always the best way to practice. Doing what you love in a yoga practice most likely means you practice similar poses, in similar ways, over and over and over again. This can actually be detrimental to your body. It can reinforce unhealthy habits and perhaps more importantly it can hinder growth and development. If you want to walk the path of spiritual evolution change is most certainly a good thing. As in yoga, so in life. Thus it seems to me that sometimes doing all of what you love and none of what you don’t may not be the best way to grow, develop and contribute.

Beyond a person’s own individual development I also worry that the “DWYL” movement leads to a devaluation of the work of the vast majority of people on this earth. Most people do not do jobs that make them want to stand on rooftops and shout “I LOVE what I do!”. These people do jobs that enable our society to function as we, collectively, have agreed we wish it to function. What if everyone stopped collecting the garbage, clearing the snow, processing the speeding tickets, practicing the law or the medicine? While I’m sure that there are people in all of those fields of work that do love what they do, my guess is that many, many more do not. Is their contribution less-than because it’s coming from a place of necessity rather than one of pure and exalted love?

One of the unintended side effects of this way of thinking is that real, hard work is not seen as valuable. It has led, I think, to a marked change in work ethic. We hear over and over and over about my generation’s sense of entitlement. I think a big part of this is that we’ve all been immersed in the do something you love mantra! We all really want to love what we do, and so, when we don’t love it we just don’t do it. I want my daughter to grow up knowing that sometimes work is just work is just work and yet, it has to be done and it has to be done well. I want her to know that doing good work is meaningful, even if we don’t love every moment of it.

And finally, one major flaw in this line of thought that makes it, in my opinion, unsustainable is our innate desire to improve and become more of who we really are. When and how do we know that we love what we’re doing “enough”? Isn’t it always possible that there’s something right around the corner that we’ll love more? It seems that without cultivating a sense of contentment (in yoga terms santosha) alongside this lust for love we’ll never find true happiness beyond the surface level bliss that comes and goes so easily.

And that there may be the crux of the problem. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing something you love (of course!). The problem presents itself when we are continually looking beyond our current circumstances, trying to find the thing that we love the most. The reality is that love is right here, waiting for us to open ourselves up to it. The possibility of loving whatever it is that you’re already doing is there. The possibility is the point; the work to cultivate contentment and love, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, is the yoga. Do what you love, when it’s taken at face value, adds to our suffering rather than removing it.

I think we should turn the DWYL concept on it’s head. Love What You Do is a much more attainable and perhaps valiant goal to strive for. Yes, we need to make changes in our lives when something (like our work) is not serving us in a healthy way, but if the problem is only that you do not have a giant, bliss-filled, happy-party every time you do your work then I posit that the problem is the unconscious patterns of your mind, not your job! Learn to love what you do. Practice contentment. Work for the sake of work itself. Do a good job for the reward of knowing you’ve done a good job. Sometimes do what you love, but sometimes just do what you have to do…and love it!
“You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat. For yoga is perfect evenness of mind.” The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran

My Guest Blog on I Am Not the Babysitter

This week I had the honor of contributing a guest post to a very well-read Attachment Parenting blog (remember the controversial Time Magazine breastfeeding cover last year? That photo was of Jamie Lynne Grummet, and this is her blog. If you want to read about her take on that supposed controversy, start here)

You can link to the original here or read below. And please, go on over and follow Jamie Lynne! She posts lots of interesting content and is involved in some really cool projects.

Yoga Instructor Responds to Viral “Baby Yoga” Video

Yoga is a beautiful thing. It’s an ancient practice that is as relevant today in 2014 as it was thousands of years ago. Yoga has been a presence in my life for a decade; it has followed me through many life changes and stages and has eased all the ups and downs those changes bring.

Since my daughter was born in 2012 I’ve experienced the joy of practicing yoga with her. At first, she lay near my mat gazing at me in my yoga poses. But now she alternates between mimicking me and climbing all over me. She loves to take a big, big, BIG breath in and stretch her arms up high! And then we let out all the breath and relax everything with a big sigh. I like to think that she remembers the feel of the breath and the gist of the movement from her time in my womb when I practiced regularly as a way to connect and relax and prepare for our big Birth Day.

This experience has shown me first hand why yoga for babies and children has become so very popular. “Mom & Baby” yoga classes are popping up everywhere! And for good reason, moms who practice yoga during pregnancy want to continue feeling strong and relaxed as they settle into motherhood. They also want to expose their babies to the calm, quiet, peace that yoga offers.

These classes are often geared towards the mom. They offer a gentle physical practice that’s suited for the postpartum experience paired with breathing, visualization and meditation techniques to support a strong bond with baby and deep relaxation (which new moms need so badly). It’s also a place to meet other new parents and to exercise in an environment that’s baby-friendly (breastfeeding, diaper changing & all kinds of baby sounds are welcome and expected!). For baby, these classes are an opportunity to see new sights, hear new sounds and to be exposed to the empowering, self-loving message of yoga. It sets children up to expect a calm environment around them and arms them with the tools (or at least, sets the groundwork for the tools which will come later) to find peace, relaxation and a strong sense of self-worth in their own lives. In a modern life that is so full of busyness, it’s never too early to expose children to a more quiet and healthy way of living.

One thing that mom & baby yoga does not involve is aggressive physical manipulations of the baby’s body. No swinging, flipping or throwing here! Unfortunately there is a video making the Internet rounds that shows just these things, and calls it “Baby Yoga”! Nothing, in my opinion, could be further from the truth. Yoga is a personal practice that each individual does for themselves and to themselves…it’s not something that is done to you as the woman is doing to the baby in this video. It’s unfortunate that this video has gone viral and that it will serve as most people’s only exposure to yoga for babies. But we can all offer a glimpse of what yoga really is. Share this article and let’s show our friends, family and the wider world what “baby yoga” is really about!

Restorative Yoga anyone?

Sometimes you just need to put your legs up the wall. After dinner last night, right in the middle of the kitchen with Lucy’s sticker wall as a background, was one of those times. Thanks to my husband who did all the dishes while I lay on the cold floor getting some much needed restorative goodness. And of course, Lucy joined in (of her own accord, she slid in and flung her legs up, so super cute)!