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Filtering by Tag: martialarts

What can YOU resolve to release?

Jennifer Oechsner

"Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own" - Bruce Lee

It's that time of year again, time for resolutions. The time to begin healthy habits, to let go of unhealthy ones, to start fresh. I know Im not alone in the desire to make this year my best. I know I'm not the only one who wants to be the best version of themselves that they possibly can. The question is, what does this mean? We often make resolutions for things like exercising more, eating less sugar, eating more vegetabes, reading more books, maybe watching less TV. These are all great. But this year I need to go big. This year I have a couple resolutions, but my big one is letting go of fear.

Fear can definitely be tricky to let go of. Fear has the power to create so much unnecessary suffering. Fear takes hold of the mind and has the power to keep us in a seemingly endless cycle of self-pity and sadness. The first step to changing fear based behavior is to stare it right in the face. What is the fear? What story do we allow it to give us? How can we change that story? Buddhist teachings stress the importance of mindfullness practice to become more aware when thoughts or fears arise. This helps us recognize that we are responsible for the thoughts our mind produces. 

When fear based thoughts arise breathe deeply and ground yourself in the present moment. You can do this by observing the world around you. Listen to the rain or the birds. Feel the sun, rain or wind on your skin. Let this ground you in the present moment. Fears are often rooted in past experiences or future expectations. Over time, practicing being in the here and now can be an effective antidote to fear based behavior.

In my life, fear rears its ugly head and limits my growth. I feel effecting different parts of my life and it is difficult to break free. As many of you know, I have been studying martial arts for a number of years. It is the first thing I was ever truly passionate about. When I followed my new passion and became a yoga instructor I had the idea to somehow combine these two practices into one class I could share with the community. When I first started teaching yoga I held a couple of classes at a small gym. To my great disappointment, it didn't work out. Maybe it was the wrong time, maybe it was the wrong place, maybe I didn't give it enough time. Whatever the reason,  I felt like a huge failure. Over the past 5 years I have kept thinking about it, trying to figure out how I can make it better. I kept telling myself I would get around to it when I figured that out. But the real roadblock has been fear. And damn is it a big one. The question is, do I have the courage to let it go? What if I try again and it doesn't work out? Well, I've decided there is only one way to find out. 

I have resolved to step beyond this fear. I am at the point in my career, in my life, that I need to take a leap. All leaps are scary but I certainly can't grow if I keep quietly wishing for things. My wish, my goal, is to create my own Warrior-Flow. My own class that combines my passions of martial arts and yoga. So that's exactly what I have done. And it's going to be GREAT!

Each class will consist of a unique blend of yoga and martial arts, drawing from various disciplines I have studied over the years. AND I'm sharing my knowledge as a nutritionist by giving students a weekly nutrition focus and weekly recipe. And do you know how I know it's exactly the right thing to do? My gut tells me. The butterflies in my stomach just can't be wrong.

Here's the class info. Please email me for more information. Classes are scheduled to begin at the end of January.

NE PDX @ Whole Foods Market NE 15th and Freemont: Sundays 11:30-12:30
SE PDX @ 5514 SE Foster Rd.: Tuesdays 5:45-6:45pm

What can YOU let go of? How can you enrich your life experience and grow to become a better version of YOURself?

I would love to hear from you!

Parallel Paths

Jennifer Oechsner

When I started dabbling in yoga it was mostly curiosity and the desire to improve my flexibility. My body was also beat up and tired from martial arts and I thought that yoga would be good for me. I thought it would help my back pain (which it did). But I also thought it would be too slow for me (which it wasn't). My weekly practice became something I really looked forward to, even though at that point it was secondary to my martial arts practice. When I started really listening to the messages that were shared at the beginning of my yoga classes I realized that the spiritual aspects of these 2 paths are similar. 

When I began my martial arts journey in Taekwondo, we were taught a list of principals to follow as part of the path. Contrary to what I had originally thought, this path was not just about being tough and learning how to defend myself. There was so much more to it. Within the Taekwondo system there are 5 tenets, or principles, that are an important aspect of the system. These tenets are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, and indomitable spirit. To be an honorable student, one is encouraged to live and practice under these principles. 

The spiritual system of yoga also has a set of ethical guidelines. These guidelines can help us live in harmony with others, and with ourselves. These principles are non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess, non-possessiveness, purity, contentment, self discipline, self study and surrender. To apply these principles to everyday life, we have to look at them from different angles. For example, while it's obvious that it's wrong to cause physical harm to others, non-violence also applies to harmful speech. This might prove more challenging to adhere to. When practicing truthfulness are you doing so in a way that is not hurtful to others? Literal interpretation of these guidelines is not always enough, one must view these principles through a wide lens. 

When considering the tenets of Taekwondo and the ethical guidelines of yoga the overlap became clear. Courtesy correlates to truthfulness, integrity to non-stealing, perseverance to self-study, self-control to non-excess and indomitable spirit to self-discipline. Realizing this overlap made me realize that the two paths I have been on are not really two paths at all, but one path with steps that shifts their rhythm. Some days I need sun salutations to remind me to live my life from a place of contentment. Some days I need the catharsis of round house kicks to bring me back to my indomitable spirit. Sometimes I find myself running in too many directions and I use inversions to remind me of the need for perseverance. Sometimes I notice myself becoming lazy and losing track of my goals and I practice my spinning kicks to reaffirm the need for self study.

Both martial arts and yoga give me great joy and I feel blessed to have found these passions in my life. Martial arts gave me confidence and a sense of belonging when I needed it most. It continues to help me cultivate mental and physical strength, attributes I am proud to posses. Yoga provides me balance, peace and a connection to myself and others. All of which are important for a well rounded life. What brings you strength? What are your passions? How do you connect? I would love to hear your stories. 

The Process Of Passion

Jennifer Oechsner

As many of you know, I have been a student of  martial arts since I was 24 years old. Under the guidance of my amazing teacher Sahnya Thom in Milwaukee, WI, I was exposed to a wide range of styles and techniques within kickboxing, Taekwondo, and Jeetkundo (a blended martial arts style pioneered by Bruce Lee). I left Wisconsin in 2015 to start a new career in Portland and my physical practice of martial arts was pushed to the back burner. The practice was crowded out by my yoga practice and the challenges of starting a new career. That being said, I never lost that feeling of passion for martial arts. I knew I deeply missed it but was always making excuses. I told myself I didn't have time, I couldn't afford it, I didn't know a good school to go to. This winter I finally committed to a regular practice again and decided to try a new art form at Portland Shaolin Center. Here I found my passion again. 

Getting back to my first passion has really lit a fire in me. It feels amazing to reconnect to that inner warrior that has carried me through so much in my life. I am reminded of my power, my talents and my desire to live with passion and courage. 

Walking into the Shaolin Center on that first day was daunting. I wondered if my ego could handle going back to white belt. I wondered if I would still be good at it. I wondered whether it would be a good fit. I felt the fear of being new. Then it came back. The belt didn't matter, the movements came, and the fear dissipated. Connecting to this passion has filtered into other areas of my life. My yoga practice has become more focused, I am meditating more, and I have been commuting by bike most days. Most importantly, my self-confidence has been given a boost. How can your passion, whatever it might be, facilitate change in your life? How can you change your life practices to shift your consciousness? This practice might be yoga or another physical endeavor. It might be a creative art.

Whatever it is, connecting to your passion can have a powerful effect on all aspects of your life, if you tune in. 

Take time to investigate what stirs passion in you. What can you let go of to get you out of a rut. My negative patterns are to make excuses to avoid what is hard; to hide behind my fear of failure. What patterns can you let go of to allow for a shift of consciousness.  What can you renunciate to make space to grow and transform? What steps can you take to renunciate fear, move into courage, and live fiercely?