The Gift of Yoga

This past Friday I got to do what I love to do the most – expose people to the wonderful gift of yoga. Had the studio at OmBodies filled with “old” and “new” CMU McNair scholars. I feel blessed that I’m in a position to actually do this in my work, in addition to “planting seeds” with pretty much any person I meet or talk to. I took a risk and started incorporating yoga into our scholar programming almost five years ago now. You see, we strive to support our students in ways that go far beyond academics.

When I talk about McNair, I like to say that we’re in the business of developing confident individuals who have the wherewithal to achieve an advanced degree if they so choose. I also like to say that no matter what you have for a goal, you aren’t going to be busting out anything of any real magnitude if you don’t have yourself together with baseline self-care. I call it EAT SLEEP MOVE. If you aren’t taking care of how you are doing each, you’re not going to be in any shape to really flourish in your life.

The fact is, our scholars spend a lot of time working very hard in their classes, many have jobs in addition, and they just have really full schedules that sometimes don’t allow for things like downtime, exercise, healthy eating, etc.

So where does yoga fit into this picture? And what makes yoga special?

Most logically it fits into the MOVE category of self-care, but it’s so much more than just exercise. It’s a type of exercise that offers physical benefits like strength and flexibility, but it also incorporates things like breath work and present moment awareness that can really lead to significant shifts in the way we exist and move through our daily lives.

It’s really a “practice” that one develops over time that usually starts with the physical postures, but often ends up becoming a way to feel more connection among your mind, body and spirit. The physical practice becomes more like a “moving meditation” and allows you to become more in tune with yourself. Some people even say that yoga can help you discover your true self.


Yoga helps me let go of things that really don’t matter.

When you practice yoga, you begin to develop an “inner stature” or state of being in which your mind is at ease (thus, yoga is great for stress management). By going inward and focusing on the breath while engaging in the physical postures, you can, in a sense, train your mind to be more aware – more aware of how you might be feeling, more aware of external circumstances, aware of the constant flow of thought. The thing is, at the same time yoga teaches us how to become more aware, the goal is to not attach to any sort of outcome or desire. The goal of the moving meditation is simply to acknowledge what comes up and let it go – let it just float on by.

In talking with one of our scholars about what makes yoga great – she said, “It’s like cardio for the mind.” Brilliant.

This is where the real beauty is – as you go deeper inside yourself, you become clear on your intentions in life and who you are as a person. You also start to de-clutter the mind, getting rid of “stuff” that doesn’t really matter. Things in the past, things that might stress you out (that you can’t control), things that might not really matter all that much in the long run. You simplify. You simplify on lots of levels.

After I do yoga, I always feel wrung out. Wrung out on a physical level, but on the level of my mind too. It’s as if I’m getting down to the very nitty gritty of life, stripping away all the layers of bullshit that accumulate and getting down to my very core. Somehow, as I develop a sense of mindfulness, I’m finding myself letting go of things that don’t really matter. That might mean, something that someone said offhandedly that might have rubbed me the wrong way, to festering about the quiz that I didn’t do as good as I could have on, to being okay with where I’m at in my life, today. I think sometimes we can become so swept up in our daily responsibilities, our problems, our goals, that we can lose sight of the sweetness of life, that is, what is right at this very moment, right now.

That, in my mind, is the true gift of yoga.


EAT. SLEEP. MOVE. In the New Year

You’ve heard me talk about this notion of EAT. SLEEP. MOVE. Now is your chance to get started! Now I’m not talking about totally overhauling your life – that would actually be pretty difficult given your school schedules etcetera. What I am talking about is putting all of your obligations out on the table (before we even get started with the semester) and thinking about how they all might fit together – within the context of how you tend to operate and manage yourself on a daily basis. Chances are you’ll find some areas that can perhaps expand or contract (if even in just small ways) that will allow you to invite these baseline categories – EAT SLEEP MOVE – into your life in a more fully actualized way.


>>> Think about how you tend to eat. Do you make time for breakfast? Do you bring along healthy snacks and pack a lunch on days you know you have to go straight through? Even with a restricted budget, do you try to eat fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible?


>>> Think about how you tend to sleep. Do you know the optimum number of hours your body needs to feel well rested? Are you a night-owl or are you more productive in the morning? Do you have a bedtime routine? Do you try to go to sleep within the same general vicinity every night? How do you feel when that alarm clock rings?


>>> Think about your exercise regime if you have one. What kinds of activities do you like to do to stay fit and active? How often do you workout? How do you feel when you workout on a consistent basis? Is it easy to make regular exercise a priority among your daily routine – even when time gets tight during midterms and finals?


I’d like for you to give these things some thought. Imagine the benefits of making some small shifts in each of these areas. We all know that everyone is super busy – like all of the time. That’s a given. We still have choices about how we spend our time, especially time that isn’t scheduled for us already by things like classes.

Here’s what will probably happen if you make EAT SLEEP MOVE your priority:

  • You’ll feel more relaxed.
  • You’ll be able to focus better.
  • You’ll feel more energized.
  • You’ll be more efficient and productive in tackling your studies and to-do lists.
  • You’ll respond to stress with greater ease.
  • You’ll develop confidence and gain momentum with your goals.
  • You’ll basically feel better all around.

Now doesn’t that sound nice?

Let’s set some intentions for the semester and let’s share with each other our experiences along the way. Click HERE to get started on the process.

NOTE: New scholars are required to complete this survey in prep for the first one-on-one session with Lynn. ALL scholars are invited to take advantage of this opportunity in fine-tuning their schedules and making EAT SLEEP MOVE part of their priorities – just complete the survey to get started!