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21 Questions Yoga Challenge – Part 1

Markham’s yogi extraordinaire Jessie Lam poses 21 philosophical, metaphysical and existential questions meant to bend your mind as well as your body. To help you reach deep inside yourself for a possible answer, she offers a yoga pose to contemplate each question. This is the first post of the three-part series.

1. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the body or the mind of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

 Pose is Wheel/Urdhva Dhanurasana
yoga wheel - 1“You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.” – Joseph Pilates

Jessie Lam: This is really tough for me, because I’m so physical, and let’s face it…vain. But I choose mind. If you can’t experience and enjoy your life, feel emotions, converse with friends, why live? The mind is a powerful thing. It can control your body but not the other way around. Having a conscious mind “trapped” in a frail body can be a matter of choices you make when you are younger. Sure, some things are out of your direct control, potentially genetic disease and illness, etc, but there are so many things you CAN control, prevent, maintain, and strengthen. Choose to be happier, stronger, and healthier, live simply and be grateful. And wait…who says having a 90 year-old body means you’re limited in what you can do? Let’s make 90 the new 30

2. If you knew you will die of an incurable disease within three months, would you allow yourself to be frozen within the week for a modest chance of being revived in 1,000 years and living a greatly extended life?

 King Pigeon/ Eka Pada RajakapotasanaKing Pigeon - 1Open up your heart and let the universe guide you to where you’re meant to go. Release mental and physical tension and allow yourself to embrace this hip opening stretch

“Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe.” C. JoyBell C.

JL: This is something I’ve struggled with for most of my life, trying to control everything, planning for the future financially and with my career, so much that I never really enjoyed what I have NOW. I never got to enjoy our condo, the first home that hubby and I bought together. Every day we would wake up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep. Our cars were parked for 12+ hours every day at the GO Transit station while we commuted downtown. We were working to pay for these things that we hardly ever used. If I froze myself for 1000 years, what will my husband and family/friends think and feel? I will be leaving them much sooner. I don’t need to live a long life if it’s not spent with people I love doing what I love to do. I could die tomorrow, let alone 3 months.

3.  If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one ability or quality, what would it be?

 Bow/DhanurasanaBow-Dhanurasana - 1This pose is very dear to me because I was so far away from ever flipping my grip while grabbing my toes. This took me 2 years. Baby steps.

JL: It would be great if I woke up tomorrow as a yoga guru, the Yoda of anatomy, but I am ok with waking up every morning being one step closer. I want to have complete mastery of my craft. There is so much more I must learn about yoga, its philosophy, anatomy, and holistic nutrition. Now that I’m free from corporate life, I am able to learn something new every day, and work towards becoming better at what I do so I can be a better teacher to others, and for my own practice. I am learning more about how to take care of my body, understand its limitations, and become stronger mentally and physically.

4. If you knew you could devote yourself to any single occupation – music, writing, acting, business, politics, medicine, etc. — and be among the best and most successful in the world at it, what would you choose? If you knew you had only a 10 percent chance of being so successful, would you still put in the effort?

Supported headstand/salamba sirsasanaheadstand-salamba sirsasana - 1I found this pose with the forearms much harder than the tripod headstand because I couldn’t find balance and utilize the strength I had properly. Every time I tried it I would fall. I knew I couldn’t hold it. But I kept trying and today, it is very therapeutic for me. I hold it for 5-10 minutes in my restorative practice and I feel incredible.

“The key to success is to start before you’re ready.” – Marie Foleo

JL: If this question wasn’t worded specifically to 10% chance of success, I would immediately say yes. I quit my corporate job last year to get back into personal training and to become a yoga teacher. I didn’t expect to be 100% successful and make the equivalent if not more than what I made at my previous job. I got up every morning and kept pushing through. I practiced, I blogged, I did free seminars, taught more classes, I met new people, and everything just came in a big WHOOSH! From 2 clients to 25+, from 3-4 hours of training to 40+ some weeks. So if you told me I only had a 10% chance of achieving this back then…I may have said no. But 10% is still a chance, and now that I feel more in control of my thoughts and feelings instead of letting external factors shape me, I would totally take that chance. Because if I did fail with a 90% chance, I will know that it is something I need to learn from and do better next time.

5.  If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living?

Ray of Light pose – Marichyasana IIIPhoto ©Melina Meza, linked from Yoga From Healthy Aging

This twist can symbolize a “change in direction.” It’s funky, unorthodox, maybe awkward and uncomfortable, but when you are able to settle into the pose, you feel open and free. I love the way this bind opens up my shoulders and chest.

JL: If I were to die next year, I would sell everything I own right now, take all that money and travel until I die. But I do want to build something big and leave something behind. So I will continue to do what I love, through the good and bad, until I can become a ghost, leave behind a legacy.

6. Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

 Plough Pose – HalasanaPlough Pose – Halasana - 1This gives you a different perspective, literally, as your body is lying down in such a way, and allows you to dream of something new. Look up in the sky and see your feet walk amongst the clouds. Keep dreaming and persevering to keep the soul alive.

“if you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

JL: My ideal life would’ve been to own a gym, and live there [laughter], I guess that was my dream. I wasn’t looking for fancy stuff, all I needed was a kitchen,a bed, a shower, and a sick ass gym. I think I’m living it now, after 7 years of dreaming it. I also dreamed of becoming a certified yoga teacher. But I’m not done growing. This new life has taught me to aim for more, not necessarily in wealth, but in my personal growth and potential. Thanks to this question, I’m starting to dream again. I dream of sharing my yoga and fitness experience with the world, to one day write a book, sell DVDs, and draw an international crowd to my workshops.

7. What do you most strive for in your life: accomplishment, security, love, power, excitement, knowledge, or something else? Which would you prefer: a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure — intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks; or a happy, secure, predictable life surrounded by friends and family without such wide swings of fortune and mood?

Half Frog PoseHalf Frog Pose - 1It represents accomplishment, power, adventure, passion. experience an open heart, and relinquish all fear and doubt from your hips and thighs. It only gets better from here.

JL: Now that I am living it, I would choose the first option:  a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure — intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks. The grass is always greener… my previous life with a full time gig was content, secure, I had lots of friends and every week, month, year was the same.  I felt pretty good, but not accomplished. I don’t regret it, or else I would wonder about that life. But, I love my life now! Setbacks are not setbacks unless you dwell on it and let it consume your soul. The grass is only green where you water it.


Jessie Lam is a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and Nutrition & Wellness Specialist with Can-Fit-Pro. She is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and has been in the fitness industry since 2002; she is a 200 Hr Registered Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance under Yoga Medicine and is currently pursuing 500 hrs. She began competing at the Ontario Physique Association in March 2014 and has since completed 3 shows, placing top 10 in her bikini class. Jessie and her husband Joe left their corporate finance jobs in November 2014 to focus on their passion for health and wellness full time.

JessieLamFitness

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