Tag Archives: class

A Chopra in Yoga Class and the Intent to Connect

We are midway through week two of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge with Tara Stiles and Sports Club LA and I want to thank all of you that have participated.

There have been a lot of inspiring intents about creating a yoga practice, getting back into it or simply wanting to create a deeper connection. Here are a few of my favorites that I wanted to share with everyone.

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The best thing about starting Intent has been to foster a community that supports each other and pushes themselves to do better things. That’s the real purpose of these challenges – to bring everyone together and encourage each other. Click any of the intents above to support them or adopt them as your own. If you want to join us you can create your own and put it in the yoga category on Intent.com.

And you’re not alone! I’ve been using the challenge to push myself in yoga as well As a Chopra there is this expectation for me to be really good at yoga, but the truth is I’m not. I’m not at all.

One Christmas, Gotham gave me a gift certificate for yoga classes. The certificate was valid for 6 months, and I had not redeemed it. When the guy looked at the certificate, luckily, there was no date on it — so, I lied. I told him, with a sweet smile, that I received it for my birthday in July. Not a moment of Chopra guilt.

As he was putting my info in the system, he furrowed his brows and I knew the question was coming. “Any relation to Deepak?” I nodded. “Yes, he’s my father.” He replied, “Cool. We have his books here.” I looked up, and my fathers face was smiling at me from above the counter.

“Deepak Chopra is your father!!” A woman waiting in line next to me, squealed with delight. “Oh, my God! I love him. Can I touch you? I have never met anyone famous before.” The rest of the people in line peered at me. I smiled awkwardly. “I’m not famous,” I said. “People know my father…”

The woman was right in my face now. “My name is Sarah. I loved his book – 7 Practical Laws of Love.”
Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,” I replied.

Sarah put her mat next to mine. She started telling me about how the Law of Least Resistance had changed her life. The yoga instructor walked in, “I just heard you are Deepak’s daughter,” she announced to the room. “Now, I feel all this pressure!” The other people turned, looking at each other, nodding knowingly. And, then it all went totally downhill. I completely unraveled. It was the moment of truth and the whole room witnessed it.

I kept slipping during Downward Dog Pose. I couldn’t balance during Tree Pose. Forget about even attempting, Sirsasana, the Headstand Pose. Every time I turned to the left, Sarah was ogling me, but also a bit confounded about what I was doing. I felt totally inadequate. I just could not perform. People pretended not to see my awkwardness. Sarah actually stopped looking over. The teacher seemed to have slowed down a bit, embarrassed. Finally, it was Mrtsana, the Corpse Pose, and, thank god, it was over!

I rushed out. I did not glance at Sarah — well, to be honest, she was not even looking at me any more. I did not want to face the teacher. I felt like everyone in the room had discovered my most intimate secret. But as I ran out, the man at the register stopped me. “Hey, Ms. Chopra, could you do us a favor and sign these books?” There was a pile of my dads books on the counter. People started drifting out of the room.

I panicked for a moment. Sarah was looking over my shoulder now. “Oh, wow. I didn’t know Deepak had written a book on yoga.” She actually sounded perplexed. I took a deep breath. I dropped my head in shame. I took another breath. And, then, something miraculous happened. With that breath, somehow, I had re-connected. Another breath. Connection. I was a Chopra. Another breath. Admit it, I suck at yoga. Another breath. That is ok.

I smiled at the man at the register. “Sorry, I really can’t sign those books. They are my father’s, not mine.” Another breath. I started to walk out.

Remember who you are.

“But, you know what,” I turned back in. “I could sign my book, if you carried it…”

Sarah looked up, and the look was coming back into her eyes. The look of hope, the look that there was still something to believe in.
I stood tall, put my hands together in Namaste, and smiled that Chopra smile at her with all of its glory!

Setting goals and intents aren’t about being perfect – it’s about trying. So I hope you try with us!

Love is Love: 4 Steps to Overcome Judgment

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 11.47.44 AMA soul is a soul is a soul. Love is love. You are not right, and neither am I. You aren’t wrong either. You are who you are, and I am who I am.

There is no such concept as absolute, right or wrong when it comes to who we choose to love or what color we were born as. We live in a dynamic time and have been gifted with being present to some big social inequality changes…Obama being elected President, DOMA having been nullified, women gaining more and more control over their own bodies. With each progression, there is a fire inside me that ignites. It is one that burns down one more barrier telling me I can’t be who I am. Even though I am not African-American and I am married to a man and if I were to accidentally get pregnant today I would not abort, it symbolizes one step further toward society allowing people to be themselves, to be who they were born to be, to be who their DNA dictates. We can change our character, our hair, our body…but we can’t change who we are at a soul level.

After the fire simmers down a little, melancholia sets in and takes me to a place of sadness that there even needs to be a fight about any of it. I cried today in tears of happiness for my same-sex couple friends, but also in pain for what they have to fight against. What is happening that we need to fight for love? Why can’t we as a developed society support our own families just as much as we support families that look different on the outside than ours but are the same inside? Why can’t we use our life to love our communities, the charities we dedicate to, people in need…instead of bash what we don’t agree with?

It is absolutely a choice whether we live in an angry state or a tolerant state about how other people live their lives. Anger will not change the world. Judgment will get us nowhere, except to grow old, tired and shut down. Holding onto bias-fueled resentment is hurting the person resenting more than anything. Imagine being free of that feeling. Imagine the space that could be created in life if that wasn’t there. The joy. What if you weren’t afraid anymore to let that junk go? What if you decided today was the day to pull back the curtain of insecurity and fear and step through to a life of love and freedom for you and everyone who crosses your path? In theory, it’s that easy.

I was not raised around discrimination of any kind, and it makes my stomach churn to know it is happening. That said, I have been through stages of my life where I judged, where I was stuck in small-mindedness and where I was hard on myself. Judgment is judgment, so here are my humble ideas to help as it really is all one in the same:

1. Look up. Look up to the sky, to the full moon or to the stars if you live somewhere you can see them clearly. Look up and be reminded of how this life is so much bigger than all of us. Look up and be reminded that the stars you are seeing have the same matter in them as lives in each of us. Be reminded of the very real fact that we are all infinitely connected, regardless of what the ego would like to think.

2. Hunt your trigger. We all get triggered by something in life, many things usually. Maybe for you, it is two women walking hand in lovely hand…or a bi-racial couple walks by smooching…or someone of a different race happens to make you mad but you find yourself getting more angry than you might at a person of your own race. Stop. Breathe. Instead of numbing out in your angry pain and going unconscious to it, notice the feeling. Track it, trace it, don’t let that lead get away. That trigger comes from somewhere in your past. The only way to heal is to find out the root and the connection to your life now. This trigger can be overcome if you want to be free of it bad enough.

3. Take your own power back. Usually discrimination comes from family. “I grew up this way,” is not an excuse. While it may be true that you did, it absolutely does not excuse it now. Say you grew up poor…most likely you didn’t want to perpetuate that economic state as you grew into adulthood. Most likely you don’t blame your adulthood financial troubles now on your economic state as a 10 year old. So why would you perpetuate this? Instead of picking and choosing what we blame our childhood on, let’s step into the light childhood can lend to this life, and see it for what it is. Let’s take it back to the now.

4. Be kind to yourself. I have been around enough to know that the people who are hardest on others, are hardest on themselves too. Love for the world starts with a deep, passionate love affair with ourselves. Get the help needed to heal old wounds. Not bandage them, but heal them for good. Life it too short to live in the past. See beauty now. No regrets at the end of this gorgeous life.

 

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

-HHDL

Will the Supreme Court’s Decision on the Voting Rights Act Undermine Civil Rights?

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 2.00.41 PMToday the Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 vote to eliminate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most important civil rights laws of the 1960s. The Act essentially delineated the parts of the country that must have their voting laws overseen by the federal government – an attempt to prevent the most racially-discriminatory states from instating voting regulations that would further disenfranchise minority populations.

The 5 votes that won the ruling argued that such singling-out of certain parts of the country was unconstitutional and unnecessary in a greatly changed United States. As reported by Huffington Post, Chief Justice John Roberts refers to “current conditions” as evidence of the now-obsolete nature of the Voting Rights Act:

Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions…

There is no doubt that these improvements are in large part because of the Voting Rights Act. The Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process.

Thus in the same breath, Roberts calls the Act obsolete, but also admits to its effectiveness at changing policies and attitudes over the years. The question becomes, then, have we come far enough in the pursuit of racial equality that such measures are no longer necessary? Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights leader and former chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), argues otherwise. In his opinion, the Supreme Court has “put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act” and undermined the efforts of civil rights activists who helped get it passed.

What are your thoughts on today’s Supreme Court ruling? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
Photo credit: Unknown

Is Kidnapping Ever Justified?

My friend forwarded me the security advisory, which began, “There have been three kidnap incidents in Ikoyi in the last five days.” I read this while sipping my morning coffee, a knot hardening in my chest.

My husband and I moved to Nigeria with our three young children in 2011. We live in Ikoyi.

Wax market
Lagos market

I skimmed through the rest of the message, gnawing on my thumbnail. It provided practical tips on staying safe, such as varying your routine, avoiding fuel stops on isolated roadways, and bringing braiders to your home instead of leaving your child at a salon for hours.

The email ended with a warning: “If you live in an area with high kidnap rates, there is always a possibility that you could already be a target, or that you or your family members are being developed as targets.”

Our sweet children could be targets? I slumped over on the sofa and decided to lie there until I died.

My husband, John, called me from work an hour later. Death was taking longer than planned, so I answered the phone. “Did you hear about the kidnappings?” he asked. “I must have gotten that email from a dozen people.”

“Those poor families,” I said. “Do you think we’re safe here?”

“Our risk is low. These are almost always inside jobs and I trust the people who work for us.”

“Isn’t that what everyone says?” I asked.

I stared at the photo of our kids on the end table as John explained that most countries have had periods in their history when kidnapping is common. “It happens in Russia and Colombia. It happens in any place where there’s income inequality and lack of opportunity. In Brazil in the ‘80’s, plastic surgeons perfected an ear replacement technique because victim’s ears were sent along with the ransom note.”

If John was trying to comfort me with facial mutilation stories, it had the opposite effect.

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When it was time to pick up the children from school, I roused myself from the sofa. After bolting the front door, I climbed into the back of the SUV and buckled my seat belt. Our driver, Sunday, locked the car doors. We circled inside the electrified walls of the compound, waiting for the blue-uniformed security guards to open the gate.

The children were sitting in their classrooms, all body parts accounted for. I hugged them and felt the knot in my chest loosen.

At home, the kids snacked on watermelon slices. They began doing their homework at the dining table while I had my cooking lesson.

Taiwo comes over once a week to teach me how to prepare my husband’s favorite dishes. She has spent twenty years working as a chef and instructor to ex-pat and wealthy Nigerian families. Over the last few months, we have become friendly. We chat about our children, about her church, and about the meaning of Yoruba names. She is proud that her oldest daughter is the first in their family to attend university.

melon 'soup' with goat
Melon soup with goat

I began washing bitter leaf in a bleach bath in the sink. Taiwo struck a match and lit the stove. She squeezed palm oil into a pot. As it sizzled, she sliced a plantain.

She told me how easy it had been to find transportation to my house and thanked Jesus. It is rainy season here and she arrived just before the skies opened up.

I mentioned the recent kidnappings as I stirred the greens through the water. “Isn’t it terrible?” I said, submerging a leaf.

Taiwo told me a story about a mother and daughter she knew from Church who were kidnapped in Benin City. She said the women were held for two weeks before being released. “These were good, God-fearing boys,” she said of the kidnappers. “They graduated from university but couldn’t find jobs. Their families needed them to pay school fees for their junior siblings.”

I pulled the stopper from the sink and watched the water gurgle down the drain.

“When educated Nigerians can’t get jobs,” she said, scraping the pot with a spoon, “it’s fair for them to turn to kidnapping. The wealthy have more than they need.”

The children’s laughter echoed into the kitchen. I stared at Taiwo, my mouth hanging open.

I mumbled something about misdirected governmental spending but Taiwo interrupted, offering rapid instructions on preparing stew.

In the evening, I sat in the dark living room, left with more questions than answers. I wondered if others felt like Taiwo did. Would the people we know in this country sympathize if our children were kidnapped? Or would they think it was a fair price to pay for the opportunities we have had?

Days have passed but my thoughts remained on Taiwo. How could a morally upright woman come to the conclusion that kidnapping is a justified commercial enterprise? I can’t relate but I have never been pessimistic about my children’s future. I don’t know how it feels to live without the expectation that my kids will prosper.

Give It Up For Beautiful Mother’s Day Cards Representing LGBT and Alternative Families!

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Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend, and you may be scrambling to get cards, gifts, and plan get togethers with those special moms in your life. But for many families in the United States, this holiday is more problematic. After all, does Mother’s Day representation in media and on greeting cards pay equal tribute to single moms, young moms, queer moms, incarcerated moms, or minority moms? And what about families headed up by two dads – should they just wait until Father’s Day and leave it at that?

One organization, Strong Families, is tackling this issue head on. This grassroots organization states that their mission is to help all families thrive regardless of race, class, age, sexual orientation, citizenship status, or any other marker of relative enfranchisement and alienation. Strong Families’ line of custom alternative Mother’s Day cards is as  beautiful as it is groundbreaking. Take a look at these amazing cards, and if you feel inspired, go ahead and create on for a special parent in your life:

Click here to make your own Mother’s Day card using one of these beautiful templates from Strong Families.

How will you be celebrating Mother’s Day this year?

 

Images from http://strongfamiliesmovement.org

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